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.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
So that was the tired me talking. I love our house and it is going to be amazing. And it will all be finished soon. How soon I couldn't tell you, but I can definitely say that it will be relatively soon.
There has been a flurry of activity during the past couple of weeks. We work really slowly and carefully because we are not professional housebuilders and we want to do it right in spite of that fact. When we have people coming in to do some of the stuff we are usually either one step ahead of them or two steps behind where we ought to be. That is both stressful and embarrassing, yet fairly typical. It is almost a relief when somebody says they are not going to show up because it gives us extra time to get caught up.
So after the radiant floor heat mats were installed, Cyndy got right on installing the floating wood floors. It's a pretty simple operation because the pieces just snap together. The ends get trimmed with a miter saw. No real skills required. Here you can find a picture of her handiwork.
Doug finally realized that Cyndy was not making it up when she mentioned two weeks, I mean two months, oops I mean two years ago that the subfloor in the piano room was creaky, bouncy, and felt kind of weak. Doug pretty much blew this off until two days after the floor heat people arrived from Georgia, at which time he decided that the subfloor needed to be removed and replaced. Now typically this is the kind of thing you would do before the wallboard is installed instead of waiting until three weeks afterwards. I guess I'll just leave it at that. It was a difficult project, was very messy, and took a week for him to complete.
Cyndy was not able to continue with her flooring project due to certain complications not of her choosing, but is looking forward to resuming this as soon as possible. Painting, an activity that she very much enjoys, is also on the immediate horizon. Why is she referring to herself in the third person all of a sudden? She does not know. Maybe she is having an out-of-body experience, possibly a sympathetic reaction to the out-of-house experience with which she is all too familiar.
The tile people came. They did a fantastic job. The bathrooms are beautiful. So are the floors in the laundry room and the hall. Sorry I (Cyndy here, I'm back) don't have any photos. I'm way too tired to post any pictures right now.
The kitchen countertops are stunning. Doug will no longer be allowed in the kitchen after we move back in. I've got to protect those magnificent countertops that he picked out. Can you believe it? Actually he ended up picking out all of the countertops in the entire house - in the kitchen and both bathrooms. What is up with that? I approved of his choices, except for the expense.
The electrician is supposedly starting his final batch of work tomorrow - putting in all of the outlets and light fixtures that we've had sitting around for the past year. That will probably take at least a week the way things seem to go around here.
I started back to school yesterday. I already feel a million times more energetic because the time spent in school is time I am not working on the house, abusing my hands and my back. What a relief!
The work we are doing right now is so much more visually rewarding than most of what has happened previously. I'll try to get some new pictures up soon.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
another productive week
On Monday Peter and Bridgette from Speedheat arrived to begin installing our all-electric radiant floor heating system.
They threaded the wires that were going to be under tile by hand.
They used pre-made mats to go under the wood floors and then covered them with underlayment, which is what you see on the bottom half of this picture:
Sunday, January 11, 2009
We weren't originally planning to have yellow as a background color but since my attempt at using a neutral gray was such a miserable failure we switched. I guess I just don't like neutrals.
The yellow is a softer color than it appears here. It transitions very well from the yellow-green in the living/dining room and we are using it in the back hallway as well. I'm glad the cabinets look so nice because we have a huge pass-through opening. The color coordination is coming along nicely now. It's all a little brighter than I had originally envisioned, but I think it works. That yellow looks good with all of the other colors I like.
We picked out our countertop material two days ago. Please remember that I was the one, during the planning phase, who said "What's wrong with formica?" Apparently formica isn't good enough for one of us, so we are getting this instead:
Friday, January 9, 2009
A Strange and Disconcertingly Productive Week
Sunday 1/4: Surprise! They showed up with 5 additional people to completely sand all the walls. I was at my brunch gig and by the time I got there they were gone. Apparently, suddenly, the walls were dry enough a day earlier than inspected, but they showed up before they knew that for sure so who knows.
Doug informed me that they expected to start spraying the primer the next day and we needed to completely vacuum all of the walls and floors to get the house completely free of wallboard dust. So that's what we did from 4:00 pm until 3:00 am. Utterly miserable filthy hellish work.
Monday 1/5: We finished the vacuuming from 6:00 am until 10:00 am. That's right, we only got 2 1/2 hours of sleep. It was not a good day. They put plastic over all of the windows and fixtures and sprayed the upstairs.
Tuesday 1/6: Doug went over to the house early. I was attempting to sleep in and get an actual 7 hours (which I didn't) when Doug suddenly came home and woke me up with the news that we needed to buy the finish colors as soon as possible. Um, I thought I was going to be doing that painting, but whatever.
I wasn't really quite ready to make a final decision - I hadn't even been given a deadline. I was kind of freaking out about having to make such important decisions in such a hurry. Doug was in on the color selection process so it became a little more involved and complicated, but we picked what we thought were some decent colors. We knew a couple of the colors were a little over the top, but in our sleep-deprived state we were feeling a little adventurous.
Wednesday 1/7: They started painting the living/dining room. My first reaction to the color in there was a mixture of horror and glee. I think Doug thought the color was a little too crazy, but he was willing to wait to pass judgement. The kitchen was being painted a color called silver gray and I immediately didn't like it, but didn't say anything. Doug seemed to like it okay. I was embarrassed that I picked such an ugly color which had looked so nice on the paint chip. We had the hallway paint but they didn't get to that, fortunately.
It was raining like crazy and all of the windows had plastic over them. The lighting was a couple of flourescent strips so it was really dingy. The living room color which I had been admiring for months on the paint chip looked super hideous in this light and the kitchen looked even worse.
By the end of the day, after everyone had left, I finally voiced my displeasure about the colors, which looked absolutely horrible together, and also the way in which I'd been forced to select them. I've done a lot of painting, and I'm picky about colors, so I usually buy just a pint, see how it looks, and then adjust accordingly before I commit to a couple gallons. And I do one room at a time.
When I told Doug I wanted to repaint he was not too happy about that. I showed him the colors I was thinking about and he agreed that they looked better. I told him that I wanted to paint the rest of the house later because railroading me now would only lead to additional regrettable choices. Then I told him I wanted to get rid of the kitchen color ASAP and he said his usual "I think we should wait." "For what?" I wondered. Anyway Wednesday was a horrible day that did not conclude in a satisfactory manner.
Thursday, 1/8: Doug woke me up and said he'd decided (overnight, apparently) that his choice of eggshell for the finish was a mistake and that I should hurry up and buy a new kitchen color and change the hall color too if I wanted to. Even though we had already bought 4 gallons of eggshell finish paint for the hall, he wanted to replace it with flat.
I am not a morning person so I usually gear my brain up for the next day before I fall asleep so that I won't have to think too hard the next morning. So it doesn't always work so well for me to be awakened with the announcement of an exciting new change of plans. But today, after I recovered from my disbelief, everything worked out great.
I decided, since I suddenly had a choice again, to use the new color in both the kitchen and the stairwell. It's a creamy light slightly greenish yellow and it looks lovely. It also seems to have calmed down and beautified the sort of chartreuse color of the living room. It looks amazing in the sunlight. And if it looks too weird after we move in I'll change it to something more sedate but so far I like it more each time I see it. The hall and stairwell color is definitely a keeper.
Tommorrow we look at countertop materials and in the afternoon we are going to start installing our kitchen cabinets. I'm so excited!
So far, our wall color scheme seems to be heading in the direction of greenish-yellow (celery-ish), and various shades of blue and purple. I'm not going to decide on any of the bathroom colors until after the tile is in.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Please Don't Drink the Gatorade!
This post, which is completely tasteless and utterly unnecessary, has been created in honor of LivitLuvit's TMI Thursday series. I've back-dated it a bit so that it won't be the first thing that pops up - just in case my parents are sharing the link to this blog with their friends or something.
We can't live at the house we're building. For one thing, it doesn't have plumbing. We've been spending a small fortune at our favorite outhouse - the Starbucks up the street. As you can see from the photo above, Doug doesn't always bother to go to Starbucks. For him it's sometimes easier to just go in the bottle.
Along those same lines, look at what the tile people left outside our door one day. The contents of the box - what does that look like?
Ha Ha Ha! Fooled you! Actually it fooled me the first time I saw it too. It's actually just a bunch of leftover brown grout.
On the other hand, one night I stopped by after a gig and Doug was still there working. I saw a Home Depot bag by the back door and thought he must have set what he had just purchased there while he fumbled with his key and then forgot about it. So I picked it up. It was still warm. OMG! It was disgusting. I guess Starbucks was closed already, but he could have gone to the MacDonalds. But he didn't. I didn't say anything to him about it. He leaves all kinds of shit lying around all over the place, but this time it was the real thing. The next morning that bag of you know what was still sitting there. I guess he forgot about it. I certainly didn't.
I am very relieved (get it?) that we now have a working toilet, so these little episodes will no longer be happening. Yaay!!!
Saturday, January 3, 2009
The walls will have subway tiles on them and we're going to have a little beaded stripe (like the top one) in Storm Gray going all around the room.
The other bathroom will have unglazed 1 inch white hexagons, which actually look beige. It's a nice gentle contrast with the white tub and toilet and the dark brown cabinet. The grout will be the same brown as the cabinets so the floor will look like a honeycomb.
Drywall, Day 30
The good news is that some painting might begin this coming week and we might be able to install our kitchen cabinets very soon! Then there will finally be enough room in the basement to put up the drywall there. After the electrician comes back to do something or other that is.
The other good news is that when you cut 4x12 sheets of drywall down to 10 feet long they weigh about 17% less and are much easier to carry down the steps. The 4x12's were impossible.