Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's Starting to Feel Like a Real House

I've had this warm feeling while working on the house the last few days/evenings. Oh, that would be the radiant floor heating that's fully functional, at last! Tom, the electrician, slipped on some ice and wasn't able to come to work this past week. Given the DC area weather forecast, and temperatures projected in the teens, we felt it was mandatory that we hire another electrician to connect power to the hot water heater and connect the radiant system. Our contractor friend, Jeff Hopp, suggested we call a sub he has used with great success. Andreas called him (I'll get his name from Andreas and update this posting with that info) and he came the next day. Not only is he a licensed electrician, but he's a plumber and an HVAC guy too. So he was the right man for the radiant floor job. After the electrical connections were complete, and it was confirmed that the water heater was properly functioning, Andreas filled the radiant tubes with water and the system went live. Within a few hours, the temps went from the 40s into the 50s. By the next morning, it was very warm inside, in the low 60s. By Friday night, each room was at least 65 degrees. We thought it would take two full days to heat up all of the concrete thermal mass, but it took about a day. Working at the house today, with the sun out, I observed air temperatures in the 70s in all rooms that have southern exposure, and the living room thermostat showed a temperature of 78.3 degrees. What amazingly warm feeling to have radiant heat - at long last! Combined with the passive solar attributes, our house was toasty today.

The heat's not the only thing that's been accomplished in the last 10 days. Craig Smith has been working diligently and skillfully on the finish carpentry. The current project is to install Ipe thresholds. If you're not familiar with Ipe, it's an extremely hard wood that's exceptionally durable, suitable for wet and hot and dry locations, and is often used for decks. It was on sale at TW Perry, and we thought it would be ideal for the door thresholds, since that can be a harsh environment for wood.

TW Perry delivered the interior doors on Friday, so we'll work on sealing those with the Safecoat product we bought at Amicus Green Building Center. Andreas and I will install those ourselves, which should be a fun project. Craig Smith will install the three "normal" (hinged) doors early next week. Two of those go in the basement and the third is for the entry to the stairs into the basement. We're using pocket doors in as many places as possible, to save space and ensure a clean/modern look.

The Container Store is holding their annual ELFA shelving system sale this month, so we had an ELFA design for our master closet prepared, and I picked up the ELFA system for that closet last week. Today, I spent a couple of hours in the closet installing the system. I think it looks great, and it's a wonderfully functional closet organizing system. We have it in the condo, and really like it. Act soon to get 30% off ELFA at the Container Store.

Also today, I unpacked the Bosch dryer and the Samsung refrigerator from their crates. The Bosch dryer goes with the Bosch washing machine. Since it's a stackable system, I had to install an attachment to the washer, that the dryer is then affixed to. The end result looks really good.

The final work item today was to use my new, I mean join the two sections of the wheatboard countertop behind the range. I used my shiny new Dewalt plate joiner (sometimes called a biscuit joiner), inserted the biscuit and glue, then clamped the two pieces together. Tomorrow I'll take the clamp off, sand the seam, lightly sand the rest of the wheatboard, clean it with a barely damp cloth to get the dust off, and then apply the first coat of Safecoat no VOC sealant to it. I will do a light sanding and second coat tomorrow night, after we meet with our landscape architect, Erika, who will be reviewing our final draft landscape plan with us.

Countertop seam

It's always fun when friends stop by to visit while we're there working. Today, our friends Mike, Helen, Jeff, John, Helen, and Jeff stopped by. The first Helen brought delicious sandwiches from the Italian Store in Arlington. Yummy! It was great to have a lunch break and good conversation. But then it was back to work!

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