Sunday, December 23, 2007


After 2 1/2 days of heating the concrete slab, 4 out of 5 zones have warmed up enough to achieve ambient air temps. of 68 degrees. Only the Master Bedroom at the far end of the bedroom wing is lagging - at 64 degrees. This might be because it's both the longest run of tubing (probably almost 600 linear feet, due mostly to an error in laying out the tubing on my part...) and because of air leaks around the doors and attic access hatch opening.

Feliz Navidad...

Friday, December 21, 2007


Looking ever the part of a back room boiler / A-bomb, our cobbled together radiant system went online Thursday evening. 24 hours later the 6" thick concrete slab temperature was finally rising. The inside temperature had risen from the mid 30s to 53 degrees by the end of the day. (Not having the cold concrete beneath your feet makes a HUGE difference, regardless of the ambient air temperature).

In other developments:

-The insulation guys finished their work by blowing r-50 cellulose insulation into the attic over the bedroom wing. The remainder of the house has R38 batts.

-The vaulted living room ceiling now has 1x6 T&G pine boards nailed in place.

Up next - interior plaster & fun with kitchens (IKEA style)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Adios, strawbales...

Sheet rock has all been hung. First photograph shows our oft-photographed bedroom bookshelf hallway (looking back from just inside the master bedroom).

Of greater interest, stucco work commenced this morning. Adios, strawbales. The goal is to get the scratch coat and brown coat done by Christmas. We'll let that cure over the winter, and in spring we'll apply the final color coat of lime plaster.

Of even greater interest - Christie is expecting (a baby!) in may. (See picture below - she's glowing!)

All interior stucco work will have to wait until January, when we get back from Christmas vacation in Boulder.

Other happenings - the power company pulled the wires from the transformer to the house., if we can just get that boiler hooked up the the radiant heat.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

movin' along...

Insulation is going in and sheetrock is going up. It would have been nice if 100% insulation could be installed, followed by 100% sheetrock, but things seldom work the way they should on paper. The framing inspector called for some additional hurricane clips on the porch rafters, pushing back our insulation contractors by 2 days. Meanwhile, our sheetrockers had to get on the job because they're going out of town for another job early next week. So..since the sheetrockers were willing to work weekends, they and the insulation contractors can play leap frog on the schedule for a couple of days. They both should be done by Wednesday.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

sheetrock delivery

This is hopefully the last of many boom trucks to visit the site. Homebuilding is an amazing energy intensive enterprise. While not necessarily any less expensive, it probably would have been much more efficient to buy an existing house and retrofit it with higher insulation, tighter windows and doors, more efficient appliances and solar hot water and P.V.

Unfortunately the delivery truck got stuck in the rain and mud on its previous delivery and didn't arrive until the end of the day. Installation was postponed until Friday.

-Insulation contractors set to begin work today.
-Final framing inspection is nearly complete - only a few pieces of hardware to install and they can sign everything off.
- Weather has postponed the exterior plastering. (The good news is all this rain has helped confirm that the roof is solid and doesn't leak)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

one fake beam...

The last two interior windows yet to be 'plaster ready' - the dining room windows (where the built in bench goes) and door, and the kitchen windows (where we had to finish our plumbing wall beneath the window). As of Friday, the bench was roughed in and a little wing wall was built to give the kitchen counter and lower cabinets a place to stop. Architects, avert your eyes - a fake beam was bolted above the dining room windows and door for aesthetic reasons. For all the beams we have criss-crossing the house, this is the only one that isn't actually structural in some way or another. Yet, I like how it looks. The interior is starting to come together. And, as you can see, Ruby seems to like the glass door.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

outside / inside

Outside Tim stains the T&G cedar that will clad the exterior above the strawbales. Inside, the coffee cup belies the fact that we have no heat. (It may be colder inside than out.) The T&G pine that makes up the window sill will match the T&G pine on the vaulted living / dining / kitchen ceiling.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Spent part of the Thanksgiving holiday cleaning up the concrete floors and preparing them for staining with ferrous sulfate. Christie gets the unenviable job of cleaning the dirt and straw out of the saw cut control joints. I refamiliarized myself with a heavy duty mop and bucket. Lots of chalk lines, pencil marks, straw, mud and sap to clean up.

Friday, November 16, 2007

fun with kitchens...

While our house is under tarps awaiting its scratch and brown coat of stucco, here's a shot of our proposed IKEA cabinet layout. Our ceiling is vaulted so things aren't exactly as shown here - but use your imagination and you can almost see it. In other news, we've found a plasterer for the exterior of our house and with a little luck they may begin working as soon as Thanksgiving week.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


As a direct result of our framers unwillingness (and inability to pull off) anything out of the structural ordinary, framing schemes were dumbed down - and more than a few 6x8 beams were left unused. We have been installing them in the bookshelf hallway. They'll act as headers for the barn door track and hardware. The barn doors will slide open over the bookshelves.

Friday, October 26, 2007


We're in the midst of a sunny stretch of weather and all tarps are off while we continue to get the outside prepared for plastering. Also, we have been installing the 6 pair of french doors and the 3 additional exterior doors. Shown here are the pair of doors connecting the courtyard to the living room.

Monday, October 22, 2007

mo power...

2000 watts / hr solar installation. The panels are tied into the existing electrical grid - i.e. no batteries.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

solar h2o panels

A rather boring photo showing our 2 Chromagen hot water panels mounted high on the roof. To the right of the two panels is a rail where the 8 photovoltaic panels will go - assuming it stops raining long enough for anyone to work up there.

...and, the search for a plasterer continues...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A picture of what's happening beneath all those blue tarps.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

electrical wiring

Working inside while the rain pours down. The electricians have most of their wiring in place and have run it all back to the panel. I'm glad somebody is keeping these things organized.

We've also started putting the up 2" x 2" wire mesh - albeit just little easy pieces so far. This little piece is an interior corner in the laundry room.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Metal roof...

Rain continues. Meanwhile, electricians run wires and install lights, switches and outlets. Jim installs the metal roof. A a mad search is on for a plasterer.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

trying to keep busy...

Okay, we're really, really busy. The windows have arrived and are now all installed. We're fighting to get last bits of straw bale wall into place. The metal roof has been ordered and should be ready early next week. The plumber has gotten nearly 100% of his inside work done. The electrician is scheduled to start working on Monday. Oh - it's also forecast to rain this weekend, so 10 tarps have been ordered and will be hung from the eaves as soon as they come in.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

misc. photos

Misc. photos fromt the disposable camera showing various OSHA approved construction practices. Also, our friends Mike and Hollie, Ruby and their dog, Coco.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

more progress...

Photographs showing entry veranda and Ame and Alex's signature wall.

Monday, September 10, 2007

amazing friends...

Only a few of our amazing friends!!

1. Joe and Zach entertain themselves

2. Tony and Ruby take a well deserved break.

3. Elder Bang and Rich Chainsaw the strawbales
4. Hollie kept the place clean & neat (a full time job).

5. Bob & Alex heft a strawbale into the construction zone.