Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Floors

Three kids under six.  A dog.  A farm.  The choice is obvious:  concrete floors. 

We decided very early in the design process (about two years ago) that the main floor of our new house would have concrete floors.  More recently, we decided that the entire house would have them since we're now installing in-floor radiant heating tubes throughout - you have to cover the tubes with concrete to protect them.  Most people would then cover the concrete in hard wood or tile.  Not us - we're going for hardcore durability.  Ride your bike in the house durability. 

More on the in-floor radiant heating:  It means we don't have a furnace or duct work or radiators or baseboard heaters.  The heat comes out of the floors.  Josh has been designing HVAC (heating, ventilation & air conditioning) systems for more than 10 years now so it's second nature to him.  I'm pretty sure that, for him, designing our new system is the equivalent of choosing the paint colours and furnishing the new house for me.   

Over the past week or so, we prepared the floors for the tubes.  In the basement, that meant adding more gravel, leveling and compacting it and then laying rigid foam and wire mesh over it.  On the main floor and upstairs, we had plastic film (vapor barrier) laid down and taped in place and then foam was installed around the perimeter of each room. 

Next, the tubes were laid and stapled in place.

Finally, the concrete type product - screed - was poured.  Screed is used because it's lighter and stronger than regular concrete.  The final step after insulation, drywall, cabinets, etc. is a microtop.  It's an 1/8" layer that finishes the screed with whatever texture and colour we want, so that we're not stuck with the sidewalk grey colour.  We're going with a warm grey with a polished concrete look.

Leveling gravel in basement.

Vapor barrier and rigid foam in place in basement.

Wire mesh over foam in basement.  (The wire mesh is there so that there's something to attached the tubes to.)

Starting to place tubes.

Tubes fully installed in basement.

Manifold in basement.

Main floor with vapor barrier in place over plywood.

Foam is placed around the perimeter of each space and around pipes, drains, etc.

Tubes laid on main floor.

Concrete (screed, actually) truck arrives.

Testing material.   A specific volume of screed is placed on this diagram to ensure it's not too wet or too dry.  Unfortunately, ours was too wet.  So, after much concrete drama (including phone calls, visits from various managers, and mixing) we got the OK to pour.  Yey!

Starting to pour the upper floor.

"Barring" the upper floor.

Upper floor complete.  YES!

Starting to pour main floor.

Almost finished main floor.  

Once the guys started pouring, they were done in a few hours.  They have to move quickly before it starts to dry.  After that, we needed to wait 48 hours before walking on it.  I took a photo through the window after 12 hours ...

And after 24 hours.  Looking a lot drier.

Tomorrow we'll be able to go in and have a closer look.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Windows: A Major Milestone

Ask me anything about windows.  I'm an expert now. 

We started shopping for windows in January when Josh and I spent an afternoon visiting a few showrooms in Toronto.  We met with a salesmen, picked out a few styles and a few days later we had a quote.  Simple as that, right?  'Course not. 

After that initial quote, I REALLY started researching windows:  sizes, styles, colours, functionality, hardware, materials, construction, and on and on...  With windows, the options are seemingly endless.  I mocked up our drawings with different window configurations so I could imagine what each would look like.  I built a 3D model in Google SketchUp because "How could anyone order windows before seeing them in 3D?"  (I was particularly obsessed with the kitchen window.  I wanted to maintain a traditional look but wanted a clear view out the window at the sink.)

By March I was working with three different dealers each selling a different brand.  A few weeks after that I had settled on the style (casement), the lites (that's the grid pattern that divides up the glass), the colour (bronze exterior, primed white interior), the hardware (black) and many more details.  I had daily conversations with each dealer to revise, refine and adjust the quotes.  It was like I was two-timing these guys, feeling guilty about when I'd have to break it off with two of them.  Just when I thought I was set on our local dealer, my last choice guy swooped in and wooed me with an on-site visit, a lower price and real transoms.  TRANSOMS!  Done.  (Find out what transoms are here.)

After deciding on the brand / dealer, we still waited until the house was framed before ordering.  It's not what most people would do since windows typically have a two month lead-time.  I wanted to be sure about the sizes.  Thank goodness we waited.  At least half of the openings were adjusted to new sizes when we saw them in person.  We finally placed our order in June.  I'm happy to report that they arrived on the site last week and the installation was complete yesterday. 

So, finally, here they are:

Arriving in in the truck.

Ready to be installed.


Installed!  Love these ones.

Kitchen and dining room.

Dining room. 

Dining room and living room doors.

Living room.

Master bedroom and stair hallway.

Deep sills in master bedroom.  (We needed to built out these end walls to account for change in depth from stone to cedar shingles in end gables.)

Kids' bedroom.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Plumbing & The Original Pinterest

Most of our plumbing is now roughed in, which means that all of the pipes that will be burried in the walls and floors are in place.  The tubs and toilets are ordered since they are installed early in the process.  I still need to order the valves for the showers since they also need to be installed before drywall (they go behind the wall).  The catch is that each faucet company has their own valves and often the valve is specific to the model of faucet.  Oh, and they can have a delivery time in the 'weeks' range.  All that to say that I need to choose the faucets ... yesterday!  Argg!

Below are some photos of the plumbing so far.

I also wanted to add in a photo of my inspiration wall.  I started posting photos to this wall in our office about two years ago to help me visualize and recognize the look and story of our new house.

Then I discovered Pinterest about six months ago.  Pinterest is perfect for this project since I can organize all my inspiration photos by room.  You can view my collection of images by clicking on the red and white Pinterest logo near the top of this page, on the right had side.