week 36: fencing, move-in date

Well, not much happened on-site this past week. The fence got started (probably on Friday; possibly Saturday morning):

But there is much more to go. At least they're going to reuse/recycle the fence material:

Countertops are supposed to go in on Wednesday. Countertops are needed before other parts of the house (tile, tile backsplashes, plumbing fixtures) can go in, so there may be quicker progress after that. 

The electrician is supposed to come next week and start installing the lighting and electrical fixtures. The city is supposed to also drop power to the garage so the electricians can start firing the house up. The builder said that after all the electrical is working, he can get a permit from the city to turn (and leave) the power on at the house. This will allow them to turn on the AC in preparation for the wood floors to go in (and we're starting to peek into AC season round here in Austin). 

I asked the builder (finally) about the move-in date. He says we'll have a CO (certificate of occupancy) the first week of June. So let's call that June 7th. Recall that everything was supposed to be done by the end of May, so if he hits that date, that's pretty darn good. We have to be out of our apartment by July 10th or so (signed up for an extra month as a safety and sanity factor; turned out to be wise). 

46 days until we get a green light to move-in!


getting paid

We are presently about 88 percent through the build. Our construction loan covers 61 percent of the build. Anyone want to guess how much interest we’ve paid on the home construction loan so far? What's that? Want a little time to think about it? That’s cool, that’s cool. I’ll wait.

(tap, tap, tap, tap...)

Alrightey then: If you guessed $400, you’d be right on the money (get it? “right” on the money! bwah ha ha!). 

What’s that? That can’t possibly be right? I hear ya. That sounds crazy, like sniffing-silicon-fumes-cause-I-been-sealing-all-the-cracks-(I-say-ALL-the-cracks!!!)-in-the-house crazy. But it’s the truth! And here’s why...

First off, we brought a fairly sizable hunk of cash to the build. Understandably, the bank wants you to spend that scratch first before you spend their money. Lowers their risk, you see. There’s also no interest on that money (the money we bring to the table). To bring our green to the deal, we had to put our bucks into an escrow-like account with the bank so the bank would know we weren’t spending it on something crazy like expensive toilet paper holders.

Secondly, the money goes to the builder in chunks. Early in the build, the builder had to submit with our and the bank’s approval the major completion phases of the house after which he could submit requests for reimbursement. Here is where you really want to make sure you are dealing with a financially-secure builder, otherwise he won’t be able to front the bucks to get things done. 

After the builder submits a request for reimbursement, we have to sign off the request (saying that, yes, he done did what he said he would done do) as does the bank. Before the bank signs off on the invoice, they verify that the invoiced work was completed. Once that’s done, the bank cuts a check to the builder. This whole process is done regardless of whether it’s our money or the bank’s money. Examples of major phases include the foundation, the framing, and the cladding. 

The builder didn’t start dipping into our construction loan until January. So far we’ve made two interest payments on that dip: $200 in February and $200 in March (another payment will be coming soon; it will be $400). Once the interior work is done, we’ll get hit with another invoice that will start acruing more interest, but so far the interest hit has not been bad!

There are other ways builders get reimbursed during a build, but this is how it has worked on our build. So far, it has worked out quite well!


modern outdoor bibs/faucets/spigots/fountains/hydrants

Hee, hee: bibs! That's what they call outdoor faucets (also called spigots [also called fountains {also called hydrants}])!

We have a couple prominently displayed bibs about the house and garage. Here's what we have at the moment on the carport:

ummm: yuck.

Outdoor faucets seem to be a no man's land for modern design. It's hard to get past the standard outdoor faucet:

Not to mention the awkward pipe-sticking-too-far-out-from-the-wall-syndrome. Hmmmm...

There are a number of decorative outdoor faucet bibs:

And then there's this one:

Who in the world would possibly want a bunny faucet?!?!!? If you're out there, I'd like to meet you...

Yes, there are many types of outdoor spigots out there, but not many of a modern bent.

This one by Woodford is a wee bit better than the standards:

It comes in chrome for (gulp) $161.

This one is rather modern, the Locko Outdoor Faucet:

It doesn't appear to be in production. Furthermore, it's German, which means it's (probably) metric.

Here's a commercial style "hydrant":

Although I doubt this can be installed at this point...

This by Rubine one ain't perfect, but it's better than most:

As far as choices go, I really like this one, also by Rubine:

but it's for sale out of Malaysia (for a grand total of $16.47!). I found the previous faucet by Rubine via Ebay.

This one is cool, too, but where do you hook your hose?

Here's one for your washing machine (didn;t think about a modern fixture for the washing machine!) or outdoor garden hose:

and here's a double:

and there's this one:

Can you say "come to papa"? Not clear if we could hook a hose to it... Unclear where to get it, as well. The site appears to be for a Russian manufacturer. (sigh...) But, we may be able to order from here!


week 35: HVACing

Not a lot of exciting stuff happened over the past week. There was a bit of behind-the-scenes back-and-forth on fences (finalizing design, location, and cost), grass pavers (finalizing cost), facing for the cabinets under the peninsula (what and who), countertops (the whats on the peninsula), handrails for the stairs and upstairs "balcony", and other details.


One visible thing that happened was the installation of more of the HVAC system. The sub installed registers for the returns and ducts:

Nothing special about the registers (that was one design detail we didn't fret about, in part because the design is set by Austin's green rating and in part because design-savvy alternatives are expensive). One item that has come up is: What to do about the color of the registers where they penetrate the cypress? The builder wants to try and match the wood (but which part of the wood?). I'm thinking we leave them white. There's already a lot of white in the house (with more to come with the fixtures). Worse comes to worse, we can pull them down and paint them "wood" later and see how that goes. Gave a pal a tour of the house this past week, and he suggested leaving them white. He and his wife had to deal with a similar situation, and, after dealing with paint (scratching off) and matching issues, went white. 

The grills went up on the bathroom and laundry ventilation as well. Sure glad I insisted that this vent in the powder pooper be centered. 

I was happy to see how pleasantly minimal the access covers in the upstairs ceilings turned out. These are access points for the zone controllers for the HVAC. Super mellow. Almost wish we had more access points (too late to put in more zones?).

The AC condenser is now placed and installed:

They still need to install the controllers and hook up the gas (I'm guessing that the gas man does that).

Wood for the floors?

The sub dropped off samples of potential flooring for the stairs and upstairs.

Not sure any of these float our boats... We really want high tonal variation in the hickory to yuck up the neoplasticism angle.

moments of bliss

punch list

- countertops
- guest bathroom tile
- master bathroom tile
- plumbing fixtures
- lighting fixtures
- plugs
- switches
- speakers (us)
- security plug covers (us)
- wifi stations (us)
- living room plug covers (us)
- master bathroom shelves
- guest bathroom shelves
- closet poles
- appliances
- gas
- power
- wood floor
- polish floor
- drywall touchup
- paint touchup
- master bathroom mirror
- guest bathroom mirror
- powder mirror
- kitchen sills
- range hood
- range hood cover
- living room floor plug covers
- railing for stairwell
- railing for balcony
- doorbell chime

outside house:
- outside lighting fixtures
- outside plugs
- cable
- roof over limestone/bookcase bump
- outdoor spigots
- solar (us)
- rainwater (us)
- gutters
- water heater
- doorbell
- garage door
- gutters
- touchup eyebrows
- clean roof

- gate
- fancy fence
- not-so-fancy fence
- back fence
- plant trees
- pavers
- grasscrete
- grass for grasscrete
- grass
- mulch
- stone
- horno base
- horno
- walls
- wall light and address numbers
- mailbox (us)
- feathergrass in driveway holes (us)

I'm sure there are more, but here's what I have at the moment to close the house out...


modern outdoor plugs

Every detail, even every mundane detail, is an opportunity for design. And outdoor plug covers are no exception.

We have several outdoor plugs with a couple prominently located. So it would be good to have some aesthetically pleasing plugs for the great outdoors. There aren't many out there, but there are some. We want to avoid having a wall wart such as this pop up outside:

Half the battle is figuring out the proper terminology to search on. The words "weather-resistant receptacle cover" seems to be the winning combination.

Since we're going with Leviton for the majority of the plugs on the inside, Leviton was our first stop.


This is actually pretty good. White, simple, low-profile. Also comes in gray (one of the plugs is on the gray garage. It's made of a hard plastic, so I'm not sure how resilient it will be.

A similar one but made out of metal in this one:

Unlike the Leviton, is has a bunch of crap embossed on the front (for some reason, manufacturers are often like dogs pissing on trees, marking their territory; it can drive a budding minimalist crazy).

Some other choices that are out there:

Depending on your preferences, there are others that might fit the bill. But there aren't many moderns out there...


week 34: paint, grout, seals, and sills

Ahhhhh: Week 34. Paint, seals, and sills; paint, seals, and sills...

more cabinet details

But first, here are some more cabinet details! Here are a couple closeups of the pulls:

Dig how the pulls, little mini-cantilevers, fit the gestalt of the project. Yum.

Here's a liquor pull in the buds and suds room:

As well as deep drawers for whiskey bottles:

And, bonus, you get a peak at the drawer construction.

Into the kitchen, this pull out is to the left of the stove, intended for stove stuff:

Here's the trash can pull, to the right of the kitchen sink:

And the puller outer for the recyclables to the right of the fridge:

The covered uppers in the kitchen have big ole hinges. Fortunately, the bride can reach them.

cypress be sealed!

The paint crew not only paints but seals, and they sealed the indoor and outdoor cypress. And it looks sharp! The sealant only darkened the wood a wee bit, and it added a shine. 

They also painted and sealed the living room built-ins:

And all of that wood works together well:


We stopped by last week to show the bride the cabinets, but she couldn't see the cabinets because everything was covered for painting. However, all was good by Sunday afternoon, and we could behold both the cabinets and the painting. 

Scandinavians would feel at home in the house about now.


And the sills are in! Unfortunately, the memo was lost on not wanting "side ears" on the sills, but it's not the end of the world. The upstairs sills are hickory; the downstairs are white oak. Seeing how awesome the hickory is, we're thinking we should have gone hickory everywheres. Again: not the end of the world.

Hickory in one of the upstairs bedrooms.

Oak in the master bedroom.

Hickory in one of the upstairs bedrooms.

Hickory in one of the upstairs bedrooms.

Oak in the powder pooper.

no doubt; grout.

The limestone on the front of the house now has grout, and it looks good. Love seeing the lines...


...the house looks great! The builder asked about putting it on a tour. Says he's never built a house that's had so many people stop by to ask about it. Now he prolly says that to all the girls, but we certainly get a lot of inquiries when we're at the house. Could just be the location...

coming up

There're are various glitches and booboos in the drywall and paint that need to be addressed. The builder says that he saves the final touchup work until the end when most everything is done. Various trades that still need to come in will invariably knick things up (I believe that).