Category Archives: Budgets


UPDATE: 16 May 2016. The re-fi is done. Funded.

Wells Fargo approved all the paperwork late last week after nearly two months of submittals; the online loan tracker is clearly a work in progress.

Today, Jacquela and Steven went to close at the title company, refinancing the loan we used to purchase Emerald Hill. At a lower interest rate. Interest + principal, not just interest. Yet a slightly smaller monthly payment.

Now we wait 72 hours for the “right to cancel” to expire.

This brings us full circle; more than two decades ago, Wells Fargo approved the loan used to purchase our first home in Culver City, CA.

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.

Notes, 19 Aug. 2015

  • Ferguson reports replacement for the bath 2 shower pan will be 20 August.
  • Without the shower pan, Ron Dahlke and the City of Austin inspector opted to delay the framing inspection — because the plumbers are still punching holes in lumber.
  • Custom Plumbing began today to test drain lines — pulling a hose through the house to fill drains with water in the master, laundry/utility, bath 3, mudroom. The master shower leaked and was quickly fixed. It’s better to test now, before the insulation goes in and the drywall goes up …
  • The painters caulked the bottom plates where the lumber met the slab, sealing against air, water and insects. If you build new today, the framers unroll a thin layer of foam that adheres to the bottom of the bottom plate — the foam was not invented in 1968 when Emerald Hill was built. Silicon caulk is the alternate to ripping down the house and starting over with new lumber and foam.
  • The painters caulked today because Ranserve will spray borate on the exposed framing of the first floor. Termites don’t like borate. Steven and Jacquela and Ron don’t like termites. We’ve seen the damage termites do. The framers were forced to replace a lot of lumber that the bugs chewed through. The borate is a line of defense — and it is also required by the Austin Energy Green Build program.
  • Ron now plans to re-attempt the framing inspection for Friday this week, or early next.
  • Ron put the insulation team on alert to start next week as soon as Emerald Hill passes the framing inspection — with drywall anticipated for the first week of September.
  • Steven received and is reviewing updated quotes for door handles and hardware, and for tile — and the potential third garage bay.

Notes, 22 July 2015

Third meeting of the busiest week yet for Steven with Ron Dahlke, who is cranking hard and fast on 12 cylinders. And it’s only Wednesday. Today’s agenda:

  • Roofing. Ron met with and Steven approved quote from Potter’s Roofing Co. to install sheetmetal and waterproofing at several locations; to remove existing and install new vent flashing in the lower and upper roofs; to patch where mushroom vents and the skylight are removed — and other damaged areas; and to replace the chimney flashing with a new cricket that will move water away from the brick at the back of the chimney where it meets the roof; water flows directly against the brick and existing flashing when it rains. This is wrong. Some of these tasks are built into existing line-item budgets. Some of this work will require change orders. Why the change orders? Ron and the framers opened up the framing behind the chimney and discovered signs of water penetration traveling down the brick.
  • Pocket doors. Ron finalized and Steven approved quote from BMC for interior pocket doors — built into the framing materials line-item in the budget.
  • Exterior doors. Steven also approved second quote from BMC for exterior doors at the kitchen, back door and at at the mudroom into the garage — not including the front door and not including the back door to the garage. The front door is an entirely different task — and Ron is researching whether the back door to the garage must be fire rated.
  • Vanities, medicine cabinets, electrical. Steven delivered dimensional plans for the bathroom vanities, and the medicine cabinets that will be used in bath 2, the mudroom and master bath. This enables Ron and the framers to properly nail lumber into position for the medicine cabinets, which insert into the wall between studs. It also enables Ron, Sean the electrician, and Steven and Jacquela to properly position electrical outlets for the medicine cabinets, which feature built-in LED lighting, and for wall outlets adjacent to the vanities.
  • HVAC. Ron advises that the HVAC rough-in begins Thursday/tomorrow, 23 July.
  • Kitchen cabinets. Also 23 July, Aaron Pratt at Centex Custom Cabinets is scheduled to visit, to begin measuring for the kitchen cabinets.
  • Pending. Ron continues to track pending submittals from subcontractors for refinishing the wood floors and laying new wood; how to get electrical power through the slab to the kitchen island; and the candidates for the potential front door.
  • Discovery 1: Structure. Taking out the hearth to the left of and in front of the fireplace reveals the brick may be the only thing holding up the ceiling beams above the fireplace — and we may need to add structural support across the front of the fireplace under the ceiling beams. Ron is researching this with the structural engineer, Ben Feldt at Feldt Consulting Engineers.
  • Discovery 2: Insulation. Ron advises that the sheathing between the brick and studs on the first floor may need additional sealing DSC_2230— every time that demo took out an old cable or fixture, that left a hole in the sheathing. One way to fix this may be to deploy the painters with silicon before we begin insulation. Another approach might be to use expanding foam insulation instead of blown-in insulation. The building plan already calls for foam in the attic, upper and lower roofs, with blown-in insulation in the walls. There’s a cost delta to switch out to foam — should we do this selectively, only where needed, stud bay penetration by stud bay penetration? Or, should we just foam everything? Ron offers to schedule a meeting with the insulation contractor. Steven notes his history with foam — the current house is the first built by John Hagy Homes that is insulated with foam, helping to qualify the house for 3 stars with the Austin Energy Green Building Program — 11 years ago, when foam insulation was new to market. And … the foam yields an airtight house that is much easier to heat and cool, and vastly more efficient.

Separately, Steven met with and walked the house with one of the candidate companies to install the structured wiring system — security, low-voltage cables for TV, sound and phone, and the computer network.

Things we did today: 17 June 2015

  • Plumbing fixtures. Deleted hot/cold water dispenser at kitchen sink, and the tank for the dispenser. Jonell at Ferguson updated quote. Ranserve and Jacquela are reviewing.
  • HVAC. Ross Britten confirmed Panasonic and Broan light/vent units for bathroom ventilation with Elite. Steven reminded Ross and Elite to contact Carrier to review system selections, thermostat selections.
  • Countertops. Checked with Austin Stone to ask what might be available in the “boneyard” of slabs waiting to be adopted, at discount, for use as shelving in master shower and hearth at fireplace.
  • Flooring. Steven and Ron discussed options for refinishing existing wood floors — there might not be enough wood left to sand, stain, poly.
  • Doors and door handles. Steven and Ron discussed critical path timeline for exterior and interior door selections/decisions. Ron is reminding BMC West to cough up numbers. Steven spoke with Don Waters at Waters Design Group about possible door handle selections/options. Steven and Jacquela have to drill into web sites and product lines suggested by Waters.
  • Habitat and donations. Steven compiled spreadsheet and photographs of items staged in the garage for donation to Habitat. Steven messaged xls and pix to Lauren Gregory and Charles Johnson at Habitat, asking them to schedule pickup at Emerald Hill with Ron Dahlke.