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.


  1. i know i’m a little off topic, but i just wanted to say i love the layout of your blog. i’m new to the blogegine platform, so any suggestions on getting my blog looking nice would be appreciated.

  2. Awesome house! Very impressive. I just built a house last year in Raleigh (not passive house, but acheived HERS rating of 7). I'm working on design for a passive house in SW VA which will be my 2nd home. I'd love to come see your house sometime if you ever do a tour.