Talk and walk the week

9 a.m. Monday morning to talk and walk the week ahead.

Ron Dahlke from Ranserve, left, and Mauricio from Gilsa, right, recovering from his heart attack, meet Steven to plan the concrete pour for the garage foundation. We're aiming for Thursday, depending on city inspections of forms and steelwork. In front of the house, we plan the pavers that will replace part of the walk to the patio, and the landing in front of the porch. The cardboard on the ground approximates the location and size of the landing. The pavers will extend around the front of the house to the site of the former kitchen deck, which Gilsa has removed via Bobcat. Gilsa will now regrade the ex-deck to ensure water flows away from the side door off the kitchen. And ... Gilsa will also regrade behind the garage and enlarge the concrete slab to be used for the HVAC condenser. All this will be consequential toward finishing the house.
Ron Dahlke from Ranserve, left, and Mauricio from Gilsa, right, recovering from his heart attack, meet Steven to plan the concrete pour for the garage foundation. We’re aiming for Thursday, depending on city inspections of forms and steelwork. In front of the house, we plan the pavers that will replace part of the walk to the patio, and the landing in front of the porch. The cardboard on the ground approximates the location and size of the landing. The pavers will extend around the front of the house to the site of the former kitchen deck, which Gilsa has removed via Bobcat. Gilsa will now regrade the ex-deck to ensure water flows away from the side door off the kitchen. And … Gilsa will also regrade behind the garage and enlarge the concrete slab to be used for the HVAC condenser. All this will be consequential toward finishing the house.

Above, an army of 10 painters is sanding down the walls and trim, and taping more protective paper over the stairs and floors, preparing the interior of the house for final painting.

Over the weekend, Aaron from Central Texas Custom Cabinets installed the final box -- the small cabinet at the top of the pantry at left of the side kitchen door.
Over the weekend, Aaron from Central Texas Custom Cabinets installed the final box — the small cabinet at the top of the pantry at left of the side kitchen door.
Chris from Central Texas Custom Cabinets scribes the "skiin" panel that will finish off the end of this run of cabinets at the oven and microwave wall.
Chris from Central Texas Custom Cabinets scribes the “skin” panel that will finish off the end of this run of cabinets at the oven and microwave wall.
The skin that finishes the run of cabinets on the refrigerator wall.
The skin that finishes the run of cabinets on the refrigerator wall.
Upstairs in bath 3, Cris from Ranserve is rebuilding the drain line to ensure that the emergency cleanout is 8 inches off the floor. That elevation ensures we don't have to cut up the vanity to get access to the cleanout. Cris will repeat this surgery in the master bath, upstairs, and in bath 2, downstairs. After which, he will patch the drywall, then turn the wall over to the painters for sanding, priming, painting -- at which point he will finally be able to install the vanities.
Upstairs in bath 3, Cris from Ranserve, supervised by his shadow, is rebuilding the drain line to ensure that the emergency cleanout is 8 inches off the floor. That elevation ensures we don’t have to cut up the vanity to get access to the cleanout. Cris will repeat this surgery in the master bath, upstairs, and in bath 2, downstairs. After which, he will patch the drywall, then turn the wall over to the painters for sanding, priming, painting — at which point he will finally be able to install the vanities.
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One hour to debate door pulls

Saturday morning. Jacquela and Steven meet at Emerald Hill with Aaron Pratt from Central Texas Custom Cabinets to discuss how to install the Ikea pulls — vertical or horizontal — on specific cabinet doors in the kitchen.

Before Aaron arrives, Steven and Jacquela slice open a package or three with help from Bani, one of Aaron’s expert cabinetmakers. Then we try different positions and orientations — vertical at the middle of the tall door, vertical at the top of the tall door, horizontal at the top of the tall door, horizontal at the bottom of the upper door, vertical at the side of the upper door, how far from or close to the corner of the door, or in the middle of the door.

By the time Aaron arrives, we’ve decided to go with vertical on the tall pantry cabinets, lower and upper doors, positioning the pulls one inch from the corner of the door panel. At the sink, however, and at one door opposite the microwave, we elect to position the pulls horizontally, in the middle of the top line of the door, aligning the pulls with everything else nearby — creating a consistent pattern, with horizontal pulls for all lower cabinets and vertical pulls for all upper cabinets.

Steven observes — It is bizarre to so extensively debate something as mundane as a cabinet handle for a whole hour, but it is also a significant measure of how close we are to finishing the house that we spent an hour debating how and where to install cabinet handles.

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Week ending 4 Dec. 2015

Ron Dahlke files this week’s summary:

This week:

  • Set cabinet at entry
  • Set hardwood on stairwell
  • Finished stairwell flooring
  • Continue on finished ends of cabinets
  • Install cabinet hardware
  • Received door hardware
  • Approved engineering report on garage slab
  • Scheduled form survey for garage addition

Next week:

  • Finish covering floor
  • Set Jadin’s shower walls
  • Finish cabinet scribes
  • Continue paint on trim and doors
  • Finish sheetrock patches
  • Call in for City of Austin layout inspection for slab
  • Pour slab
  • Order framing pack for slab
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Hardware arrives

Steven took delivery today of more Schlage locksets purchased from Amazon at nearly 40 percent savings over the “big box” stores. Everything should now be on site in preparation for installation.

Ron Dahlke from Ranserve opened up doors and drawers at Emerald Hill to surprise Steven with several other deliveries.

Above, this device from Hafele features two power outlets and two USB charging ports. It will be installed into the countertop of the island, to power appliances and charge devices. It pops up when needed, disappears below the island countertop when idle. Cool. Suggested by Aaron at Central Texas Custom Cabinets.

These are the big pulls for the front door -- one for exterior, one for interior -- from Sugatsone, delivered by Jonathan at Push Pull Open Close.
These are the big pulls for the front door — one for exterior, one for interior — from Sugatsone, delivered by Jonathan at Push Pull Open Close. They look small in the photo, but they are beefy, substantial, heavy.

Jonathan at Push Pull Open Close also delivered a small carton packed with brown paper bags, each one labeled. Inside each bag is one set of hardware to open, close and latch each pocket door.

Jonathan at Push Pull Open Close also delivered a small carton packed with brown paper bags, each one labeled. Inside each bag is one set of hardware to open, close and latch each pocket door.

Steven opened one of the brown paper bags. Inside is, yes, the pocket door hardware that Jacquela and Steven specced.
Steven opened one of the brown paper bags. Inside is, yes, the pocket door hardware that Jacquela and Steven specced.
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Sealer + Polyurethane =

Luis finished sanding last night by vacuuming up the sawdust and then sealing the hickory risers and treads. Today, he applied the first coat of water-based polyurethane, let it dry, and is sanding it down, by hand, not machine. There’s nothing better than fingers to discover rough spots that need more attention.

What the stairs look like with one coat of sealer and the first coat of water-based, clear polyurethane -- with Luis working his way to the landing as he sands each step.
What the stairs look like with one coat of sealer and the first coat of water-based, clear polyurethane — with Luis working his way to the landing as he sands each step.
The water-based, clear polyurethane.
The water-based, clear polyurethane.
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Enter the Sandman

Today, Luis finished building the stair treads and risers — and began sanding down the raw wood, starting with 40-grit sandpaper.

Looking down from the loft above at the completed treads and risers -- before Luis picked up all his tools and swept the stairs clear for sanding.
Looking down from the loft above at the completed treads and risers — before Luis picked up all his tools and swept the stairs clear for sanding.
The final piece of square-edged nosing where the stairs meet the hallway floor. This is actually an assembly of two pieces of hickory, cut and glued and nailed together.
The final piece of square-edged nosing where the stairs meet the hallway floor. This is actually an assembly of two pieces of hickory, cut and glued and nailed together.
While Luis worked on the stairs, Cris from Ranserve mounted this storage unit into position next to the stairs, then trimmed the face with hickory. The idea for this adapts from the Japanese Genken -- the entry hall where everyone removes their shoes before actually walking further into the house.
While Luis worked on the stairs, Cris from Ranserve mounted this storage unit into position next to the stairs, then trimmed the face with hickory. The idea for this adapts from the Japanese Genkan — the entry hall where everyone removes their shoes before actually walking further into the house.
Over the past three days, Steven has collected the hickory cutoffs as Luis discards the wood he does not need. Steven is storing the beautiful wood in the garage -- just in case it is needed and for potential future projects.
Over the past three days, Steven has collected the hickory cutoffs as Luis discards the wood he does not need. Steven is storing the wood in the garage — just in case it is needed and for potential future projects. There is no need to throw away such beauty.
Luis turns the corner around the landing to the Genken bench -- and checks his work by touch.
Luis turns the corner around the landing to the Genkan bench — and checks his work by touch.
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Notes, 2 Dec. 2015

The team from Gilsa Construction progresses with the garage addition.

Above, using a reciprocating saw to cut through the nails and bolts, the sole plate of the back wall of the garage has been sliced free from the foundation. Next, it is braced.

Using a sledgehammer, Gilsa shifts the back wall of the garage over several inches, supported by the braces inside the garage. This will allow them to pour concrete level with the existing slab of the garage. The steel framework for the new garage slab is ready for inspection. At right, the electricians installed a grounding wire (the left-hand circle), and Gilsa chopped down the shrub that was so overgrown it resembled a tree (the right-hand circle).
Using a sledgehammer, Gilsa shifts the back wall of the garage over several inches, supported by the braces inside the garage. This will allow them to pour concrete level with the existing slab of the garage. The steel framework for the new garage slab is ready for inspection. At right, the electricians installed a grounding wire (the left-hand circle), and Gilsa chopped down the shrub that was so overgrown it resembled a tree (the right-hand circle). The steelwork is ready for inspection. Also, the formwork for the foundation is nearly complete, after which it too will be inspected.
One of the plastic stands holding the steelwork off the plastic sheeting, to ensure the rebar is inside the concrete, not under the concrete, when the concrete is poured.
One of the plastic stands holding the steelwork off the plastic sheeting, to ensure the rebar is inside the concrete, not under the concrete, when the concrete is poured.
After whacking with a sledgehammer, the back wall of the garage leans against the temporary braces. The wide-angle lens distorts perspective, but the footing of the wall is now offset 3 to 4 inches from the top plate.
After whacking with a sledgehammer, the back wall of the garage leans against the temporary braces. The wide-angle lens distorts perspective, but the footing of the wall is now offset 3 to 4 inches from the top plate.
Another way to see the lean of the wall. The red string line is level, but the bricks at left are now about 1/4-inch higher than the bricks at right.
Another way to see the lean of the wall. The red string line is level, but the bricks at left are now about 1/4-inch higher than the bricks at right.
Inside and upstairs, Kevin Rehberg from Ranserve continues to protect all the floors with heavy construction paper. Why? The painters are coming.
Inside and upstairs, Kevin Rehberg from Ranserve continues to protect all the floors with heavy construction paper. Why? The painters are coming.
The electricians came by to install detectors and switch plates, leaving behind a pile of boxes.
The electricians came by to install detectors and switch plates, leaving behind a pile of boxes.
In the kitchen, Central Texas Custom Cabinets continues to install drawer fronts to the cabinets.
In the kitchen, Central Texas Custom Cabinets continues to install drawer fronts to the cabinets.
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Treads and risers

Luis continues building the stairs — riser, tread, riser, tread. This is craft. This is skill. And artistry. And passion. Luis pulled out his phone, scrolled through photos of his work to show Steven an octogon he built from six different species of wood, alternating colors into light and dark-banded orbits, gluing everything up, then assembling it into a large insert that was inlaid into a larger wood floor. This is the expertise and experience he brings to building the stairs at Emerald Hill.

By early afternoon, he’s about halfway up the staircase. He expects to finish cutting wood tomorrow, then start sanding and applying polyurethane.

A detail of how the riser and tread meet -- squared edges, with a 1/4-inch overhang for the tread.
A detail of how the riser and tread meet — squared edges, with a 1/4-inch overhang for the tread.
A second shot to detail the overhang.
A second shot to detail the overhang.
A third detail shot -- the squared nosing around the first stair up to the landing.
A third detail shot — 45-degree cuts to frame the squared nosing around the first stair up to the landing.
It takes a lot of tools to build stairs -- which is one reason Luis commands the house this week, with all the other trades distanced  from the stairwell.
It takes a lot of tools to build stairs — which is one reason Luis commands the house this week, with all the other trades distanced from the stairwell.
Luis closely checks the fit of a riser ...
Luis closely checks the fit of a riser …
He rasps away paint from the subfloor tread, because wood glue will not adhere to paint.
He rasps away paint from the subfloor tread, because wood glue will not adhere to paint …
Trims away the raw and uneven end of a plank of hickory that is to become a tread ...
Trims away the raw and uneven end of a plank of hickory that is to become a tread …
Test fits the 1/4-inch reveal of the tread over the riser ...
Test fits the 1/4-inch reveal of the tread over the riser …
Applies glue to the subfloor tread ...
Applies glue to the subfloor tread …
Drops the hickory tread into the glue ...
Drops the hickory tread into the glue …
Rechecks the reveal to seat the tread ...
Rechecks the reveal to seat the tread …
Taps the end of the tread to seat the plank tight against the skirt board along the wall ...
Taps the end of the tread to seat the plank tight against the skirt board along the wall …
Nails down the tread ..
Nails down the tread ..
Outside, Luis trims a narrow strip of hickory from a tread that is being used to fill gaps between the tread and the riser ... for this, he's working on a slightly larger, slightly more powerful Dewalt table saw, not his lightweight Black & Decker ...
Outside, Luis trims a narrow strip of hickory from a tread that is being used to fill gaps between the tread and the riser … for this, he’s working on a slightly larger, slightly more powerful Dewalt table saw, not his lightweight Black & Decker …
He taps the strip of hickory into position, test fitting it ...
He taps the strip of hickory into position, test fitting it …
During the test fit, he marked the wood to length. Here at the chop saw, he cuts the shim to proper size ...
During the test fit, he marked the wood to length. Here at the chop saw, he cuts the shim to proper size …
Applies glue between the back of the tread and the subfloor riser ...
Applies glue between the back of the tread and the subfloor riser …
Taps the shim down into the slot and glue ...
Taps the shim down into the slot and glue …
And nails the shim tightly against the tread.
And nails the shim tightly against the tread.

Repeat as necessary, riser and tread, riser and tread …

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Pull me

Aaron Pratt from Central Texas Custom Cabinets has been sneaking into the house at odd hours to work on the kitchen cabinets — weekends, early mornings, late nights.

Above, he installed the drawer fronts on the cabinet opposite the dishwasher where we plan to store cutlery, plates, bowls and glasses. And then he installed the Ikea cabinet pulls.

Here's the storage cabinet at left, with all the other doors mounted. The refrigerator slots into the open bay. All the white melamine surfaces are covered by dull plastic protectors.
Here’s the storage cabinet at left, with all the other doors mounted. The refrigerator slots into the open bay. All the white melamine surfaces are covered by dull plastic protectors.
From 180 degrees opposite, the same bank of cabinets.
From 180 degrees opposite, the same bank of cabinets — with Kevin Rehberg in the library rolling out heavy paper to protect the new wood floors.
The bank of cabinets opposite the cooktop where we plan to store cooking utensils, spices and larger pots and pans that are used infrequently -- with the cabinet pulls installed. You can glimpse the butt end of the quartz countertop under the layer of blue foam that Ron Dahlke taped down to protect the stone.
The bank of cabinets opposite the cooktop where we plan to store cooking utensils, spices and larger pots and pans that are used infrequently — with the cabinet pulls installed. You can glimpse the butt end of the quartz countertop under the layer of blue foam that Ron Dahlke taped down to protect the stone.
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