Archive for January, 2007

And now ALL of our walls are solid!

January 27, 2007

When we last visited the house site, we had solid concrete first floor walls, and flimsy styrofoam second floor walls. All that is changed, is changed utterly. On Wednesday, at 11 am, the construction crew began pouring our second floor walls, and we are now solid all the way through. Notice the hurricane clips on the 2nd floor, as well.

Our next step is to have the roof trusses done, then the metal roof, then my husband will finally agree to call our structure a HOUSE! Our builder, Woody (Classic Structures, Inc.) says that we should have a roof within the next two weeks. Huzzah!

The other big change is that they’ve removed the wooden framing from our window & door spaces, so that now you can actually see through these areas. This is evident in the above photo, as well as in the below photo of the bay window in the guest room:

Notice the beautiful view of palmettos & oaks, through the bay window. Our guests will feel like they’re in the Tower of Terror gardens 🙂

Other than these changes, there really aren’t many obvious ones. The walls were hollow, and now they are solid. They had no hurricane clips, but now they do. The plywood is gone from the window & door spaces. This is not a terribly exciting blog entry, I realize.

The other thing that we realized is that there seem to be packs of dogs roaming at will through our community. We encountered one pack of three, consisting of a large, black Lab, an Australian shepherd, and a brown & white dog of indeterminate breed:

We are somewhat concerned about this, since we have a little beagle/lab mix, who we’d like to walk peacefully through our community, without having to worry about her encountering dogs who may or may not be aggressive and may or may not have their updated shots.

Because we’re not in incorporated Clermont, there are no leash laws, so I guess we just have to hope for the best!  The problem was the these three dogs surrounded our car so that we couldn’t drive; we obviously didn’t want to hit any of them, and were concerned about their safety.

(Our little Hannah)

Trials and tribulations of water heating

January 25, 2007

Just when we think we’ve made a decision, we find out some new information that upsets our thinking totally.

Because we’re out in the country, we don’t have natural gas service. Because my husband is interested in cooking, we will have a dual fuel stove, which necessitates a gas hookup. Our solution to this is propane, but this seemingly simple solution apparently has endless permutations that cause consternation to the average homebuyer.

We have decided that we want to rent, not buy, a propane tank. Apparently, of the three propane suppliers who service our area, only one will rent a propane tank to us. OK – that made our decision to choose our supplier that much easier.

We first asked about possibly having a gas tankless hot water heater, which would fit with our green building motif. However, after hearing about the additional cost (tankless costs $1550, as opposed to $369 for the gas tank heater, and drops to a tankless are an extra $150), we realized that we could not possibly recoup the $1331 difference between these two heaters in the time frame we’re expecting to be in this house.

Propane is more expensive than natural gas, and the propane & natural gas prices tend to fluctuate more than electricity prices. They are also projected to rise at a much higher rate than electricity prices, which prompted us to check out electric hot water heaters. We did so, and discovered that they have an energy factor of .94, as opposed to the gas tank hot water heater’s energy factor of .58. So, sounds good, we will go electric, right?

Wrong.

If we don’t buy the gas hot water heater, the propane supplier will not rent the tank to us. And we don’t want to shell out a few thousand extra to buy a tank, when we could rent one for $96/year. Without a gas hot water heater, our propane cost also rises $.20 per gallon. If we don’t buy the gas hot water heater from the propane supplier, they will not service it for us if it goes out.

Basically, not having natural gas service in your area means that the propane suppliers can have their way with you, as far as charging more for the heaters than if you bought them from someone else, and as far as forcing you to have more appliances that rely on propane.

Our other reason for wanting propane service, besides the stove, is that we plan on having a propane generator in case of hurricanes. They won’t happen more than once or twice a year (hopefully!), but if we do lose power for several days, that would really put us in a bind. We’re out in the country, so, again, have well water, not city water. No power = no water.

The moral of this story is: Try to build your home in a place with access to reasonable utilities. Otherwise, you will end up spending a lot more of your money trying to buy wells, buy propane, buy generators.

Questions? Comments? Post a comment on my blog – I would love to hear from you!

We’ve got second floor walls!

January 20, 2007

Now our structure is beginning to rise, with the assembly of the Eco Blocks for the 2nd floor walls. They are still empty foam, but we now have a 2nd floor, so we are beginning to be able to see what the house will actually look like.

Here is the house from the front:

Here is another shot, this time from the side (by the garage), showing the different levels:

The garage, kitchen, dining area, and utility room will be only 1 story, while the rest of the house is a 2 story structure.

Here is a shot of the framing from the interior of the house. This photo was taken from the utility room, looking toward the foyer, future staircase, bathroom, and guest bedroom.

Andy got very brave and climbed UP a ladder, then DOWN the scaffolding, in order to take a few 2nd floor shots. Here is a photo of our future bedroom. The big window facing the back yard is visible in this picture:

And here is the view from our bedroom window:

We plan on keeping the pile of lumber there – isn’t it picturesque? We really like the view of our conservation area in the background; a forest is a lovely thing to look out on.

And here is a photo of the second floor reading nook, with its small window. I’m really looking forward to this area!

Then I got brave (sort of) and climbed the ladder high enough to take a picture THROUGH the second floor trusses.

Finally, a view of our house from the back.

You can see how the great room will have the large sliding glass doors and then, above the doors, two windows. We’re hoping this will be a light, airy room with a lovely view of the woodsy back yard.

Next steps: Woody says that they will begin pouring the 2nd floor walls by the end of this week. Huzzah!

We’ve been scouting high and low for a propane supplier, to sell us a tank, a generator, and drops for our hot water heater and stove. We need to act on this ASAP, in order to keep it from holding up construction. We also have been trying to decide between a tankless hot water heater and a regular hot water heater. The cost difference is about $1200, including the additional hookups. We like the idea of the tankless heater, and we like its energy efficiency, but we don’t know whether we have an additional $1200 to spend on this, or whether it will pay off in energy savings. Decisions, decisions.

Growing, growing…

January 7, 2007

We visited our halfway-house this Saturday, to see how the 2nd floor trusses were going. Some of the interior wall studs had also been put up, which you’ll be able to see in the next few pictures. Here is a closeup of the 2nd floor trusses, in the guest bedroom (near the bay window):

Photo of the trusses and interior walls:

This photo is of the future 2nd floor reading nook:

And here is a shot of some of our interior walls (bathroom, then stairwell, then entry to kitchen):

We did notice that the concrete was cracking around some of the pipes in the kitchen. According to my father, this is normal for concrete, unless the slab is a post tension slab.  So here is a photo of the cracking, but it’s a non-issue:

This time, we were somewhat light on pictures. We’re eagerly anticipating the completion of the 2nd floor trusses, so that our 2nd floor can begin to rise.