First look: Vanity countertops

The quartz countertops have been moved out of storage and placed atop the vanities in bath 2 and the master bath —  gray in the master, above, and white in Jadin’s bath, aka bath 2, below.

DSC_8042

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Is that backsplash red enough?

Yes. It is.

We’ve been waiting for this.

Jacquela wanted a red glass backsplash behind the cooktop. We researched and priced a sheet of red back-painted glass, four feet wide by five feet tall. The estimates came in at more than $2,000 and the installer refused to warranty the glass against breakage, because we are mounting a pot-filler spigot above the cooktop, and the exhaust fan above that — and every hole in the sheet of glass compromises its integrity.

Plan B is red glass tiles, four inches tall by 12 inches wide.

Julian and Ernesto today installed the tile.

Ernesto starts by troweling on white mastic, using the grooved end of the trowel to set the depth of the mastic, flipping the trowel around to the straight edge to smooth the grooves out of the mastic, because the grooves would be visible through the glass tile.
Ernesto starts by troweling on white mastic, using the grooved end of the trowel to set the depth of the mastic, flipping the trowel around to the straight edge to smooth the grooves out of the mastic, because the grooves would be visible through the glass tile.
The first rows go up swiftly, with 1/16th inch spacers for the red grout that will be installed later.
The first rows go up swiftly, with 1/16th inch spacers for the red grout that will be installed later.
Ernesto, right, and Julian, at back, plan ahead for the next rows of tile.
Ernesto, right, and Julian, at back, plan ahead for the next rows of tile. They have already made small cuts in two tiles for the pipe where the pot filler will be installed — partly obscured here by the yellow electrical cable.
Atop a ladder -- no one is permitted to stand on the countertop! -- Ernesto begins working around and toward the fittings for the exhaust fan and the electrical outlet that will power the exhaust fan.
Atop a ladder — no one is permitted to stand on the countertop! — Ernesto begins working around and toward the fittings for the exhaust fan and the electrical outlet that will power the exhaust fan.
Julian works the glass tile around the exhaust fan and power outlet.
Julian works the glass tile around the exhaust fan and power outlet.
And he walks away with the tiling done. Can't wait to see this in bright daylight -- instead of an overcast day -- and with the kitchen lights switched on.
And he walks away with the tiling done. Can’t wait to see this in bright daylight — instead of an overcast day — and with the kitchen lights switched on.
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Up on the new roof

Don’t tell Jacquela and Ron. Steven went for a walk on the roof to see the new cricket atop the existing garage, and the new roof of the new garage structure.

The roofers “dried in” the roofs today. That highly technical term means the roof is basically waterproof — which is good, because the forecast calls for rain.

Above, tar paper is tacked down on the roof over the new garage structure.

The new cricket atop the existing garage, built by the framers to push water away from the vertical wall of the garage structure, waterproofed by the roofers, with flashing installed where the wall meets the existing roof and new cricket.
The new cricket atop the existing garage, built by the framers to push water away from the vertical wall of the garage structure, waterproofed by the roofers, with flashing installed where the wall meets the existing roof and new cricket.

 

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Putting the Toto toilets on hold

Steven today asked the plumbers to hold on installation of the Toto toilets in bath 2 and the master bath.

Why?

We have questions about the Toto bidet installation and materials.

  1. The water line between the bowl and the bidet is plastic. Thin plastic, albeit reinforced with some kind of cross-hatched material. Each end is a crimped fitting. Steven is surprised. He would have expected stainless steel, reinforced. Does Toto offer this alternative? If so, how did we miss speccing it?
  2. Installing the plastic water line is proving to be “different and difficult,” to paraphrase the plumbers. They normally install the tank to the bowl, then set the toilet, then install the seat. As the plumbers explain what is happening, here, instead, they are forced to install the tank to the bowl, then install the seat, then set the toilet – because there is no way to get to the water line fitting at the back of the toilet unless you are working with a toilet that is not mounted to the floor. As a result, envision the day when the plastic water line blows or leaks, and it will, just because. Steven will be forced to call a plumber who unmounts the entire toilet from the floor just to get to the fitting, before that plumber can begin to work on the leak. This is not the brilliant design expected of Toto – forcing the homeowner to remove a toilet just to repair a water line if and when that water line must be repaired – and supplying a plastic water line instead of stainless steel, boosting the chance that there will be a problem with that plastic line. And, crimped fittings instead of threaded?
  3. The plumbers tell Steven there are other Toto toilet designs that we could have selected – not the skirted models – that make it easier to install the bidet seat while also diminishing the potential for water-line failure. Did we screw up selecting these Toto models? Do we have the option to swap out the toilets we selected for comparable Toto models that the plumbers consider the better choice?
  4. The plumbers also ask if there is a T-fitting that allows them to connect the toilet and the bidet to the water line coming out of the wall? Right now, the water line to the bidet routes from the tank atop the bowl, not to the water line coming out of the wall. This would give them more flexibility in the installation.

Ron will now explore these questions and options with Jonell at Ferguson.

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Debating door strikes, door handles

Ron Dahlke holds the oversized door pull about the height we decided to mount it. The lower blue tape is approximately 36 inches up from the bottom of the door -- standard height for a door handle. The upper blue tape is about 54 inches up from the bottom. The door pull looks and functions better in this location.
Ron Dahlke holds the oversized door pull about the height we decided to mount it. The lower blue tape is approximately 36 inches up from the bottom of the door — standard height for a door handle. The upper blue tape is about 54 inches up from the bottom. The door pull looks and functions better in this location.

Not including earlier discussions, Ron and Steven, with help from carpenters Shane and Peter, debated what size door strike we need at which door — and where to install the oversized pull and smart deadbolt system on the front door.

Why? Working with architect Brett, Steven and Jacquela opted months ago for oversized trim around the doors. It’s not wide, but it is deep — standing more than one inch proud of the drywall. That aesthetic decision now cascades into a rude realization — standard-sized strike plates are not wide enough to protect the trim when the latch bolt slides across the painted trim. The bolt leaves a trail across the paint.

With Shane’s help, we sized the kitchen side door for strike plate 2.25 inches tall by 3 inches wide. Standard width is more like one inch. All the other interior and exterior doors — with the exception of the front door — need strike plates 2.25 inches tall by 2.5 inches wide.

Steven shopped and ordered these online from Amazon.

The front door is a different conundrum. According to Shane, the handle on a front door is normally mounted 36 inches up from the bottom of the door.

If we mount the oversized pull at that height on the door, the pull will appear way too low, located properly only for very short people.

We debated different heights for a while, shifting the pull up and down and calculating where to put the smart deadbolt above it. We decided that the top of the pull should be 54 inches up from the bottom of the door.

Ron wrote this decision down.

About three hours later, Ron called Steven to note that we forgot to compute into the 54 inches the fact that there is a step up from the porch to the front door — about seven inches.

That was yesterday.

Today, we used blue painter’s tape to mock up the potential positions on the OSB sheets that currently cover the front door. One at 36 inches, one at 54 inches.

54 inches is where your hand meets the pull comfortably. The smart deadbolt mounts a short reach higher, at just about eye height for adults. Jadin is already nearly as tall as Mom and Dad — so that height is going to work just fine.

We’re done.

Now it’s up to Shane and Peter to drill holes in the door to mount the hardware.

But we take away these instructions:

  1. Every small decision cascades into many more decisions that are complicated, time consuming, expensive, surprises to even experienced carpenters and builders, surprises that Steven could not anticipate or imagine.
  2. Every cascading decision comes with multiple complexities. Take a deep breath. Dive in. Talk it through. As many times as necessary. Use tape for mockups. Get as many hands and brains involved as necessary. Solve the puzzle. And the next puzzle. And the puzzles just don’t stop arriving.
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Bright shiny attractions

Personal observation from Steven: Can I tell you how exciting it is to see toilets unboxed, prepared for installation? To see Shane and Peter installing door handles? To see the kitchen faucet test-fitted to the sink? It is a sugar high …

Above, there are hundreds of jokes to be made about toilets. Let’s skip every one of them to note what’s important in this photo. It’s a Toto toilet, tank assembled to bowl, standing on the tile floor of bath 2, ready for installation. We are, by this measure, that much closer to finishing this entire remodel.

Here's the kitchen faucet, test-fitted. Ron discovered an issue. The handle hits the backsplash when cocked all the way back, even though he pivoted the faucet about 5 degrees off center. We may need to trim the height of the backsplash -- which would be yet another change order.
Here’s the kitchen faucet, test-fitted. Ron discovered an issue. The handle hits the backsplash when cocked all the way back, even though he pivoted the faucet about 5 degrees off center. We may need to trim the height of the backsplash — which would be yet another change order.
Shane and his dad Peter are installing the door locks and deadbolts. Another significant sign of how close we are to finishing this remodel.
Shane and his dad Peter are installing the door locks and deadbolts. Another significant sign of how close we are to finishing this remodel.

 

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It’s a BIG shed

The framers sheathed the new garage bay today. The skeleton of studs became a substantial box. Big enough for a car, maybe even two parked nose to tail, with Steven’s workshop at the back, a wall for storage, and a loft above for even more storage.

The horizontal beams are the ceiling above the parking bay and the floor of the storage loft above.
The horizontal beams are the ceiling above the parking bay and the floor of the storage loft above.
The framers at work on the roof, consulting with Ron, out of sight, on the ground.
The framers at work on the roof, consulting with Ron, out of sight, on the ground.
This is the workshop end of the garage shed. The framers installed roof sheathing that reflects heat at Ron's direction. Just above the ladder, the framers have joined the existing roof to the new structure walls.
This is the workshop end of the garage shed. The framers installed roof sheathing that reflects heat at Ron’s direction. Just above the ladder, the framers have joined the existing roof to the new structure walls.
Stepping back to gain perspective on the size of the addition, compared against the house.
Stepping back to gain perspective on the size of the addition, compared against the house.
From the front. Where the old roof meets the new structure, the framers built a cricket to ensure that rainwater coming off the existing garage roof flows away from the vertical wall of the new structure.
From the front. Where the old roof meets the new structure, the framers built a cricket to ensure that rainwater coming off the existing garage roof flows away from the vertical wall of the new structure.
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Notes, 29 Dec. 2015

Above, Granite Security is back on site installing the security system, control hubs, connecting wires to circuit boards. Here’s one of the control pads near the front door, powered!

Shane installs the first door handle set -- on the door to Steven's office.
Shane installs the first door handle set — on the door to Steven’s office.
Cris from Ranserve installed the last panel of what will be Jadin's shower, tensioning it into place with 2x4 lumber. It took a long time to get all the parts on site for what should have been a simple kit with everything stuffed into three or four boxes for shipping.
Cris from Ranserve installed the last panel of what will be Jadin’s shower, tensioning it into place with 2×4 lumber. It took a long time to get all the parts on site for what should have been a simple kit with everything stuffed into three or four boxes for shipping.
Pivot 90 degrees from the shower in Jadin's bath and, cool!, Cris installed the vanity cabinets and bridge storage box.
Pivot 90 degrees from the shower in Jadin’s bath and, cool!, Cris installed the vanity cabinets and bridge storage box.
We used the same configuration -- two vanities with a bridge in the middle -- upstairs in bath 3.
We used the same configuration — two vanities with a bridge in the middle — upstairs in bath 3.
There's a similar configuration in the master bath. These vanities are wider, as is the bridge storage box in the middle.
There’s a similar configuration in the master bath. These vanities are wider, as is the bridge storage box in the middle.
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Framing the garage

We go away for a week and, surprise, the framers are hard at work on the shed that comprises the new third garage bay at the back of the house.

Installing the laminated beam across the front of the garage. The shed roof defines the structure as modern, simple. The tall box will be spanned with decking to create tons of loft storage.
Installing the laminated beam across the front of the garage. The shed roof defines the structure as modern, simple. The tall box will be spanned with decking to create tons of loft storage.
At the back end of the garage, before the framers tie the old roof into the new structure.
At the back end of the garage, before the framers tie the old roof into the new structure.
OSB sheathing covers the back and side walls of the garage box.
OSB sheathing covers the back and side walls of the garage box.

 

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Sunday tour

We’re back in Austin. Jacquela and Steven toured Emerald Hill with Hilary, older sister of Jadin’s friend Kara — checking in quickly to see what we missed while traveling in California.

The front door is VERY red. Painted the color that Jacquela selected.
The front door is VERY red. Painted the color that Jacquela selected.
The yellow and blue paints that Jadin selected for her bedroom are up on the walls for the first time.
The yellow and blue paints that Jadin selected for her bedroom are up on the walls for the first time.
And the paint selections carry over into bedroom 1 at the front of the house.
And the paint selections carry over into bedroom 1 at the front of the house.
Forms for the front walk now extend to the street.
Forms for the front walk now extend to the street.
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