Week ending 3 July 2015

Ron Dahlke from Ranserve files this week’s update.

This week:

  • Received engineering specs
  • Ordered beam and header material
  • Evaluated level condition of slab and upstairs floor
  • Started framing, setting temporary walls
  • Spoke with Hvac and plumbing companies about schedule

Next week:

  • Frame 1st floor beams
  • Review interior door and trim package
  • Review exterior doors
  • Contact electrician about schedule

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday.

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Notes, 3 July 2015

  • Framing is underway! We are now officially saving this house from itself.
    Before: To the right of the wheelbarrow is the wall of studs now removed between the kitchen and family room.
    Before: To the right of the wheelbarrow is the wall of studs now removed between the kitchen and family room.
  • Ron and Cris from Ranserve took out the wall dividing the kitchen from the family room. For the first time, we get a sense of what the united spaces will feel and look like. Large, open, executed to plan. Compare large photo at start of this post with wall removed and temporary supports in place, to the photo above that shows the stud wall to the right of the wheelbarrow. In the larger photo — that is a temporary wall in place to brace the second story until the LVL is properly installed.
  • The LVLs are delivered. Now Ron, Cris and crew can fix the structure of the house.

Laminated veneer lumber (LVL) is an engineered wood product that uses multiple layers of thin wood assembled with adhesives. It is typically used for headers, beams, rimboard, and edge-forming material. Wikipedia.

  • Ron labeled each LVL to ensure proper location and installation.
  • Some of the LVLs will be trimmed horizontally by 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch to ensure the ceiling is flat.
  • Ron and Cris spent 2 July with a laser checking the first and second floors for level — critical prep for proper framing. The slab that is the first floor deviates about an inch from left side of house to right, front to back, which is nominal, no fixes required. The existing framing for the second floor also varies maybe an inch around the perimeter of the exterior walls, but there is a hump of more than one inch where the stairs meet the second-floor hallway. Ron advises that this can be shimmed and minimized. Overall, no surprises, no catastrophes. In fact, the nominal levels will make parts of this remodel easier.
  • Ron also “discovered” another 5-to-6 inches of linear space to add to the kitchen, front of house to back, when using the laser to check against the plan dimensions. Ron and Steven discussed options and decided to add the extra inches to the narrow cabinet at the end of the kitchen counter that runs under the window; it is drawn in the plans at 9 inches wide, now it can be 12-to-15 inches wide, making it that much more usable. The key to making use of the extra inches is ensuring that the center of the cooktop and the center of the island are aligned as framing rolls forward. As a spinoff, the window above the sink and the sink will shift 5-to-6 inches to the left, ensuring more natural light reaches further into the kitchen.
  • Mark Rehberg from Ranserve arrived while Steven and Ron talked through the floor levels and bonus inches in the kitchen. It’s payday! Mark distributed envelopes to everyone on the Ranserve crew. Steven does not qualify. Dang.
  • Decision. Mark, Ron and Steven discussed the Hardie siding for the exterior — integrated color that does not need painting for 15 years vs. primered siding that will need to be painted after it is installed and then repainted periodically through the life of the house. It is Ron’s experience that the siding with integrated color is more difficult and time-consuming to install; the framers can’t scratch or ding it without damaging the integrating color, which will require a time-consuming process that uses color-specific touch-up paints that must be applied per factory rules. As a result, the framers will have to go slower, adding to labor costs. And, according to Michelle, keeper of all things estimate at Ranserve, the Hardie with color will cost about $4500 more than the primered Hardie, while we might save $4500 on the initial exterior painting after installation. So it’s a fiscal wash. Steven makes the decision. We will use the primered Hardie, not the integrated color.
  • Habitat rescheduled the 2 July pickup of donated items. Second pickup is on schedule for 8 July, with third pickup now scheduled for 15 July.
  • Larry Weisinger at South Star Bank reports he is processing the first draw payment to Ranserve by the Leons.
  • Steven is beginning to research new glass doors for the fireplace.
  • Steven and Jacquela met with Jana Birdwell, real-estate agent, to discuss how and when to put existing house up for sale.
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Which cooktop?

Jacquela and Steven today visited Kristin Nauert at Harway Appliances to review selections for oven, microwave, dishwasher, exhaust fan and cooktop.

We had earlier narrowed down the induction cooktop choices to either a Wolf CI365C/B or Bosch NITP666UC.

Harway now has the Wolf on display, powered, and we put it through the paces — bridging heating elements, comparing wattage against the Bosch, heating a pot of water to boil, quickly.

One big difference — there are four 2100  Watt heating elements with 3000 Watt Boost on the Wolf, vs. four 2000 Watt elements with 2500 Watt Boost on the Bosch. The fifth element on the Wolf delivers 2600 Watts with 3700 Boost. The fifth element on the Bosch delivers 2200 Watts with 3400 Boost. The Wolf delivers more cooking power.

The biggest difference is the control UI. It’s OSX vs. Windows.

On the Bosch, you select the heating element at one set of controls, then select the temperature at a second set of controls. There is one control for each heating element, but all of the heating elements share the temperature controls — select your element at control 1, select your temperature at control 2, select your element at control 3, select your temperature back at control 2, and so on. To us, it “feels” counterintuitive and needlessly complicated.

The Wolf approach is, we think, more intuitive, simpler. Each control for each element features its own temperature control.

You don’t learn these things looking at specs and brochures on a web site. You _do_ learn these things taking a test drive and asking questions.

Bonus points — the Wolf is $300 less expensive! And we still qualify for the “buy 3” Bosch discounts, plus rebates, on the oven, microwave, dishwasher and storage drawer.

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This is why the second floor moves

DSC_0851Ron and Cris from Ranserve pointed this out to Steven.

Apparently, when the house was originally built, the plumber drilled through the paired beams that hold up the second floor, above the kitchen, to run the vent stack for the kitchen sink up through the framing to the roof. That plumber took out more than half of both of the paired beams. As a result, the second floor at what will be the master bedroom — if you place a golf ball on that floor, as Steven did, that golf ball rolls around vigorously, unable to find anything level to rest on.

This is wrong.

Ranserve will be fixing this, per the structural engineer, at F and E — see Sketching the structural plan.

Compounding the error in the ceiling, the plumbers also compromised the studs that support the top plate when they drilled the studs to run the vent stack into the stud bay from the sink.

DSC_0855This malice took forethought, because they clearly took the time to drill through four vertical studs and a vertical shim, as if there is never ever a structural reason to nail four vertical studs together.

What also amazes is that an inspector approved these errors when the house was built.

Ron and Cris advise that inspectors today will “red flag” failures like this.



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One day, four meetings

Building a house means you commit to meetings.

10 am, Steven meets at Emerald Hill with Don Waters, designer, Waters Design Group, recommended by Ranserve, to consider door handles and other hardware.

DSC_080111 am, Ron and Cris from Ranserve arrive, upend two garbage cans, lay two shelves across the cans to create a desk, unroll a set of plans, switch on Ron’s iPad to read the structural notes from Ben Feldt, scroll the touchscreen on Ron’s smartphone to navigate Ben’s location map, and convert Ben’s notes into plans for framing — what size beam, stud, LVL or hanger goes where. Ron and Cris say framing begins tomorrow.

130 pm, Steven meets at Ranserve with Brett Grinkmeyer, architect, and Michelle Hastings, sitting in for Mark Rehberg, who is at a job site waiting for an inspector, to review options for exterior siding — Hardie Plank, smooth, 7-inch reveal. Michelle has to compute cost of primed Hardie that must be painted, vs. Hardie with integrated color that does not have to be painted for 15 years; paint and painting labor vs. not having to paint — but how much more expensive than primed Hardie is the Hardie Plank with integrated color?

5 pm, Steven picks up Jacquela at work and they meet at Austin Stone Works with Kim Strmiska to review options for fireplace hearth capstone and shelves in the master bath.

Kim compares square sample of countertop from vanity maker against quartz slab in the boneyard at Austin Stone.
Kim compares square sample of countertop from vanity maker against quartz slab in the boneyard at Austin Stone.

Decision 1 — the vanity in the master bath will be white.

Decision 2 — the countertop and backsplash that come with the vanity will be grey — because the square sample of the countertop is a near-perfect match for a quartz slab in the boneyard at Austin Stone.

Decision 3 — the shelf behind the vanity will be surfaced with the grey quartz in Kim’s boneyard.

Decision 4 — We will use the same grey quartz for the shelves in the master shower.

Steven holds a sample of the kitchen floor tile and family room oak flooring against one of the candidate stones for the fireplace hearth capstone.
Steven holds a sample of the kitchen floor tile and family room oak flooring against one of the candidate stones for the fireplace hearth capstone.

Kim, Jacquela and Steven walked the yard, eliminating multiple candidates for the potential fireplace hearth capstone by comparing stone with samples of the kitchen tile and family room oak flooring.

We narrow it down to two candidates — a fine-grained grey granite, photo above …

DSC_0835or a heavily veined and honed granite with a lot of reflective mica that reminds everyone of Vincent Van Gogh.

Kim has to estimate costs based on approximate dimensions that Steven will supply.


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