Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Week 24

Once again, there were 6 or 7 vehicles in front of our house this morning as I drove by. That is a good thing to see - and means progress is happening. I usually go by in the evening to check out what was done during the day. Some times it is obvious and other times you have to look for the small things. Today was more of a day for obvious things.

The long-awaited copper panels started to go up on the outside. These will be in the areas above the cedar and brick walls. This is being installed by the roofer and each panel is custom cut and folded at the seams. This technique has been used on roofing for centuries. It will take them several days to work their way around the house.

There are many modern materials on the market today that are intended to appear visually perfect. This is to be expected where a machined appearance is desired. That's not necessarily what most people want in a house.

There are some materials where a "perfect" appearance would seem odd. Natural materials often are defined by their imperfect and even random appearance. Examples of this are seen in brickwork where there is usually a range of colors. Though your eye blends the colors together, this variation brings out the small scale of the bricks. Though our brick was stained to cover the alterations, the stain is transparent enough to still see the original variation.

The shiny copper panels being installed today will patina to a brown in just a few months. Even after this occurs, a small amount of variation will remain in the panel appearance. That is what gives it character.

Like the brick, the cedar siding has a natural range. The sealer and light stain will keep it the warm color for a few years, but it is the variation of board color which breaks up the wall and makes it more human-scaled.

Computers have taken over much of the craftsmanship that used to employ so many in the construction industry. Even on materials that are clearly natural, there are manufacturing techniques that combine computers and hand-craftsmanship. At times, I lament the personal craftmanship that is disappearing, but the machines and technology speed up the work and make it cheaper.

Examples of this combination of machine-work and hand-craftsmanship are all over the house. Here are a couple examples:

  • The metal stair is clearly intended to be a modern contrast to the natural materials of the interior. It was drawn with a computer. The pieces may very well have been cut by computer. However, it is still up to the individual welder who tacks the pieces together. It takes great skill to weld in such a way that the welds are barely noticable. The welds are ground down by hand and the final product is hand-painted. The whole assembly was moved into place, leveled, then bolted down by a skilled individual.
  • The granite used for our contertops is certainly a natural material, but the only hands that touch it may be the persons who do the final polishing and installation. Most stone is quarried in blocks that are around 500 cubic feet in size. These blocks are cut with a series of long saws that rock back and forth with water constantly applied to keep it cool. Eventually, the saws cut through to the bottom and these 1 1/4" slabs are then polished by machine and shipped to places like Marva Marble and Luck Stone. Fabricators cut and polish the slabs with a variety of machines in their shops.
Gutters went up today and they look sharp. They match the metal roof color - both are painted with a Kynar paint which is very long-lasting. The color was chosen to approximate the copper after a couple years of patina. We'll see how good I guessed.

The woodwork on the downstairs "window bench" was done today. It has wood flooring as a top surface with a rounded nosing similar to what is used at places like the balcony.

With all the trim in-place, the interior is nearly ready for paint. For several days, there has been a person going around filling the joints and nail holes with wood putty. Most of this seems complete and sanded.

We selected an off-white color for most walls and a semi-gloss white for the trim. This will keep things bright and will highlight the trim around the door and window openings. I'm curious to see how this all looks. We'll probably add some richer colors to accent walls and the upstairs bedroom.

1 comment:

  1. Mark, your house looks amazing! I can hardly wait to see it. Good luck on the house tour!