Saturday, July 28, 2012

Just a little surprised

This was a nice surprise. 

We didn't request or ask for this feature, but are delighted to have it.  Now there is a place for the dryer hose to tuck into so it will snug nicely into the little washer/dryer nook we've created.

This was a funny surprise.

It was interesting to look up into the rafters of the garage and realize they use cardboard at the vents.  Apparently that will stay there permanently.  I'd have thought they would use something that doesn't have the capability to deteriorate, but I trust them?  No, really.  I do.  Rob tells me this is common practice and builders have been doing it this way for years. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Exterior

We thought you might enjoy seeing a different view of the house.

Can anyone spot the difference between these two pictures? 
They were taken about a week apart.

And here is a sneak peek at what we've selected for our exterior.
The roof, the stucco, the fascia and trim and the rock (this is the color section, but it is not really that red in real life - I remember trying very hard not to choose red rock)
This is actually the style of the rock that we are going to have installed.  In the picture, I like this color so much better than the color above, but I remember having it be the opposite in the showroom.  I even took the rock outside to take a picture of it in natural light.

This is the color, in natural light.  It still looks really red to me.  Ack.  Now I'm Nervous Again!

And this is the color of our front door.  It's Copper Fire, by Kwal.  Love the name.  Love the color.


Every one knows that over the course of building a house there will be changes that need to be made. We have been so impressed with how Visionary responds to the little mistakes that have cropped up here and there.  We've also been very impressed with how few mistakes have had to be fixed.

There should be a door where the red marks are.
The framers forgot to put a door to the mechanical room.  This wall was one of the big walls that support the whole house, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they did it that way on purpose.  I figured they wanted the studs there to give it the extra stability until it was in place.  Jesse laughed and said they just plain forgot to put it in. 

There should not be a wall here.
We added windows to the bathroom wall so we would have natural light in the whole bathroom, not just the shower.  The shower was framed all the way to the ceiling, which would have created a really cool shower!  But a darker bathroom.  So, now that space is open except for one post that ties the wall into the ceiling.  Rob wanted the post down too, but that would have created a very wobbly wall.  This would not be good since that wall has to support most of the plumbing for the shower and the glass door.  Nope, we don't want wobbles in our house.

These pipes need to be moved into the wall, out of the bedroom.
Here you can see the plumbers have already come in and jack-hammered the concrete out.  We were very glad that we had taken good pictures (and videos) of the PEX layout.  That allowed us to draw a circle and say with confidence there was no PEX underneath that would be destroyed by the jackhammer.

Crummy patch work
This hasn't been repaired yet, but Jesse has reassured us that it will be level and smooth before we close on the house so the carpet will lay nicely over the patch and it won't be bumpy and uneven.  Based on his past work, we trust him.

The gas pipe was moved closer to the edge of the house.
According to Jesse, we have the pickiest inspector in North Logan.  Actually, I think he said the pickiest inspector in the whole valley.  We like that.  He doesn't as much.  There really haven't been that many dings overall to slow us down and when they get one, either Jesse is up fixing it or he has his subs up taking care of it asap.

Rob and I were at the house measuring to see how the vanity was going to fit into the powder room and realized that the electrician must have assumed we were installing a 36" vanity instead of a 38" vanity.  Not a big deal, but one of the electric boxes needed to be moved to the left two and a half inches.  Rob called Jesse to see if he wanted to call the electrician or if Rob could just move it.  (it was a matter of loosening two screws, scooting the box over and tightening the screws again).  Jesse said draw a picture of what we needed and he'd call the electrician.  By the time we had the picture drawn and were sticking it to the stud above the box, Jesse was there.  He'd been at another job and when he couldn't get the electrician, he decided to run over and take care of it himself.  Five minutes later, the fix was made.  We were happy and he was happy because the sheetrockers could keep working.

Visionary has always said, catch the mistakes as quickly as possible and let us know so we can fix them as quickly as possible.  Based on these experiences they say what they mean and they mean what they say.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Visionary prides themselves on having energy efficient, comfortable homes.  In fact, that was one of the selling points that really attracted us to them.

All of our vents in the attic are extremely well insulated.

When it came time to insulate inside the house they use net and blown insulation.  First they had a sub walk through with a can of spray foam insulation and he filled in every crack.  Then they put the net up.  It was fun watching the sub with the staple gun go to town making sure the net was securely fastened to all the studs.  We were relieved to see the "net" was really a thin fabric.  We had images in our head of nets or netting and couldn't imagine how that would hold anything in place. 

Then the sub with the hose went through and filled in all the cavities. 

I thought it was interesting how the sheetrockers actually sliced through the net in several places before they put the drywall in place. I guess some of the cavities were a little over full and they wanted to make sure the drywall didn't budge. (by the way - people in the know....what is the difference between sheetrock and drywall? are they interchangeable? should I use one term instead of the other? is it like Kleenex vs. tissue?  I'm just curious, leave a comment and let me know)

Once the insulation was up we were really able to get a feel for the size of the rooms.

They even insulated between the great room and the master bedroom.  We assumed they'd have to insulate behind the fireplace, but were thrilled to see it go across the whole wall.  That will help with soundproofing and help keep the different zones moderated.

It's interesting to go into the garage and see all the different insulation types.  Here you see an exterior wall (pink batts) and an interior wall (blown and net)

These are all exterior walls in the smaller garage, so they used the fiberglass batts.  We are curious why the batts in the bottom section are brown.  We assume it has something to do with fire retardant because we were told the bracing between the studs is there to slow down fires from traveling up the walls.

It was really cool to show up and see how the attic furnace room was completely covered with icynene foam.  They scraped the bottom flat so they could get the sheetrock up on the garage ceiling. 

To me it looks like the beginning of Hansel and Gretel's Gingerbread Cottage.  It just needs some gingerbread and candies!

That's the stuff Justin wanted to put between the joists after we were done running the PEX for the main floor radiant heat.  His quote came in SO HIGH that we said no thanks...we'll just do the insulation ourselves.

We were going to install fiberglass batts between the joists to save money (and I was NOT looking forward to that job), but we had Jesse get us a quote from the insulation subs just to see what they would charge.  I told Rob if it was less than $1500 I wanted to have them do it.  His threshold was $1000 so we compromised and said $1200.  They came in under a grand so it was an easy yes.  They had it done so much quicker than we could have and we didn't have to deal with the itchies for a week. 

Hooray!  With the insulation up the house is quieter and cooler.  Just like it's supposed to be.

Kitchen Cabinets and Paint Selection Preview

We first met with Dave at Rivermill Cabinets several months into our planning and design process.  We talked about how Rob and I wanted the cabinets to look.  We were looking for soft white cabinets on the perimeter (the outside walls) and darker wood stained cabinets on the island (and in the bathrooms). 

I didn't want traditional raised panels and I didn't want them to be totally Shaker style either.   I was looking through his sample doors showing him what I liked and didn't like about them and he said he could combine two ideas and simplify them for our doors.  It sounded like just what I was looking for. 

Then we had a talk about color.  I showed him the sample of granite from the slab we had chosen at Arizona Tile in SLC.  I said I wanted the white to be a very soft grayed white, not stark and cold.  He said he could get a gray glaze instead of a brown or black glaze and I said yes, please!  The brown was easy.  We wanted a dark, rich, full brown.  Not rustic and not formal.  He showed us two sample doors and it was an easy decision from there.

He said he would whip up a sample door for us to approve before he started building them all. 

Then it was time to start waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting.

It was time to finalize our selections with Visionary, including the paint colors, and I asked if I could wait to see the cabinet door sample so the whites wouldn't clash.  I know it's silly, but it would have driven me crazy to have the undertones of the cabinets and the trim clash.  They said they could wait for a while, but last week I got a reminder email and then I got another one.  I hadn't heard back from Dave, even though I'd sent two emails asking about the sample door.  I tried calling and got a message saying that number had been temporarily disconnected.  I tried to be calm, because I knew this cabinet company has one of the best reputations in Cache Valley.  I knew they were always busy and ours was a relatively small job.  (but I was, honestly, a little nervous)

So in the meantime, I've been looking at white and light neutral paint colors a lot and often.  I bought a paint deck from Sherwin Williams, then I bought one from KWAL (once I was told that is the paint our subs use). 

I finally narrowed it down to five choices (two trim colors and three for the walls and ceiling) and bought sample quarts of each so I could paint up a sample board.  Rob and I took the sample boards up to the house with the carpet, tile and granite samples.  With the walls insulated (white, not pink), we felt like the light coming through the windows was pretty true.  We quickly realized the white trim color that the guy at the paint store suggested would not work and decided on the trim color I had selected.  Then it was time to choose the wall color. 

Actually, this is the final ceiling color, because, if you've been in any of our homes, you will know that I use color on my walls (and have trained Rob to like color in his rooms too).  It shouldn't have been so stressful choosing a ceiling color; but when you see our ceilings you will understand that repainting them is not an easy option so I wanted to be sure I was going to be happy with them once the kitchen cabinets were in.  BUT I hadn't seen the kitchen cabinets!  What if the undertones didn't match?  LOL  (yes, I do know how crazy that sounds)

I finally decided that we were going to make a decision and hope for the best, and if it was a really horrible combination, we'd ask the cabinet guys to come up with a different white.

So, we put up the three sample boards and took down Honeywind as it was obviously too yellow.  We had Gull and White Pebble left.  Both of them looked good with the granite and the carpet, but the Gull was a little timid and just kind of matched.  White Pebble brought all the pieces to life, and really complemented the colors so we knew we had a winner and sent our color selections off to Val, at Visionary.

Yesterday morning, I got a from Tex, at Rivermill asking if we were available to come by and approve the sample doors, review the plans and select our hardware.  YES!  I said I'd be there at the first available appointment (and luckily Rob could step away from work for an hour to go with).

He pulled out the sample door and I was ecstastic.  The style was exactly what we hoped for and the color was lucious.  I pulled out the sample boards and laid them underneath. 

Guess what!  They work together!

This second picture is actually a better representation of the colors.  The top one went a little green, but it shows the two paint colors, the sample door (the actual color and style of of our cabinet doors) and the color of the island cabinets with the countertop selections.  I was so relieved and so happy to know that my "vision" is actually working and the parts are all coming together.  I went to high five Rob, but was standing on his left side, so I had to tell him, "High Five Me".  Tex thought that was funny until we explained.  His boss is also blind in one eye, so he understood.  He was really impressed with Rob's shell, but that's another story.

Mmmmn, isn't it pretty?

So we reviewed the plan and got his email address so I could send him the model #'s for all of our appliances.  Then it was time to choose the hardware.  I didn't really want ORB but thought we might have to end up with it on the white cabinets, although I was really looking for something that would work on both the perimeter and the island.  Since we will have two colors of cabinets and two colors of countertops I thought it would be better to have just one color for the hardware and figured we'd just end up with a polished nickel.  Tex listened to me say all of that and suggested a completely different color.  It's a soft gray that has just enough color in it that it works really nicely on the stained wood and picks up the gray in the glaze on the white cabinets.  It was a great suggestion.

We quickly selected our favorite style of pull but it wasn't available in the color we wanted.  So Tex showed us a really cool, contemporary pull that we quite liked, but it didn't have come large enough to use as the dishwasher pull.  Darn.  Two strikes.  Tex said he was used to spending a lot of time selecting just the right hardware and not to stress, because he had set aside an hour for our appointment.  We went through the first part of the appointment fairly quickly so we had plenty of time to figure out the hardware.

This was the third option Tex showed us.  Perfect!  Simple lines, the right color, and it comes in different sizes for the drawers and the dishwasher.  We decided we are going to install the large size at the dishwasher and also at each of the sinks so we will have a built in towel bar.  Hooray! 

Hah.  The hardware selection took just over five minutes - see, I'm not THAT picky.  :)

I'm actually really happy about the color, because it matches the pendants we bought to hang over the island.  I like it when things like that happen. 

I'm getting so excited to see it all come together.

It's the mechanics

Here is a peek into our mechanical room.

The sheetrock was installed in this room almost a month ago so the electrician and plumbers could start getting their parts installed. 

Because we have two ovens and an induction cooktop in our kitchen we needed two electric panels. 

Remind us NOT to bang any nails into this wall!

Coming from Illinois where everything is in conduit makes this quite scary to look at. The different wire colors represent the wires guage or thickness. The thick grey cable is the main trunk line from the electic meter.

The plumbers have installed the water softener and an expansion tank that is hanging from the ceiling.  The expansion tank will ease or eliminate problems that occur due to thermal expansion. When the water is heated it expands. Without the expansion tank, you can end up with dripping temperature and pressure relief valves or faucets.

We are still waiting for the boiler and the water maker to be installed.  We were under the impression that the water maker was going to be delivered last week when the tub was brought up, but we haven't seen it yet. Once the boiler is installed we will post pictures and talk about that a bit.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Plight of the Hummingbirds

About a week ago, I noticed a hummingbird trapped at the master bedroom window.  The slider was open wide on the right side of the window, but the silly little bird had no concept of going side to side, only up and down.   I watched him for about five minutes and decided to try to encourage him into the living area where the large sliding door was wide open.  I tried to go into the room stealthily, but it didn't work.  I startled him and he flew quickly (and a little wildly) straight into the dining area windows.  He hit hard and was out cold.

I was so afraid he was fatally injured.  Rob grabbed a dustbin and went over to "scoop" him up.  When Rob touched him, he startled again and went straight up into the rafters of the attic.  We hope he found his way out.

This afternoon, we found another hummingbird trapped inside.  This time he was in the garage.  These windows do not open so no matter where he went, he couldn't escape.  There is no garage door, just the huge opening for the door.  Plenty of room for a little bird to escape.

We tried covering part of the window with a large piece of cardboard hoping he would fly to the light.  Nope... 

Straight up into the rafters again.

I wondered if I should go borrow one of Laurie's birdfeeders to encourage him out.  Rob figured that would probably just attract more of the little hummers and then we'd have a houseful of hummingbirds.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Low-voltage rough wiring

I spent the past 3 days installing the low-voltage wiring (July 12, 13, and 14th). Thanks to Brian who came up on Thursday afternoon and also for Mom who brought us dinner that evening.

Thursday morning I headed over to the house. I prepared the night before by loading up the truck and cooler. I purchased the wire from Home Depot and Lynn's a few days before. I've been working on the design over the past couple of months. I was trying to take into consideration that we can use wireless internet and phone. Still, I wanted to have wired internet in key places throughout the house.

The wiring that I provided was for internet (CAT6), cable or satellite (RG6), speakers, phone (although we are planning on just using our mobile phones), and thermostat (for the radiant heat). The design had to account for the different options like using Comcast, Dish, or perhaps antenna for television. The same is true for internet. I might go with Digis, Comcast, or Centurylink depending on who has it for our area and the deal of the day.

Here is a list of the wire and length in feet. After updating the design with the "on the fly" changes, the totals actually are pretty close.

14/2 359
14/4 315
Cat6 1046
RG6 1314
Grand Total 3115

I will be using keystone plates for the finish work. These are flexible box covers that let us put internet, cable, speaker, and other types in the same box.


I have a total of 65 jacks, but will just be covering up (blank plate) 15. This leaves 45 ends that I will be working on when we do the finish work. The finish comes after the sheet rock is up.

I also wired for 6 pairs or ceiling speakers. 4 pairs will be installed now and the others for the future (outside deck and great room by the fireplace).

One big part of the design is that everything "home runs" back to the mechanical room. I will set up a rack for all the equipment including the sound system, video, and internet. Sue has found a good and less expensive rack option from Ikea. A true professional rack system is very expensive. What Sue found will work really well. The front of the rack will be behind a glass door in my office. The back (for all the connections) is in the mechanical room.

I also installed some conduit or smurf tube (because it is blue I guess) between the mechanical room and the family room wall, and the mechanical room and above the fireplace. The conduit is just in case I forgot something. I also put in a 1 1/2 PCV conduit between a box on the family room wall at TV level and the same wall at outlet or floor level. This is so I can run things from a console below the TV. We will run the Wii wires up to the TV using this. I was going to put the Wii in the mechanical room, but Sue reminded me that it would be tough to play Rock Band from back there!

On Thursday I kind of got a slow start. It seemed that the electricians needed to be where I wanted to be. Still I got all the boxes mounted. I had just started to run wire when Brian arrived. Brian started to work at an incredible pace. By the time we got done on Thursday night we had a lot of the wire run and pretty much all the holes drilled between floors and in the joists. Thanks again Brian!

Friday I was on my own and made good progress. I was slowed a bit because of the weather (see my other post) and some work that I needed to fit in. Friday night I did a bunch of cleaning. The floor was pretty much  covered with saw dust and wood chips from the holes we drilled. Not all was our fault, the plumbers and electricians added to the mess.

Saturday was the 3rd day. I was pretty confident that I would get things done. I did cover the front porch with plastic to keep water out of the basement, but other than that I worked pretty much through the day. I think overall I spent about 35 hours. Brian was helping me for about 6 or 7.

This picture shows the main group of wires going up into the attic. All the wires into the attic go up at this point which is behind the fireplace. You can see the stub of the flue which is not yet connected to the fireplace.
This is a typical box although most of mine are blue. The electricians use black. I have some orange boxes in the places where I needed to connect conduit or in this case where I could not have the box go deep into the wall. This also shows how we stubbed out for the thermostat. Brian told me how to do that, you just stub out the wire on a stud.

This is for the ceiling speaker. I could have gone without using the speaker bracket, but that would require getting in the attic after the sheet rock was done or making sure I was sure where the wire was so I could cut out a circle in the right place. I like this option for several reasons.

This the basement wall where we will have a TV monitor mounted. There are 2 boxes. The top box will have connections to the monitor. The bottom is for the items that will be in a small console. The center channel speaker sits on that console so that is one of the connections. The lower box will also be used as a junction box for the right and left speakers. I ran 14/4 to that location and ran 14/2 to the speakers.



Before and after the wire hair cut! One of the last things I did before declaring the job done;  I shorted the cables in the mechanical to be above the floor about 6 inches. I re-labeled everything and wrote on the cable where possible (black does not show up on black).

This will still give me plenty of wire to loop up to the components once they are on the rack (or IKEA hanging shelves).

I then bound up the wires into a single bundle. This should keep things in order during all the sheet rock and other installation. I'm thinking about wrapping it all up in plastic wrap to keep it clean. I don't trust those guys!

Oh - see all the wire scrap on the floor? Well, I tossed it in the trash!

Doors, Windows, and the fireplace

Thursday July 12th through Saturday July 14, I was busy working on the low voltage wiring. Thursday the electricians were in the house finishing up their work. Friday was much quieter except for two deliveries and installations. 

In the morning, the heating guys showed up with the fireplace. Brent (from Mountain Valley Heating) was one of the guys delivering the fireplace. He is the owner. He took some time to talk to me about the radiant heating, chip in the driveway, and other things (items for another blog post perhaps).

They removed the fireplace from the box and put it in place. Here it is: 

I did not do any measuring to make sure that everything will work, but it looks great to me.

An hour or so later, a truck arrived with the outside doors. Two guys unloaded the doors and put them in basically the right places. They did not install them. The only outside door not delivered or already in place is the sliding door to the deck.

About an hour after that, another truck showed up with two guys. They worked to install the doors. The door into the cold storage could not be installed because the framing was off an inch or so. That will be fixed later. Here is the door out to the basement patio. This door has blinds built into it. We thought that would be a good idea since this door faces west.

 Here is the front door:

And the "man" door in the garage. I don't know why they call it that. Sue will use it as much as me!

Rain water - how to keep it out of the basement

A week or so ago, we had a day of rain. We needed it, but the house was not ready, at least to the point where rain would not come in.

While working on the low-voltage wiring (Friday, July 13th), I saw a storm approaching. I decided I would clean up so the rain water would not mix with wood chips and sawdust. I started sweeping and moving other things like a newly delivered door.

Sure enough, the storm hit. It was mostly wind, but rain did come. After a few minutes of hearing rain on the house, I started to see it pour in the cold storage. I went upstairs and saw the rain coming off the house (no gutters yet) and into the porch forms. We don't have a porch yet either.

It was good I got things cleaned up, but the water still was a mess to work around.

That night, I decided to rig up a plastic tarp over the porch because we had storms in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday. Here is a picture of the result.

A storm hit Saturday afternoon. I was still working and got to witness my work. I did have to adjust the flow over the plastic a bit, but it worked great. Just some minimal water, but nothing like before.

I sent a txt to Jesse and told him what I did. I hope it was OK!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

It's a Small World

We know we live in a small town when we run into our builder and our job super at Home Depot.

Rob & I were picking up some last minute items we needed before we started our dry radiant installation.  We were discussing which right angle drill we should purchase when Jesse showed up.  We don't know how he found us.  It's a really big store, but he walked right up to us (it was like he knew exactly where we were) and we had a mini-site conference right then and there. 

I asked him how he found us and he just laughed and said, "Oh, you know." 

No - I don't.  Are we loud talkers?  Does he have a special ability to track his home owners?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Just over a week later, we were back at the big Orange store so Rob could show me the A/V panel that HD carries and Justin walked by and recognized us so he came over and we had a nice chat.

He gets really excited about things and starts making all kinds of suggestions about what we can do to really make our house super cool!  We are like, yeah, that sounds great.  Will YOU pay for it because we don't want to.  But he also offers practical suggestions using a gorilla rack (or something similar) for the A/V equipment instead of buying a more expensive customized rack.

We are taking bets on whom we will run into next.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A week can sure change things

I've been out of town for a week now and Rob just got back from traveling for a couple of days.  When he pulled up to the lot early this morning THIS is what he found!

He sent me this picture and I just had to put it up quickly. 

We have Windows!  We have Shingles!  We have Tyvek Wrap!

We have a house. 

I'm not sure what things look like inside.  The plumber, electrician and heating subs have been hard at work.  Hopefully Rob will snap some good pictures because by the time I get back home the four-way inspection will be complete and they will be starting on sheetrock.

In other news, the baby is gorgeous and is settling into life nicely, but that's another story (on another blog).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Wish. Granted.

July 3
Karen asked that I take a picture of the view to the east out the window of the guest bedroom.  She's excited about being able to come up with Hannah.  Karen brought her with when she was helping us with the dry radiant and Hannah made herself right at home.  At one point she headed upstairs and we heard her walking around the main floor exploring.  Next thing I knew I saw her peeking out the hole for the sliding door looking at us through the unfinished deck.  She saw Karen and came running down the stairs so she could be close to her mommy again.  Funny dog!  I think she'll like coming to visit too.

I think we'll place the bed so this is the view that you will see when you wake up in the morning.  I'm going to have to make sure that the landscaping doesn't block this amazing view.  There will eventually be a house across the street, but unless it is a three story mansion it shouldn't block too much of the view.  Imagine falling asleep to the moon shining on the mountainside and then waking up to the sun peeking up over the peaks.
I don't know if you noticed the little rock wall out the window. 
Yes, folks...I get not one, but TWO rock walls. 

Mark (with the track hoe) did a great job finishing the rock wall in the backyard.  Rob was unhappy about the extra expense but we both agreed that if we didn't take care of it now, it probably would never happen.  It creates such a cozy gathering area in the lower yard and will be a lovely area for a fire pit. 

Because the rocks are stacked with so much surface showing on the top it almost looks like an amphitheater.  I'm anxious to see how the dirt settles over the summer and I'm sure a couple of good rainstorms will help.
It's fun to walk around the house and start thinking about how we want to use our yard.  I'm starting to research WaterWise and FireWise landscaping ideas.  I'm a little discouraged at how sandy our backyard turned out to be.  But if I think about it we are building on what used to be the beach for Lake Bonneville.
This picture was taken the evening of July 3rd. The roofers got the roofing felt up, the plumbers got a good start on the rough plumbing and the heating crew dropped off their trailer. 

Rob and I stayed up at the lot to watch the firework show.  There were three other groups that drove up to watch them from the hill above our house.  I'm sure Laurie & Bryce's neighborhood was much more crowded, but they are much closer to the show.  We had a perfect view from our driveway.  As soon as the finale ended we closed up the back of the truck, jumped in and headed down the hill.  We got to 16th East and turned left just moments before all the traffic heading north got there.  If we'd been two minutes slower we would have had to wait for a kind driver to stop long enough to let us turn left.  When we got to the duplex we realized there were even more cars on 12th East; the line of cars going by our house was pretty steady until about 11:30.