Category Archives: exterior

Working the pile

Day 4 at Emerald Hill, currently renamed “Boxland.” We’re working down the pile of to-do.

Above, with help from Chris at Time Warner, the downstairs and upstairs TVs are now operational. Upstairs, we needed component cables — and Chris tweaked the cable box. Downstairs, the Denon amplifier needed a complete system reboot to wipe Sea Eagle from memory. With that, Steven and Chris built new HDMI settings for video and audio via HDMI, with cable box connected in to amp and amp connected out to Panasonic TV. This process is not plug and play. Read the manual, even if it is written in English as a third language. Closed course, professional drivers only. Just in time to watch primary results …

Rene from El Sol Logistics delivered the hanging bags of clothes that somehow stayed with the moving vans — so Steven’s business slacks and shirts are now recovered. Then El Sol transmitted the bill for the rest of the move, after the deposit is deducted. Yich.

But … Rene did take away some of the flattened boxes for re-use by the next family that El Sol moves.

We switched on the air conditioning last night. First time. Ever. There’s record heat in Austin — 91 degrees. Stupifying.

Outside, Victor and Ramon are shoveling down off the driveway the really good black dirt   piled up when Gilsa and Ranserve dug out the foundation for the new garage bay. Here's Ramon late in the afternoon shade, spading deliberately in the record March heat -- 91 degrees.
Outside, Victor and Ramon are shoveling down off the driveway the really good black dirt piled up when Gilsa and Ranserve dug out the foundation for the new garage bay. Here’s Ramon late in the afternoon shade, spading deliberately in the record March heat — 91 degrees.
The dirt comes off the pile in the driveway where we hope to someday park, and is transported by wheelbarrow to the front of the house. Victor and Ramon are building beds around the oaks that will someday receive flowers or ornamental grasses or some other deer-resistant plants. Mulched heavily, the beds cut by nearly a third the front lawn that must be watered and mowed -- which might be worth a point on the Green Build application.
The dirt comes off the pile in the driveway where we hope to someday park, and is transported by wheelbarrow to the front of the house. Victor and Ramon are building beds around the oaks that will someday receive flowers or ornamental grasses or some other deer-resistant plants. Mulched heavily, the beds cut by nearly a third the front lawn that must be watered and mowed — which might be worth a point on the Green Build application.
More of the front of Emerald Hill, with the new bed, with dirt in transport. It's also that time of year that the oaks drop their leaves. Victor blew and raked the leaves into the beds, under the dirt, where the leaves will decompose into fertilizer.
More of the front of Emerald Hill, with the new bed, with dirt in transport. It’s also that time of year that the oaks drop their leaves. Victor blew and raked the leaves into the beds, under the dirt, where the leaves will decompose into fertilizer.
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Blower door test — and more

Today’s agenda at Emerald Hill stacked up meetings and tasks:

  • Gutters
  • Time Warner Cable for Internet, phone, TV services
  • Brett Grinkmeyer, architect, and his tour of Emerald Hill with prospective clients
  • Tyson from Granite Security for a tutorial on the security system
  • Blower door test
  • Cut down the hackberry tree at the northeast corner of the house
  • Assemble more Ikea furniture
  • Set up a computer in the pantry, out of traffic, to work on ShowStoppers @ Mobile World Congress

Above, Alex from ATS and Jonathan from Austin Air review the duct plans with Ron from Ranserve, in preparation for the blower door test.

Jonathan measures airflow from the duct in bedroom 1 as part of the blower door test.
Jonathan measures airflow from the duct in bedroom 1 as part of the blower door test.
Alex assembles the blower door.
Alex assembles the blower door.
We passed! The City of Austin requires less than 5 ACH -- air changes per hour. Alex and Jonathan confirm that Emerald Hill is tightly insulated and not leaking a lot of air. Ron is smiling at this measure of quality.
We passed! The City of Austin requires less than 5 ACH — air changes per hour. Alex and Jonathan confirm that Emerald Hill is tightly insulated and not leaking a lot of air. Ron is smiling at this measure of quality.
Tyson showed Steven how to configure and use the alarm system that we prewired into the house.
Tyson showed Steven how to configure and use the alarm system that we prewired into the house.
Rodriguez from Gilsa uses a chunk of concrete to grind stains off the first paver in front of the house.
Rodriguez from Gilsa uses a chunk of concrete to grind stains off the first paver in front of the house.
Ron and Kevin opened up the stair wall to add more blocking -- needed to support the shower wand in the bathroom on the other side of the wall.
Ron and Kevin opened up the stair wall to add more blocking — needed to support the shower wand in the bathroom on the other side of the wall.
Taking out the hackberry tree that was leaning toward the house.
Taking out the hackberry tree that was leaning toward the house.
Stripped of most branches in just 10 minutes.
Stripped of most branches in just 10 minutes.
Sections of trunk cut smaller to make them lighter when carrying off to the chipper.
Sections of trunk cut smaller to make them lighter when carrying off to the chipper.

 

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Notes, 30 Jan. 2016

Saturday morning. Jacquela and Steven visit Emerald Hill.

Above, Jacquela set the correct time on the oven. It’s the only appliance that is powered, so far. Along with the GFCI circuits. The electricians are scheduled to arrive next week to test everything, now that the residential meter is installed and power is delivered to the house.

 

Above, we started in the garage, where the painters have stacked trim lumber in two locations -- moving it all to the side of the new bay, clearing obstructions away from where the garage doors are on schedule to be installed next week. We're also creating storage space -- we hope to start moving in and stacking boxes as Ranserve finishes construction. In the photo above, at left -- painter supplies. Lumber stacked along the back wall of the new bay. Ladders leaning against the pole that helps to support the beam that carries the weight of the new structure where it joins the existing garage. Drywall supplies to the right of the ladders. Old lumber taken out of the back wall of the existing garage when it was removed, stacked here in front of the original two-car garage door for removal by Ron Dahlke, who plans to recycle it. That door is trashed after decades of use, and it will be replaced.
Jacquela and Steven started in the garage, where the painters built two stacks of trim lumber in two locations — blocking everyone’s ability to move easily through the garage. We picked up everything and shifted it all to the side of the new bay, clearing obstructions away from where the garage doors are on schedule to be installed next week. We’re also creating storage space — we hope to start moving in and stacking boxes as Ranserve finishes construction. In the photo above, at left — painter supplies. Lumber stacked along the back wall of the new bay. Ladders leaning against the pole that helps to support the beam that carries the weight of the new structure where it joins the existing garage. Drywall supplies to the right of the ladders. Old lumber taken out of the back wall of the existing garage when it was removed, stacked here in front of the original two-car garage door for removal by Ron Dahlke, who plans to recycle it. That door is trashed after decades of use, and it will be replaced.

David Garcia and his team of painters are pulling up the heavy paper that has protected the floors through construction, sweeping out debris and vacuuming the baseboards, then rolling out new, clean paper. It’s amazing to see the hickory floors exposed, however briefly.

The master bedroom.
The master bedroom.
The loft.
The loft.
Rolling out the new paper to protect the wood floors.
Rolling out the new paper to protect the wood floors.
Late Friday, the team from Gilsa Construction transplanted three bushes to the left side of the house. They were located at the right side, where Gilsa built the new walk. Steven soaked the roots. We'll see if these survive.
Late Friday, the team from Gilsa Construction transplanted three bushes to the left side of the house. They were located at the right side, where Gilsa built the new walk. Steven soaked the roots. We’ll see if these survive.
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Notes, 29 Jan. 2016

Ron is home sick. Day three. He and Steven suspect a virus. The plumber was sick a couple of weeks back. The garage door company pushed back into next week because the install team is down. Steven compared symptoms with Peter, one of the carpenters — sinus cavities so blocked you gasp for air. Combined with allergies to ceder pollen, because ceder is off the scale.

We campaign on without our leader …

Above, the team from Gilsa continues to lay weed block and cover it with gravel, extending the gravel deck off the kitchen side door around to the front of the house.

About an hour later, the gravel extends to the front porch and dirt is going in between the concrete pavers.
About an hour later, the gravel extends to the front porch and dirt is going in between the concrete pavers.

Steven signed off on change order 26 — we went $600 over on the lighting budget.

Steven also signed off on draw 7 — and Ranserve has begun to reconcile all the line items, change orders, monies not spent, as we approach what promises to be the final month of construction.

It’s one-third the massive truck that Ron drives, but Steven was able to transport two eight-foot-long and two six-foot-long lighting tracks inside his serviceable Honda Element from Lights Fantastic to Emerald Hill. Now the electricians can finish putting up the track in the office.

Since the garage doors are reportedly on schedule for next week, Steven cleaned up the random pile of lumber stored in the garage, moving it clear of where the doors will be assembled, sweeping the floor clean, and shifting out of the way Ron’s desk, a pile of pavers and a second pile of bricks. That leaves only a second pile of dried-out 60-year-old studs that the framers cut from the garage when joining the existing two-bay structure to the new garage shed; Ron plans to recycle these.

And … between conference calls and work, Steven began assembling the specs requested by the Austin Green Build program. This homework will take a while.

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Notes, 28 Jan. 2016

Inside the house, Shane and Peter are carving up pocket doors to install hardware — plus towel bars, toilet paper holders, floor and wall stops, and more.

Outside, David Garcia and his team of painters are priming the back of the new garage structure — bright white.

But … in front, the first coat of barn red exterior paint is up. Perfect!

David, at left, on the ground, with roller, at the back of the garage structure, painting primer, with team.
David, at left, on the ground, with roller, at the back of the garage structure, painting primer, with team.
At the rear of the garage, Gilsa is regrading the dirt to ensure water runs off away from the garage foundation. This entire strip of bare dirt will be covered with weed block fabric and then black gravel.
At the rear of the garage, Gilsa is regrading the dirt to ensure water runs off away from the garage foundation. This entire strip of bare dirt will be covered with weed block fabric and then black gravel.
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Notes, 27 Jan. 2016

Steven met today with Miki Cook from Austin Green Build to walk Emerald Hill. Miki detailed specs she requires to qualify the house for the Green Build Program. Steven has homework.

Above, Gilsa today compacted the fill for the gravel patio outside the kitchen, rolled out weedblock fabric, stapled it down, then shoveled out the gravel.

At break time -- shoveling gravel is heavy, hard work -- this is what the patio looks like from the roof outside the master bedroom.
At break time — shoveling gravel is heavy, hard work — this is what the patio looks like from the roof outside the master bedroom.
David Garcia began to apply primer to the new garage structure.
David Garcia began to apply primer to the new garage structure.
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Watching concrete cure

It’s cold. It’s windy. The concrete poured yesterday is still visibly damp. It’s going to take a little while to cure. So no is permitted as yet to walk on the new pavers. Gilsa is scheduled to come back Monday bust the forms. That will give the concrete the whole weekend to transpire away water.

That said … the new pavers look really cool, define the exterior of the house, and promise to be functional.

Above, peering out from the kitchen side door.

Shooting down across the front walk to the street -- from the upstairs window of the utility/laundry room.
Shooting down across the front walk to the street — from the upstairs window of the utility/laundry room.
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Pouring steps

One of the last big jobs … The team from Gilsa Construction is back on site to pour concrete into the forms they built for the concrete walk to the front of the house from the street, along the front and side of the house to the kitchen door, and to the kitchen door from the driveway.

The mixer is brand spanking new. Not a speck of wear and tear to be seen on that bright white paint job. Tonka and Hot Wheels are drooling.
The mixer is brand spanking new. Not a speck of wear and tear to be seen on that bright white paint job. Tonka and Hot Wheels are drooling.
The walk to the kitchen side door from the garage is already poured when Steven arrives.
The walk to the kitchen side door from the garage is already poured when Steven arrives about 1 pm. Mauricio from Gilsa says his team will be working on the concrete, polishing it, until about 10 pm because of the low temperatures and high winds.
From inside the kitchen door looking out -- walk to the driveway at left, with the team troweling concrete at right toward the 90-degree turn at the front of the house.
From inside the kitchen door looking out — walk to the driveway at left, with the team troweling concrete at right toward the 90-degree turn at the front of the house.
Troweling the pads at left, dumping wheelbarrows of concrete at right. The Gilsa team moves quickly.
Troweling the pads at left, dumping wheelbarrows of concrete at right. The Gilsa team moves quickly.
Wheelbarrows in motion. And that brand new Tonka truck spinning new loads of concrete into wheelbarrows.
Wheelbarrows in motion. Shovels deployed. And that brand new Tonka truck spinning new loads of concrete into wheelbarrows.
From inside the house looking out at the front walk as it takes form.
From inside the house looking out at the front walk as it takes form.
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Notes, 12 Jan. 2016

Above, Jacinto mortars brick where the old garage meets the new Hardieboard siding.

Inside, Jacinto cements the exposed mesh around the fireplace.
Inside, Jacinto cements the exposed mesh around the fireplace.

Steven purchased satin-nickel house numbers from Lowe’s. Jacquela approved the numbers. Steven and Ron discussed where to mount them at the front of the house.

Steven purchased three motion-sensor double flood lights from Lowe’s, to be installed at the new garage bay, at the side door near the kitchen, and at the back door.

Steven also ordered the Ring door chime for the front door, to go with the Ring doorbell. Steve the electrician reminded Steven to get this done. It’s done.

The island countertop is propped against the family room wall, getting it out of the way for Aaron to repair the island cabinets.
The island countertop is propped against the family room wall, getting it out of the way for Aaron to repair the island cabinets.

 

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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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