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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December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays to All!

by artist Kristina Solomoukha.

Peace and Best Wishes to you all.
We are closing up for the week between Christmas and New Years to be with family and friends.  We hope you can also.

See you in 2015!

Siding Progress Report

Siding continues, with excellent results so far.

Also seen here, the weather cooperated and I added the bottom piece of steel to the breakfast nook, completing the box.  The red/white plastic is covering the fresh primer on the welds.

Roof is Finally Done! Wait. Recall that.

The long tale of the roof (not counting gutters) almost came to conclusion yesterday.  They finally came back with the last remaining skylight and a missing piece of flashing.  All was installed, and we thought we were finally complete with our lid.

Last night it rained good and hard.

This morning, there was a small drip coming from the new skylight.


The Sad Tale of the Garage Siding

The garage was intended to receive the same furring strips under the siding as the house, to create a vented-cavity rainscreen.  (Exterior insulation not included.)

Turns out the subcontractor kinda forgot to include the garage furring in his bid. (It was mentioned in the work summary, but not in the line-items used to figure the costs.)

While a shady contractor might say something like this to try and line their pockets, I decided that our guy was telling the truth. 

Not having any additional money to throw at this issue (for furring and labor), and not being one to punish honest mistakes, our compromise is to use this "drainwrap" weather resistant barrier to achieve at least a minimal amount of ventilation. 
This brand uses a matrix of raised plastic nubbins to hold the back of the siding not quite 1/16" of an inch off the WRB.  This is one of the better alternatives of drainwrap out there; some just have a wrinkly surface texture as their "drainage plane".

Better than nothing, I am still skeptical of the extent of effectiveness.  Extensive testing led to the National Building Code of Canada adopting a rainscreen requirement with a 10mm (over 1/4") space.  That said, a series of tests by John Straube, PhD does show that a gap as small as 1mm (about what this is) still makes a difference.

We'll now have a laboratory on site to see how it performs over the years.

Plumbing Insulation

Lisa secured some plumbing insulation, and we covered the drain lines that run over the Living & Dining rooms. 

Got some confused looks from the cellulose guys...
this insulation is for sound, not temperature.

Yes, that is the yellow  WRB air-sealing tape being re-purposed.  It ain't pretty, but it gets covered.

December 18, 2014

Siding Begins!

The very first pieces of siding are on the building!

Nothing But Net (Insulation Continues)

Netting is going up on the exterior walls; this netting is what holds the cellulose in place until the drywall is installed. 

The Foam Ghost (Insulation Begins)

This apparition was seen in the Kitchen, spewing ectoplasm.

December 14, 2014

Piles Upon Piles

One of the features of being your own General Contractor - you end up with quite a lot of products & materials to store.

This is one side of our Dining Room.  Here you see doors, screens, an oven, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, weatherstripping, curtain track, tile, door hardware, nails, and spray foam, among other items.

The other wall of the room is similarly stacked.


Living Room view West toward Dining & Entry
Ladies & Gentlemen - drum roll please - the first finished surface in the building.

Our polished concrete slab turned out nicely! 

Photos below.

December 11, 2014

Fine Grind

How to churn mud and almost hit everything.
Today the floor slab grinding & polishing guys arrived.

We are very, very excited (and a little nervous) to see the end result.

High Winds

Hard to tell from the photo, but we are having a massive wind storm right now.  The large roof overhang is flexing just a little in the biggest gusts (just the bottom corners - the ridge is solid).  Power is out in nearby blocks.  I've been collecting flying debris from around the yard.  

A friend is reporting on FB that her roof shingles are literally flying away.  Yikes!  

December 07, 2014

Upper Soffit Underway

Soffit, with stepped vent detail
The soffit is underway!  Even though were are not quite ready for siding, the siding contractor has arrived.

Since we can't start the siding yet, we got going on the upper roof soffit. 

Had a few minor design issues that had to be revised on the fly to account for framing conditions.
Florentino is doing a great job, and we are very pleased with the results.

December 06, 2014

Spray Foam Foray

Have Gun, Will Not Travel
Taking on the perimeter foam sealing of the windows and doors myself, for better or worse.

Got a professional foam gun, and some cans of low-expanding foam, and today I gave it a shot.

December 03, 2014

Roofing Woes

Still only a partially-finished roof.  A number of issues have been encountered:

December 02, 2014


Massive Massing Studies
So a couple of Architects finally get to design their own home.

There is a chance, it seems, that they might go a little overboard studying every possible permutation before settling on a scheme.

Above is an early 3d exploration of the building massing in relation to the site.

Somewhere along that line of variations was the seed of an idea that grew into the building currently being constructed.

Plans in Alignment
Another example: the drawing above is an AutoCad study showing a line of fairly well-developed floor plans, each differing in some way. 

Starting with "A", each plan was assigned a letter.  We ran out of alphabet and just began double letters before we circled back and ultimately chose plan "U" for further development.

An unusual effort perhaps, but for us this approach was a useful tool.  It was hard initially to fight the feeling of "one more missing better option".  The idea that hasn't been explored is hard to quantify.  By going ahead and drawing up every permutation we could think of (within reasonable constraints), we could more easily weigh them against each other. 

Some plans were easy to eliminate, but they served as good reminders that we had covered that ground.  Some were good solid contenders, and much harder to choose between. Of the solid options, we eventually decided that one of them was the right balance for us.