Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Racing against time

We continue to work away as hard as we can to beat winter. There is just so much that has to go in the walls before drywall can go up, and we need drywall on the ceiling before we can finish insulating there.

Plus we were waiting on plumbing before getting the septic system, water tank, and fuel tanks installed. We now got enough of that in for the dirt crew to come in, which should happen by the end of this week.

We are making progress though. Wiring, including thermostat and HRV control wire is complete, walls are fully insulated with a one layer of fiberglass and one layer of foam. Caroline Haggard, friend of my Dad from Big Lake helped with that, among other things this weekend.

We also ran most of the HRV ducts, only leaving out one or two that go in after plumbing drains. An HRV is a heat recovery ventilator. It exhausts air from the kitchen and bathrooms while bringing fresh air into the bedrooms from outside, but it keeps the heat from the old air. These are needed on modern construction which is so tight the house doesn't breath and would have stale air.

I cut holes for the ducts with a Rotozip, which is a terrible tool. It's loud enough to hurt your ears even with earplugs, and it sprays sawdust into your eyes even with safety goggles. And it doesn't work very well.
My dad, up for the third time to offer even more help, had an equally bad job of cutting the ductwork. Marcy assembled duct pieces and taped them, because she does that sort of thing better than any of us guys.

Dale Haggard, Master plumber, was also up from Big Lake. He put together a superb heating system for us, and requested payment only in Crown Royal. We couldn't be more grateful for all this help. Thanks everyone!

Dale working his magic

Pike as big as a whale, you say, extraordinary!

So in the interim between blog posts I thought I'd post a picture. Pike have been introduced into the lakes around the Matanuska Valley where my parents live. They are both avid fisher persons and haven't ever caught one in the lakes here in Alaska before, until now. My Dad is now on a one man mission to catch as many pike as possible and eradicate them from Alaskan waters.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Andrew: "So... We're out of money."

Marcy: "Yeah...."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Toasty Toes

Our house will have in floor radiant heat, which is exceptionally comfortable and exceptionally efficient. The colder it is outside, the toastier your feet get.

First we laid the tubing. It took about a day. There are six 200 feet runs. Some people would have done four 300 foot runs, but this setup allows more than double the water flow, which results in evener heat, a faster heating floor, and a better load on the boiler.

The tubing was very unwieldy. Marcy handled the 1000 foot roll of it, and ended up bruised on her arms. I operated the stapler, which looked like a big bike pump, except using it it reminded me of catching a fast pitch softball. There were 500 staples. All the tubes terminate in the utility room.

Today the gypcrete crew poured the floor on top of the tubes. Here's three of the crew, loading sand, emptying bags of gypcrete, and operating the mixer. Our truck is in the background. We borrowed a 325 gallon tank which saved us the expense of a water truck.

Here is the fourth crewmember beginning the pour. It comes out fairly liquid from a hose and is mostly self-leveling.

About halfway done. We had 1.5" thick poured. It weights about 12,000 pounds. Don't worry, our floor was engineered to support 18,000 pounds of concrete, but then we added 50% more joists just to be safe.

All the gypcrete has been poured and is being screeded to a final finish. The whole opperation only took about 2 hours, half of which was setup and teardown.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

To the window.... To the wall!

We've been busy since the last post. Well, we're always busy. But here it is:

We did the last few details of rough framing, like closets and finally the stairs.

We couldn't get a good picture of the stairs yet because there is a bathtub temporarily in the way. These construction temporary treads will be replaces with hardwood which will cantilever to the left about 12".

Our windows finally came in, so we rented some suction cups and a nifty material lift and installed them over labor day weekend. The five sided center window weights near 300 pounds and was extremely scary to install. I gave us about a 50% chance of dropping it, but we ended up successful.

One reason the windows are so heavy is they are triple pane for energy efficiency. In fact, even with all those windows, that big wall will loose less heat than a standard insulated wall with no windows at all.

This window is 6 feet wide and almost 8 feet tall. Here are the finished "wall of windows" which readers helped choose.

More window (and sliding door) photos

Inside view of front window wall, loft, and bedroom windows

Meanwhile, my dad was up again and he wired the whole place, down to the service entrance. The inspector signed off his inside work and GVEA signed off his outside work. Thanks again dad!

Service entrance. We went with 200 amps. Just in case we need to run the hot tub, an air compressor, and a welder at the same time, you know.

Main breaker panel and all the wires coming in to it.

As much as I want to be done with tree clearing, I had to clear a path to the power line.