Monday, November 30, 2009

Week Five

Surprise, surprise - it's rained again this afternoon. That makes over 9 inches for November which usually gets less than 3. The framers worked outside in the morning but covered everything up at lunch when the radar showed a large band of rain coming. They managed to build the second floor walls before the rain came and have them laid out on the second floor platform.

Tonight on our way back from dinner, we drove by the construction site and saw a light on inside. Todd (the job superintendant) was there squeegying the floor and putting cans underneath the many leaks in the tarp. He was trying his best to keep water off the wood floors. By the time we left, the rain had stopped and the dripping had pretty much ended.

Todd really pays attention to details. In anticipation of the crane coming, he got permission from the neighbors to put the 20' long dumpster in the gravel parking area in front of their house. I also understand that he put up the Christmas tree for our neighbor Suzanne in her front yard. These little touches keep the construction going quickly and avoid having the neighbors get frustrated while living next to a construction zone.

Tomorrow is a big day. A crane will come to put up the three 500-pound glue-lam beams that support the roof. After that, the shape of the house will start to show. I hope to get a picture of that.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Week Four Update

The contractor sent these images to me while we're away. With the weather clearing, they are making progress. These images show the front of the house with some new framing and the future view from the second floor master bedroom.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Week Four

We're in Virginia Beach for Thanksgiving weekend and not able to see the progress until Sunday night. It's been another rainy week but that didn't stop the "progress" of demolition. With the official rainfall at more than 8" for November (a record total), it is a wonder that the contractors got as much done as they did. The front yard is now a big mudpuddle from the vehicle traffic that goes back and forth

Most of the visible work this week has been the removal of the sun room and a section of roof over the living room. They are using the existing roof rafters to shelter the framing below until they are ready to frame the second floor walls. That is scheduled to occur at the first of next week.

As of Wednesday, the bay on the northeast corner was being framed and bolted. When the roof comes off, we should really start to see forward progress.

We are finalizing appliances and actually bought our washer/dryer at the grand opening of HH Gregg. We were able to save $500 on the LG pair below anything I could find on the internet. Carrie was able to talk the salesman down another $100 on the two drawers that are underneath. These will be stored at our rental property until we move.

I qualified for the Architect's-home discount of 25% on Miele kitchen appliances - so that is probably the way we will go - except for maybe the refrigerator. The Miele fridge is still very expensive and smaller than most others. We'll probably go with another high-quality brand and save alot of money.

Lighting plans and plumbing fixtures are the most critical things to nail down - so the rough-in can be started. Carrie has a good start on the plumbing fixtures and I have a meeting with the lighting supplier on Wednesday. We'll need a lot of guidance with lighting as this is an area where we both are uncertain.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Week Three

Today, I had a hike for the Tiger den at Maymont. As we walked around the Dooley mansion, I realized I might see our house from the lawn overlooking the river. From there, it was quite easy to pick out the blue tarp that now covers our roof. After the walk, I went to the house and sure enough from our front yard (with the leaves almost gone), you can now see the green copper roof of the mansion down-river.

More demolition took place this week and there is some new construction beginning to appear. The roof over the garage is off now and the masons brought the brick up to the point where the copper paneling will begin.

Next up will be the increased height between the living room and the garage. There will be two windows in that south-facing wall on either side of the fireplace. A large overhang will shade the hot summer sun.

One surprise to the contractor was the 16" change in width of the chimney when it went through the roof. This wasn't picked up on the drawings and calls for a decision as to whether to leave the chimney and change the window wall there (or) add thickness to the chimney and leave the wall and framing as drawn. My guess is that we will increase the width of the chimney - it will look more substantial on the exterior and simplify the visual look on the inside.

If we do this, we'll need to add a layer of something over the chimney - either brick or thin stone. My preference unless the cost is ridiculous, is to use a thin stone veneer. It might also look great to put that same stone in the living room on the fireplace bumpout that goes all the way up to the new 12'+ ceiling.

We've now made some intial decisions about the kitchen, bathroom fixtures, and appliances. One of the three brands of kitchen appliances that we prices was much higher than the other, but they offer a discount of some measure to architects who put them in their own house. I need to give them a list for pricing this week so the plumbing rough-in can start.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Week Two

After 10 inches of rain and crazy wind over a 5 day period, they finally got started on the real demolition work.

From the outside, the shape of the house is still there - behind a black tarp. However, when you go inside, yikes! It becomes clear how far back we are taking the house.

There is little remaining demolition except to remove the roof. That will come off as needed to make way for framing.

The wide open space inside is really quite nice. The original framing for the gables can be seen and the only interruptions are the six old steel straps and the high bracing which holds the rafter framing together.

The superintendant told me that they intend to start framing next week. It will be nice to make some progress forward for a change.

Today, Carrie and I finally went out to shop for plumbing fixtures and kitchen appliances. I don't think it will be too hard to select nice things that both of us like. The budget however will be the biggest challenge.

Being an architect, I have developed very specific (and expensive) tastes and know that my sense of design will be judged by how the house looks. There needs to be a consistent quality and character thoughout the design. It requires attention to detail and that takes time that hasn't been available until now. Hopefully, I can stay ahead of the contractor. We'll see.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week One

This week was the official start of work. Most of what was accomplished was demolition, however there was some forward progress. These photos show the foundation work that was done.

The columns in the basement are able to carry the extra load of a second floor. However, the footings are able to carry only one story - and needed to be enlarged. I suspect that the other interior column footing will be enlarged once demolition continues.

The only new foundation required on the outside is at the entry corner. The rest of the new construction will occur on and within the existing walls. This new corner will align with the existing structural line, simplifying the geometry and appearance of the main addition.

I wasn't aware that they intended to remove all of the plaster on the walls. It is apparently easier for them to replace the 50-year old plaster with wallboard than to work with it. That makes sense and presents an opportunity.

These outside walls are 8" thick with no insulation - 4 inches of block and 4 inches of brick - tied together every 7 courses. While 50% of the existing brick will be clad with insulation and new wood siding, the other half was intended only to receive paint. What I now will investigate is a way to insulate on the interior walls and how to correctly locate a vapor barrier. This would increase comfort and further reduce the energy consumption.

My concern is that interior insulation will create a dew point behind the insulation and eventually cause mold. Though not traditional, it is best to put the insulation barrier on the outside.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Demolition Begins

Yesterday was the official start of "construction". As in most things, you have to go backwards for a bit before moving ahead. At this point, the only visible signs of construction is the hole that was dug near the front door in preparation for a small foundations. There were ripping and pounding sounds coming from the inside.

Demolition is a necessary but tough phase to go through. It's a lot like buyer's-remorse in that you know the "sensible" thing to do is to drive that old car a bit longer. The house was perfectly fine in almost every functional aspect. But there's more to a house than practicality - there's also personality.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It Begins

It is strange to be living in another house now - and confusing. It's also amazing how much stuff we have that is used once per year or so. It fills an entire room in the basement of our current quarters. Speaking of that, Carrie and I have also decided to name each house to minimize the confusion. We will not use the term "our house" any longer. Each one will now be called either the Riverside house or the Westover house.

The last of the personal items were moved out of the living area of our Riverside house on Sunday - through a constant downpour all weekend. There is still much to organize/throw away in the Riverside basement, but that can be done this week. As long as the stuff is pushed against the outside wall, it shouldn't impede their work down there anytime soon.

With as much demolition that will be done, I have made an effort to see that it is recycled. Here are the ways that this will be accomplished:
  • The three dead/dying (36") oaks were sent to be milled.
  • One set of washer/dryers was sold.
  • Granite cobbles/stone walkway will be reused in future landscaping.
  • The older set of washer/dryers was donated to Good Samaritan Industries along with our refrigerator and other items.
  • Habitat will be coming to remove the interior trim, remaining appliances, light fixtures, solid wood doors, and anything else of immediate salvage value inside.
  • Ace Waste will have a dumpster on site and take all remaining demolished items (wood rafters and joists, flooring, copper gutters, plaster, alum windows, and brick.) Their experience is that 80% of material can be reused or recycled into other products. They pay for the material based on the market value of the materials.

It will be a bit shocking to see the house as a shell, but it won't stay that way long. If the weather is normal for this time of year, we should be under roof by December 1.