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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 5/5/2008 7:10:37 AM

One of the desires for our building project was to build a VERY efficient home.  (I'm not a typical O-B, I'm in this one for the long haul.)  With our concentration on the energy-efficiency aspect we kept trying to find some software or supplier that could quantify how their product would help our efficiency.  We didn't find anybody who could model the types of homes that we were building.

In order to attempt to alleviate some of the confusion, my buddy PJ (smelltheforest) and I have been tracking the performance of our new houses and we're sharing it with the attached PDF.

The metric we're using is 100% made up by us.  In order to try to compensate for climate, we're using the metric of heating days (more here) per BTU and then dividing by square footage to try to handle the different square footage of the homes involved.  This is NOT a perfect metric.  But it does show remarkable consistency, which gives us hope.

A little bit about the houses:

AG -- My house is ICF walls up to the top of the second floor joists.  From there SIPs are used, and SIPs make up 80% of the roof, with 20% trusses.  The trussed sections are insulated with Icynene sprayed up against the roof deck.  Heat: garage and basement slabs have radiant embedded in them.  All other floors utilize thinset gypcrete over a normal subfloor with radiant in the gypcrete.

PJ -- Identical to above, with the exception of extremely limited SIPs (mostly scissor trusses with Icynene sprayed against the bottom of the roof deck).  Also has insulation under the basement slab.

ME -- A conventional house, insulated with spray polyethylene foam.  Roof insulation is done using polyurethane foam against the roof deck with fiberglass batts covering the polyurethane to prevent noxious gasses.  Radiant is staple up.  Garage is not heated, basement slab has radiant embedded in it.

Avg 1998-2006 -- A cookie cutter house constructed with 1997 technology.  Fiberglass batts, blown in fiberglass on the upper floor ceiling, and forced air heat.

Files




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 10/28/2007 4:52:20 PM

More pics.

Pic of a rock taking the tractor for a ride.  :)

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 10/28/2007

Okay, okay,

Here's some start of the updates you've all been wanting and I've been slacking on.

The past months have been truly awesome. I got reintroduced to my wife after the building process and she still wants to hang around. The little guy is growing like a weed, and in some ways I regret that I had to take some time off to build the house, but there's no way we could have built this house without me doing it.

I ended up welding up my own deck railing, so I'll lead with that.

The house works! Bottom line, green building will pay off in the long term.

Here's a whole bunch of pictures!

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 2/12/2007

Well the pics are the proof.

I've been pretty lucky with the trim guy. He's a young guy with a great crew, respectful, they even close doors! (My framing crew is famous for opening every door in the house with the heater on).

Deck is complete. My site is a challenge, so seeing the crane begin to tip because the lift was a little bit too far was a bit intimidating. All those beams have to come from somewhere!

I'm staining all the trim just in time for the trim carpenters. So far, the trim is going along great!

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 1/31/2007

Well the last month has been interesting. I've been quite reticent on my updating of this blog, primarily because there hasn't been much to report. I've resolved this today, mostly dumping a bunch of photos that are backdated. If you've been following, please browse back a couple of entries here.

In short:

Drywall was a nightmare. If you live on the east coast, apparently your winter got stuck in Colorado. Colorado Springs has had some pretty tame winter's for the last 14 years, apparently building up for a crescendo in the winter of 2006/2007. We've had five days above freezing since December 15th. This week's weather is attached. Joy. All this resulted in phenomenal delays in the project.

I've left my job with my current company because I just didn't have enough stress during this project, so I thought I'd start a new job too! 

Bottom Line:
Final paint is complete, tile is almost done, hardwood floors are installed, the deck is started, trim has begun, and I need a beverage.

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 1/23/2007

We ended up getting a phenomenal deal on tile. Real travertine for the same price as a couple of other bids were going to charge us for fake.  Our tile guy has probably been the most precise sub we've ever had.

Good stuff!

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 1/22/2007

They stocked the hardwood floors...

We're going with Brazilian cherry hardwood floors. It's heavy!

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 1/11/2007

Finally my drywall epic is complete... nearly a month to do a week-long job.

One day for hand texture, one day for knock down... then the tile guy arrives. As I'm doing very little finishing, this should be a break for me.  (Funny... I doubt that.)

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 1/7/2007

Taping is complete!!! My drywall experience has been trying. A little bit of miscommunication tied to snowstorm after snowstorm...

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 12/22/2006

Here you go...

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 12/19/2006

Merry Christmas to me!

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 12/16/2006

My regional building department has taken a stance on ICF's that they are not allowed to have stucco applied directly to the Styrofoam. This is rather unfortunate for me, as I already have lath over my bare Styrofoam walls. 

To be blunt, these people are morons who explained to me in condescending tones that the reason is to protect me and my family against water seeping in behind the stucco, freezing and causing the stucco to crack.  My argument that the Styrofoam is more pliable than stucco, and if it was to expand, would merely expand into the Styrofoam fell on deaf ears. Every ICF manufacturer makes the statement that exterior coverings can be made directly to the ICF block, but nobody has the critical ICC-ES report to back the statement up.

I've had numerous ICF manufacturers call them to no avail... so I'm toast.

I think it's Margarita night.


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 12/8/2006

Having letters from the engineer, stamped by him... priceless!

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 12/8/2006

After much drama, the insulation is passed for the new house.

I decided to use Icynene foam for the insulation (those parts of the house that don't have SIPs).

My regional building department pprbd.org is a bunch of dolts who are categorically against anything except fiberglass batts. They gave me hassle after hassle.  My Icynene sprayer ruined one of my garage doors, so if you're looking to spray Icynene in Colorado Springs give me a ring and I'll tell you who to avoid.

Here's some pics...

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 12/6/2006

My radiant heat system, ordered from Radiantec.com is fully operational.

This is absolutely awesome validation of doing the job myself!


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 11/28/2006

He had some issues...

Most of which are already fixed, hopefully the architect will brave the blizzard to come by today and resolve the rest.

B 28-nov-2006 HOMEOWNER BFR P GREG ENG FOR THE STACKED PLATES ON TOP OF WALLS-ENG FOR TH LANDING SUPPORT-SKEWED HANGERS FLOOR JOISTS-FIRESTOPS-POINT LOADS-ENG FOR WOOD POST TO STEEL BEAM CONNECTIONS-HAVE ALL THE REST OF THE ENG FOR THIS HOUSE

He made us cut out the SIPs to show that there's support under the beams... joy.

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 11/22/2006

Mostly easy fixes!


P 22-nov-2006 15:49:32 HOMEOWNER PTO C SCOTT ISOLATE COPPER THROUGH CONCRETE BY FINAL. SUPPORT 3'' IN MECH. ROOM, AND INSTALL VACCUUM BREAKERS ON ALL HOSE BIBBS BY FINAL.


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 11/20/2006

You know it's going to be a good inspection when the inspector shows up and says, "I hate these homeowner inspections because I usually make them tear out half of the plumbing."

Joy.

It actually went pretty well for a failure. I had missed two nail plates. He insisted that I isolate the concrete coming through the Levelrock slab. Then he took out his level and proceeded to check pipes until he found one that was improperly leveled.

P 20-nov-2006 10:35:55 HOMEOWNER PTO R SCOTT GRADE AND STRAP TO CODE. ISOLATE PIPING THROUGH CONCRETE. SILCOCKS AND GARAGE BOILER DRAINS LACK VACCUUM BREAKERS. LEAK ON REAR SILCOCK. LACKS NAIL PROTECTION.


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 11/20/2006

Well the last HRR inspection didn't go well, but the inspector was happy we had fixed everything, and gave it a quick once-over.


H 20-nov-2006 13:42:47 SUMMIT COMFORT SYSTEMS, INC HC C DOUG SET METER
H 20-nov-2006 13:42:29 SUMMIT COMFORT SYSTEMS, INC HRR C DOUG FINISHED BASEMENT


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 11/16/2006

Well I failed my first HRR inspection.

The only one that's really my mistake is the Polaris Boiler vent. Guess I get to core another three holes in the concrete.

H 16-nov-2006 12:07:49
HRR R DOUG RESUPPORT ALL FLEX DUCT - EVERY 4' - 1 1\2'' WIDE STRAP - CAN'T CRUSH, RESEAL ALL DUCT PER MASTIC MANUFACTURES INSTRUCTIONS, CONNECT BATH FAN TO DUCT, NEED DOWNDRAFT VENTING INSTRUCTIONS, POLARIS BOILER VENT TO CLOSE TO HRV INTAKE PER MANUFACTURE


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 11/10/2006

Pics are attached.

We used LEVELROCK instead of Gypcrete.

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 11/7/2006


Call that one a win.

E 07-nov-2006 12:29:25 D & J QUALITY ELECTRIC INC ES C ROBERT RESIDENTIAL UNDERGROUND: 200 AMP 3W TO NEW HOME BY D AND J. RESEAL.
E 07-nov-2006 12:28:55 D & J QUALITY ELECTRIC INC ER C ROBERT FIREPLACE WIRED, FINISHED BASEMENT, 100 AMP SUB BASEMENT

Plumb on friday?  We'll see!


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 11/6/2006

Well we've been making progress.

The gas trench is done, electrical to the house is trenched, and we worked radiant sleepers this weekend. This Sunday, before a planned trip to Dallas (work), I was working on the radiant manifolds and managed to blow out my back when lifting the copper with all of the pumps attached (old Air Force injury). I'll be on the couch for a couple of days.

No trip to Dallas... but I think this is even worse... 10 miles from the house and unable to walk 10 feet.

Here are the pics.

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 11/2/2006

My gas line is installed, and should be back filled this morning.

It's a good thing too...

My gas line must be finished before the electrical line can get to the house, my electrical must be connected before the well can work, my well must work before I can pour Gypcrete, my Gypcrete must be dry before they can stock drywall, my drywall must be stocked before they can put in the two upstairs windows, and my two upstairs windows must be in before the brown coat stucco.

Joy.


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 10/31/2006

October was a frustrating month.

We sold the house, which in itself probably took up two weeks of time. Then immediately afterward Colorado Springs had the blizzard of '06, which probably took another week. So we're operating on one week of actual time in October.

We completed electrical, stucco lath, radiant, fireplace install, and gas line install.

More to follow.

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 9/29/2006

They did an awesome job, let me know if anyone needs a reference.


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 9/28/2006

This is just unbelievable. We put our house on the market last Friday, and now we have a signed offer in hand for pretty much full price.

**Gulp**

The first showing was a couple that just had a house deal fall through on them. They're pre-approved, but we have to be out by Oct 13th. 

Be careful what you wish for... you just might get it!


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 9/26/2006

Unfortunately, I'm stuck in Dallas for work for the week. Frustrating.

My wife is really incredible as she's managing to help with the house, manage the baby, and clean the current house for sale.



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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 9/22/2006

Well, we've made the decision to get the house on the market in anticipation of a long sale period. 

The real estate agent is really softening the normal mantra, so the market must be fairly difficult.

We're going to put it on the market at about $15K higher than we think it'll go for, just to dissuade anybody from picking it up quickly.


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 9/19/2006

This weekend was low-voltage conduit (so I don't have to run all of my low voltage before drywall). I'm using this Carlon system here for my low-voltage installation. Home runs to two locations -- one in the attic, one in the basement.

We also got the ERV in. I'm using the Broan GSEH3K unit for the house.

The framers are working furiously on the house, some pictures are attached. The septic guys ran over my perimeter drain daylight when they backfilled, so they get to come back and fix it today.

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 9/14/2006

Hopefully we're in our last week with the framers, but I don't quite believe it.

PJ is pretty anxous to get the framers over there, and I don't blame him.

I had the thin slab Levelrock guy, the drywall guy, and the hardwood guy out this week for meetings. 

Stress is a kicker right now, so I'm cutting back on the coffee (yeah right!).

The septic went in... it's amazing the damage that two rednecks with a backhoe can do (and sad).

We got the metal landing for the second floor stairs installed as well.

If you look really hard at the pictures you can see the fascia is actually up.  I'm using Hardieboard
for the fascia and soffit.  You can actually stain the fiber cement board and it looks identical to wood, but with none of the fading or maintenance considerations.

My to do list:
Install home audio
Install whole house vac
Install deck pads
Install ERV/HEPA Filter
Finish PEX installation
Install bath fans
Install low voltage conduit
Install humidifier
Get fireplaces installed
Install radiant
Install range ventilation
Install security system
Caulk windows and doors

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 9/8/2006

We managed to get some serious traction on PEX and DWV this weekend, thanks to my dad coming out.

Here are some pics.

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 8/28/2006

Hopefully this will be our final week before the framers jump 300 feet over to PJ's lot.

The house has been good, but to be honest I thought it would go a bit quicker.  Exterior framing is complete except for three or four areas (eaves, walkout basement, and eyebrows over garage).  The framer has proven to be extraordinarily anal retentive, but not quick.  I think that's better in the long run...

Pics are attached.  Notice the well being drilled, I managed to leave that until the last minute (plumbers -- me) should be in next week.

I bought this magnetic sweep on Amazon.  Great purchase if your framers are (like normal) forgetful in cleaning up their messes.

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 8/15/2006

It's been a while since my last post.

The framer has been working on the trusses, with limited success.  We've managed to get all of the SIPs up on the house, so it's starting to get less rain on the inside.

PJ and I leveled the garage (far more difficult than actually laying the radiant) and put down steel and radiant pipe this weekend.  We're both trying to recover from a cold bug.

The trusses on the garage arrived faulty, so we got new ones in there yesterday.

Hopefully we're pouring the garage slab tomorrow, windows and doors arrive on Thursday!

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 8/4/2006

Well, the SIP roof is almost on, and the trusses are going to be delivered today.

It looks very neat on the inside... I'm so pleased with the architectural components and how they're turning out.

Here are the pics.

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 8/3/2006

My framers are still trying to figure out whether or not they like SIPs.

The roof has gone pretty well, the major problems we are having are not the size of the SIP panels, but rather the swelling of the OSB on the panels due to excessive moisture during storage.

They're doing a great job and it looks REALLY AWESOME!


Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 7/28/2006

Since AG's not here for the BIG BEAM DAY, here are the pictures:

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 7/26/2006

Yesterday was pretty frustrating.

The brackets I had made for the tie-in between the beams were incorrect when I picked them up (after taking an extra week to fabricate them).  Picture is below.

The framer continues to work hard, but silly things keep leading to delays.

SIP walls are complete... we're still waiting on the roof!

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 7/21/2006

Well the first SIPs are up!

We're running a bit behind right now, primarily because my framer is a perfectionist.  (I never, ever, ever thought I'd be able to say that and I'm just so happy that I can!)

I'm going to have to back charge my ICF guy because my framer doesn't think the walls were level enough so he had to shim the walls, sometimes as much as 1.5".  The ICF guy will be coming back with grout to pack under the sill plates.

Beams are delivered, and the rest of the SIPs should go up today.  Beam pockets and beams Monday!

My last load of SIPs arrives Monday morning.  We'll get a roof on this thing yet!

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 7/17/2006

Well the last couple of weeks have been fairly frustrating.

First came the monsoons, which are not very good to get work done in. (We got more rain from July 6th to July 12th than the entire YTD.)

Second came frustrations with Enercept (SIP Company).  The guy who did my SIP panels apparently moved on, and the replacement who did PJ's panels was totally incompetent.  We ended up designing the SIPs ourselves and just giving them the drawings.  In addition, this dialogue (which took two weeks) delayed PJ's SIP panels so much that I'm now waiting for his to proceed into production.  (We're sharing shipping on the panels).

Third has been the lack of responsiveness in certain subcontractors -- I know, I was spoiled early. :)

Hopefully walls and beams this week!

AG


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 7/7/2006

Second floor framing started!

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 7/5/2006

Basement slab poured.  The flatwork crew knocked the floor drain off the PVC riser and put concrete into the trap. I'd imagine that will cost some money to fix.

Frustrations abound this week.

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 6/21/2006

Well, the first truckload delivery of my SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) was today. Unloading a truck like that (even with a forklift) is tough work. Luckily Broderick (one of my ICF sub's crew) is an experienced tank driver/forklift driver/Bobcat guy/equipment operator extraordinaire. I borrowed him for a couple of hours from PJ's lot.

I further realized this morning that I am truly blessed to have PJ and Mark as part of the owner-builder team. Many have thought we were nuts for building all at once, but it's actually been really cool. Every problem gets vetted through two other people who are a bit detached from the house, and I have a support group for my successes (and failures).

Unloading the truck took about three hours. There are 180 (!!!!) panels total. About a hundred were delivered in this load.

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 6/19/2006

We poured the second floor today...

During the pour (bad timing) we found another challenge.

My engineer had spec'd a steel beam and wood framing over my 18' garage door. We had concrete. After talking to the engineer, we decided to pour the concrete and then if the reinforcement the ICF sub had put in was not sufficient for the loads, we will cut a beam out just below the garage and slip a steel beam in the hole in the concrete.

We got the radiant laid out in the basement this weekend. I still can't believe that the plumbers (all four bids I got) wanted $3/sq. ft for radiant. It cost me $1K materials and a weekend for what they wanted to charge $9K for. Unbelievable.

We also found a pneumatic radiant floor gun at Peter Mangone. I'll let you know how it works.

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 6/16/2006

ICF is going along nicely as usual.

I found my first two Oops.

1. The roof is drawn incorrectly on the plans... there's really nothing I can do about this one.  It's my fault... it's just nobody caught it in time.  My SIP panels are already formed, but if you look at the pictures below, I raised the ICF wall in two places to try to compensate.

2. I forgot to increase the garage door height to 9'.  (Edit 5/16/06) Realized while out on site that I had increased it from 7' to 8'.  I'm drinking tonight to try to decrease the evil thoughts that keep making me think I'm screwing everything up.

As you can see from the pictures, I've had 6x6 wire mesh delivered and I'm laying it out in the basement, radiant install should go in this weekend.

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 6/12/2006

My ICF sub started on the second floor of the house this morning, completing about 32" of my second floor before he knocked off for the day.

I'm floored by how awesome this subcontractor is... please let me know if anyone's building near Colorado Springs and I'll hook you up.

In addition, these pics should let you know about backfill, it looks pretty good for how much dirt they had to truck in.

AG

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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 6/12/2006

"An army marches on its stomach"
    -Napoleon Bonaparte

Logistics have always fascinated me.  Logistics is the art of having the right people and equipment at the right location at the right time.  I learned most of what I know from my classes at the Academy, and through research of my own like General Pagonis's book, Moving Mountains.  While I understand what Mark Smith was trying to do in The Owner-Builder Book, logistics was not an important take away from that book, and in my opinion... this whole project is about logistics.

Some of the things I have done to reduce my logistical risk:

  • Taken a framer who promised to do both PJ's and my project at once, and not commit to any other jobs.
  • Gone with larger companies with higher bids, because if a company runs 35 drywall crews it will be easier to get inserted into their schedule.
  • Gotten bids for two houses at once, which increases our place on the priority list.
The most important questions to ask every sub, every week:
  1. What do you need me to do to keep this project going seamlessly this week?
  2. Do you see any deficiencies I should be working on (in any trade, not just theirs)?
  3. Can you please give me a list of things you will need, and times you will need them (have them update this weekly if you can)?
  4. Is there anything that I can do to make the work go quicker?  (Lunches, beer at the end of the day, temporary electric service, water supply, etc...)
This may get updated as I learn more...

AG


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 6/7/2006

There are a few nicks to get done, but we're complete enough to start the next phase of concrete wall!


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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 5/31/2006 8:09:51 PM

Well the house backfill got started today.  My excavator trucked in 50 trucks worth of dirt to fill in the garage and around the house.  It worked out pretty well.  They're going to have to clean up some things tomorrow, but the progress they made is encouraging.

Let me know what you think.

Photos




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Posted to cosdreamhome by Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 5/31/2006 8:04:33 PM

Progress after day three.

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