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HVAC almost done? February 24, 2007

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Siding closupIt’s been a good week!  I stopped by the site on Friday and found both the siding and HVAC crews at work.  Siding is nearly complete on the straight runs.  They’re leaving the gable ends for last and have about 70% of the house complete right now.  It’s going slower than I expected with only two and sometimes three guys working on it in the cold, but it’s being well done – at least to my eyes!

The fiber cement siding is pretty solid stuff.  You can click on that photo on the left to see the closeup of the thickness and the pattern.  It’s supposed to last for 50 years or more, hold paint for 15 years at a time, and resist pretty much all damage from insects, hail, fire, flung rocks, etc.  I lived most of my life in a grey house though – so I can’t wait ’til we get some paint on it! (sorry Mom & Dad!)

Basement furnace installationHVAC is just flying right now!  The crew from Excel Mechanical had the upstairs complete with the furnace in place (we have separate heat zones upstairs and downstairs) and the downstairs is nearly complete too!  They were just putting the basement furnace in place during my visit Fri am visit and are expecting to wrap everything up on Monday!  Given the delays we’ve had in other parts of the project and even in starting the HVAC work, it’s great that they were able to rip through it so fast.

The ductwork is very cleanly done and there’s no intrusion in either the first or second floors of the house.  The ducts in the basement will severly effect headroom in a few places, but I expect ceiling heights in those spots to still end up around 6’4.  This is something we expected due to the bedrock, type of framing and decision not to have the house sit any higher on the site.

Next?  Let’s see how quickly Ralph can get the plumber in – and we need some framing work done before then on the kitchen & bath walls and chimney!


HVAC In The House! February 20, 2007

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HVAC in the house!Quick post. H & I made a quick visit this afternoon and were delighted to find that the HVAC installation had indeed started. Much of the equipment was stacked in the kitchen and I was checking through that while Heather went upstairs and discovered that a good bit of the upstairs system had already been installed. Ever try taking photos of HVAC? I simply don’t have the skills!

Siding continues - north westRalph says our siding crew is more than just two guys, but for the third time in a row, just the two were working on the house. They’re making some good progress and are approaching the halfway point now, having done much of the siding on the north and west sides of the house. The high gable ends, on the other hand, remain incomplete, so that’ll take some time. More importantly, they appear to be doing a very neat job and there’s been relatively little waste.

Winter Waited a Long Time… February 20, 2007

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Winter Wonderland…But eventually decided to come by for a visit. The roof was ready for it and the shingles will handle the melt just fine. The siding on the other hand wasn’t quite there yet. Okay, the siding was barely there at all! But they crew has moved from the corner boards and window trim to the siding itself and started the installation on the side of the house facing the road. We decided to put our fiber cement siding up natural and then paint it later rather than paying for the factory pre-painting it.

That was on Friday afternoon. I was disappointed nothing more had been done on the house – no HVAC, no electrical, no site work. And without any site work, the driveway was also impassable. And I forgot my sled!!!

Beginning the sidingWant to join the debate? What’s the best way for me to plow this driveway long term? It ain’t a shovel and I’m not pushing a snowblower up a 400 ft.+ driveway with a 6% slope.

  1. Tractor w/snowblower or plow
  2. Truck with a plow
  3. Large team of monkeys with shovels
  4. Trust global warming. We’re done with snow.

Let’s see what happens next. Ralph and I are playing phone tag and I’m planning on a run out there later today.

We have contact February 14, 2007

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Something crazy happened on Tuesday! After calling Ralph 3 times that morning, I stopped by the site on my way back from a meeting. As I pulled in, in noticed that not only were the siding guys there again, but there was a concrete truck spinning away and Ralph was on site! Ralph! The guy who I’d been unable to get in touch with for the last 6 days? Our builder? He was alive!

Ralph - doing work?I can prove it to you. He’s the guy in the orange and white jacket – and for the first time I actually saw him pick up a tool and do some work!

Okay, I’m just busting his chops and letting out some serious pent-up frustration. Ralph’s job isn’t to pick up any tools – it’s to plan and manage the project and he’s doing a good job at that. And I’ve pretty much done nothing on site myself – as a favor to my insurance company and those around me. However, I really was excited to see him there with his assistant, Chucky!

Exterior window trimThey poured the footings for the deck (you don’t want to know what that concrete cost with all the hot water and calcium they had to add to make it set in the 20 degree temps. At the same time, the siding crew was triming the exterior windows, having already put up the corner boards. They’ll then be ready to put up the siding…

…After the storm. And while I can’t say it’s punking out this time, it’s certainly not what it could be so far! On the other hand, Heather has a Snow Day, Tally drops 10 years and acts like a puppy when it snows and my damn boss won’t give me the day off. That Jerk! Let’s see if the house is delayed by a day or two.

But I talked to Ralph. We went over all the open issues and will sit down and talk about expenses and timeline within a week. There are a lot of pieces cued up right now. In addition to the siding rolling now, the HVAC is about to go. The doors are ready, the site work has to continue, the bulkhead is ready, the framing crew will come back to increase the chimney height and frame out the kitchen and upstairs bath a bit more. And Ralph’s going to get back to us on the hardware/fixture budgets to let us know if we’re on target.

I’m still not happy when he’s out of touch for a few days – even when he’s sick – but some of that has to go on my shoulders. If I acknowledge that the project is moving forward and relax a bit on my insistance on talking to him when I want to, I’ll be less frustrated with the process.  The project moves forward.

What comes after shinglinglingling? Sidinginging of course… February 12, 2007

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Or in my brother and cicter-in-law’s world, lodginging.  That’s an inside joke, sorry.

Siding jacksSo their were a couple guys on site putting some corner boards on the house today.  I’m guessing they’re supposed to be there.  They didn’t speak much english and I speak nothing but English and you-can’t-quite-call-it-French, so I’m waiting to talk to Ralph and confirm that they’re working on the correct house.  Given that there are two large piles of Hardieplank siding that have been dropped off as well, I’m guessing they’re in the right spot!  They’re got a couple sets of jacks in place and I’m assuming the procedure is to put up the corner boards first and then cut the siding based on those dimensions.  But I just don’t know.

I hope Ralph knows we want to increase the height of the chimney before the siding goes on.  As much as it’s a breezy site, the chimney is still less than the height of the roofline 5 feet away.  Both for better draft and to keep the smoke from blowing into the adjacent bedroom window, we want to boost is up another few feet.

What else has happened in the last week?  Well, Heather and I put in a bunch of time specifying electrical and plumbing fixtures, but we need to hear back from Ralph on pricing before we finalize anything.  Not much else.  Looks like the HVAC is waiting until the siding is on.  Since there’s a little bit of a Nor’easter due on Wednesday, we’ll get a bit more of the siding in place then be shut down for another day or two.

Another issue on the site is the construction waste.  Originally, we couldn’t get a dumpster down the driveway.  Ralph’s been promising a dump truck for a while to clean up the pile of scrap, but now it’s going to get interesting.  How long will it take for 5-10 inches of snow to melt off the pile – or is that heap going to be there for another month?  Let’s see what happens on the site tomorrow – and see if this storm punks out too!

One more day of shinglinglingling February 3, 2007

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Installing the roof peak ventWell, the snowstorm punked out. Yay! All my life I’ve been upset when snowstorms are predicted and then don’t materialize. Dragging my butt to school with homework incomplete or not prepared for the quiz – you know the drill. Okay, who am I kidding? My homework was always done. But I still hated when the snow punked out!

Not this time baby! Dan, Andy & the other guy (I hate when I forget names – but I’m good at it!) were up on the roof all day on Friday and got most of it done. By the end of their day the shingling was mostly done, the roof vent was mostly in place, and a blue tarp was covering up the last section of roof. Good thing too – we got 3 inches of snow Friday night from another storm!

Shingling roof gableRalph and I spent more than an hour walking through the site, looking at the decisions still to be made and talking about the timeline of the upcoming events. We decided to change the master bath tub/shower to a tiled shower – a decision that’s been on the table for months, but we hadn’t finalized. Heather and I want to save money upstairs, but in going with the fiberglass tub/shower, we’d be losing a prime opportunity to customize our bathroom for relatively little money. We decided to move the toilet to a different wall in the other upstairs bathroom as well. It’ll improve the layout of the room but we’ll have to build up a dummy wall and lose 4 inches of floorspace to make sure the pipes don’t freeze since it’ll now be on an exterior wall. Ralph and I spent a while working through the downstairs soffiting and trimline too, since that’ll determine the height of the kitchen cabinets that will be started this upcoming week.

Heather and I specified a fair bit of the interior hardware on Thursday as well. We gave Ralph a list and it’s up to him to price it out and let us know if we’re trying to blow the budget. He budgeted about $40/door for the door handles and both Heather and I are great at picking out the expensive stuff. Steer us in the right direction, Ralph! Even better, tell us you can get us what we want in budget!

We sat down again today and specified the lighting package for the house as well as reviewed the decisions still to be made on the plumbing fixtures. Final decisions there are pending Ralph letting us know if the dark bronze hardware we want is in our budget or if we’re going with the original satin nickel.

We’ve been fighting a battle in the kitchen as well – the fridge we want isn’t counter depth, meaning that it’s going to throw the counter/cabinet line out of whack. Both Ralph and Steve, our cabinet maker, advised us to find a counter-depth fridge instead. But we like this one! Amana’s got a great repair record and this one has the french door/bottom freezer configuration both Heather and I want. All the possible alternatives would be either wider or 5 cu ft. less room – and cost more money! The best thing to come out of today was an idea from Heather – if the extra 5 inches of depth is going to be the major issue, we should build up the wall behind the appliances so that the fridge has a pocket to sit in! That way the counter and cabinetry will be in alignment with the fridge and we get the fridge we want! The downside? We lose 5 inches of floorspace in the kitchen. Since the room is nearly 17 feet across, we think we have the space to make this sacrifice – what do you think? Fair trade?

Okay, we’ve been waiting a few weeks to get rolling on the doors, HVAC and septic. Ralph pointed out that the roof will keep things dry now – but each week delay in the HVAC/plumbing/electrical chain of events is a week farther delay for us getting occupancy. Nothing can get done inside until those jobs get knocked off. Is this the week?

More roofage in our diet February 1, 2007

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More roofageBrief visit out to the site today to check on the roofing and see if our HVAC work had been started yet.  Roofing is moving right along although the crew is still still fighting the temperature a bit.  If the shingles look uneven, it’s because the cold has stiffened them up and they’re not lying flat against the sheathing yet.  The shingle color continues to appear more gray/black than we expected, but there’s definitely a slight brown tone to it.  Moot point – it’s going on and we’re not changing it!

The HVAC is still not moving, however.  It’s been about a week of waiting and no sign yet.  Since the plumber and electrician are backed up behind him, we hope Ralph can get him moving soon.  It’s February, our apartment lease is up on April 1st and we’ve got to get an idea when the house is going to be ready so we can work something out with our current landlords…