Monday, December 22, 2014

low winter sun

We have had a few sunny days this December and it's been exciting to see the play of light coming in.  The overhangs were designed to block the high summer sun while allowing the low winter sun to come right in and allow for some passive solar gain.

The Ram Board was installed to protect our finished hardwood floors during the rest of construction. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

main kitchen pendants

I am slowly going mad trying to find the right lighting for the house.  I think I've easily browsed 5,000 lights...probably more.  I have also gone to lighting stores to see options.  Out of all the finishes and design decisions, this is probably the one I like the least.  I have, though, enjoyed using Pinterest to keep track of possibilities. Gathering the top picks in one location that also keeps track of the webpage I found them on is really invaluable.  Another tool is Photoshop.  I needed a break from selecting the apartment fixtures, so I looked at our top 3 fixtures for our pendant lights in our main kitchen.  I used a screen grab of the model as the base, but one could also use a photo of the actual space.  Then I just added images of the different lights that I had grabbed from the internet.  The first image is top contender right now.

Click here to go directly to my Pinterest light fixture board.

Friday, November 21, 2014

finished hardwood floors

Our floors are finished! We looked at going even darker, but this is a little darker than we have in our current home which we have really liked.  It grounds the room.  It will be a nice base for the cabinets, bookcases and eventually furniture.  Interestingly this picture above shows how the primer on the walls is picking up a slight pink tone...not as much in the next photo.  This is coming into play when we are choosing paint color....that's a future post.

The floors are 5" white oak rift and quarter sawn character grade.  This above photo shows the life of the wood.  The sealer after the stain was Bona DTS and the finish top coat was Bona Traffic.  While the stain was solvent based, Duraseal quick coat, the sealer and finish coat were both low VOC with the Greenguard seal of approval for indoor air quality.

 Choosing the right color and darkness was a process.  We worked with Andy Mills of Genesee Woodworking on the Karina house and after he installed and sanded the floors we started to look at the stain.  First they applied a black tint to the floor which is the middle lightest color below.  This evened out some of the contrasting tones of the boards. The color to the right of that is another layer of tint...but we stuck with just one.  Then he applied 3 different stains.  We liked the one all the way to the left called coffee.

 Next he tinted a larger board and applied the stain we liked and then we took it up to see it in the space.  I thought it was just a tad too dark and we were loosing some of the grain character.  So he made up another board and we went with that.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

door hanging and trimout

Here Neil is installing the doors - shimming and leveling the jambs.  This is the door between our house and the apartment.  It is a fire rated, outside door.  Notice the threshold at the bottom and the 2 bored holes for a deadbolt as well as other lockset.

We have gone with a picture frame detail for our windows and door trim.  The corners were mitered,  reinforced with biscuits, then held in place while the glue dried.

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.