Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Week Five and One Half

We were hampered a bit by rain in the past week and a half but nothing serious. Admittedly, it was a bit disconcerting to walk in and see rain leaking through everything but we have to realize that is just going to least right now. The guys have already started tightening things up. The "mud crew" has been filling in gaps and closing all possible avenues to the outside (except, of course, the ones that are supposed to be there.) When Phil took these pictures little droplets of water and spackling were everywhere.

Lots of progress has been made on the exterior, too. The concrete skirt for the back porch has been poured and the roof panels for the back porch put on.

The front porch is looking more like a front porch. Here it is from the gazebo (note that we have a pump on the well now. The white barrel is filled with good, cold water):

And here is a closer view:

We will be gone for a week to Oklahoma City to see my daughter. We can hardly wait to see all that is accomplished when we return.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Week Four

At last! A lot of very visible work has been accomplished. Although I know much has already been done, the work which was completed this week makes us feel more like we are building a house.

Chuck and Jack spent last Friday at Home Depot purchasing things like water heaters (2 @ 40 gals. ea.), trim, doors and windows. Our garage is quite full and I expect it to get more full before we are done.

On Monday, the concrete was scored. I chose to have the concrete scored in 16" squares turned on the diagonal. It will look a great deal like tile. I decided to go with the diagonal layout to minimize the effect of any one particular line not being absolutely perfectly straight. I think that the only place where the tile will line up with a wall is in the living room on the fireplace wall. After scoring was complete, a blue covering was laid over the concrete to protect it during construction.

The first walls to go up were the the plumbing walls. There are two of these. All of the plumbing is run through these walls. Both of these walls have electric panels in them, too. The cutaway at the bottom of the plumbing wall shows the steel studs and styrofoam insulation.

Of course, you can't just have a wall standing out there. Each wall must be connected to another.

All of the walls are prefabricated at the factory in Leakey and trucked to the site. The walls are surprising light and a team of five people is needed to erect the house. Each exterior wall is secured to the foundation using hurricane straps at the bottom and all of the walls are connected together using steel connecting plates at the top.

The house went up very quickly. It was difficult knowing that they were working so quickly and not being able to be present every day.

Rain did slow work down a bit but not much. The roof panels are steel with styrofoam insulation. We will have a standing seam metal roof installed over these panels.

Throughout the house, there are beams such as these. All rooms are open to the beams except in the bathrooms. This gives the rooms a very open and spacious feeling.

And as you can see, the house has come together very quickly.

It is very exciting watching the house being built. I have found the contractors, Chuck and Jack, to be wonderful to work with. They are both very flexible, willing to explain things we do not understand, and very careful to ask us about our desires. Thankfully, they are also very cost conscious and have been very helpful to me in making fiscally responsible decisions. I feel we have established a good working relationship with them.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Week Three

This was a short week due to the 4th of July holiday on Monday. Then there were problems getting a crew out to do the foundation work. It looked like we would not be pouring til next week and then it was hustle time. The contractor got a crew out to bag the dirt for the foundation and another crew showed up to begin work on the rebar as soon as the first was done. By 0900 the Friday morning they were ready to pour. Here are pictures of our foundation being poured:

This is the crew making the final preparations.

Chuck measured and placed our Bible under the front door for us. Included in the Bible is a picture of Phil and Me, a little info about our family, a prayer for all who enter our home and a CD with before pictures.

The first of the concrete being poured.

The guys worked hard all day and got the job done. One problem was encountered...the truck could not get close enough to pour the concrete skirt for our the back porch. We will have to move the RV so they can get back there.

We were able to go up on Saturday and see the foundation and move the RV out of the way. Chuck is anticipating putting up walls next week and, though none thought it would be in the way, it was. Moving it now will allow them to be a bit closer to the foundation for easier access.


Saturday, July 02, 2005

Week Two

During this last week, the majority of the deicisons which have had to be made concerned the location of plumbing and electric in the foundation. One of the major questions was regarding the shower. I have asked for a glass block wall on the master bathroom shower and I want this shower to be handicap accessible. Both of these features will add to the saleability of the house given that we are building in an upscale retirement community. Difficulty arose with this proposition when everyone realized we are not dealing with a standard shower size. The length of the space available for the shower is longer than average and so standard fiberglass shower units do not fit in the space. Corning makes a lovely glass block shower kit but it is not handicap accessible having only a 24" opening. So, the shower will have to be a custom job if we are to use the entire length available. I priced shower stalls which are sold specifically as handicap accessible and besides being quite ugly they are expensive. Chuck suggested cultured marble. So, I went to Helotes and looked at some of the products offered by a firm there. Their stuff was beautiful but quite expensive. Curtis will get a price on a custom tile shower for us so we can compare. Though I originally wanted tile, I could easily be swayed to the cultured marble if the price differential is not significant. But at least we did learn one thing: the shower drain needs to be in the middle of the space regardless of whether it is tile or cultured marble.

The other question was on the location of the electrical outlet in the living room. After reveiwing the plans, I advised Chuck that the outlet needed to be 11 ft in from the front living room wall, approx 17 1/2 ft from the small bedroom wall and 18 ft the master bedroom wall. I think this location will put the outlet in a location which will be under a side or corner table--useful but still out of the way.

I visited with a man who has a shop on the west side of Uvalde. His name is Jack Solomon. He works in mesquite. He has indicated that he can build us a mantle for about $250. I chose a very nice piece of wood about 60" x 10" x 2 1/2". It has a two distinctive knotty places on it which will be quite attractive. I will confirm measurements with Chuck before confirming the order with Jack, however.

We went up to see the progress made so far. Here are the pictures:

While this may not look like much, it actually is. This work has involved a fair amount of trenching and the unearthing of some quite large rocks. In this heat, I am sure this has been hard, hot work.

If all goes well, we hope to see the foundation poured in the coming week. &:)