Wednesday, November 21, 2007


November 21, 2007
Exactly 5 months from the day the excavator arrived on site and began roughing in the driveway, we have our certificate of occupancy in hand. Funny thing about a certificate of occupancy, it's just embossed gold seal, just "it's okay if you want to live in this" kind of approval. We'll have a list of things to square, a front step, a wall hydrant, a few electrical devices, all very minor items. We were counting on receiving our occupancy permit today as we'll be picking up the U-Haul on Friday morning and moving our existence from Bar Harbor to Mount Desert. I think I convinced one of our electricians today to seek an alternate career, he was the unfortunate recipient of a tirade 5 months in the making. To be fair, he deserved it. More posts and details in the coming weeks as we settle in and skin the interior. The images that follow are somewhat stark, partially because we haven't moved in (or cleaned) and partially because we'll be adding an interior layering of function specific details. And, there's still the grading, loaming, seeding, planting, driveway...and my punchlist.

The amateur photo hour follows...

Kitchen toward living

Living sans contractors

Kitchen (minus the proper electrical devices)

The cleanest our mudroom will ever be...note the flush cocoa matting

Bathroom...with Ikea glass panels installed

Open ensuite master bathroom

Master bathroom...bad spot for the recessed light I suppose

Monday, November 12, 2007


East Gable, almost.

South elevation, almost.

November 12, 2007
Seeing our family wandering the house, my parents, Laura, Henning, & Sig is a great thing. I feel like we're laying claim to a space that's been our contractor's for the past 5 months. Moving tools out, pulling up the cardboard that's hidden our floor for a month's time, this past weekend marked the transition phase where our house becomes a home. My parents arrived last Wednesday evening and stayed through the weekend. Their visit proved immensely helpful and equally tiring for them I'm sure. Watching the boys, cleaning, cooking, assembling cabinetry, painting, doing our neglected household chores...did I mention watching the boys?

The big task this weekend was assembling the 1300 different boxes of cabinets, door panels, slides, bumpers, and nibs. If I see another IKEA pictogram I'll put a hammer through my skull. Less than useful at times the IKEA assembly instructions bordered on ridiculous...after taking about a half hour trying to add adjustable legs to the first base cabinet things went more smoothly and by the end of the day Saturday my father & I had assembled all of the cabinetry for the kitchen and pantry area. Thankfully my father's well of patience is much deeper than mine.

Dad, fixing my mistakes

Quality control

Island cabinetry in place

Vent hood + Laura pining for her range

Island palette, gray surround, white cabs, butcherblock

On Sunday Laura & I worked together to grout the mudroom and bathroom which was a smashing success and left us still speaking at the end of the day...remarkable progress. Thanks to Lester our general contractor for encouraging words and some helpful tips regarding sponge-work. Other progress...the woodstove was installed, the island completed and countertop installed, undermount sink today. Most of the doors are in place, drywall base detail is complete, the basement stair is ready for our code inspection, the heating system is functioning properly, dryer hooked up, vent hood installed, recessed cabinetry in place, everything ready for a final coat of paint, the electrical devices and plumbing fixtures. The outside is becoming a career for at least two people. Detail shots when things get more interesting.

Sore knees

Eric...repeating "It only looks like cinder block in photos"

Wash me.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Success & failure

November 5, 2007
Time to confess. Not everything has gone perfectly lately.

On Tuesday evening Laura & I installed the so-called ‘self-sticking’ stainless steel backsplash. We planned the sizes, the jointing, templated the outlet locations (by this point we weren’t speaking anymore) and ‘enhanced’ the sticking power of the membrane with some liquid nails. This worked only to reinforce any inconsistencies in the substrate we were sticking it to. We used two different types of adhesive and the better performing one was clearly the DAP Better than Nails tube adhesive. Liquid Nails once spread on the surface cures very fast, turns out much faster than we can lift the panel and align it in place. The photo speaks for itself, not good. Plan B is to construct painted MDF panels that are face mounted to the backsplash to cover the already been lived with look of the stainless sheeting. Work in progress, I’m calling it a failure at this point but I’m fickle. We're speaking again, but not to the backsplash.

With a name like 'Roll-a-lam'...I should've known

This weekend while Hurricane Noel passed by to our east lashing us with strong winds and inches upon inches of rain. We were spared power outages but many of our neighbors were in the dark. A sleepless night found me at our house around 2am early Sunday only minutes later a tree fell a few feet from the car, across our driveway squarely on top of the port-a-potty. Laura and family rescued me later that morning with a breakfast sandwich and chainsaw.
The weekend plan was to complete all of the tile setting. I made it slightly more than half way by Sunday mid-day with the larger bathroom complete leaving the master shower to complete by Tuesday. Things went well, not a professional job but respectable for a virgin tile-setter. It’s markedly more stone-like in person, the photos make it look like…well cinder block. Strike that thought. Now we just have to seal and grout it. Thankfully I masked every square inch of our tub before slinging thinset around, my work with a margin trowel is amateur at best.
And…our heat is on today, starting with a low temp in the tubing to dry things out slowly.

Red = membrane waterproofing (RedGard)

Completed tile work

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The details...

November 1, 2007

One of the advantages of being an architect, free stuff for your house. Not the most exciting stuff mind you, but every little bit helps...and besides we get jazzed about things others might not. My local Leviton rep has agreed to kick in my electrical devices (switches, receptacles, etc.) for free. I originally specified Lutron Diva dimmers everywhere, Leviton makes a look-alike that's half the price and instead of a rocker it's a push pad, fade on/off and can be dimmed from multiple locations.

If you're familiar with a traditional dimming circuit, only one switch has the power to dim the other is the slave. Multiple dimming locations means no more deciding which switch takes priority. They have screwless coverplates in many colors, no stainless though, still using the Lutron Claro/Diva combination for those locations.

Tonight, stainless steel backsplash on a budget. Check Outwater Plastics for Roll-a-lam...can be cut with a utility knife, so they say. Peel and stick technology at its best, we'll use some liquid nails on the plywood backer just in case.