Saturday, 18 September 2021
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)
- 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.
Saturday, 21 August 2021
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.
Saturday, 07 November 2020
After weeks of spotty weather, cold temperatures, 9” of snowfall and generally mixed conditions, the weather finally stopped its confusing swings and settled into a stretch of sunny days. And the builders are taking advantage of it with the second floor walls going up among other things.
Surrounding the house is the board-formed concrete walls that make up the exterior side of the patio. This whole process has caused a ton of delays because of broken equipment, snow, cold weather, rain, and a sick foreman. We needed that concrete wall to be formed so that we can then fill in the excavation around it. Once that wall has been buttressed by dirt and sand on both sides, the builders will have access to the entire perimeter of the house with their lift tool which they will need to lift those huge trusses into place for the roof.
Next week’s plan is to use the great weather (sunny and 60!) to finish the second floor walls, install the trusses and put the roof sheathing on. Big week, if true.
Monday, 26 October 2020
My biggest worry leaving Vermont on Sunday was that the weather or schedules would conspire to delay some key parts of the build, which would cause a cascade of schedule delays. Footers don’t get poured, so frost walls don’t get poured so they can’t stand up the south wall so they can’t put the roof on and then we’re stuck with open trenches and a foot of snow. Or we lose our spot in line to get footers poured because of an equipment breakdown with the excavation company and the lost spot in line, due to the COVID era we are living in, turns into a weeks long delay which then spirals out into weeks of delay and then its too cold to pour concrete and we’re stuck for the winter.
This is, unfortunately, how my brain works. Luckily for me, our builder is a good one. Today, first thing, he sent us a picture of a concrete truck pouring footers in the 36F rainy weather. I think, from here, we get wall structures built and filled with concrete and then our patios get poured. From there, framing should go quickly up to the roof. They also got the garage floor poured finally. I’m not sure if they got the bathroom floor done yet or not.
Speaking of “going up to the roof” the trusses were so long for the upper part of the building, they had to be shipped in two parts with the intention of being assembled onsite. I wish we could be there to see these things being put into place.
Sunday, 27 September 2020
This weekend we went up to the land to see how things were doing. We didn’t get to see the slab because it didn’t get poured on Friday as we had hoped. One of my goals for the next few visits was to get some of the vast amounts of logs cut down into firewood so it can start seasoning for next fall. I took the chainsaw, bought a maul and splitting axe at the True Value in Waterbury on the way up and got ready for some wood cutting.
Saturday was gorgeous weather and we started work pretty early. By mid-afternoon we had a fairly good-sized stack of wood and were exhausted but it was a good start. Hopefully the slab gets poured on Monday and framing can get moving.
Wednesday, 23 September 2020
Concrete Slab Soon
The builders have poured the concrete footers and frost walls and then moved on to installing the EPS foam that will serve as additional frost blocking under the slab. Conduits for the waste lines, electric and cables are run underground and positions set through the slab and yesterday and today vapor barriers and framing will take place, setting up for the concrete slab pour on Friday. This timing works out great because we are going to be in Vermont from Friday to Sunday.
Sunday, 13 September 2020
Wall Forms and Concrete
Now that the footers are completed, the next step is to pour the frost walls that run most of the way around the site. There are some parts of the foundation that use pilings to serve as a basis for a non-slab area that will consist of cedar decking. These areas are, specifically, the walkway between the garage and main house and the floor of the screened porch on the north side of the house.
The contractors spent the week putting up concrete forms and surveying to make sure everything was laid out to the right height and pin-perfect before they started pouring concrete. From the looks of it, these walls should get poured early in the week, then the forms will be stripped and they start work on the forms for the final concrete slab.
Some of the other critical work that will need to get done during this process is:
- run the water lines beneath the slab to their target locations in the kitchen and bathrooms
- run drain holes from the bathrooms into the slab that then route to the septic tie-ins
- run conduits for the electrical cables and internet cables
These all have to be run to tolerances that are very tight so the architect and the builder have been confirming all of the locations and dimensions of those critical spots this week.
We also met with the architect to go over window shop drawings, colors for door and window frames, window handles and other critical decisions. Windows currently have at least a twelve week lead time so if we want them done close to Thanksgiving, as we near the completion of the framing and sheathing process, we have to order them this week.
Monday, 07 September 2020
Septic and Concrete
I had a quick conversation with the builder today and he mentioned that the septic system is in. They are pushing to pour and strip the frost walls this week and I assume the slab pour is following soon after. We are planning another trip up in a couple of weeks to take a look at progress.
We’re looking forward to going up in “peeper” season this year. We have only ever been to Vermont in “peeper” season once and it was gorgeous but completely crowded with peepers (if you don’t know, “peepers” is short for “leaf peepers” who are tourists to go to Vermont every fall to watch the leaves change from green to a crazy rainbow of colors). Seeing our property in full fall glory will be amazing. Also now that we have trimmed the trees back, we will be able to see how visible the mountain views are after the leaves drop.
Thursday, 03 September 2020
Foam and Foundation Start
We have gotten a few pictures from our builder indicating that the concrete footer layout has started. He continues to do the foam cutting and the concrete team is onsite. I can’t wait until the concrete slabs are poured. Once that gets done, we are going to have a great springboard to things like framing, understanding the height of the floor for things like drainage, views, etc.