Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Turtle has Landed

The weathervane has been ready for quite a while, but other tasks were more critical.  He's finally up where he belongs.
The final components of the septic system are in, including the above ground blower chamber and vent.  We'll have to do some creative landscaping to disquise them.
There is still protective plastic film on most of the windows which makes them look a little cloudy.
I haven't posted any interior shots in a while.  Here's the Living Room.
And here it is from the other direction.
And this is looking up from the Living Room to the dormer window above.
The Kitchen will be to the left and Dining Room to the right.  The windows in the Kitchen look like the double hung windows we have elsewhere, but are actually casement windows.  They are relatively tall and will be just above counter level.
And this is standing in the Kitchen, looking at the Dining Room.  The plastic film really obscures the view, though.
This is the Master Bedroom.  The bed will go below the small rectangular awning windows.
And this is the Second Floor looking toward the Bedroom at the far end.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Odds and Ends

The exterior still isn't quite complete, so I figure I'll wait until it's more finished before posting another exterior photo.  In the meantime, this is some of what's going on.


We will produce some of our electricity with rooftop photovoltaic panels.  We have just over 200 square feet of south-east facing roof available, so the size of the system is a little limited.  According to the numbers provided by the installers, after rebates there should be a 5-6 year payback.  I'm always a little skeptical but, even if it turns out to be twice that, that's still not a bad return.  Net metering makes it worthwhile because that the electricity fed back into the system is credited at full retail cost.

We've chosen a cabinetmaker and are finalizing the details.  We've looked at many different kinds of cabinets, from IKEA to modified stock cabinets to full custom.  In the end we're using Horgan Millwork, who is nearby in Hyannis.  We actually kind of stumbled into them.  I saw their truck outside their shop and stopped in.  They don't advertise and they don't even have a sign on their building.  Scott Horgan was rather surprised to have someone walk in off the street, as they don't usually deal with homeowners or the public.  They specialize in kitchen cabinets and seem to run an efficient shop.  They do some beautiful high end kitchens, and their price is relatively reasonable for what you get.

Figuratively, not literally.  Last week I recieved a call from the Board of Health.  They said that the house was two feet longer than what they had approved and that maybe I should stop construction until their next Board of Health meeting in February.  That call was a rather large shock.  Thank heaven for emails.  Last June I had sent the BOH an email with the proposed floor plans and received a response back that the modified plans were fine.  They also had to sign off before the building permit was issued, and knew that the plan was slightly different and 40 feet long rather than 38 feet.  Fortunately this issue resolved itself and is not a problem.  I wouldn't want to have to decide whether to saw off the left side or the right side.

I've been tracking blog traffic with  They have a neat function that allows you to see what type of search leads people to the site.  It turns out that most of them are because I mentioned IKEA Nutid appliances.  The most popular searches are things like "nutid microwave reviews" or "nutid ovens".  When I first started the blog, hardly anyone knew about it but I almost immediately had my first two followers.  I'm not sure how they found me.  This month the blog was featured in the Boston Society of Architects ChapterLetter.

That brought a few new viewers, but didn't increase the traffic much as I would have thought.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Excitement Continues

The long-anticipated Septic System is in.  We had originally planned to start this work in September, soon after the foundation was complete.  The framer, however, wanted to put the frame up first.  The framing stretched into December and then things pushed the septic work into January.  There's about a month left on the septic permit and variances, and it will be good to have the final approval in hand.

The septic tank and distribution box are exposed and, after covering them, 6" of loam will be spread to bring the grade up and cover the last bit of exposed concrete on the foundation. 

There is one more piece to be added.  The septic is to have a MicroFAST nitrogen reduction system which, unfortunately, adds a plastic box in the middle of the front yard.
It will have a lovely plastic chamber and a PVC candy cane like this.  There is an animation on their website showing how it works, but I recommend skipping it.  There are some things you just don't need to see.

In the rendering the chamber is hidden by landscaping.  Hopefully the real landscaping will disguise it similarly.

Friday, January 1, 2010

We Have a Gas Line

Wednesday morning National Grid showed up to install the gas line.  We have been waiting for months and then actually had to delay them while part of the stone wall was being finished.  I was worried that they would at some point tell us it was too late in the season and we'd have to wait until spring.  The septic installation was also supposed to start Wednesday but, from what I hear, the gas company monopolized the site and the street with all of their people and equipment. 

They apparently bored under the stone wall and ran the line straight back to the side of the house.  The yellow flag indicates the gas line location and the bracket and pipe on the side of the house is where the gas meter will go.  The septic system work will start next Monday.

One of the ironies we've found is that in central Massachusetts, National Grid is our electric supplier and NStar is our gas supplier.  On the Cape, National Grid is the gas supplier and NStar, in combination with Cape Light Compact and ConEdison supply electricity.

And work goes on inside.  The furnace is in place and ductwork is being installed.  This is a 95% efficient variable speed three-stage communicating furnace made by American Standard.  The variable speed and three-stage part allows it to work more efficiently and the communicating part allows us to monitor and control the HVAC remotely.

Pretty exciting, huh?  I did have a disagreement with the installer about the location of the main return.  He had, unknown to me, cut a big hole in the Master Bedroom floor and intended everything to return to the unit at that point.  Things are being rerouted now to have a return in the stairwell.