Sunday, February 19, 2012

Let it Rain! Drainage design working as planned.

Today was the first real rain we've had since the final grading and installation of the drainage system.  The initial rain was soft and by about 10:00 we had collected over 50 gallons of water in one of the 275 gallon IBCs and all the 60 gallon pickle barrels were full.  The barrel by the front door was performing the fountain duties quite well - water from the overflow was spilling directly into the catch basin and going around via the drainage.  The west side barrel on the front was overflowing into the PVC pipe and filling that IBC in the back (only one is currently connected to the system).  The rear barrel was overflowing but due to settling of the dirt and lack of an installed overflow tube it was simply overflowing onto the ground.  Clearly the IBC would have been filled if this one were to be connected into the system.  That's a project for later this week.

Here's the barrel by the front door - rain chain is working well and the overflow is hitting the catch-basin.  That water collected in front is from when the overflow was removed as a test - after this the puddle went away and all the water ran into the drainage system, around the front of the garage and down to the back outlet which leads into the stream.

A view of the top of the barrel - the chain is currently resting on the window screen 'filter' that keeps the debris from entering the rain barrel.  On the other front barrel I used the grate that was included with the pickle barrel as a large-debris filter.  it's effective but the water splashes out more so we'll refine it a bit.  The screen in this case is under the threaded seal at the top of the barrel which is a very good solution.  The water is actually about 2" below the screen - what you see here is the screen and splashing water due to the downpour.  The are right - water really does race off metal roofs!

Here's the water overflowing from the front barrel to the catch basin.  That puddle in front is due to the settling of the dirt and a test where the extension was removed from the overflow.  

Here's a view of the lot during a particularly heavy downpour.  That puddle in front of the surface pipe is because the dirt settled  causing the end of the pipe to flex upward about 5" above ground level.  We'll tackle fixing that when it dries out a bit.  Clearly this drainage system is sufficient - once the grass seed sprouts and takes hold we shouldn't see the localized puddling (like all those footprints across the newly seeded area).

This shows (albeit a bit hard to see) the flow down the East side of the driveway and around the house.
You can see the drainage working as planned - water flowing down the valley to the left of this picture, over the hill and into the natural ravine.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Interior painting, drainage system, and a garage door

This week was another busy week on the site -the painters worked on adding color to the inside of the house - after all the plastic and paper it was beginning to be tough to remember what it looked like.  We chose the following colors - Ivory Lace, Roman Plaster, Dragonfly, and Silver Sage.  The ceilings in most rooms were 30% or 50% mixes of the wall colors - the 30% was used on the stronger colors while the 50% was used for Roman Plaster and Ivory Lace since they were light to start.  Before they could paint they had to finish staining all the wood trim/doors/beams which they did early in the week and then they moved on to painting the walls then ceilings.

  Once the painting was largely done (except for cutting in the transition corners and all the trim) they removed all the plastic, paper and tape from the windows, doors, cabinets and trim.
The second coat of "added tint" acorn going on the beam - after they wiped if off it didn't look nearly as rich as this dark color.

Family Room - Dragonfly on the far wall, Silver Sage on the right.

Beams stained - before the paint

Another view of the dragonfly/silver sage walls.

Silver Sage and Environmental - it's difficult to see the difference in the two from this angle and in the camera flash.

Kitchen (Ivory Lace), Hallway (Silver Sage) and trim/doors (brown cedar) and beams (Acorn) - all woodwork here still covered with plastic.

Silver Sage on the hallway side of the living room pocket door

Roman Plaster on the living room side of the pocket door

Front door - silver sage paint and brown cedar stained wood.

Hall - silver sage.  That niche at the end may change to Ivory Lace for highlight

Upstairs hallway bathroom.  That's a sun tunnel and no electric lighting in the room.

Ivory Lace in the kitchen - that's the dragonfly wall to the right.

Ivory lace on the walls, alder and cherry cabinets, Carrera marble baking center

 Today the new garage door was installed - it's a Clopay Avante frosted glass door.  Eight feet tall eighteen feet wide so the door weighs in at about 500 pounds. We considered installing it ourselves but the additional charge for having professionals do this one was absolutely worth the money.  Two guys worked on the door for several hours and they knew what they were doing so it would have taken us twice the time.  The opener is a bit out of the ordinary in that it is not installed at the very center of the door - it's offset by a slight be to the left when facing out the door.  Fortunately we had pictures of "before insulation and drywall" which allowed me to cut a small hole in the wall and fish out the buried control wire.  Pictures have paid huge dividends in finding covered switches, outlets, wires, and to help locate where some wires are routed.  The garage door opener is one of the quietest we have ever heard - it's  DC motor that is just about 1 HP for all that weight.  The outside pictures of the installed door show that it was the perfect choice for this house.

View of the 3 panels installed - fourth panel about to go on.

View from the inside - yep, that's a frosted glass door on aluminum frame. 

Here's a view with it installed - but the opener isn't finished at this point

All done - this view doesn't show the true beauty of it

The brown of the frame highlights the window frame very well; and the glass accents the contemporary style of the hosue.

View from the inside after the complete install - you can almost see the off-center nature of the drive track here.  

After the grading was completed, we installed rain barrels under the rain chains (each side of the garage and one off the back deck).  I attached some PVC to the Northeast barrel to allow it to drain directly into the catch basin we installed for that purpose - this catches the East slope of the Garage and part of the North east roof.  The Northwest barrel catches the West slope of the garage and the North slope of the western deck.  That barrel has an overflow outlet attached to a PVC line that runs under the deck and into the 275 gallon IBC containers under the South side of the deck.  The rear barrel currently has no overflow but will feed the IBCs as well as have an overflow that goes into a catch basin below it to get excess water away from the house and flowing down the hill into the intermittent stream via the rip rap field we installed earlier.  Last night it rained enough to fill the 3 60 gallon barrels and add 50 gallons to the IBC container.  The rear barrel was full by the time I left yesterday but it had tipped over this morning.  The soil around the catch basin had turned into a gooey mess with the water - it was  disturbed during the installation of the basin so it will take another rain or two to settle in and compact down again.  I took advantage of a nice day earlier this week (or was it last week?) to spread some seed - Contractor mix on the rear (fescue with a little annual rye mixed in) and winter rye for the front and side yards.  The front and side will not have long-term grass but will have landscaping bushes and mulch.

PVC line from front rain barrel overflow to the 275 gallon IBCs.  Still have to strap it to the deck and put a drain mechanism in to prevent freezing in cold wx.  First test yielded 50 gallons of water (would have been more but I was in the process of test-fitting when the rain started...).

Temp home of the two IBCs - we'll dig out a bit more and elevate them so you can get gravity flow of the water from the two spigots.  Plans also include connecting the two spigots in the front with PVC so there is a self-leveling process as well as putting a powered sump pump in to get the pressure for watering landscape plants when necessary.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pictures of Grading and the baking center marble

Ok, call me lazy.  I decided to do this the easy way and just add a new post showing the grading finished and adding the Carrera marble (installed today) baking center top.  It's lowered for better working with pastry, kneading dough for bread and stirring for shorter stature people.

We're still working through the soapstone dilemma in the kitchen but we're close to making that decision - costs are important but we want something that compliments the cabinets and other finishes in the house.

View from the North West corner of the clearing.  cloudy this morning so you aren't blinded by the sun

Looking more Northwest to Northeast across the teardrop shaped driveway

The road grader is about 50' from the road in this picture.  Drive is "paved" with crusher run which compacts down really hard and doesn't wash away as much as normal gravel.

looking down the drive

abour 3/4 of the way to the street from the house at this point

Southeast to Southwest view of the back yard.  Laster in the morning there was a bit of a downpour so the rainchains did their thing.

This picture makes it look washed out - the colors are richer but the flash fired here washing them out a bit.  Carrera marble for the baking section and we're thinking of Monsoon Wave or similar soapstone for the countertops and then a wood "bar top" on the island.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Who says you can't stain poplar? Granite, finish grading, the ERV goes in and the make-up air test worked well.

Since my last post the trim has been completed and we've had the painters in the house finishing the trim with EarthPaint stain.  We tried a couple samples using Minwax stain - some were done without pre-treating the wood and some done with pre-treating.  None of those samples had the right color nor were they even.  We are not looking for that "spray finish consistency" you see on some of the pre-finished cabinets - you know the ones that look like the wood is a lacquer finish without being able to tell what the wood underneath really is.  We want to be able to see the grain yet not have wildly inconsistent tones.  The poplar has wide variations naturally in color that range from brown, through yellow/green and include some black and even purple sections.  You've seen those in the raw wood pictures on the last post.   What EarthPaint did was even out those huge variations and it didn't "blotch" which we saw in spades with the other stain.  We chose a brown cedar for the poplar trim and stair risers while going for a darker Acorn for the beams.  I spent a weekend sanding down all the trim and another day sanding down the beams.  For the trim I used several different grits of sandpaper - where there were chatter marks from the planer or other deep marks I used increasingly finer grit starting at 120 and working to 220.  For that trim that was near ready I use a 220 grit.  For the majority of the sanding I used an orbital sander but I used an oscillating tool for the fine details and corners that the orbital sander can't reach. For the beams I used a 100 grit (and sometimes dropped back to an 80 grit when I needed to take out some deeper gouges or scrapes).
Left Pantry Door with Earhpaint Brown Cedar applied.  

Living room pocket doors with Brown Cedar stain applied.  Glass is covered in plastic and protective film  at this point until painting is complete.

Bi-fold doors in the quilting room.  

Master Bedroom window sill with stain applied

Master bedroom door.

Master bedroom doors - the one on the right is the "curtain door."
Stair risers and skirt board stained; the skirt is poplar while the risers are alder.  that light color on the face of the treads is the masking tape holding he protecive cardboard and paper on until the treads are stained and polyurethaned.
The painters applied the stain using a brush and after a short wait they wiped it off with lint-free painters wiping cloth.  We were very careful to put the rags in buckets of water when they were done and take those out of the house.  Our builder has actually had a bucket of the used rags which was soaking in water self-ignite in a parking lot so they take the cautions on the cans very seriously (as do we!).  As of today they had finished with the first coat of two on all the trim, stair risers and beams.  They also hand sanded the majority of the woodwork in preparation for the second coat of stain.

 The nice thing about this finish is it's the only finish you put on the wood - over time it hardens (several weeks) and protects the wood.  The labor involved with a product where you have to pre-condition the wood, stain it, and then apply a polyurethane coating alone outweighs the higher cost of the Earthpaint.  And it has a pleasant (though quite strong) citrus smell that lingers as it's curing.

  Before they started staining the trim, the granite folks installed the granite and quartz in the bathrooms.  The two hallway baths were pretty simple and went in quickly but the master was a bit more complex.  The tub deck was comprised of 4 pieces for the deck and another 4 for the backsplash so that took longer than the team anticipated.  In addition the shower sill, wall cap and vanities made this one big job for the guys.  Once they completed it though it was a great addition to the bathroom.  We did remove the tub during the installation so it was easier and we haven't yet reinstalled it.  Unfortunately we didn't get pictures before the painters descended with their rolls of tape, plastic and paper to cover it all in prep for the staining and painting work.

Today they finished spreading out the topsoil (two loads of a 50/50 screened soil/mulch mix and about the same of our own saved topsoil) in those areas where we'll be planting.  They also graded the land for final drainage and installed 5 sections of pipe ranging from 4" to 12" in diameter.  The main goal of this drainage system is to channel the water from the front of the house around to the back and prevent erosion.  The crowned the driveway and built berms that will route the water around the house and into the natural drainage on east but into the 12" pipe on the west.  That westerly route is there to prevent the water which can be significant in heavy rains from eroding the septic field.  Two downspouts on the back of the house were connected to drainage pipes leading to the rip-rap outlet below the house.  The 12" pipe as well as the overflow from the back rainchain will also channel into the riprap so during heavy rains there will be a nice flow going down the natural draw of land into our intermittent stream.

View of the driveway - we changed the shape from a circle to a more functional teardrop.  the middle will hold an  herb and/or flower garden.
Looking at the house from the driveway before they had spread the topsoil.  The pile on the left was moved to the back of the house as was part of that pile in the middle of the drive.  The pile beyond the loader was moved to the space between the drive and the house.
Last week the Boer Brothers connected the ERV into the ductwork and added a return from the laundry/mud-room completing the ERV ducting. Top out for the HVAC will encompass connecting the return to the ground-source heat pump, connecting in the desuperheater for hot water and balancing the system(s) so the conditioning and air turnover all works in unison.  As part of that "air" situation we did the first install of the range hood this week and tested out the make-up air solution.  Initially the air was flowing reasonably well through the dedicated duct but whistling through the open lockset hole in the laundry.  After a little detective work we realized the vent was nearly completely blocked by tape and plastic from painting.  Once we removed the tape the duct definitely provided a huge amount of air when the vent hood was on it's full 750CFM speed.  I'll take a couple pictures and post them before we disassemble the hood system for interior painting which starts in a few days.