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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Manual J is the name for a specific protocol (often called “Heat Load Calculation” or “Cooling Load Calculation“) used to determine how much heating/cooling a home needs to stay cool and dry in the summer and warm in the winter.
There are books, certifications, software to compute the design parameters of the home — insulation, window U-factor and SHGC, roof type, house wrap, and more.
To a layman, it’s right up there with smoke and mirrors, and Arthur C. Clarke reciting “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
But Texas would not be habitable if not for the invention of air conditioning.
Kyle Bacon at Elite Heating & Air Conditioning calculated the Manual J for Emerald Hill at 5 tons. Ross Britton, the consultant, agreed.
Today, however, Austin Energy Green Building messaged, reporting they calculate Manual J at 4 tons — and they ask us to “please revise” the HVAC system accordingly.
Steven alerted Kyle and Ross. Steven asked Kyle to check his numbers and contact Austin Green Building to compare his math with AEGB, “to reach agreement via collaboration.”