bright stair 2

one of the more distinctive interior features is the steel stair with a somewhat unorthodoxed galvanized finish – very industrial with its diamond-plate treads and cable railings.  the fabricator and i spent a lot of time exploring the possibilities of how to put this thing together.  the first round of detailing included separate components to be assembled on-site.  however, the resulting aesthetic would be more “clunky” due to the tread to stringer attachment details.  after some coaxing from the architect, chris (the fabricator) concluded that he could indeed weld-up the main carriage in one piece, transport to massachusetts for it’s galvanizing bath then deliver and install (insert!) into it’s final resting place in the house.  indeed, it did happen and it looks great!  here’s a series of photos chronicling the stair journey and installation:

i hope to have photos of completed stair next week.

stair fabricated by Stillwater Metalworks of Bangor.  Chris Higgins, proprietor.

bright stair

bright stairhere’s the steel stair, freshly galvanized, sitting in the shop in bangor awaiting installation tomorrow.  BTW, we do expect the brightness of the galvanization to fade a bit, in time.  if all goes well (fingers and toes crossed!), by end of day tomorrow we should be able to get to second floor WITHOUT a ladder, if we so choose.

there’s a rumor that some of the concrete countertops may have landed, too.  looking forward to another LONG day in portland tomorrow!  i think we’re getting closer?! – to the end, that is….

if you needah, we gottah!

first, a quick update….construction continues to crawl toward completion.  cabinets have been installed; concrete countertops are in-process; interior painting is scheduled to be completed soon; backyard landscaping, patio and fencing should be completed next week; and, other odds and ends are falling into place.  HOPEFULLY, by this time next week the galvanized steel stair will be installed! so, in spite of the quiet here at the blog (my social media has been suffering lately due to time constraints), we have been pressing toward completion, albeit later than we had hoped for, but….

our awesome galvanized metal gutter and downspouts were installed a few weeks ago.  they’ve added a nice level of techno-detail to exterior.  in addition to looking pretty cool, they’ll direct roof run-off into a rainwater collection system (rain barrels) for use in watering the gardens and lawn.

nice gutter/downspout configuration at front entry court.  cool photo, too.

nice gutter/downspout configuration at front entry court. cool photo, too.

more very cool hardware at downspout.

more very cool hardware at downspout.

downspout installation will appear more sensible when rain barrel(s) and fence are installed.

downspout installation will appear more sensible when rain barrel(s) and fence are installed.

gotta love those gutter brackets!

gotta love those gutter brackets!

Downeast Gutters from aurora, maine installed the gutter system.  their voicemail greeting is “if you need her, we got her”.  BUT, you MUST use wicked good downeast accent.  if you do, then it goes something like this “if you needah, we gottah”.  so, “got her”….”gottah” = gutter! got it?!

SUNNY BOY

SLOWLY, the corrugated galvalume metal siding is making its way onto the exterior walls.  after months of looking at housewrap and a grid work of overlapping 1×3 strapping, the house is receiving its outer layer of skin.  it looks great; it’s durable; requires no maintenance; has high recycled content; is 100% recyclable; and, my client LOVES it!IMG_6487-2

Solar Hot Water is up and running.  We’re making hot water!

Hot water tank.  Glycol mixture is heated at the solar panels on the roof and pumped through the copper pipes which are connected to a coil in the bottom of the tank.  The coil heats the water in the tank.

Hot water tank. Glycol mixture is heated at the solar panels on the roof and pumped through the copper pipes which are connected to a coil in the bottom of the tank. The coil heats the water in the tank.

This monitor tells us that the glycol temp at the collectors on the roof is 156.3°F.  The temperature in the tank was 139°F.  Readings were taken yesterday morning at 9AM.

This monitor tells us that the glycol temp at the collectors on the roof is 156.3°F. The temperature in the tank was 139°F. Readings were taken yesterday morning at 9AM.

Solar PV is up and running, too.  Yup, we’re making electricity!!!!

This is the inverter.  Basically, it converts the DC electricity generated by the PV panels (AND the sun!) into AC electricity.  Yeah, I know, you might think it should be called a converter, huh?  But, a converter changes AC into DC.  As I type this, I'm simultaneously shrugging shoulders and rolling eyes!  Kindly note that geek-O feedback that will further understanding on this point is welcome. ;-)

This is the inverter. It converts the DC electricity generated by the PV panels into AC electricity. Yeah, I know, you might think it would be called a converter, huh? But, a converter changes AC into DC. As I type this, I’m simultaneously shrugging shoulders and rolling eyes! Kindly note that geek-O feedback that will further understanding on this point is DEFINITELY welcome. ;-)

As of yesterday, Mr. Sun (with a little help from some silicon, aluminum, etc.) has saved 339.81 lbs CO2 since being activated - sorry, I don't know when that occurred.  A more detailed rundown on all things energy-related is forthcoming.  BTW, gotta love the name of the inverter - SUNNY BOY!  (man, some marketing-types were thinkin' overtime on that one!).

As of yesterday, Mr. Sun (with a little help from some silicon, aluminum, etc.) has saved 339.8 lbs CO2 since being activated – sorry, I don’t know when activation occurred. A more detailed blog post on all things energy-related is forthcoming. BTW, gotta love the name of the inverter – SUNNY BOY! (man, the marketing-types were thinkin’ overtime on that one!).

Revision Energy of Portland is our renewable energy consultant/contractor (you can find their contact info on the “team” page).  363HOUSE will be featured in Revision’s June email newsletter.

 

wood floor

yes, we are moving forward again.  the “restart” has been a little slower than i had hoped.  causes for our standstill are many – my absence for two weeks; cabinetwork budget issues required a few weeks to remedy; delivery and acclimation of wood flooring; delivery of interior doors and trim, to name a few.  the good news is now we have most of the parts needed for interior fit out to move along in a ready manner.  so, here we go!

the flooring at the second floor has always been planned to be wood. but, the species and finish type was only recently decided.  jessica had been planning on using bamboo flooring.  it has some appealing sustainable qualities – namely, bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource.  however, i’ve had longstanding misgivings about bamboo flooring. these include: it’s not wood, it’s plant fiber – the bamboo fibers are “sliced and diced” and then glued together under heat and pressure to create a wood-llike product – what is the glue?, how much energy is required for that “heat and pressure”?; bamboo is mostly harvested in southeast Asia where it is then processed into flooring, then shipped halfway around the world to land here in Maine; i question its ability to be refinished in the future (can it be sanded?); and, i’ve been told its very difficult to install (hardness of the glue!).  bamboo flooring’s upsides include the aforementioned renewability, popularity and hardness.  so, given my misgivings, i urged my client to consider a more local flooring resource – pre-finished maple flooring grown, harvested, milled and finished right here in maine.  granted, maple takes a lot longer to renew (vs. bamboo), but the product we used is a local resource (A LOT less than 500 miles from the jobsite); provides local Maine jobs; has a very low VOC finish; installation is familiar with commonly available tools and know-how; can be sanded and re-finished (longevity/durability); and, it looks good!  what’s not to like about all that, except for the renewable part, i suppose?  oh yeah, this locally sourced product is surprisingly affordable – about $8/sf to buy.

premium (no dark heartwood) maple flooring helps to bounce the abundant daylight to provide bright interiors, even on this cloudy day.  not sure about that demon trash can????

premium (no dark heartwood) maple flooring helps to bounce the abundant daylight to provide bright interiors, even on this cloudy day. not sure about that demon trash can????

manufacturer and contact info for Maine Traditions right on the box!

manufacturer and contact info for Maine Traditions right on the box!

VPL – vertical platform lift

Gallery

This gallery contains 12 photos.

VPL (Vertical Platform Lift) also/formerly known as wheelchair lift.  quite the piece of machinery.  photo gallery below documents how the 13’+ tall tower was inserted into the shaft.  i was skeptical  but, kevin (the installer) kept saying “yeah, we’ll git … Continue reading

accessible door sill detail

one lesson-learned from a new house we built for jessica in 2004 was the impact of exterior door sills.  finding the proper balance of “flushness” (minimizing the “bump” at the door) and weather control (keeping the elements outside where they belong) is the ongoing battle, especially when accommodating a wheelchair.  we thought we had adequately addressed the issue in 2004, but we were wrong. those doors have a very robust weather-resistant sill assembly.  unfortunately, that equated into a robust wheelchair barrier, as well.  we were able to mitigate to some extent by installing small aluminum “ramps” at each door, but the solution remains a basic “fail”.  so, in this house we’ve been determined not to repeat that mistake (we’ll just create some new ones!).  the following documents our low-impact door sill detail.

section detail showing basic components and dimensions.  note: dimensions are specific to the drewexim profile and dimensions.

section detail showing basic components and dimensions. resulting “bump” at interior door sill is about 3/8″ – an easy roll-over for jessica.  one reason we liked the drewexim doors was the availability of this low-profile sill.  the biggest challenge in this detail is providing a suitable thermal break between the edge of the floor slab and the granite.

photo showing recess in foundation wall for lowered sill assembly.

photo showing recess in foundation wall for lowered sill assembly.

here it is at rough install stage.  when backfilled/paved, the granite sill will mostly disappear.  granite seems like a somewhat "precious" material to bury, but these sill pieces only cost about $60 each.  a small price to pay for the durability of granite in this harsh environment.

here it is at rough install stage. when backfilled/paved, the granite sill will mostly disappear. granite seems like a somewhat “precious” material to bury, but these sill pieces only cost about $60 each. a small price to pay for the durability of granite in this harsh environment.

here's what it looks like from exterior.

here’s what it looks like from exterior.

we look forward to exterior paving and jessica’s first “test drive”!

 

 

sunshine daydream

in advance of today’s “storm of the century”, yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day!  would have been a great day to be making some of that FREE electricity, but our roofer struck again.  so, PV installation completion delayed yet another week.  guess i was a bit premature in heralding our clearance of subcontractor hell, huh?  but, hey, it’s not all bad.  sheetrock is steaming right along.  ALL sheetrock has been hung and most has received first coat of finish.  so, with that abundant sunshine making deep interior penetration yesterday, the living space was lit up (and warmed-up!).  jessica, todd and louie made a quick tour – they LOVE it!  all-in-all, a pretty good day. :-)

bright, clear mid-winter sky.  11:00AM.  look at the shadow.  you can see that our NE to SW orientation will serve us well in the morning!

bright, clear mid-winter sky. 11:00AM. look at the shadow. you can see that our NE to SW orientation will serve us well in the morning!

11:00AM sunshine making it's way deep into the interior supplying abundant light and heat!

11:00AM sunshine making it’s way deep into the interior supplying abundant light and heat!

nice shot of our solar hot water panels (top left) and partial solar PV panels.  that metal roof looks pretty good, too!

nice shot of our solar hot water panels (top left) and partial solar PV panels.  of course, will be a better shot when ALL panels are up and running!  that metal roof looks pretty good, too!

 

 

 

 

sheetrock!

as predicted in the last post, the fun has officially started!  one of my favorite phases of construction is sheetrock.  for the first time, the spaces really start to take shape.  suddenly, the rooms seem larger.  and, the house brightens as daylight bounces around the interior.  most of the second floor was sheetrocked in three days.  this week we expect to get the most of the first floor hung.  so, we could be painting (primer) in a few weeks.

todd's studio will be a bright workspace!

todd’s studio will be a bright workspace!

looking ahead a bit, IF all goes well, we could be making electricity by the end of the week!!!!

rough-in complete!

sheetrock starts tomorrow!!!! never thought i’d be so glad to “move-on”….given the compact nature of this house – lack of basement and limited attic space – the last 4 weeks, or so, have not been a lot of fun.  LOTS of “reconciliation” (better word than compromise!) between various subs, carpenters, architect and owner.  but, we’ve made it through and look forward to the next phase, that pristine “white-out” phase known as sheetrock (one of my favorites). all the messy wires, pipes, blocking, etc. get covered up and, for the first time, the house will assume its spatial quality.

smarthome cabling homeruns

smarthome cabling spaghetti.  i know, hard to believe by looking at this mess, but all these wires will be connected to various devices, controllers, etc. and allow for the wireless control of most building systems via an iPhone or iPad mini – note the irony in the term “wireless”?!