Archives for posts with tag: Spokane construction

The last symbol of fall.

On the way to work today it hit me like a ton of bricks. The season is changing, and changing quickly. As I drove past a grove of aspen, the road was more green and yellow than black asphalt. And while there are still vibrant colors, especially on some of the bigger trees, we’re definitely past the autumn foliage peak.

I hope she writes a more expansive post about this some other time, but last week K and I were talking about whether the house now feels like a home. This is a question we often get from friends and family. K’s thought–and I quite like this–is yes it’s feeling like home, but you don’t really know a house until you’ve lived with it through the seasons.

We’re heading into the tail end of our first season together in Spokane’s Palisades. And it’s indeed feeling like we have a home.

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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.

As framing continues, sometimes it’s hard for me to keep our focus on the current work. Don’t get me wrong. The boys are doing an unbelievable job framing. It’s just that as soon as we get through one thing, I get even more excited about the next. Plus, the rooms are all nicely defined now, which leads to discussions about fun stuff like final finish details, and we’re looking forward to jumping out of our skin about the promise of next week’s metal roof installation.

I popped by the site yesterday, once again resplendent in inappropriate/non-construction clothes. I was greeted by the sound of progress–the pop-pop of pnuematic nailers–as I carefully navigated the uneven ground like a peacock on an ice-skating rink in my fancy shoes.

Jesse and Scott have been working through the kitchen and dining room framing, installing the final blocking and “pony” walls. Not only do things look great, they also look incredibly fun. Our storage soffits, for the moment anyway, look like the longest set of playground monkeybars I’ve ever seen. My dad said something to the effect of, “Wow, it looks like something they’d use to train Marines.”

In any case, it’s all very cool and exciting. And suddenly, it’s much easier to envision the dance of drywall, plywood, and light that we’ve been working towards for so many months.

The last few days have seen some pretty extreme weather. Sunny skies. No wait, hail. No wait, sun. Look, a blizzard! So when I came to visit yesterday within about 15 minutes we had a good half-inch of snow on the roof. Until it all melted 10 minutes later. So here’s the deal. A 5,000 s.f. roof with a bunch of snow, which suddenly melts.

This is a less-than-perfect video, but Scott and I went running out to the entry court to quite a site. We of course don’t have our gutters installed yet, so had the chance to witness a pretty stunning waterfall/water feature. And yes, we’re thinking about how to create some kind of cool aqueduct thing to make this a regular occurence. Maybe.

We took a small break from cabinet-making today. Well, we did build one cabinet box early in the morning, but spent most of the day working with Jesse installing house wrap. OK, not the most exciting thing to do, but we’re one step closer to installing windows, which should start tomorrow.

It was absolutely beautiful today too. We lucked out. No rain, no wind, no worries. And mundane task aside, it was actually pretty fun. Plus, three sets of hands helped things go quickly.

I forgot my semi-good camera today, but here are a few snaps to check out. The good people at R-Control will be quite happy. The house is now a giant R-Contol billboard.

More to come.

Hey Matt: nice composition!

Driving into the site this morning I wasn’t sure I’d be able to see the house. No I’m not going blind, but we had a pretty thick blanket of fog covering the site.

On the news yesterday the weather-predictor-people predicted freezing fog for this morning. Our six-year-old daughter was very worried about this. “Oh no! How will we be able to drive through a frozen block of fog?” Funny.

I had the chance to meet with Greg Rehn, from HydroSci, this morning to talk about a couple of things related to the radiant heat system he’s beginning to install. While I was there, I also got to see Alexi’s crew lifting the last couple of roof panels into place. Trust me when I write that everyone is happy to reach this milestone.

The past few nights Matt Melcher and I have been out on site, sometimes by chance, together. From a pure entertainment perspective we’ve both  been anxious to see the final panels get installed over what will be the southside courtyard. Well, we’re there now.

Time to get excited about something else! Here are a handful of cellphone shots from a foggy morning.

A short post after a long day. Also a productive day.

After relative quiet on site–over the weekend it was just me and Jesse, with Matt coming out a few times as well–we had a hive of activity today. Jesse kept cranking away on the brackets, while Alexi and his crew got started on the roof.

The SIPs panels arrived on two semis first thing in the morning. From there half the crew did some final prep (I even got in on the action again, using a router to detail the beams) while the other guys organized 45 panels into the right order. At up to 700 pounds each, this is no small trick.

We rented a big crane for the day to get panels into the most difficult corner of the house. Good call. And while the crew hoped to get a few more panels installed, we covered our daughter’s room, the guest room, bathroom and a bit more.

Starting a SIPs roof is a bit like starting a tile job. The first few pieces take longer. Why? Well the first panels set the geometry and rhythm for the rest of the project. If you’re off a bit on the first few, you’ll be off a lot by the last few.

Tomorrow should see big progress. I’ll be back at work, but it should be fun to swing by afterwards. The crew expects to have most of the house covered by the end of the day.

Yes, it was 70 degrees and sunny in California yesterday. So the 9″ of snow forecast for tonight will be a bit of a shock. Hopefully we’ll get over this though.

I couldn’t help but run by Smitty’s shop to see the brackets that are being assembled this week. Thankfully he works in the Bat Cave, just a couple of blocks from my office. And of course I ran up to the site to check on the walls, which look unbelievable. Arkada and Alexi pulled off a couple of pieces of cedar to find the hidden letters in the concrete. Pretty cool, and it was fun to watch Alexi’s face, who had no idea the letters were there.

Overall, I love how the forming turned out. The concrete is still pretty “green” and needs to cure, but the look is just what I hoped for.

P.S. You have no idea how difficult it was for me to resist titling this post, “My nuts are bigger than yours.” I guess I’m becoming more mature.

After a solid month spent working on concrete forms, Wednesday morning the big concrete walls will be poured. Sadly we won’t be here for this, or the work on Thursday when the crew strips off forms to reveal the board formed concrete. Happily, we’ll be in California where it promises to be quite a bit warmer than the winter wonderland we have in Spokane. Two sides of a coin, I guess.

Over the weekend I also spent a bit of time installing a set of plywood letters to act as a kind of cornerstone within the long entry wall. If all goes well the letters will leave a clean impression in the concrete. Installation was a bit of a trick. Trying to manuever the letters, a four-foot level, a nailgun and pencil in between a grid of rebar was awkward at best. I think it will turn out well though.

I spent a couple of hours on site yesterday with the crew, talking about a few details and tending to important work, like picking up pizza to eat while the snow dumped on us.

Arkada and Jacob finishing up the final work, on the final wall. Nice.

When I’m not working, raising a family or helping to build a house, I spend time riding my bike–something I’ve been immersed in since I was 13. Bit of a non-sequiter, I know, but there’s in fact a link. On nasty, cold, windy, wet days on a bike, you create a  unique bond with your training partners. Difficult conditions enhance camaraderie. I think the same can be said for the guys on site. You could see that yesterday and over the past month or so. They’ve worked hard during a hard time of the year to work. I hope they’re as proud of their work as I am.

OK, on a totally different note, yesterday Contemporist featured the house below. I forwarded a link to Matt Melcher under the subject line, “second cousins.” There’s a definite common thread between this house and ours. It’s a different project, look, and likely budget, but fun to check out the similarity in floor plans and some of the details. (A long narrow house, big roof overhangs, similar window details, big glulams, etc.)

I’ve pasted a few images below (all via Contemporist). You can find the full set here. Kudos to Scott Edwards Architecture on a gem of a project.

The roof pitch may be a bit steeper than ours, but there's a strong family resemblance.

Circulation around the outside of the house. Love this.

Deep overhangs. Lots of glass. Fantastic.

 

Check the title. This was K’s first statement when she arrived on site today. In fact it was the first time she had been by to visit since the boys starting putting up panels. A busy week at work, combined with entertaining our daughter, L, combined with the darkest time of the year meant she hadn’t had a chance to check things out.

As usual, K is right. It DOES feel “housey.”

Things look unbelieveable. Really. I mean it. I can’t believe how well everything is coming together. The crew is doing a phenomenal job. The framers are flying, Matt has been out a few times a day to offer suggestions and check on things, Misha is cranking away on the retaining walls, and we now have a septic field.

And the SIPs panels have been perfect. Yes, assembly is slower because of the conditions, but every cut, every beam pocket and every connection has gone as hoped.

To say things are slower though is relative. We started putting up panels in earnest on Tuesday. By Friday afternoon the wall panels were complete, and 6 beams had been placed. So we now have walls, including the framing, insulation, wiring chases and interior/exterior sheathing. Nice, and pretty impressive.

All in all, it’s been a week of big progress.

Again, I can’t believe how amazing things look. It’s so beautiful, the scale of the house is incredible, and for the first time, we can truly see and feel the relationship between the land, the house and the retaining walls.

I’ll post better pictures this weekend, but in the mean time, here are a few to at least get you up to speed.

Enjoy.

Here’s today’s math question: what does 2 cement trucks plus 1 giant pumper truck equal? If you guessed 40, you’d be correct!

Yes, another day, another 40 yards of concrete. I’m nursing a nasty little cold, but couldn’t resist running by the site to hang out in 39 degree weather to say hello and check in with Misha and friends.

Lots of work today, and I couldn’t help but think of our contrasting work environments. You know those days when it’s 2 degrees cooler than normal in the conference room, and everyone complains and keeps taking breaks to get more tea or coffee? No more complaining. Like I mentioned, it was still very cold at mid-day, and Misha was covered in concrete splatter all day long. Very. Hard. Work.

One other thing. There’s something amazing to me about watching highly skilled people work. I have a picture of this below, but watching Misha detail the edge of the round sonotube was inspiring. It was a series of quick movements that looked so very simple. Yet were to try it yourself it would become quickly apparaent how much skill it requires. This kind of thing–mastery through repetition–is true for most things in life, but it’s still a wonder to observe.