Friday, October 23, 2009

    Am I Bad at Blogging or What?

    After the sheetrock was done, things on the inside were turned over to me for the most part. Originally we had planned on doing all the painting ourselves. I hadn't really thought through sealing the windows and doors and after looking into a few products we determined that it would be best to have them spray lacquered. We had a couple of painters that Davido has worked with give us a bid on it. Dave Miller and Dave Burleigh at Allstar Painting gave us such a good bid for that that we decided to also have them spray the primer and a finish coat of white on all the walls and ceilings as well. This saved us a ton of time. In the course of one week we had all the doors and windows sealed and all the walls painted. We still have some walls that we will paint an accent color on but I can't tell you how relieving it was to have the paint 90% done in one week. The painters were great to work with and let me do some of the prep to help keep costs down. They also did an absolutely great job. The combination of a really good paint job with an excellent sheet rock job make the walls look like a million bucks.

    We went with a Kwal-Howell product called Envirocoat which is a no-voc paint and it turned out to be a really great product. The walls were given an eggshell sheen and the ceiling got a flat paint. With so much ceiling and no texture anywhere, a flat paint up there will keep light from glaring and make any irregularities in the ceiling less noticeable.

    Between helping us prep for paint, Davido and his guys finished up the cedar siding. It looks really great. The mitered corners are a really nice touch. We just hope that they don't shrink up too much. Each board has two coats of sealer on all sides and all cut edges were sealed and all joints were glued, so we think it will do okay.

    The painting was done last Friday around noon and as soon as they were done I got working on the tile work. Friday and Saturday morning I got the backer board down and then Saturday afternoon Kersten showed up and helped me start laying the tile down in the bathrooms and laundry room. She was actually really good at it. She's really a good baker and she said that spreading the mortar reminded her a lot of frosting a cake. Saturday we got all the laundry and second bathroom and about half of the master bathroom finished. I was back at it Monday night after work and finished the master bathroom. Then Tuesday night and Wednesday night my Dad came and helped me get the walls around the bath tub in the second bathroom finished. He was a huge help and once we settled on a plan of attack we were able to move pretty quickly. Friday I spent figuring out the rest of the shower pan for the master bathroom shower. Our plumber did the base slope and water proof membrane which had to be inspected by the city a couple of weeks ago but it still needed a mortar layer over top of the membrane for the tile to go on. I used a sand/portland cement mixture that goes in as a dry-pack application. Enough water is added so that it feels a bit like wet sand. It was pretty tedious getting the perimeter edges level and then sloping it towards the drain, but it's done now and I'll start working on the tile for the floor in the shower next.

    We went with a 2x2 inch tile mosaic on the floor by American Olean in Ice White with a matte finish. The walls are 3x6 subway tile in the same finish.

    Wednesday we got most of our finish electrical work done and even got some lights working. This makes working at night so much easier. We are just waiting for all of our accent lighting to come in and that will be installed. We've got some cool fixtures that we are excited about. Thursday they started installing the ductwork for our air conditioning system. We have radiant heat but really hate the heat, so we are going to have an exposed spiral duct running down the hallway on the first floor that will have registers to cool the first floor and trunks that feed registers in the floor for the up-stairs. We also put an exposed duct in the hallway upstairs to pull all the hot air that will gather at the top of the vaulted space out of the house and cool the house more efficiently. They should be all done on Monday.

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    Good things, Utah (or, wherein I sing the praises of our contractor)

    A long time ago when this house was just a twinkle in Tai's eye, we had a discussion about who would build it. Davido's name came up. Knowing next to nothing about the Biesinger clan (except that it is a mighty huge clan), I was reluctant to hire a family member — I was worried about what would happen if things went wrong, if we got mad, if he got mad, budget overruns, missed deadlines, etc. Basically, I was worried about what would happen if we hired a family member and then had a stereotypical GC experience.

    But, my family connections include a geologist, a second-grade teacher, a pediatric endocrinologist, and a couple of college students, so I couldn't really produce another general contractor option. We hired Davido, and I'm so glad that we did. Here's a brief list of the good things that have happened because we did:

    • started digging approximately 90 minutes after we received our building permit and finished excavation that same day
    • got us a connection to an awesome concrete subcontractor who we otherwise couldn't have afforded — our first floor (which will remain exposed concrete) is beautiful
    • got us another connection to a metal subcontractor who has matched an early, low bid and does great custom work
    • put bonus reflective insulation around our bathtub — hey, who knows whether it will keep our water hot longer, but it's worth a shot!
    • got us blown-in insulation for only $400 more than our initial blanket insulation bid, taking us from R-17 to R-23
    • got us additional sound-proofing insulation in interior walls upstairs
    • bonus: radiant heat in the front porch concrete!
    • tolerated Tai working to his heart's content on the framing crew, giving him the bona fides to say, "I built this house"
    • the specs on our framing plan called for a lot of unique hardware, but Davido tracked down less expensive options that still maintained high performance
    • enjoyed a friendly relationship with all inspectors, who come out to the site more to admire Davido's handiwork than to find fault with it
    • Davido found us an equally beautiful but less expensive window brand than was originally specified, saving us several thousand dollars
    • got a level 5 finish on our drywall, making it look like it was painted before so much as a layer of primer went on and thoroughly hiding all drywall seams and patches
    • found a pro painter who was willing to work on hourly with materials at cost, meaning that we get a fully painted house with lacquered doors and windows by the end of this week for minimally more money — saving us the roughly three weeks it was going to take us to do the same job (which saves us much more in construction interest payments than the painting will cost)
    • Davido has done so well keeping things on budget that we have barely touched our contingency money, and we've gone so quickly that we won't use all the construction interest money in the budget. He has saved us enough money in construction that it looks as though we might be able to build a garage with the savings, something we thought we'd have to wait a year or two before doing.

    But there are two big things that deserve their own paragraphs: timeline and peace of mind.

    We are flying on this house. It's now looking quite likely that we'll be moved in before Thanksgiving, which was a laughable pipe dream back when we got our permit on July 29. Things have moved so quickly. We will get to celebrate the holidays in our new house.

    Every time I hear anything about construction, it's because another piece of good news rolled in — either Davido has saved another $500 on some sub-bid or product, or he got us a free upgrade, or he's shaved another couple of days off the construction schedule. The more I share this with people, the more I'm coming to realize how exceptional it is to be under budget and moving faster than expected. Which gives us total peace of mind about our general contractor.

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    More Pictures and Progress

    Another week has gone by and I've been delinquent in my posting. The good news though is that there are lots and lots of photos for todays post.

    The sheetrockers have been there every day including the weekend getting all the plaster just right. They will finish sanding and be out of there tomorrow and then we can get started on finishing the windows and painting.

    The outside work got slowed down a bit due to the crummy weather last week but the guys are making good progress on the cedar siding. After they're done with that the metal guys will get in and finish up the outside.

    When the forms came off the concrete fireplace wall, the subs put a patch on a few spots even though we told them it needed to be the finished surface. I was able to get it off last week using a rough sanding disc. It looks much better now.