Archive for the ‘Construction’ Category

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.

Will it be a house when the siding goes up?

April 21, 2007

And the dispute rages on. I maintain that it’s more than a lot, but my husband maintains that it’s less than a house! Things are really moving this week, though.

The first news is that our builder, Woody Dortch of Classic Structures, Inc., has begun putting up our siding. Which is why I say that, once it no longer looks like a gigantic foam ice chest, we should call it a HOUSE! Here is a shot of the front of the house, with the bay window partially covered with Hardie Board siding:

One interesting fact about the Hardie Board is that the white trim pieces are apparently extremely fragile. Woody told my husband that he just lifts the trim pieces onto his shoulders, and they snap. They’re quite expensive, about $15 each, so he’s lost some money because of the fragility of this material. Woody said that, if he had it to do over, he’d probably have used PVC trim. He demonstrated for my husband by hitting a piece across his thigh. It broke in two pieces: a $15 demonstration. Yikes!

And here is the side of the house, with siding up to the top of the first floor. Notice the ladder-type thingie (to use a highly technical term) that Woody and his worker stand on to put up the siding:

This is the part I think looks the coolest, because it really shows me what the house will look like. The first floor of the back side of the house has the siding put up. Notice the white chair, one of two chairs that we bought for the workers to sit in while eating lunch or taking a break. After a few minutes of sitting on concrete myself, I felt pity for the poor souls having to do that every time they wanted to rest!

We’ve also had big things going on inside the house. The Icynene insulation was sprayed in on Monday, and we passed our inspection Thursday, so the drywall hanging has begun. Huzzah!

Here is the Icynene inside the 2nd floor trusses over our library:

I think it looks really cool, like a big foam cloud, to use yet another highly technical description. This is how you know the blog is really written by an ignorant consumer, rather than being an ad for a construction company! Here is another shot of the Icynene, this time trimmed off. It’s the insulated wall dividing our dining area & kitchen from the garage:

Since the entire shell of the house, garage included, is ICF construction, we needed a very well-insulated wall dividing our living area from the garage area. Icynene, from everything we’ve read, makes for an extremely well-sealed, energy efficient home, so it fit our bill.

Because we passed our insulation inspection, the drywall hanging began Friday. The workers were still working over the weekend, when we went out to the house, so we felt bad poking around and taking many pictures. Here is a shot of the drywall in the Great Room area:

And here is another shot of the area, this time showing the foyer. Notice the new transom window has been installed, so it now matches the door:

We got our flooring estimate back, and found out that Brazilian maple is wildly out of our price range! So we went back to square one, did some more reading of reviews of bamboo, and found nothing to say that bamboo would be a problem in a humid climate like Florida. Because our HVAC system has been appropriately sized for our ICF home (roughly half the size of an HVAC for a normal home of this square footage), humidity within the house itself should not be an issue. The other thing was that the flooring contractors we were using only carried carbonized bamboo, not non-carbonized bamboo. The carbonization process makes the bamboo weaker, so that could have been why they didn’t recommend it. We found a supplier for them who carried non-carbonized bamboo, horizontal grain, so we are hoping that will re-align our floor budget.

We are now waiting for the drywall to finish being hung (approximately 8-9 days, according to Woody), and then it will be ready to paint. Woody and his worker will continue installing the Hardie Board siding, and when he is finished, the septic tank will go in. Huzzah!

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.

Adding a roof

March 24, 2007

We’re getting a roof finally! And we have windows! And doors! (Though the doors aren’t all put up.)

First the overview:

Now the close-up of our partial white metal roof and white soffits:

We chose white metal for its strength and reflective properties, and we are hoping that a white metal roof will have a much lower heat gain than a standard, black or gray shingled roof. Here is a photo of the roof metal, lying in the front yard:

Here is our HUGE, 12 foot wide great room door. It’s very cool, because the three portions move independently, so that we could open the first and middle panels, or the first and third panels, to get a breeze going through the house.

We have many windows, but the octagonal one is pretty cool. You can see that it still has gaps, so it’s open to the exterior around the corners. This window is inside our downstairs guest bath.

Our windows are MI Windows, and they are the BetterBilt series. The ratings vary, though all have a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient in the .34-.37 range. They are Low-E, Argon filled windows, in keeping with our energy efficient home theme.

Finally, here is our entertainment center. It was so interesting to see our sketches come to life!

We are really happy with the way things are going, and can’t wait until the roof is finished and the siding and drywall start going up!

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.

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)

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.

These Hollow Walls

December 17, 2006

We now have hollow walls, approximately 8-9 feet tall. It’s exciting to watch the house grow, so I will jump right to the good stuff: the photos!

First, an overall view of the house & the lot:

A closer view, so you can see the bay window (my favorite aesthetic feature):

An even closer view of the bay window:

And a view of the inside of the house, with scaffolding visible:

And, finally, a view of the electric box & inspection papers:

We do have yet another question about construction. I will consult the expert & post the answer as soon as I have it. Some of the Eco Blocks appear to be worn, with foam missing from parts, or corners worn down. In some cases, we can see right through the wall. My question is twofold: Will our insulation be of lesser quality, since it appears to be disintegrating? And how will the Eco Blocks contain the concrete, since they seem to be so fragile that they small styrofoam balls are blown away on the breeze? Pictures follow:

On our rambles around our subdivision this Saturday, we were lucky enough to catch sight of two gopher tortoises, the endangered species that had 4 empty burrows on our lot. Of course, being the doofus that I am, I closed my car door which caused both turtles to shoot down their hole. My husband was quick enough to catch a picture of the turtles’ departure, though: