Thursday, November 29, 2012

Two More Weeks

So apparently the closer we get to the finish the less often I post.  A lot has happened in the month since I've last posted and I'm excited to say that we're less than two weeks away from being in the house.  We are all beyond excited.

The outside of the house is essentially done.  The shake shingles for the gables along the front have been installed and stained.  The garage floor, driveway, and sidewalk have all been poured.  All of the siding has been painted.  I've been really nervous about how all the textures and colors would turn out, but Becca and I both love the end result.  It's exactly what we were hoping for.  The only thing left for the outside is the yard work.

On the inside, the hardwood flooring on the main floor is all put down.  Unfortunately, they almost immediately covered it up to protect it so I never got to see it, but Becca was there the day they finished and said it looks great.  The tile has also been finished and grouted in all of the bathrooms and the kitchen.  Speaking of the kitchen, the cabinets have all been installed and stained.  The whole thing looks really good and just what we were wanting.  But my favorite thing it the fireplace.  The stone that we picked looks wonderful.  It was exactly what I envisioned it would look like and it really completes the whole house.  It's become the focal point that we really wanted it to be.  There's still a lot left to finish these last two weeks, but I know for sure that we're already happy with the end results.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Home Stretch

I'm not going to even bother with making excuses this time as to how long it's been since I've blogged.  Bottom line: it's been a while and a lot has happened.

On the outside the brick and stone are completely finished.  The stone seemed to go up even quicker than the brick did and looks great.  It's a small thing, but I especially like how the chimney turned out with the stone.  Something most people probably wouldn't notice, but I really think it ties everything together really well.  They also managed to get all of the board and batten siding installed.  This siding has the look of wood, but is actually a composite material that will stand up better over the long run and is easy to install.  Now the only thing left for the exterior of the house is to paint the siding and install and stain our cedar shakes for the gables on the front of the house.  We're really excited to see it all come together.  You might also notice that the garage floor and patio have been poured.  I believe they'll be pouring the driveway and sidewalk this week.  Oh! And our deck is finished.  I can't wait to sit back and enjoy some cool nights on that deck.

On the inside essentially the entire house has been primed and painted.  We opted to let the professionals paint the majority of the house with my dad and I just painting the bonus room, Zeda's room, upstairs bath, and master bath.  The reason we chose these few rooms is that the color scheme for those was drastically different than the rest of the house.  When you hire professional painters they charge a fee anytime you switch from one color palette to another.  So, rather than paying the fee a few different times we just stuck with a couple of colors for the majority of the house and painted the other parts ourselves.
On top of painting, all the tile has been set with the exception of the kitchen, which will be done after the cabinets are installed.  The really exciting things on the interior will be happening the next couple of weeks as the trim, interior doors, and wood flooring were all delivered this week.  A lot is going to be happening in a short amount of time!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Brick Outside, Sheetrock Inside

I didn't realize how long it's been since I've posted until I checked out my last post.  There's been a lot that has been going on, even just this week, but I'll try to cover the big things leading up to this week and hopefully come back to this week in a couple of days.

On the inside dry wall is up.  In just a couple of days the sheet rock went up.  After that it took about a week to get a couple of layers of mud on the wall leaving it ready for paint.  The dry wall definitely adds an entirely different dimension to the house.  Before, with just the studs, you could get a general idea of where the rooms are.  With the sheet rock up you get the exact feeling of the size and shape of the rooms.  It no longer looks like a construction site and now looks like just an unfinished house.  It's pretty amazing the difference.
On the outside of the house the brick is going up and going up quickly.  The back of the house along was almost completely finished in a single day.  Essentially the back and two sides were completed in a week.  I'd actually venture to say that the front would have been finished just as quickly if it weren't for other things that had to be completed before the front could be continued.  It just amazes me how quickly our masons were able to work.  It certainly has made a huge difference on the look of the exterior.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Spray Foam

With all of the electrical and plumbing in place the work this week has been insulation.  Now insulation is something that I've spent a lot of time thinking about.  I know it's not glorious at all and most people think I'm crazy for spending as much time thinking about insulation as I have.  However, Becca and I said from the very beginning of this process that there are certain things we want to make sure we do it right when we build this house and others that aren't quite as crucial.
Things like flooring, colors, fixtures, and even appliances can be easily changed out in the future so we're comfortable saving some money on these things and not getting the best out there.  Insulation, on the other hand, is pretty much set in stone once you get sheet rock up.  For that reason we were willing to spend a little more.  On top of the finality of it all, insulation is a place where you can either save money over the life of the house or regret your decision every month when you see your utility bill.  For all of these reasons I knew that I wanted spray foam insulation throughout the entire house.
Spray foam works so well for a few different reason.  First off, it has a higher R value, or the measure of how well it resists changes in temperature, than your typical fiber glass insulation.  The higher the R value the harder it is for the hot in the summer and cold in the winter to absorb into your house.  The other benefit of spray foam is when it's applied it actually expands into all the nooks and crannies of your walls.  This essentially creates an air tight seal around your entire house.  The benefit of this seal is now you no longer have to worry about the drafts that can result from poorly sealed homes.
Now there are some potential drawbacks to spray foam.  First off is the cost; it's substantially higher to do your home with spray foam vs conventional fiber glass siding.  We knew upfront that spray foam was the way we wanted to go so we had already built it into the budget.  The other thing to consider is that the energy savings you'll see from the higher insulating properties.  There are a lot of variables when trying to calculate how long the spray foam takes to pay off including climate, house size, and utility costs, but most web sites will state anywhere from 3 to 7 year payoff.  So if you plan on being in your house longer than that, the foam will pay itself off and even save you money in the long run.
The other potential drawback to spray foam is that it has the possibility of being too air tight.  I know that might sound counter intuitive, but houses are actually designed to "breathe" a little naturally.  Spray foam tends to be so tight that it prevents this which can result in things like moisture build up and condensation in your house.  The solution to this, introduced to me by our builder Jason, is an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV).  This system essentially replaces your houses natural air flow by a mechanical system that will bring fresh air in from the outside and exhaust other air back out.  There are other benefits to an ERV system, but at its basics this is the huge benefit of one in a spray foam system.
As you can see this is something I spent a lot of time thinking about and am actually excited to see if all the work was worth it or not.  Over the last week the insulators have been able to spray foam all of the exterior walls and are now coming back through as sheet rock gets put up to spray places like the ceilings in the attic.  It's a pretty neat site.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Windows, Wires, and Pipe

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to add an entry to the blog in a couple of weeks.  However, it certainly isn't because there hasn't been much going on at the house.  On the contrary, things have been moving so quickly we haven't had any time where we weren't thinking about one decision or another.
First off, nearly all of the windows along with the back exterior doors were installed in just a couple of days.  At the same time the electrician, plumber, and HVAC were all working inside the house.  Over the last couple of weeks all of these guys have been working all over the place running wire and piping throughout the house.  It's been crazy seeing all the changes.
At the same time, a lot of decisions are coming up soon.  Wall colors, flooring, fireplace, back splash.  With the drywall coming up soon we have to start finalizing a lot of these things.  Needless to say it's been a whirlwind.  Here's to hoping we can make up our mind and get these decision knocked out.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

That Looks Like a House

When we left for vacation I knew that a lot would be happening over the next week.  But I had no idea the progress we'd see once we returned home.  Just as Jason had estimated in the period of just a week the house went from the basement being framed to the roof being put up.
We got back from Alabama on Monday, August 13 and met with Jason at the house to discuss how everything was going.  It was going great.  I, unfortunately, had to immediately leave town again for a conference. By the time I got back on Thursday the roof decking was almost complete.
At this point the framing is essentially complete.  Start to finish it took right at two weeks.  It's absolutely amazing to me that in just two weeks an entire house can be framed.
The shingles are in place on site for the roof to be put on and I'd guess that at this rate it'll be done by the end of the week.  We're also meeting with Jason and the electrician sometime this week to map out where lighting, outlets, and data connections will be going.  Fortunately, I've been working on that already so hopefully things will go smoothly.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

All in a Days Work

We were told several times that the wait for this framer was worth it.  I am now a believer.  The framer started on Friday and in just one day got nearly the entire basement framed up.  We stopped by the house today and I could hardly believe it.  It would take me an entire week just to get up a single wall.
This trip Becca's parents joined us for the tour.  This was their first time out since we've started construction and were really excited to see it.  It was really fun getting to walk around through each room and start to see the plans that we've been working on for so long start to actually come into existence.
Now as great as it was to see this today it's a little bitter sweet because of some bad timing on our part.  Tomorrow night we leave for vacation in Orange Beach, AL and will be gone an entire week.  If this framer accomplished this much in a day imagine what's he's going to get done in a week.  Obviously I can't complain too much; I am heading to the beach.  But it is slightly disappointing we'll be missing so much progress.  Jason thinks that by the time we get back they'll be working on the ceiling joists for the top floor.  Pretty crazy.