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Do We $hit in the Woods? March 29, 2007

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Septic being dugThe answer is yep, if we gotta.  ‘Cause the plumbing ain’t done yet!  But we took a big step forward yesterday when Dave Richard sunk the septic tank and dug the leach field!  Dave said the inspector was due out this morning and Ralph said the plumbing and electrical inspections were scheduled for today as well.  Were they done?  I don’t know, but I’m heading out tomorrow afternoon to do some network wiring, so I hope so!  It’s not that my wiring isn’t to code or anything, just that we don’t need to confuse the issue at all and have network, speaker, video and alarm wiring in the way!

Chimney Extension I took a photo of the extended chimney as well.  It’s been about 6 weeks since the chimney was built, but I wasn’t happy with the height.  The framing crew boosted it a good 4 feet and hopefully that’ll be enough to:

  1. Draw well so that it operates efficiently
  2. Raise the smoke level high enough so it doesn’t blow towards the window 15 feet away
  3. Pass inspection

Always those dang inspections!

Mike’s truck stuckWe had a fun few hours on Monday as well.  The framing crew was on-site building the soffits, the chimney extension and some other bits and pieces.  Mike decided to drive the van into the backyard of the house as he had all winter – but it didn’t work so well now that the backyard is soup!  We ended up with 3 hours of fun as the framing crew, Ralph and Chucky and myself tried a dozen different strategies and eventually got the van out and up the driveway.

The moral of the story?  Other than “don’t let $%^@$^ rocks get stuck under your $#@&*% driveshaft? We’re going to need to do some serious work on the driveway!  I talked to Dave about it yesterday and he says it’s about 2 weeks out.  Finish the septic, bring in the fill and rough grade the property, then finish the driveway.

Next week?  Insulation and maybe, by the end of the week, start the walls!   The end of May is approaching fast and we need to move in during June, since our lease expires at the end of that month!

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Slab is a Funny Looking word March 24, 2007

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The slabI had a nice site visit with Ralph yesterday.  Spent a long time walking through the house and talking about the plan for the upcoming weeks.  The biggest change was definitely the slab – that’s the floor of the basement.  For months now we’ve had a deep gravel base in place, with footings supporting the house.  Now they put a water barrier in place and then poured a 4 inch thick slab of concrete to seal up the basement.  Everywhere, that is, except in two spots were openings to the outside (bulkhead and geothermal/well in/out piping) where the snowmelt decided to say hello.  In the snowmelt language, saying hello results in flooding sections of the basement with very cold water, so the crew dug a couple holes through the newly poured slab to drain that water to the gravel below.  Once the bulkhead is in place the the geo/well piping is sealed properly, they’ll use hydraulic cement to plug those holes and finish the seal of the basement.  In the photo, you can see the dust from the drying and evaporation of the slab – that’ll be cleaned up when they put the basement stairs in next week.

Kitchen rough lightsThe electrical rough is complete and the plumbing rough is within hours of being done as well.  It’s cool to see all the recessed lighting cans placed throughout the downstairs.  Only the pendants over the kitchen island and the chandelier in the dining room will project from the ceiling.  Everything else is wired up and we’re just waiting for the electrNextical inspection before I throw my network, video and perhaps alarm wiring in.

Living room rough lights

The next two weeks should be big ones! We’ve hoping to have the house insulated by the end of next week and the walls/plaster done the following week!  To make that happen, we need the rough inspections to happen on time, the framing crew to finish the soffits and me to get my wiring done.  In addition, I’m going to take a few hours to catalog the house so that I have pictures of where all the wires and pipes are in the walls.  Hopefully that’ll come in handy years from now!

Outside, the recessed lighting is in place with 6 lights arrayed around the porch.  Dave Richards moved all the stumps down near the garden where they’re pretty much invisible and should create some great creature habitat for years to come.  And the property has turned to soup.  With the frost coming out, the snowmelt washing down and the big trucks pulverizing the soil, you can sink 4-5 inches into the ground in places.  We’re really looking forward to bring in the fill and driveway base, perhaps this next week! Dave’s going to also be taking care of the septic system over the next couple weeks, so there’ll plenty happening inside and out!

Alas, no wishing well for us March 22, 2007

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No pics today.  Just a quick note that the slab is finally in place.  Ralph called today to let me know it’s poured and will be walkable tomorrow.  This means that it’ll be a few days to let the moisture begin to evaporate, then they can continue with the insulation and walls.  This does mean, however, that we can no longer dig holes and fish in the basement.

Electrical and plumbing rough inspections are due to happen in the next couple days, so we’re almost into the ‘finish’ part of our schedule.

More over the weekend…

It’s March. It’s New England. We got buried. March 19, 2007

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Sledding down the drivewayIt started snowing as I left the house on Friday morning and stopped 24 hours later. On Sunday Heather, Tally and I made the trip out to the house and engaged in what will hopefully become a family tradition: sledding down the driveway! The trick will be to pitch the finished driveway enough that water’s shed correctly without throwing the sleddee into the trees! At this point, however, it’s a gimme. It took a couple passes to crunch down the ice layer and then it was smooth sailing – just a nice 150 foot glide. As Heather asked, how long will it take to build the jump and where will it go?

Pinetree after snowSo Heather got her first walk through the house in a while. The electricians had gotten a bunch done in relatively little time. When I returned on Monday, I found out why – they have a team of 4 working on the house! The electrical inspector’s scheduled for Thursday, so we’re moving right along! I’ve got to book some time for this coming weekend to take care of the network and home theater wiring and get in touch with my friend David to help out with the alarm wiring as well. Central Vac? Will it happen? Do I need it? We’re probably going to close the walls in 2 weeks, so it’s going to have to happen fast if it’s going to happen at all!

Someone else is plowing!Part of the fun today was watching Ralph’s nephew plow the driveway. This is not going to be an easy project. After watching him ram and skid his way through the job, I’m again thinking tractor and snowblower as the leading candidate for the job.  Our friend Joel suggested a big push snowblower which is nice for it’s $2500 price, but ugly in trying to get it up the driveway in a concrete storm like the one we got this weekend.  With the amount of gardening and landscaping we’re hoping to do, the tractor is more and more seeming like the right option.  And until we close on the final mortgage, I’m not even going to think about when the purchase may eventually happen. We can sled for a few more years!

Now If We Can Only Get The Electrical Company To Cooperate! March 16, 2007

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Electrical RoughQuick Friday note here as we get buried in snow again.  We’re expecting about 10 inches followed by sleet, freezing rain and some more fun stuff!  The good news, obviously, is that the house is sealed up!

I stopped by briefly today and found that the electricians had gotten about 1/2 way through their rough.  All the boxes appear to be in place and the first of the 35+ recessed lights are in upstairs as well.  I expect they’ll be back on site at the beginning of next week. By the end of the week hopefully both the electrical and plumbing roughs will be done and inspected.  That’ll give me a bit of time to put the network, theater, alarm and perhaps central vac wiring in place before the walls are closed up.

It really is astonishing how fast the work moves forward…when it moves forward!

When Can We Move In? March 14, 2007

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Siding the windowI know you’ve been waiting breathlessly for the next post, checking every hour and holding your breath. The problem with the house kicking into high gear is that I’ve been too busy doing research, walkthroughs and planning to keep this blog up to date. But don’t worry – we’re going to fix that right now!

What’s happening?

  • The rough plumbing is nearly done
  • The electrical walkthrough is complete and the house is marked and ready
  • The master bedroom window is now to code with a center egress window and has been trimmed so the siding can be completed around it
  • Siding is complete except for the chimney and most of the exterior soffits are complete as well
  • The kitchen appliance wall is framed out so the fridge can be recessed to counter depth and the fireplace is roughed
  • The mahogany decking has begun on the porch
  • We’ve finally got a dumpster on site and most of the waste has been transferred – it’s actually time for another dumpster!
  • Site work has resumed. The driveway improvements continue, the stumps are being moved to their resting place, the septic was begun (and put on hold, pending more frost melt)

Taking out the trashHow do you like them apples??? The warm weather has been just what we needed and it’s such a thrill seeing 4 different sub crews working on the site at the same time! At the same time, the quick pace has made life a bit hellacious in some ways. Decisions are fast and furious right now. It’s crazy bordering on stupid to have to make all these choices immediately after having had the past year to work through things like this, but the construction industry is its own world and our choice is to put up or put up. Getting out is not an option.

After planning the site work for 18 months and hearing from everybody including our builder that we can plan the driveway path over the septic field, we found out this week that we can’t do that. So we had two choices: curve the driveway a bit closer to the house or endanger the tree that’s become one of the focal points of the house. I guess there’s a third choice too – we could pick the house up and slide it back a wee bit. Needless to say, the front yard is now a bit smaller and the driveway’s a bit closer!

Front door deckingAnd then there’s the front door. Remember the front door? Ordered and installed a couple weeks ago, swinging open the wrong direction? Imagine my surprise when, while doing the electrical walkthough, I found that we were still planning on keeping the door the way it is! Needless to say, I was a mite bit irked. The funny thing is that we’re now going to keep it as is. Most of the decision is because we were uncertain before and the door’s in place. Even though it’s Ralph’s mistake and he’d eat the cost, we don’t need to go through that. This way you walk into the main room of the house and all the light of the kitchen. The other way, you walk into the openness of the hallway and have easier access to the closets. So the door’s final, the light switches are all now planned and Ralph’s free to apply the $500 we just saved him to the next time we say “no, let’s do this instead!”

Code windowWe went through a whole to-do about the downstairs lav sink as well. Both Heather and I hate pedestal sinks. But the lav is tiny, so putting a 24 inch box cabinet in place would make it feel too crowded. We discovered a very cool custom wood/tile/vessel sink piece in a bathroom book Heather bought last year and committed to the decision of going with this piece instead of a standard cast pedestal. Remember that $500? Yeah, add a bit and we just spent it. But hopefully it’s going to be another of those touches that we love about the house, and heck – it’s my office lav as well. Maybe it’ll help close a website deal one of these days!!!

So you’re up-to-date! Ralph met with the flooring guy today, we finalized much of the trim detail plans, I met with our friend Tony who’s going to be painting the house, and I’m about 48 hours behind on my work for some unknown reason!

End-of-May? What do you say?

You Can’t Make an Omelet Without Putting an Egg in Backwards March 2, 2007

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Siding the gable endsThings continue to roll forward. The 3-person siding crew is about 85% done and is now working on the south face of the house, delayed slightly by the fact that the center window of the master bedroom window assembly still hasn’t been replaced. Soffet sidingIt was specified, ordered and installed wrong about a month ago and the new one’s not in yet. Once that’s done, the trim around that window can be done and the siding in that area can be completed. They’re taking care of the soffets – the exterior roof overhangs – as well. This is a white vinyl that can be painted with a special paint and blends really well into the fiber cement siding.

The HVAC system is complete and looking very well installed. I’d show you photos of this, but that’d really put you to sleep!

Patio doorInstead, let’s take a look at the doors! The missing doors are finally in! The patio door is on the south wall of the kitchen and shares the same ‘9 light prairie’ styling as the french doors in the dining room. It’s amazing how much light one door can add to a kitchen already full of windows, but this is the first one not to have protective coating over the glass. This is a fir door that we’re going to stain – probably cherry.

The mudroom door is in as well. No photo of that one now, but it’s a simple exterior door with 4 small panes in a horizontal row across the top. Of course, since there’s no mudroom/garage at this time (or for a number of years), it’s the door to nowhere…

Exterior front doorAnd then there’s the key one. The front door. It’s beautiful. Even better from the inside than the outside because the blue glass in the leaded glass pattern really jumps with the light shining through it. The sidelight is beautiful and echos the glass pattern well. The door’s well made, swings easily, and happens to swing the wrong direction!

Heather and I talked about keeping it. Ralph’s thought is that it’s nice to walk into the kitchen – the main room of the house. He’s correct as well in saying that usually the door handle is located next to the sidelight so that you can look through it before opening the door.  There are a few problems though. The first is that the closets are now located behind the door and we’re a shoes-off kind of household. The second is that the entryway has a lot more impact if you walk in towards the hall and eventual dining room window than if you walk into the stairs and kitchen wall.

Front door - interiorThe entryway’s tight as is – we cropped a number of feet out of this area to save cost and it’s pretty apparent in some ways, so we need to do everything we can to make it work well. So the door’s coming out and being replaced with one that swings the other direction, keeping the sidelight where it is (on the kitchen side). Hopefully it won’t cost Ralph much and won’t hold up the build at all!

What else? The posts for the porch are pretty much in place (missing 2) on the footings. The fireplace is framed. Today, the plumber’s supposed to start and the framing details like bumping out the kitchen wall to recess the fridge are supposed to be done. Next week? Plumbing, finish siding, a few more bits and pieces…