Week 43: Tile, Slabs, Drainfield & Downstairs Painting

My absolute favorite tile was installed this week behind the range in the kitchen.  The tile installer did such a fantastic job installing the tile too…it looks fantastic!  This tile is Mosaique Surface’s Artemis Cold – a pattern of honed cararra velato and polished white thassos.  We’re still waiting on some trim tile to border the subway tile in other parts of the kitchen, so until that arrives, it won’t be grouted.

The fireplace tile was also installed this week – originally I was contemplating changing this tile to something different, but after  realizing that we can’t return the tile and whatever I would order otherwise would take a few weeks, I quickly decided against it.  I honestly have no idea how this looks with the slabs on the fireplace hearth because they’ve been covered with cardboard.  Hopefully once grouted and the cardboard is removed they’ll look just fine together though!  If not…I’m sure Joel will let me redo it 😉

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The fireplace tile was installed this week.

The remaining slabs were installed in the kitchen this week as well.  I was actually out at the house dropping of the staircase handrail and they were out there installing the slabs.  It was pretty crazy to see how they lift those giant slabs and get them in place.  Definitely takes some strong guys and a couple of gripper things.  I was glad I was there too – I was able to choose the direction that the veining was running in the slabs.  They look SO GOOD too!!!  We used the same absolute white quartzite that we selected for the other areas of the kitchen.

Outside we also had progress…the septic drainfield was installed this week and once inspected by the county they can backfill it all and we can begin on the final grading of the yard.

Back in the house, all of the trim in the downstairs was also painted this week.  The lower level is completely covered in paper and plastic masking everything off.  Walls, ceilings, floors, it’s crazy.


Week 42: Tile, Trimwork, Stairs, Septic, and Rental House Issues

Rental House

This week seems to have gone by so quickly!   One of the major things that happened this week is that we received an email from the property manager from the house we’re renting a couple miles from the build.  He said that the owners of the house want to move back into the house and we need to move out at the END OF APRIL!!!  Matt was anticipating for the house to be finished at the END OF MAY!!  Seriously?  How does this happen to us?  Our 10-month lease ended in January and since then our contract switched over to month-to-month leasing.  And the contract states that we or the owner can terminate the lease with a 20 day notice.  We actually met the owner about 6 months ago when they were visiting from China getting baby gear out of their garage.  Back then he said that we should stay and rent the house for years!  And in January when I told the property manager that we were extending our stay past the 10-month term he said to stay until August.  Now they want to move back from China though?  Something must have changed with his Microsoft job.  Ugh.  And the property manager has no idea either – this totally blindsided him as well.

So now for the first time in the entire build, schedule matters.  Prior to this, Joel and I honestly didn’t care if it took longer to build, we just wanted it done right.  I mean, what’s a couple extra months in the end if it turns out great?  The boys have made some good friends in the neighborhood we’re renting in and it’s so close to the build, that it’s convenient to pop over and check things out.  Now getting done with the build at the end of May when we need to move out at the end of April seems WAY too long though.  Where are we going to live for those 4 weeks?!?  So I did what any person in my situation would do.  Ask our builder Matt, “what’s really going to be left to do after the last week of April?”  I explained our situation and wanted to see if there was any way we could speed things up a little and maybe move in sooner than later.  He took a couple days and was able to push a few things…and now we’ll be moving into the new house the first week of May!  Can you believe that?!?  The first week of May!!!  That means that we’re only between homes for a week.  A week, I can live with.  Can you say, “hello mom & dad?”  They live about 45 minutes away from us without traffic so the commute just to get the boys to school and us to work is going to be horrific.  But the boys love staying there and it’ll be so nice just to move with only having to pack our clothes.  The rest of our stuff can move into the garage of the new house until we get there a week later to unpack.  Although Matt will have the inside of the house finished, we’re not expecting the outside to be completed – we’ll likely still need the deck, driveway and landscaping.  The inside is good enough for me though!

For our final hail mary, we’re still trying to see if we can extend our lease another week so we can move straight from the rental into the new house, but we haven’t heard back from the owner and they’re not returning the emails that the property manager has sent (which has been 4 of them now).  Cross our fingers 😉  At least mom & dad’s is a good back up plan.

New House

Besides the rental house issues, things have been moving along at the house quite well.  There’s so many little details that took place in the house this week. The tile and hardwoods have been completed and that’s all of the flooring until the carpet is scheduled to be installed in the last week of April (just before we move in!).  The stairs were even installed this week and they look fantastic.  It took a few different tries to get the right stain color for the treads, but I think they turned out great.  On Thursday evening, Cameron and I went to check out the house and Matt was there covering the stairs to protect them from all the workers’…and we ended up helping and covering them for him.  Um, don’t say that I never lifted a finger to build the house, ha!

The trim sub consultant keeps on trucking – there’s so much that we’re having them do for us.  Besides installing all of the door moulding and baseboards throughout the house, there were two major accomplishments this week – creating the fireplace surround and starting on the interior transom windows.  First things first the fireplace looks amazing!  Monday morning Matt and I walked through what I wanted the design of the fireplace to be and he made it all happen!  I love how it sits on top of the bench/hearth we have, and that the mantle is so deep.  In our old house there would barely be enough room for Christmas stockings, let alone any other decor.  This one is sure to fit whatever I want to decorate with!

On Saturday, Joel and I went out to check out the progress and one of the trim guys was there working on the interior transom windows.  We weren’t quite sure if we were going to order these or have them built on-site, and now that we went with the latter, I couldn’t have imagined the ordered ones turning out so well.  The first side of the transoms have been installed, then they’ll need to be painted on both sides and glass added.  Then the other side of the transom trim can be added.  It looks so good for them finally to be filled in with moulding though!  All these little details are really making the house come together.

And did you notice that the oval windows in the great room in the last picture now have trim as well?  These were measured for and custom made by a different company and then installed this week.  The same goes true for the arched windows in the dining room and in the entry.

Besides all of the trimwork, they also added some more detail on the cabinetry.  Matt pointed out that if we added crown all the way around the kitchen hood (like I wanted) that the crown would basically touch the other pieces of crown in the coiffured ceiling.  So that’s out of the question…so that’s a bummer.  But I still think it looks good as is without it – definitely my favorite feature in the kitchen, and it’s pretty fun that I got to design it!  Feet were also added to a few cabinets throughout the house – which I also had custom designed based on some pictures of kitchens that I liked on Houzz.

Tile work also continued this week.  Although choosing and shopping for tile was my absolute least favorite thing to do for the entire build, I love seeing it all installed.  Most of our selections were pretty basic, but even seeing white subway tile instead of drywall is fun.  On top of that, the tile my mom and I chose for the backsplash behind the range arrived and I brought that out to the house.  On Wednesday, I met the tiling sub onsite to go through the layout with him.  Originally, we were going to have a different border that had a dark gray bardglio marble liner and then a white chair rail that matches the subway tile backsplash.  Unfortunately though, the bardiglio came in and looked too blue to really coordinate with the beautiful mosaic tile.  So we ended up using a carrara marble chair rail.  We needed it this week though so there wasn’t any time to special order in the profile of the moulding that I wanted.  Luckily, good ol’ Home Depot carries one that will work perfectly.  Not so perfectly is that you have to find the marble in gray and white.  And when you see them at the stores, about 80% of them look white with brown veining.  Ick.  I’m not kidding you – to find the 12 pieces that we needed to frame the backsplash, my mom and I went to 6 different Home Depot stores!  Unreal.  But now that we have them,  I love them and totally worth the drive time to find them. Plus at $6 each, they were about 7 times cheaper than the ones that I wanted to order in!  Score!!!  I hope it gets installed back behind the range soon – I can’t wait to see it on the wall!

The painters were also in the house this week.  They’ve set up a Dexter kill room, er, um, a “spray booth” in the downstairs storage room .  That room was ALWAYS creepy with the concrete floors and unfinished walls and ceilings but this tops it.  I can’t wait for electrical finishes to finally put some lights in this space.  It’s beyond creepy and way too dark in there now.

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The painters have set up a spray booth in the storage room downstairs where they can paint doors and whatever else they have. I’m steering clear of this space though until they take down all of the plastic. A little too Dexter-esque for my liking.

And one of my favorite doors was also installed this week!  We have a dutch pocket door between the mudroom and the hallway.  This way we can just pull out the bottom half of the door to keep our dog Bella in the mudroom during the day.  No baby gates needed here!  Isn’t it fantastic?  It’ll be so nice instead of shutting the entire door on her while we’re gone during the day – I hate doing that now in our rental house.

Also, the septic installation began this week.  After getting the septic notice on the title recorded with King County and submitted to the health department, the septic stub-out was released and they were ready to do the install right away.  By Saturday, they had the tank set in the ground.  While Joel and I checked out the progress inside the house, we laid out a blanket and the boys ate their Subway lunch by having a picnic on top of the rock pile.  Little do they know that that’ll eventually be part of the septic drainfield!

Septic & Private Well Permit = Approved

We are pretty fortunate when it comes to our septic design.  Since our lot previously had an approved building permit, there was also a previously approved septic design.  Before we bought our property, during the site feasibility study period in May 2013, we hired Huard Septic Design to confirm that the site passed a preliminary perc test.  As it turns out, Dave Huard actually did the septic design on our lot in the past.  Fantastic news because he was already ready familiar with our property and the soil conditions.

Back in early August 2014, we contacted Huard Septic Design again to create us a septic design.  Really my only concern would be the future landscaping that we’d want to do on the property – terracing the yard, and regrading the back of the property to increase the usability.  I spoke with Dave Huard and he said that a small amount of regrading is allowed in the septic drainfield area, but not a whole lot.  With that information, I revamped our backyard grading and gave him the grading plan below (yellow area being where I’d want them to locate the septic system).

Highlighted in yellow is the area that I graded for the septic drainfield.

Highlighted in yellow is the area that I graded for the septic drainfield.

After initial research to gather existing data in his office, Dave, from Huard Septic Design went to the property to stake the proposed well location and dig six soil test holes on August 27th, 2014.  Although we already knew the soil characteristics from our preliminary perc test last year, the holes needed to be dug (and well staked) for the County’s inspection.  For you geotechs out there, the soil logs all came in with approximately the same information:

0-5” sod/top soil

5-30” brown sandy loam with roots (type 4)

30”-54” gray gravely loamy sand with cobble (type 4)

54” compacted

Back at the office, Dave really did fantastic!  He utilized the (yellow) space that I graded for him and designed a pressure-distribution system.  This is one of the less expensive types of septic systems (phew) as shown in the design below.

Pressure distribution septic design

Pressure distribution septic design

After my approval of the design, and a check for the application to the King County Health Department, our septic design application and private well application were submitted to the health department.  Huard Septic made the submittal really easy for us – they gathered all of the information needed for the submittal, including doing all of the private well research and submitted everything on our behalf.  It truly couldn’t have been easier.

Our plans were submitted to the County on September 16th and since our property already had an approved septic design in the past, it was submitted as *expired*.  Theoretically, it could have taken between 10 to 12 weeks to hear back from the County, but since it we were submitting approval for a previously approved (yet expired) design, it flew by, and two weeks later on October 2nd we received the approval in the mail!

Perc-ing Up

Today was our Perc Test…when we found out if our soils are adequate for having a septic drainfield design or not. We met Lance (our realtor) and Dave Huard (from Huard Septic Design & Monitoring) out on the property in the afternoon.

For some background information: Dave did the septic design for the previous house that was to be built on the property, and happens to work with Lance quite a bit. Dave is extremely booked right now, but because of the great working relationship that Dave and Lance have, Dave fit us in with only a week’s notice. If I was to call and try to get a perc test done (without Lance) the soonest that Dave’s office could have fit me in would have been a month from now…which would have been after our closing date. I’m so thankful that we are working with Lance!

Initially, I thought today’s meeting was just for discussing the perc test process, property history, and seeing when Dave could fit us in, but Dave showed up with his mini excavator ready to work! It was fantastic, the weather was perfect for us – blue skies and sunny, and we were all there able to get the results we were looking for on the spot. Dave dug five holes around the property in the approximate area that we’d put the drainfield to look for soil depths. I learned that although it’s called a “perc” test, back in the late 1980’s they stopped actually using water measurements to determine if a soil will perc or not. Now, the drainfield designer will dig holes and examine both the soil characteristics/classification as well as the water table elevation (if present).

After digging the five holes, Dave could tell immediately that the soils would be great for a septic system – any system type too. There’s different types of drainfield systems and the more complex the system is, or the worse your soils are, the more expensive the septic system is. We’re lucky because our soils are good enough to have any type of system. The only limit we may have is the amount of space available between our house placement and the wetland buffer area on the property. If we don’t allot the drainfield enough room, then we may have to go with a more expensive system that takes up less space. All that will need to be decided during final design of the system, after we’ve chosen a house plan and developed the site plan. For now, all we needed was the preliminary results that the soils meet perc requirements.

A big “Thank You” to both Lance and of course Dave for fitting us in despite his extremely packed schedule!