Monday, December 29, 2008
This past weekend, I spent most of a day staining the wood. It looks amazing. The next step is to coat the treads and risers with a protective layer (three actually) of polyurethane. Each coat takes about 8 hours to dry and I'll have to be careful to avoid getting dust on the finish, so I anticipate this is going to take a couple days to finish before I can start cutting and fitting.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Things To Do Differently
I would also mount the control panel for the steam shower inside the steam shower. Mainly because that's where it was designed to go; it has a temperature sensor on it that tells the unit when to shut off, but since it's mounted outside the shower, that feature doesn't work. I'll talk to Gallick about moving it, but if they don't, I'll probably move it at a later date myself.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
We had watched a lot of Holmes On Homes, so we were prepared for the worst. Charlie is definitely a fair and honest builder. As far as costs go, Charlie was reasonable, I did have a little sticker shock when I received the bills for the solar thermal system. That would be my fault though, I didn't get an estimate before he started, so I was pretty much stuck paying whatever he charged. My budget for his portion of that work was $3000, but he's charged me $4600 so far and there's probably another $1400 worth of work left. I evaluate that in the larger context of the contract work which was over 100 grand, so to me, 1 thousand or 2 thousand over is just a percent or 2 in the grand scheme of things.
Friday, October 31, 2008
This thing is sweeeet. I should have gotten a router table to go with it, but c'est la vie.
For the long window in the bathroom, I made the center a little thicker than the ends (in a nice gentle arc) so it would act as a shelf for candles or shampoo bottles. It's a nice little touch that I wouldn't have had if I let the builder do it.
I'll have to go back and sink the nails in all the trim, when I find my tool. Then I'll have to apply caulk or spackle to the holes.
I have one more Pergo floor to install and then I'll have someone come in and put down carpet in three rooms. I still have to install trim around the flooring in some areas. I also will be replacing the carpeted contractor stairs with Oak hardwood stairs and I'll be adding a nice railing (the old railing was an iron POS that was probably leftover from some exterior job the original builder had lying around).
The floors look awesome.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The Great Flood
I immediately called my contractor, who called the plumber, who showed up bright and early this morning to locate the leak. The plumber investigated for quite some time and finally called the guys that had been working on the job. They admitted that while they were working, they had removed a cap from a pipe in the bathroom vanity and somehow the water got turned on. They had cleaned up the flood in the bathroom, so that by the time we got home, there was no water in there, leaving an inexplicable mess in the walk-in-closet.
The plumber offered to pay for more Pergo, if I had to pull it up, which later the contractor confirmed was the best course of action. The stuff is meant to go down, but not to come back up. I eventually had to take out 4 rows of Pergo to get rid of all the soaked boards and most of them got severely chipped while I was removing them. It's going to take me hours to replace them. There are three complicated cuts in the last row, approximately 2 easy cuts, and then the T-Moulding for the doorways needs to be trimmed to fit and that can be complicated.
Argh. I was so ready to move on to other parts of the house.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
What's left? The windows need trim (I'm waiting for inspiration). The downstairs flooring (I'm waiting for Lowes to get a new shipment of Pergo). The shower doors (Charlie is waiting for the glass place to create them). The sinks for both bathrooms (Charlie ordered them Friday). The stairs need to be covered in wood (I need to find a supplier). There's lots of little stuff that'll take awhile to finish up. But we should be able to start moving stuff today.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Here's RJ painting.
My dad and I started laying down a Pergo Laminate floor (Summerview Oak from the Casual Living collection). The Pergo comes with an underlayment already glued to the bottom and snaps in to place without glue. The floor is floating, meaning it isn't attached to the walls or the subfloor. It just lays there like a wooden rug. The Pergo was $52.24 a box, each box covers 17.6 square feet. My initial purchase was 24 boxes and represented everything Lowes had on the shelf (I was able to fit 24 boxes in my Cav, but it wasn't pretty). I went back a second time and picked up another 10 boxes, and I put 24 boxes on order (ABL wants a lot of the downstairs covered in wood).
Here you can see my dad, holding TG, and RJ has his back turned to the camera. The room is about half (or a third) covered by the laminate and this represents about a half days work by the two of us. I was able to finish the rest of the room by myself on Sunday. The transitions at the doors can be very frustrating.
My father-in-law came down on Monday and Tuesday to help me out. He and I were able to put down laminate in the hallway and the spare bedroom. It looks amazing. He's coming over today to help with the baseboard molding. Charlie's crew cut all the molding. In some cases it was nailed up already and I had to pull it off to put down the floor; in other cases, I had asked them to just cut it to length and I'd nail it up later. Once the molding is up, we can start moving furniture this weekend.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Friends And Family
We started out with two 5 gallon buckets of VALSPAR primer (good stuff) from Lowes, but we ran out and I had to run to Home Depot for more Primer. I got the Glidden Drywall Primer and it was lousy. Take a look at this picture.
Looks like a monochromatic Rothko, doesn't it? Anyhoo...The Valspar had good coverage and the walls are definitely a uniform white color, so I won't be using this Glidden ever again.
I applied the a white latex ceiling paint to most of the new construction, I ran out on Tuesday and picked up another gallon today. My brother-in-law, James showed up with Miss Pattie to help put the paint on the walls of the bathrooms and the laundry room.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
For future reference, in Virginia, you need 5/8" sheetrock on the walls and ceilings between the garage and living spaces, but you can go down to 1/2" for exterior walls.
Here's a look at our Steam Shower before the glass is installed.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Not As Green As I Thought
This image shows both old pink fiberglass insulation and the new spray foam insulation. The foam expands to many times its original size. When the insulation expands past the 2x4s, they have to shave it back so they can put sheetrock over it. Here you can see how much waste was generated when they went back and trimmed the insulation to fit the 2x4 cavities.
That dumpster is nearly half full with insulation. What good is a green product if it sends that much waste to a landfill? I gotta believe that they can chop that up and spray it in another wall.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Inspections and Insulation
- Spray Foam doesn't let air pass through it. Fiberglass insulation is essentially like a giant furnace filter, so it lets air pass right through it, taking unconditioned air with it.
- The Spray foam will cut down on the noise from the airplanes overhead and the school next door.
- As an expanding product, they can spray it in to cracks and it will fill the gap that might be too small or awkward to get fiberglass into.
- It will add some structural rigidity to the house.
- Spray Foam is also non-toxic.
The spray foam will cost a ton more than fiberglass, but it should pay for itself in lower heating and cooling costs.
After the insulation goes in, then the drywall will start going up.
Electrical Rough In
Plumbing Rough In
The Pex pipe has some significant benefits over traditional copper.
- Most significantly, as a plastic, it will expand more than copper providing some freeze protection.
- Since it's flexible, it can be snaked through walls easier than copper. It also needs less bends, meaning less work for the plumber soldering connections.
- Finally, it shouldn't rust or corrode like our existing copper pipes have.
You can see the manifold in the picture. It works just like your electrical panel. Water lines are run from each faucet, toilet, tub, etc directly to the manifold. They are color coded too, obviously red for hot and blue for cold. The manifold has little switches that allow individual water lines to be turned off, so that water to that particular faucet can be turned off without turning off the water to the whole house. Traditionally and in this house in particular, the water runs from the utility room (where it enters the house) to the downstairs bathroom, then to the kitchen, then to the other bathrooms. The master bath was at the end of the line, meaning it took forever for the hot water to get up there. With this new manifold system, the water travels a shorter distance to get there, so we should theoretically have faster hot water.
The two white pipes are larger diameter to bring hot and cold water to the shower in the master bath. Our Master bath has a shower head and a wand and both will receive full flow now.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Look at the 'Fro on my little man, RJ:
Not to be outdone, my other little helper, Q, broke out her pink work gloves:
I was able to gut the kids bathroom before I quit for the day. Q was not ready to quit and kept asking what she could do and letting me know that if the builders needed anything she was ready to go.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Walls Are Going Up
Standing under it, the overhang looks a bit excessive, but that just means I'll have a few square feet of less snow to shovel in the winter and a bit of cover from the rain. According to Charlie, they'll be punching through into the existing structure this coming week.
I'm not quite sure what we're going to do for showers when that happens; perhaps we can take up Ultra Run Bike Vegan's challenge and see how long we can wear our clothes without changing them...
The fit and finish of the rough carpentry is pretty amazing. I can't wait to see what they do with the stuff that won't be hidden behind the walls.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The Started Yesterday!
Monday, July 28, 2008
Toto Aquia II Toilets
These are dual flush, meaning you can use either 0.9 or 1.6 gallons per flush. A normal toilet (including the three we currently have) uses roughly 31.5 gallons a day. The Toto should use 12.3 gallons per day, that could be a savings of 7000 gallons a year per toilet. That's almost a swimming pool's worth of water savings between the two of them per year.
And oh yeah, they look cool.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Permit In The Wondow
This morning, I met with the Project Manager John for a pre-construction meeting. He gave me contact information, asked me to keep the kids out of the construction area, security, access, etc. After that, we put the permit up in the window.
It should be done in approximately 15 weeks. Whoppeee!
Saturday, June 21, 2008
I've done the research on solar hot water and it looks like we can get the parts for $2000, I'm waiting on a cost to install from Charlie. While I was checking that out, I found a 3KW PV system for $17,000. I think that would cover about half my yearly energy needs. While it would probably take 30 years to pay off, the interesting thing is that the last time I priced these systems out, they were a couple thousand dollars more expensive.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I figure with an MBA and previous management experience, I should be able to ride herd on a few subs. He just called me on the phone with a price of $125,000 for most of the job, so maybe I'll be able to afford to put carpet down on the floors after construction is complete.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
Plumber & Electrician visit
The Electrician was all business. The plumber was a bit more jovial, waving to my kids in the window and the like.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Then he said it would cost me an extra $15,000 and an extra week to do it my way, citing custom framing versus slapping up trusses. Basically, this tells me that he really doesn't want to do it. When I asked about spray foam insulation, his reaction was "it'll raise the insulation cost 30%". Fiberglass insulation is really really cheap, So I'm not surprised the price will go up. My guess is the extra insulation will pay for itself within 4 years.
I'm just not sure I'm going to get what I want. Maybe it's time to think about doing it myself?
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Home Inspection Today
This design keeps the Master Bedroom REALLY large, but makes the walk in closet an odd shape. It minimizes hall space in the Master Bath and has a funky jog in the hallway to reach the Master Bedroom. The Laundry room has just the right amount of space and the full bath upstairs has plenty of room. The dashed line is where I would shift the laundry room out a bit further and shrink Bedroom #2 a little bit. Bedroom #2 becomes 11' x 12' - Bedroom #3 stays 11' x 9' - Bedroom #4 stays 10' x 9' - Bedroom #5 becomes 12.5' x 9'
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
And Plan B...
Plan B was closest to my original idea, but I now see that it's rubbish. For one, it puts the laundry room in a rather large room, and the bathroom in a very small room. So, I think we'll be flipping that. My father put together a plan to have the Master Bedroom in the back of the house, very much like Plan A. His idea also included a set of stairs to the attic level, and a loft area up there. With two dormers on the front, centered over the garage doors, there would be plenty of upstairs space for offices or a lounge area. I think the loft would also be visually appealing. So, here is plan C...
I'm just a bit concerned that the width of the Master Bedroom is so thin in the center, so there will be more tweaking.
Monday, February 25, 2008
- Sauna - Check
- Steam Shower - Check
- LED accent lights - Check
- Urinal - Check
- Living Roof - check
- Xeriscaping - check
- High R-Insulation throughout the house - Check
And the list continues to grow...
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Their designer was out here today measuring up the place to start the drafting phase. They say it'll take roughly three months to get the job started (permits, approvals, material selection, etc.) and then the construction will start. It should take about 3 months for the construction to get done.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Save The Planet
This time though, I started thinking about the biggie, Solar Power. Photovoltaics (PV) are notoriously expensive with payback periods of 30 years or more. Generally not worth it unless you're going to be in the house for a long time, but considering we've been here 10 years and will probably be here another 10 or 20, I've been giving it serious consideration. I started buying issues of HOME POWER to keep track of current technology. I've been intrigued by solar domestic water heating. Like PV, you have panels on the roof, but they circulate a fluid through them. The sun heats up the fluid and that gets transferred to your Hot Water Heater. The best part, a system costing $2000 (excluding installation costs) can deliver 90% of your domestic hot water. The electricity to run our hot water heater costs around $500 per year, so after just 4 years, the hot water would be free. The system could also be used to power a radiant floor which would offset heating costs in the winter, again paying for itself in just a few short years. We're also going to install Solar Tube Lights to provide daylight in closets and bathrooms.
Our goal with the remodel is to reduce our electrical usage by two thirds. If we can meet this goal, then a PV system that meets our remaining energy needs could be within our price range.
A couple of months ago, we noticed that the water was running through the meter, but there were no faucets/showers/toilets running or leaking. My house is on a concrete slab and the water pipes go from our laundry room down under the slab, across the house, and then come up through the slab near the bathrooms and kitchen. I called in a plumber and got a quote over $1000 to locate the leak. The repair could take two routes. 1) They rip up the concrete, repair the pipe, and then put everything back the way it was. Mondo expensive. 2) They could run new plumbing through the ceiling to the bathrooms and kitchen. Less expensive, but the walls and ceilings would have to be opened up.
Besides the plumbing, the HVAC system is pretty old. I believe the unit inside the house is original, and the unit outside the house is about 14 years old. From what I've seen on the Internet, that's about the lifespan of a system. Our unit is running nearly constantly in cold weather and it's not really keeping the house warm.
To complete this perfect storm of major repairs and the need for more space, interest rates have come down significantly. So, as interest rates have come down, I've been interested in shortening the lifespan of our mortgage. We could refinance to a 15 year loan (which cuts 5 years off our loan) AND pull out roughly $40,000 WITHOUT changing our payments. We'll probably need significantly more than $40k, but it's a start.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
We used a national exterminator, and the salesperson was very professional, he had many years of experience. The person who came to do the work however was another story. He tried to shake me down mid-job for cash. Later, as he was drilling holes in the garage, and riding the drill hard, the drill exploded sending hydraulic fluid or oil all over the walls...Not a fun experience for a new first time home owner.
Much later, I realized that our home inspector was also most likely a fraud. I put the blame on our realtor Debbie Breau, she was doing what she had to to sell the house. The termite inspector and home inspector she recommended deliberately hid major defects from us. We had asked Debbie to be our Buyers Agent and told her we didn't want to see any homes where she was the seller's agent. While she was not initially the sellers agent on this house, the home was being sold through her agency, Linda Sonnhalter Weichert Realtors. After she showed us the house and we decided to make an offer, she magically also became the seller's agent. At that point we knew were screwed (but we didn't know how screwed), but we wanted the house.
That was 10 years ago.