Sunday, January 25, 2009

More progress

The framers made good progress on the siding last week. They're a bit over half way done: 

They finished the south and east sides of the house. They still have the north and west sides, and the gables to do,  and they still have to  finish up the porch trim. They should get everything done by the end of the  week (weather permitting).

Friday was a bit hectic. The framers were putting up siding, the insulator was spraying insulation on the first floor, the electrician was adding some outlets in the garage and a heat detector in the workshop, the drywall supplier was delivering drywall, the Energy Start inspector was there, and the village inspector was there. All at the same time. I was relieved to go to work!

So insulation is done, and both the village and energy star inspectors approved. The drywallers showed up on Saturday:

Yep. There were about a dozen guys there laying about 350 sheets of 4x12 drywall on Saturday. So we no longer have a skeleton. We have rooms! At least on the second floor. They finished drywalling everything on the second floor, the first floor ceiling, and the garage. They should finish putting up the drywall on Monday, and even get the first coat of mud on. So by the end of the week, we should be ready to start the finish work.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Insulation and siding have started

Finally some more visible progress! The insulators started yesterday, and the framers started siding today. First the siding:

We're using pre-finished Hardiplank fiber cement siding on most of the house, with pre-finished Nichiha fiber cement shakes on the gables. We love the look so far. The shakes look as close as possible to cedar. The stain on the shakes, which has a 12-year warranty, looks like it has two colors--giving it a more natural appearance. So a dozen years from now, we'll have to think about staining the shakes again, but our neighbors will have had to stain theirs three or four times by then. 

The Hardiplank siding looks good too, especially against the trim. Plenty of contrast. Here are the framers installing the siding on the south side of the house: 

And one of the siding up close:

Here's how the house looked late this afternoon:

Now for the inside. Like I said in the last post, we decided to go with blown-in fiberglass instaed of cellulose. The insulators started by putting up the vapor barrier on the second floor ceiling, and laying batts where they wouldn't be able to blow in fiberglass. Today, they started blowing the fiberglass, and they installed sound-proofing batts on the first floor ceiling and around the laundry room and bathrooms. They finished blowing walls on the second floor, and started on the first floor. The ceilings won't get blown until the drywall is up later this week.

The house is now starting to look like a house on the inside too, instead of just a skeleton. Here's the master bedroom:

And Zeke's room:

The insulators are definitely efficient. They can zoom right through insulating a room in about 30 minutes. The blown fiberglass doesn't take long either. They start by stapling up a mesh that holds the insulation in place, cut a hole in it, insert the blower hose, and in just a few seconds, the stud bay is filled:

We did come across one problem. A sligh problem with an icicle:

It's caused by condensation from the exhaust vent for the workshop heater. The icicle is at last three or four feet long, and six feet wide. Looks like we'll have to relocate the exhaust pipe.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another Delay

I could blame it on the weather...temperatures will be hovering around 0 all week. And that really is the cause of the delay in installing the siding. Looks like they'll start next week instead of this week. 

But the real reason for the delay is my fault. I'm still not quite done with the structured wiring. I have all but two security wires run--and that's it.  So far we've run about 9400 feet of wiring for phone, internet, security, video, and distributed audio. That's getting pretty close to two miles of wire! Once the security wire is run, all I have to do is wire sensors and clean up the boxes to make sure all the wires will be accessible after the walls are closed up. 

But that's not even the only reason for the delay. I picked the insulation contractor based on their bid: they were lower than everyone else by a couple thousand dollars. And they were well recommended. But it turns out that they quoted fiberglass batt insulation rather than cellulose. No wonder they were cheaper than everyone else. 

So now, it's back to the selection process. And while I'm selecting a new contractor, I figured I'd do some more research on insulation. I think I've changed my mind--now I want blown-in fiberglass. It provides the same benefits as cellulose--slightly better R-value, and because it's blown in, it fills cavities much better than batts. But it really came down to water. Dense-pack cellulose is blown in damp--up to 30% moisture content. You're supposed to wait for it to dry before covering it. But a couple of studies in Canada showed that it can take a long time to dry to a "safe" level (as long as six months to get to an 11% moisture content).  I'm not going to leave the walls open that long. The vendors say it can be covered the next day because the insulation is treated with a fungicide. But the wood that will surround it isn't.  And that's not just an installation problem. If any water gets in to the wall cavities, cellulose soaks it up. Fiberglass doesn't.  So fiberglass it is. 

It turns out that one of the insulators competitors quoted me blown-in fiberglass for just slightly more than the contractor I selected. But their drywall bid is $1000 lower. So it looks like I found an insulator. 

Not content to leave well enough alone, I figured that since insulation won't start until next Monday, I should run a few more wires. So I'll run some intercom wires to the kitchen, basement, workshop, and each bedroom. Just in case Megan decides sometime in the future that she's tired of screaming for us to come to supper. That should bring us to an even 10,000 feet of structured wire. 

No pictures today. Maybe next week. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Workshop & Garage Doors

The workshop is starting to look like a workshop. And the garage is starting to look like a garage--doors and all. Here's some proof: 

I hope to get a lot of use out of that machine that resembles an aircraft carrier in the middle of the picture... It will be great to actually have enough room to walk around the machine without running into things.

My brother-in-law Bill installed the garage doors earlier this week:

Those are 9' x 8' carriage style steel doors by Haas Garage Doors. They have applied trim that makes them stand out a bit more than the garden variety door. They feel pretty solid. And they do a pretty good job of keeping the snow (and wind) out of the garage. 

As I promised in the last post, here's one of Danny running wires:

Believe it or not, he's actually about 15 feet above the camera, up in the rafters.

The building inspector came today to do electrical and structural inspections. We passed all the mechanicals: plumbing, hvac, and electrical. He wants to see some additional blocking in the basement to carry point loads. Once that's done, we'll have passed the structural inspection too. Here's a picture that shows what he had to inspect:

That's a kitchen wall. Every stud bay is filled with either plumbing, electrical wiring, structured wiring, or hvac supplies or returns (or a combination of all of these).  People often complain that each trade wants to work alone. Nobody wants to start working until the previous trade is done. I've had plumbers, hvac guys, rough carpenters, and electricians in the house at the same time. They've been working together very well. 

The inspector did mention that he didn't want insulation to start until the siding was installed. I'm hoping he'll be okay with installing both the insulation and the siding at the same time: that way both can start on Monday, and I'll be on schedule.

We still have a fair amount of work to do before starting the insulation. We finished running the video, audio control, ethernet, and speaker wires. I still have to finish some video matrix wiring, some audio source wiring, security, and vacuum outlet wiring. The goal is to have all the wiring done by end of day Sunday so that insulation can start on Monday.