Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Residents NOW!!!

We have now been residents of 36 Stillwater Way for 3 weeks. Carpenters are still showing up every day but the punch list is getting shorter. We now, as of today, have a fully functioning kitchen with an oven and a microwave. Everything else was installed last week. NO MORE TAKE OUT FOR US!!! Well, at least for a while... The deck is finished and offers fantastic views of the lake and environs. Take a look at the photos below and come visit!!! NOW we have to create memories in this house. We have had visits by several friends for dinner now and it feels great!! Put yourself among our friends and visitors. And in case you were worried, our cat is now reunited with us and annoying me on a every night basis at 4 AM basis again. All is normal. It is perhaps no small irony that with the impending completion of the house, I am spending more and more time in Boston at my new client. Funny how these things work out. A special 'call out' to Deb Smith a great friend and colleague from New Brunswick Canada. She expressed confidence in our ability to pull this together by buying us the sign that states "Welcome to our lake". Thanks Deb! Enjoy the pictures. Matt

Friday, July 20, 2012

A lot has happened...

Greetings to all! It has been a while since I have posted and I am sorry for that. This past week has been the fastest pace yet of our house project yet. And as these things go, there are always ways to further complicate the work load. We moved out of our good friends home on Wednesday of this week - leaving behind for the moment the family cat. She is pretty confused right now to say the least. As we started the process of moving out and trying to get our new home at least marginally habitable in terms of water, air, and a functioning bedroom, there were contractors all over the place. Most of the guys understood the urgency and the reasons and were trying hard to make it happen. One contractor did not quite 'get it' and by holding up his work on the flooring,also held up others. But at the end of today we now have gas to all appliances, water throughout the building - in all the right places - outlets in most of the places we need them, flooring is all down and finished, doors all on, washer and dryer all ready to do their gig. And as an added bonus, we hear the loons every night as we crash into bed... A giant shout out the Reed Ericksons for their gracious hospitality in sharing their home with us for the past 6 weeks. We are deeply indebted to their kindness.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Maddeningly slow

As many of you know that see this posting, I used to travel fairly extensively. Monday mornings I was often on a plan going somewhere far from family and friends. On my return trips, from wherever it was that I had gone, the trip back was usually uneventful - as one wants an airline to be. Basically an airborn taxi. However, even if I was returning from Europe, Australia, or China, the last 10 miles to home was always the very most painful. Flying over Kansas, no problem. Passing the toll booth 5 miles from my doorstep, intolerable. And so it is with this project. We are perilously close to being in but critical work remains and it is this final "10 miles" that is driving me / us crazy. Soon com mon.... Matt

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nearing the move in date!!!!!!

We have painted most of the walls, installed all the hard wood floors (thank you Dan Cassidy!!!), tile is going down, plumbers arrive for final install tomorrow and the main panel is being connected for the switch from temporary power to final. While not official, we are hoping to be in by July 16th or 17. We won't have an occupancy permit but have decided not to wait for that detail while the carpenters finish the last bit of their work. The place inside anyway, is looking great and the weather has been helping the siding to the building progress. Our hosts, Alan and Sharon, have made us feel welcomed and secure in their home. Such friends are a gift beyond measure. SOON!! Matt

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Push is on...

The house nears readiness due to the Herculean efforts of our contractors. The deck is framed, the front portico is nearly completed, the drywall, a major part of what everyone sees, is well underway with completion this next week. Now comes the details of final visits by the plumber, electrician and heating contractors. And of course, we have yet to lay down the hardwood floor which I am doing (what was I thinking!). Site work final work was started today when I rented a dozer/backhoe and had a number of trucks of driveway gravel and 3 inch stone delivered. I also have managed to work the lake side to a level where it doesn't quite look like the surface of the moon. Some pictures follow. The shadow line on the floor is the furthest the sun penetrates (directly) during this summertime months. This is a good thing as the building would overheat without the overhang. Winter suns are lower and the overhand will allow THAT sun to penetrate and thereby heat the building. Note the work to curve the support beams under the catwalk from the main deck to the master bedroom deck. Ryan is an artist. Roof of the breezeway (beadboard). Fir has evolved as our wood of choice on this house. Warm, strong and relatively inexpensive. So with the roof nearly complete the pieces are coming together. Our UNOFFICIAL target to move in is July 11, 12, or 13. Our cat will also be glad as she is terrorized by our good friends the Reed Ericksons cat. She is spending a lot of time outside. Matt

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ok, not so good...

In my last post, I was estatic at the 'blow test' numbers provided by the testing service. Turns out, when he reviewed his data, he had made a fairly significant error and wanted to repeat the test at no charge. We did the repeat and found the infiltration rate really was on the order of 900 cfm - VERY high for an energy efficient house like this. Fortunately we found this out when we could still act on the data. When he came back we spent a lot of time patching, sealing, and caulking any place that not only leaked air but that was like any other place that had leaked air. We managed to get the number down to 800 or so which is a decent improvement but still not where we needed to be. One of the major "leakers" was around the foundation floor where the insulation came up to isolate the floor from the walls. Given that we have about 250 feet of running foundation wall, this was potentially a huge contributor. There were also spots we found that the electrician, gas guys, plumbers had drilled holes in places we had not thought to look since they were tucked down and behind. So in the end this was a positive in that we paid attention to the data. The insulators came in and the plan was to foam the basement walls (cellulose will wick moisture so we had to use foam) and armed with the data we had them focus on areas in the basement we knew to be a problem. We also had a few areas in the south wall that were unreachable for caulk and tape and they foamed those as well. In the end, once we patched yet more holes made by the trades, the number is down to 555 cfm. We feel this is a pretty good improvement and we are on the right path. The thermographic review of the walls indicate that the ceiling, walls and floor are vitually at zero loss. The area now, and I know this is way boring for most folks not bound at the hip with this project, is actually where the shower drain penetrates the slab under the now installed downstairs shower. We have not figured out how to reach this leak yet...but we will. We also know the front doors have not been adjusted yet and leak a little and finally we think there is still some measurement error in that the areas that we covered with plastic (the scuttle for the insulators) could not stand the huge negative pressure of the blower exhaust and kept tearing off the ceiling. It is a pretty good statement, to me anyway, that the suction on the building was so great that we were tearing plastic off the walls even when they were stapled and taped aggressively in place. If a building has a lot of leaks we could not drop the pressure up that low...or so it seems to me. Anyway, insulators done later today. Drywall on Monday or Tuesday. Most mechanicals are done or fully roughed in waiting for drywall. And, as of 7AM this morning, we no longer have any presence on Estes Road having turned over the house to the new owners. A HUGE relief and a HUGE amount of work this week in the final push. Now we have only one house to focus on. Matt

Thursday, May 31, 2012


The big news today is that we had the blow test performed. To give a sense of what the numbers mean, MOST American houses leak 3 to 5 THOUSAND CUBIC FEET A MINUTE. This means that every minute an average American is paying to heat about 4,000 cubic feet per minute. The standard for Energy Star is 669 for a house our size (~2000 ft2) The standard for a very good result is 446 for a house our size. The toughest standard, from Germany called Passiv House, is 268 CFM. Our test involved putting a temporary door in the opening and exhausting the air in the building and attempting to suck the air INTO the building. The tester used a thermographic camera to identify where the air was leaking into the building. Our result, first try, was 328! We identified where we can tighten the building performance by caulking and yet even more red tape. We are convinced we can hit the Passiv House standard on the next test in a few weeks. We did not know if our work and attention to detail would work but it appears that it has. Passive solar and air sourced geothermal only work when the building is tight, tight, tight. I would recommend getting this test done for everyone. The cost is about $250 and is hugely informative. Matt