7.30.2008

a little sumthin' on the side...

Siding is starting to get put up on the new dormers:



Elsewhere...delays due to situations I'm reluctant to be specific about until we have more info... We don't think it's anything insurmountable - eminently solvable - but a bit of a headache...

7.21.2008

becalmed...

This is the stage of construction when things slow down a bit, as various subcontractors need to be scheduled, supplies be delivered, etc. - as opposed to the earlier stages, where a particular crew was handling nearly all of the work. So, in other words, nothing new to report...just a few minor bugs being worked out (the sorts of things that any complex project is bound to exhibit, with multiple channels of communication inevitably experiencing a few trivial breaks).

7.17.2008

nothing to do with Bill Gates

We have windows! Most of our windows have been installed (not the largest one - they're still using that space to loft large items into the space). Here are some photos.

Inside the bathroom, looking west:



Top of the hallway, overlooking our back yard (I didn't get a good shot of the other window overlooking the back yard, which is behind the bathtub):



The windows at the top of the stairs:



And the same windows from outside - in this distant shot, you can also see one of the windows overlooking the back yard (the same one, in fact, whose inside view is above):



And finally, the "eyebrow" window at the front of the house:



They've also cut down the top portion of the stairway wall, which eventually will be replaced with metal railings:



On the left of this image you see the drywall that will be installed shortly.

7.12.2008

yo soy insulados

After a day and a half of watching men in strange white suits emerge covered with flecks and daubs of strange whitish goo, we wandered up to the new space to discover...insulation! Okay, we knew that's what was going on...but it did look kind of science-fiction-y. Still does, actually:





This "foam in place" insulation provides better R-value (the measure of insulation) and is soy-based (thus my atrocious pseudo-Spanish pun as title). Unlike its distant cousin, such as the polyurethane used in the hideous Wisconsin Dells "Xanadu, House of the Future" - which we saw just before it was destroyed in the mid-'90s, this stuff won't give off a terrible funk...which at Xanadu wasn't just because of the Prince-style decor, which included a round bed and pink-purple shag carpeting. I think everything was sealed up so tight there was no airflow. Although you want insulation to insulate, you still need to allow air to circulate...

Of course, our freaky future-cave walls aren't the real walls, only the insulation - the drywaller's scheduled within a week or so, after the windows are installed.

We also had an adventure with a rogue squirrel. Seems he managed to get in, probably yesterday, via an opening in the plastic covering one of the windows, and then managed to sequester himself within the soffit space. They tend to be scared of noises and people, and we had plenty of those. Unfortunately for Soffity the Squirrel, the noises and people were the aforementioned men in white suits with hoses full of plastic goo (okay, "soy-based goo"...), who were not Devo but were insulators - and after their work, Soffity was trapped. We heard him scratchiting about last night, trying to find a way out. So this morning, we went up on a ladder and freed an opening in the soffits. The Humane Society's website said squirrels do not like noises and suggested playing loud, percussive music or talk radio (squirrels hate right-wing politics), so we set up two boomboxes at either end of the attic and deployed each one with an Einst├╝rzende Neubauten CD on shuffle mode. Fortunately, Soffity is not a fan of the German avant-noise scene, and as far as we can tell (no scritching tonight) he left through the exit we provided for him. We do hope he didn't drop dead of a heart attack - I guess we'll find out in a day or so.

(Fun fact: two Neubauten tracks playing simultaneously is nearly indistinguishable from a single Neubauten track!)

7.10.2008

plumbing in loco

Most of the mechanical rough-ins are nearly finished. Here's a shot, looking straight up from the eventual location of the toilet, showing various vents and stacks as they route their way above the eventual ceiling:



And here's a shot of the "guts" beneath the bathtub:




One minor detail: the old vent stack from the first-floor toilet originally vented out part of the roof which no longer exists. In some earlier photos of this area (I'm too lazy to find them), you might have noticed the decapitated stack. It's now been rerouted to a new vent stack. It would have been more trouble than it's worth to try to cut the old stack down to floor level, so instead it's now boxed in our closet. As it turns out, this will eventually make a pretty functional shoe-putting-on seat!



It's not quite as crazily tangled-looking as I'd hoped - but the plumbers haven't quite finished hooking up the various lines to their sources. This shot of the ceiling of our laundry room doesn't quite convey the chaos... (in the background you can see our new direct-vent water heater: it's the gray box):



Aspects of Rose's bathtub continue to shape up; one we hadn't planned on from the beginning was what to do when the bathroom ceiling fan and light fixture was nixed (due to code). In consultation with the electrician, we settled on a can light fixture above the back of the tub area, so that when Rose is taking a bath and reading (a favorite habit of hers), she'll have adequate light. You can see the box for that light at the top of the next image. The framing you see crossing the image will eventually be a wall, so the windows in the background, above the stairway, will not be visible from this part of the bathroom. However, from nearly any point in the remodeled area, at least one window from another room will be visible. It should be quite light and airy feeling, with a wonderful flow from room to room.



PS: I've been asked why I've never posted a picture of any of the folks doing the work. Well, mostly that's because I never go up there while they're working (I suspect I've been banned - by Rose, probably). However, I did manage to sneak a shot of two of the guys working on our plumbing and HVAC systems.



They were strangely more interested in having me fill out various forms than in doing work, though...

7.08.2008

bathing beauty

Some plumbing work done today. They brought up and located Rose's bathtub (I say "Rose's" because she'll be its primary user by a good margin!), and in what will be the shower area some of the control and drain mechanisms are in place:



The beginnings of the reframing of our eyebrow dormer have begun as well:

7.07.2008

a brief lull

The holiday, the weekend, the rain, and the stage our remodeling is in mean that there's little tangible news to report - thus, this metareport:

One of the more interesting aspects of this project has been the insights I've gleaned on how houses work. Seeing the various systems and their interactions as they're assembled is fascinating - I've always been intrigued by that sort of systemic interaction (too bad I didn't try to make some sort of career out of that fascination...) and experiencing it in action, step by step, is quite instructive. Every particular step is relatively simple and straightforward - if not to execute, to understand (tools and knowhow are key) - but in total, the whole thing is quite complex. Still, it's relatively easy to break down the entire system of the house to a series of discrete steps - at least when you're working in this way, doing a remodeling to a structurally sound existing house. I imagine both building anew and trying to work with a more compromised structure present their own, more complex challenges.

7.04.2008

it continues...

Most of yesterday's work involved installation of the soffiting, best visible in this picture:



The landing area return I referred to in the last post was installed:



And, following up on my comment last time, I found a good view of the new shingles:



Today's holiday means a three-day weekend free of construction work. A nice break: although the noise really hasn't been bad, it is nice to be able to sleep in a bit later.

7.02.2008

a door is a jar until it is stuck

A lot of detail work over the past few days involving electrical, HVAC, etc....not all that photographically interesting. But that won't stop me from posting a few!

In the comments on Flickr on a photo of two HVAC ducts in our front hall closet, someone made a reference to Brazil...this shot, of flexible ducts, should reinforce that impression. (Fortunately, the space is not overwhelmed with ducts...nor has Robert DeNiro shown up in an enormously long-billed cap.)



The biggest excitement was a bit of a headache over the placement of the doorframe to our bedroom. As it happens, between the ceiling height, roof slope, and placement of the central chase to accommodate HVAC, there's only exactly enough room for a door of the legally required height and width. As this photo demonstrates, it just barely fits. Some of the trim will need to be cut off (a fairly common thing; in fact, most of the doors on the first floor of our house exhibit this trait), but so long as the outer layer of trim is replaced along the edge of the doorframe (including along any angled cut), it'll look fine.



Initially, the duct in this photo curved the other way, stealing space from our hallway and forcing the doorway toward the sloping roof...it wouldn't have worked like that.



Now, we've got it going the opposite way, so it steals space where we don't care about it: the closet (which feels large enough to park my Mini Cooper in, should we need an extra parking space, should we build a ramp to allow access. But that would mean more floor reinforcements! Damn...). In addition to her cleverness in figuring out how to locate the door exactly in about the only place it could be located (while preserving the overall spatial flow of the area), Rose was exceedingly clever here: originally, the air return was going to be in front of the door in the photo above, to the right. But that (again) would have pushed the doorframe a few inches toward the roof - nope, can't do it. What to do? Why, run the return duct between the floorboards and have it come up on the opposite wall, of course. (The duct guys haven't been back yet, I don't think...Erik, our contractor, thinks there'll be no problem with this idea.)

The other main work of the past few days is electrical. All the funky little boxes that contain the various wiring are in place (although we found out that code prohibited our bathroom ceiling fan: not enough room to keep it far enough away from the bathtub...), and much of the wiring is in place. Plumbing work, too: here you can get a good idea of where our two sinks, nearby electrical outlets, vanity lights, and two mirrors (between each set of lights) will go:



The framing for the bathroom pocket door is in place, also:



The roofing is nearly complete, with an entirely new layer of shingles and new venting...but I haven't been able to get a good photo. It would help if I were thirty feet tall.