Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cabinets, hardwood, Marmoleum, and (finally!) a Deck

Well, some folks might think that we'd take a break during the week leading up to Christmas and the week between the holiday. NOPE!  We had folks interested in working so we were happy to oblige.  Later this week we anticipate trim carpenters to be on site installing the doors that were delivered on Friday (as were the two remaining toilets - Woohoo! - "all I want for Christmas is my two Toto Toilets!").

Last week they put the marmoleum down in the two upstairs bathrooms and then yesterday they laid the basement bathroom (after a bit of self-leveling compound and more work to get it reasonably flat) in preparation for the cabinet installation.  We chose sheet marmoleum for the two "hallway" bathrooms but had to go with marmoleum tile in the master bath and the laundry room because they're too wide for sheet meaning there would have been lots of waste and the seams would have been out of kilter.
Upstairs bathroom with marmoleum installed.  Yeah, that's dust floating in front of the camera highlighted by the flash.  

They also finished sanding all the maple floors, applied the stain (Minwax Golden Pecan) and the first coat of finish. We were banished from the house until at least Sunday but we took a day off and didn't visit until yesterday.  The floors look great.  All the skeptics who say you can't stain maple because it gets "blotchy" must do something different.  Sure, there's some grain that shows through differently on the floors but we really like the color and finish.
Looking down the hallway from the East end. Stain and finish applied to the maple flooring.
Family Room and to the left kitchen.
This gives a bit better idea of the color - that's a satin finish on the floor so it's not quite so reflective.
This morning at about 7:45 the cabinet install team arrive (Travis and Russ).  We commissioned them to design cabinets that were a bit unique and fit perfectly in our kitchen and two of the three bathrooms.  They did a FANTASTIC job matching the "dream cabinets" DeeDee had found which interestingly enough was one of their cabinets.  The cabinets she liked had a two-tone look to them but when we discussed it with Travis, they were in fact a single wood - Alder.  We decided to go with a Cherry and Alder combination to emphasize the two-tone look and we're absolutely thrilled with their work.  They also built a floating shelf and wrapped the island in a wood panel to match the cabinets.  We asked them to build standing dish racks in a drawer, a plate rack for above the raised dishwasher, and to put pull-out drawers under the sink instead of the standard doors.  Wow did they deliver.

The delivery vehicle for cabinets - a 30' trailer full!

A peek inside the trailer after about 1/2 of it's already been moved - see the wet footprints (yep - another day of rain here)
Here's the kitchen cabinetry as they're about finished installing the first cabinet which was the wall corner cabinet.
A bit further along in the prcess - most of the cabinet boxes installed but doors and drawers yet to install/adjust.
There's the panel for the island.  Pictures simply do not do it justice.

The end panel for the island - much better representation of the woods.  Cherry panels and alder stiles.
The sun came out for a bit so this is a non-flash picture after the install is complete.
Refrigerator/range wall - those cabinets over the refrigerator actually DO come all the way to the front of the refrigerator.
Here's a flash picture at the end of the day.  Again it doesn't do justice to the coloration and grain of the woods.
and one from a bit further away.  
Here's the standing dish drawer we asked for.  That's stoneware that scratches if you stack it so we wanted this.  The dinner plates go on the wall over the dishwasher.

Here's the master bath - again the flash caught lots of dust so you can't really see the true beauty of the cabinets or marmoleum

A bit better shot - the tub surround is maple like the cabinets and the two center panels are actually handle-less doors for access to the plumbing works.

The basement bath - that's poplar (unpainted but clearcoated) for the vanity and the closet doors which are cabinet grade doors.  

 On Friday we started installing decking material and after 3 full days and one half day, we're about 2/3 done with the deck.  We finished the 8'x16' and 16'x 29' (all but one board width at the outside edge) and only have the 8'x44' section remaining as well as the stairs.  Man, that's a big deck.  Today was a very rainy day and while I did get a little wet working during the rain this morning, for the most part I stayed dry as did all the tools which was very important to me.
Flash picture of the completed part of the deck - 560 sf down, 400 sf to go!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Exterior Paint, Hardwoods, and Geothermal HVAC

Another good week - exterior painting was completed for the most part. While they finished the painting on most of the house yesterday there were still a few sections that needed touch-up like the frieze board and they still have to paint all the window trim which is hand painting as opposed to the spray/backrolling method they used on the larger concrete areas.
Here's what the house looks like on a cloudy day - the site has been cleaned up (big dumpster hauled away, trailer gone, piles of scrap cleaned up).  that orange 'corral' is really our simulated driveway - the inside circle.  We tested it out and figured out the outside drawn by the landscape designer was too tight so we're going to go a bit bigger. Gotta remember those FedEx/UPS trucks (they've carried lots of stuff to us for the house and will probably continue after we move in).  

This was taken last week - before they removed the dumpster and trailer.  It's hard to tell the colors due to the lateness of the time and position of the sun but it does provide a perspective (that's primer white on the South Wall and Baguette on the East wall.

A milestone happens - that's the storage trailer we rented to hold all our tools and materials on its way back to Sanford.  Maple flooring was the biggest space hog and since we moved that to the house last week, it was time to bid an old and tired (no, make that VERY tired) trailer adieu.  
On Friday they sanded the seams of all the flooring boards and made sure all the lumps and bumps were gone. They also started to lay out the paper but ran out of paper so had to come back on Monday to finish the prep and work the layout.  On Monday they started laying the wood out and went to work quickly stapling it into place.  They finished about 1/2 the stapling on Monday and then completed the whole house on Tuesday.  Monday afternoon we were unsure if we'd have leftover wood or run short.  We had planned for them not to lay maple in the front bedroom until we knew if there was enough but they, confident that they'd have enough, went ahead with the layout of the floor in that room.  When Ricardo (the owner of the flooring company) stopped by at the end of the work day he wasn't sure we'd have enough material to do the landing.  He measured, remeasured, and again said it was going to be close.  On Tuesday they still had several bundles of maple that hadn't been opened - and at 22 sq ft per bundle the 55 sq ft landing would use most of that wood.  In the end it turned out we had about 1/2 a bundle of wood leftover.  We couldn't have planned it that closely.  They did lay hardwood under all the cabinets and in the closets (of the rooms with maple flooring).  In the end it looks like they laid in the range of 1900 sf of maple.  Thursday they sand the woods and then on Friday is the coloration and the initial finish layer goes on.  We're going for a slight darkening of the color but nothing dramatic.  The color and grain of the wood needs to shine through.
Starting the layout in the Family room - this is to get the boards lined up without seams too close and making it look good. 

It always looks worse before it looks better!

The second stage of the layout is the run from the end of the family room to the end of the hallway which is about  80 feet of continuous hardwood which ends up tying the house together.
And the stapling has commenced...

Here's a sample of a finish - this is just the base oil applied before the Bona finish.  We like it but want it a shade deeper.

Here's the end of the day on Monday.  Many hands make light work (6 guys working on the install!)

That's a recessed floor vent bought from an online supplier. 

The hallway from the Master bath to the bedroom.

OOPS! Forgot that I'd just swept up our mess from the day and that the flash was going to fire.  Guess this is why they say you should wear a dust mask when working with treated wood! (This dust reminds me of the visits to Saddam's places in Baghdad - but that's another story).

And here it is without the flash.  Maple flooring is all installed - the only remaining piece is the stair nosing at the main floor and the landing but we're going to let the trim carpenter install that as he adjusts the stairs during install of the treads and risers.

A slightly different view - Can't wait for the kitchen cabinetry to get installed and then the appliances.

Yesterday they connected the goethermal well to the HVAC system after charging it with an ethanol/water mix (heat transfer and anti-freeze all in one) and this morning when I arrived, the house was at a balmy 71 degrees.  The setback dropped back to 62 degrees at 8:00 and when I left the house after the day of 3 of us in the house working and the garage entry door open all day, the temp had dropped to a chilly 70 degrees.   Several times during the day I threatened to turn on the A/C to drop the temp a bit so I didn't sweat so much while we were working!

We laid out the subfloors for the rooms with marmoleum - upstairs we added 7/16" OSB to bring up the level of the bathrooms and laundry room so that there wasn't a big step between the marmoleum and the maple.  In the basement we have to use some self-leveling compound to even out the waves (it is concrete after all) so we applied the "primer" which is really a bonding agent/concrete sealer for the self-leveling compound.  It is supposed to dry in, depending on which literature you read, 3 hours to 24 hours.  In the morning if the primer is dry we'll pour the compound which requires 16 hours before you can lay floor on it.  That will mean no marmoleum in that room until Friday but we wanted to make sure that the marmoleum didn't transmit all the small depressions and bumps in the concrete - especially important in the bathroom where your feet will sense every little uneven spot.

Oh yeah, yesterday the Hardwood Store of NC delivered all our trim (poplar), stair treads(maple), risers (alder), window sill nosing (poplar), and the wood for the hallway slatted ceiling (hickory).  Interior doors and toilets being delivered Friday, range and dishwasher delivery is tomorrow.

Here's a sneak peek at the garage door we're considering.  This is a Clopay Avante' which will have frosted glass panels to let the light through.  Thanks to Kate from Custom Door and Gate for the quote on this one and the cool picture with the door superimposed on our house.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

(Week 28) Pardon our dust - cabinets and granite/quartz selection

  It's hard to believe but last week marked the 6th month since we cleared the lot and began construction in earnest, it was about a month after that when we set the walls.  Well, yesterday we visited the cabinetmaker to drop off the handles to be installed (which he includes as part of the bid) and to pick up a couple doors for paint matching.

Our schedule for the coming weeks is pretty much focused on the inside of the house where we lay flooring, cabinets are installed, painting is done, doors are installed and trim carpentry is started (not necessarily in that order).  We're still working on the cable rail for the interior stairwell which is not an easy solution - the cost of custom newel posts is prohibitive so we're now focusing on less costly pre-fab solutions.  Getting answers from the plethora of dealers has been challenging - maybe business is that good they don't need ours but I suspect it's more that nobody is watching their in-box.  We may end up spending time ordering parts and designing our own solution.

Gutters and trim materials are ordered so the gutter system should be going on the house in the near future as well (once exterior painting is complete).

 The cabinets look fantastic and we think our choices for tile, marmoleum, and paint will match very well with the cabinets.

Kitchen cabinet minus the doors on the sink base - taking pictures in an active workshop is difficult due to dust in the air and on everything around- 
The basement bath vanity which is constructed of clear coated poplar.
Master bath cabinets constructed of maple
Doors for the master bath surround (left) and the downstairs linen closet (poplar on the right)
Today we visited the Stone yard and viewed loads of different natural and man-made materials from granite to quartz, soapstone to slate, and even some topaz.  There were over 80 different grades/colors to choose from and we found one we liked on the second row but continued through to see what else we liked.  There were several that we liked and some that just were not our style.  For instance there is a "leather" finish on some of the slabs which is a textured finish.  The leathering varied from light to deep - which mean that it was either a relatively smooth finish or a very rough finish like well scarred leather (which we didn't like, especially when done to an otherwise gorgeous slab of green soapstone).  We ended up choosing a slab that has significant movement and is a lightly leathered finish for the master bath which gets significant natural light (direct and indirect sunlight) and we figured the reflections would be hard to tolerate.  The amazing thing about this particular slab is it blended perfectly with the blue and tan tiles, the marmoleum, the maple cabinets/tub surround and the paint we selected.

Master bath granite slab that will comprise the vanities, shower ledge/curb and the tub surround - and that's James, our fabricator with his hand on the granite.

Viewed from a bit different angle

And from the opposite end

This shows the name and "LF" for leather finish (the name is on the tag - Juprana Venetian Lt).  As you can see here it's not a highly reflective finish.
We then went to the remnants yard of our fabricator and chose a couple of pieces that will go well in the hallway bathrooms; one is a green/tan granite for the downstairs bathroom and the second is a champagne pearl quartz that will go in the upstairs hall bath.  Unfortunately the pieces were in racks making it impossible to get a good photograph but we'll get pictures once we're in the templating mode; that will start after cabinet install which is tentatively scheduled the week between Christmas and New Years.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Conditional Power and water, tiling, HVAC, deck railings and septic

 I just realized that we hadn't posted in nearly 2 weeks.  Lots of activity on the site including getting the final electrical connections required for conditional power to the house.  That entailed ensuring that there were GFCI outlets on each floor and that anything else to be connected (like the well and HVAC) were properly connected.  We powered up the house on Wednesday after a successful inspection on Tuesday.  The funny thing was we expected drop cords running in and out the door would be a thing of the past but because we didn't power up any external outlets we still have that problem.  We'll get that fixed on the next electrician's visit.

With the power to the house, we were able to turn on the well and draw water for the workers instead of borrowing it from our neighbor Jack or using rainwater collected from the roof.  We do have a minor drip from a couple of the fittings but they're easily fixed.

Along with the water we had the Boer Brothers on site to connect the heat pump so we could maintain temps in the house for the maple flooring to acclimate.  While we're not yet using the geothermal ground source it's important that the wood acclimate for at least a week before we have it installed.  Right now the subfloor is reading about 12% moisture content while the wood is reading between 6% and 8%.  Ideally the subfloor is between 10 and 12% and the wood is 7-8% so we are not far off.  We waited until the painters had finished priming the interior walls before moving the wood in from our storage trailer and then we stacked it (first in a pyramid but then we rearranged to a crosshatch for better airflow) in rooms so it wouldn't have to be moved far to install it.  The installer will sand the subfloor prior to the install to even out any joint swelling that's occurred and ensure a nice flat surface. The sanding (dustless) is currently scheduled to begin next weekend and install should start on Monday, 19 Dec.  At the same time we'll probably install the cork flooring in the basement.

Maple flooring stacked to acclimate to temp/humidity levels prior to installation

Heat pump connected - partially.  Needed more of the high pressure pipe to connect the flow center to the heat pump.  Once that's done we'll be on geothermal and off heat strips.  Still need to install the water tank for the desuperheater for the water as well as the plumber-provided hot ware tank.
The carpenters finished up the railing for the deck - which is comprised of a 2x6 on top of the 6x6 posts and then a 2x8 cap rail.  The lumber we're using for the decking and railings is Cox double kiln dried wood - basically it's kiln dried, pressure treated, and kiln dried a second time for better stability.  Our real wish was for Ipe but at over 4 times the cost for the material alone we decided that we needed to hold off on that luxury.  Because the deck wraps around the end of the house we have 3 different decking orientations (perpendicular to the joists which are perpendicular to the walls).

  I mentioned paint earlier - the painting crew came and primed all the interior walls on Saturday and Sunday last week, then the sheetrock top-up crew came to make some adjustments/corrections. The painters also primed the outside of the house and yesterday they started painting the Baguette color on the outside.  We went with a fine texture in the paint to provide a "stucco" look to the house.
The family room after prime
View from the kitchen to the family room
Looking West to East from family room - everything still wrapped in plastic so imagination is required to see the final look
Primer up and Durarock installed in the upstairs hall bath
This made it east to say "NO" to a white house!  Concrete primer on, waiting for the final color choice and texture.

Back side and East side with primer on.
Baguette applied to the front.  Much better!

East side baguette, south side white. 

The tiling crew finished up most of the tile setting on Friday as well.  The only tile they didn't set was where we ended up being 3 12x24 tiles short in the master bathroom.  That was a result of our miscalculating the impact of cuts on walls that are larger than 2 tiles wide.  Our tile setter was a master at layout and he centered one tile which had the impact of causing two tiles to be cut on either side - meaning that for each row of tile we needed 3 tiles.  Since we were tiling up to 8 feet, that meant we needed 27 tiles and we only ordered 24 so we had to add another box to compete the tiling.  The other discussion we had on tiling was the waterproofing of the walls behind the tile.  In my earlier post I described that pretty thoroughly so I won't rehash it here.
Upstairs hall bath
Corner of mast showing contrasting accent wall and accent stripes
The niche for shampoo and liquid soap - that's nearly a full 12x24 tile in the back
Downstairs bath with glass tile accent strips and multi-color floor
Floor of the downstairs shower - yep, that drain is still off center due to measurement errors when the slab was poured around the plumbing.  Tilers did their magic to make this look good.