The Countdown

Monday, March 21, 2011

Whoops and Uh-Oh.

Week 5 - Skin attached, now we have rooms!

Week 5 - I double-dog-dare you to walk on that scaffolding.

As of last week, all the sheets were place on the exterior, so we are one step closer to being dried in. The next step is doing the Tyvek (vapor barrier) and then siding, and in our case, concrete block. Don't forget the roofing! And given this step in the process, it seems appropriate to go over a few of the "Doh!" moments we are having right about now, with the Builder.

Uh-Oh Numero Uno: Guest Closet Door

When we designed the first floor, we were conscious of minimizing the first floor footprint. That seems counter-intuitive given it is the bottom of the structure, but given that it would be the least used space (guest quarters), we didn't want to use a lot of square footage [read: $$$] in the area. In order to be efficient, we decided to use the space under the stairs for dual purpose, as it would normally be wasted space. From the garage side, we had built in shelving added under the stairs in the wall for extra garage storage. From the guest room side, we decided to use the space as the closet on the high end, and a storage for luggage on the low end, under the mid-way stair landing.

Needless to say, we anticipated the "high end" would indeed be much higher and less "cut" by the slant of the stairs. [Note: It is REALLY DIFFICULT to picture stairs in 3D from a 2D rendering.] Originally in the plans, there was supposed to be a pocket door to close off the closet. Given the high angle slant, that isn't possible, so we've had to think of other options for doors there. Right now, the barn door is winning, although it is a little pricier for the hardware than I would have liked. (Let's all open our wallets together now, shall we?)

Uh-Oh Numero Dos: The Wrong Siding Arrives

Because we are going with a modern/contemporary design (can someone tell me the difference between the two terms?), we ordered smooth concrete siding in alternating 10 and 6 inch boards. However, what arrived on the site today was an wood-texture plank that is very common in traditional homes. Way to catch that before it went up today Andrew! Boo that now we have to wait for the correct siding to arrive.

The siding will go on the 3rd floor of the house, and cinder block will be the bottom 2 floors of the house. That makes the walls on the bottom 2 floors of our house a foot thick - practically bomb shelter. Let's just hope we never have to use it as such. Ahem. This brings us to...

Uh-Oh Numero Tres: Does Cinder Block Float on Air?

Here we are looking at what will eventually be our balcony. We've recently had disagreements over what the inside of the balcony is supposed to be covered in materially - cinder block (what we understood) or siding (what the GC understood). Although it is very difficult to catch every little thing during design, there were several discussion about this topic during design because the weight of the cinder block meant using steel beams [read: $$$] in the garage ceiling. It was our understanding, in a conversation with the Builder, that is was going to be cinder block, but somewhere along the way to the GC, that never was clarified or communicated, by ourselves or the Builder. So as of now, the balcony is built and supported for siding, not cinder block.

We can get over that; however, we believe there should be some give and take. It also became apparent on Friday that we did not have in mind the same material make-up of the fireplace and mantle area. We intended for cinder block (the same as the exterior) from the floor to the mantle, while the GC understood it as only around the trim of the fireplace. It doesn't appear that either side clarified during design, and this is another lesson in the importance of nailing down the details as precisely as you can early on in the project. We're hoping for leniency on the fireplace material in exchange the siding on the balcony.

If you look at the photo above, there is a 6 inch lip above the header over the balcony. The lip is the bottom of the 3rd floor, and is hanging over in order to have the siding on the 3rd floor flush with the thick cinder block on the 2nd floor. The lip is an indication that the header over the balcony is to be covered in cinder block, however, we're not sure how that can be achieved physically speaking. The cinder block would have to "float" unsupported over the open balcony, unless steel plates are put in to support it. Thus far, we have heard nothing of steel plates. If siding is put in instead (not good) an awkward transition occurs between the 2nd and 3rd floor, as well as the west and east halves of the house. My anal-retentive detail-oriented side starts to twitch when I think about this too long.

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