This site is going to document our new home from start to finish, hopefully with a lot of pictures and information. The focus for the site, as well as the home itself, is a net-zero passivehaus design which will get all of its energy from roof-mounted solar panels.

A Week Inside

My wife had a few days off this week to help unpack and generally settle things down in the new house while our son was in pre-school. Because we didn’t have to keep an eye on him, we were productive in getting things organized.

THE KITCHEN

The kitchen – a spot my wife planned meticulously to work with how she enjoys cooking – is a focal point of the organization. It is one of the more complete areas of the house right now, missing just a few of the decorative hanging lights above the black granite counters.

Our kitchen is planned around our tendencies and how we tend to prepare food and clean up. The drawers and counter space all revolve around the cook space and the sink is large to soak pans used for roasting or large rice cooker pots that are hard to clean.

The appliances are all Fisher Paykel, a brand we hadn’t heard of prior to this build. They are very sophisticated pieces of gear which isn’t apparent until you dig into the manuals and see them in operation.

One of the things I hate to do is run a dishwasher before it is full. The downside of this mental quirk is that the dishes would pile up inside of the appliance, unwashed, for a few days until we had enough to fill it up completely to run. That problem was alleviated with our new setup.

The dishwasher is a two-drawer system. You can run both drawers in tandem or the small lower door for small loads or the slightly larger upper drawer for normal loads. It keeps the counters clean and the dishes clean as well. So far I’m loving this thing.

We were slightly worried about buying an induction range because they were fairly new technology (in the US) and expensive. They fit into our house planning ideas that eschewed fossil fuels since induction is based on magnets. We had been collecting pots and pans that will work with induction for the last few years – since we knew we were going to buy one – and so far they have worked really well. My wife loves the range and oven. The induction heat is very responsive and there are no fossil fuel fumes to worry about. The only fumes we have to worry about are steam and regular food cooking smoke which we manage with the Fisher Paykel range hood. Major things like kitchen design are always a bit of a leap when you are planning a house but the whole setup feels perfect and we’re really happy with how it worked out.

The refrigerator is smaller than I would like it to be but we are making it work. It has made us much more conscious of what we put into it which is helpful. So far it has only meant that food no longer gets lost like it does in the cavernous back of a normal fridge. Since we buy beer fresh these days, there isn’t a lot of beer taking up room. That may change as snow slows our ability to run to buy beer at the Alchemist quickly. Despite insane peeper traffic this week, it takes about 9 minutes to get there.

The prices on the Fisher Paykel appliances were eye-watering but we are glad we were able to furnish the house with them because they are fantastic so far.

Here’s what you can see in the photos: - Fisher Paykel Range - $5,649 - Fisher Paykel Dishwasher - $1,299 - Fisher Paykel Refrigerator - $2,500

THE PANTRY

The pantry area has been great. We have put all of our supplies in it and have tons of room to spare which is what we hoped for. We can now stock it with staples and larger items from Costco for the long winter or the apparently-impending economic collapse. We also have room for canned or pickled foods as well.

On one wall of the pantry we have a butcher-block counter and shelves with huge pull out drawers underneath. This area is keeping the clutter away from the main kitchen countertop and it houses the coffee maker, microwave, mixers, food processors, etc.

THE LIBRARY

The small library is coming together. We were worried that it would feel cramped rather than cozy and we’re still not 100% sure since the sofa has yet to arrive but so far it is good. All of our books have been moved to the shelves and we room to grow. The TV isn’t too large for the space which is a relief. We still need some of the wall-mounted sconces but they are on a very long backorder.

LIGHTING

One of the stars of the place is the lighting. Our electrician has been great with suggestions, finding great lighting choices and thinking through how to best use the light in the space. The stair lights are one example where a suggestion he made transformed the house. Having the stairs lit by small, dimmable LED lights has been far more effective and attractive than a night light and we just love them.

The main room lighting has a lot of ways we can configure it. The large hanging light from Hubbardton Forge is what we use most of the time. It is a warm, subtle enough light that we can do what we need to do but not blast the room with overhead light, which we don’t generally like. The room does have high intensity overheads though, if we need them. They are organized into switched quandrants so we can target the light where we need it.

We also make heavy use of dimmers and under-cabinet lights which add to the warmth and coziness of the house. They are in the office, under the new IKEA cabinets, in the kitchen and in the pantry. Under-cabinet lights are what we use to give the room a glow without having a ton of bright light bouncing around. Obviously we have great task-based overhead lighting in those areas as well.

THE BATHROOMS

Something we weren’t sure about prior to moving in was how well the bathroom setups would work but I am happy to report they are both great.

The main floor bathroom is nearly perfect for us with a large shower with both rain and regular shower heads. The faucets feel sturdy and their operation is tight. We can tune the water perfectly and they are very easy to use. The tub is a good size and the filler faucets fill the tub very quickly. We haven’t organized all of the towels, sheets, and such but there is a lot of empty drawers and cabinets for that purpose so its a project for this weekend.

We had forgotten about getting a bidet toilet (Toto Washlet) but it was something we did back during the first months of the pandemic when toilet paper was hard to find. So far, surprisingly, its a useful device. It combines a heated seat with the normal bidet functions.

I was worried about not having a purpose-built shower steam fan in the bathrooms because the Zehnder ERV always seems so quiet but there are boost buttons in both bathrooms and, despite not having a dramatic-sounding fan, it seems to do a great job carrying the steam out of the room quickly.

HEATING AND COOLING

Speaking of the Zehnder, the heat pumps combined with the ERV seems to be a great combination. I haven’t had heating or cooling on for the last few days and the temperature is stuck at 70F, despite it going down to the 40’s and low 50’s at night. The goal would be to use the heat pumps to control the ambient temperature as little as possible and so far that’s working. We’ll see how far that extends into the colder weather but we have a lot of heat sources in the house should we need them. Solar heat warming the concrete floor in the main room, cooking, fireplace, heat pumps, electric baseboard heat and ambient flooring in the first floor bathroom all should combine to keep the temperature at a comfortable level all winter. Because the Zehnder circulates the ambient air throughout the house, warmth in one area of the house should spread to all corners fairly quickly.

SOLAR

The solar installation permit was granted by the town last week so the solar install team return to finish their work. The panels went up quickly and the wires were run into the mechanical room and a shut off installed on outside of the garage.

We have had some more issues thrown at us this week so hopefully that job will be done next Tuesday and we’ll start generating our own power soon after.

LANDSCAPING

This week the landscaping crew installed the driveway. It transformed our property from a muddy area with a structure in the middle of it to an official-looking thing.

The excavator operator and my wife did a lot of rock work this week. Once the grading was completed, I could see my wife out every window pointing and directing the rocks to various areas of the land. Some of the rocks were places as sculptural elements but otheres were more practical. We now have a few natural benches scattered throughout the property for peering into the woods or the wetlands.



OTHER TOPICS

There are just a few boxes left to unpack and not much is left in the storage facility. We are completely out of the apartment and we are tying up a lot of loose ends. All of us feel more relaxed being here finally, even the pets.

One thing worth noting is how quiet this house is. For better or worse, you can’t hear anything going on outside. After the nightmare deluge of ear-splitting Harley riders at our old house, it is indescribable how great the new situation is. For example, our painter had his radio on outside of the breezeway door. I couldn’t hear it until the door was opened and it was very loud. It was remarkable how much the thick walls, triple-glazed windows and doors and tight seal keeps out the sound. Unfortunately it also keeps out cell phone signals but that’s a story for another post.

We still have very little furniture due to shipping and manufacturing delays affecting our ability to get the sofas we ordered in the Spring. We might get one of the sofas this week but it remains to be seen. The main sofas (for the living room and library) are likely to be delayed well into November.

We Moved In Yesterday

And so here we are. Finally.

We all woke up early, too excited to sleep despite being awake most of the night planning what was going to happen when it was light enough outside to get started. Despite all of this mental effort, we still did a very poor job moving into the house but more on that later.

As we were getting the car packed up we got a text that the landscaping/excavating crew had arrived (at least a day early but glad they showed up). They were going to take out a tree damaged during the digging of the septic system, spread a load or two of top soil, install the drip edges and dig a hole into which the back patio will be poured.
When we arrived the house with a very full car, the earth moving was under way and my wife started discussing her rock placement ideas with the site foreman.

The plumber, painter and tilers arrived around the same time and got to work.

By the end of the normal work day, the tile was done, the interior painting was more or less done, the plumbing was done and we had a pile of boxes to sort through. There were a few loose ends that need fixing like the dishwasher which wasn’t in position or fastened in, or the clothes washer and drier which was in the right area but it had no power and was not pushed into its final resting place while they figure out some ducting and electrical issues. The range wasn’t in position either due to the grout being worked on.

Carl, our mad wizard electrician, showed up at quitting time for normal folks and set to work on our priorities for the remaining lights and switches. The family had take-out dinner and Focal Banger while Carl got the kitchen switches and outlets wired up, the bathroom sconces working and a variety of other things. He stayed until we were ready to go to bed and, before he left, he and I got the range set up and working (and pushed into place).

I hooked up our WiFi router and got the repeater working up in the office. Rock solid 95/95 fiber internet. I am really excited we got that issue taken care of. Last year at this time I was calling congressmen and cable company execs hoping for a resolution by the time we moved and all of that paid off which is gratifying.

We woke up in the new place with rain pouring down outside but we’re ready to get unpacking and move on with our lives in this new house. There is still a lot to do before we’re “done” but we took a huge step closer to done this weekend.

Faster Progress

This week was supposed to start slow but when we went to the site things were in full swing. After getting a surprise concrete pour for the stairs on Friday, the team was pushing everything they could forward in anticipation of our October 1 move in date.

The upstairs bedrooms are very close with light switches, an electric heater (a backup in case of really cold winter days), closet hangers, and ready for a final coat of paint (or touch ups). They are getting close to ready and look good.




Once the countertops arrived, on Wednesday, they were easily set and installed and the group went to work on all of the pieces they were waiting to do – get ready for plumbing next week, install drawers that were being held in a safe spot, put in the range hood, and dry-fit the dishwasher and range.

The bathroom work started on Monday with the team getting set up to install the vanities and prep for the incoming countertops. The countertops were installed and the sinks fit into place but we got a very lucky break with the glass company coming two weeks early and putting the shower glass in the first floor bathroom. They are coming back early next week to finish the first floor and install the glass for the second floor but then that will be done. Huge relief. We were expecting to have to use some makeshift shower curtains or something.


The electrician started installing in earnest this week, including some of the more expensive hanging lights like the Noguchi on the stairs and the Hubbarton Forge hanging light in the main room.


The mudroom is getting sorted out. It’s looking good and the bench is properly reinforced now so we can drink as much Vermont beer as we want and we won’t snap off the bench area.

The views from within and around the house are starting to look pretty good at this point. Next week is going to be crazy. The usual build team, plumbers, painters, landscapers and excavators, electrician, tilers, solar panel installers all on-site at the same time. All of them will be pushing us towards the goal of moving in at the end of next week.



Closing In On Moving In

As I said before, our current plan is to move in on October 1. The house won’t be done but it will save us considerable money if we get into the house as early as possible. The things that are likely not going to be done before we move in are:

  • Bathroom glass
  • Some kitchen pieces
  • Punch list items like paint touch ups
  • Doors (which might still not all fit perfectly)
  • Some lighting fixtures (in various states of shipping)
  • Landscaping
  • Door thresholds
  • Water softener (soonest install was Oct 20)
  • Sofas and other shipping items that have massive delays

That said, there were some deliveries and progress this week, albeit slow. Our builder doesn’t want to bring his crew back on site until there is a full slate of work and that probably won’t happen until next week.

One of the big things this week was that our were appliances delivered.


The appliance delivery company was supposed to install the washer and drier but we didn’t have water running where it needed to be so our builder’s crew will have to install them. They are in the room which we are calling the “dressing room” so they hopefully won’t be too hard to get put in place. The area is a laundry, closet and place to keep all of the clutter of clothes management in one place so its not really just a “closet” per se. But it serves a bigger function than a laundry. “Dressing Room” is very grand-sounding and isn’t totally accurate but it will have to do for now.

The kitchen appliances are mostly in place. We left room for the fridge to sit flush allowing for a large plug in the wall but there is also a water filter that goes behind the fridge that pushes it out too far. As a result, the builder is crafting a small recessed box to house the whole filter assembly.


The HVAC team arrived early in the week too. They hooked up the first and second floor heat pumps and installed the compressors behind the house. The heat pump head units needed room to install a management device so we had to cut some large holes next to each unit for access. Another mess to clean up.




The photo below neatly encapsulates what we are going for with the aesthetic decisions on the house – large windows with lots of light and an exploration of how it plays off of the different textures and surfaces. Plaster on the fireplace wall, ash boards creating “wall” when viewed at one angle and an interesting visual when viewed from another. Ash stairs with a creative, non-standard shape and windows with views into deep woods. Smooth white walls, textured metal railing. We are hoping it all creates a harmonious design and feeling when its all completed.

The end of the week, Thursday, saw the south side patio stairs concrete poured. We have been waiting for this because it joins the patio/porch area outside of the large sliding door with the lower patio outside of the bedroom window. The wood blocking structure was still on Friday afternoon and will remain so for a day or two but the stairs should be fully complete next week.

This coming week should be one of the most pivotal in terms of getting the house move-in ready. We are going to have big things happening that require an all-hands-on-deck approach with the builder and several subcontractors.

The landscaping should be happening soon, likely next week but it depends on factors like weather and readiness. They plan on spreading topsoil on the remaining lawn area, excavating the north patio area, removing a tree that was damaged when they put the septic tank in, and installing drip edges on the north and south sides of the house.

The solar installers ran into a permitting issue with Stowe Electric and needed to stop work until the 22nd, Wednesday. Once they return they have 1-2 days worth of work to complete the solar install.

The countertops, one of the key reasons for all of the delays, arrive on Thursday. They will be installed in the kitchen but there is also a stone bench near the fireplace and the surfaces on the vanities in the bathrooms and the tub on the first floor. These countertops are holding up things like cabinet installs, tiling, and a host of other things so once they are in place, those other things can cascade to completion, in theory.

For instance, the kitchen countertops will require a tiled backsplash install that alternates with inset ash shelving. The bathroom shelves, once installed, serve as a substrate for the tall cabinets and inset ash shelving next to the tub.

Also held up in the wait for the countertops is the plumbing for the fixtures in the kitchen and bathrooms. There are a few things we are waiting on for shipping but the list is dwindling. None of the plumbing is in a waiting state so hopefully they can install it all with no fanfare or drama.

Lighting on the other hand is experiencing a lot of shipping delays currently. Hopefully all of the ordered pieces arrive next week and we can get all of the lighting installed. There is still a lot to do on that front.

Plodding forward…

Plodding Along

The past week was mostly plodding towards the goal of a finished house. It is hard to capture things like new coats of paint and wiring and ducting changes in photos so this week won’t have much in the way of visuals.


The doors are still proving to be an issue due to the moisture. One or two are now closing but others are still having issues with expansion. Our builder has two dehumidifiers running 24/7 and the Zehnder is running as well, helping to keep the air moving. We are going to keep an eye on it and keep things running with the hope that the doors fit over the next few weeks without intervention. The doors are expected to continue to shrink over time but right now we want them to fit so we need to work to that end.


The solar install began as expected this week and we lucked out with rain which mostly happened after hours and overnight. This week’s activities were installing clips, attaching tracks to the clips and installing wiring harnesses in preparation for the installation of the panels. We suspect they will finish next week but we ran into a problem…

When we were planning the project we were working on a fixed-bid basis. This involved our builder getting hard designs and quotes from vendors who then committed to certain things like their design and materials for the project. The solar installers gave us an estimate, a plan and a detailed list of hardware that we approved. The issue comes from the fact that their main project manager and designer never came on site to finalize and verify their needs, despite being asked to do so for months. Our builder asked specifically if there were things they should install ahead of time when either pouring the slab or running conduits and ducts throughout the house but they got no response. The design was signed off on and now many months have passed.

The problem results in the fact that the installers are saying that there isn’t an adequate way to run emergency shut-off wiring to the exterior of the house for fire and emergency code purposes. They were devising a plan to punch through the exterior of the house, through the siding, running metal conduit down the walls of the breezeway and into the garage and then out of the garage to an exterior wall on the north side of the structure.

We weren’t sure what the scope of possibilities were for a solution but our builder dutifully made us the bad guy and insisted that the owners were very upset with the solution proffered by the solar installers and they had to find a way that didn’t involve running messy conduits on the meticulously clean exterior walls of the nearly-finished house. The main reason he was so insistent was because he badgered their project manager and designer (who lives in Stowe!) if they had everything they need to install and he never got back to us so now the solution to provide a clean install is on them. At this point it looks like they may have to go through the lower wall area of the mechanical room into the breezeway under the walkway and into the garage through the wall space. That would keep it hidden from view until it eventually emerges from the north wall of the garage. It will not be easy but they kind of did this to themselves and we aren’t paying for it.

We were worried that the new sofa we ordered from California was going to arrive this week so I contacted them to ask for a date of delivery. This sofa was ordered in early June because, at the time, they were running at a 12 week shipping delay. That was going to put the delivery right in the first week of September which would work out since we’d already be in the house. Fast forward to today and we won’t have a house to move into for three more weeks so it was going to be a problem, albeit a minor one. The response from the sofa manufacturer was either good news or bad news depending on who you ask since they said that the sofa isn’t even arriving to their warehouse until the third week of October. From there, it requires a full inspection and they have to remediate any issues they find and then they ship it so we’re looking at November at this point.

The library sofa which we ordered is now slated for November so the only sofa that we will have in the house will be the extra room sofa. Not ideal.

On Monday the appliances arrive at the house. The appliance supplier will install the washer and drier and the builders are fitting the dishwasher, refridgerator, stove and ductwork.

We also anticipate that our summer porch table will arrive sometime next week. We have the chairs for that in the garage but we need to buy a sisel rug so that the furniture doesn’t mess up the cedar or the new finish they put on it. The shame is that the “summer porch” is going to be “fall porch” before we can use it.

Then on the 23rd, we should get the countertops and that should start a cascade of activity. Hopefully the electrical work will be done by then. Time will tell.

Small Change

This week I realized that the weekends have become less jubilant than they once were. Not because I’m no longer working and every day is the same but because I know that there is not going to be any measurable progress on the house for a number of days as we slip further and further into the Fall season. This weekend is especially “bad” because the four day weekend means things will remain as they are for over half of a week.

The build saw some progress this week but mostly smaller changes that weren’t that noticeable unless you were watching it day-to-day.

All of the barn doors were installed and the majority of the doors are hung. None of the pocket doors are installed yet.

We have an issue with the doors that we’re trying to solve. They arrived back in the winter fully assembled and mounted on their door jambs. They were a perfect fit. Because we hadn’t even done drywall at that point, the door jambs were installed and the doors were removed, labeled and stored with padding in the garage to prevent nicks and scuffs. Fast forward to late summer after a very wet and humid spring and summer and the doors have swelled in some areas and they no longer swing easily in their jambs. Rather than start the process of thinning them down and re-morticing everything, which could take days, they are running several dehumidifiers in the house as well as commissioning the Zehnder this weekend. The thinking is that the house will never be as humid as it is now because once we are living in the house full time, the climate conditioning done by the Zehnder will keep the house at a good atmosphere and return the doors to their original shape, over time they will continue to shrink (slightly). So far at least one of the doors is swinging freely again. With the house sealed and drying this weekend, we hope the rest will be ok by Monday.


For those who don’t know, the Zehnder is an ERV which commonly stands for “Energy Recovery Ventilator”. It brings in outdoor air and exchanges it with fresh air as well as exchanges heating or cooling with the interior air. This means that the system retains more heat or cooling and saves energy. There is some debate online as to whether or not it is a valid source of humidity control but I don’t think it will make the situation worse.

The office desk was built this week. There are a few details left to do relating to finish but my wife was able to use it for meetings yesterday and the test went well. It is great having a huge workspace and we have big plans for it.


On Tuesday, when work resumes the solar install will begin. It will take two to three days. We are also on the schedule to have the second round of landscaping completed, hopefully next week as well. They will apply several loads of topsoil to the west side of the land and up to the south porch. They are going to install drip edges along the north and south sides of the house, necessary in houses with no gutters to prevent erosion. They are also going to prep a spot for the remaining north-side patio slab. Landscapers are also going to shape and finish the driveway but that can’t happen until the end of the process because of the number of trucks, trailers and vehicles on site.

The appliances are delivered on September 12 and the delivery team will hook up our washer/drier system and leave the rest for the builders to install in the kitchen.

We have a firm date of September 23 for the countertops and granite bench. That will kick off a flurry of activity with plumbers installing fixtures in the bathrooms and kitchen and the tilers installing backsplashes and finish their work in the kitchen and bathrooms.

The glass doors for the bathrooms aren’t due to be installed until October 8th so, despite the fact that we are planning on moving in on October 1st, there will still be things to do for the month of October to “finish”. They include final coats of paint, glass shower doors, clean up on the exterior, electrical work, electric heaters, HVAC commissioning and water softener install. The end is in sight but there is still so much to do.

I think its going to be a stressful two months coming up so I’ll end with a picture from the Stowe Pinnacle which is just down the road from our house.

Doors and Slats

This week was a mix of progress and frustration.

The slat railing was installed this week. They started with the balcony hand rail which ended up looking great. They welded a piece of steel which was fastened to both walls and then an ash wall piece was installed on the small wall section below the balcony area. Then they attached the slats to the supports, with the top piece being routed out to completely hide the metal support piece. The result is an immensely strong handrail that looks fantastic.

The slat wall feature was also installed. Despite the team grousing about “hidden fasteners” the end result spoke for itself with the illusion of slats emerging from the ceiling and disappearing into the bench. There is worry about the wood twisting and warping over time but it is wood and likely do that that – the real question is how long is the timeline for that warping? For an airtight house with temperature and environmental control, I am hoping that process happens very slowly, if at all.







But the damp Vermont summer has had one profoundly problematic effect which we didn’t expect. The problem was that the doors, which were once hung and fitted to exact sizes, have absorbed moisture in the garage (which is a dry garage but very humid due to this summer’s wet weather). I don’t think any of the doors fit anymore so the builder has installed a dehumidifier in the house to see if a less-humid environment fixes the issue.



We have a date of late September to get the granite countertops so we are using that as a pivotal date in the schedule. It will allow the plumbing, tiling, and many other aspects to conclude once they are installed. It triggered us to start the appliance delivery process which should arrive the week before the countertops. Unfortunately, now the glass for the bathrooms is a gating factor since they expect them to take five weeks to complete and deliver – a week AFTER the countertops are installed.

The summer porch has been mostly completed with the floors sanded and finished this past week. They are going to put one more coat on it next week and then they are going to block it off so its not ruined by work shoes or tools.

This week, the hope is that the last remaining pieces of baseboard are installed, caulked and painted. Then the electrical outlets and lights get installed and a fair number of rooms can be sealed off until move-in. That would include the extra room, H’s room, main bedroom, library and heated storage. There are some details to complete on the slats like removing the dowels that hide the screw holes and finishing them. Hopefully we see the door issues solved as well as installing the door hardware.

The office desk is underway and should complete this week. Except for a few details, the mudroom should finish this week. They can install the butcherblock countertop in the pantry because that arrived last week. We also have the ash wall that is to be installed as you enter from the breezeway.

Getting all of these things sorted out and completed will be important this week because I suspect that one or two sofas will be delivered soon including a large sectional for the main living space. We ordered it back in May expecting us to be fully in the house by the end of August so, since that isn’t happening, we’ll just have to work around it. With the pandemic getting worse, I want to get everything on site as fast as possible.

Progress This Week

This week was a big one because the hardwood ash floors and stairs were sanded and finished. They look fantastic but also will allow a lot of things to happen in sequence.

First, the builders will be able to start adding baseboards to all of the rooms upstairs. The painter is standing by to start painting and finishing those. As these complete, they will be able to install the doors and add second coats of paint to many of the walls. In most of the rooms upstairs, once that is done the electrician can add the outlets and light switches and they are complete. This would be the case for the guest bedroom, the heated storage room and the kid’s bedroom.





Downstairs, the library shelving is installed so that room is ready for drywall touchups, re-priming and a second coat. The outlets and light fixtures need to be installed and then that room will be complete as well. The mudroom is waiting for brackets and hanging pegs as well as some detail work on the plaster walls before it can be considered done but it is almost there.

The kitchen is in a state of limbo right now because we are waiting for granite countertops. We can’t install shelving because the tile sits on top of the countertops and the spacing for the shelves is dependent on finish tile backsplashes. It is going to be interesting to watch them coordinate the carpentry and tiling during that phase. Getting the counters as soon as possible is critical path to finishing the build and that is one of the big questions right now – when are they going to be cut and finished. We are in a queue and completely dependent on the countertop cutter’s schedule.

The granite is also holding up the heated bench next to the fireplace and both bathrooms so the goal this week is to get as many task list items to the point where things can charge ahead once those countertops arrive. It could be as early as two weeks from now or as late as five weeks from now.






The concrete porch on the south and west sides of the house is complete with the stress lines cut and wood having been removed. We sat on it yesterday when we ate lunch and it was great. Very quiet. The landscaping company now has to return (one to two weeks?) and spread the rest of the topsoil and put in the north and south drip edges. They are also going to move the remaining dirt piles and scattered rocks, remove a tree killed during the septic preparation, and prep the area for the slab needed for the porch area on the north near the summer porch. We expect some of the trailers and vehicles to start moving out of the front “yard” area soon to get ready for the landscaping process since we’ll also be getting the driveway done around the same time.

This week, weather permitting, they are going to sand and finish the summer porch and breezeway. The concrete guys will have to return once the landscaping is done to pour the stairs on the south and the aforementioned patio on the north.

No news yet on the solar install but hopefully that happens this month.

There is still a lot to do but I’m starting to see a path to move-in. Lots has to happen between now and then though. Wish us luck.



Busy Week at the Build

After what felt like a glacial pace last week, this week was a large leap forward. We were just stopping in briefly each day to stay out of the hair of the team members working on cabinetry and each visit showed incremental progress. The goal was to get the cabinetry installed to the point where templaters could come on Thursday to take templates for the granite countertops. Let’s look at how we did.

One squad arriving on Monday morning was the plumbers. They brought in the water heater and began hooking it up. The mechanical room is looking very stuffed and since I assume we are going to need water softening, potentially water filtration and treatment and we still need to fit in the solar inverters, internet switch and routers, I am not sure how we are going to organize it all.

The kitchen cabinets were all installed by the end of the week. Unfortunately we never got a complete look at them because the drawers were in another room during the install and by the time we arrived in the evening, everything was covered in cardboard and moving blankets for safe keeping. This is a prudent decision obviously since I noticed yesterday that, even with the cardboard corners in place, the breezeway door threshold got dinged up by something going in and out. This is par for the course but we obviously want to keep the touch-ups to a minimum.

The mudroom install was almost completed too and we are still marveling at how much room we are going to have in there for boots, coats, jackets, bags and anything we may need to go outside. We noticed this morning that the plans from the cabinet makers didn’t have the wall pegs that were on the original proposed design. They must have gotten dropped somewhere along the way. Since I’d like the pegs and mounting board to match the ash cabinets, we will have to have the cabinet makers produce the assembly.

The pantry will have a lot of room for canned and jarred food and will have a wall for hanging brooms, mops, aprons, bags etc. The south wall will have a counter that will house the coffee maker, microwave and other appliances we don’t want sitting on the main counters in the kitchen. There are going to be shelves above the countertop as well.

We decided to stain the sills in the summer porch black to match the siding and wood on the south side of the house. We were worried about the bold choice at first but after one was completed we were confident the choices was the right one. They look incredible but will also help prevent rain stains and sun-aging.

One of the big worries I highlighted in past posts was the fact that the bathroom tile was ordered incorrectly and we were short by a few boxes. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big problem – you just order the tile and move on – but the pandemic has added strange delays to things. The tile order to complete the first floor bathroom was placed back in May and was delayed many times over the last four months. We were starting to think about backup plans like picking a different tile and starting the walls all over again. It was going to be a waste of money but we were worried we would not receive the additional tile in a timeframe we could live with.

Luckily for us, the tile arrived last Friday and made it to the site on Monday. In addition to finishing the bathroom tile on the walls, the floors and walls were grouted as well. The vanities were also installed so they could measure the templates in the bathroom.

But the big news was that we had a major concrete pour completed on Tuesday. Monday, when we arrived at the site, the concrete team was there installing rebar and putting up the wood for the board-pressed concrete edges. Mid-afternoon, the concrete truck arrived and they poured about half of the porch and the lower patio on the south side of the house. On Tuesday the concrete truck showed up to deliver the rest of the porch concrete and it was finished off by the crew by the end of the day. It turns out that Monday and Tuesday were the only two days that we didn’t have any rain this week so they fit it into the only window possible. We got very very lucky. We are happy with how it turned out, including the embedded rocks in the lower patio.




On Friday, the tilers were installing the missing wall tiles and cleaning up when the wood floor finisher arrived and started sanding the second floor. We stopped by the house at the end of the day and the sanding was well-along. I suspect that will be finished on Monday and then the finisher will put on two coats of sealer.

Next week, hopefully the excavators will come back to finish the landscaping and earth moving now that the porch is poured. They were waiting for porch completion before digging the trenches for the drip edges and putting top soil on the rest of the land. They are also going to prep the area on the north for the patio and stairs as you exit the breezeway.

I believe next week will also see the team finishing up cabinetry and working on fabricating panels that will serve as a mount for the railings. We are also going to talk about desk fabrication for the office and completing the bench next to the fireplace. The electrician has been coming in the evenings to work on his part as well so lights should start appearing and the electrical panel should start filling up.

I will leave you with some art shots by my wife. The embedded rock in the south patio and the railing on the second floor.

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