Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thanks for your input. We're going in a different direction.

As for that poll on what color of fiber cement we should use for the siding (Barn Red or Charcoal Gray), um, never mind. The reds we looked weren't going to work well with concrete, and the combination of charcoal gray, concrete, glass and window frames couldn't come together, no matter what we tried. Plus, the charcoal gray that looked halfway decent was getting real dark, and we were in danger of this place being called "The Black House." I'm not particularly concerned about resale, but this is nuts. Maybe next time, expensive Swiss imported siding...

So, we're moving to the more conventional, safer one-step-short-of-cliché cedar, but not the cedar shakes you're familiar with. This will be what some people call "channel siding", where the boards are long and thin, and not beveled, but are ship-lapped and offset so that there's a narrow (half inch?) channel in between boards. Probably horizontal.

To keep this from becoming rustic (shudder), we'll use select, no-knot cedar and galvanized aluminum trim elements to make sure it's really clean. Everybody, including Barry the Builder (Bob wasn't available), seems to be happier and somewhat relieved. I'll budget for periodic maintenance.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Higher. No, *Higher*.

It's gettin' up there. Above is the view from the Southeast. The grey box to the right is the basement for the guest wing. The wood forms in the foreground are for the master bedroom's basement and the taller forms to the left are for the high wall sections on the South and North sides that will support the shed roof.

Here's the opposite angle, from the Northeast. Again, most of this is basement wall. The grade will come right up to the top of the wall on the right, which will support the curtain wall facing West.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Going Vertical

I got to witness the first big concrete pour on Thursday--very impressive. There must have been 9 or 10 concrete trucks showing up every 20 minutes or so, for over 3 hours of pouring.

It was hot and it was humid, and the crew worked their butts off. It was also somewhat humbling to find out it took a solid week to set up the forms to accomodate the T-Mass insulation, the wire reinforcing mesh, etc. Concrete guys probably like corners less than any other building trade, because it's a beast to get every form perfectly square with all the zigs and zags the walls make. Sorry guys!
The construction economies I had expected ("I'll just pour the T-mass walls and I won't have to insulate, paint or install vapor barriers" would seem to have disappeared. Aesthetically, t-mass was still the right way to go, and I still expect to save money heating and cooling the place due to the tightness and the thermal mass effect of the concrete.

Above is a panoramic photo taken 2 days after the pour, comprised of 5-6 regular shots, so don't be thrown by the bowed walls that are artifacts of the stitching-together process. There were some glitches with the aggregate hanging up and creating some voids, which is an issue with the above-ground parts and particularly those on the inside, so we'll have to come up with a touch-up approach that looks authentic and not "appliqué" – my architect's personal bête noir.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Taking Shape

The footings have been poured and now the forms are being set up for the concrete and the T-Mass insulation (the blue stuff). Note the connectors, which I'm told are poor thermal conductors (that's a good thing), that make sure the insulation is in the middle of the wall and tie the two concrete walls together.
The structure in the middle of the photo is the master bedroom, which is somewhat separated from the public space. The idea here is to let people visit without my being there, allowing them the run of the house without me having to make my bed or pick up the towels. Not the most cost-effective design decision, but peace of mind is a wonderful thing.