Archive for the ‘Classic Structures’ Category

A giant hole in our yard

June 23, 2007

Yes, there is a giant hole in our backyard. Here it is:

“Oh, no!” you exclaim. “Just when things were going so well!” Not to fear; this giant hole is actually a necessary part of the circle of life. It enables us to get through the day. We can use now use the bathroom in our house – or we could if we had toilets. This, my friends, is part of acquiring a septic tank.

I was lucky enough to catch the tank before it was inspected and, thus, buried:

And here is our unburied drain field:

Here, in contrast, is the drain field once it’s been inspected and buried:

The giant hole is still there, just waiting to be filled. The reason for the hole is that the septic tank people needed to build up the land, before they could get the septic tank inspected. In order to build it up, they took dirt from right in front of our back porch. Now that the inspection is finished, Woody can bring in fill dirt to – you guessed it – fill the hole.

And now, a brief rant on our propane company of choice. The one fly in our ointment, throughout this process, has been the proprane company we had the misfortune to choose. They were scheduled to come the week before last, but, without calling Woody or giving him any indication why, they just didn’t show up. So he rescheduled them for Wednesday of this past week, June 20. Part of the crew showed up: the part the brought in our hot water heater. The part that was supposed to bury the tank, however, called in sick. So we will try again, this coming week, to coax them out to our lot.

The tank is yet another thorn in our sides.

It is not a good tank. It is a bottom of the line tank. We told the propane man, repeatedly, that we’d like to pay more to upgrade to a better insulated tank. This would save energy, which is our goal. It is not, however, his goal. The more energy we save, the less money we give him for propane. So he went ahead and installed the bottom-of-the-line tank. We will foil him by wrapping it in a tank blanket. But we’re still disgruntled.

And, finally, the third problem, which, again, we must attribute to the propane company. We told him that we were having an electric dryer. He decided to go ahead and put a propane drop in for our dryer. What can it hurt? Maybe it will help for resale value. Good point, EXCEPT – the electric guy, on seeing that we’re having a gas dryer, then doesn’t install the necessary wiring for our electric dryer. Result: our electric dryer is delivered, and there is no plug. Woody now has to rip out drywall to put in the correct wiring. Thank you, propane man.

Here is a picture of our washer & dryer:

It’s not a good picture, because we couldn’t really get in front of them, but you get the idea. They’re both good, and very energy efficient. We are happy with everything but the propane man.

Our range was delivered today, and, since it’s a dual fuel range, we will need the propane man to hook this up with a special liquid propane kit. Dare we trust him to do this? Will we, in the words of the Flying Hawaiian, David Kala’iki Ali’i when confronted with propene, say to ourselves, “I thank God everyday … that I didn’t get exploded.”

We also now have a bar; the rest of the Silestone has been put in:

The beadboard is going in, in our downstairs bath. This will be painted white when the painters return:

Next week, Woody will return and work on getting our stairs in. The maple has arrived, and is chilling in the garage right now. Unless he thinks up another excuse, the propane guy will return and bury our propane tank. And, once the range is hooked up, we can get the electric inspection and get temporary electric turned on, our first step to getting the bamboo floors installed.

A note about living in Florida: you see a lot of sad things. I saw a gopher tortoise get exploded on the road this week, when a dump truck just tore right through him. Very sad. It always stinks to see an endangered species, or, indeed, any species at all, die a nasty road death. Today, while we were driving from our house to the recycling center (we recycle all the cardboard, cans, bottles, etc. from the construction site), we saw another sad road death:

He was nowhere near a pond or lake, so I’m not sure why he was out where he was killed.

But then we came home to our apartment, and the waterfowl were frolicking in our pond, and that was nice:

Advertisements

Let there be lights!

June 10, 2007

Our house now has lights, fans, cabinet boxes, and a garage door. We go to New York for the weekend, and look what happens!

Our builder, Woody Dortch of Classic Structures, Inc., is now on vacation visiting his son at the Air Force base in Texas, so things have slowed up until he returns from his visit this week.

I actually got a sneak preview of the house before my husband did, since he had to work all this week. One of the benefits (maybe?) of being a teacher is that we get laid off each June. Sure, we get a nice, long unpaid leave of absence, but in what other profession do you hear society grousing that they get the privilege of being laid off so frequently? Ah, the joys of an unsteady income! Seriously, though, I do enjoy the summers, but that is only due to the fact that I am fortunate enough to have a spouse who does, indeed, have a constant paycheck.

To get back to my point, though, when I was out at the house by myself, I encountered a fox in distress. (S)he was painfully thin, rheumy-eyed, and was staggering around alongside the road. At first, I thought the fox was just hunting something, since its head was down, and it appeared to be giving all its attention to the ground:

When I got out of the car to take pictures, though, I realized that it was either hurt or sick. My first thought was to try to bring it to the vet, so I got out the towel I carry for just this purpose in the car. My legendary towel has also been used to wrap up the likes of a possum with a head injury I found in Charlotte, so I was hoping to put it to use on that day. However, as I approached the fox, the possibility that it could have rabies came through my mind. Could I guarantee that, even through the thick towel, the fox would not be able to bite me? No, I could not. (I often have such conversations with myself on a lonely summer’s day). Having approached the fox, I then began to back away, but he’d caught the interesting smell of my towel. He walked toward me, sniffing the towel. I held very still while he gave it a sniff, visions of attack squirrels dancing through my head, but the fox lost interest and walked away. Berating myself for my cowardice, I nonetheless decided to retreat and live another day rabies-free.

And now, enough digressions – I will get right to the good stuff. Here is the exterior of our house, avec garage door:

And now, for your viewing enjoyment, I will proceed to attach photos of our lighting choices. First is the kitchen, a good place to begin, since the majority of our lives revolves around food. Here is a photo of the cabinet boxes for our kitchen island:

And here is the fluorescent light in the kitchen:

Here is a photo of our kitchen pendants and the matching dining room chandelier in the background. These are all from Home Depot:

One of my favorite parts of the house is our big back porch, that will be screened in:

We got the same fan and lighting fixtures for our guest bedroom and for the library. First, the guest bedroom:

And the library:

We purchased the same vanity fixture for the downstairs bath and the upstairs bath:

Here are the sconces for our master bedroom:

And here is the fan for the master bedroom. This is the Hampton Bay Covington model fan from Home Depot; it was very energy efficient, and we thought it would go well with the furniture for this room.

Next steps: the cleaners will continue clearing out our lot; Woody’s assistant will finish up our library shelves; the electrician will install the great room fan and foyer chandelier; finally, we will get temporary electric, so that the HVAC system can be installed and the house can begin acclimatizing for the bamboo floors.

One Prime House and the Return of Punky

May 6, 2007

We are primed and ready for painting this coming week! Our flooring goes in a week from Monday, and the cabinets are set for June 1st. Everything seems to be moving right along, and the Hardie Board siding continues, slowly but steadily, to cover our exterior.

Here are a few photos of the interior, with the primer in:

Here is the back of our house, with the Hardie Board siding almost completely done:

And, oddly enough (though maybe not that oddly, since we’ve seen quite a few turtles dead in the road here), we found another gopher tortoise in the road. Just like good old Punky, who I found back in November! This tortoise was significantly larger than even Punky, who was so big that an apparently nearsighted bystander asked me whether I was holding a cat! We moved this guy safely to the haven that is our subdivision, though our neighbors took issue with us moving him to our wetlands, and put him in the back of their truck and instead moved him to another neighbor’s wetlands. (Gopher tortoises are notorious for burrowing under houses and undermining the foundation).

So here is poor Punky II, who my husband named Plastron, apparently a fencing reference:

We are going to be doing our laundry room and under-the-stairs floors ourselves, so we’ll be going out tomorrow to seal the concrete, then leaving it to dry until next weekend, when we will lay down the 1 ft. square vinyl tiles that we’ve chosen for our flooring in these 2 areas.

Drywall is done!

April 29, 2007

Our drywall is finished, and we are ready for painting. It’s amazing what a difference it makes, to have the walls all up and finished. It really looks like a house, and I think it’s a lovely house. I’m very excited that we’re going to get to live in this beautiful creation.

Here is a photo of our great room wall, all drywalled up:

And here is a better photo of our finished door with matching transom window:

In our upstairs shower, the tub surround upstairs, and the downstairs bath, the builders used Durock:

This picture is of our downstairs bath, with octagonal window visible.

When we came to visit our house on Saturday, the drywall was all up, but had not had the spray sealant put on it. However, when we came back on Sunday morning, it had been sprayed, so the texture was visible. This was the sign that the drywallers were completely done and we are now ready for paint!

The reason we came by on Sunday as well as Saturday was to drop our paint choices into the Doc box. I thought we did this rather cleverly, though I’m sure millions of other people have done the same thing! We had an earlier draft of the floorplans, not showing the ICF walls, but that would be suitable to use for this purpose. We color coded every wall, showing which colors we wanted, so that there would be no possibility of error. Can you tell I’m a teacher? I anticipate confusion arising, and try my best to prevent it. We stapled the sheet with our various color choices, including manufacturer, color name, and color number, to the front of our color-coded floorplans.

We wanted our trayed ceiling in the master bedroom to have a ring of the iceberg blue wall paint around the tray area, so that is what’s color coded at the top of this page. And, of course, as part of the green building process, we are using low/no VOC paints.

Our builder, Woody Dortch of Classic Structures, Inc., has been hard at work continuing to install the James Hardie Board siding onto our house:

The first floor is almost done, and, on one side of the house, he’s finished the siding entirely. Huzzah!

Woody said something which really struck me this week, and I thought I’d mention it, since it’s indicative of the type of builder he is. I was telling him that we’d heard horror stories from other people who had new construction homes, about what a difficult and traumatic process it was. Woody said, “When you’re building a house, you have to expect that problems will come up. It’s how you handle it that makes it a good or bad building experience.” I thought that was remarkable, since it was exactly TRUE.

For example, Woody spoke with the propane guy, who said that the ugly propane vent on the front of the house could be moved, but that he (propane guy) was not going to move it (jerk). So Woody told us that he would move the vent himself, and was going to pay to replace the entire sheet of metal for the roof, so that we don’t have an ugly patch job. His pride in the finished product, as well as his dedication to us as his customers are truly remarkable. As a teacher, I generally have a low opinion of people’s integrity, but Woody’s honesty & integrity are striking!

Finally, we resolved the issue of our overly expensive floors. Woody found another vendor for us, who is going to give us just what we want: brown tiles for the kitchen & master bath, black & white subway tiles for the downstairs bath, frieze carpet for the master bedroom, and bamboo flooring for everywhere else, for very close to our budget. Here is a photo of the exact bamboo flooring we’re using: Columbia Flooring’s Ivory Bamboo.

Next steps: the interior will be painted; Woody will continue installing the Hardie Board siding; our garage door will go up; the flooring will go in; our cabinets will be installed.

Well, well, well…

April 14, 2007

We have a well! And here it is:

This is the only real development from this week. We got the propane permits (finally) and passed all of our framing inspections. On Monday, the Icynene guys are coming to spray in the Icynene. On Thursday, the drywall hangers are coming to start hanging drywall. And, also on Monday, our builder Woody Dortch of Classic Structures, Inc., will begin hanging the Hardie Board siding. It has been delivered and is sitting in our front yard:

I went to Celebration this week, to meet up with my husband for lunch. We had a nice picnic, and then I fed some bread to this lovely family of Muscovy ducks. They are a couple, with 11 children, and we’ve been watching them grow up. The 11 babies are quite large now, and they are very tame & friendly. They piled around me, begging for bread:

The father duck was very funny; if he felt I hadn’t given him enough food, he began vibrating. He’d raise up the feathers on his head, open his mouth, and start hissing. My husband caught him in the act, with his tongue sticking out:

And now for the bad news. I’ve been outwitted by a squirrel. We saw this man feeding the squirrels peanuts on one of the walkways through the woods at Celebration, and I thought, “Hey! I have some shelled walnuts at home. I’ll bring those and feed the squirrels, too.” Bad idea. I used to have a pet squirrel as a child, but these squirrels are nothing like our Trouble. They are a lot smarter than Trouble. They are a lot smarter than I.

Here is the squirrel, happy, jolly, eating his food:

Here is what I was trying to do with the food: set it out on the posts like this.

But the squirrel was too smart for me, and much too fast. Every time I’d move to another post, he’d beat me there. I could have sworn the squirrel had 12 little paws and a Turbo engine, because he seemed to be everywhere I was, grabby grabby:

That is the squirrel reaching out to grab my hand and wrest the walnut from my grip. But what you don’t see is Mr. Squirrel sinking his incisors into my thumb, poking a hole in my nail and in the top of the thumb.

The good news is that I don’t have to get a rabies shot, because, according to the CDC and the FL Dept of Health, there are no known cases of a squirrel transmitting rabies to a human. Since the bite was a “provoked bite,” (yeah, I freely admit it was provoked- I was eager to feed him, and the cute little squirrel with the big teeth was too much for me), which is apparently quite common in Florida and other states, no rabies treatments are recommended. If I hadn’t had a recent tetanus shot (within the past 5 years), I would have had to go get one of those. Luckily, I had mine in 2005, so I should recover just fine from my provoked squirrel attack.

We’re wired!

March 11, 2007

The electrician, plumber, and HVAC contractors have all been busy at work on our home this past week. The results look like this:

And this

And this

(The above is a photo of the tub for the master bath, the Aquamarine model by Izzi Baths).

While they’ve been busy wiring, we’ve been busy shopping. As confirmed apartment dwellers, we have no real furniture. A futon with the arm chewed up by our dog, sure, we’ve got that. But not real house furniture.

We looked at several places, like Ethan Allen, Badcock, Broyhill, Wood You, and American Signature Furniture. Our favorite at first was Ethan Allen, before we realized that, even though we would be paying through the nose for their furniture, they 1. use particleboard in some pieces’ construction and 2. exhibit all the signs of fine, Chinese craftsmanship. The floor models had big mistakes, like lopsided doors that had misaligned hardware and armoire doors that scratched up the bottom of the armoire every time you closed them! For those prices, we were underwhelmed by the low level of quality. My husband read several reviews that corresponded the decline in quality with the exportation of pieces to China to be built. Yummy…

Badcock sketched us out, and Broyhill was far, far too large, heavy, and ornate for us. We were very excited, though to find Wood You and American Signature. Both those places only sold furniture made of actual, solid wood. American Signature’s pieces were still assembled in either China or Vietnam (some one, some the other), but they seemed to be of better quality.

We really liked their Plantation Cove line; it fit with our beachy theme. We purchased a sofa (the Sonja) in celery green. The cushions are so, so soft, and have a 5 year warranty. We purchased the additional Scotch Gard protection, as this will definitely pay us back in protection from doggie paws.

We also bought, for the living room, a cocktail table. We got the rectangular dining table and 6 chairs for our dining room (all in white). For the master bedroom, we got the king bed, Simmons Napa Super Pillowtop mattress, two end tables, a tall chest of drawers, and an armoire. The master bedroom furniture is all in black, and we plan on having a black/teal/white color combination in this room.

The nice thing about American Signature Furniture is that you can put down only a 10% deposit, and that will lock in the price for you. They will hold the furniture indefinitely, at no charge, for people like us who do not have the house completed yet.

We also liked the Wood You mission style, and are thinking that we will get some combination of this type of furniture for our guest bedroom. This is unfinished wood furniture, so we would have to paint or stain it ourselves, but the prices were very reasonable and the quality seemed to be pretty good, with all-wood construction.

Duct, duct, goose!

March 5, 2007

It’s true; we now have some ductwork done. Nothing too thrilling this week, though it was neat to see the large, silver snakes of our ductwork winding their way through the 2nd floor trusses.

First, a photo of the HVAC ductwork:

Here is one of the vents sticking out of our roof:

And the vents in our ceilings:

The plumber has done some additional work, and he left behind our tub for the downstairs bathroom! It’s a standard, 5 foot long, white American Standard bathtub.

This week, we finalized our choice for the front door. It will look exactly like the picture below:

This is an ODL door with the Oak Park model of caning. We also made the final decision for our Hardie board siding color. Our house will have Boothbay Blue siding, with white trim.

And, finally, while we were at our house, we stopped to observe some of the insect life. This huge dragonfly was very noisily crunching on a ladybug – yuck! – but he made a pretty cool picture.

Rooms, rooms, glorious rooms!

February 17, 2007

See this photo of the house?

Looks the same, doesn’t it? Which just goes to show you that looks can be deceiving, because we are now the proud owners of, not just the shell of a house, but an actual, factual house with ROOMS! True, there is still no metal roof, but that, my friends, is coming in the next 2-3 weeks.

The builders have been busy framing up the interior of the house. It is amazing to see how what was last week sketches on paper has now been transformed into actual rooms that we can walk around. We can now really see the sizing, and it’s probably the most exciting part for me of the entire process.

Here is a picture of our front entrance, with stairs and, just to the right of the first part of the staircase, what will be an under-the-stairs closet. You can see how there is room for a door, and we’ll be able to make use of all this under-stairs area for storage.

Just above the doorway, the reading nook/walkway is visible. From here, we can sit upstairs, read, and keep an eye on goings on in our great room.

Here is a photo of our arched doorway, just to your right as you enter through the foyer. It leads into the kitchen area:

Behind the arch, the stairs are again visible.

And here is an upstairs view, looking down into the great room, dining room, and kitchen. The kitchen island will be open to the great room & dining room:

And now, proceeding upstairs, is a shot of our whopping big closet!

The master bath is visible to the left of the closet, and here is a better view of the master bathroom:

The tub will be in the corner, under the window, and on the far left side of the photo, another small window is visible. The walk-in shower is in this area, below the tiny window. We’re very ninja-esque, so even when bathing or showering, we needed to be able to see someone sneaking up our driveway.

Here is a photo of the master bedroom, with the long window that will be above the bed & the picture window looking out into our wooded backyard:

And, finally, here is the view from the larger window in our master bedroom.

You can see the roof over the back porch, in the bottom right hand corner of the photo.

I’m so glad that the stairs have been built, so that I could finally check out our second floor! Our builder, Woody Dortch of Classic Structures, Inc. seems to be moving right along. He’s chosen our roof vendor, so before too much longer, we will have a completely white house: white metal roof, white foam walls.

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)

Once the plans are finished…

July 10, 2006

Apparently the permit process is much more complex than I expected. Now that our house plans are (finally, six months later!) finished, Woody, our builder, sent them to the truss engineering company. For those of you as unfamiliar as I was with the construction process, this was the next step, after plan design but before sending them to be sealed by an actual engineer.

Woody called me on July 7 to give me an update on where we stand. The truss engineering company had finished doing the truss engineering for our plans. They had, however, laid off their employee who put these plans into electronic format, so they only had the plans in paper format. Woody had lined up an engineer, but the engineer would only take the plans in electronic format, so he then had to find another engineer. Our designer sent our house plans (not the truss engineering plans) to this engineer, but she sent them in an incorrect format, so on July 7, Woody went to the engineer’s office himself, house plans and truss engineering plans in hand, and contracted for this engineer’s services. Now we wait for the approximately 2-3 weeks the engineer has estimated it will take him to stamp our plans, and then we can finally apply for a permit.

In the meantime, Woody has requested that we send him our choices for exterior door and kitchen cabinet styles, which we did through our own webpage.