Notes, 22 July 2015

Third meeting of the busiest week yet for Steven with Ron Dahlke, who is cranking hard and fast on 12 cylinders. And it’s only Wednesday. Today’s agenda:

  • Roofing. Ron met with and Steven approved quote from Potter’s Roofing Co. to install sheetmetal and waterproofing at several locations; to remove existing and install new vent flashing in the lower and upper roofs; to patch where mushroom vents and the skylight are removed — and other damaged areas; and to replace the chimney flashing with a new cricket that will move water away from the brick at the back of the chimney where it meets the roof; water flows directly against the brick and existing flashing when it rains. This is wrong. Some of these tasks are built into existing line-item budgets. Some of this work will require change orders. Why the change orders? Ron and the framers opened up the framing behind the chimney and discovered signs of water penetration traveling down the brick.
  • Pocket doors. Ron finalized and Steven approved quote from BMC for interior pocket doors — built into the framing materials line-item in the budget.
  • Exterior doors. Steven also approved second quote from BMC for exterior doors at the kitchen, back door and at at the mudroom into the garage — not including the front door and not including the back door to the garage. The front door is an entirely different task — and Ron is researching whether the back door to the garage must be fire rated.
  • Vanities, medicine cabinets, electrical. Steven delivered dimensional plans for the bathroom vanities, and the medicine cabinets that will be used in bath 2, the mudroom and master bath. This enables Ron and the framers to properly nail lumber into position for the medicine cabinets, which insert into the wall between studs. It also enables Ron, Sean the electrician, and Steven and Jacquela to properly position electrical outlets for the medicine cabinets, which feature built-in LED lighting, and for wall outlets adjacent to the vanities.
  • HVAC. Ron advises that the HVAC rough-in begins Thursday/tomorrow, 23 July.
  • Kitchen cabinets. Also 23 July, Aaron Pratt at Centex Custom Cabinets is scheduled to visit, to begin measuring for the kitchen cabinets.
  • Pending. Ron continues to track pending submittals from subcontractors for refinishing the wood floors and laying new wood; how to get electrical power through the slab to the kitchen island; and the candidates for the potential front door.
  • Discovery 1: Structure. Taking out the hearth to the left of and in front of the fireplace reveals the brick may be the only thing holding up the ceiling beams above the fireplace — and we may need to add structural support across the front of the fireplace under the ceiling beams. Ron is researching this with the structural engineer, Ben Feldt at Feldt Consulting Engineers.
  • Discovery 2: Insulation. Ron advises that the sheathing between the brick and studs on the first floor may need additional sealing DSC_2230— every time that demo took out an old cable or fixture, that left a hole in the sheathing. One way to fix this may be to deploy the painters with silicon before we begin insulation. Another approach might be to use expanding foam insulation instead of blown-in insulation. The building plan already calls for foam in the attic, upper and lower roofs, with blown-in insulation in the walls. There’s a cost delta to switch out to foam — should we do this selectively, only where needed, stud bay penetration by stud bay penetration? Or, should we just foam everything? Ron offers to schedule a meeting with the insulation contractor. Steven notes his history with foam — the current house is the first built by John Hagy Homes that is insulated with foam, helping to qualify the house for 3 stars with the Austin Energy Green Building Program — 11 years ago, when foam insulation was new to market. And … the foam yields an airtight house that is much easier to heat and cool, and vastly more efficient.

Separately, Steven met with and walked the house with one of the candidate companies to install the structured wiring system — security, low-voltage cables for TV, sound and phone, and the computer network.

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Becoming the treehouse

The first time Jacquela and Steven walked the house, before we bought it, we marveled in the master bedroom over the view into the trees from roughly 12 feet up in the air. A squirrel stared back at us from the limb of an oak at least 24 inches in circumference. Wood shutters cut off the view from the bottom half of the windows at the front of the master bedroom. Additional wood shutters closed off the windows on the south wall of the master.

The original shutters and windows, with a glimpse into the trees beyond. Photo shot in August 2014 during the house inspection.
The original shutters and windows, with a glimpse into the trees beyond. Photo shot in August 2014 during the house inspection.

We set out to change this as we turned concept into plans with architect Brent Grinkmeyer. Steven borrowed a stick of sidewalk chalk from Jadin to sketch dimensional outlines on the walls for potential windows. Colleen Ferrell from Martel Windows & Doors guided us to fixed uppers and operable awnings below — a window arrangement that we elected to repeat in other rooms throughout the house — an organizing theme to help unify the house as we saved it from itself.

Today, for the first time, the new front and side windows are installed in the master.

Concept is become plan is become treehouse.

It’s amazing.

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What light through yonder windows breaks

This is not a house of Shakespearean balconies, but the new Milgard windows are taller, wider, opening what was a dark house to more light.

Today, the framers installed the large front windows — three units joined into one, fixed glass at top, operable awnings below.


From outside, the framers install the three narrow vertical windows at the new front wall of the new front entry.
From outside, the framers install the three narrow vertical windows at the new front wall of the new front entry. On the ladder, one of the framers installs flashing around the larger vertical window that is 90 degrees turned from the new location for the new front door — again, a new way to pull more light into the house. The original entry to the house was four feet back from this new front wall, with a solid door that closed off the hallway from daylight.
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Order from chaos

DSC_2120Sean and the team from Capstone Electric ran a string line plumb with the center of the island and induction cooktop in the kitchen, extending that line across the family room, using it to properly align the ceiling cans.

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Medieval plumbing

There’s something about the plumbing rough-in that reminds Steven of medieval paintings — dark shadows to add drama, brilliant lighting to focus your eye where the painter wants your attention, and countless details when you study the entire canvas.

Above, here’s Art and his assistant from Custom Plumbing continuing to crack open the slab in bath 2 for the the new shower drain.

Below, here’s the intricate snake of PVC pipe that will drain the shower, toilet and tankless water heater in the mudroom — and the rough-in the far wall for the stack that will vent all this.


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