Monday, October 20, 2014

interior trim begins

Last week Neil and Mitch started on the interior trim of the apartment.  While we are doing some more modern detailing, we both still prefer windows to have trim instead of just drywall corners.

And yes....the windows are in much need of washing.

Upstairs our hardwood floor is acclimating ready to be installed this week.

Can't wait to see it installed!  It's 5" character grade rift & quarter sawn white oak.  Basically that means it has some life and imperfections to it.  We plan to stain it a dark brown/black.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

concrete floors

 Drywall is completed, so we were able to bring in the concrete finisher.  He first cleaned the floors and then sprayed a bit darker grey stain on them. Then they put down 2 coats of sealer and a final coat of wax.  The pictures don't really do it justice.  We are quite happy with the way they turned out.

Below is our main entry and home offices.

We did run tubing in the concrete so that we can have radiant heated floors.  There are 2 separate systems.  One for the apartment and one for our entry, home offices and laundry.  I think the cats are going to love it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Here's a panoramic of the main room in the apartment. Drywall is getting further along.  We are doing the highest level 5 finish in all the spaces, but the garage.  Basically that means a thin coat of drywall mud is applied over the entire surface.  If you want to learn more about the different levels check them out the National Gypsum Company's website.

Panoramics are a bit wonky, but wanted to show the entire upstairs space.

The garage will only have a level 4 finish, which means it will not have a final coat of mud over all of it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

drywall delivery

Quantities.  It takes lots of materials to build a house.  On this day 18,800 pounds of gypsum wallboard (aka drywall, GWB) was delivered and placed throughout the house.  Some of it boomed through our second floor deck doors.

Neil went with 5/8" throughout the house instead of the typical 1/2".  This adds a little more sound insulation.  That along with our blown-in insulation and triple pane windows should make the house pretty darn quiet. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014


One of the biggest steps we are taking to be more energy efficient in the future, is to add more insulation in the home now.  The Washington State Energy code is one of the most strict in the country, but we took it to the next level. 

In our 2x6 walls, we used Blown-In-Blanket-Insulation (BIBS) - basically dense packed fiberglass. Specifically JM Climate Pro, which gets us R-23 in 2x6 walls.  This fills in behind all the electrical and plumbing. You just can't get as good of a value with regular batts.  It is a better sound insulation, too. This coupled with our 1-1/2" rigid on the exterior gives us R-30.5 on our walls. In comparison, 2x4 walls with batt insulation only achieves at best R-15.  

In our ceilings we have R-60 or better.  Neil used 1.5" of unfaced rigid insulation as a baffle to create the 2" air channel above the insulation in our vented roof.  Then BIBS in the ceiling.  In the vaulted spaces we have R-62.4. 
The pink stuff at the top plate to ceiling intersection is sill sealer...typically used to air seal and separate the bottom mudsill to the concrete stemwall.  We are using it here to create another level of airsealing at this intersection.

Below is our downstairs entry looking towards the stairwell.  To the left you can see a muddy greenish insulation which is rockwool.  This is the wall that separates the apartment from the main house and it needed a certain sound rating as well as 1 hour fire rated construction. 

We also used the rockwool in bathroom walls for added sound insulation as seen in the wall separating the upstairs guest bathroom from the hallway below.

We had a couple of tricky locations to air seal.  Two roof to wall locations that we ended up spraying 3" of closed cell foam before blowing in the BIBS.  The spray foam is about R-7 per inch. In these roofs we do not have venting.  

The installers also sprayed 1" closed cell foam at the rim joists.

Next up...drywall!

Monday, August 18, 2014

air sealing and documenting

Before insulating, we went around and documented all the wall framing.  Neil held a tape and I photographed.  This way we have a record of exactly where all the plumbing, electrical wires and studs are.  Most of our air sealing had also been done prior to this, so that can be seen in the photos.  Things like the white caulk line at the base of the wall, the orange expanding foam at penetrations, as well as some trickier air sealing conditions like between our vented attic and living room high wall.  This was dealt with a layer of rigid foam sealed in place.

Another item to note, Neil made his own baffles to create a 2" air space above our insulation and below our roof sheathing for our vented roof.  That is the white sheets you see below.  It's actually 2" of non-faced rigid insulation.  Below that will be BIBS (Blown-in-Blanket-System) a dense packed fiberglass insulation for a total of R-62 in our roof.  Code is only R-49.

As much as I am looking forward to insulating and drywall, I do love it at this stage.  It's so cool to see all the framing...the bones and then all the wires (nerves) of the house. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014


One of the design challenges of a house, is creating an electrical layout.  Some things are obvious, like outlets for appliances and general outlets throughout.  Switch locations also are typically easy.  You place them in locations that you enter a room.  One of the things that is not so obvious is how best to light the space.  I designed all the spaces to maximize natural daylight and while there are places for special pendant lights, I wanted most of the lighting to not be so obvious.

Design Criteria
1. The majority of fixtures to utilize LED bulbs if not specifically LED fixtures.
2. Minimize cans.  We are paying extra special attention to our air sealing.  After doing extensive research online, we decided to forgo the use of cans in our ceilings where there is also insulation.  This means most of our upstairs.
3. Low cost.  It is very very easy to spend lots of money on electrical fixtures.  Not so easy to find aesthetically pleasing inexpensive fixtures.  I will do more posts on this later.
4. Providing enough light, but not over doing it.  In our current home, which is very similar space to our new main room space, we over did the lighting.  There are 4 cans in the kitchen we never use and a track light at the ceiling we never use and 2 cans over our sofa, that Neil dislikes when I use to I now have a reading lamp.

Even after creating this lighting plan, it is important to do multiple walk throughs with the electrical contractor.  We made a few changes to lamp locations after seeing either conflicting framing or just rethinking what we want while in the space.  Ideally all the fixtures are chosen ahead of time so they can be placed in right spot, but the reality is, I know generally what the fixtures will be (sconce, pendant, light strip, track) just haven't selected and bought them yet.