Category Archives: green building

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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Make-up air system

We are working to qualify Emerald Hill for, potentially, four stars in the the Austin Green Build program. It requires a make-up air system — when the exhaust hood over the cooktop is pulling fumes out of the house from the cooktop, the make-up system replenishes by pulling outside air into the house.

Above, the duct and motor and control unit for the make-up air system installed in the attic over the garage, connected to a duct run that penetrates the drywall to reach the kitchen.

This is the intake vent for the make-up air system, installed under the eave on the outside of the garage.
This is the intake vent for the make-up air system, installed under the eave on the outside of the garage.
This is the vent in the kitchen, over the side door, that delivers replacement air to the kitchen when the exhaust fan runs.
This is the vent in the kitchen, over the side door, that delivers replacement air to the kitchen when the exhaust fan runs.
Autin Air removed the chimney shroud above the exhaust hood. Components for the make-up air system are waiting behind the blue tape for installation.
Autin Air removed the chimney shroud above the exhaust hood. Components for the make-up air system are waiting behind the blue tape for installation.
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Notes, 10 Feb. 2016

Steven arrived at Emerald Hill about 230 pm to learn that the City of Austin chopped down a tree in the neighbor’s yard to clear obstructions from the power lines. The company hired to do the job — Asplundah — left the branches behind in Steven’s back yard, photo above. Ron Dahlke says Asplundah will be back Thursday. Asplundah has been working all over Northwest Hills, clearing trees from power lines up and down nearly every block.

Ron Dahlke and team cleared the original two-car garage of his desk, a tool box, and more. This is what might be described as a bittersweet milestone -- Ron is preparing to move out of Emerald Hill and the remodel is coming to an end. It is, also, a mile marker for how close we are to done -- and moving in.
Ron Dahlke and team cleared the original two-car garage of his desk, a tool box, and more. This is what might be described as a bittersweet milestone — Ron is preparing to move out of Emerald Hill and the remodel is coming to an end. It is, also, a mile marker for how close we are to done — and moving in.
Team Ranserve installed the window screens today. Hard to see in this photo. Ron and Steven walked the house. There are six screens not yet installed that need to be delivered.
Team Ranserve installed the window screens today. Hard to see in this photo. Ron and Steven walked the house. There are six screens not yet installed that need to be delivered.
Rodriguez from Gilsa Construction hacked away today at the remaining form and hardened concrete spillage left over from pouring the foundation for the new garage bay.
Rodriguez from Gilsa Construction hacked away today at the remaining form and hardened concrete spillage left over from pouring the foundation for the new garage bay.
Elite Air Conditioning began swapping out the straight registers for curved -- as required by the Austin Green Build program.
Elite Air Conditioning began swapping out the straight registers for curved — as required by the Austin Green Build program.
Steven began assembling and test fitting the Ikea Stuva cabinets in the mudroom -- confirming that one of the baseboards will need to be trimmed for the cabinets to fit left to right.
Steven began assembling and test fitting the Ikea Stuva cabinets in the mudroom — confirming that one of the baseboards will need to be trimmed for the cabinets to fit left to right.
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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, 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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Week ending 6 Nov. 2015

Above — delivered earlier this week, the base cabinets have been moved into the pantry hallway for installation.

Patrick installs the skirt board along the stairs.
Peter installs the skirt board along the stairs.

Ron Dahlke files this week’s summary:

This week:

  • Installed interior doors
  • Started trim
  • Continued on cabinet install
  • Finished template of countertops
  • Started removal of patio
  • Started excavation of soil for new garage
  • Site visit by Harway appliance installer

Next week:

Kathleen Baker reports “the light order has already been placed [with Lights Fantastic]. Tracy just forgot to send us the confirmation. Most everything is in, they are waiting on the fans. I expect to get the confirmation email on Monday.”

Saturday update: Tracy reports the fans will arrive 10 or 11 November and "everything else is here and ready to go."

Steven met with Kathleen this morning to begin work on the forms that must be submitted to qualify for the Austin Energy Green Building Program. This will require extensive documentation. Stay tuned.

Steven also met at Emerald Hill with Jonathan Hiebert from Push Pull Open Close to finalize selections for the front door handles and the pocket-door hardware. Jonathan promises to finalize the quote and message that to Kathleen for formal submital to and approval by Steven and Jacquela.

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Notes, 14 Oct. 2015

Steven …

  • Worked this morning on possible tile choices for the red backsplash that Jacquela wants behind the cooktop in the kitchen. ProSource promises samples by the afternoon. Steven picked these up and delivered them to Emerald Hill. Jacquela put the five samples into order of preference. Steven now gets to work on pricing options with Renee at ProSource.
  • Spoke with Chris Henderson at Austin Air, talking through installation of the HVAC condenser, tax credits and rebates, qualifying the system for the Austin Energy Green Building Program, thermostat options, updates to the Manual J.
  • Ordered the cooktop from Kristin at Harway — Wolf 36-inch induction cooktop, CI365C/B.
  • Scheduled final review of lighting selections for Saturday with Tracy at Lights Fantastic.
  • Ron suggested that we try to restore the existing garage door instead of replacing it. Steven scheduled an inspection by Cowart Garage Doors.
  • Woke up this morning to a cold shower. Circuit breaker tripped on the new water heater at Sea Eagle View, shutting down the programmer. Why? Electricians and plumbers advise observing this over the next day or three to see if it repeats.

At Emerald Hill, the tilers applied the first coat of waterproofing to the backer board in the master shower. The product is called “Red Guard” but they used the blue version.

DSC_4735

 

 

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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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Flashing the roof

Flashing helps direct the flow of water around openings. Since water can seep into your home’s walls, deteriorating building materials, causing structural damage, and creating moisture and mold problems, it is very important to properly install flashing when constructing a new house or altering the exterior of a house. Flashing is used beneath the first course above ground level in a masonry building, above all wood trim on shelves, doors, and windows, where exterior stairs and decks attach to the house, and around any features in the roof structure. Below are some of the common flashing details on residential roofs. DIY Network.

The Tyvek is up. Don and his crew from Potter’s Roofing nail the roof flashing into place, tucking it under the Tyvek.

Out on the roof at the back corner of bedroom 3.
Out on the roof at the back corner of bedroom 3.

When Ranserve took out the interior drywall, Steven stood upstairs, in the center of the house, turning 360 degrees — and daylight intruded into the house through gaps between the original cedar siding and the top of the lower roof. The flashing and Tyvek begin to seal those gaps. The house won’t be airtight when Ranserve is done, but a lot less heating and air conditioning will escape, helping the house qualify for the Austin Energy Green Building program.

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Back in the remodel saddle

Back from NYC and “day job” earning money to pay for this remodel, tackling the to-do list:

  • Manual J. Kyle from Elite advises that his math now calls for 4 tons HVAC, after reviewing numbers with Austin Energy Green Building. Kyle updated system configuration, saving the Leons approximately $500. Kyle advises he will contact AEGB with updated numbers and share copy with Steven.

HVAC observation. Emerald Hill at approximately 3200 sq ft heated will have half the HVAC "tonnage" as the Leon's existing 4200 sq ft heated -- 4 tons dual speed at Emerald Hill vs. 8 tons multispeed at Sea Eagle View. Emerald Hill is getting new insulation -- foam in the attic, blown-in in the walls, new exterior sheathing, new siding, new dual-pane insulated windows, and more, but will that suffice when Sea Eagle has foam everywhere? This math is worrisome ...

Kyle messages: "Bigger system will give you the extra capacity to cool the house more quickly if you wanted it cooler than 75 degrees when it is more than 100 outside and also will give you extra capacity if you have a lot of guests.

"The smaller system will run more often and remove humidity better and generally speaking be more efficient."

  • Habitat. Mark Rehberg from Ranserve reports Habitat pickups #2 and #3 of donated items are now scheduled for 2 July and 8 July.
  • Structural Engineer. Steven pinged Ben Feldt to ask for ETA on structural engineering needed for wood framing, plumbers, HVAC chases.
  • Exterior siding. Brett Grinkmeyer, architect; Mark and Ron from Ranserve; and Steven will schedule a meeting at Ranserve to review options for Hardie exterior siding — what reveal, what finish, what labor budget, what materials budget.
  • Front door. This is a Critical Path Item (CPI). Steven is working with Mark and Ron to identify options — wood species, paintable or stainable, glass or no glass.
  • Doors. Additional exterior doors at kitchen, back door, garage, and interior doors. Mark tells Steven that Ranserve has received proposal from BMC West. Ron is reviewing. Steven asks to share.
  • Door hardware/handles. Steven began contacting 2-3 weeks ago suppliers of door “jewelry” recommended by Ranserve. He’s starting to get responses.
  • First draw. Steven is coordinating paperwork for first draw payment to Ranserve by SouthStar Bank SSB. It’s a process. Brett Grinkmeyer completed his architectural signoff. Kathleen Baker at Ranserve has to complete form supplied by Dawn Embry at SouthStar. Steven will sign. Larry Weisinger at SouthStar will inspect house. Ranserve will receive money.
  • Plumbing fixtures. Ron, site supervisor, and Barry at Custom Plumbing are to complete review of plumbing fixtures selected by Jacquela and Steven. With that review, Kathleen from Ranserve and Steven will be able to finalize the Ferguson order.
  • Flooring. Will we be able to save and refinish the existing oak floors?
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