Thursday, April 30, 2015

We Have A Roof!

It's been a long time coming. Our tar paper was flapping in the wind!

Our siding guys finished enough for the roofer to come. I had let him know we'd be ready this week, but he had a couple commitments. Monday night I get a text from him asking if material was delivered and he'd have a crew there in the morning. I had originally told him I would get the material on site Monday afternoon, but weather was predicted to be rainy Tuesday and Wednesday, so I rescheduled delivery to Thursday.

Tuesday morning, I scrambled to get a shingle delivery that same day. The roofing crew went to do another job first and by lunch time, the shingles were delivered and the crew started.

In half a day, they almost finished. It started to rain so they packed up.

They came back Wednesday and finished the front part of the garage.

I am just amazed! We have a roof!

roof shingles

The shingle color was not my first choice. I really wanted GAF - Timberline American Harvest in Cedar Falls. It was beautiful. But the company couldn't give us production dates and there wasn't enough in inventory to cover my roof. So, I went with a shingle they had in stock that could be delivered same day. It's GAF - Timberline High Definition in Weathered Wood.

I like it. It does have a greyish-brown coloring to it.

And if you notice, we got our stairwell window installed on Tuesday!!

It does just what I thought it would to the inside loft area.

We still have metal roofing to install on the porch areas and birdboxes. I have been having a hard time having contractors call me back.

Our builder did want us to wait until we got the painter started at least before installing the shingles, but I was tired of putting off the roofer when he was eager and available. I'm so glad I went ahead with it.

I definitely recommend my roofer. He beat everyone's price and was so thorough with great customer service. Local friends, if you need a roofer, let me know and I'll give you his information. I HIGHLY recommend him and his team!

Next up... the painters have started caulking the siding and we'll have paint soon!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Siding Installed

Our new house has quite a bit of siding. When coming up with the exterior design, I copied a house I saw in the Atlanta area. I wanted to match every last detail of the house. It was beautiful house. I even contacted the designer to ask the color of the brick and stone mix. It was the only combination Mr. JCrew and I could agree on.

Our inspiration

The siding is what is adding the character to our home. It has taken the siding crew two weeks to complete. And technically, they are not officially done, but they are done enough that they are no longer on the critical path.

We started off on the bad foot. Our framer was suppose to install our siding. But two days before he was complete with our framing, he let us know that he had too many jobs waiting in the wings to get started and the rain delays had hurt him. He needed to move on to the other projects. I understood, but at the same time, wished he would have just knocked it out while we had him.

We "wasted" a week finding a replacement, and then when we did, we had to wait for his availability. He verified he could start work at 7AM and told us he'd be there on Saturday, the 11th. He was a no-show! No call; nothing. Didn't get ahold of him until 4:30PM that day. He gave no excuse, but promised to be there Monday.

He was late Monday, but a crew member of his was there waiting. I stopped to introduce myself. I call him, "muscle-kid." He was younger than me, but huge! He gave me all kinds of information about himself and I found out he was a body-builder. So, his name fit. The rain was coming down in a drizzle and he didn't think they'd be working that day. In the back of my head I thought, "Oh, yes you will! You ditched me Saturday on a perfectly good weather day!"

Turns out, they worked in the rain. Monday was a day of showers, but there were breaks. They started on the garage door frames and moved around to the back of the house. I thought this was good considering the weather.

The next day, they continued around the back of the house. They did the trim work and did some lap siding. I was excited to see that.

Each day they inched along and more detail was added.

Before the week ended, they got to the exciting part. This is where the house starts taking on the tudor style. The siding guy, John, told me he'd create one gable to see how I liked it before he did more. I had all weekend to stare at it and I LOVED it. It was just as I envisioned!

The diamond cutouts are not as I envisioned. I thought they would be actually cut out of the smooth siding. I decided to live with it. I will just paint them the darkest color so from a distance they look as if they are cut out.

The crew was a no-show on Monday, another beautiful day. When I asked their where-abouts, they said they had to finish up an old job and it'd take 1.5 days. On Tuesday, they didn't show up after lunch because the old job took a little longer, but promised to be there Wednesday morning. Wednesday morning... they weren't there. I was ready to call a new siding person. Each day they didn't show up, I was ready. But, it would be another pain to find a new person, get them up to speed and wait on their availability. The crew finally showed up Wednesday before lunch time. They started on the front porch and the second dormer.

On Thursday, they tackled the front part of the house. It was exciting to see.

On Friday, they busted out the most work. They finished all large sections and small sections of siding except for the porch ceilings.

They have done Mom's porch ceiling as a tester, and I love it.

They have not done one part of siding because they are awaiting the final inspection. The last part of siding touches windows. When the siding guys didn't show up on Monday, we still had the framers come out and seal the windows and doors that touch ICF. Once we have our inspection, we can install the siding near the windows. It will be a neat detail when complete.

They also have to install the final window. It has been a hassle to get that window in. I called everyday for the last two weeks to check the status. Each day I was told it was suppose to come the next. The framer told me he would not get excited until I had it in my hands. On Friday, the 24th, I went and picked it up!

This whole ordeal with the siding contractor has been frustrating. We've had such great experiences with all other guys showing up on time or earlier than promised. I wouldn't have had an issue if he weren't the hold up. We did things out of order than what I'm use to seeing. Usually, I see a roof, then brick, then siding. But our builder really wanted to get siding up first so that we avoided messing up the shingles. Now, I see why. Our roof is a mess with mud. There is even mud flung on the windows from them.

Now we can call the painter and roofer to say we are ready. The roofer is back-logged and playing "catch-up" from the rain. This helped me not to rush the siding guys. The painter will come out today and caulk the seams and will paint this week. Because there is no roof or brick to avoid, he can overspray and it doesn't matter! I am EXCITED to see paint and brick go up. The house is starting to get its detail, piece by piece.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

HVAC Rough-In

Once framing is complete, there are three things that need to be roughed-in (stuffed into the walls) before drywall covers up the studs. Plumbing, electrical and HVAC are all hidden behind the walls of your house.

Our plumbing guys came first because the pipes are rigid and need to be specific. Wires are more flexible and can accommodate around plumbing pipes if needed. Our plumber took 5 days for rough-in. Electrical came in after that and took a week as well. The HVAC guys had to start as well, because the electrical needed to know where the returns would be so that smoke detectors were the appropriate distance from the returns. They also needed to avoid running too many wires near the return. Electrical wires tend to congregate at spots and then flow together to the next destination (panel.)

The HVAC guys came in and the first day they started prepping material. I had no idea they had to "build" their tubing. It was just metal tubing they had to put insulation around themselves.

The next day I saw a vent in a room. They started on the second floor.

We chose our HVAC contractor because he had worked with ICF before. He deals solely with Lennox brand, so that is what we ended up with. I hear great things about them, so I am anxious to see it for myself. Once we are in the house, I'll provide an update on the system.

Because we used ICF on the first floor and using foam insulation on the second, we were able to reduce the load needed on the HVAC units. We still have two units, but they are small with regards to the square footage.

The amount of vents is also reduced because of the ICF walls. Mom's large closet does not have a vent because it is an interior closet. And our master bedroom is the same size as our last, and we had two vents in the last house and only one vent now.

The HVAC guys ran all the vents and then moved on to piping. They ran the vent piping from the bath fans to the exterior of the house.

They also ran piping for our gas stove.

The gas water heater has a direct vent to the exterior wall as well. The pipes from the furnaces come down ICF walls and then exit outside.

They will have to come and fix these because they protrude out a lot that drywall will not cover.

They are putting an outdoor unit on each side of the house. I was trying to avoid putting a unit on the corner side that everyone sees, but it was unavoidable. The tubing would be too long for the return. And they prefer the return to be located near the furnace.

HVAC guys also ran the gas lines. We have three gas drops; fireplace, stove and water heater.

All we lack is the inspections and we can start insulating the spaces! In total, the HVAC guys took two weeks to complete their rough-ins. All this behind-the-scenes stuff is complete and we can start with the cosmetic tasks.The outdoor units will not be set until later.

With all three contractors, I recommend every one of them. The plumber was great and knowledgeable. The electricians were fantastic and the HVAC guys knew their stuff. I would definitely be using them for service calls, but they did such a  great job on the front end, that I don't think I will need to be calling them.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Month 3 Metrics

We have actually had two "draws" in the last month to add to our performing metrics. Draws are invoices from the general contractor to pay bills. Ours is set up a little differently since we are acting as our own GC (kinda). Usually a GC has an account with companies and they have 30 days to pay the bills. We just pay the bills once the invoice is delivered.

The first draw of month three was to cover the remaining lumber we used to complete framing and the windows and doors. The remaining lumber came in the same week as our last draw, but the company gave us 30-days to pay. The windows we paid upon delivery, and the doors as well.

The next draw was for the rough-ins. We paid both the plumber and the electrician 60% of their total quote for passing their inspections. The plumber's quote came in slightly higher because we had him add two things; (He ran the dryer vents and we added a radon venting system.) I was okay with that.

With the plumber, we had to order the tubs and some trim kits for the drains in the tubs/showers. We also went ahead and had our plumber install the water heater we bought. I misread that the plumber needed faucets. I was confused, because I knew they wouldn't be installed until the counters were in, but I bought them anyway. That was a purchase that happened sooner than it needed to, but I tracked it. 

The electrician came in under his budget. I knew he might have quoted high. Our general contractor added a buffer line for electrical in his budget. It was his experience that homeowners overrun in electrical the most. Our electrician quoted us by outlets, switches, lights, etc. I really liked seeing it broken down by line-item. Most companies just gave me a flat quote, and told me how many cable outlets that included.

I keep my earned value sheet but I also "balance my check-book." Up until April 1st, we were able to use the money we put down to pay our bills. I had to balance the books to know when we were about to run out and when I needed to ask the bank for money from our loan. This has been a huge help! We were able to make it through those rain delays and not pay interest on money borrowed. Now, when I receive an invoice from a contractor, I ask the bank for a deposit (from our construction loan). They verify the total with what the bank's inspector thinks of the value we have so far. The inspector comes out twice a week.

Overall, we are in good shape. The rough-ins completed on schedule, so it appears we have gotten ourselves back on track. Budget wise, we are still good. We're still over budget a little from the last month, but there are some areas that can get us back down. It's now all cosmetic and our choices really affect the price.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Electrical Rough-In

The electrician we chose and the plumber we chose have worked together in the past. This is a good thing. The plumber, electrician and HVAC all have jobs to do once framing is complete. The plumber should go first, because of the rigid pipes placement. The HVAC and Electrician can work at the same time, but we had our HVAC guy come to show us where the returns were going to be so the electrician would avoid running wires the HVAC guy would need moved.

The Electrician kept in contact with our plumber and he and his crew came out the day we got the plumbing inspection. The first day was spent writing on the studs and walls.

They used my blueprint I provided with my mark-ups and marked outlet and switch locations. I figured out their lingo!

This area was where I had the most changes to final blueprints. I had expressed to the architect certain light fixtures I wanted, but not all were captured. One example was, I wanted sconces on the master bathroom vanity on the sides of mirrors, not over the sinks. She placed two, when I really needed four. Things like that.

I walked through after they ran their markings and double-checked. Everything looked good. The fireplace was delivered that day and it was an awesome surprise!

They even ran the vent and placed the chimney!

Because of the ICF, we have to have a direct-vent fireplace. There is actually glass on the front of the fireplace to prevent fumes from entering the house. The fireplace will produce radiant heat.

The next day, they started nailing outlet boxes in place. And they ran a couple of wires.

They verified the placement of my outlet boxes. I have always loved outlets placed in the baseboard, but I kept thinking of the added work that is on our trim contractor. The drywall guy doesn't charge extra to cut around boxes. The trim guy does! The drywall guy would still have to do it in the baseboards, but the trim carpenter would have extra work cutting baseboard pieces exactly right. I went with the normal height-placement in the walls.

They were still waiting on the HVAC guys to tell them where the returns would be.

The following day, they started nailing switch boxes and light boxes.

I told them where I would like the service panels, and they installed them. Yes, we have two!

We place our panels on the far side of the garage. That is where our meters will be. It's easier and less expensive to have your panels be back-to-back with the meter on the outside.

The HVAC guys let us know where the returns would be and the electricians started running wires.

They did the majority of this on Saturday. They also tackled the ICF walls. The wires started off by coming in through the top of the foam and dangling.

They then used a chainsaw to cut a groove in the foam.

Then the outlet box was placed.

We had to wait for inspection to pass first, but the Electricians have plans to cover the grooves with Styrofoam.

I had to dig a mirror out of storage that we are using in Mom's bathroom. She will have sconces on either side and because the wall is styrofoam, the placement had to be perfect. We held the mirror up, marked the location and then ran the wires and installed the boxes.

The other wall-mounted lights just have lines "laced" in the walls. This allows placement to vary and be determined once cabinets are in. This method could only be used on stud framing.

And the coolest part the electricians did was for our TV in the family room. There will be bookcases on either side of the fireplace. I plan to put the DVD player / Cable box on a shelf of the bookcase. But I don't want visible wires running to the TV. The electricians came up with a tube that runs in the walls. I can fish my wiring through the tube! This allows for changes in technology and such. I can run an HDMI cable back there now and be set!

We also did this in Mom's room. Her TV will be mounted up high, but won't have the cable box up there with it.

To create outlets on the exterior, the guys ran the wire down the foam on the inside, and then drilled a hole to the exterior.

Then a box was tied to the end of the wire. These boxes will not be mounted until the mason comes to lay brick and sets them in there.

And you can see how important the pre-slab rough-in is. We have floor outlets in the living room and they ran a wire through the wall and into the slab to reach the outlets.

Same thing with the island in the kitchen. A wall had a tube place that would run underneath the concrete to reach the island. They fished the wire though easily.

Our electricians also installed our bath ventilation fans. The HVAC guys will then run the tubing from the fan.

I also had our electricians run all the cable and internet outlets to a central location. This is called structured wiring. We received bids from companies that specialize in this. Their prices are ridiculous! We then thought of doing it ourselves like we did in the last house, but I just asked our electrician if he could run all the cables to one place. He agreed! Now we just have to get the equipment and a box and we're set!

We called for an inspection, and it took a couple days for their availability, but they came out on Thursday and we passed! Just before inspection, the guys ran the lines for the doorbells. Mom will have one on her porch and we will have one on ours. And the best part... they are tied together! The electrician said we could connect up to three doorbell chimes. One chime will be on her side, one chime will be on our side. There will be a different sound depending on the doorbell rung and we will be able to hear both! Pretty sweet!

Now we wait for the HVAC guys to finish and get their inspection. It's kinda hard for them to finish when we still don't have shingles on our roof. Long story I will explain soon, but I'm hoping we will in a week's time!

I really enjoyed working with my electricians. They were a GREAT group of very smart guys. I didn't feel ripped off and they listened to me. They didn't push, but explained how and why things were done. I'm really happy with them. The next time I'll see them is after drywall and painting, when they'll come install the light fixtures and switch plates.
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