Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Insulation, 3-way lights and busted water lines

The water line that broke was on the insulation guys pump, not ours. No tragedy for us except the lost time. They did get the walls done in the boys room, the kids bath and part of our room. Here is a picture to show you the NuWool insulation in the dormer walls.

Apparently it's the same cellulose that gets blown into the ceiling for your attic, but NuWool adds a glue and borate solution to discourage pests and add fire retardence. Here is a picture of the entire wall in the boy's room.

And here is a good tip; the NuWool is blown in with the velocity of a good softball pitch and it fills all voids it hits. It's also not the most specific in where it aims, so cover over your outlets and anything you don't want filled. We used cling wrap from Glad that really sticks well to itself and the plastic boxes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


It's in the high 80s today, and the poor guys from Robinson Insulation had to install the NuWool in the heat. They started this morning with the blow-in loose cellulose in the attic and boy did it make a mess!

Take a look.

Then they did the leaning walls/roof that the lower slope of the gambrel roof makes. Linnea and the older son installed the upper portion of the drywall after they filled the lower part. We left the top sheet off to allow them access to fill the voids, but it wasn't needed. It has enough velocity that it blows everywhere and as a result the house now looks like this upstairs:

Tomorrow they will be back at it, doing the gable walls upstairs and exterior and fire-blocking walls downstairs. I am kinda glad that I am back at work for most of this week.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Take a Sunday off, mostly

Since we went to church today and I wore my dress uniform (Go Air Force--leaving the bombing to us), we went back to the apartment before heading out for the rest of the day. Linnea and I went to Lowes to pick up our water heater and then dropped it off at the house, before going off to a great friends daughter's graduation party. When I grew up out if California that was saved for college, but here in Ohio it seems to be a big thing as we got invited to a couple and everyone seemed to have one. It's not like they won't go on to college, but celebrations are big here. Anyway, after hanging with the Bourkes we went over to the house (about 65 second drive) and I connected the well pressure tank into the PEX manifold while Linnea worked on more tape and mud. We will prepare for the insulation crew tomorrow (run coaxial and CAT 5 cable, finish stubing out the PEX to copper fittings, etc) and have a BBQ at the house tomorrow afternoon to celebrate Memorial Day. Back to work on Tuesday for me and back to the house in the evening.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Drywall, day three

Here are a couple of quick photos from yesterday's work. The kids started on taping and mudding the sheets; Linnea has said a million times that doing drywall mud is like frosting a cake.

Since she can teach just about anything, she taught our kids how to do it, and they did a pretty good job. Our daughter did the best, and most, while oldest son was continually abused by me as brute force labor and as my sheet hoist.

Here is the view from our bedroom down the hall. Bathroom on the right.

This is the reading nook at the top of the stairs. When the house was framed up to the second deck, but before any walls were up we sat up there and said how nice it was to have a destination most of the way up the stairs, looking out the window. It became a little nook (and yet another place for odd sized drywall pieces) when our daughter and her cat sat there and looked out the window.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Drywall, day two

Since I took leave from work along with the long Memorial Day weekend, we really hope to get ready for the insulation crew to come in on Tuesday. We finished almost all of the ceiling upstairs today--we need to put up the water resistant board in the showers. After that, we started on the ground floor ceiling in the kitchen, as the wall between the kitchen and laundry/bath will be insulated with the blow-in cellulose NuWool. Our friend Jim came by after lunch to help out--even after he went to the dentist. Now that is real friendship. He helped out hugely, as he used to be a contractor and work in construction. I learned several good tips today from him that will help out with the rest.

Here are a couple of pictures, especially of the skylight over the stairs. It looks even better than I hoped. It will remain open on the sides for the insulation crew, to allow them to pass their hoses through it.

Last, here is a picture of the upstairs that our son took; you can see the ceiling board across the rooms and a little of the walls up already.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Passed the rough inspection

Well, we passed the rough inspection! Troy was happy with just about everything, but we will have to add a receptacle above the second sink in the master bath. That and a few little nit-noids and we were done. Yeah!

On Tuesday the 25,000 pounds of drywall showed up--okay, but it seems like that much. Tony the building supply guy did a more detailed take-off to get a better idea of how much we needed, and with all the supplies it added about $1,300 to that budget category. Good thing we don't need any money. So, we took the rest of the week off and started putting up ceiling board. That's 1/2" gypsum drywall with fibers in it to resist sagging. The crew from Building Specialties boomed the load into each floor and carted it around to each room. Boy is that convenient, but boy is it in the way of putting it up.

As a bonus, here are the pictures of the two upstairs shower floors Linnea is putting together. The tile is in ours, it's bargain tiles from Lowes. The river rock is for the kid's shower and it's an artistic experiment that Linnea and our daughter are doing. They are going to set the rocks in the concrete with their flat side up to give a smooth floor, yet show off the rocks. I think it will be cool.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Tomorrow we are going to call Troy the Inspector (Inspector Troy?--sounds like a mystery) and schedule our Rough Inspection. It has only taken, umm, way too many months to get this far. Once upon a time we planned, on paper even, to be in Thistle House for Christmas. Anyway, we are over budget and past due for this inspection. I finished the last electrical circuits today with the three-way light switches. I hope I wired those right. It makes sense on paper, or actually on a 2x4, but I have NEVER done one before. Anyway, we need to get to bed so we can call the inspector bright and early.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rest of the story

Here are the missing photos from the last post about the shower.
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Shower pan's going in...

Here's a quick photo series on how Linnea put in the shower pans. We have to get the PVC liner inspected before she can put in the next layer of cement. Speaking of inspections, we are one day from the rest of the Rough Inspection. Travis the electrician came over and helped me finish off the panel, so when I run the well power, septic pump and water heater we will be ready. Tomorrow we will have an early day at the house as daughter is going to the Arthritis Walk fundraiser early in the morning. So we should be able to finish off the rest of the punch list for the inspection.

More on the shower pans. The asphalt paper isn't shown, but it's stapled down to the subfloor, then the concrete is floated in to establish a basic slope to the drain. The drain is a special type that has perforations that let any water that goes under the tile and mortar, but slides on the PVC liner.

Linnea is so pleased to be sitting in her lined shower, just look at the smile! This is the PVC liner on top of the concrete. Linnea got a set of plastic slope guides that install in the shower pan and establish the slope to the drain. I will get a picture of that tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Passed plumbing, onto framing/electric/HVAC

Barry the plumbing inspector for Miami county was pleased with our setup and gave us the coveted 'Green Tag'. The waste/vent PVC only needed to hold 5 pounds of pressure for fifteen minutes, but we have had it hold overnight almost completely (it leaks around the pressure gauge). The PEX has been holding tight since Saturday. I just realized last night that we can connect the well pressure tank to the cold water side as soon as we have power--even though the other lines will be off, we can have the outside spigots working as soon as we pass the next inspection. Our county requires a pass on the plumbing before the rough framing/electric/HVAC inspection. I am going to call Travis the electrician to help out with finishing it up--especially getting the power to the HVAC. We are nearly there!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Kinda photo progression

Here is a quick series of pics from this weekend's PEX work. It is holding tight with 30 pounds of pressurized air, the only problems were with the fittings to regular plumbing. I also had the brass cap assembled backwards for closing the hot side. Once we fixed that and tightened the shower diverters, it was good.
This is the start of the hot (red) side. There are 10 hot lines in Thistle House.
This is the first two lines on the hot. I put an elbow in each line to get a nice straight run at the valves on the manifold. It cost about $20, but it's worth it for a clean installation and leak free, worry free assembly.
This is the hot finished, starting on the cold lines. There are 16 of those. I punted on line 16, which goes to the refridgerator. I will 'tee' it in to the washer line as they are in the same stud bay.
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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Cut the red wire! The red wire!

This is the manifold for our PEX plumbing. It's a distribution panel for plumbing, the same as an electric panel distributes electricity across your house. Since there is one side for hot and the other for cold, and each shutoff valve feeds a single line going to a single device (like a toilet or sink), the delivery time of hot or cold water should be instantaneous. It's also like wrestling with a snake, but not an angry anaconda.

We started the manifold connections tonight and as usual, it took longer than planned. So far, I have bought the $180 Zurn multi-size crimper, tubing cutter, a 100+ clips to attach the tubing to the joists, 100 crimp rings and about 20 right angle elbows. I now need to line up solid boards to the left and right of the manifold to clamp the lines to. The PEX has to meet the valve at nearly a perfect straight line to keep pressure off of the valve--which could cause the valve to leak or the line to leak.

Tomorrow is another 'vacation' day at the house, and in the afternoon Travis the electrician will be by to help finish the electrical panel. Should be nearly done with it and ready for the rough plumbing test this week. I will call the inspector for a visual on the rough before we pressure test it.