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Owner-Builder Journal Entries

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 6/21/2017 9:58:08 PM

Well he was supposed to start this week, but has been hung up in Artesia in triple digit heat for another week. I can only assume that the heat is slowing them down.  But we are next and he is looking forward to getting up here where the temps are expected to be in the 60's and 70's.  The stucco guys are still waiting for the roofing panels to get moved so the can run the colr coat on the back of the house with scaffolding.  Gotta wait for the roofer to get them moved. 

In the meantime, I've been putting up outdoor lighting across the front as well as some security lights, all of which have been sitting in the garage after buying them on sale.

Also started running ducts for heating system.  Contacted a mechanical contractor as I can't pull a permit for that.  Nice guy, been around for ever and has reviewed my plans I had put together.  We've had some disagreements about the heating loads and how air flow works, though.  He thinks I should be putting in furnaces that'll put out 5 times what I have calculated I need.  And he has an issue with the size of ductwork I sized.  Thinks some needs to be smaller diameter to increase velocity.  These ideas are very common among HVAC contractors.  Used to working with typical, non-efficient, leaky homes that goble energy.  And the old idea of pushing air through as fast as you can is old, when ducts leaked much of went through them.  Now, with careful sealing, if you push air in one end, it'll make it to the other end if you balance the lines.  If it didn't, systems with variable speed blowers wouldn't work.  One thing you need to do however, is to insulate the supply lines.  With air possibly moving at low velocities, the heat can be lost through the ductwork as metal makes a great heat exchanger.  Even though we have some technical disagreements, I'll hire him to provide the rest of the system, according to how I wish it to basically be.  While I am certainly open to others ideas, HVAC contractors are generally far behind what can be done in today's world of highly efficient construction, (when it is actually used).  He wants me to sign a statement that it is my design, to relieve him of any future liability.  I have no issue with that.  I've got plenty of things to keep working on besides the ducts and the furnaces.  The help on the HVAC will be most welcome even though it's not free.


House with stucco finished on the front and stone done
Trying to get a shot of the stairwell all the way up

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 6/13/2017

The electrical inspector came out yesterday, and together we went through the entire house, room by room. It was the most complete inspection I've had on any of my projects. In the end, he wanted an additional receptacle in the garage, and for me to move one smoke detector to the curved ceiling in the main living room.  With those comments he passed my rough in.  Yea! After months of work, something to show for it.

I'll call today for the plumbing inspection.  I have to finish installing three shower sets into the walls and make the final water connection, but it takes several days to the inspectors to arrive after calling in, so I should be finished well in advance.  The sewer lines all check out and he can begin witnessing those.  It'll take him two trips as the different elevations will be tested separately so as not to put undo hydrostatic pressure on the lower sections.

Stucco guys are coming along with the finish coat.  Wind is causing them some trouble.  And they informed me yesterday that they needed the metal roofing moved from where it has been sitting on the backside, so they can set up scaffolding.  Apparently they can't do the final on the back from the forklift or it'll look very bad.  But I won't move the metal as it is subject to kinking without a whole crew of people picking up the 43' pieces.  So they'll have to wait until the roofer comes back and installs it all.  But the rest of the house can be finished.

I'm starting to think about the duct work and will actually begin installing sometime later this week.  There's a lot to do there, including all the stuff for water heaters, kitchen vents, furnace venting, dryer vents etc, in addition to the regular ducts.  Sandra and I are both tired of looking at stud walls in which nothing seems to be happening when actually a lot is.  Waiting to see everything in sheetrock, but that'll be a way out yet.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 6/6/2017 10:53:16 PM

Tested the next two levels this morning. Found one more leak, and again it was an unglued joint.  And again, it will be easy to fix, thank goodness.  Just needed to let it dry out, before gluing.  Went through the entire house, double-checking nail plates and stapling for the electrical.  Now that we again have access to the 4th floor, I called this afternoon for the full rough-in inspection. 

Will get back to the water lines tomorrow.  Quite a bit of things to do to there.  While all the lines are in place, they need to be fastened down and capped. The pressure reducing valves need to be set in place as well.  Once all of the that is done, I can go ahead and get water pressured up and test them.  As it is PEX tubing, and I'm using an expansion type of connectors, leaks are generally very rare, so testing should be simple.  Hopefully wrap this part up by the end of the weekend if not sooner.  Then call for plumbing inspection. Can there be a light at the end of the tunnel?!

The stone guys worked on the pillars and got them finished.  Stucco guys are waiting for better weather.  Its been raining again, these days at the house instead of just around us.  Weird Spring.


Stone guys working on the pillars

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 6/5/2017

The framers finished the last part of the stairs today.  We still have railings to install once we figure how we want to do them, but they are fully functional to the 4th floor.  Over the weekend I  worked on finishing running PEX water lines.  They are all in for each fixture, but I still need to fasten them and create the stub outs.  And I need to set the PRVs at the second and third level to drop the pressure.  I spent the day Friday installing the last of the outdoor freeze-proof spigots.  These were tricky as they were in the living section walls and not the garage. I had to get the length correct so that I could bury the water line within the foam, using soldered copper fittings.  Tight, but all 5 went well without any leaks.

Speaking of leaks, after a day of prepping shower and bath drain stubouts throughout the house, and finishing the vent connections in the attics, I finally did a test of one floor's drains.  All went well with the exception of one side of one fitting where I had forgotten to glue the joint. So after emptying the water into a 32 gallon trash can, I repaired it and will go on to test the other two floors. And oh by the way, the volume of 90 feet of 4" line is way over 32 gallons.  Ask me how I know.  At least the garage floor is much cleaner now.


Just a slope side shot of the house from an angle I hadn't taken from before. Stone and brown coat are on. Waiting for the color coat.
A shot of the stairs. No real good way to shoot and capture the true essence of the height and massiveness.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 6/1/2017 10:42:49 PM

It's been a strange year weather-wise.  Heavy, late snows, and the moisture continues in a manner that is typical of mid summer, rather than mid Spring.  Afternoon showers and thunderstorms after bright sunny mornings.  And the trend continues into the next couple weeks.  So far though, the project has been spared from anything significant.  While I can look around and see massive downpours happening all around, we've been lucky.  And with the stucco and stone going on, that's important!  I don't need to see the cement wash down over the stones and ruin the stone job! 

 The stone guys ( I guess shouldn't call them stoners ;-). ) finished their first contract on Tuesday.  I've got the pillars to do next and they may start those today.  Stucco guys will wrap up the brown coat today.  Should be a fairly short day for them.  Framer nearly finished the stairs, but we are waiting on another couple 8 x 8's to come in this afternoon for him to finish.  He pulled his tool trailer out, so it may be next week when he comes back.  But, we now have access again all the way to the 4th floor!

The elevator is in and working.  Those guys were quick in getting it set up.  And there would have been no way I could have done it.  Some very specialized stuff going on there.  It operates so smoothly, you can't even tell it's moving when youy are in the cab.

I'm trying to keep working on the plumbing and as there will be less crews working that always seem to need my help, I may be able to make some progress on that front.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 5/29/2017

Things continue to move forward with the brown coat finished on about half the house - and more importantly above the roof lines so it can cure over the next couple weeks and then get the color coat.  Once that's on, the roofers can come in.  I've already contacted them and let them know that June 16 we are go.  

The stone on the house proper should be finished tomorrow with only the pillars and window sills to do.  Waiting on more corner sections and the sill material to arrive for that.

The framer should finish the stairs by Wednesday.  It's so slow going.  But they are a work of art.  We are really happy with them.

The elevator installers arrived in town late this afternoon.  Stopped by to look over the site and will start in the morning.  I hope all goes well!  

I've been continuing towards completion on the plumbing.  All the vent lines from the second floor have been brought into the third floor attic and connect to the third floor vents.  The fourth floor vents will be run together once I again have access up there when the stairs are finished this week.  I am hoping to begin water testing the sewer lines later this week.  With any luck - they'll hold.  Fingers crossed!  Still need to finish running the water lines but that should go pretty smoothly.

Will get the electrical inspector out next week for the rough in since he'll be able to access the fourth floor.  Thinking it should go ok since he was out earlier for the stair section and didn't call out anything.  

So - things are moving along and in the right direction.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 5/24/2017 12:30:24 PM

Thank goodness for a late summer sunsets as the stucco fellows finished with the first coat for the stucco last night about 8:30.  They had to be dog tired.  They should be back today to begin the second, or "brown" coat.  I've asked that they apply the brown to the areas above the roof by Friday to allow as much time for curing as possible before the color coat and we want that area to be finished first so the roofers can begin.

More stone is being delivered this morning and the stone guys will be back to work on the outside of the staircase.  Other than trim around the windows, they should be pretty much finished with that today.

Framer slowly is getting the stairs done with the second section done today.  After that, one more to go.

I'm back to plumbing, cutting in the island vents the inspector wanted.  Going slow as much of my time has also been attending to the other people working.


Backside of the house with the stucco and stone. Stucco is dark as it is fresh cement. Will be much lighter today as it cures and dries.
West end with stucco and starting of the back side

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 5/18/2017 8:36:56 AM

After weeks of alternating terrible and great weather, and broken promises on the stucco contractor, they finally returned Wednesday to begin applying the scratch coat.  Really changes the look - for the better!  After a year of seeing raw ICF blocks and roughed in windows, I can see better what the end result will be, and it's good.  The stone guys are moving along very fast having finished the back of the house with only the cap to put in. I ordered another 600 sq. ft. of stone to be able to finish off the outside of the stairwell.  Luckily they had it in stock in Peublo, CO, so the local yard will be able to get it to us by Wednesday. So all of the flatwork coild be done by the end of next week or shortly after.  Still have the pillars to do, but waiting to see how many corners I'll have left when we get to that point. Will most likey need to order more.

The framers have finally figured out how the stairs could be built and started them on Tuesday.  Slow going, will get harder as they get higher up as the 8x8 posts are monsters to get in and set up.  Ground level was one thing, but the next three?  Massive with the steps made of 4x12's.  The pictures attached here don't convey the size of the components.

The local propane company came out and ran all of the interior gas lines the past couple days.  A lot of connections - two stoves, two furnaces, two water heaters, three fireplaces, two radiant space heaters and one grill.  They'll come back later and set the tank and run the line to house.

Oh! I had the plumbing inspector out last Friday to review what I had done so far on running the lines.  Other than adding a couple of cleanouts, everything was fine.  I've slacked off on the plumbing the past several days with all the other activity needing my attention in varoius ways, but now that the gas guys are out of the house. I'll try to get back and work on it again so I can begin water testing soon.

Well - its 6:30 am when I am writing this.  I just opened the blinds and see that we have a major snow storm happening. I guess that cancels all outside activities for today :-(


setting up the first floor 8x8 posts
Posts set and braced
First landings
Cutting the stringers
Attaching the steps with 9" timber screws
After two days work, we're here. Slow going, but should speed up now that the basic understanding is set.
Back of the house gettin stoned.
Front of the house getting stucco scratch coat
Why it's called a scratch coat. Surface is very rough to create better adhesion for the next coat.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 5/12/2017 9:21:38 AM

Another week of terrible weather. Over two inches of rain fell, most of it on Tuesday, which has efectively kept the stucco guys from starting as they haven't been able to finish a prior job.  It's felt like we're in the Olympic Penninsula of Washington.  Dripping wet and cold.  The stone fellows worked Monday and Tuesday, under the cover of the roof overhangs. Man did they get things done! Three times as fast as the jokers I had last fall.  They should be back today to continue on the backwall.  

Framer came out Monday to start work on the stairs, but we've run into a major issue. The draftsman design the center of the stairs to be walls - something we had missed entirely. This was to make the stair co struction easier and hide all of the supporting structure.  We missed this entirely and had been planning on wide open timber framing for it to allow light through the entire staiwell. We and the framer are scratching our heads on how to build them.  He has contacted a stair company in Albuquerque to review and possible come up with a design.  It may be a steel framework.  But we need to figure it out quickly as we are still not able to access the 4th floor with stairs.  That means no inspections, no finishing the plumbing and venting, water lines and the like.  I've got plenty of other things that I can do in the meantime, but a serious setback.

Meanwhile, Sandra has started setting railing posts decks to use up a stack of 4x4's we had cut last year by the timber truss company.  We'll get as many of those set as we cal, leaving out several strategic ones that will allow sheetrock to be easily brought through later. Once the stucco is on, we can order decking and she can begin running that.  Keep moving along the best we can as we get curve balls thown at us.

The landscaper finished what he has for us at the moment.  Much to do after the septic field is done which is after stucco, roofing, backfill has opened up the area we will use.

Final pics below on what he accomplished.


Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 5/4/2017 11:39:41 PM

Got back Tuesday from a week off.  Turned out to be a good week to take.  While we were gone, almost 3 feet of snow fell!  While Sandra and I are working indoors, just the same, I wouldn't have wanted to be here, mucking around in the mess.  Over that.  

So the landscaper didn't work as much, the stucco guys couldn't, couldn't get sand and cement up for it.  But the landscaper did get a bunch done on the few days he did work.  
The weeks coming up will be busy with workers.  While the landscaper will be gone for now, the stucco will begin Monday.  The framer will be back and start on the stairs and I found a guy that does stone! And for a great price. He can start next week as well.  Then in two weeks the local propane company will come to run gas lines thoughout the house and set the tank. I've got to meet with the local broadband utility and find out what equipment is necessary to bring the fiber line into the house.  They suggested we do it ourselves since the line has already been run to the house.  Said it would be far quicker and significantly cheaper to do it ourselves. So I need to meet with the guy tomorrow if possible on my schedule.
Got word the elevator will be shipping soon, so an install is on the radar.

Meanwhile I'm back on plumbing now that we are back in town and just about finished with running vent lines though the second level.  From there I need to take both lines up through the third floor and into the attic.  That'll be a bit of a trick, but - things are proceeding.


Landscaper took out the dirt fill and is replacing it with stone. Don't have a pic of the finished product but this is paet way there
Terraced embankment along driveway from what was simply a slope of dirt and rock. Looks are deceiving in this photo. The wall is a total of about 20' high.

Posted to Our-log-home by Hugh in Thomaston, GA on 5/3/2017 7:37:32 AM

4 trees are now 1x6 's for the fence


First stack of lumber. 5his is for fence rails
A sawmill in action

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 4/22/2017

After months of seemingly nothing happening, as is normal when wiring, plumbing, mechanical are being installed in the structure, we have visible changes taking place.  The stairwell was drywalled and Sandra has three floors worth primed by climbing up the scaffolding.  But the idea of using the airless sprayer didn't play out for a reason I won't go into.  She finally stopped at the fourth floor as the scaffolding was too shaky at that height and although she was wearing a harness she just didn't feel comfortable.  I don't blame her at all.  We'll figure a way to finish it from the stairs.

The stucco crew, 2-3 guys depending on whether one particular guy wants to show up, are nearly finished with the lath installation.  The owner will try for an inspection this coming week and if it passes, he'll get a crew started on the scratch coat.

And the landscaper has been doing some great work building retaining walls and cleaning fallen trees and stumps and in general, getting the property looking good.  There is a lot for him to do later in summer after the stucco allows for the roofing to get off the ground which allows for the septic to be installed, but great changes now for sure.

I finally finished tying in all the drain lines into the main line, but have run into a problem at the very end.  Getting ready to tie into the section the went through the concrete wall, I noticed that the extension on the outside of the wall to the pump tank had broken loose, presumably from settling of the tank.  So it has to be excavated to repair. That can't happen until the stucco scaffold is down, and that won't be for another month most likely.  So - I can't finish it.  I've moved on to getting the venting taken care of.  That is not nearly as time consuming as the drain lines as the connections are not as specific and the slope doesn't have to be as exact, and the lines are smaller diameter.  So hopefully I'll be done in short order.  Once it is done, I'll call for a partial rough in inspection to make sure all my layout is correct while I wait to tie in to the pump tank line.  
Village came out this week and installed a new pressure reducing valve (PRV) at the meter.  It's great! Have 120 psi at the entry into the house instead of 180 before.  With such a height to the building, I need high pressure, but 180 was too high for the main line.  I'll set additional PRVs at the second and third levels to bring the pressure down to about 60-70 psi for each level, and ensuring plenty of water for all.


Foam boards, house wrap and lath being installed with the help of the Skytrak.
One of the retaining walls
Landscaper pulled out the small wall the excavator had made last fall and rebuklt it with this - a much larger replacement
And yet another wall under construction

Posted to 697-Marlin by TC in Austin/McDade, TX on 4/20/2017 1:49:31 PM

Been a long while, and life has pulled me away for the journal. but I will update with pictures soon.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 4/19/2017 8:41:24 AM

Drywall guys finished the stairwell last evening with a third coat and sanding.  Yes things can dry quite rapidly here in the Southwest. So Sandra can go ahead and prime the walls.  We'll use the airless sprayer to speed things along.  Meanwhile the stucco netting is proceeding, with the fellows finished with the ICF portion and onto the framed section, adding first a 2" layer of R value 10 foam board.  With R19 fiberglass in the wall, this'll end with a total wall value of about R26.  I know this doesn't quite look correct but the math has to take into account the low R value of the studs for their part of the wall construction.  But R26 is a while lot better than the real R14 of the standardly framed 2x6 wall with fiberglass only.

I'm back on plumbing trying to finish off the drain lines before proceeding to the vents. I'm in better spirits about it having taken the hiatus of a couple weeks - and having more vertical space to set things in.

Landscaper started a project Monday, using some of the large stone we have from the excavation to build walls along one side in the front. His main work will come later this summer after the septic has been installed.


Retaining wall that the landscaper is creating to eliminate the sloughing of the hill cut.
Installing the foam over the framed section. Had to use the Skytrak as the roofing is in the way of where the scaffolding would be.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 4/15/2017 12:36:03 PM

The new hammer drill was delivered yesterday and I can now finish setting the outdoor electrical boxes by drilling into the concrete and screwing in Tapcons to hold the boxes. Taking today off to do some hiking but will get to the chore tomorrow. After that, the electric is done. Finally!  And once the stairs are built I can get the inspector to come back. 

As long as we have the walls open and Sandra needed something to do, we ran Ethernet and coax yesterday. I swore I wasn't as so much can be done wirelessly today, but what the heck. The cable is dirt cheap and I'm not sure what WIFI coverage I will get with the house as large as it is. I do need to order cable for the cameras we'll install. Cameras for security as well as for wildlife. 

Stucco guys made good progress the three days they were here this week. A lot of scaffolding and a lot more to go up though. They will begin work on the fourth floor next week. I can't wait for that OSB to finally be covered with foam and lath!!


Rear shot. Lath and water barrier on. Snow mound still present. It might b gone next week as the weather has warmed considerably
Some of the scaffolding around the side an front.
Starting the chase for the cables from the main panels in the garage to the subpanels on the 2nd and third floors
Chase finished. Not really very pretty, but it get the job done. Inspector should have no issue

Posted to Our-log-home by Hugh in Thomaston, GA on 4/14/2017 7:12:55 AM

Still workIngles on the first acre. Driveway culvert is in



Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 4/11/2017 10:57:56 PM

I know I said that the electric was going to be done a week or so ago, for the umpteenth time. And it truly is very close, but I keep finding things that I hadn't thought of that need to get done.  But the elevator power is in, a line has been run for the septic pump, and I have been going through and finding wires that haven't been fully stapled down. The lines for the hot tubs are run through the walls and the GFCI disconnects for them have been set.  When the inspector was here last week, he confirmed that the outside lights and receptacles (boxes) had to be set for the rough in.  This is different than other places I've built before.  So --- that has slowly been taking place.  Again, with ICFs, it is a real pain to get them installed.  Cutting out foam, figuring a way to attach them, a pain and takes time when there are a total of 20 or more.  

And then! I get pulled off for other things that need to get in for the stucco guys or the drywall guys.  A lot of new holes need to be cut on the main level for the range hood, make up air for the hood, the fresh air vent system, the baths, like now, because the stucco guys are ready to work in the area.  Spent much of the day getting a couple of outside hose bibs in and connected so the drywall tapers and the stucco guys have water.  All of these things need to get done, but they keep getting in the way of me working on the electric and plumbing! 

Oh well, as long as we keep making progress.

Sandra has been staining the last few days.  We have a bunch of post material for the decks and the inside of the garage doors needed to be done as well.  A job to keep her off the ladders for a few days.

The stairwell was taped today.  A massive amount of scaffolding went into it to make it to the top.  They are taking the rest of the week off due to the Easter holiday and will be back on Monday.  Sandra is chomping at the bit to get it painted, but will have to wait.

Stucco guys showed up today and began lathing.  It'll take a couple weeks for that to get done, but it's great to start seeing a change to the outside.


Mighty tall scaffolding!
Lath going on for the stucco
Inside of the garage doors stained!

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 4/5/2017

So, the drywall guys show up Monday morning, owner and two hangers.  Because we're only doing the stairwell and elevator shaft, they ordered drywall locally.  I brush off the 4" of fresh snow off the Skytrak's seat, climb in and unload the delivery truck one bundle at a time, lifting them to each of three floors for them to unload what is required.  All the while, it continued to snow.  By the time it finished snowing Tuesday night we had 16" of wet snow on the ground.  This is April!  What the heck!

But someone was smiling upon us.  As I hadn't gotten an electrical inspection yet, I really should not have had the stairwell done.  I gave that inspector a call and explained my situation.  He happened to be in a neighboring town and agreed to stop by.  OMG I couldn't believe it!  He turns out to be a pretty reasonable fellow.  Definitely not like those back in Nashville on the Mutton Busting project.  Was happy to answer my questions.  Approved the stairwell wiring which was a godsend.  

The hangers got everything hung by the end of today.  What a difference! And a foretelling of things to come when the whole house will get done.  It is amazing however, that when you are the GC on the job and subs are in, you don't seem to get anything on your own agenda done.  And this was no exception.  Hopefully tomorrow I can get back to those things.

Stucco guy came by today Obviously can't start with the snow, but said they should start on Monday.  Will love to see that transformation take place.


elevator shaft. Both this and the stairwell look enormously tall with the temporary floors removed
Lifting up the drywall. The Skytrak has been a wonderful aquisition and we'll continue to use it until done. After that, we'll sell it
A shot of the stairwell
The snow may be a pain this late in the season, but it really is beautiful
Looks like Christmas

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 3/31/2017

Yes it was conceivable that I could finish the drain lines this week.  But, things got in the way as they often do.   I made a decision on a drywall guy, and he is to start on Monday, doing the elevator shaft and the stairwell.  The rest of the house will be drywalled in a couple months.  But starting on the other now meant I needed to finally figure out the lighting for the stairwell.  It also pushed me to finish the lagging odds and ends on the electric.  Most are easily taken care of.  But the stairwell was a killer! And took me a full two days.  Part of the time was spent scratching my head on how to set up four separate lights clusters, each controlled from several floors.  Next cutting through the ICF foam and ties, drilling through the concrete etc. and then stuffing gobs of wires into 4-gang boxes and getting them attached to the wall.  Two full days!  Horrible!  And YES I needed one last roll of 14-2 wire to finish it.  Will finish up the last of the wiring over the weekend along with a few things for the elevator shaft, and the drywall guy can start.

While I've been working on this, Sandra has been going gangbusters on a couple other things since she had finished setting foam pieces.  She's gone though and put in nail protection plates over all the places where drain and vent pipes were too close to the edge of studs and could be hit with a screw when drywall goes in.  Finished with that until I finish the plumbing, she went on and nailed all of the truss brackets (hurricane clips) into place.  She'll run caulking next on the fourth floor in all of the stud bays and between the plates and sill.  A time consuming project, but important to reduce the amount of air infiltration.  Where I had started on caulking before, it was amazing how much leakage could be felt before caulking and how little afterwards. 

So - progress is being made, and next week I'll get back to the plumbing.  I should be able to call for an electrical rough-in inspection as well - FINALLY!


stud bays and space between the plates caulked, either with polyurethane caulk (dark) or foam (orange). Makes a huge difference on air infiltration

Posted to gypsyhillfarm by Michelle in East Petersburg , PA on 3/26/2017 10:15:07 AM

Here we are, weeks later and we still don't have a quote. I am the driver so this is my bus i'm on and I get to decide where to go. The reason we don't have much so far is that I only have one meeting per week at this point. 

I had a GC come out a few weeks ago and he suggested we take down one of the walls (it's partially below grade, made of cinder block and I have no idea if it's been sealed or what condition it's in) and though my FIL pushed back on that a bit, next time I'm there I will be ripping off some of the old paneling to see what's behind it. 

To be honest, I'd like to tear that wall down, despite the increased cost, because then we can expand that side about 6 feet forward to make a little more space for the bedrooms and bathroom on that side of the house. Only being a 30x60 house, we are already working with less space, so adding an extra 6'x11' or whatever the width of that front would be is worth it to me.

Another issue that i'm thinking about lately is how the left side of the house is below grade. I don't like that and I don't want it to be like that. So I talked to my Dad about what normally happens and he said they excavate it out to make the ground level and then do a squall to send the water elsewhere. We do have the space on that side of the house to level it out at least 10 feet around that side, if not more. It's currently an issue with water runoff from the barn roofs, but hopefully we can rain barrel it or use the squall to direct it elsewhere. After this last snow storm and therefore, heavy ground moisture, the backyard is just mushy. Not in a super muddy sense, but you can feel that it's very spongy underneath.

The main thing that my husband and I need to hammer out is expectations with my in laws. This will be the home they most likely retire to in 10-15 years, so I understand that they have expectations and they have ideas about what they would want. However, the number one thing that is even allowing me to consider moving onto a property with them is that I get to renovate this 2-unit apartment into the home that I want. It's complicated and communication is key. 

So I do have some more meetings but I need to discuss some things with them first, I guess. They seem to think we can just keep all the exterior walls and work within them, and at first, I thought that would be a valid option, but now.. I'm wanting to expand a bit on the one side, like I said, plus excavate out so it's level. 

The first week of April, I will be meeting with my friend Mark, a former GC and current Engineer. He will visit the property and I will be able to ask him 800 questions about what can be done and all my concerns. I really look forward to that meeting. 

I will update again after that meeting takes place and I'll have more insight! Slowly it goes.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 3/25/2017

Well spring arrived on the calendar nearly a week ago.  We seemed to have been having spring the previous month with temps in the 50's and lately the upper 60's.  The only snow left was the drift on the north side of the house where the roof shedded onto the stack of metal roofing laid out on the ground.  Already talking to the roofer about schedule to finish the roof.  Was dry enough to drive the truck up and around back there to unload on the third level and then - we get nearly a foot of snow Thursday night with quite a bit more in the forecast for the next week! What happened?! And we had gotten used to working in shirt sleeves again! Blah! So much for getting started early on the stucco.

Speaking of which, the fourth quote came back Friday and we have a decision to make.  Prices ranged by nearly 40% so it's a clear example of the benefit of getting multiple quotes. One company bid within 10% of the lowest bid, but they were from Santa Fe and I'd have to arrange housing at an additional cost of $4000.  That beings them up to 20% more.  The upside to them is I think they'd do a bang up job, they would put eight people on it and get it done in 6 weeks.  I've got to talk to the lowest priced guy and see what his people situation is.  I've gotten good reviews on him from a contractor he does work for locally.

Now the sheetrock quotes were even more surprising.  Same group of companies.  There was a 100% difference in price.  Two were within 5%, one was within 50%, and the last was twice what the two lower bids were.  It was soooo far out of what my previous experience was at the Mutton Busting and Barrel Race projects, that I have to scratch my head. And they were the company that was 20% more on the stucco, so why 100% on the drywall? Sometimes I think that because of the size of the house, people think that money is no object, but of course that's not true.  If it was, why are Sandra and I busting our butts, working 60 hour weeks on the project?

So I've got some questions to ask and some decisions to make as the stucco guys can begin setting lath even if it's too cold to begin the cement.  And I can get the drywall guy to do the stairwell and elevator shaft long before the rest of the house which is how it was presented to all four companies.

Other updates - the final garage door is finally working!!  Six months after we received them.  The door guy came out on Thursday and set the new set of springs for it.  As you recall, we had issues with the springs that the door manufacturer sent.  And then when he went to assemble the last door on his last trip, we found out that we were missing the coupling for the shaft.  So it's been a long road.  I still need to set the opener, but after two of them, I've gotten pretty proficient at that.  BTW, regarding openers - because they are high lift door tracks ( go all the way to the 12' ceiling) a direct coupled opener is required.  But I suggest anyone to consider using a direct drive even on a regular track door that has torsion springs. They are more expensive at $300, but so easy to install, don't have belts or chains, no separate track, and quiet, quiet, quiet.

Beginning to see the light on the drain piping.  Started the last two baths.  They connect to the main drain at the very end.  Then slowly work my way backwards to connect the other levels into main line and maintain the correct fall.  It is conceivable I could finish the drain lines this week!  Then tie the vents together which will take time but be so much easier.

Sandra will finish running the scrap foam in the next day or two.  She's in the garage level now, and surprisingly we are just about out of scrap.  The huge piles we had, have been whittled down.  Don't plan to get anymore foam to finish the garage.  All the other sections are well below grade, and don't need any further R value. It is a garage after all.

Posted to skiddinginbroadside by Janae in Livermore, AL on 3/24/2017 1:43:50 PM

My husband and I purchased 6 acres in Northern CO. In the past few years, we've drilled for the well and installed electrical on the raw land. We also built a little shed for tool storage (and a fire pit, for BBQ and beer enjoyment). 

We've spent the last year and a half in Antarctica, working and saving to hopefully make enough cash to build the house to occupancy. We're back in CO and will be submitting plans to the county in the next week or so; we have a few things to finalize with our engineer first. 

We're pretty organized and we've been working and planning this for the last couple years. Naturally, we've encountered some financials hits and we're praying that what we have left will be enough to get the house to a point we can live in it. The rest can be finished once as we bring in money again. 

Photos and more details at our blog

Any thoughts, tips and advice is always welcome! Thank you!

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 3/20/2017

Plumbing is slowly coming along with all but two of the baths having the drain lines in. But still have to connect even those to the main line. In the meantime, Sandra has been cutting up leftover ICF forms and installing them high on the wall between the ends of the floor joists of the 2nd level where the interior foam was missing due to the nature of the build. Why waste the material and it adds another R10 to the space.  

And I'm getting quotes back from the contractors for stucco and sheetrock.  Definitely more for both of them than we had budgeted.  Waiting for one more from a company in Albuquerque. Supposed to have that Thursday.  I want to make a decision on at least the stucco on Friday so the winning contractor can begin running foam and lath in preparation.  I'm really hoping the guys in Albuquerque can come in significantly less than what I have received so far.


Probably hard to see, but Sandra's been installing blocks of foam between the floor joists to cover the interior of the concrete there. Unfortunately, we can't cover the concrete beam below that as it is flush with and part of the interior wall surface

Posted to thedaniels by Craig in Graham, WA on 3/18/2017 6:36:46 PM

It has been awhile from my last post. We have made some progress, not a lot, but some. Western Washington has been hit with just days and days of rain, I know that is not really news, but it is so wet and muddy nothing is getting done very quickly. The forms are all set, the local county has inspected and everything has passed, we should pour on Monday, March 20th, form striped the next day and then drainage and back fill. Framer is scheduled to start on the 27th.

We had a couple of problems, the first being incorrect grade for the wall. The foundation company placed the final grade too low, this would have not left enough room for the floor joists and a very tight, like no, craw space. I had asked my framer to check levels and grades and he caught it before the forms were set. But we had to excavate an additional 18" to make things work, that put us back about a week. It is so muddy the excavator operator was afraid of getting his track hoe stuck.

I still have to move the telephone and cable runs from the road to the house, last 10 feet or so, just a bunch of hand digging. The main electrical cables must be dug up and ready for the local power company to move to the new meter base location, that wont happen for a couple of months. Also, need to move the septic tank wiring and panel and a couple of conduits, one is for the generator and the other is the heat pump. Will be moving those wires inside and have already removed the sheet rock to make it happen. Most likely get to those smaller jobs done next weekend, I hear the rain is supposed to stop...



Almost formed up
Just about ready for mud

Posted to TheHoskensProject by Brian in Dome-ville, FL on 3/15/2017 1:33:29 PM

Found a great deal on some 16 foot, 8-12" wide pressure treated poles, so we got 4 of them.  One or two will be gate posts for a pair of swinging gates, and the others will be supports for outdoor lights, bat houses, and/or cameras to keep an eye on the property.


Thank goodness for UHaul rentals.
Poles ready for transport.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 3/14/2017 11:07:21 AM

Did I ever say that I hate running plumbing?  It just takes me forever to run the waste lines.  Like yesterday, it took me four hours, yes it seems impossible, but four hours to run drain line in the master bath.  Wouldn't have taken so long if I had given myself a bit more room to run the vent line off of it. But I didn't and it took many trips up a level to cut pipe, adjusting the 3" line it connected to, etc etc.  By contrast though, the shower line only took less than half that time as it was downslope further and had more room. But still, you can see that this is a slow, slow process. And while the truss joists allow plenty of openings to run plumbing, they also have lots of chords that get in the way, especially since waste connections are made through wyes, not tees. That 45 degree angle makes layout more difficult to not interfere with a chord somewhere along the run.

Timbers for the stairs were delivered yesterday.  I'll get them covered up today as it will be a while before they are built.  And an old friend from a previous life came by and took pics with his drone.  It gives a different view on the project from what we normally see.


The 4 x 12's and some of the 8x8's for constructing the stairs. The 4x12's will be used for the stringers and the steps. Should be a nice massive statement.
Areial shot of the project

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 3/9/2017

So the wood for the stairs comes next week, but after a discussion with Sandra, whose idea is to get the stairwell sheetrocked first, we decided to do just that.  Also changed is we're ditching the sconces and will go with chandeliers.  Now to figure out how to hang them and more importantly, how to place wiring before the drywall.

In the meantime, I've ordered the elevator which will take about 2 months to get.  Ran a 240V and a 120V over to the location.  Finished the last wall for the shaft, finally and fireblocked the last level.  I drilled holes the the concrete walls for 50amp lones for hot tubs and ran the cable.  Meanwhile Sandra finished stripping wiring, and has moved on to placing blocking for towel racks and paper holders in the bathrooms.  Also will set blocking for shelving and TV brackets.  
Another garage door got new springs this week and I got an opener working on it.  Now the double door and it should get working next week if the springs work for it.  We're still looking at two different sets sent by the manufacturer. We havent ordered ones through the local guy - yet. Fingers crossed.

Got two companies out this week to look at the stucco and drywall.  Just contacted another one today and they'll be out next week.  Should have some numbers to choose from in a couple weeks.  Weather is definitely changing and we want to move on it as soon as possible.  

Will get back on plumbing now that I took a break, taking care of lingering electrical and framing.  

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 3/4/2017

While I am slowly making progress, very slowly, on the plumbing, one can see that the weather is turning and Spring is not far away.  I've contacted four stucco contractors this last week and three appear interested in looking at the job.  Good as they are all about 2 hours away.  The local fellow I contacted replied initially, but has not at all since then.  He was the same fellow I tried to get a reply on the ICF concrete work last year.  I won't ever bother with him again.  Hoping to meet with at least two of the guys this coming week.  Stucco needs to get done before the metal roof goes on, which in hindsight was a good thing the roofer didn't finish last year.  While we got almost 2 feet of snow early this week, there is nothing in the forecast and temps are in the 50s and 60s coming up.  Snow will be disappearing fast, and the stucco should be able to be knocked out.  Also starting to look for drywall quotes even though I won't be ready for that for quite a while.  

Wood for the staircase will arrive on the 14th and the framer should start on those.  Meanwhile, I'll continue moving at a turtle's pace on the plumbing.


Way up there is some of the sewer lines
Looks like the other photo but is the first, harder bathroom.

Posted to thedaniels by Craig in Graham, WA on 3/2/2017 3:46:31 AM

We dug dirt! The excavator came out on Tuesday morning and got started. He first had to remove all the existing flower beds, lawn and raised garden area. Then start digging down to footing level. The foundation is stepped  down the hill. Think of really long and narrow stairs, with 2 to 3 feet between the steps. Framing is a lot less money than concrete so there is a big savings. You also end up with a nicer looking wall, siding and paint look better than gray concrete wall.

The foundation was out today, March 1st, got a the wall laid out, that is marks on the ground where the wall and footings will be built. We had a bit of confusion, there is a slight angle to the foundation on one of the walls, the foundation guy picked that up right away, the excavator not so much. But we got everything figured out and hope to pour on Friday, March 10.



West side of the existing house.

Posted to gypsyhillfarm by Michelle in East Petersburg , PA on 3/1/2017 9:37:17 AM

Yesterday, I finished reading the Owner-Builder book and I've been updating my notes and questions file with everything I can think of. Our floor plan is pretty set and I'd really like to have every detail planned so that the process of designing and getting an accurate price is as smooth as possible. 

With the little building knowledge I have, I must say, I am nervous at the prospect of undertaking a project of this size, however I have always wanted to build a house and I've been craving the knowledge and hands on experience prior to this opportunity to build fell into our lap.

A little background might be necessary here. We plan to buy into my husband's family farm. There is a structure on the farm that is now acting as a 2-unit apartment. It was built in the 70s and has quite a few issues (in my non-professional opinion). There are two options we are working with. 

1. Remodel the current structure. (This is not ideal in my opinion, I'd like to build a house that will stand the test of time and I really do not think the current structure would, not to mention, it would need copious amounts of money to rehab when starting fresh may cost the same amount.)

2. Complete demolition and rebuild with a new foundation, slab or crawl space, exterior walls, etc.

I just reached out to a friend who was a GC at one time and is now an engineer. I am chomping at the bit to hear back from him as he has loads of knowledge and knows me well enough to be realistic with me. 

I am trying to wait until I hear his insight before talking to designers, however I have started to research options in my area. A lot of them are designer/builders, but one is just a designer and works by the hour, they might just be the winner but I'm trying to find at least three that I can interview and get answers from.

I'm trying my best to be patient, as I know this process is going to be long (and grueling at times). I am hoping that my excitement and enthusiam continues throughout the process though. There is plenty of time, I think. It is now March 1, 2017 and we would like to be complete and ready to move in by the end of the August 2018. So we have about 1 year prior to the start of building. If it's possible to have it started in the fall and completed in March, that would be fine too. My daughter will start kindergarten in the fall of this year, so we want her to finish her school year prior to move in. Luckily, like I said, we have a flexible timeline we're working with and we won't need to rely on a bank for financing. I'm really hoping we can do our 2,275 sq ft build with a budget of $150,000. That's $65 per finished sq foot and seems doable since this isn't going to be a high-end home. I guess we'll see!


This is a photo of the current apartment that is standing where the house would be (either renovated or demo'd)

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 2/28/2017 10:00:07 PM

After an extra month on the electric, it's pretty much wrapped up. Still waiting on the stairs to be built so I can set boxes for the sconces and need to run a line outdoors for the septic tank pump station but winter has returned and I'd rather work indoors. So I finished off the attic vents, baffles, and insulation on the shed roof at the top of the stairwell ( so the framers can run drywall up there before the temporary floors are removed to allow for the stairs). Figured it might be tough for drywallers to put it up after the stairs are in. 

And then over the weekend, I finally started the plumbing - something I really don't enjoy, dread may be a better description. Not that I haven't done a lot in the past projects, but it's generally been a struggle to snake drain lines through the framing. And this is no different. So far, a fair amount of the last couple days has been in thought and reflection trying to figure some of it out, but I did finally start running the longest line which also has the most difficulty with getting the proper slope to exit the house. I'm having to use the minimum slope allowed and still just barely able to accomplish it without setting a sump tank and pump. It's slow going at the starting end because of the tight clearances. It should proceed quicker as I get further down slope as more room develops. I'm not going to give an estimated time like I did on the electric. I missed that pretty badly didn't I!  Won't make that mistake again. 

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 2/22/2017 10:37:24 PM

Ok, I needed another roll of 12 and 14 ga.  I think that brings me to about 6000'.  But that should about do it? Yeah, I know I said that before.  We took the last week off as family came to visit.  A lot of family.  It was a good respite from the work and the snow stayed pretty good so eveyome had a great time on the slopes.  But yesterday, I got back to the electric, which is finally in the finishing stages, setting all of the multi-ganged switch boxes into the ICFs at the entryways, running lines for the outdoor lights, and tomorrow, the exterior receptacles near the garage doors.  I need to set the outdoor boxes using diamond drills for the round, and a masonary blade on a 4" grinder for the receptacles.  Sandra will strip the outer sheath and tie grounds together over the next several days at least.  The framer said he is getting ready to begin the massive staircase that goes into the bumpout.  Once that is done, I need to run one last set of electric.  A big one-eight sconces that illuminate the stairs.  I'll be setting the system so you can access the sconces to each floor level from any level.  This'll mean a 4-gang box at each level, using 3 and 4 way switches.  And a lot of wire, maybe one more 250' roll of 14-2.

But before that happens, the stairs need to be built, so while that happens, I'll finish insulating the shed roof that I discussed last time, now that I restocked on materials. And then - finally plumbing! Yes I'm late.  But some things did get in the way besides the enormousness of it all.  

Posted to Cabin-Addition--Spray-Foam-Insulation-Austin-TX by Shawn in Austin, TX on 2/20/2017 1:02:32 PM

It has been a long process in getting this cabin Addition done. I feel like we made the most progress in this one afternoon of installing insulation. Doing the framing is relatively slow compared to what was accomplished on the day of insulation install.

Insulation Austin

The team came out and install closed-cell spray polyurethane foam insulation on the walls of the addition in this log cabin. 

As you can see in the photos, the existing logs are missing mortar, so we will have to replace that to get any air sealing. 

Also, Stellrr installed attic insulation on the rafters so that we can have a closed modern envelope. 

Below are some photos of the install process. 

Next is Drywall


Installing spray foam insulation in Austin log cabin
Installing spray foam insulation in Austin log cabin on scaffolding
Finished view of installing spray foam insulation in Austin log cabin. You can see the logs on the original structure.
The bathroom. The foam is really sealing it nicely.
Attic insulation in the Austin TX log cabin creating a closed envelope.

Posted to Tanglewood by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 2/13/2017

Well, it's been a heck of a long time coming but I finally made the final installation this evening.  The last of the fluorescent bulbs in the house have been replaced with LEDs.

It's been a long time coming.  I started first with swapping out the chandelier bulbs in my master bedroom ceiling fan way back in 2011, but I didn't really start upgrading them much in earnest until mid 2015.  It took a long time for me to find a combination of bulb price, bulb performance (mostly brightness), and bulb availability.  I also discovered rather by accident that dimmable bulbs were not a good choice for Tanglewood, because of variations in voltage levels when the generator was running.  

Eventually I ran across two good sources:  Amazon had a fine brand of bulbs from AriusTek that I rather liked, and Wal Mart greatly expanded their selection of LED bulbs with both dimmable and non-dimmable options.  

There were stumbling blocks along the way of course.  AriusTek changed their technology just before I need one more set of 10 bulbs and once they did restart their production the new bulbs weren't as bright.  I had some trouble with finding the last set of bulbs--the fluorescent tube light replacements--but eventually found some nicely bright ones that involved only a little bit of re-wiring (I had to snip out the ballasts).  They were pricey though and of course I didn't have any to test cheaply--the smallest order was four bulbs--so that part was a bit of a shot in the dark.  I was very pleased with them though, so I quickly ordered four more sets (four sets in that garage plus another set for the apartment kitchen).

The last bulb was actually one I'd forgotten.  There was a heat lamp of all things that they had put into a fitting over the upstairs fireplace, using a slightly smaller can light.  Fortunately Wal Mart had exactly the right one to replace it with.

The fluorescent types of bulbs mostly went to the local county recycler.  A couple of boxes went to my sister back in Missouri to replace her standard incandescent bulbs (after all they're better energy wise), and one box was taken as a donation at a recycling building materials place (probably by accident in retrospect).  

But it's done.  All 255 bulbs (I counted) have been replaced.

So mote it be.

Steven in Colorado

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 2/12/2017 3:27:15 AM

While I did finish the garage lights, I haven't gotten to the outdoor receptacles and lights yet.  A few things have taken some time away.  One was to help with building a Mardi Gras float.  It actually came along pretty well.  The trailer that was used, barely, just barely fit into the working garage door by maybe three inches on either side.  And when we pulled it out with decorations, barely cleared the top of the door. It's now over at another garage that has a much higher and wider door for final fitment of decorations.

Then volunteer work at the resort for our annual military Winterfest.  A long weekend for current and past vets, with very discounted lodging, lift tickets and various events.  A major purpose is to raise money for the National Wellness and Healing Center here in Angle Fire.  The center is the only one of its kind, treating vets with PTSD using alternative therapies to the drugs commonly used by the VA and other institutions. Offering four retreats a year to a dozen couples at each, it has had significant success.  
So - some time off of the house to give back to those who have served our country.

I have started something that wasn't electrical.  I  needed to get off electrical for a bit.  Too long on one project for me.  So something that needs to get done in the near future was started.  A fairly quick project, the ceiling of the staircase needs to be closed in before the stairs are constructed.  In order to do that, I'm installing vents underneath the roof deck before insulation goes in.  Baffles need to be cut and installed at either end of each rafter bay, the plastic vents are sealed with super tape along the sides and joints, so that air can flow freely from the soffit into the main attic area to keep a cold roof and allow any moisture to move.  The sealing keeps air from flowing into or out of the rest of the rafter bay (and the house).  I've never seen anyone do this, but it's all an effort to tighten up the house as completely as I can.  If I haven't said it before, half of the energy loss of a typically constructed house is through air loss.  Reducing that by close attention to sealing, we should be able to very significantly reduce that loss.

I have been able to get up all the vents that I had,  I'm 8 short.  They have been taped, and  I've caulked and foamed the baffles at the soffit end.  I can begin to install insulation in the areas I've finished.  I'd really like to get that done tomorrow so I can see if we need to pick up another bundle or two when we head to Albuquerque on Tuesday.


Basic construction of the vents in the stairwell ceiling
Overview of the entire ceiling

Posted to thedaniels by Craig in Graham, WA on 2/12/2017

Well, we are making some progress...First of all we received just more the 18" of snow last Sunday, Feb 5th.  Not very common for Western Washington to get 6" of snow let alone 18". Schools were closed for 3 days, I couldn't get to work for 2 days and nothing got done on my project. By Friday, Feb 10 all the snow was just about gone and the surveyor's had been here and did there thing. Talking with the engineer he says I should have my road detail and cross sections finish by Wednesday this week. If that happens, a quick submittal to Pierce County Planning and my permit should be in hand.

I have the excavator setup for Feb. 21st, he is saying about 2 to 3 days to dig and prepare for the foundation. My foundation guy  can't start until March 10th. But I have lots to do. Including moving a water line from my well, septic pump electrical has to be moved, along with the cable/telephone lines plus moving an exterior electrical line to my heat pump and another for my emergency generator panel.  I think I will mount new the new 200 Amp panel and my new 320 Amp meter base, get the conduits installed and wire pulled to both panels. The framer is all set, I have him set up to start on March 20th. We shall see if this all comes together. 


Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 2/7/2017 9:44:14 AM

Sunday I ran the final junction boxes for the lighs in the great room, 18' up, working off of a skinny  scaffold plank.  While up that high, I finished taping the SIP seams. Between each box I left a pigtail loop of  wire so that if I need to add more lights, it'll be easy to do.  I had calculated the number of lumens for the space, based on numbers I found online, which were 5000 lumens for 250 sq.ft.  The great room is about 750 sq. ft.  The lights I'm planning on using are 1200 lumens each for a total of 14,400.  But they are up high and we have a huge amount of glass, so the end result of how it will look is a bit unknown.  Thus the option to add more.

Started to set lights for the garage yesterday.  I had bought a number of 8' T5 fixtures at HD back in December.  Now with one garage door working, I could get scaffolding in to work off of.  So much nicer especially went I have the entire width of three planks to stand upon. Each 8' fixture puts out 20,000 lumens, the equivalent of 25 can lights! And uses the equivalent electricity of 2 - 100 watt bulbs.  I'll try to get them finished today and then move on to the outside lights and receptacles.  Plumbing is calling me but I'm trying to focus and finish the wiring details.


Scaffolding in the great room. It was not fun up that high.
4" deep junction boxes attached to the ceiling. You can also see the taped seams. The tape is to eliminate humidity from passing through the joint and condensing under the outside panel which would lead to future rot. Most contractors don't realize this and the result has been big problems several years down the road.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 2/4/2017

the wolves are running round - as a Grateful Dead song starts.  Well, we knew we had elk, deer, coyote, bobcat, bear and mountain lion, but the other day we found what a friend who used ro run guided hunts says are wolf tracks.  Definitely not cat as the claws are visible, and too elongated for bear, much too large for coyote.  There are Mexican grey wolves in New Mexico, just didn't know they were this close.  Sandra spoke to a resort employee this week who said he recently saw a wolf crossing the main highway and where? Right by where we currently live! Holy crap! The wilderness is still alive and well here!


Here's a photo of the track
And another. These were within 30 feet of the house around the Skytrak.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 2/2/2017 10:03:01 PM

Sandra made a trip to the nearest Lowes today to pick up more wire.  This is finally the end. That and a few miscellaneous electrical things that we again ran out of, like Romex clamps and cable staples.  We've gone through 700 staples - crazy to think of and why I keep running out of things.  I just can't imagine how much it takes.  

Spent half a day on the slopes as the weather was good. But came back, set up another level of scaffolding on the 3rd level and started to set boxes for the great room lights.  While up there, I also taped the seams of the SIP panels.  I had held off waiting to see if that section of the roof was truly dried in.  It seems to be, so I can get them taped with some unbelievable stickly 6" wide tape.  The purpose is to prevent humidity from getting through the seams, condensing under the outer skin and rotting over time.  I should get the other eight boxes set up tomorow morning and with luck, get them wired together.  
Spent yesterday setting switch boxes.  Will get back to that this weekend, but it's all coming together

While at Lowe's, Sandra picked up a truck load of PVC fittings.  Toilet flanges, a ton of 4" wyes, elbows, etc.  Yes, I'm getting ready to run the waste lines.  Trying to snake that through the floor joists- I'm not looking forward to that, but it does mean we are moving forward.  I should be able to begin that sometime next week.


3rd floor panel. I've got two more single breakers and one double to add. That pretty much uses it up.
scaffolding to reach the roof. While I'm setting electrical now, I also need it to put the tongue and grooved ceiling up at some point. So it'll stay a while
A typical switch box installation. Not pretty, but solid once the foam sets. Once the inspector oks the depth of the wire, we'll fill the wire chases with foam and get flush with the ICF surface

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/31/2017

We've been making good progress on the electric.  All of the runs on the second level were finished today, and Sandra has cut on and foamed nearly all of the receptacle boxes into the ICFs on both the second and third floors. Only, a few short runs on the third floor to do, but I need to finally finish the elevator shaft on that floor in order to do that.  I spent yesterday working on that, but have a bit more to do.  And I need to set the boxes for the lights in the great room.  That's going to take setting up scaffolding to get up to the 20' height. That's going to be a bit of a pain and take some time.  Ugh.


Not pretty, but will trim the orange foam before sheetrock goes on. When working with ICFs, you have to cut out the foam to run the electric and set boxes. It's a royal pain. The biggest issue is the depth of the foam that most manufacturers use is 2 1/2" to 2 5/8". Most electric boxes are deeper than that. Close but deeper. Have to search for boxes that fit best and then sometimes still have to chisel out of concrete beyond to get the box to fit. The flap on the box is screwed to a plastic web that is inbedded in the foam. Wires are inserted, you spray foam box to the wall. Turns out rock solid in the end. But still a pain.
Close up of the box setting

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/28/2017 3:19:37 PM

Finally have a high pressure mass that has settled over the area.  No wind for once which made for a great day of skiing, but it also ushered in bitter cold temps.  -34F yesterday morning, -25F this morning.  Doesn't make one anxious to get up and out at the site.  It's 8:30 and still -13, so I'll wait another hour before heading up.  Wasting precious daylight, but I'll probably work faster if it's warmer. 

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/26/2017 10:11:24 PM

Went down to Albuquerque today to pick up our gate that we ordered before Christmas. It turned out great!  Ill talk to the local welder to see when he can come up and install it.  Although we won't get an automatic opener on it until spring, we can put a chain on it and at least lock the site up again.  Since rental season, we have had to leave the gate at the bottom of the common drive open as there can be renters at any time in the house next door.

There were a couple other errands we took care of while in town.  One was to drop off the hammer drill for repair.  For some time, it takes coaxing to get the thing to operate somewhat close to what it should.  Now I've probably drilled 1500 holes with the thing so it has had a lot of use, but it's still under warranty so get it fixed.  I've got a lot more work for it.

And we hit HD as I needed more arc-fault breakers, and wire.  Hopefully that gets us where we need to be.  Arc-failts are almost $40 each and this makes 26 of them we've bought.  That doesn't include the 6 combination arc/ground fault receptacles that run $30 each.  Do the math.  Ouch!

We're making it through the electric little by little.  Most of the second floor cicuits are run.  Just the dishwasher and the mechanical room left indoors.  Third floor needs small appliance cicuits, pendent boxes above the island, and great room lights (all 12 of them). Fourth floor is done.  And the 12 smoke alarm boxes are nearly all in and wired together.  So the immense thing is close to being finished.  That feels good.  


Shot of the new gate at the fabricator's.
A little closer shot of the center figures. Not sure if it's clear but three cowboys on horseback, obviously, but one carries a snowboard, the other two-skis.
All wrapped up and somewhere to go

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/23/2017 11:24:28 PM

Went back to get stitches out from last week's accident.  Everything looks pretty good it. It took forever to get them out as they were done tiny as it was face. But the best part was  - I got to shave! Man it was bugging me! I am not a beard man. Just itched constantly. 

Went back up to the house and Sandra and I went back to electric. She finished the cans in the kitchen, I got the 4th floor bath fans and last cans wired, and we started the fire alarms. Now there will be 10 in the house and I should probably put one in the garage as well. I can already see I'm short of three conductor wire. And I'm out of 14-2 as well. Let's do some math. I've used 2- 1000 ft rolls of 12-2; 3 - 250 ft rolls of 12-2; 2 - 250 ft rolls of 14-3; 1 - 1000 ft roll of 14-2; 1 - 250'roll of 14-2. That makes 4500 feet of wire so far not counting the miscellaneous 6-3 and 10-3 that have gone in as well. And I need more!!! I'm going to have over a mile of wire in a house that is 90 feet long! Well and 4 stories. ;-)


Sandra wiring the kitchen cans
Kitchen can set up
Switch box location in the ICF foam. The box will be screwed to a plastic tie buried in the foam. Can foam will be used to cement the box in once the wires are pulled through. A hot knife is used to cut channels in the foam

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/23/2017 2:51:13 AM

Surprisingly, the snow was pretty funky when I headed out on the slopes. Coupled with a bitter wind and too many people, I bailed on skiing after a few runs and went back to the house to work on the third floor panel. Got all the current home runs tied into it. But still have several more to bring over to it. Before I left, finally got the last cans placed on the fourth floor and wired as well as the bath fans. So -  after many false starts we can look at running the plastic on the ceilings where they are exposed to the roof trusses. If we can get that done we can trap some heat in on those floors.  Winter is finally setting in with temps beginning a long trend colder. It will be nice to warm things up a bit. 


Everyone has been saying there haven't been a lot of photos lately. But come on. Looking at wiring isn't that exciting. Third floor panel after today.
Close up of the panel. There are a number of additional circuits yet to go in
Winter up here can be just beautiful

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/22/2017 2:56:32 PM

Although I remember the hell that snow gave Tanglewood Steve on his build in Colorado, the life blood of a ski resort  is obviously snow.  And it's been a little hard to come by this year. Most everything seems to have been further north and pounding Colorado.  We haven't been totally without, but it certainly could be much better.  Finally we are in the midst of a series of storms tracking more southerly and so far have received 16" in the past two days with more to come tomorrow and Tuesday.  Time for some R&R today and enjoy the powder.  Hell with the electric! 

Posted to thedaniels by Craig in Graham, WA on 1/22/2017 12:31:06 AM

Well, here I sit...Still waiting for Pierce County to decide if they will issue my permit before the fire sprinkler permit or not. I received three quotes for the fire sprinklers including installation and a 300 gallon water storage tank, required because I am on a well. Fire sprinklers are not cheap, but it should push the appraised value up anther $15 or $20 thousand.
I am looking at two weeks before the drawing are ready plus a week for the permit, I was hoping to start before the end of the month, we will see.

Posted to Tanglewood by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 1/22/2017

I dare say I am very pleased with these so far.

I'm just about done converting all of my fixtures over to CFLs, and the most tricky part remaining was the CFL tube lights.  Back when I built Tanglewood we put four of these, one over each garage bay.   These are all four-foot fixture so they require the larger T8 bulbs.   There's another fixture in the apartment kitchen (more on that in a minute), and folks might recall a smaller fixture using two-foot lights I replaced late in 2016.

I'd poked around at the various home builder supply stores and couldn't really find anything I liked.  Oh a couple seemed to have the right lumens needed, but they were marred by reviews--even had one light that argued back and forth whether or not the existing ballast could be left in place or if it had to be clipped out.  

I went to search on trusty Amazon and found a lot of options--too many really--but was able to winnow them down a bit with some research.  Eventually I narrowed it down to one that looked good--excellent lumen output (2100L), bright daylight output (I wanted the garage to have more light), and their price was pretty solid.  While the output was slightly less than the stock CFLs they were half the wattage, and all the reviews unanimously agreed that the reflector on the back of the tube would prevent "wasting" half the light from the full-circle output of the standard CFLs.  So I ordered four of them (the smallest order that I could make) and figured that if these worked I'd be happy and if  not I wasn't out all that much.

They arrived--and then we had 4 weeks of  unrelenting cold weather.  Things would be great during the middle of the week, but come the weekend (when I had a chance to work in the garage) it was cold and dark and nasty.  So they waited.

Finally got this first set of four in today and WOW I am impressed!  It was very simple to clip out the old ballast and there was a lot of extra wire in the existing fixture and  it was quite easy to re-engineer everything for the new lights.   (I even found myself rather ahead of schedule--a nice surprise usually when doing chores around here.)

These lights are very bright and clearly brighter than the CFLs (there's a couple of comparison shots below).  I am very impressed with how quickly I got them up and running (like I said, a lot of extra wire in there).  I will definitely be getting more.

With this work I've swapped out two fixture's worth of lights, so I'll order another 4-pack for the next pair of fixtures this week and then take a gander at the light in the apartment (it's a different type of fixture so I don't know if it's two lights or four--if it's four I think it's gonna blind her).  

Very pleased, and the LED Conversion is Nearly Complete!

Steven in Colorado


In this you can see three light fixtures. The nearest is without the reflector/cover, the one in the middle has the reflector on, and the far one has the older CFLs. As you can see the older fixture is DEFINITELY not as bright as the new LED ones.
Closeup of the middle and third (right hand) fixture. I took this right after I got the cover on this LED fixture and wanted a side-by-side comparison.
Straight shot of the LED tube lights, without their fixture.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/19/2017

My three week goal is almost up and guess what? I'm not going to make it.  Sandra and I are still at it.  There are so many runs to make, and with the lighting, much of it has multi-way switching (turn on/off from multiple locations). Nearly all of the can lights are in, but 40 of them need to be connected.  All of the wire chases that go into the ICF walls have been cut out, but wire and boxes need to be foamed into place.  

I've gotten much of the second floor panel wired up which cleaned up the rats nest of wires draped all over.  I'll tackle the main level panel soon and get that mess taken care of as well.  Slowly but surely everything is getting done, but man! Stuff  just seems to be rearing its head.  Ok, so maybe by the end of the month? ;-)

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/15/2017 12:29:37 PM

Never too old to learn new tricks. I had a learning experience yesterday that will not be forgotten.  I was finishing up for the day trying to get one one last electric line in before quitting. Down in the garage 12' up with the ladder against the wall. Was pulling wire through the trusses, not leaning sideways nor at the top of the ladder though I was at the ceiling height. All of a sudden the feet of the ladder slip outward and I found myself headed to the floor, ladder underneath me. Slowly got up. Leg banged hard in a couple places. Blood coming down my face from a couple gashes. But I could move. Climbed up a ladder to get out of the garage and drove home. Sandra appraised the situation and made the call to go to the ER in Taos. X-rays, CT scan and 25 stitches later we finally left for home. 

Daughter who is a safety engineer sent loads of stuff on ladder safety products. They look good and we'll order a couple. 

It was a lesson that ultimately was inexpensive from what I could have been. Between running umpteen wires and setting the garage door tracks, I've been up and down the ladder on that same floor a hundred times. All over a bare floor without a wall to slow the decent. Same slip could have happened and the result would have been far worse. Someone was watching over me but knew I needed some lesson to get through my hard head. So He gave me one with just enough hurt to get my attention. 

I'll make some changes to how I  work in the future including making sure the ladder is secure. My advice to everyone else is to pay attention to securing it as well even if you are on a level and what seems to be a safe surface. 

Posted to TheHoskensProject by Brian in Dome-ville, FL on 1/15/2017

We have been trying to find a roof leak for months.  It was just barely leaking, just enough to leave a stain on the ceiling and mess up some wall paint.  Since this is a dome, there's no shingles, just paint on the roof to waterproof it.  I finally decided to paint a heavy coat of elastomeric paint over the general area where it was leaking, and I think it's stopped.  Next time we clean and paint the dome, I think we're doing the entire thing in elastomeric roof paint, probably should have done that from the beginning.

I am going to wait a couple months or so to make sure the roof leak is stopped, then it's time to order and install cabinets and countertops!


Did some cleaning and set up a bed upstairs, now that the leak is likely stopped
Put some non-slip stickers in the bathtub
Laid out some rugs.

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