Sunday, August 26, 2012

Covering floors and doing more wordwork

As our rebuilding process continues, the time has come to start covering floors. We have already shown the basement tile itself in a previous post, but this past week they laid most of the tile in the downstairs den, hall, and bathroom. And it looked so good, I decided to put it in my corner office, too (below).

The next picture, taken in the den, shows the frame I created in the floor around the hearth area, using a border of 2x2-inch square tiles. The extra space by the sides of the stove will be used for fire tools, kindling, and wood storage.

If the mantle above the stove seems bowed, that's only because it is. That was probably the result of 12 years worth of little fires, rather than the big one on 12 January 2012. The two mantles were made from the same 12.5 foot plank cut from one of the hickories that had to be felled to make room for our last house. When the mantles were salvaged from the ruins, the one in the basement was still almost pristine, but the one upstairs had to be planed to remove a black coating of soot left by smoke.

Meanwhile, our builder George continues to make things out of wood, such as the stairs and railings you see here. The black hole in the picture to the right, by the way, is not a black hole or a vent, but a missing riser, which will be installed before the stairs receive the carpet that our grand kids requested.

In the background, George is sweeping up sawdust and other debris from his use of the living-dining area as a carpenter's workshop, so that the area will be ready for our tile workers to begin installing the oak flooring this week. Later they will switch back to tile for the kitchen floor and the upstairs hearth and entry areas.

Finally, we have a picture of a hole in the wall between our walk-in closet and the laundry room. That hole is also only a few feet from the master bathroom on the other side of the walk-in closet. On this side of the hole are two plastic containers for light and dark dirty clothes. Leaning against the wall on each side are doors for the cabinet above the dirty laundry space, which will have its own doors. The hole, which is squeezed in between two studs, will be somewhat smaller and neater after it gets its wood trim.

We have chosen a composition deck material called ChoiceDek for the front porch and back deck. They will start installing it soon - maybe also this week.

It's been sixteen weeks since the start of framing. We are pleased with the progress and hope it will continue. We want the tile workers to get to the kitchen floor soon, since the cabinets should be ready by mid September. Then there's painting to do inside and out, as well as door locks, light fixtures, bathroom vanities, counter tops, etc. to install - a lot to do, but our fingers are crossed for an October move-in date. Wish us luck!  --oc

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pictures of past and pending progress

Lots of little things are happening at our house, and lots more are about to happen. First, the front and back yards around the house got cleaned up, and two truckloads of fill dirt were added and spread around. Here is a view of the nearly finished west end of the house.

A great deal of the current construction is going on inside and involves wood. Below left , for example,is part of the oak flooring that will be installed in the living room. It is stacked in the way shown, so that it can dry out a little more and get accustomed to the house before installation. On the right is some knotty pine paneling and wainscoting our builder has installed in the stairway down to the basement. The two-by-four treads shown here will later be replaced by plywood and carpet.

The space occupied by the flooring is in the kitchen, and it will eventually be replaced by cabinets that are being built by our neighbor, Paul Pringle. Here he is planing oak planks for that purpose; they were sawn from trees that had fallen in a neighbor's yard here in Kenney Ridge. They will be a fitting replacement for the living room hickory paneling that was sawn from trees cut down to make room for our previous house.

Another recent accomplishment is the completion of the geo-thermal heat pump installation. The picture below shows the electrical power coming in on the left, and on the right are the pipes to and from the underground water loop and the two pumps that circulate the water through the heat pump and the loop.

Meanwhile, in the backyard is a stack of tile conveniently left by the door to the basement den, where it will be laid starting tomorrow (Monday). Manita shows how well the tile goes with the brick wall behind the downstairs stove shown in last week's blog post. 

That can also be seen in the second picture, which shows the tile stacked by the door to the room where it will be laid. It also shows some of the red Georgia dirt fill that was necessary to bring the ground level up to the basement level.

On the list to be completed soon is the covering of the front porch and rear deck with composition planking. I'll save that coverage, however, until later, when there's something to show.

Until then . . .   --oc

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rebuilding continues and wood stoves return

Last week I mentioned that we were out of town for a while, but I didn't mention that our builder George was also out of town with his family - way out of town, like in Alaska (we were envious). But he was back on the job by Thursday and did some more carpentry work in the form of bookcases in the loft.

In addition to storing books, the loft will be an area for playing with our grandchildren, Sophia and Ezra, and for doing various projects, such as wrapping presents. The window air conditioner is a temporary measure to keep workers cool and help dry out the house. Hopefully the HVAC folk will be back soon to finishing installing the ground-source heat pump system in the basement.

On Monday we got the final brickwork done in the basement behind the wood stove, along with a refinished mantle that was made from a hickory tree cut down on the property to make room for the house. Both it and the upstairs stove (below) survived the fire and were returned in newly refinished condition.

Actually, they arrived a little early, and we would have preferred a later delivery, since we have not yet installed the floor tile for them to sit on. With a weight of about 350  pounds each, it's not a simple matter to move them around. I have figured out the solution to that problem, however: I'll just let George do it.

The upstairs also has its own mantle - the other half of the same hickory board - but the tile has not been installed there, either. Both tiles have been picked out, however, and will be installed soon. In the basement, the whole room will be tiled, but upstairs we'll have tile only under the stove and by the front door and the door to be back deck. The rest of the floor will be covered with hardwood.

Finally, we have a picture of the front of the house with the garage on the left, featuring the flagstone - called Mossy Creek - and the board-and-batten siding. The next step (so we can take steps) is to put down the decking here and on the back deck. We'll also be adding two sets of front stairs and horizontal boards in between to hide from view whatever's under the porch.

On Saturday Manita and I purchased six major appliances for the kitchen and the laundry room. Then on Sunday we bought a nice dining room suit. So, it's gradually coming together.  --oc

Saturday, August 4, 2012

More stonework and HVAC

During the past week Manita and I were out of town for five days - the most since January - taking part with our granddaughter Sophia in a Road Scholar intergenerational program at Callaway Gardens. We had been away for only one overnight since construction began. So, when we returned, we were very impressed with the stonework on the front fascade, which you can see below.

As in the previous house, there is now stonework in the livingroom surrounding the mantle over the woodstove. The stone is still a little damp here and will look more like the outside stone when dry.

The opening to the left of the flue is for kindling (top) and firewood (bottom). We're already looking forward to a cozy fire on cold winter days.

Meanwhile, we found Preston, our HVAC contractor, in the basement, working on getting the ducts hooked up to the ground-source (so-called geothermal) heat pump, which will pull heat out of the earth in winter to heat the house and during air conditioning season pull heat out of the house and put it in the ground. 
Here Preston and an assistant are installing one of the supply ducts, and in the next picture the helper is painting the seams to seal them. Another worker is preparing to make another connection to the the heatpump unit behind him.

Once the supply ducts for the two heating and cooling zones, as well as the return ducts, are hooked up, the underground water loop, which circulates through three 240 foot deep wells in the front yard, will be connected to the unit. After all electrical and control connections have been made, the system will be ready for testing and hopefully will pass the test without a lot of correction and adjustment. We'll let you know in our next blog post how it all comes out.

It has now been thirteen weeks since framing began, and a lot has been accomplished in that three months. Hopefully, about two more months will be enough to finish the house. We'll be ready for that to happen. We don't look forward to moving, but it will be worth it. At least we have less to move this time.  --oc