Posts Tagged ‘construction’

our own TARP plan

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Rain and wind today. But will David and Joe let that stop them? Heck no. Those clever boys figured out a way to work in a bubble…

tarp from across street




















So what are they doing under there?

tarp from underneath




















Good question. They’re really too busy to tell me. The missing slider that leads out to our missing deck is probably a good clue. The living room is very cold, so if you drop by be sure to wear a coat.

monday update

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Ooh, more construction than deconstruction today! Tell us how it went, David…


Today Joe and I started putting the end of the house back to together. First we caulked the uneven joint between the concrete slab and the old plywood sheathing and applied ice and water barrier (a special super-sticky sealing tape). Joe bent up some aluminum into a J-shape which we attached to the old sheathing with a bead of caulk and nails. Then we cut pieces to fit from the 3” foam/plywood panels…


monday update




















… and slipped them down into the channel.

monday update 1




















They got attached to the existing 2” x 4” framing with 5” screws. The aluminum protects the foam and plywood from attack by water, ants and termites…

monday update 2




















We ran the aluminum up the sides of the new foam/plywood sheathing at each end of the wall…

monday update 3




















Then we taped the aluminum to the new sheathing with more ice and water barrier…

monday update 4




















Here you can see why we added 2” x 4” frames around the window and door openings…

monday update 5




















… we had to bring them out to the new face of the house, even with the new 3” foam/plywood sheathing!

Once the whole two-story wall has the foam/plywood layer applied, we’ll cover it with a vapor barrier. Then a layer of special breathable mesh goes on which allows air to dry the back of the siding and then the siding can go on. Whew.

Those two black hoses you see trailing down the wall…

monday update 6





















Those and the white PVC pipe are part of the new HVAC system which also went in today. More on that later. Man it was hectic upstairs and down…

monday update 7




















In a good way.


friday update

Friday, November 18th, 2011
So what’s the word on this chilly, windy day, David?
Yesterday Joe and I pulled off the vertical beveled tongue and groove siding. Then we pulled off the ledger board that held up the deck…
friday update 1
Behind was evidence of the old deck system that was replaced in the early ’80s. The house wasn’t very well sealed, which explains the dark spots on the wood there — that’s the beginnings of rot. Plus, the tar paper was not continuous and the detail around the big window was odd….
friday bad window detail
We pulled the window out…
friday update 2
… and then installed the new window opening on the outside of the old sheathing.
friday update 3
friday update 4
Next up? Insulating. Then the same procedure on the BIG windows and the slider in the living room. Oy vey.

what are the boys up to today?

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Started on Tuesday. Two days later, David and Joe are busy out there again. Our redwood siding is coming off. Take a look…

deck project on thursday




















More later.

undecking EOD

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Where do rotting wooden deck boards go when they die?

deck headed to the dump




















The dump, duh. Unfortunately, not much salvageable here.

prepping the bathroom floor

Monday, November 7th, 2011

David Bettridge will now catch us up on the downstairs bathroom as he preps for tile. Try to contain your excitement, okay?


The majority of the downstairs floor is insulated and ready for flooring but the bathroom is its own special case. Way back in March, I removed the old tiles from the floor…

the floor during




















More recently, I removed the last of the thinset (tile ‘glue’, a kind of flexible mortar). A wide chisel bit in my trusty Bosch Bulldog made short work of it…

bathroom floor | bosch bulldog

The Bulldog is a light-duty rotary hammer that has settings for drill+hammer, just drill or just hammer. Hammer drills on the other hand only have settings for just drill or drill + hammer. The Bulldog drills into 40-year old concrete like a hot knife through butter.

Once the slab was clean and smoothish, I layed down 1” tongue and groove high-density foam insulation…

bathroom floor | foam insulation




















It will act as a thermal and moisture break between the new tile floor and the slab (and planet earth) underneath. This will hopefully keep the bathroom floor more comfortable underfoot and keep the basement dry. And it will help the bathroom be more energy efficient as well.

I layed 1/2” cement board over the foam and screwed it down to the slab underneath, using Tapcon screws…

bathroom floor | cement board




















Due to their special threads and lubricated coating, they actually cut into the concrete when installed into a pre-drilled hole. Technology, gotta love it. I used a lot of screws so there would be no movement under the floor tile, and therefore no cracking.

Some lucky tile installer will trowel thinset onto the cement board, lay Schluter Ditra tile membrane down before troweling on more thin set, then setting and grouting the floor tiles. The membrane acts as another moisture barrier but more importantly it separates the tile from the floor which lets things move a little bit before any cracking takes place. Again, technology at work.

Schluter will also be providing all the metal bits and pieces that allow tile to be installed up against other materials like cork flooring, wood cabinets, mirror, etc. A small prep detail but an important one. Like they say, do it right the first time.

new vacation home!

Monday, October 24th, 2011

The first-grader announced that whoever wins a game of…

crazy eights card game




















… will win this fabulous vacation home he has recently constructed in California…

vacay home 1












It has a modernist sensibility, dontcha think?

vacay home 2












View of the back. (The 7-year-old architect informs me that the green and red blocks just inside the back door are the stove)…

vacay home 3












How about that sweet upper deck?

vacay home upper deck




















I am so gonna win this game! Afterwards, you’ll find me on the lounger…

vacay home lounger












In my Luke Skywalker clothes and random blue helmet. The furrowed brow? I must be waiting for my icy cold margarita.




back to the walls

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

More from David on the remodel progress…


The walls downstairs are finally up and ready for the electrician to rough-in the wiring. Unfortunately, the foundation wasn’t poured dead plumb back in the ’70s (the crew was probably one toke over the line, if you know what I mean) so the furring had to be built out…





















Seriously, take a closer look. I had to build out the blocking a full 1-1/2” in one place!





















The special tape I was supposed to use for the Branch River Plastics EPS (styrofoam insulation) didn’t stick very well. By the time I’d pressed it down for the tenth time I realized I wouldn’t have access to it once the sheetrock was up. So I caulked all the joints with the PL300 I had used to glue it to the concrete and to itself…





















That should keep the moisture in the concrete where it belongs. I know the system is working because I had to pull off a section to deal with a hole in the foundation that was leaking (well, shooting) water. So far, so good.

Want to know more about the insulation in those walls? It’s here.


walling in the beds

Friday, September 16th, 2011

So. We live on a hillside with a steep grade. When it rains or snows, the soil travels downhill. My planting beds slowly migrate into the paths, which I am constantly digging out. How to solve this dilemma? Some sort of retaining solution, der.

In some places, the drop from bed to path is well over a foot, so off-the-shelf retainment has been impossible to find — believe me, I’ve considered everything from concrete curbing to galvanized roofing materials to gabions. Large rocks just looked busy and let soil through the gaps. We finally gave in and decided we’d have to make our own. And when I say “we,” I mean our landscaping friends from Land Design Associates.

In the September Dwell (The Hidden Fortress), there’s a house that uses 4″ x 6″, Japanese-style wood pilings like so…

from september 2011 Dwell: the hidden fortress

from september 2011 Dwell: the hidden fortress


They’re staggered, wabi-sabi style. Imperfect, much like our topography…

september 2011 Dwell: the hidden fortress

september 2011 Dwell: the hidden fortress

september 2011 Dwell: the hidden fortress

september 2011 Dwell: the hidden fortress

You see that look frequently in bamboo edging…
bamboo edging |

bamboo edging |

Bamboo isn’t beefy enough to actually hold back the hillside, so we’ve decided to riff off of the hidden fortress and use wood pilings. The boys showed up yesterday with a truckload of 5″ x 5″ white cedar fence posts…
cedar fence posts

They started by digging trenches to accommodate the pilings…
trench dug

Then they cut the posts into random lengths and pounded them into place. One wall done!
one wall done

worth the wait

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

space in waiting

I mentioned the other day that not much sawdust has been made downstairs while we’ve been awaiting input from an expert. David now explains why the short delay is going to pay off…


Although our house is a simple shape on the exterior, the construction details make modifying it on the interior rather difficult. We’ve needed planning help along the way from architects, structural engineers, plumbers, electricians and now an energy expert.

So Paul Eldrenkamp, our ‘house scientist’, came by Monday morning and we got down to the nitty gritty of what goes on top of what, how do we keep energy where we want it and how do we keep water out of where we don’t. Paul is the owner of Byggmeister, a Newton, MA-based firm that specializes in designing and building sustainable, environmentally responsible homes.

Paul is what you’d call wicked smaht in our neck of the woods. He’s one of only 14 passive house consultants in the country — and the only one in New England. He brings 28 years of experience to our project, so we were lucky to find him and convince him to help us.

Paul has come up with a plan to heat and cool our house comfortably but economically — even integrating the wood stove we want. He’s figured out how to insulate the house to a reasonably high level, seal the house against air leaks and maintain healthy air quality.

As in many endeavours, doing a 95% job on insulation can result in only a 30% increase in effectiveness. A couple of loose or missing pieces of the puzzle can negate some or all of the benefits achieved elsewhere. This is also true of air-sealing a house. The details that we came up with on Monday and Paul’s continuing support will get us where we’d like to end up.

Yesterday I ordered the insulating foam board that will be the first step in putting the downstairs back together. I’ll post the details as I go.