Notes, 4 Aug. 2015

  • Plumbing. Photo above … We have PEX! Red for hot. Blue for cold. Albert, Barry and the team from Custom Plumbing continue the plumbing rough in.
  • Interior trim. Ron Dahlke is almost finished reviewing the trim quote for the interior. Steven will review when he receives.
  • Flooring. Steven and Mark Rehberg discuss the flooring options at length. Kathleen Baker from Ranserve runs the math, reports we have saved enough, or nearly enough, on framing labor and materials, to re-allocate the savings to pay for the flooring. Mark picks up on details from the 3 August meeting of Steven and Jacquela with Dale Markel at Landers Premier Flooring. More detail to come.
  • Cedar siding at the front porch. Mark suggested this as an accent several months back. Jacquela ran with it, researched photos on Houzz, approved the concept. Yesterday, Michelle Hastings from Ranserve received estimates on the cedar siding, and material choices. Steven asks about the corresponding deduction of Hardieboard planks — it should compute to a fiscal “wash.” Ron will doublecheck.
  • Change order #4. To insulate the entire house with spray foam. The original plan was to spray the underside of the upper and lower roofs, using the foam to also seal the attic, and to use blown-in insulation in the vertical walls. Considering all the holes punched into the exterior walls, Ron suggested using spray foam on the vertical walls. This change order is $435, plus $161 in site supervision, profit and overhead charges to Ranserve — $597 total. Steven approves. It’s a “brain dead simple” decision. Foam seals the house where other insulation leaves gaps through which air leaks.
  • The garage idea. Steven continues to explore the potential third bay addition to the garage with Mark and Brett Grinkmeyer, the architect.
  • Kitchen cabinets. Ron and Steven schedule 6 August meeting with Aaron Pratt from Central Texas Custom Cabinets. It’s time to start on the heart of the house.
  • Low voltage systems — security, network, audio visual. Steven is reviewing three bids, carefully, asking questions.
  • Door bell. Ron asks Steven and Jacquela to select a doorbell — something they have put no thought to. Surprise.
  • Steven makes this observation: If you can’t multitask and switch direction in the middle of a pivot, you have no business remodeling a house.
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Electrical rough-in, day 2

Above … Ron Dahlke from Ranserve, left, Steve from Capstone Electric, right, and Steven, not seen, because he is taking the photo, convene for day 2 of the electrical rough-in walk through the house upstairs, in bath 3.

See the “can” — a rectangular metal box – mounted at the rafters over Steve’s head.

Wikipedia defines a “can” as a “recessed light or downlight (also pot light in Canadian English, sometimes can light (for canister light) in American English) is a light fixture that is installed into a hollow opening in a ceiling. When installed it appears to have light shining from a hole in the ceiling, concentrating the light in a downward direction as a broad floodlight or narrow spotlight. There are two parts to recessed lights, the trim and housing. The trim is the visible portion of the light. It is the insert that is seen when looking up into the fixture, and also includes the thin lining around the edge of the light. The housing is the fixture itself that is installed inside the ceiling and contains the lamp holder.”

The “can” over Steve’s head is in the wrong location. Instead … see the “can” over Ron’s head at left, and the box for an HVAC vent above where Steve is pointing? All three fixtures should instead align in that one bay between the two adjacent rafters. To make this happen, the HVAC vent needs to shift closer to the can over Ron’s head. Then, on the other side of the vent, opposite the first “can,” Steve has to remount the “can” that is currently located over his head. This second can must be located outside the tub shower that will be installed at the back wall. Why? It’s actually a can that combines both a fan and light. We need two lights to illuminate the bathroom. We need the fan to exhaust humid air from the bathroom when someone is taking a bath or shower.

Why this alignment? The bathroom vanity will be installed on the wall at Steve’s left elbow. There will be two sinks. The HVAC vent should be aligned with the center of the vanity, and the LEDs that are to be installed in the “cans” should be aligned with center of the two sinks in the vanity.

Meticulous detail. Careful planning. Explanations of logic. Compromises with electrical codes. Step by step, we work this all out over 20 minutes.

But we’re not done.

See the white tube running across the ceiling and down the wall. That’s PEX — defined by Wikipedia as “an acronym for crosslinked polyethylene. It is a flexible, durable, proven piping product that has been used in plumbing systems for more than 20 years. PEX tubing won’t pit, scale or corrode and, because of its flexibility, it also offers potential freeze-damage protection.”

The PEX line currently runs over two silver HVAC ducts and the exhaust fan duct in the ceiling, potentially restricting airflow. It will be relocated under the HVAC ducts. The fan duct will shift when Steve the electrician shifts the combo fan/light can.

Also, Ron is going to audit the installation of the HVAC ducts. Steven sees kinks, compressions that will reduce airflow, and too many ducts crammed into too small a space.

From bath 3, we shifted to the laundry/utility room next door, then the master bath. More than an hour later, we made it downstairs.

DSC_2592This is the exhaust fan installed in the ceiling over what will be Jadin’s shower in bath 2.

It’s not just a can light. It’s also an exhaust fan. With a humidity sensor that automates operation. Take a shower, it turns on the fan and blows the hot, humid air out of the house. When the humidity level drops, the sensor turns off the fan. Human interaction is not required. Which is important, because Jadin is a teen — and teens take long, hot showers.

See the silver exhaust duct? It takes a tight 90 degree turn out of the can, which constricts airflow. Then the duct rises up to clear a rafter, continues up over a run of pipes that vent the plumbing stack, to provide air behind water — the venting that is needed for water an waste to drain down pipes and out of the house.

So far, so good. But … where the duct crosses over the plumbing stack, it dips, and then it rises to the vent stack in the roof, which is where the wet air would vent out of the house. Except … because the duct dips, water is going to collect in the dip, plug the vent. No air is going to escape the house. And the duct will just collect more and more water over time.

This is wrong.

Ron says he will audit all the HVAC ducting for errors.


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