We are building a house from foam core panels, which are also known as Structural Insulated Panels, or SIPs. We have done most of the work ourselves and it has been a very interesting experience with many twists and turns, and delays. For the longest time it seemed like it was just a foam core fantasy, but we have finally gotten it to the point where we can live there again at last.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
We finally installed the new front door which I had painted way back in June. I’m still not so sure about this color. When I originally suggested purple I was thinking of a darker, duskier color....actually exactly the way it looks here in the shadow.
Doug "felt strongly" that the color needed to be lighter because if it was too dark it would heat up too much in the sun and the door would warp. The current color will probably look lovely when we get the gray siding on and get some purple flowers happening out in front – maybe some crape myrtles, or a butterfly bush. That's the plan anyway. Maybe I'll get used to this light lavender, but judging from some comments we’ve received, it is perhaps a bit too bright for our suburban neighborhood. Although some people like it. Doug definitely likes it. I'll probably get used to it, even though I wanted it to be darker.
So the next time Doug goes off on a cruise or tour before we finish the house, maybe I'll just find the time to paint it a darker and more subdued color. Ha, Ha, Ha - won't he be surprised!!! Sorry Doug. But in the meantime it is just going to be a garish winter for everyone who is stuck looking at it. I know we are not your typical homeowner-neighbor types. But how many of you would paint your door this color? Just wondering….
We put up some Tyvek on the front of the house, but now it is too cold for us to put up the siding. I KNEW this would happen. So the scaffolding will stay up all winter now. Anyway Doug’s been working inside, putting in framing for some pocket doors and making what was going to be a walk-in closet into a sewing nook for me. I will be able to close it off with pocket doors. It is going to be great to have this space. We hadn’t figured out where I would do my sewing until just this week. There is an area next to it that will become a three section closet, opening into different areas. One of the sections will be used to store music stands. It is hard to describe, but it is a unique and clever use of space and I am absolutely delighted with it.
While Doug continues fine-tuning the carpentry, I have been going from room to room making lists and figuring out where all of the lighting, outlets, and switches will go. It is a pretty tedious process, but so is everything else. I’m putting post-it note squares at the outlet and switch locations and up on the ceilings for the lights so the electrician will know exactly where we want things.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
WORK WORK WORK.....MORE AUTUMN ACTIVITIES
Doug built a little retaining wall at a spot where the slope is particularly steep. You can see it in the picture below. Isn’t it cute? It will be great to no longer have mud running across our driveway. I can't even imagine what that is going to be like.
I decided that I wanted to plant some liriope (groundcover) on the steeper slopes so that I wouldn’t have to mow grass there. Doug figured out that we needed 2500 plants to cover the area. 2500!!! I would have said never mind, I’ll just mow, but he had already ordered them. It was exhausting planting those stupid things and it took about three weeks to get them all planted. I think we got them in just in the nick of time before it got too cold. I can’t wait to see how they do next spring.
There was a huge unattractive rock pile under our cedar tree. I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to have one there, but it tripled in size over this past year with various rocks that had emerged during the grading process, huge chunks of cement, and miscellaneous pieces of cinderblock and bricks. I finally couldn’t take it any longer and I spent an entire week moving that damn pile, first down to the driveway, and then into Doug’s truck. And then to the dump in about six 500 pound trips. One rock at a time. Rocks are heavy. I just love my life right now. But now the cedar tree has beautiful liriope planted under it and it looks quite elegant.
The electric company had been snipping away and totally deforming our Norway Spruce near the power lines for years. It was looking really ugly as a result. We knew it was time for the tree to go away so Doug called them up and said told them it would be okay with him if they cut it down. They said they would do it for free, but they would leave everything there for us to clean up. So I spent a week sawing all of the branches off of the trunk, loading Doug’s truck with the branches and the trunk chunks, and taking it all to the dump. It was about 6 truckloads of branches. Unfortunately a large part of the trunk is still standing. A totally bare trunk that is about 20 feet high. It is more than I can handle by myself. I wonder when we will finish cutting the rest of it down. Anyone want to place bets? One month? 3 months? 6 months? Longer than 6 months? I know how our neighbors would bet.
This has been an exhausting fall, but now we have a cute little retaining wall and tons of liriope.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Some big changes occurred this fall. We got a U-shaped driveway, a sidewalk, and a patio/landing for the front steps. All of the final grading has been done. The circular driveway in the back has been paved. It all looks great and is very convenient.
Doug really likes having scaffolding up around our house. It makes the house look "manly" don't you think? We had scaffolding up around our house for years, and now it's back. Who else do you know who owns their very own scaffolding? It is much safer than a ladder for working on siding and the trim around the roof areas.
We had the 12 year old roof taken off of the addition and a new roof was put on the house and the two porches.
They toss the old shingles down into the truck.
You can also see part of the giant rock pile.
Looking down at our driveway, 3 stories below.
We like being way up in the air! And look - there's our newly paved back driveway.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Doug spent a lot of time this summer doing some fairly big carpentry jobs since we apparently no longer had carpenters coming to our house. He did a lot of preparatory framing for the plumber, such as building the shower, tubs, and vanity and adding all kinds of cool touches like nooks for the shampoo and soap. I’m sure the tiling people will just love what he has done. I know we will enjoy having all of these great details.
When Doug first discovered the faulty basement stair work, he decided that we could not have these carpenters do the main stairs. Stairs are pretty complicated and require extreme accuracy and a lot of experience. We went up to Taneytown, the stair-building capital of Maryland and visited three different stair-building establishments there. We found a place that could build us exactly what we wanted. The guy came out and measured and we waited eagerly for the stairs to arrive. They came in three sections because we have two landings. Doug put them in. They are very beautiful and fit in the space perfectly. And they are wide – perfect for carrying my bass upstairs.
So we finally no longer need to use the wooden ladder to get up from the first floor to the second floor. We can just walk up the stairs. It is amazing. We’ve been using this same ladder for 15 years and having stairs feels like a miracle. And they are gorgeous, aren't they?
NO MORE LADDER TO GET UPSTAIRS!!!
The plumber has finished all of his rough-in work. The HVAC people need to come back and do one more day of work to be ready for the inspection.
We are still waiting for the electrician. He is on another job that is taking much longer than expected. That’s probably where those mysterious carpenters are too.
Friday, June 29, 2007
We had such a fantastic experience with the kitchen designer that we decided to get some advice from a lighting designer as well. We have mixed feelings about that experience. We did learn a lot, but it was expensive and more complicated than it needed to be. I wish we had researched it more and figured it all out on our own. But we did get detailed lighting diagrams done for the electrician who was due to start work this month.
I spent a lot of time this month sanding and painting a bunch of doors. These doors all have multiple window panes in them. It was a real pain to paint these doors, but they look really nice. Except that the front door color is not exactly what I had in mind – it’s what Doug had in mind. Maybe I’ll be able to do something about that later, like the next time Doug goes out on tour. The door is very pretty, but maybe just a little too pretty for our particular neighborhood.
Next we had to pick out and buy all of our plumbing stuff so that the plumber could do the proper rough-ins. I hate picking stuff out – it is so hard to decide what will look the best in all of those rooms that don’t even exist yet.
I got awesome deep bathtubs and beautiful medicine cabinets. Oh, and my kitchen sink is named “Orca" - not by me, but by the manufacturer. Doug selected some pretty cool looking faucets and a really girly sink for the powder room. If I can stand what he likes, I let him pick stuff out. I still don’t know about that door color though.
The pretty sink that Doug picked out
This door certainly is purple
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Around the middle of May, a different set of carpenters showed up to start building the basement stairs. Doug was going to the ITF in Las Vegas, but Cyndy decided to stay home so that she could let the carpenters in - hoping that they would continue working on the steps while Doug was gone. On their last day of work they left early while Doug was out buying additional lumber for them. They didn’t come back - ever. So I stayed home from Vegas for nothing.
About a month later we realized that they had made a significant error with the basement steps and probably just didn’t want to have to deal with fixing it. Their excuse for not coming back was that Doug was tardy in supplying some of the materials they needed. They actually left and never came back while he was at Home Depot buying the additional wood for them.
Fortunately these were just the basement stairs, and there was enough room to work around the error – except that there might not be quite enough height where the stairs pass under the header joist. It’s close, so hopefully the inspectors will let it go, if they even notice. If not we’ll have to get new stairs built, or build them ourselves.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
The roof is partially on. You can see the famous pulley sticking up out of the roof and the chain hanging down.
Here's a closeup of the magic pulley.
After I take this picture I will go operate the pulley and Doug will guide the panel into place.
Here's a side view
There's the truck which was our work station so we didn't have to deal with the hill and the mud. I'll be planting new grass again soon I guess.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
The bottom structure is in place and you can see a couple of panels waiting to be installed. Doug decided to use them to insulate the floor of the foyer. I hope they aren't too springy for the tile that's going in there.
This is the glue that creates a seal between the sections of panels, the splines, and the 2x6s that are used for the window framing in the panels.
Here he's digging out a space to put in a 2x6
All cleaned out and ready to go
Friday, April 20, 2007
THE CARPENTERS HAVE ARRIVED AT LAST
The carpenters became a little annoyed with Doug when they heard he was going out on tour for a couple of weeks. The main guy said “I thought you were in a hurry.” So I told them they could keep working because I would be there, but I think Doug told them otherwise. Another delay.....oh well.
Now I have a two week break from hard labor. After they finished the inside framing they built the back porch. It is fantastic. We added windows and a patio door to the sides and that will give us a much longer season of use. Now that I’m getting my dream screened-in porch I may never need to go on vacation again! Once the house is finished, that is.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Although we are now working furiously on our house, there has also been some down time while we wait for various things to arrive and for various body parts to recover from the physical assaults we have been putting them through recently.
I took a jazz theory course last fall and now I'm taking an arranging class. Since I'm pretty much a beginner with the Sibelius program I decided that doing all of my arranging assignments on Sibelius would be the perfect way to get better at it. It's extremely time-consuming but the more I do it the faster I get.
In his "spare time" Doug has been making some mouthpieces and also getting ready for his performance of the Gordon Jacob Concerto which was arranged for concert band by Denis Wick. They also wanted him to prepare an encore and he decided to play the Henry Mancini song "Too Little Time" from the Glenn Miller Story. Doug had previously played an arrangement of this song with the Airmen of Note that he thought would be easily adaptable for the concert band.
Then Doug decided that I should put this on Sibelius for him. I wasn't sure how cool of an idea that was, considering how relatively inexperienced I am. I thought that he was being rather ambitious on my behalf, but I also sort of wanted to find out whether I could actually do it so I decided to go for it. We got the hand-written parts from a friend and then I got to work. It took a really long time to get it all done but it ended up sounding pretty good, and it had a much richer sound than the original because there was a larger variety of instruments playing each part. So although it was a lot of work, it ended up being well worth the effort.
And just to clarify: This is not my arrangement, it is the original arrangement for big band with an enlarged orchstration so that the whole ensemble could play it. I just added parts for the clarinets, oboes, flutes, french horns, etc. Notice how great the bass sounds here - that's my friend Ed Skidmore. I'm also impressed with how well my camera picked up his excellent playing - I had no idea the sound quality would be this good.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
OUR HOUSE HAS WINDOWS NOW...Check it out!
During February and March Doug installed some of the windows that had arrived back in December. Cyndy came to his aid whenever he needed help, mostly lifting things, holding things in place while he nailed, looking for misplaced tools, and cleaning up after him.
Cyndy spent the rest of the time carefully taking down all of the previous interior framing, nail by nail, so that the wood could be used again for the new framing. This involved chipping away at the wood under the head of the nail with a hammer and chisel, and then using a nail puller to wrench the nail out the rest of the way. Bang, bang, bang. Yank, yank, yank. Hit a finger with the hammer. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Kill your knees climbing up and down the ladder. Curse, curse, curse. Over and over and over. Up and down and up and down on the ladder. For two months straight. Her hands hurt for weeks after it was finally finished.
Monday, February 19, 2007
OUR FABULOUS KITCHEN PLANNING EXPERIENCE
It was an amazing experience that we thoroughly enjoyed. Kathy Schmick at Smoot Lumber is awesome. When we were first planning our house the architects kept implying that we could only afford standard stained wooden cabinets,not the painted ones that I wanted. But now I’m getting high quality (at Doug’s insistence) cabinets by Bertch in a really groovy blue-greenish color. I’m kind of in awe of them, and very excited. The day after I picked them out I bought a copy of Architectural Digest and there was a featured kitchen in exactly the same color. It looked fantastic!
We are getting tons of drawers and lots of counter space and storage. Doug is getting two microwaves, a convection oven and he insisted that we get a double drawer dishwasher. Cyndy is delighted to be getting a dishwasher, period, and also two sinks (one for Doug on the other side of the kitchen). I don’t know why we need such a fantastic kitchen but somehow that is what we are getting.
The cabinets will arrive in May right after the wallboard goes up. The timing should work out perfectly.
The bookcase in the lower left corner is the same color as our cabinets.
Imagine an entire kitchen that color!
Thursday, January 25, 2007
New Year's Day Conversation
Doug: Don’t worry about it.
Cyndy: But it’s been three months since you spoke to him.
Doug: It’s no big deal, I need to finish the porch first anyway.
Cyndy: But doesn’t he want us to sign a contract or something?
Doug: I told him there’s no rush because I need to finish building the porch.
Cyndy: There is too a rush. I can’t take any more inactivity.
Cyndy: When was the last time you spoke to him?
Doug: Just that one time.
Cyndy: What if he forgot?
Cyndy: Didn’t he say he was going to stop by and take a look at it?
Cyndy: I think I should call him, if you won’t.
Cyndy: If he’s not available we will have to start over with another contractor and wait another three months. That is not good, etc, etc, etc.
Doug: (no response)
So I got his number and called him and left a pathetic message about the urgency of our situation and explained it all again. He called back and said that what he had gotten from his conversation with Doug back in October was that Doug wanted him to build a porch and that there was no rush. Gee I’m sure glad I called him - who knows how long this would have dragged out? Thankfully he agreed to take on our much larger project and we met with him two weeks later. Now I feel like something is actually going to happen and I am relieved.
At the same time, I feel like this little "misunderstanding" has caused another unnecessary delay to us getting our house finished.