Thursday, November 30, 2006

We met with Brad and Gary at the job site this afternoon and we talked about several issues:

1. We gave Brad a brochure from Masonite to show him the door style we like -- a 2 panel Roman in a smooth finish.

2. We asked Brad to provide 220V to the stackable washer/dryer in the second floor bathroom.

3. Brad said John Ou is close to getting him a solution to the structural problem with the stacked Simpson Strong-Walls (first mentioned in my post on Thursday, November 16, 2006). He hopes to have it by early next week.

4. We walked through the house and marked where we would like the carpenters to add backing for towel bars, pictures, curtain rods, etc.

5. We decided that one of the volume control valves in the master shower was too high, so we asked Brad to tell the plumber to lower it by about six inches.

6. After talking to Gary, we decided to remove all of the can lights in the kids' bedrooms and just use the light in the fan unit.

Also Dave Bengel called and said his home secuity expert could not come to the job site today, but they would be meeting there at 10 AM tomorrow. I'll try to be there too.

On another note, as we were going through the house, I noticed a funny sound coming from the basement -- the sound of gushing water. I quickly told Brad to shut off the water and found the plumbers, who taking a lunch break, to tell them they had a leak (they had been pressure testing their pipes). We ended up with 1" puddles of water in parts of the basement, which the plumbers had to then sweep into sewer ejector pump. Ugh.
I saw Brad at the job site this morning, and he gave me a hard time about not keeping this blog up-to-date. It's true, I haven't taken any pictures of the exterior in over a week. So here they are. The first two pictures show the front of the house. If you click on the second picture and look closely, you can see the standoffs for the solar panels. The third picture shows the back of the house with the Andersen 4-panel gliding door installed. Only two more windows/doors need to be installed -- the kitchen window box and the upstairs 4-panel gliding door.

Brad also pointed out the tubs I bought yesterday are only 30" wide, but we knew that. The plumber was expecting 32"; however, the Kohler Villager tubs Brad recommended to us, only come in 30" or 34" so we had to get the 30" ones. As a result the plumber had to adjust the valves to center them over the tubs.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I went to Home Depot this morning and purchased two cast iron Kohler Villager tubs. I also rented the Home Depot truck to haul them over to the job site.

When I got to the job site, there were no contractors working on the house! I think this was the first time that's happened since July. Luckily for me, Brad was there. He helped me unload the two tubs -- they each weigh about 316 lbs. :-0

Afterwards, I talked to Brad about the issue with the can lights in the kids' rooms. He suggested we go with two smaller cans, and we'll probably do that.

Brad told me the installers from Adanac Fire Protection will be coming out on Monday to begin installing the fire sprinkler system.

Later in the afternoon I met with Dave Bengel at the job site to go over his bid for the low voltage wiring. He answered several of my questions and also gave me a breakdown of the costs. I need to go back and rethink some of the structured wiring to see how I can reduce the cost because it's just too expensive right now.

Unfortunately, Dave's home security expert wasn't able to come today. Dave is supposed to meet him there tomorrow afternoon -- hopefully I'll be able to meet up with them.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

We met with Dana Wyse, owner of Burgess Hill Fine Custom Cabinetry, at his shop this morning. He showed us a number of different cabinet types and styles. We went over our plans with him and described some of the cabinets we needed.

In the afternoon, I stopped by the job site because Brad had called to say there were some questions I needed to answer from both the electrician and the plumber.

The plumber need to know where we wanted to position the mixing valve and volume control valves in the master shower, so I gave him the locations.

Ekrem, the installer from CB Electric, told me the four can lights in each of the upstairs kids' bedrooms could not be placed symetrically in the rooms because of the way the tray ceilings were constructed. We'll have to either reduce the number of cans, remove them completely (and just use the light in the fan unit), or install them on the angled part of the ceiling.

Monday, November 27, 2006

When I arrived at the job site this morning, the sheetrock was being delivered, and the workers were moving it by hand down to the basement. Brad brought out a crane to help lift the sheetrock up to the second floor. Unfortunately, the window installers had installed a window on the second floor in the front of the house -- one that Brad had specifically told them not to install -- so they had to pull out the window.

Rick and his crew were there finishing up the rough carpentry. Rick was working on the jacuzzi deck in the master bathroom and some of the other guys were working on the tray ceilings.

The electricians were also there installing boxes, wires, and cans.

When I returned home, I called Dana the cabinet maker and setup an appointment for tomorrow morning.

We both went back to the job site in the afternoon to meet with Brad and Ed from Bonanza Heating & Air Conditioning and talk about the roof over the window seat.

We also went around with Brad to mark where we want to locate the built-in niches in the showers.

Brad wants us to either purchase the tubs or get him the cut sheets. I went to Home Depot later in the afternoon, and they have the tubs we want. Tomorrow, I'll call Michelle at Cornelia's to see if she can match the price. Otherwise I'll just buy them from Home Depot.

Finally, Brad told us to start thinking about tile.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

This afternoon we went to the job site to check the locations of all the switch boxes and lighting cans that have been installed so far. We wrote down a couple of comments that we'll give to Brad next time we meet.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I stopped by the job site late this afternoon. The installers from Argonaut Window & Door had been there earlier, and they have almost finished installing all of the windows and doors. The house has a solid, enclosed feeling now.

Also, Rick and the carpenters from KC Construction have finished the stairs and installed all the pocket doors.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This morning Brad met with the contractors from Argonaut Window & Door. They started by placing all the windows and doors in the rooms where they are to be installed. Then they applied flashing around the openings for the windows.

By the afternoon, they had installed most of the windows on the first floor.

The carpenters from KC Construction were also there, continuing their work on the interior, including installation of the pocket door frames and framing the nook outside the master bedroom.

Later in the afternoon, I returned to the job site and dropped off some print outs in Brad's office, with installation information for the SubZero refrigerator and Dacor range that we have chosen.

A couple of contractors from Jim Giancola Concrete showed up around that time, to grind down some of the walls in preparation for stucco.

While I was there, I was looking at the windows, and I noticed the contractors had installed the wrong window in the dinning room. It's the same model number, CX24, as another window down in the basement, but they swapped the two windows by accident. The one in the dining room is supposed to have factory installed 4-9/16" jamb extensions, and the one in the basement is supposed to have straight-arm hardware and no jamp extensions.

Back at home, I went through the entire window schedule to make a list of things I need to double check tomorrow. I need to check a CX14 near the front door that should have tempered glass. There are other CX14's in the house without tempered glass, so I want to make sure they installed the correct one by the front door. I also need to check the various sliding glass doors in the house -- I need to make sure they placed the door panels in the correct rooms. Many of the panels are the same size, but some of them have divided light and some of them do not.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

This morning I stopped by the job site and talked to Brad. I told him about the plumbing problem in the master bathroom.

The skylight was put in place, but it doesn't look like it's completely attached yet.

The Andersen windows were delivered this afternoon, so I had to go back to the job site and sign for them.

While I was there I talked to Charles from West Coast Insulation who was almost done installing the fireplace. He said he'll be back one more time to finish the trim when the gas and electricity are ready to be hooked up. He also said it would be better if the plumber could provide the gas line on the right side of the unit. I left Brad a note about that on his white board.

The upper half of the stairs leading to the second floor are done now.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

We met with Brad and Gary at the job site this afternoon and discussed a few items.

1. Brad had a preliminary rough framing inspection and there were a few issues. The most significant is a design problem in the structural engineer's drawings with stacked Simpson Strong-Walls. Brad is trying to get updated drawings from the structural engineer to fix the problem.

2. We showed Gary where the AC units and the main electrical panel will be located. His only comment was to make sure there is enough space for us to build a wall/fence between the edge of the house and the panel.

3. We asked Brad to make a change to the master tub to give it a larger deck.

Other activities:

An inspector came by to check on the gas hookup.

Israel, from KC Construction, finished framing the shaft for the skylight.

Rick started working on the upper half of the stairs leading to the second floor.

Later in the afternoon, as I was checking the plumbing, I noticed the plumber had placed the hot and cold water lines and drain line for one of the master bathroom sinks in the wrong place. He was going by the original plans and not the revised one.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The job site was bustling with activity today!

The electricians were here early this morning putting in cans and switch boxes. Brad said he had to "kick them out" because they were jumping the gun -- the carpenters weren't done straightening out the studs yet.

The HVAC contractor was here running ducts in the basement. It looks like "The Thing" has invaded our house.

Peter, David, and Sebastian from SolarCity were here. Peter was taking care of some contracting paperwork with Brad. David and Sebastian were putting in the standoffs for the solar panels. Brad spent some time with them to figure out where to mount the main distribution panel and their inverter and where to run the wiring from the solar panels to the inverter.

Rick started building the supports for the landing of the stairs leading to the second floor.

Also Chris Pieper from Argonaut Window & Door stopped by to deliver the Velux skylight. He said the truck delivering our windows was running late and wasn't sure if he would receive them tomorrow or Friday.

We discussed a few issues with Brad:

1. We mentioned to Brad that Rick had missed the soffit in the dining room so the two of them snapped the chalk lines for it.

2. We talked about the height for the foyer ceiling. Rick is going to raise the inner part by 7 to 8".

3. I asked Brad if there are any code restrictions for outlet boxes, as far as height from the floor. I need to raise some of them in the Storage Room by about 15".

4. Brad reminded us to go purchase the two tubs -- one for the basement bathroom and one for the upstairs bathroom.

A couple of other things:

Brad had drilled four cores in the concrete walls yesterday. One is for the sewer line (the first and second floor sewers lines will dump into here as well as the line from the sewer ejector in the basement). The other three will be for exhaust vents for the furnaces and water heater.

He had also put down a layer of sheetrock in the garage to protect the floor.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Brad talked to the installer from SolarCity this morning. Because SolarCity is a subcontractor, Brad has a requirement to be named as an additional insured on their general liability insurance policy. I called Chris over at SolarCity to make sure this gets taken care of.

I stopped by the job site briefly this morning and noticed that Jeff, the HVAC contractor, had cut registers in the subfloors of the first floor rooms. I quickly called Brad because we had wanted the registers to be in the walls or ceilings. He explained to me, because of all the strong walls and areas which cannot be penetrated, they could not accomplish that on the first floor. The basement rooms and the second floor rooms, however, will have their registers in the ceiling.

I picked up the rough-in valves from Michelle at Cornelia's later in the morning and dropped them off with Brad in the afternoon.

In the early afternoon we spent a couple of hours at University Electric hearing yet another opinion on the various types and brands and models of kitchen appliances. We are getting closer to the final selection of our appliances. At this time we will almost certainly choose the brand new Dacor Epicure ER36D 36" dual-fuel range, and the Sub-Zero Model 695/S 48" side-by-side refrigerator with ice and water dispenser. As for the triple stack, we are leaning towards putting just a Thermador microwave oven and convection oven in a stack of two and an integrated Dacor warming tray under a counter. The triple stack is just too tall, forcing either the convection oven or warming tray (which ever one is on the bottom) to be too low to the ground.

Finally, this evening I stopped by the SolarCity office and paid the deposit for the solar panel installation.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The rain was coming down hard last night. I just talked to Brad, and he said the house is completely dry except in one spot. The asphalt paper is doing a great job!

Brad told me he met with the installer from SolarCity today and gave him some drawings so he could work out the placement of the panels.

I told Brad I tried to call Michelle at Cornelia's today to see if I could pick up the rough-in valves for the tubs and showers. I wasn't able to reach her and confirm whether the items had been delivered. Hopefully I will be able to pick them up tomorrow.

Brad said the windows should be delivered to the warehouse on Thursday the 16th. He hopes to start installing them on Friday or Monday!

This morning we also paid visits to Atherton Appliance & Kitchens and Meyer Appliance to hear different perspectives on the various kitchen appliances. At this point, we're focusing on the 48" SubZero, but we'll probably go down to a 36" range, either Wolf or Dacor. And we're starting to think about the dish washer and the triple oven stack (microwave oven, warming drawer, and convection oven).

Friday, November 10, 2006

We had a busy day today. Yesterday Brad told us we need to purchase the rough-in valves for our tubs and showers, and that he needed them "yesterday"! Then this morning, he called and told us we need to pick our range and refrigerator and get him the cut sheets so the plumber can place the gas and water lines in the right places! We need to make some big decisions, and fast.... :-0

So... this morning we went to visit Michelle at Cornelia's. We bought two shower valves with tub diverters, two shower-only valves, and a very expensive thermostat controlled shower valve. She didn't have the product in the store so she had to order it. The parts won't arrive until Monday -- we'll have to go back down there to pick them up.

At noon, I had to get back to the job site because I had a meeting with Chris Irvine from SolarCity. I described what I wanted, as far as the number of panels and the location of the panels. He's going to send me a quote which I'm betting will be lower than the one I got from RECSolar.

Then this afternoon we went to Standards of Excellence (formerly McPhails). We talked at length with Will about the different range, hood, and refrigerator models. Based on what we heard from him and what we liked, we're leaning towards a 48" Dacor or Wolf range, a 48" Vent-A-Hood, and a 48" SubZero or KitchenAid refrigerator.

What a day! It was good to kick us into gear and get us to start making some decisions.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

As you can see, the roofers have been busy putting up the asphalt paper and attaching the gutters.

I met briefly with Brad, Gary, and Jeff (the electrician) at the job site today.

I first talked to Brad and Gary about some of the decisions from Tuesday's meeting (see the updates to Tuesday's blog entry).

Brad had to leave early so I went over the changes we wanted to make in the electrical plans with Gary. I told him I'd send him annotated PDF files with the changes before the end of the day, so that he can make modifications to the plans. Jeff showed up later, and I went over some of the highlights with him.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

I met Dave, the electrician's A/V expert, at one of their other jobs to look at how their systems are wired up and configured. They had structured wiring throughout their house, wired back to a centralized A/V room. The A/V room will eventually house their media server and Xbox 360's for streaming video from the server to each zone. Each zone is also wired up with in-wall speakers, and all the wires go back to their A/V room.

We'll probably put the Xbox's in each of the zones, instead of in the A/V room. The Xbox's will run Media Center and stream video from the server. The TV's will be connected to the Xbox's with HDMI cables. And the line level audio from the XBox's will go back to the A/V room where they'll be switched and amplified back to the speakers in each zone.

Their house was wired for touch panels, but we'll probably use wireless devices instead of fixed panels in the walls.

I still need to get a better grasp of how the security system and lighting control system will be tied into the A/V control system...

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

I had a long, productive meeting with Brad and Gary this afternoon at the job site. While we were there, we also talked to Rick from KC Construction and Victor, the plumber. We went over many issues:


1. Gary feels strongly that the pocket doors leading to the dining room should be two sets of 2' 6" double doors which would give us a 10 foot opening. We think two 3' 6" pocket doors would be okay and would reduce the complexity of the door and keep the cost down. I asked Brad to put up some plywood so we could see what a 7' opening would look like.

We decided to go with the 7' opening and two 3' 6" pocket doors.

2. Gary has a drawing for the roof of the window seat. He needs to email it to us so we can approve it. He wants to know what type of material we want on the roof.

For the roof of the window seat, we want to use bronze.

3. The foyer ceiling is supposed to be raised. We have a few choices. We could raise a rectangular section or one with the corners cut at an angle. Or we could put in a precast dome.

We told Gary we wanted a rectangular raised section. He told Brad to make it 9" from each edge.

4. We went over the changes to the guest bathroom to convert the tub-shower into just a shower, with the shower head on the opposite wall.

5. We talked about how the landing for the stairs leading to the second floor would be built.

6. Gary asked Brad to drop the ceiling down one foot, above the small niche on the first floor, by the stairs.

7. Brad said he may have to pass a pipe through the corner of the mud room. I asked him if he could put it in the pantry instead. He said he would try.

8. Gary gave Brad the dimensions for framing the built-in cabinets in the powder room and guest bathroom.


1. In the upstairs bathroom Gary is okay with Brad's suggestion to shorten up the vanity to give a 6" gap between the vanity and the tub.

2. We talked about some issues in the other bathroom. Even a 10" rough-in toilet will not fit if we want to tile the walls, so we may need to go with flat studs to gain a couple of inches.

3. Gary provided details for the entry arch into the master bedroom, as well as the the art niche in the vestibule. The art niche will be about 15" deep.

4. We spent a long time discussing the master bathroom and how wide to build the jacuzzi deck. Because of the width, we'll need to make the door to the toilet smaller (2' 2" instead of 2' 4") in order to provide enough room for trim.

5. Gary talked to the plumber about the design for the shower head in the master bathroom -- it's offset one foot from the mixing valve. He wanted to know if we want the same design in all of the other showers.

We'll use the slide bar in the Guest Room shower, Bath #2 shower, and Bath #3 tub; and the regular shower head in the Bath #1 tub. The shower in the master bath will have one of each.

6. Finally, Brad and Gary spent some time discussing how to provide drainage for the deck.


1. Gary provided Brad with dimensions for the built-in bookcase in the playroom. It will be framed 1' above the ground and 7' high.

2. I gave details to Brad for the wall and door in the storage room for the home automation gear.

Monday, November 6, 2006

This afternoon I had a meeting with Dave Bengel from CB Electic to further discuss the A/V control and distribution options. He showed me a demo of Microsoft Media Center Edition (I was already familiar with it) running on a RAID box. It was a nice setup. The picture was crisp and the system was extremely quiet.

Before the meeting, I was talking with Brad. He said we may need to purchase a toilet with a 10" rough-in for the shared bathroom upstairs (this is the second one -- we already needed one for the basement). The plumbers started their work on the job today. Brad showed me where the plumber had started installing the sewer lines for the second floor bathrooms. You can see in the picture below, where the plumber had to roll the sewer line around the top plate in two places.

The second picture shows some of the hot and cold water lines going from the basement up into the kitchen.

We talked to the plumber about some requirements to support a barbeque area in the backyard. We'll need hot and cold water lines as well as a sewer line and a gas line. The plan is to supply the water lines from the kitchen, below the window box, trench a dedicated sewer line to the main sewer, and trench a gas line from the gas main.

Brad is meeting with Gary tomorrow afternoon to discuss the pocket doors for the dining room. We talked about some of the options, and I'll try to show up at the meeting too.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

We went to the job site this afternoon to go over the electrical plans and confirm for ourselves that the design is what we want.

We happened to see Brad there, and he talked to him about a few issues. Because of the way the stairs are designed, he will need to build a wall to support the landing between the first and second floors. That wall will make the hallway narrower, so the door to the guest bedroom will either have to be narrower (2' 6" instead of 2' 8") or the molding around the door will need to be ripped (won't look very good). We decided to go with the narrower door.

Later, as we walked through the structure with the plans, we came up with several questions and some changes we may want to make. We'll bring them up next week, when we meet with Brad, Gary, and the electrician to go over the electrical plans.

Friday, November 3, 2006

I met with Alex from Sound Perfection at the job site this afternoon and discussed our options for home automation and A/V distribution.

I happened to see Victor, the plumber, there. We talked about the master bathroom jaccuzi tub and the guest bathroom changes. He brought up some concerns about the positioning of a tub and vanity in one of the other bathrooms on the second floor.

I also bumped into Rick. He asked me about details for the built-in cabinets in the 1st floor powder room and the guest bathroom, and about some of the art niches in the plans. We'll have to get the details from Gary.

Later in the afternoon, I called Gary and left a message asking him about some of the issues that came up while I was at the job site.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

We met with Brad at the job site this afternoon. As you can see the house looks like it's completely framed now with all the plywood on the roof. Last night there was a light rain. We have some puddles of water in the house, but it's not nearly as bad as the last rain, when we were completely exposed.

Brad happened to be talking to the electrician, Jeff Hull from CB Electric, when we showed up. I spent some time talking to Dave Bengel who also works for CB Electric. Dave does their low voltage work and A/V systems. We talked about some of our options for home automation and A/V distribution. I'm going to meet with Dave again on Monday.

Later we discussed some items with Brad. We told him that the plans do not accurately reflect what we want in the window seat. We're going to talk to Gary about updating the drawings to show a window seat with a metal roof, but with no overhang. The picture below shows what the carpenters from KC Construction have built (according to the plans). They'll need to remove that overhang.

We also need to get Gary's revised drawing of the guest bathroom to Brad so he can have the carpenters make the necessary changes to accomodate the plumbers.

Later in the afternoon, I also met with Dru Sutton from REC Solar at the job site to discuss the solar panel options. We sat down with Brad and talked about scheduling when the roof jacks for the panels should be put in and how the penetrations for the wiring should be done. Dru is going to get me a formal contract to sign so we can move forward.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The crew from Jim Giancola Concrete poured the garage floor early this morning. By the time I arrived, they were smoothing out the surface. This is a picture after they had finished all their work.

The entire house has been scaffolded so it's much safer for the contractors now.

There were only a couple of contractors from KC Construction on site today. They were just finishing up the plywood and exposed eaves on the right side of the house. As you can see from this picture, most of the house has been covered.

This afternoon, I talked to Alex at Sound Perfection. I want to compare what they offer in home automation and audio/video distribution compared to Century Stereo.