Sunday, July 29, 2012

Thru Day 156

Day 156 - Progress at the five (5) month mark. Exterior stucco should finish and interior drywall begin this coming week. Well; progress from my perspective but not everyone. Yesterday morning some guy walking his dog asked me, "do you know what's happened here? This place has been like this for four (yes he said four!) months." Knowing the dude must be a neighbor I just bit my lip...I then quipped "I hear its a pay-as-they-go situation;" He responds "really?" I replied, "no not really." The situation reminded me of the marketing principal "Perception is Reality." So I just excused myself making a mental note to finish the conversation with the dude when I was in a better mood.

Day 152 - Three green tags - if you haven't been following, all you need to know is this is a good sign. Immediately after receiving the electrical inspection we requested and passed the wood framing inspection the next day. This paved the way for the wall insulation and soon, drywall. The image below the tags is a screen capture of the City of Houston's website for requesting/scheduling inspections.
Day 145 - Meet Gil! I found his handyman "flyer" at the local "Southland Hardware" and he's been a HUGE help for almost any kind of job. Here he is attaching cement board to the surrounding face of the fireplaces.

Day 156 - The fireplace wall of our house design is a great illustration of "the complexity of making something look simple." I have at least a hundred pictures of this wall. Note the vertical line halfway between the two fireplaces; this line is a recess in the stucco that is actually the framing for the butt glass that spans between the doors and the stucco wall. That slot had to be virtually "true" so with the guy placing the metal lath we used a plumb bob (below) to assure the stucco corner beads were "perfectly" vertical.

Day 140 - Plumb bob aligning the vertical stucco corner bead with the butt glass window flashing. You have to look close to follow this.

Day 128 - The stucco team applying the first layer ("scratch coat") to the fireplace wall and suspended hearth. 
Day 153 - Choosing the specific exterior "white" color. The strategy was to choose a white that is a bit off color (off pure white, that is) and a shade that relates to the brick homes on each side of us which have tonalities of pink, yellow, and orange. A slightly off-white also helps provide camouflage against the grime, mold, mildew and algae that occurs in the Houston climate.
Day 155 - Selected color is tested and confirmed!
Day 144 - The range exhaust vent adventure finally comes to a close. First I realize the specified motor is undersized, the roof penetration should be 10" not 8", then the instructions for the 140 pound vent hood say "be sure to attach one of the four mounting bolts to a stud." ONE?  By the time this challenge was presenting itself I realize the framer simply does not have the competency (or patience) to figure this out. The issue also was generally confusing to the HVAC and appliance guys because even though the range is being placed against a wall, its really against a window so we're using an island hood instead of a wall style hood. I guess this is what general contractors get paid for and why modern homes are extra challenging. The resolution simply required me to project the mounting holes of the vent onto the ceiling and add 2xs and plywood for secure mounting. And yes, it will attach securely in FOUR places, not only one.... 
Day 132 - One of my "sketchboard organizers" for problem solving and tracking to-do lists. 
Day 128 - The backside of the wall at the top of the stairs is the bar / wine cellar. Here Themo Ply sheathing has been placed in advance of the closed cell foam that will be sprayed for insulation of the wine cellar closet.
Day 144 - The mixer is turning and the stucco (cement plaster) application process begins.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Thru Day 127

Day 128 - Three Collared Doves inside wondering what's been going on? All I can say is that it has been a "ROUGH" month. If you are not into details wait for the next post when we should be into sheetrock and late stages of stucco. Recently its been about rough-in installation (the stuff in the walls) and multiple inspections; HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing, Refrigerant, Fireplace, Framing and Lath Nail Pattern.

Day 125 - The green (passed) inspection sticker for the Wine Cellar's refrigerant lines, the red tag (failed) for the HVAC system. The HVAC sub reported to me that "we have a few corrections to be made..."
Day 117 - The Evaporator portion of the Wine "Closet's" Split System. When planning the layout I knew it was such a tight fit that we had to request the factory modify the access cover so that the refrigerant "line set" can be accessed once installed. 
Day 110 - Another "Lesson Learned" (if ever doing this again...). In retrospect, there was never realistic sizing of the mechanical closets for the HVAC systems during the design phase of the project other than "approximations." This location, now occupied by two of the three air handlers (heat pump systems), was intended to be either an extra kitchen pantry or a hall closet.
Day 105 - Electrical, Pluming and HVAC competing for space.
Day 105 - Guess which one is 1 5/8" narrower? Window (on the left) was framed in too large and as it opened there was an interference with the siding (stucco). Anyone want a window?
Day 100 - HA! The low voltage "quote" from Best Buy's Magnolia Theater / Geek Squad.  Scope included indoor and outdoor speakers, home theater surround sound, 4 TV locations, remote monitoring, security cameras & alarm, lighting controls.
Day 100 - A local family owned business, PAV Installations, met the low voltage "spec" for less than 20% of Best Buy's quote. PAV's system is as robust and "future-proof" as what BB proposed. PAV was also complete with their rough-in effort within a week of quoting it.     
Day 95 - One day while the framing carpenters were away on another project I decided to cut extra blocking for cabinets and some other last minute fur down changes I created. While I was using the handsaw, the electrician was working on the first floor below and yelled up "what, are you Amish or something?" 
Day 89 - Here is the biggest single "challenge" encountered so far (#^$%(*^@!!!). The beam you can see here was oversized by 2" (too tall). It should NOT have been above the front balcony decking (the plywood). Compounding the problem, the architect left the balcony slope out of the elevation dimensions. This problem required everyone involved to get out of denial (me included) to finally face it and solve it. Since there is literally only 1 3/16" to work with it required a solution that provides both slop and be the final cosmetic surface. I found a specialty product, to do the job.

Day 117 - A screen capture of the sloped deck model I built in SketchUp so I could provide the framer dimensions appropriate dimensions.

Day 120 - Sucking it up, ripping out the deck and placing sloped stringers for the new deck.
A sample of the Westcoat ALX system. Sort of like "elasticized stucco."
Finally, 4 weeks later the balcony "lesson," is behind me. The final top coat (color) cosmetic layer will be added later.
The location of the central "scupper" where about 1/4 of the roof's rainwater will drain. The water will fall into a yet-to-be designed landscape feature in the front yard.

Day 120  With the balcony problem solved, the stucco now moves forward. Here the fireplace wall comes into the living room and the suspended hearth is now framed in.