Week 6: Walls and Water

On Monday this week they were out there pouring the basement walls – about 75 cubic yards of concrete! The foundation guys said that this is probably the biggest concrete job that they’ve done. How crazy is that? I think it’s probably because most homes in the northwest don’t have basements – and that’s really where you utilize a lot of concrete in homes. Otherwise, it’s typically just for the footings – no walls. Besides the walls, they also poured a couple of the footings for the deck. I wasn’t expecting that at all! My dad and his friend Steve met me out there on Monday at lunch to see the concrete being poured – it was looking like a ‘real’ jobsite out there…everyone bustling about!  By Wednesday the forms were stripped and just like that, the guys were moving on to their next project!  Friday some of the gravel was delivered and loaded into the house using a conveyor belt system.  It totally reminds me of our I-405 project with moving all that excavated dirt.  Definitely saves time and energy to do it that way!

Here's the concrete pump truck.

Here’s the concrete pump truck.

I wish the boys were here to see this - this guy has a remote control to maneuver the articulating robotic arm of the pump truck.

I wish the boys were here to see this – this guy has a remote control to maneuver the articulating robotic arm of the pump truck.

These guys have the scary work - standing on top of 10' walls, filling them with concrete and then vibrating them.  My dream job?  No thank you!

These guys have the scary work – standing on top of 10′ walls, filling them with concrete and then vibrating them. My dream job? No thank you!

The formwork has all been stripped and now you can really see the concrete walls & footings in the basement.

The formwork has all been stripped and now you can really see the concrete walls & footings in the basement.

Another view of the basement walls - this time from standing in the (future) back yard.

Another view of the basement walls – this time from standing in the (future) back yard.

By Friday they started to fill the footings with gravel using a conveyor belt system.  Reminds me of working on I-405!

By Friday they started to fill the footings with gravel using a conveyor belt system. Reminds me of working on I-405!

Well Update

Joel and I left for vacation to North Carolina to visit our friends Andy & Jackie on Wednesday morning, but by Wednesday afternoon we had received a call from Matt saying that our well guys had hit water! At 10 gallons per minute and 350 feet deep, we were ecstatic! YAY!!!  Next week we’ll have the pump guy out to check out the recovery rate and clarity.

There it is - our well!  At 10 gallons per minute and 350' deep, we're done!

There it is – our well! At 10 gallons per minute and 350′ deep, we’re done!

Design Update

This week Matt also let us know that we’ll need to start thinking more about the layout of the bar area. The plumbers are coming to install everything that will need to be in the basement slab next week, so we needed to get the configuration nailed down. The last thing we’d want is drain pipes for the sink & dishwasher in locations that weren’t ideal. Joel and I spent some time on the weekend before our trip to really measure out the bar area and make some design decisions. We looked into some appliances and their dimensions and have come up with a new bar layout.

Here's the new bar layout that we've come up with for the basement.  There might be a few things to work out after we talk to the cabinetry designers - but at least it's a good starting point!

Here’s the new bar layout that we’ve come up with for the basement. There might be a few things to work out after we talk to the cabinetry designers – but at least it’s a good starting point!

The bar area and all of the audio/video in the house are really the only thing Joel really has strong opinions on. I told him early-on those were ‘his areas’ of the house to deal with because I really don’t care as much as him. And for the rest of the house – he just goes along with most of what I want (as long as it’s within budget)! Matt has done a really good job at reminding me of our budget too, so I can’t wander too far!

Advertisements

Addendum 1 – Design Changes

Over the past year we’ve been refining our design plans even further based on both cost and simply because our ideas have changed.  This includes updating the outside of our home to be all white, cutting the sloped roofline, and adding a powder bath to the mudroom.  In addition, we’ve also updated some more minor things such as a few doors, closet layouts & windows.  So now we have it – our first addendum – well, at least we did these redesigns before construction began and it’s not our first change order!  Check out the new designs below…

Main level changes with Addendum 1.

Main level changes with Addendum 1.

Lower level changes with Addendum 1

Lower level changes with Addendum 1

ANOTHER Bathroom?

Most people have heard of Houzz and Pinterest but one of my favorite sources of ideas and advice has actually been a forum which Houzz just purchased (GardenWeb).  I know what you’re thinking…GardenWeb?  Really?  Yes, really!  They have an entire forum dedicated to “Building a Home”.  Since Houzz just acquired GardenWeb all of Houzz’s great photos and all of GardenWeb’s great advice are now in one spot.  Love it!

The forum has been great to learn from other’s mistakes as well as get advice.  I FINALLY decided to see if anyone had feedback on our house plan.  Yeah, yeah, a little late since it’s been about a YEAR since our plans have been finalized, but better late than never, right?  Overwhelmingly, people commented on the location of our powder room and how inconvenient it is if our boys are playing outside and need to get to the bathroom from the mudroom.  And they’re right!  Check out the map below of how the boys would need to get to the powder room from the mudroom.

Trek from where the boys play outside to get to the powder room.

Trek from where the boys play outside to get to the powder room.

Although it’s easy access from the front door – I’d really like the boys to enter through the mudroom and keep their dirty shoes in there.  In which case the powder room is super far from the mudroom.  At one point we had a bathroom near the mudroom but over the year of design revisions we moved it and I never really thought of its location compared to the mudroom.

So, I spent some time to reconfigure the mudroom and I squeezed in a ½ bath!  Yep, ANOTHER bathroom in the house.  This now means there will be 5 toilets that have to be cleaned…ugh.  But it’s better than having the boys trek dirt in from outside all through the main level.  And this way there will be a sink in the mudroom where they can wash their hands when they’re home from school.  And since our little one, Spencer, will only be 5 by the time we are done with construction, I can keep a step stool in there for him to wash up before dinner.  Adding the ½ bath is really a big benefit and I’m so happy that we added it in.

Check out the before and after plans of the mudroom below.  To add in the ½ bath I had to straighten out the wall between the garage and the mudroom (which we did have to run by our structural engineer since it was a shear wall).  This allowed me to add the bath in the upper corner as well as give it a window.  I did lose a bit of floor space which likely means that the dog bed will be placed underneath the desk area, and I’m ok with that.  Small loss for a big benefit.  Also a benefit is that building the straight wall is easier than the original layout – bonus!

Original mudroom layout.

Original mudroom layout.

New mudroom layout with the 1/2 bath.

New mudroom layout with the 1/2 bath.

Needless to say I’m super thankful that I posted our plans to Houzz’s new forum!  If you’re looking to build or remodel, you should definitely check it out for some advice.

House Design – Finalized

Two days after the engineering was complete, Mike finished up our architectural plans – design is complete!  We are so happy with the way that the house turned out.  Mike really listened to what we wanted in our house and it turned out so much better than we thought it could have ever turned out.

People always ask how big the house is.  Well, it ended up being bigger than we really wanted the house to be at 4,500 square feet (we were hoping to only build around 3,500 square feet).  The reason being is that we focused on the main level and made it exactly how we wanted it.  Then because we have a basement, the basement has to be as big as the main level…so that made our ‘secondary’ level bigger than we had intended.  (For example, if we had a second story, that level can be smaller than the main level – but we can’t do that with a basement).  For that reason, we have a lot of storage rooms downstairs that we’re really not sure what to do with (besides store Christmas supplies).  I’m sure we’ll figure it out over time though…we’ll have a lot of time to grow into the house and re-purpose spaces as needed.

Final Design - Cover Page (site plan + rendering)

Final Design – Cover Page (site plan + rendering)

Final Design - Elevation View

Final Design – Elevation View

Final Design - Main Level Floorplan

Final Design – Main Level Floorplan

Final Design - Lower Level Floorplan

Final Design – Lower Level Floorplan

Engineering Complete

Over the past month we’ve been working with an engineer providing the structural review for the house.  After interviewing and getting quotes from a few different firms, we ended up using Rick Heide at Design Build Services.  A co-worker of mine used to work at DBS and gave it stellar reviews.  His pricing was extremely reasonable and I figured that since he came recommended that we should give him a shot.

Of course we had a few hiccups along the way; but I call it too many cooks in the kitchen.  When you have 3 professionals working together (engineer + architect + builder) plus an owner who’s a civil engineer you’re bound to end up with some differences of opinion.

Well, the engineer calculations and plans are finally done today.  That means that when we’re ready we can submit them to the County for review and that Mike can update our architectural plans to show the correct information.   Then those plans will be wrapped up too!

Engineering Calcs Cover Sheet

Engineering Calcs Cover

Engineering Seismic Calcs Sheet

One of our Engineering Seismic Calculations Sheet

Engineering Detail Sheet

One of the Engineering Detail Sheet

Exterior Rendering – V.3

Mike & Dustin turned around our minor edits on V.2 really fast!  It only took them a day.  We added a few more muntin’s (technical term for window grids) to a few windows that were missing them, and added the chimney on the backside of the house.  A little hard to see, but it’s there.

Needless to say – we’re very excited.  The house looks great!

It's done and looks great!

Final Version – It’s done and looks great!

Next on the list is to keep looking for a builder.  That process has taken quite the effort and we’re right in the thick of it now.  Simply finding the time for interviews has been difficult.  Busy, busy, busy with work, kiddos, and house plans.  We haven’t posted anything on that yet, but once we choose a builder we’ll update the blog.  Stay tuned!

Exterior Rendering – V.2

We gave Mike (and Dustin) our selections for the exterior that they asked for so that they could customize the design to meet our thoughts.  Check out the design they came up with!  It definitely has more of that New England Cottage look that we’re looking for than the first version.  This design has a much better color and feels a lot lighter than the original design.  And all of the white trimwork really gives our house the exterior design that we’re looking for.  We’ll likely have a couple more minor tweaks, but here it is!

We love the Nantucket Cottage look!

We love the Nantucket Cottage look!

I used Sherwin Williams’ Chip It! tool to come up with an exterior color based on a picture of a house that we like.  The tool automatically found Requisite Gray for the exterior body and Extra White for the trimwork.  I haven’t seen these colors in person but thought they’d be good enough for the rendering.

Chose exterior color ideas using Sherwin Williams' Chip It tool.

Chose exterior color ideas using Sherwin Williams’ Chip It tool.

We also gave them an idea for the stonework on the front of the house – an ashlar layout mixed with creams and grays.  The rendering came out a little more pinkish than the photo below, but definitely the right style/layout.

Idea for exterior stonework in ashlar pattern.

Idea for exterior stonework in ashlar pattern.