Archives for the month of: June, 2011

If you’ve ever wondered why we call it “Meadow House,” here are 15 reasons.


Matt came up with it. Jesse and I started it. I continued it. And Jesse will finish it.

What, you may ask, am I talking about? The drip cap that runs around our house. When Matt finalized the window design, he did it in a way that made the top of every window at the same level, and the bottom of every window that sits above the ground also in line.

This design element allowed an opportunity to create a deep drip edge below each window. Here’s my take on what this allows.

First, it creates a window sill, which is super functional, keeping water that might hit the windows away from the siding. And given our windy meadow, water on the windows is a reality.

Second, it adds a beefy horizontal band to an already very horizontal house. Not only does this break up the siding, but it plays to an already strong design theme. In a lot of ways our house is all about the horizontal. The site is wide. The meadow is wide. The hillside behind us is wide.

Finally, it’s a nod to other architectural styles we like. It’s a very Japanese and Craftsman detail. I really love how Matt has pulled in traditional details in a modern way. We have this in a number of other places throughout the house too. Some other time I’ll take a few pictures of these, but realistically need to wait until the finish work is underway.

Installed trim! That's the color the house will be painted too.

As hanging drywall comes to a close the house looks more and more habitable. Well, habitable if you love the smell of gypsum dust. Our dog certainly does. She loves the way it smells and tastes in fact. I think drywall has a bunch of salt in it, so Sacha goes around the house licking the floors which also makes her thirsty. So she drinks water then licks more dust.

As a result, we gave her a new nickname this weekend. Cokehead. Why? Well her nose was coated in white powder and she was frantically running around the house looking for new piles of the powdery white stuff.

I’ve posted a few new pictures below, but they don’t really do the place justice. Taping and mudding start tomorrow. Soon enough we’ll have smooth primed walls ready for us to start finish work in earnest.

I love getting to know the different styles and personalities of the subcontractors working on site. Every now and then I also hear something so funny I almost wet myself. The drywall hangers were rocking out, listening to some relaxing heavy metal blasting loud enough that they could hear it over the scream of their routers and drills.

Jesse and I were talking in the garage, where we could hear, when all of the sudden I hear one of the guys talking/yelling. Here’s the quote: “man, if I quit drinking and lost my gut I’d look like an Ethiopian!”

At the time it seemed especially funny.

On other fronts we’ve also started exterior trim ahead of the siding going up. Jesse and I are collaborating on this part of the project, with K helping out too.

This weekend I got into some compound miter action at the master bedroom. This is always tricky work, but turned out nicely. The integral window sill/drip cap angles down and at the corner also needs a 45 degree miter.

I really love the way it looks. A nice mellow trapezoid shape. Sort of.

Looking through the kitchen towards the living room.

There are a few things of interest to me today.

Let’s get to the big thing first. After waiting and planning and rescheduling and tinkering and blocking and venting and inspecting and taping, it finally happened.

Yes, today we started work on drywall. And when I say “we,” I really mean others. (Cue applause.) It’s an exciting day in the Palisades above Spokane. Yes, today marks the moment that our future house shifts from being coated in sawdust, to being coated in gypsum dust.

It’s early days–the crew only started at about 11 today–but already there’s progress and our living room and kitchen are suddenly bright. Really, it’s like someone suddenly turned on the lights.

By the weekend we’ll have a fundamentally different looking house.

Next up for milestones, Jesse installed the front door today. Not only is it a great door, but we’re now completely closed in. That seems significant to me.

Finally, if you’re a loyal reader you might remember the cute gosling from Mother’s Day. Well yesterday–yes, Father’s Day–I took a new picture. Little guy is growing up. Very cool stuff to see, and a crack up to watch because it’s gangly and awkward. Just like any good teenager.

I didn’t have the heart to take his picture, but I wanted to.

I spent the day yesterday not in my office where I can work to make money, but out on site where I can work to not pay other people money. Our drywall begins Wednesday afternoon and I’m behind on a couple of things I promised to take care of, and to help Jesse, hence my day away from the office.

It was a hot, humid (by Spokane standards) and long day. Towards the end of the day Jesse came over to answer yet another remedial question I had about running bathroom vent lines and he looked, well, like an older and stronger version of one of those kids from the coal mines in the 1920s. He was sweating, covered in black dust from the chalk lines he was snapping on the ceiling, and looking like he was in dire need of a cool veranda and glass of iced tea. Working with me does that to a person.

Jesse is second from the left.

So, back to drywall. I’ll post pictures later this week, but for the first time, well ever, the house is completely clear of sawdust, tools, scrap wood and brooms. It’s at the “lovely bones” stage. No, not the good book or horrible movie, but the beautiful skeleton stage. Everything is in place. Rooms are defined. Light streams in. And we can’t wait for what comes next.

Before signing off, here are a few final thoughts. I realize that the thoughts below are far less interesting than say design discussions or whatever, but when you’re building a house you learn all kinds of stuff:

  • If you believe in the caste system, and I make poor ethical choices in the coming years, I’ll likely live my next life as an insulation contractor. I know, I know, we have a SIP house and there’s barely any insulating to do. But still, it’s one of the least pleasant jobs on site. Even with a mask and long-sleeved everything, that nasty stuff is miserable.

Sudras. That's me!

  • Don’t forget to wear your gloves. I realize I sound like your mother. But seriously, I took them off for two minutes and in that time managed to accidentally trigger the drill I was holding while changing the four inch hole saw attachment. Result? A super-fun infection, a big band aid and tube of anti-biotic cream. By the way, here are my new favorite work gloves. Leather palms that are barely padded, low cut so they don’t irritate my wrists, and wear like iron–especially when handling stuff like plywood.

My latest gloves are similar to this, sans the goofy plastic Star Wars stormtrooper plastic stuff.Great cable, and yes we will repurpose those spools for something cool!

  • On HVAC. If insulating is my least favorite job, running vent lines comes next. I know that I’ll appreciate how silent our bathroom fans are now that they’re linked to their difficult to install rigid vent lines, but the flexible stuff would have made life much easier.

Rigid vent line. Difficult, persnickity, but oh-so-quiet.

  • If you ever need spray foam for insulating around outlets and windows, I highly recommend DAP over Great Stuff. GS gets everywhere and is near-impossible to clean. DAP? The opposite. The only downside is it’s modestly more expensive. Totally worth it, especially when you’re spraying it next to clear vertical grain fir windows.

You know you're a geek when you get excited about this stuff.

  • A quick shout out to the good people from our local electronic¬†store¬†at Huppin’s / OneCall. Great customer service is so refreshing. I called looking for speaker cable. They didn’t have what I needed, but had an installation truck stop by and deliver more than enough to get the job done. It almost made up for my experience with that television company that uses ugly gray dishes to capture and deliver satellite images.