This blog is solely about the start-to-finish construction of a house.
It is recommended to start at the earliest post and proceed chronologically.

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August 28, 2015

Off the Shoulder of Orion

" I've... seen things... you people wouldn't believe."

It has been quite the journey. 

You may notice that posts are arriving less and less frequently.  Now that major work is complete, current work is minor, sporadic and largely mundane.  Plenty of it still, but not so worthy of documentation.

I assume that no one really wants to hear about hanging pictures on the wall, or touch-up painting.

I'll continue to post a few more when developments happen.
For example - A nice professional photo set of the interior and exterior will happen in the future; but probably not until the landscaping is at least partially established.

Thank you for following the progress!  It has been interesting to us to share.  If you have any questions or suggestions for things you'd like to know more about, please comment below.

If you are just finding this blog - here is a link to the very beginning if you want to see things happen in order (start at bottom of page).


Installed the re-wired vintage chandelier. Not exactly what we envisioned for this location, but it will do for now.

August 17, 2015

Roof Deck Pavers

The finished roof deck.  Now for some furnishings.
Finished the installation of the roof deck pavers this weekend.

The pavers are 24" square concrete planks, that sit level above the roof membrane on adjustable pedestals.  The roof membrane below is protected from damage, and slopes to the roof drain.

Installation photos below.

August 07, 2015

Blower Door Test Results

Did our final blower door test yesterday (measures building air-tightness), and the results were excellent.

0.6 Ach50 (Air changes per hour at a pressure of 50 pascals)

We achieved "Passive House" levels of air tightness in our envelope.

As a reference point,
The building code requires a score less than 7.0
Energy Star Homes for Portland and Earth Advantage is less than 4.0.
Lower the better.

It was incredibly useful to do the preliminary blower door test months ago; without it, we would not have been able to identify and rectify a few key leaks in the envelope.  Our results improved dramatically.

I would wholeheartedly recommend the preliminary test to anyone who wants to ensure best air-tightness results.

July 31, 2015

Big Pink Lantern

Many evenings, the setting sun catches the side of "Big Pink" (a tall building downtown) and it glows like it is on fire.

July 22, 2015

First Plantings

Lisa is hard at work, changing a construction site into something beautiful. 

July 16, 2015

Driveway & Sidewalk

Behold the new sidewalk and drive apron
And suddenly the dumpster is gone, safety barriers have come down, and we have completed paving. 
We parked in the driveway last night - it has been a long time coming.

July 10, 2015

Steel Planter Boxes

Welded some steel together today to make some planters for the front approach.

July 08, 2015

Heat Wave Report

Didn't take long before our non-air-conditioned house was put to the test.

Broke Something

Oops.  Look what I did.

July 06, 2015

The Longest Yard

Despite all my efforts, I can't seem to get these last few major items finished.

July 02, 2015

New (Partial) Driveway

The larger part of the driveway is poured. 

Now we just have to wait another week or more to get the remainder - the curb cut and approach.

Concrete work looks very nice, but of course, no progress can be made on this project without some destruction.

In this case it was the concrete truck driving over the neighbor's water meter vault and crushing it, with possible damage to the piping.


June 27, 2015

A Dry Run

Finally the Washer and Dryer we bought months ago arrived, after much hassle to get them here.

And...ta da...the dryer is damaged.


They brought the new dryer a week later:

And...ta da...that dryer is damaged too.

Basement Blues

We have cleared out of the old house this week, just in time to fix up a few things before Lisa's Mom moves in today. 

Which means we have experienced the vast capacity of a basement to accumulate unessential (and a few essential) items.

We do have more physical space in our new house, and possibly more in-house storage, but lack the junk-drawer-like basement space to swallow up all this schtuff.  Help.

A Gift!

Our good friend B. Bishoff just sent us an amazing housewarming gift. 

Handcrafted soaps!

The scents and textures were inspired from her visit to Oregon a some weeks back.

So beautiful.

June 23, 2015

June 21, 2015

First Night in the New House

Our first night in the house.  So nice.

In the last few days, a massive effort transformed the dirty project-space into a home.

June 19, 2015

OK to Occupy!

We passed our final inspections today!

Though we still have LOTS of work left to complete (some exterior siding, landscaping, a driveway, street trees, etc.), the items the City deems necessary for occupation have been met (Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Envelope, Erosion, etc.)

We celebrated by moving over some furniture right away.  The rest follows this weekend, and we'll be living here by the end of the following week.

Entry Steps

We have completed the rest of the steps to the front door.  In a couple of days we will peel off the formwork.

Mirror Moves

The mirror in the upstairs guest bathroom has always been an unknown for us.  We discussed various design ideas for that sink area, but decided to wait for a final decision.

Handrail Completion

Just in time for the final inspections, I completed the handrail on the stair.

June 15, 2015

Overheard on the Jobsite

"This concrete is NOT warrantied against chicken prints"

Said the concrete contractor as the neighbor's hen wandered ever closer to the freshly troweled steps.

Beginning to Move In

We plan to start inhabiting the house next week, even though it is not completely finished.

Lisa started carrying some belongings over.  And of course she starts with the things most dear to her...


June 13, 2015

Garage Doors Installed

Managed to get these doors in place, so now the garage can be secured.

Tools are migrating from the house, allowing us to prepare for move-in.

Now if we could just choose the second siding material, I can cover these doors and remaining bits of wall on the house and garage.

Bee Swarm

Not sure how well you can see it, but thousands of bees are swarming in a cloud above the south fence.

June 09, 2015

Cooktop Installed, Tile Backsplash

The cooktop is now installed, and hooked up to the gas line.

The tile backsplash, started last week, was completed today.  The wood strips are temporary spacers for shelves that i still need to get to.

One of the lights we refurbished is installed now in the foreground over the island.

The countertops are not blue - that is temporary protection.

Garage Door Progress

Built the framing for the sliding door of the garage.

Lap joints, screws, and plenty of construction adhesive should keep this dimensionally stable for the future.

Concrete Subtraction

Here the concrete guys remove some of their new work.

The steps to the kitchen were pretty wonky, and the paving in front of the Dining Room door didn't slope enough to drain (puddle).

Luckily, they agreed to 'make it right'.

Completed Lower Landing

Somewhere under the protective cardboard is the completed run of stairs.

Well...almost complete.
The fir flooring on the landing needs another sanding and coat of finish.
And then I can install the missing riser board (can you see it?) 

And then, of course, another coat of finish on the whole thing.

June 08, 2015

Is It Rude To Stair?

Morning light on the steps.
Making progress on the interior stair.

Steps In The Right Direction

Last week was all about steps.

Exterior concrete steps in the front, and interior wood stairs to the second floor.

June 04, 2015

Breakfast Ready

Completed Breakfast Nook seating and table.

May 31, 2015

Front Steps Underway

Formwork for the concrete front steps and walkway is underway.  Hope to complete and pour these soon.

Another Rejuvinated Light Fixture

Another old light fixture with a new life ahead. 

This one goes above the Dining Room table, if all goes well.

Butcher Block Fail

Not so smooth anymore. 
In the spirit of full disclosure, let me present my latest dose of humble pie. 

May 28, 2015

Concrete Progress

Today we finally poured some of the concrete paving "flatwork". 

May 27, 2015


Our countertops went in today, marking a milestone of completeness.

Butcher Block

Here is the end-grain fir butcher block in progress.

Soooo much sanding.  The endgrain is tough, and it takes hours to wear it down just a little. 

Zone out with headphones on and sand, sand, sand.

It Finally Happened


Swedish Closet

Yes, we have Ikea in the house.

Here are the wardrobes in the newly carpeted closet.  Starting to feel almost inhabitable.

Here Lisa goes into production mode on the drawer assembly.

Carpet Diem

Carpeting is now installed!

We used a meter square carpet tile by Milliken, called Linen

Installation was almost entirely by Lisa, whose knees are a-feelin' it now.  I followed behind with baseboard trim (not shown).

May 25, 2015

Stair Handrail

The steel part of the handrail that I have been fabricating is now in place on the wall.

Next, a wood cap, and some touch-up paint completes the installation.