Week ending 7 Aug. 2015

Ron Dahlke files this week’s summary report:

  • Continued on plumbing
  • Started electrical
  • Started masonry
  • Received and installed exterior doors
  • Started shower pan
  • Ordered interior doors
  • Ordered insulation
  • Started prep on exterior paint
  • Met tile setter on site
  • Meeting with Aaron for kitchen cabinetry
  • Met with sheetrock contractor
  • Met with trim carpenters

Next week:

  • Meet Monday with Ross Britton to go over HVAC repairs
  • Finish mechanicals
  • Rebuild stairwell
  • Call in for inspections
  • Confirm tile quantities

Steven adds a “mea culpa” — the masons started one week early. Steven delayed them mid-job with questions about casing around the front windows. Mark pointed Steven at the plans, which call for the brick to meet the windows, no side casing, no top casing. Point taken.

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The oak is felled

Above, the original oak flooring as we walked the house at inspection, with the furniture of prior owners.

This is tale long coming. It hurts.

One of the reasons we bought Emerald Hill was the wood flooring.

Today, Steven decided to replace the oak flooring with new hickory engineered flooring — with huge assistance from Mark and Ron at Ranserve, Dale at Landers Flooring, and budget wizardry by Kathleen at Ranserve.

When we bought the house, Steven and Jacquela planned to keep the oak. In fact, we planned to extend the oak into bedrooms 1 and 2 downstairs, which came with carpet squares on bare concrete slab. We also planned to install oak in the upstairs hallway, and then run it into the master bedroom.

Hard surfaces. Easier to clean. Oak is beautiful. And throwing it out is not conservation.

We budgeted the remodel to save and refinish the oak.

The first thing Ron did when we gave him the key was protect the floors with heavy cardboard.

Shortly after, before demo got underway, Dale inspected the oak. He advised against trying to refinish it.

Last week, Friday, 31 July, we got a second opinion from Wendy Jones-Shelton at Windham Interiors. Yes, there was enough oak in the wear layer to sand out the old sealer that had yellowed over more than a decade, then “feather” in new oak to extend the wood further into the house.

But this was not high-quality engineered wood. And, it is 3-ply, 2.25 inch-wide planks. According to Wendy and Dale, manufacturers don’t make a lot of this nowadays, making it hard to find, expensive, and, equally important, extraordinarily difficult to blend with old flooring.

We explored options — whitewashing the oak, which would show every footprint; staining the old and new woods, trying to blend them; oil or water-based polyurethane …

It is, reluctantly, not worth the cost of the labor and the cost of finding “rare” wood.

That became clear as Steven and Jacquela met 3 August with Dale, talking through options, knowing we needed to select a replacement.

We decided quickly — Parkview natural hickory, 3.25-inch-wide planks, 1/2-inch high, engineered hardwood, prefinished, closeout pricing. To go into the entrance hall, library, family room, office, bedrooms 1 and 2, the upper hall, the loft, master bedroom, master closet, master bedroom hall. With Dale and Ron to figure out how to attack the stairs.

The hickory totals approximately $18,000 — which is a lot more money than the $13,000 we budgeted for refinishing and feathering in new — plus whatever it costs to also build out the new stairs with hickory.

As of Wednesday, 5 August, Ron figured out and discussed with Steven the stair plan — a combination of hickory treads and hickory plywood.

Mark, Kathleen and Steve estimated additional costs of more than $10,000.

Yes, there’s a contingency fund built into the budget.

But … Ron, Mark, Jacquela and Steven have been diligent all through this process, from first handshake to demo to framing to today, choosing quality products that function well, look good, but are not the most expensive route to saving Emerald Hill from itself.

Which is where Kathleen proved her wizardry — reporting that we are so far not spending about $10,000 on framing materials, some framing labor, and other line items.

Mark and Steven agreed to re-allocate the savings to pay for the hickory.

Starting next week, Ron and Cris from Ranserve are going to scrape the oak up off the slab, trying to save as much of it as possible to donate to Habitat, in hopes of giving the oak a second life in a new home. Dale will ship in the new hickory. Ron will demo the existing stairs, which are not built to code. The framers will come back to build the new stair structure. And at some point after that the new hickory will be glued and nailed down, then protected with hardboard.

This adventure also sets back the schedule by one week.

It is dispiriting to lose the oak. And to lose a week. At the same time, it is exciting to see in your mind’s eye the house with the new hickory. To turn a cliche — bitter, sweet, expensive.

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Exterior doors

The back door off the kitchen to the back yard was installed yesterday. Today, mid-day, after hanging the door at the back of the garage, Cris and Kevin from Ranserve install a third exterior door at the side of the kitchen.

Cris, with nailer, and Kevin install the side door off the kitchen while one of the electricians works in the rafters overhead.

The doors are fiberglass — smooth, no fake wood grain, conforming with the “modern” look-and-feel that Jacquela and Steven are instilling into Emerald Hill, predrilled for locks, with big center glass “lights” — double-pane glass for energy efficiency and compliance with the Austin Energy Green Building program — manufactured by Endura, warranteed for life — delivered by BMC West.

As the label says, the doors are “rot proof.” This was a spec ordered up by Ranserve after observing the original exterior doors. The original doors are now removed. They were wood and, in some cases, penetrated and damaged by water and bugs.

As one example, termites chewed through the lumber around the windows at the back of the family room — and the only thing preventing that wall from failing was the back door, bent out of position by all the weight it was not designed to carry.

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Master shower pan, part 2

The framers added blocking as they built out the walls to the master shower. With framing done, Custom Plumbing today installed the waterproofing membrane that forms a pan under and around what will be the tile floor of the shower — and then floated lightweight concrete, pitched to ensure that water runs toward the drain.DSC_2657

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Hammer arrestors

Custom Plumbing today installed Hammer Arrestors, upstairs, on the water lines that will feed the washing machine and, downstairs, at the water line to the back of the refrigerator.

Above, red PEX for hot, blue for cold, with shutoff valves in case of emergency, in the laundry/utility room.

Custom Plumbing is also wrapping each water line with insulating foam. Ron Dahlke explains that PEX is designed to keep hot water hot -- and it will, but the insulating foam extends the longevity to about 45 minutes. Which means we won't have to waste water waiting for hot to slosh through the faucet. But even the cold water lines get insulation.
Custom Plumbing is also wrapping each water line with insulating foam. Ron Dahlke explains that PEX is designed to keep hot water hot — and it will, but the insulating foam extends the longevity to about 45 minutes. Which means we won’t have to waste water waiting for hot to slosh through the faucet. But even the cold water lines get insulation — and the hookup for the water line to the refrigerator also gets its own hammer arrestor.


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