Thursday, October 29, 2009

Woodpecker Hell

The last thing we need is more stress. But there's a family of woodpeckers that aren't satisfied with the abundant tree opportunities available to them in the neighborhood. Instead, they've created two holes in the side of our house. On the East side, it's a small hole. On the North side, it was a small hole, but it's growing every day as the birds peck away at the extruded foam board. What started as a hole the size of a bullet has grown to a hole the size of a tennis ball.

Any ideas on how to deter these woodpeckers? Is it hunting season yet?

Shopping Spree

I'm back from my Association's annual meeting & convention, which was very successful. The weeks leading up to the Convention were busier than usual, so I wasn't able to post to the blog. Since I returned last Friday, I've been catching up on work, and working on the Erdhaus.

Shopping for fixtures for the house has been a high priority and a nice diversion from all the work we have yet to do. We ordered tile for the bathrooms and bought LED lights at Amicus Green Building Center in Kensington, MD. The master bathroom will have porcelain tile (12" x 24" horizontal) dark grey tile for the shower walls, and 1" x 1" black (color=carbon) porcelain tile for the shower floor. We selected 18" x 18" ceramic tile for the guest bathrooms. The upstairs color is cocoa and the downstairs color is a light tan. It's kind of funny - Andreas said I could pick the tile colors for the guest bathrooms, as long as I didn't pick tan or brown. As it turns out, we picked the tile colors together, and the ones we liked best were tan and brown. The LED lights were on close-out. Perm lighting is the manufacturer and they were acquired by another company. So the discontinued model was being offered by Amicus for a great price ($70 per 6" recessed light). Obviously they are energy efficient.

From YLighting, we ordered three ceiling fans - one for the living room, one for the guest bedroom, and one for the master bedroom. The ceiling fans are the Velo line by Modern Fan Company.

Tom, the electrician, is scheduled to start installing the interior light fixtures next week. We're holding off on exterior installations until the deck is built.

Another selection we have made is for the walkway to the house. Maryann from Terra Landcaping brought over some permeable pavers and marked out with orange marking paint where the walkway will be. While we have the pavers for the walkway, we're electing to go with a simple gravel driveway/parking area (until I win the lottery and can afford to put permeable pavers there instead).

In addition to having fun shopping, we've been working hard on the projects that we're responsible for. Andreas posted photos of the stained concrete floor. We cleared out the items that were in the great room, cleaned the floor there, and put two coats of stain in the great room. Well, Andreas did that and I helped a bit with the first coat of the soy-based stain. Andreas did the first coat of soy-based sealer on the floor today. The sealer will soak in and then we'll put a second coat on and allow it to dry overnight.

The floors look like a marble or granite counter top. The concrete soaks in the stain differently, so it gives texture and variations in color. The Acri-Soy stain and sealer also came from Amicus Green Building Center.

I took yesterday off from work to paint and my goal was to finish all the painting on the main level of the house. It took a bit of time to get set up, and I realized quickly that I first needed to get the shop vac out to clean up a lot of drywall dust that was in the clerestory area. Then it became clear to me that in order for the paint to look high quality, I needed to do a second coat of primer on the walls before applying the final coat of paint. So I applied the primer in the guest bedroom, guest bathroom, and guest hallway and I put the final coat of paint on the walls in the guest bedroom and hallway. I had finished the great room walls and the pantry last week (right after returning home from our Convention) so almost all the paining (oops, I meant to type painting) on the West side of the house is done (just the guest bathroom to finish). Then I can do the second coat of primer and then paint in the master bedroom, closet, and bathroom. I should be able to finish that this Saturday.

There were a lot of interruptions yesterday, which were welcome (painting gets old after a bit, so it's nice to have a break every now and then). Several people came by to look at various projects so they can prepare quotes for us. Another possible subcontractor called to set a time to look at connecting the radiant floor heating system. Lowes was supposed to deliver our appliances, but I called the night before to reschedule for some time in November since the lot is a mud pit. Even though they called
later in the evening to confirm that the delivery was delayed, I got a call from the delivery folks stating my delivery was next on their list and they'd be at the house in 30-60 minutes. Oops. I explained the situation and they apologized, so it was a non-issue.

After Andreas finished his meetings at work yesterday, he came to the house and we installed some drywall on the basement ceiling together. We forgot to ask the drywall subcontractor to do a section of the ceiling at the stair landing and the hallway into the downstairs bedroom area. It took a few cuts of drywall and we installed the two sections together. I'll work on taping/mudding/sanding the drywall in the coming days.

While the inside is taking shape, we're hoping the weather will cooperate a bit so we can re-focus on the outside of the house. We started digging more trenches to finish the rainwater storage tank connections. Two trenches for overflow pipes and one trench to bring the water from the tanks to the house. (We've double-plumbed the toilets and hose bibs so they can run City water or rainwater.) Now if we ever again have a period of time without rain so the ground can dry out, we can finish the trenching, get the tanks connected, and then Bob DeMarr's crew can do the final grading.

Once the final grading is done, the subcontractors will install the rest of the cedar siding on the South and West sides of the house. Maryann's crew then can install the permeable paver walkways and we can lay truck loads of mulch over the clay soil to help stabilize the soil and make the lot look much, much nicer than it currently does. And then there's decking to be built, but that's a blog posting of its own - another expensive disaster we're trying to mitigate, compliments of Aaron/Cornerstone Building Services.

Each day's
accomplishments brings us a step closer to moving in the house. It's important to recognize how far we've come, since it's easy to see how far we have yet to go.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We're Floored

We're almost done staining our concrete floors, but I couldn't resist putting this picture up: Here is what our floors will look like - concrete stained with a soy-based (Soycrete) stain and sealed with a matte-finish sealer from the same manufacturer (Acrysoy).

Several reasons for the slightly unusual choice of flooring: concrete floors provide the thermal mass both for passive solar heating and for the radiant floor heat; and staining the concrete was by far the most economical option, compared to tile or hardwood or bamboo flooring. And, we think it looks cool - the stain brings out the structure of the concrete, and creates some really wonderful colors.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It Takes a Village.... to Raise a House?

We've been doing a lot at our house this past last week. So much that I haven't been able to blog about it. Wonderful family and friends have helped.

The drywall's done (hung, taped, mudded, sanded, paid for).
Interior walls have been primed....soon to be painted (Thanks, Bill!)
Companies have come by to give quotes for the deck.
Maryann from Terra Landscape came by to measure in order to prepare a quote for the walkway. We're getting quotes for pavers for a walkway. I'm tired of walking through mud to get to the house.
Erika came by to review her landscape design.
The interior stair landing has been built (Thanks, Larry!).
The interior stairs have been placed and (mostly) connected. I have a few more screws to put in.
The remaining cedar for the exterior has been stained (Thanks Mom!)
The rainwater tanks have been connected to one another; outflow and inflow are yet to be done.
When buying the no VOC paint at Amicus Green Building in Kensington, MD, we "window shopped" for some tile and decided to purchase some really beautiful tile there.

And more, but those are the highlights.

I gained about 10lbs this weekend - not from stress, but from my Mom's wonderful cooking. Mom and Bill came Saturday and helped through today (Monday). Not only did they help with a multitude of projects around the house, but they prepared meals for each day, all of which were incredibly delicious. I need to work harder on the house to lose some weight now!

Our architect and one of his staff came by today to review the progress and next steps. They're going to refer some folks to us for deck construction, interior finish carpentry, etc.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oh Happy Day

Fast, efficient, effective. Three of my favorite words. That would describe the crew from Steve Clark Dry Walls, who we hired to hang the drywall for us. Steve was recommended to us by our awesome banker, Mike Terpak with Access National Bank in Reston, VA. His crew started around 8am today, and completed work around 8pm tonight (hence the poor quality photos, since it's getting dark out waaayyy to early for me). In that 12 hour period, they hung about 160 sheets of drywall throughout the house plus 16 sheets of Durarock in the bathtub/shower areas. It looks to me like they did a very good job, and the crew will be back in the morning to start taping and mudding all of the seams. They'll bring it to a smooth finish, ready for priming, and should be done within the week. This is an exciting time -- oh happy day!