Friday, April 25, 2014

Interior Trim and Casing

Next thing the carpenters are working on is the interior trim. It's really "backwards" how they worked outdoors all winter, framing and siding and roofing through the snow storms, and now that spring has arrived and the weather is Beautiful, they are working indoors - but c'est la vie!

Windsor One Trim Profiles (some of them)
 I specified Windsor One historically accurate moldings, mostly from their "Greek Revival" style. This material is spectacular, if you want painted interior molding. It is finger-jointed together, which makes it economical and environmentally friendly, and it is pre-primed, which saves on labor- although I did learn from the GC that cutting it gums up blades quickly, due to that primer. It also comes in many different shapes and sizes and designs, to match what look or style you are going for - as long as that look is fairly traditional.

The New House Next Door is a traditional design, and the folks who will live in it have tastes that are traditional, so I wanted to use traditional trim-work where I could. In addition, the house is small and because of that I wanted every detail to look beautiful.

The base is a tall 7 1/4" and the casing (around windows and doors) is a built-up 3 piece molding with a beaded casing and an ogee back band. We are not so formal to be using crown molding, but are using bead-board wainscotting below a chair-rail in the bathrooms.

All this interior design and detail underscores that the house is quality built, and even can make it feel "established" (I don't want to say old) - like older homes with fine craftsmanship, trim-work and built-ins.

Kitchen Cabinetry

Kitchen Cabinets in Place
The kitchen cabinets that were delivered have been installed at The New House Next Door. My in-laws came over today to look at them and locate the final place for the island.

My MIL said she was so pleased with the kitchen and that it has more storage than she expected. Yay for pleased clients!

They selected a butcher block top for the island (under cardboard) and Corian for the other counter tops. The hole on the left edge of the photo is where the refrigerator will go, and the hole in the center of the photo, just to the left of the single window, is for a wall oven. The sink and dishwasher will be located on the south (right) wall at the double window, with a cook top and microwave-range hood next to them, just beyond the low wall with the switch boxes that you see in the foreground.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tile Day 2 and 3

Tiling shower walls
 The tile sub-contractors returned a couple more times to do more work. First they grouted the floor tiles they had installed previously in the bathrooms and the mud room entry. Then, they installed the wall tiles around the first floor bathtub. Then they set to work on the second floor shower.

First they applied a product called "Hydoban" (the light green color material in the second photo). This is a roll on paint-on waterproofing membrane that was applied to the floor, seat and up the walls a few inches. After it is dry, it effectively stops water from leaking beyond it to the framing below.

The next day, they could come back and tile the shower walls, ceiling, and seat.

Hydroban Membrane in Shower

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Every house needs storage space. Smart designs/layouts work hard to be efficient and economical with space- whether it is living space or storage space or circulation (ie. hallways, stairs) space. The most space-saving place to put stairs to an upper or lower level is directly under another set of stairs. But we got to make a deep (and progressively shorter) storage closet under the stairs at The New House Next Door, since it is built on a short basement, or crawlspace, and there are no basement stairs. (click to go to post about choosing a short crawlspace)

The walls under the stair were framed after the stair was installed. The flooring was installed only where the finished closet space would be. (below 36" in height, or so, was deemed not usable, and was walled off). The sheet-rockers and tapers returned to finish this area, and next time the painters are around, they will paint it.

Closet Under Stair

 In other storage news, the kitchen cabinets were delivered today. Kitchens in today's homes are expected to work really hard for us. We want good lighting- both natural and artificial, adequate work areas, the right tools within the right distance/location, and many different types of storage.

Boxes of Cabinetry

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tile Day 1

 Today a new sub-contractor arrived on site: The Tile Guy!
He installed the tile on the floor in the back entry area and in the first floor bathroom. In addition, he put down the "mud" in the shower area of the second floor bathroom. Remember, that the shower is "curb-less", meaning there is no lip to step over to get in. (see post on Universal Design) Because of this design feature, the shower floor was framed low, and then had to be raised up to be level with the rest of the bathroom floor with mud. The mud creates a bed that is sloped toward the drain and will get tile installed on it tomorrow.
Tile Floor at First Floor Bathroom

Tile at Back Entry/Mud Room

Baseboard Radiators

The plumbers have been back and have installed the baseboard radiators in each room. Like many homes in this area, spaces will be heated by hot water flowing through pipes with finns to disperse the heat into the air. At the New House Next Door, the water will be heated with propane in a super-high-efficiency boiler.

Click here to see a previous post about the Veesman Boiler and the mechanical room:

Friday, April 18, 2014


The G.C. (general contractor - or "guy-in-charge" :) I just thought of that, and I like it!) got this roll-off container delivered to the site a couple months ago and bits of insulation, shingle, shake, paper, plastic, clapboard, plastic drink bottles, and cardboard packaging have been placed in it ever since. Remember the (non-treated) wood scraps have been hauled away to be burned in outdoor fireplaces, wood stoves, and maple-syrup evaporators. (see post about making maple syrup)

First thing you need to know is that it is not called a dumpster- it is a "roll off container". A dumpster is what you see behind your favorite restaurant (basically a large trash can). A roll off container comes on a flat bed truck and gets "rolled off" onto the construction site to be filled with construction debris. (I remember the day the laborer had to shovel deep snow away from the spot where the roll-off container was to be deposited. Shoveling snow seems so long ago, now that spring has arrived - hooray!)

The next thing you need to know is that this debris is not going to a landfill (like the trash behind the restaurant is). Once full, this container will be picked up and brought back to the recycling center it is rented from. This one comes from 'Recycle Depot' in Poughkeepsie, NY.

You can check out their website to learn about their state-of-the-art facility where almost 100% of the material they receive is recycled into new, useful material - like topsoil and mulch - as well as returning raw material, like cardboard, metal, and plastic, back into the manufacturing process as post consumer product that can be re-used.

Get educated and know where your cast-off items end up! There is no such thing as throwing things "away". Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The New Garage Next Door - A Photo Illustration

Excavation & Soil Compaction

Foundation Form-work & Reinforcing

Floating the Concrete Slab

Back-fill Around Slab

Sill Plates onto Anchor Bolts

Framing of First Walls

All walls with door and window openings are framed

Setting Roof Trusses & Applying Wall Sheathing

Wall and Roof Sheathing

Building Paper and Windows
Fascia, Drip Edge & Roof Shingles

Door, Casing & Soffits

Exterior Trim - look close: white on white

Over-head Doors and Clapboard Siding

Shingles Applied in Gables
Completed Exterior Siding

I thought it would be interesting to see this small building from beginning to end all in one post. Click HERE to read my "architect on a soap box" post about garages and house design. The last things that still need to happen to this garage building is the electrician will wire the garage (and a cool barn light will be hung above the over-head doors) and the excavator will place top soil and driveway material. Next year, when the grass is green all around the building, I'll add a truly "final" photo.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Interior Doors

Bedroom Door
 Yesterday was windy and rainy, so Scott worked inside hanging doors upstairs. (Too dangerous to be up on scaffolding)

The doors are solid wood with a traditional six-panel design. Wood species is poplar, which takes paint well- yes, the doors will all be painted white.

The finish on the door hardware is oil-rubbed bronze - you can see the three hinges in these photos. This black-looking metal will be used throughout the house (exterior door hardware, light fixtures, perhaps cabinetry knobs?) for continuity. Attention to details like that make a big difference with how the overall space will feel. (well-thought-out and put-together is what we are going for!)

Bathroom & Linen Closet Doors

The interior door lever handles and latches will be installed later. Remember lever-style (instead of knob) is easier to open for all abilities, and was selected on purpose to meet 'Universal Design' guidelines. (see post about Universal Design). In addition, the width of the doors is a bit over-sized at 2'-10" wide. This allows for things like walkers or wheel chairs to be able to easily pass through.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Hardi Shakes Have Arrived!

Yesterday the (correct) Hardi shingles were delivered to the site and the carpenters moved back outside and up onto the scaffolding to install them. These shingles- sometimes called "shakes"- are made of cement, like the clapboards, and are in panels that can be installed butted end to end.

Installing shingles in the gables
 I specified shingles up in the gables, because it is pleasing to see a change in material in different areas of the elevation. Shingles lend a classic look that blends well with the neighborhood Victorian-style homes.

If the shingles were "real" ones (made of wood, and installed individually) neat things can be done, such as weaving together an outside corner (so a corner board is not needed, breaking up the field). With any of the Hardi cement siding products, we really need the corner board all around so that the cement material has an edge to butt into. It's fine on this house; I like the crisp design of the white outlines contrasting with the dark grey. But on another style house - like a bungalow or craftsman- the designer might want real cedar shakes that can be stained (these only come painted) and flaired along a curve and woven together at corners.

But fiber cement siding has many positives: it is fire retardant (The codes of some densely developed villages or cities require it instead of wood for this reason), it holds paint well making it easier to maintain, it is rot-proof and can be worked with regular carpentry tools. Sometimes it is called a "green" or environmentally-friendly material- due to it's durability, I think- but I found it discouraging that each piece is covered with a layer of plastic wrap that the installer needs to peel off and discard. (this is to protect the factory-applied paint - so maybe the answer is painting it in the field...)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Interior Painting!

Inside at the New House Next Door, the oak hardwood floors are all done being installed and the painters have returned to coat the walls.

My MIL selected a neutral cream color for most of the living spaces, but then - what a surprise! - the library and bathrooms are painted a real dark plum and a light violet covers the bedroom walls. It will be neat to see how it all looks when completed.

The interior doors were delivered today, and many, many feet of interior trim is being ordered. They will all be painted white.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Inside: Wood Floors and Stairs

Hardwood Flooring in bedroom

Installing HW Flooring
 The carpenters have moved indoors and continue installing the oak hard-wood flooring. All the wood floors are done upstairs, and they are now working on the main level. As mentioned in the previous post about the hardwood flooring, it was a design decision to have continuity by using the same flooring material throughout the house. Much of the first floor (kitchen, living room, and dining area - even wide halls and the foyer) are all open to each other, and since this is not a large house, it is better to not have too many transitions or changes in material. That would make the New House Next Door feel choppy and smaller than it's petite 1950 square feet.

What we did do is rotate the direction the flooring runs in the two largest rooms - the art studio (or largest bedroom) and the living room. Running it the long way makes the room feel larger, and having the direction change between the hall or dinette and the living room adds interest.

In other inside news, the stairs have been installed in the foyer. These are made off site and delivered and installed. There is no newel post or hand rail yet, and the top section needs some tweaking, but it's a big change from using/seeing a ladder! The treads are oak (like the flooring) and the risers and stringers (which will be painted) are poplar. The stairs below the landing are open stringer style - meaning the tread has an overhang on the open side, which is finished, and the stringer is cut out to be below the treads and risers. The top third of the steps are closed stringer type - meaning the treads are simply between the stringers and walls and have no finished sides.

The fact that his parents don't have to climb up ladders to see the second floor during construction makes my DH relieved. (There will still be ladders outside for a while, though, to get onto the porches.)

Stairs in Front Entry Space

Outside: Painting and Waiting

The painters have arrived! Last week they primed and painted all the ceilings inside the house. Today they worked outside caulking and painting the trim. Amazingly, it is now warm enough to paint outside - we had a long, cold winter that hung around until about 4pm on March 31, but like a switch, we've had temperatures in the 50s now that it's April.

White on white - painters coat the exterior trim

The trim is a pressure treated, pre-primed wood that comes in 1x or 5/4x called "Bodyguard". I specified this material for all exterior trim and have high hopes that it will perform well over time. Other exterior trim materials - like finger-jointed wood or composite trim, and even cement board trims like the clapboards- have failed outdoors in the weather. The paint gives the wood protection from moisture and UV rays and will need to be maintained in years to come. Another material we considered is "Azek" trim, which is PVC and wouldn't need painting. But we rejected as it looks too "plastic".(which it is!)

The scaffolding outside is waiting for the delivery of the Hardi-shake panels to finish the exterior siding. They would have liked to finish the exterior by now, but it just didn't work out that way. (The original delivery of siding had individual shakes, rather than the sheets, or panels, of "shakes" and the GC rejected them, saying his labor would be more than double to install each shake individually...) So, we wait for the final exterior siding material to be delivered... with the rare dark grey factory-applied paint, this is not a quick ship item.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The New House Next Door is All Done!!!!

April Fool!
Did I trick you?

Today we look back over some fun images taken during the last few months of the construction of the New House Next Door! Enjoy!
MUD! Lots of it! When this Tivoli clay soil gets wet, your shoes gain a few pounds walking in it, and sometimes, your boot can even get completely stuck!

The view from my dining room window for the last 5 months has been of a port-a-potty!
Our curious kids wondering about the new noises next door when construction first began last autumn

I wonder if the back of every electrical panel has a smiley face hidden behind the wall board?
King of the Hill! What could be more fun, when you are 10, to climb 10' tall piles of top soil?!

Ha! Good advertising for CWB Architect - My sign was buried under snow for most of the winter.
Scratching names and dates into wet concrete "For Posterity"