Sunday, March 28, 2010

Smurf Tube

Although the house is wired for cable and such, I don't know what the future will hold and wanted to provide a method for getting any future technology or wiring in place later on.  My electrician suggested that I use something he called Smurf tube.  It's a flexible plastic pipe called ENT or electrical nonmetalic tubing.  Although it also comes in orange, mine is the distinctive Smurf blue color which generated the nickname.

I went down to the local electrical supply house, asked for Smurf Tube and they looked at me like I was nuts.  I even showed them a photo and they said they didn't have anything like it.  I did a little searching on the web and found that they stock it at Home Depot.
It was a little difficult to get it to everywhere I wanted, but now we're all set for the future.

We're also working on a home monitoring system so we can keep an eye on things when we're away.  Z-Wave has just what we're looking for.  Many manufacturers have compatable product such as controls, sensors, monitoring devices, locks and such.  The Smurf Tube will help with this too.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Insulation and more insulation

Although most new houses are insulated with fiberglass, I've decided to use a spray foam insulation.  It's not inexpensive, but has several advantages and should be well worth the extra cost in the long run.  The house has a complex roofline and I have found that it's very hard to insulate and vent roofs like this properly with fiberglass.  Spray foam completely fills the roof cavities, provides a very good air barrier and doesn't need to be ventilated.  Icynene is almost the Kleenex of spray foam insulation, but there are many others out there.

I had planned on using dense-pack cellulose in the walls, but that would have required two seperate insulation contractors and, in the end, wouldn't have saved much money.  The cellulose is effective at filling voids and provides good resistance to air infiltration, but spray foam is even better.

This is BioBased polyurethane insulation installed by VIP Marina.  It's an open cell product that has kind of a sponge cake consistency.  It expands greatly and in the unfinished attic areas it extends beyond the rafters.

Elsewhere it has to be trimmed flat.  This is what it looks like before trimming.  It gets lopped off with a Sawzall(tm) with a ginormous blade.

The photo also shows the doors, which were delivered prematurely.  They weren't supposed to come until after the plaster was complete.  The whole search for the right door is a story for another time.

All the trimming, though, does generate a good bit of scrap.

And there was much more after I took this photo.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Turtle Flew the Coop

A few weeks ago I found that the top of the turtle weathervane was gone.  I went up to the roof and found that he had blown off in one of the wind storms and was laying on the back dormer roof.  One of the pieces was a little bent, but otherwise he was fine.  I guess he wasn't fully secured.  I brought him inside and left him propped up inside the house up on the second floor.

This weekend I went to get him and he was nowhere to be found.  We searched the second floor where I left him.  Then we scoured the first floor and the basement - still no turtle.  We made several more detailed searches and still, no turtle.  I couldn't imagine someone taking the upper part of a weathervane.  The copper isn't worth that much and you'd need more parts to make a whole weathervane.  Then, underneath a pile of shingle siding on the second floor, we found him.  He's fairly two-dimensional and apparently one of the subs stacked the extra fiber cement shingles, which are fairly heavy, on top of him.  The mystery was solved.

Anyhow, the deck is on and the final rough inspections take place this week.  Here's the view from the deck.
As you can see, we've already tried it out.  Although there are recycled decking products available, we decided to go with the Azek brand decking because it seems to be the most durable.  They have a great fastener system with matching plugs that cover the screw holes.
  If it wasn't for the dirt, you'd hardly see them.