Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another Rainy Day

We had a bunch of rain this past week. Which is unusual for October typically. But it's the end of the El Niño weather year - which is supposed to mean that we get a bunch of rain until the New Year. Then nothing but dry, dry weather until who knows when? I need to build a well...

I've stressed about the wet weather too much. Fortunately, the house was sealed and weather-proofed in September. We had a mishap during a rare wet day then. It turns out that the plumbers had capped the roof drains for testing and that some contractor - the electrician perhaps...had drilled two tiny, little 1/2" holes through the roof about 3 feet from that roof drain....The rain came down, the water backed up to that point and voilà, water inside the shell of the house....That was a big bummer. The plumbers came out to the house to uncap the drains later in the day...The electrician or whoever ran their drill up through the roof sheathing never showed up to fix their holes....Luckily, the damage was minimal. We had no drywall up yet, and the moisture was sucked dry by unusually dry weather.

Seriously, the weather has been bizarre lately! I'm convinced the tropics are moving north.

Some Siding

One of my favorite views.

Entry door soffit with tongue and groove boards over a layer of fire-resistant gypsum board.

Kitchen back door with the water heater exhaust vent in foreground

View looking north. The house is "wrapped" and ready for the stucco.

So obviously, the framing contractor won the battle of who would go first in terms of placing exterior finishes. The real issue was that the stucco plaster guys encountered more nuances of wrapping the lath around the windows. Also, the plasterer had more responsibility with flashing the house in general. Not to mention that the framers had to go back and put some finishing touches to the roof overhang soffit.

In case anyone is wondering, the window frames are covered up with red tape in preparation for the stucco to be applied.

I'm being told that the stucco should be going on during the first week of November...I'll believe when I see it!

Halloween - Already?!

My latest batch of really scary photos!

The ghoulish pink is from the hides of many, many wooly glass beasts! A view of their skins at the stairwell ceiling.

Black and wire is the best - it hides the sheathing and wraps around the windows!

Never fear - lap siding is finally here! Fiber cement board at the recessed window of the stairs.

Wait! What is that?! A cut in the ground for a future garage, perhaps? HaaHaaHaaa!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Prefabricated metal fireplace by Heat'n'Glo. The fire is gas powered - no coal or wood. Something modern with graphite glass rocks for "media"

We're going to enjoy this appliance!


The stucco plasterer dropped off all the materials in preparation for coating the house.

It's little premature to have this stuff laying around if you ask me. The sand and stucco mixes have been sitting here for about three weeks.

There seems to be some kind of jockeying going on between the exterior finish guys as well. Either the siding or the stucco will go up first...Don't know why.

Ultimately, it will be alright. The stucco is going to be eggshell white - whatever that means. Mrs. Juniper and I spent about 45 minutes looking at shades of white before picking this one....

Friday, October 8, 2010

Flashing - The Construction kind...

Kitchen window - God do I love black metal. When I have a ton of gold converted to millions of dollars, I'm gonna build a steel framed house with black steel windows.

For now, I'll settle on a few shekels to get me by.

The stucco plasterer recommended the flashing contractors. They did a super job of filling the corners. This detail is so worth the trouble. Kudos to my boss for suggesting every corner window stay "recessed" from the corner condition. It adds relief to the mass of the stucco. Besides, it's cool.

Kitchen window - another sexy view.

The living room window from the north.

Who the heck knows what one detail will do going forward?

So looking at this photo, I'm reminded that I wanted a 45 degree chamfer of concrete to protrude from the face of finish....Why!? Because I'm a sucker for fat footings and mass. The result is that the flashing contractors had to go over every instance of this chamfer and cover it with galvanized metal so that the stucco weeps would have a place to drip the water without having the water suck back up into the building. In other words, when you do this kind of detail, think of all the possible ways that water can do damage - and then just try to save some money and avoid being a douche bag of a designer with some cute design motiff.

I paid a few extra thousand of dollars for carrying this concrete chamfer forward - will anybody notice?

Scary Scaffolds

They're here. All the scaffolds. It sucks to get around them - so we just have to enjoy them.

Here's a photo from one of my early forays up onto the 2x boards.

How the heck do people work on these?!

The purpose of this visit was to check on the window flashing. Nowadays, the standard is to put up these bitumen sticky strips around windows to keep water from seeping inside. It seems to works. However, this kind of flashing doesn't like to be left alone without the rest of the finishes - like stucco or siding. So what tends to happen - as I found out - is that the flashing droops or falls off the initial placement.

Hey - We're still building

Yes building - but overcome by the lack of writing.....Sorry. It's been a long month or two.

I've resorted and re-organized at the old home in order to build a new home.

In fact, this photo is from over a month and a half ago! There are more photos. Note to self - post....

So here's the concrete cantilevered deck. Railings and the guardrail to be made of clear cedar and redwood to contrast with all the hard edges.

The scaffolding went up fast! Somebody wants to "button" this house up! The plasterer is ready, ready....But first we need flashing - the water protection.

Access is tricky here. But a few terraced steps and we're good.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Moving Right Along

Those are pallets of siding and stucco mix in front of the house.

It's been a long time since we posted! Things have been going, going, but nothing is as impressive as that framing going up! The windows are getting flashing, the plumbing and electrical wiring are going in, Sr. Juniper and a friend have been wiring for speakers. We picked up the gas fireplace yesterday.

Here's the front door, it will be painted black.

They waterproofed our shower. And then there was some story about how they filled it with water to show the inspector it would hold and couldn't get the plug out. That's why we hire plumbers, to figure out stuff like that.

Here's the view from the dining room with the slider in.

The plan (as I understand it, and I could very well be wrong), is to put up siding and stucco, then drywall, and then we can start the garage while we're doing the rest. Everyone's still talking a January finish date, but I'm skeptical.

We are super busy right now, in all parts of our lives. I had really envisioned that I would be researching materials and making amazing finds, but we are far more seat of our pants. Not even so much with the house, as with all the balls we're juggling, we're playing catch up. And I like to have a better handle on things (count the metaphors...).
The economy is affecting us, too. Not that anything has happened to our situation, but it's just living with the uncertainties. That's the hardest part of this whole process for me. So, we'll just count our blessings. Stay strong and carry on, as they say!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

4th Gear

Roofing is happening! This is the waterproofing stage of the job. From here on out, we have water on the mind. The contractor is more than happy to see this work being performed.

In stages - we about to see more exterior siding and stucco work. The scaffolding took a day to erect. Feel like taking a walk around? In some places in the world, this would all be made out of bamboo....Here they use prefab. metal bracing and wood planks.

"Chimney Cap" - Where all the ductwork goes over the bedrooms and into the joist spaces.
Works as a roof vent too.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Remember all that ductwork hanging down in our bedroom last post? Here's our bedroom now:

They've started installing windows.

Meanwhile, here we are at the stucco place trying to decide on a color. They look different in different lights. We think we've decided, and then an hour later we've changed our minds. But mostly, they're all off-white, and they all look pretty much the same. One problem is we have a hard time with certain color names. Eggshell sounds way too Martha Stewart, not at all modernist, even though it might be the best color for us. So, whatever color we pick, we'll tell you that it's Bauhaus White.

I kept getting distracted by that restaurant supply store across the street. I'll bet that place is cool.

Kid Juniper, looking out his someday window:

I think he's the least surprised that we're actually building a house. We've been talking about it since he can remember. We're kind of in shock that it's happening!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I went on a site visit with Sr. Juniper, met the framer. He looked at me sympathetically and said, "It's been rough, huh? But it's coming along now!" It seems that during the issues with the concrete job, the professionals involved thought it was a big disaster. Apparently when the framer first came on the job, he thought it was "snakebitten." I'm really glad I didn't know that at the time. I mean, I knew there were bumps, but I thought that was normal for construction projects. Now I understand why Mr. Builder was so mad, he was worried the concrete company was going to tank the whole project.
Here's what our bedroom looks like right now:

Here's what the backside of a bathroom sink looks like:

Some kinks have come up to work out, like how do we soffit the ductwork in the bedroom, and this drainpipe under the roof:

But that's just normal stuff, all in a day of the life of a designer, right Sr. Juniper? Here are the windows in the front bedroom:

Nice, huh?

Sr. Juniper went to the vacant lot behind ours, and it's nice to see that we'll still have plenty of privacy, even if someone builds there someday. This is looking towards the back of our house, you can just see the corner of the roof and the street:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lookin' Good!

It must be really satisfying to be a framer, because they get things done! In one month they've put up a house! The house looks really different with the roof on. It looks bigger, but we're really happy with it. I have to get another picture without all that construction debris in front (our yard).
In other news, the inspector thought we had built taller than our permit was for, we couldn't convince him that he was measuring from the wrong place, so his supervisor had to come out and confirm that we were building according to the drawings. But somehow that triggered another inspector talking about the "grade plane," and nobody seems to really know what that is. Sr. Juniper is supposing we're going to have to go through and explain to them that we don't actually fall under the steep hillside ordinance. Although that's already been signed off on, it wouldn't be surprising if we have to cross that river again.
Here's what Kid Juniper's room will look like with a ceiling. Well, there will also be walls and paint and carpet.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


We have not picked out a lot of finishes and details, partly because the whole planning process took so long, we didn't want to get ahead of ourselves. And now things are sneaking up on us. The plumber needs to know what kind of shower faucets we're getting. Somebody needs to know what our front door will be. So, we end up in a rush to pick something out. I think the plumber mostly needs to know if we'll have one or two faucets, and that we won't have some crazy European plumbing fixture. No, we're mostly getting what's available at generic big box hardware store.
It's just fine. With the front and back door, however, it was hard to find something simple (without a lot of stained glass and paneling) that didn't cost an arm and a leg. And it's hard to convince people that we want wood, even for an exterior door. We're weird like that. It looks like we'll be getting something like this, but taller and with one piece of glass, not a sliding window:
And painted black (the idea is to match the windows and sliding doors). I didn't think we were high maintenance, but maybe we are! Generally, the idea is to make something interesting with pretty generic building materials. I think we can pull it off.

The Real Bee

This is the actual photo of the actual Africanized honeybees in the framing of our actual house. Sorry, it's a little blurry, but the guy who took the picture was removing a hive of killer bees! Sheesh! He sent us some pictures with the bill. Seriously, he could have charged a lot more for the service, but maybe he just loves his job.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Isn't this view relaxing?

The other day Sr. Juniper got a message from the structural engineer (Hi, Dad!) that he was concerned that the wrong kind of plywood was used for the framing, could we check on it? As we were driving over to the site, Sr. Juniper is clearly ready to panic. He's making small talk with me, but his mind is somewhere else. Then he laughs, and says, "I'm either panicked or lazy, there's no middle ground." Actually he said, "I'M EITHER PANICKED OR LAZY, THERE'S NO MIDDLE GROUND!!!"

Here are some things he has panicked about:
-Steep hillside review? We have to prove our project to the fire marshal, and then all the neighbors get to have their say???
-The financial system is crashing. No way will any bank lend money to ne'er-do-wells like us!
-It costs HOW MUCH to build a house?
-The neighbors are going to sue us over the boundary line of the lot. Do I know any lawyers?
-Some psycho in the neighborhood has it out for us (aka the flood)!
-The city says I need an OSHA certified excavator, but no OSHA certified excavator would do a project as small as ours. I'm not going to get the permit, aaaaahhh!
-The city never issued the right-of-way permit, so we can't actually access our lot!!!
-Our concrete company is going to hold us hostage over this ridiculous change order!
- Bees!!!
- Oh My God, they're going to have to tear out all the plywood on the framing.

Most of these turned out to be non-issues. Other ones got taken care of or faded away. On the other hand, panic gets things done. Sr. Juniper jumps into action and makes things happen. Do not mess with Sr. Juniper in panic mode, he's not afraid to lose his cool.

P.S. The plywood was fine, it turned out.
P.P.S. And Sr. Juniper is not lazy. If he were more motivated, I wouldn't be able to live with him out of guilt for my slothful ways. He's perfectly laid back.

Let It Bee

Sr. Juniper says that Mr. Builder says that the framers had to flee the job site because a swarm of bees arrived and formed a nest in the living room! I don't have an actual picture of it, for obvious reasons. The bee removal people were supposed to come tonight. I'm glad nobody got hurt.

If I want to worry, I could worry that there are other hives in the massive thicket of jade plant behind the house that the kids will stir up when they're exploring. What's with all the bee attacks lately? I thought there was a massive bee die-off? Maybe the bees just didn't like working (pollinating) for the man and decided to go rogue.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Falling prey to the free cinnamon rolls...

So, we have to stop going on fact-finding missions to Ikea. We were trying to figure out the kitchen plans, and wanted to see things in person, and looked at the bathroom stuff. But. If you go to Ikea, inevitably the one acceptable thing is on the verge of being discontinued and you have to get it NOW. The very very nice Ikea person actually unscrewed this sink from the display, so it was really, really the last one in town (after the one they had in stock). We got one for the "powder room", and one for the kids bathroom. But they gave us a discount because it was the floor model. So yay for us!

We partly liked it because it didn't scream Ikea.

The basic table we got before:

We're trying to use other sources, too. We don't really want our whole house to look like an Ikea catalog. But it's affordable and convenient. And they had free samples of hot cinnamon rolls. So, we have to stop going on fact-finding missions to Ikea.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

More Salt

Ikea Time

The inevitable trip to Ikea took place over the Fourth of July weekend. Ikea kitchen cabinets always seemed to fit our budget considerations and matched our house design - inexpensive and modern.

Before our journey to the local store, I spent one night fighting the kitchen design program to match the plans I had drawn by computer. This turned out to be more frustrating than first imagined since the "kitchen objects" don't necessarily snap into place as suggested by the program's makers. But at least I got all the parts on the page and was able to work up an itemized list and price that is within the budget. Also by using the program, I decided to move the dishwasher location and added in a "lazy susan" base cabinet which Mrs. Juniper suggested. So it wasn't a complete waste of time to learn the program and input all the variables. In any case, we still have to take the layout to the design team at Ikea and have them tweak it with their expertise. That should be interesting...Will they upsell us?

Determining the finish material is over. It looks as if we're going with brown wood veneer cabinets and white laminate countertops. The kitchen island is going to have the same cabinets but with the salvaged bowling alley wood countertop, which needs to be sanded, cut, and customized to fit.

Oh yeah - we also bought a huge kitchen table on sale for $166. It seats 6-10 people...

Next: Bathrooms!

& Upwards

The pieces are falling into place. For about the last week, we've had the second floor decking in place and today Mrs. Juniper and I saw the beginning stages of the second floor wall framing.

At the same time, the concrete subcontractors came back to finish the cantilever deck pour. Here's the latest concrete work with a salt finish!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


View from the dining room looking over the cantilever deck towards the southeast corner of the lot.

The sliding doors are located here for all the anticipated indoor/outdoor dining!

A small height gain. This photo shows the maximum height of the house at the stairwell.

Nice and shaded inside.