Archives for the month of: May, 2011

We reached a new milestone recently. Today, I refer not to windows or framing or electrical work. While we’ve reached milestones with all of those lately, what I’m referencing is you, fair reader.

Yes, we’ve now had a whopping 15,000 visitors to our fair blog. OK, so we’re not exactly at the top of most advertisers’ hit list, and we don’t have manufacturers offering us free products (but please, feel free!). Still, that’s a lot of people.

To commemorate this special day I did a quick scan of the search terms that bring people to our blog.

Surprisingly, by far the most common search term is some version of “board form concrete.” Or “board formed concrete.” Or “formed concrete with boards.” You get the idea … Who knew my excruciating posts about our retaining walls would be so popular?

A close second is an obvious one. “Meadow House.” Glad you could find us.

Scanning through other search terms made for some interesting reading. Here are some of my favorites, along with some requisite commentary, in no particular order.

“true to myself”: Not sure what to say about this. Just remember what you learned in kindergarten or something.

“love making chair with hole in the middle made by ikea”: Um, I was just at Ikea, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t see anything marketed as a “love making chair.” The more I think about this search term the more disturbed I become. Now if you care to get romantic with a chair, or on a chair, I’m sure Ikea has a number of items that are appropriate for your Scandinavian tendencies.

“gatto cucine”: In Italian this translates to “cat kitchen.” I hope this person wasn’t looking for a recipe.

“very narrow house”: Hey, this one makes sense! We have one of these!

“16 feet wide floor plans”: See above

“nike child labor 2011”: Not so sure what to say about this other than to request Nike send any labor of any kind our way. We’re over budget and can use the help.

“smaller house with big windows”: Why yes, we do have a smaller house with big windows.

“what is a grade beam”: Do you want the technical answer or the practical one? Practical? OK. A grade beam is a giant money magnet that prevents you from buying cool things like fancy appliances or plumbing fixtures. If you want the technical answer read this post.

matt melcher golf”: The rumor is that Matt is a fantastic golfer. But sorry, he’s not allowed to play golf. He’s too busy taking calls from me.

“how to install exterior v.g fir window”: If you haven’t done this before, it’s more involved than you’d think. Unless you want your windows to leak. Then it’s easy. Drop Jesse Oviatt a line. He can help you. (email him: oviattconstruction at live dot com)

Thanks for reading and commenting and visiting. It’s been fun to share our stories.

Jesse and Scott finished something I find satisfying. Last week, they installed our final windows. These were ordered after the others for a number of reasons, but holy smokes they’re hot. We had become used to the idea of a dark bedroom. Well, four sets of 10′ tall windows changes that in a hurry.

Some other time we’ll have the set of metal caps, powder-coated the same orange color, installed. Sounds like this is an easy job, but there’s no rush.

In other news, the electrical work is moving along nicely. Can lights are installed, outlets are being wired, and Mike from Alpha Electric should wrap up his work by Wednesday. Very cool, and I will absolutely NOT miss stretching out 150′ of 12 gauge extension cord all over the place.

We also had a fun meeting with Matt Melcher this weekend to discuss some thoughts on drywall and trim details. You need to know that we’ve given a huge amount of thought to the myriad of ways to trim our windows, ranging from no trim–just a simple drywall “reveal”–to, well, I won’t go into all of the options now. To do this would make for an excruciating post that you wouldn’t read. But please, send us thoughts of support as we wade through the bog of indecisiveness.

Anyway…so we’re talking about trim and Matt gets into the zone. He gets more than a little excited about a detail involving lengths of simple 2″ vertical grain fir, butt jointed around one of the windows. Now, in case you’re not a cabinet dork (like me!) a butt joint is made when two pieces of wood “butt” against one another at a 90 degree angle.

But this was awesome. In his excitement and increasingly fast speech Matt exclaims, “I love a nice clean butt.”

I let it go. K let it go. Every now and then we pretend to be mature. Of course Matt left and we lost it.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t share a story like this, but I know Matt rarely reads this blog. Wait a minute…

Enjoy the pictures. I wish they did a better job capturing the bedroom corner. I’ll need to work on my iPhoneography.

And best wishes to Scott McSpadden, carpenter-extraordinaire, who is off to Alaska for 10 days of framing work in horrific conditions. Buona fortuna.

Don’t misunderstand me. I love the construction process. I enjoy talking about framing: king stud (that’s me!), ledgers, shims and a strong 3/8″  here or there. I welcome discussions about the finer points of board formed concrete. And if you’d like to talk pex vs. copper I’m your person.

But let’s face it, this stuff pales in comparison to the fun that most ordinary humans envision when you tell them you’re building a house. Stainless steel appliances, cool fixtures, Scandinavian furniture and of course a booming sound system. Alas, when you’re building a house there’s often little money left over for this elusive fun stuff. Instead it’s been spent on pex, ledger boards and pea gravel.

Today though, I can at least talk about a few of the cool things we’re doing with lighting.

First, as I’ve written about ad nauseum we have long hallways that will be illuminated by a series of pendant lights. We wanted something a bit raw and unrefined to contrast with much more finished feel that we’ll get from fir paneling and smooth drywall. So after much discussion K and I settled on a series of bare bulbs hung from cloth cords. But as every first-year architect student will tell you, “less is more.” In this case, more means a stripped down fixture can be freaking expensive. Or really cheesy.

Cost is also a definite driver. Something that’s bat-poop cool, but less expensive than you can buy at Ikea? No problem!

One evening a year or two ago we stumbled upon a photo/location site in the UK, the name of which alludes me now. I saved this image though that planted a seed for where we’re now headed.

Behold, the Nud pendant in lime green. We dig these, and at less than $40 each we dig them even more. The only downside? We had to order them from Sweden. That’s OK though, because they arrived four days after we placed the order. Nice. By the way, if you’re reading this at work and want to Google the company’s site rather than click on the link above, I strongly recommend against searching for “Nud Sweden.” Just saying.

If you like this look but don’t feel like you need a celedon/lime green cord to complete yourself as a person, these are more easily sourced from BoConcept. For some reason the lights aren’t on their web site, but give them a call. They have them.

Note the exposed bulb. Very cool, but because there’s no shade the shape and light quality become crucial. Here are a handful of the myriad options we’ve considered.

Halogen PAR bulb: Fantastic light, dimmable and beautiful in its own utilitarian way. You can also get these with a lumen output, or the amount of light the bulb pumps out, high enough to light up a soccer stadium. Not so great on the energy efficiency side of the checklist though. On the other hand, the bulb itself is inexpensive. Say, $8 or so.

Edison: Kickin’ it old skool, yo. Seriously though, there’s a lot to like. From the shape to the visible filament to the light quality, we like these. And we can get them with a silver coating to adjust how they illuminate the hallway. Also very cool. What’s not so cool? Energy inefficiency. Again.

LED: Kind of like the halogen. Crisp, white light, dimmable and cool looking in a futuristic kind of way. Downside is price. The light bulb is more expensive than the fixture. And yeah, yeah I know, it’ll pay for itself because it will last a gillion years and requires a modicum of the power a halogen draws. But it’s still a $50 light bulb.

VU1: I only just heard of this technology, which is actually dated TV tech applied to a light bulb. Great idea though! Not a good candidate for the hanging lamps, but I’m thinking of ordering a few to test out on our can lights. At $20 each they’re priced well, too.

Plumen: Oh, how we do love thee. Plumen, you bestill our hearts. Finally, a cool looking CFL. The only downsides are price ($30 each) and the fact we can’t dim them. Oh, and at 680 lumen output I’m not 100% sure they’ll kick off enough light. Then again, they might. These just became available this week in the US of A. I went ahead and ordered two to check them out. We have lots of options for where we can use them…

More to come on the lighting front. But to foreshadow, here’s our knock-it-out-of-the-park, budget buster, tres cool, can’t wait to install it dining room light.

A new addition to the wetland.

Before getting to less interesting things, above is a Mother’s Day picture for everyone. We have a seasonal pond at the top of our property that is a temporary home to two Canada Geese. Scratch that, it’s now three geese. A gosling emerged a few days ago. While this has nothing to do with construction, it has a lot to do with the house. It’s going to be pretty amazing to live there.

A lot continues to happen out on our little site. For one, our giant roof and fascia is now clad in zincalume. It’s an amazing thing. We went from a great looking plane of a roof, but sans metal, to something much more extraordinary.

You’ll see this in the pictures, but because of how our house sits on the land you see the roof quite a bit–on the approach as well as anytime you’re walking around the back of the property. Standing on the uphill side of the house is kind of crazy. The roof is just two feet (or so) off the ground, so you end up looking up what seems like a humongous runway. It’s kind of trippy.

Standing above the site, from the driveway, K loves the overall shape. It seems like a series of giant puzzle pieces. It’s really quite elegant.

The crew from BJ Roofing have a couple of more days of work. There are still a handful of flashings to install as well as caps for the corners of the fascia. And our plumber will start his vent work tomorrow, so unfortunately we’ll have four vent pipes sticking out of our pretty roof. But that’s OK, it’s better than the alternative, which is a house that smells like, well the kind of things that get deposited in the toilet.

I don’t have many recent pictures of the inside of the house. In fact it’s hard to capture how amazing the framing looks. And by the way, we’re essentially done framing. Did you catch that? Yes, we’re done framing. a HUGE milestone.

So electrical and plumbing start this week, and we should be drywalling within a couple of weeks. Nice.