Sunday, September 26, 2010

Framing has started!

Fall is arriving. Hard to believe it was 95 degrees yesterday and today the temperature dropped by nearly 30 degrees! Wow! The leaves are just beginning to show a hint of color.
Yippee, framing has begun! This is really fun to see. We can walk through the rooms (not really many rooms in the basement, but still fun to see some definition). You can see where the windows will go in the walkout part of the basement. I think they didn't complete the framing on this exterior wall because then it will be hard to access. The guest room is framed and the bathroom as well. It looks a little suspect because we don't see the hot and cold water pipes where the sink vanity will go. Hmmm, hope that is not a problem.
This is the sink in our invisible bar. That is going to be awkward since we cut the bar area from the plan. Not sure how to finish / cover this until phase 2. Nick has grand plans to build a bar now that he has a workshop (see below).
Nick's workshop is framed and he is psyched! He even came home and got out a piece of paper to figure out how he wants to set up "his" space. I have to say it is pretty cool -- there was even a little bit of random space by the stairs, and now he gets an 4' x 8' long closet where he can store wood. I asked what space I get --- he said, "the rest of the house." Sounds good to me :-). The workshop is the room you can see at the far end of the picture. The door is on the left and then the workshop is from the left wall, along the back wall, and then turns the corner on the right wall and back. I am excited to have all of this stuff out of the garage where he has had no room to use it in our current garage. But, I'm sure we'll find stuff for the garage. Just yesterday we were all in Dick's when Nick started to get interested in the canoes. Ruh roh, that could fill the garage in an instant!

One of the most exciting rooms in the basement thus far (for Nick it is the shop) is the storage room Lloyd suggested we go ahead and pour under the front porch. This room works out to about 9'x 40'. It was going to just be poured walls and we were not going to have access to the space. Lloyd said it was a "no-brainer" to put a door in there from the basement and just go ahead and pour the concrete floor while we're pouring (if we wanted to do this later, the concrete truck is $800 just to get out here and how the heck would we get it into this interior room? We'd be doing a million bags of cement by hand at a later date. Not fun. The concrete for this room and the wine room are not free, but for the space we gained (wine room radius = 11'2", meaning the area = over 400 sq. ft (because there is a little extra outside of the circle) and the storage area is 9' x 40', so around 360 sq. ft. So, for not much extra, we gained almost 800' of storage space. I am excited about the possibilities of this room: should it just be storage, should it be part storage, part toy closet, should it be the kids' secret clubhouse, should it be the tornado shelter? How about a roller derby track --- how fast can you get going in a 40' run? Oooh, I know, a bowling alley! Perfect! Just what we need too! Good thing my mom doesn't read this, because she knows I am only half kidding about all of these ideas! How to incorporate the voice recognition trap door that the kids have in their plans?

Up for this least in the plans:
Monday, steel beams and columns to be delivered, crane and welder will be there for those. Of course the weather forecast for tomorrow has torrential rain and lots of lightning. Crane and giant metal beams dangling in the air --- good idea?
Tuesday, floor joist for the first floor to be delivered, and first floor system should be about complete by the end of the week.
Looking at the weather, I'll be surprised if this all goes as planned, but I can't wait to walk on the first floor! Nick wants it on so he can take his chair and just sit there!

Another bonus...once the first floor system is on, we can push some dirt and the concrete wall will be better.

Hope we get a small break in the weather (though we need the rain) to keep this moving!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The walls are waterproofed. This is cool to see because the silver wrap highlights the grade that we should end up with.... well, a little anyway. From the centerline of the porch to where you see Nick's car is about 35-40 feet. You can see the slope down in this area to basement level. That slope doesn't look too steep to me. This isn't the grade that has been concerning though ---- it is from the high point, shown here, out to street level (basement level). It is more like 100' (as I've written previously). Lloyd already demonstrated with his long string how the grade would work out, but since I didn't take a picture, I can't show it. But, this picture above shows the necessary slope in 35 feet. Imagine having 100 feet to make that drop, it isn't bad at all. I guess I really need to see that dirt on there to stop obsessing! I saw somebody digging a foundation the other day. I called and asked if I could have their dirt! I never thought I'd be coveting dirt! I even called the DOT because they are doing a bunch of highway improvements around here and I know in some places they are cutting dirt.... I would be kind enough to accept their dirt to "help." Unfortunately these DOT slackers have 1/2 days on Fridays, so I'll have to wait until Monday to talk to somebody! Why don't you just pay for dirt I'm sure everybody is wondering. Well, 20 tandem loads (14-15 yards) of dirt at $125 per load starts to add up. I have talked one guy into $90 per load, and that is pretty good. Lloyd is keeping his eye out for dirt deals too! This is in the budget, but who wants to skimp on dirt if I can get more dirt for less money?
We have a floor too! This is very exciting also. We made the kids take off their muddy shoes before walking on the slab, that is how excited we are about it! See that little pipe on the left. That is for our imaginary sink. Hmmm. Not sure what we are going to do about that! We did have an awesome bar area planned in the basement, but it was one of the first things to cut in "phase 1" to keep the costs under control. The cabinetry, sinks, granite, etc. were getting pretty pricey for this basement area, and I thought we'd be able to find cabinets, etc. for less, so we cut them. Now that the plumbing is there (floating in the middle of the room), I think we will need to do something about it! Instead of a big peninsula kitchen, maybe we should do a freestanding bar / island in the middle with a sink. Think we'll have to figure this out once the framing and drywall are up, or we'll just have to figure out a way to cover this pipe until we get to phase 2....

We did dream over the weekend of how we should do the acid stained concrete. In the wine room, we thought it would be pretty neat to make the floor cut like a pizza, with alternating colors of acid staining, and then put rustic beams on the ceiling, meeting in the center (in the same pattern as the floor). I need to find a cool light for this room too. Nick is definitely wanting a dungeon theme complete with a heavy oak dungeon door. I have seen several of these and just heard about a cool architectural salvage place in Gastonia --- maybe we'll have to go check it out.

I also met with the stair people this week. We are going to go with a pretty simple staircase --- but with walnut treads, like the rest of the floor, and painted risers. I think it will be great. I met with the cabinet makers this week too to get things started. We sat from 10 am until 3 pm working on the design, but I have to say I am thrilled with it! The guy I met with, Chris, drew the butler's pantry with cabinets, with a row of upper deck cabinets. They looked good, but in the glass front cabinets the mullions were vertical rectangles in the bottom and squares in the top set. I explained to him that not only did I want them all the same size, but in addition I wanted them to be vertically proportioned, so that the width was smaller than the height. After raising his eyebrows (translation, "OK crazycakes"), he got out some CAD sort of software, plugged in every dimension we were working with and got to the perfect proportion! The boxes are taller than they are wide, which I have made a big deal about in all of the window mullions as well. This makes me very happy, I just hope it all gets carried through when they make the cabinets! I don't know why little things like this are so darned exciting to me....

Final things....they have the crawl space filled in with dirt, and the pilings set up. The garage is filled in with gravel/ rocks. That looks low, so we might have 50 steps into the house, not sure.

Expectations for this coming week.... Framing to start by the end of the week.... Whooo hooo! I don't have any concept of how long framing should take, but that is when I expect I'll know if everything is going to work out as I envisioned from the paper house. Can't wait!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Booooorrrriiiiinnnngggg.....Plumbing set-up

We want to see this project start to look like a house, but geez, who knew there was so much infrastructure... This week they have been working on setting up the plumbing before pouring the concrete into the basement floor. I haven't been out in a few days to see how the place looks, but when I checked on Thursday, all we saw was a bunch of trenches with pipes in them.

Decisions we are working on now....
Plumbing fixtures --- Very annoying that I made one change to our plumbing quote (switched to a faucet that was about $200 more) and the quote price went up by over $4000 --- grrrr. So then I say, forget it and revert back to the old quote, price up $3000+ still. It took me a while to figure out exactly what happened, but it turns out Delta took a price increase in July and our original quote was before that and now every single item went up, resulting in a fairly big added expense. To try to get the expense back down to the "budget" amount for plumbing, I have to cut some stuff. This is not that big of a deal --- we can reduce the faucets from an 8" widespread to a mini-widespread and it saves the budget....I like how the widespread faucets look best, but the mini-widespread savings is great.
Appliances --- This is another area where there have been some price increases. Luckily, we have seen a couple of price decreases here as well, so the budget is on track. While working on the cabinetry design though, we thought it would be nice to have a beverage center in the "butler's pantry" for stuff like beer for the adult crowd and drinks for the kids. It would keep them out of the main fridge. The problem is, this got us over budget by about $1000 for a undercounter fridge, more if it is to be fridge drawers - with our current plan we are under budget by a few hundred dollars. While it would be great to have, I really want to not creep up everywhere. How to solve the problem? Gotta get creative to squeeze this "optional" appliance into the plan within budget. I start scouring the appliance stores and craigslist for closeouts, or models that are being phased out. I hit the jackpot with an appliance store in Charlotte that had a U-Line Fridge / Freezer drawer for $599 I do a little research and discover this appliance retails for over $3000 because it also has an icemaker ---- Whooo hooo, even better because next to this little beauty will be our old wine fridge and our cocktail making stuff --- so having ice there is really great. The drawers are brand new, panelable (I made them show me in the instructions how the paneling works because the drawers are black right now and would not look too good in this area without panels. They have a few other things which are great deals as well, but some of them are a little harder to handle. This appliance I just pop-in, hook up to the icemaker (accounted for in the new plumbing quote) and it is ready. The vent hood by Broan, which is very nice, and a good deal, I am not sure if it would be as easy. They also have a nice Wolf range, and it is discounted several thousand dollars, but it is not the one we have in the plan (Nany either) and I am less comfortable with something like this.

Cabinetry --- The poor cabinet guys --- they told me to fax over my changes. I don't think they knew I had 50 pages of changes!! I am sure they were surprised last week when I dropped off this big binder of my cabinetry plans! We are going to keep the cabinets simple and paint them the same color as our trim, I think it will be nice, we'll see --- Lloyd says they'll make me some sample doors / drawers to take around with me to look at stuff like tile, etc.

Garage Doors --- I thought I had some good cost savings here. Nick and I picked a carriage door by Clopay. Instead of being solid wood, it was steel and the guy thought this would save us some money vs. the budget. But, when he priced it all out it actually came in as a more expensive option because the 3 doors are 9'x9' which makes the steel ones custom. The wooden ones were custom all along, so no savings there. Unfortunately, it had always been my plan to paint the doors the same color as our trim, and we decided no windows since we'll put a basketball hoop on the driveway. But, now that they'll be wooden, it is going to be hard to resist doing the pretty stained wooden carriage doors that Nick has always loved anyway.

Stairs --- The plan has always been to do walnut stairs, with painted risers. Now the question is which type of handrail and posts? Our staircase will be u-shaped, and I like the Georgian profile where the handrail is continuous, but we also like the painted big post look as well --- not sure how to describe this exactly. I am trying to find good pictures of handrails I like to take to the stairmaker on Monday. I was watching a tv show the other day while doing my exercise machine when the house in the show had a really pretty staircase --- thankfully the show was DVR'ed, so I was able to rewind and take a picture of the screen! This is the white post look --- excuse the flash on the screen! The other staircase picture is the more formal Georgian variety.... both are pretty...

That is about it for this week.... hopefully we'll see some framing next week.....

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Foundation is in.... looks better than the metal prison walls....

They have removed the concrete forms and now we can see the foundation in all its glory. It still looks tall, but while Jen was here, Lloyd took a giant string and had a guy hold one end at the house, and he walked out to the street to show us the slope. It was not bad at all, so we are feeling better.

The round part of the foundation looks super cool --- in addition to the rumors in the 'hood about the skyscraper, there is lots of talk now about what that round part could possibly be.... one neighbor broke down and just asked.... phew. Some guessed that we will have a big turret for a circular staircase and the other half was guessing it must be a wine cellar. The neighbor that was big and brave and just asked said, "We are all dying to know about the round part. Half the neighborhood is betting it is for a turret, but I think it would be soooo cool for a wine what is it?" I was glad to tell him he was right about the wine room. Funny that the part of the house we added / changed at the last minute is the part that everybody seems to like! Before we made an opening from the inside of the house, the round part was just going to be a dead space, not this wine room. How to finish it though? I think it would be awesome to put some rustic beams on the ceiling that meet in the center (like pieces of pie) --- then we need a cool wine room light for over our round oak table (thanks Kak). Do you drywall a round room? Could we stucco it? Any ideas for inexpensive ways to finish the walls / ceiling?

Current other steps .... waterproofing, laying out the plumbing below the basement floor (never thought about that much) and then hopefully next week we'll see some framing.....