Thursday, April 29, 2004

Drywall and Shingles

Okay, NOW things are starting to happen. We have drywall going up. We have cedar shingles going up. Whoopee! I got so excited that I started to build the triangular knee braces for the trellis over the garage. Wow, I like weeks like this!
The trellis is going to be a little higher than I had originally imagined. I had thought that the bottom of the ‘rails’ would be 8’ off the driveway. However, that left the braces overlapping the door opening. So, I raised it so that it will be 9’ over the driveway. There will be 4 braces. The two outer braces will lineup with the outside molding on the garage door and then there will two more evenly spaced between them. I think this will make the garage door seem taller and perhaps more narrow. I think (hope) these will add more good lines to the house. By the way, the braces will be white painted fir, but the rails will be 2x2 cedar. I do still hope to tie this trellis into the pergola along the south side of the garage, but I haven’t figured out exactly how that will work yet. In fact, I’m beginning to think that tying them together is not such a good idea. We’ll see.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Design Patterns

Well, still no drywall, no porches, and no replacements for the mismatched windows in the sun room. But, at least the siding and trim is going up. Dave’s been at the house every morning for the past week and things are improving outside every day. We now also have ceilings over the porches, which look very nice. We now have more siding, which looks nice. Hopefully we’ll get more of this done and some of these other issues worked on this week.
I decided that I want a trellis over the garage door. This will involve building some triangle knee braces and mounting them over the door. I’d like to make it the right height so that I can integrate it with a pergola that will wrap around the garage. I plan to then train some wisteria, climbing roses, and maybe even grapes. I’ll need to go wood shopping today and scope things out. I also need to buy a new tape measure since my old one has mysteriously disappeared.
I’ve been reading some books by an architect named Christopher Alexander. He is best known for his writings about patterns in the design of buildings. I first heard about him because these ‘design patterns’ have been adopted by, and hugely influenced, the software design community, of which I consider myself a member. I’ve read a lot of computer software design books that keep making references to Alexander and his books on architecture. Partly because I am interested in design patterns for computer software, and partly because of the house remodel project, I decided to investigate this man’s writings. The first book I got from the library was about some projects building houses for small communities in Mexico. I didn’t find that too useful. But his book “A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction” is amazing. It has changed my thinking on a few issues with my house and reaffirmed some other ideas. He pretty much covers everything that is involved in designing a house from how big the balcony should be to how many panes of glass in a window. But, at this stage in construction, it’s not like we can redesign the house. I just find his ideas very interesting. I haven’t found anything ‘wrong’ with our house, except maybe he states that balconies should be no smaller than 6’ wide, and our is just a little over 5’ (oh well!). And, there are even a few things that I found more than a little odd, like his advice to have rooms with mismatched chairs. But, I think where this book has the most impact is on the yard and other ‘outside spaces.’ I can’t, however, say that his writings will have any impact on my software designs…

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Pay Now and Pay Later

Talked to Dave this morning. He wants a payment right away. Ugh. At present, I will owe him around $15K, not including the drywall. But, he wants $12K now. I don’t feel very good about paying this much with so much work that remains to be done, but I did agree to make the payment. Dave has now promised to finish the job by the end of the month. I don’t believe him, but I’m still encouraged to hear him make these promises. By finishing, he will need to hang the siding, frame the porches, frame the balcony, reframe the hallway, finish the drywall, and finish the electrical. Sounds like a lot and the month is already half over.
One bit of good news is that the drywallers have agreed do the entire house for the original bid of $4400, provided I pay them in cash. The cash payment helps them avoid paying taxes. Right now, especially with the way I feel about the federal government, I’m not opposed to guys like these avoiding a tax payment or two.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Passed Insulation Inspection

We finally passed the insulation inspection. Yippee. Now we can move forward and cover the walls up with the plywood and drywall. Although, I still haven’t filed that addendum… I did manage to cleanup the sunroom so that the whole upstairs in open and accessible to the cats. By cleaning up, I threw everything off the upstairs balcony…

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Who Is the Fool?

April fools day! Still haven’t passed an insulation inspection or filed the plans addendum. I guess that makes me the fool!
Last night I cleaned up as much of the construction debris as possible and left the plywood off of the stairs. Now the cats can go up and down the stairs at will. It was important to get everything cleaned up before allowing the cats to go upstairs because Jenn’s cat Sheba has decided that it’s fun to eat the little scraps of fiberglass insulation. She has thrown up several little pink puffs recently. The vet has assured Jenn that this is not good for a cat to eat. So, it is my task to make sure that cat does not find anymore little irresistible puffs of not so edible insulation. I was able to clean the main part of the upstairs, but the sunroom remains blocked off until I can get that clean too.
Now that we have the upstairs unblocked, I opened all of the heat vents. But, when the heat is blowing full blast and the air is racing around down stairs, the upstairs barely seems to be getting any airflow at all. I can put my hand up next to the vent in the ‘computer area,’ which is one of the farthest from the air source, but I can only just barely feel anything coming out. I tried closing all of the vents down stairs and this did improve the air upstairs, but only marginally. This concerns me. Is this because the HVAC guys did a piss poor job of installing the ducts upstairs, or do I need to get the system tuned? Or, should I just not worry about it because ultimately hot air rises and besides the insulation is so much better upstairs? Although I will bring this up with Dave, I think I’m going to end up waiting until this fall to monkey around with trying to balance the system. I may try putting some kind of choke point in the main vent that leads to the first floor, but ultimately I may need to hire a professional that specializes in this kind of work (probably the guys who installed the furnace).