Updated arbitrarily…

Home build progress – part 4

The framing was complete when the last post was put up. Total time for framing: 1 week. Wow.

Since the framing has been completed the various “trades” have been visiting the house. Notable elements that are now present in the house: plumbing, electrical, roofing, natural gas, networking, windows, HVAC, and main circuit breaker panel.

Here the windows have been stacked up in the garage so that the window installer could come do his thing. Unfortunately the window that was installed in the center of the master bedroom bay window has a giant crack running across it, so that will have to be replaced.

Windows stacked up

This is the view of the back of the house with the windows installed. The big picture window in the center was where the floor plan had called for a gas fireplace. We weren’t all that keen on a fireplace on that wall and so we asked to put a window there instead. Seeing it in person confirms it was the correct choice, so much light and great views in the family room & kitchen thanks to the rear of the house essentially being all window.

Windows at the back

The electricians and plumbers were working on the house at the same time, here they have begun to bring in the necessary material for installation.

electrical and plumbing material

Here, the walk-in shower in the master bathroom has been plumbed. There will be one typical shower head as well as a rainfall shower head pointing straight down over the center of the shower so there are two shower controls. We’re really excited for this feature!

Walk-in shower

The builder is installing a few network jacks in the house, but I wanted more plus I wanted to put some speaker wire in the walls & ceiling for potential future use. So I spent a couple of days working at the house running my own cable throughout the house including to the eaves, potentially for security cameras in the future. Here is the wall where the entertainment center will go so there is power, coax, network, and speaker wire here:

wires and wires

I ran speaker wire for surround sound speakers for the family room as well as wires to the kitchen for potential speakers to be added there so that you can listen to the radio, or put on some music, or even just so you don’t have to crank up the volume on the TV so loud if you want to hear it in the kitchen. I have a vision about all this, hopefully it should all work out once we move in.

Insulation in the basement and the main floor walls & ceilings should be going in this week followed by the drywall. The weather has been great for these critical stages that were the most susceptible to weather delays. The forecast for the coming week is for occasional precipitation just as the roof has been completed – phew!


Home build progress – part 3

Wood is on site and the house shape is beginning to come into existence. There isn’t much to say, it is mostly described in the pictures:

What is amazing is the speed with which the framing is progressing. The crew is there until late at night, using work lights to keep going, on the weekend and even on Thanksgiving morning. The weather has cooperated as well, which has been nice. The elapsed time between the first picture when framing started and the last is just 7 days, though the last picture was early in the morning of the 7th day so it is really only 6 days worth of work.

The plumbing and electrical work will start in the next week. I will be installing some of my own network cable & speaker wire, given the speed of the build the superintendent told me that the day I need to be ready to do this would be exactly 2 weeks after the framing was started, which is next week.

Home build progress – part 2

The weather has turned cold but important foundational work continues. I was really happy that the basement walls were poured while it was still rather mild, just one week later we got our first snowstorm of the winter. Luckily there wasn’t much snow that stuck to the ground in the neighborhood and work was able to continue without hindrance. The outside basement walls were waterproofed with a tar-like material and the two basement windows that will be below ground had their window wells installed. Drainage systems were put in place around the foundation and initial utility connections (water, gas, electricity) to the house were roughed in.

With those important steps complete now the basement can begin to disappear, that is the dirt can be back-filled around the walls and a rough grade of the property occurred. Inside the basement pipes were being put into place that will eventually be covered by the concrete floor. I made sure to take plenty of pictures so that if there was ever any question in the future where a pipe runs I’ll be able to use the pictures as a virtual x-ray. I plan to continue this approach throughout the build so that I will always be able to look back and see what is beneath the surface without doing it the hard and messy way.

The next step was to prepare for concrete – the garage floor & basement floor. The gravel in the basement was smoothed over to provide a bed for the concrete floor and the garage pit that was dug to allow for the construction of the foundation & basement walls was filled in and graded. Especially important for the garage floor was that a proper slope be applied so that water in the garage would flow out and away from the house. I have to say that eyeballing the completed concrete floor, it looks just enough to do the job but not so much that you’ll feel like the garage floor is on a hill.

I stopped by the house one morning and found a concrete pump truck parked in front of the foundation and soon afterwards a couple of concrete trucks showed up followed shortly by the work crew. I decided to stay and watch them pour some of the concrete, even though it was rather chilly (but warm enough to pour the concrete). The concrete steamed as they pumped it out and I was impressed by how quickly and efficiently the guys worked with it. Before I knew it, there was a garage floor where only minutes before there had only been dirt!

The basement floor was poured and looks silky smooth. All of this fresh concrete was covered with warming blankets (you can see some of them in the lower-left of the picture above) to help it cure. It is getting down into the mid 20′s at night but the days are pleasant enough and there isn’t any precipitation in the forecast in the near future. I believe that the next major milestone should be the beginning of the framing. Check back to see.

Home build progress – part 1

Rather than continually text, tweet, and email all of you who are interested in the progress of our home build – repeating the current state of things over and over again and perhaps leaving out details and such – I figured it would be simpler to just create some blog posts with progress reports and information.

If you aren’t hear by virtue of being part of the family & friends circle of interested parties, hopefully this serves as an education about our experience building a new home with Ivory Homes in Utah.

We officially signed all the paperwork and put down some money to start the “on-the-clock” process in mid-September 2012. I mean to say that quite a bit of of process preceded this step: choosing the floor plan, lot, colors & finishes, and a lengthy list of modification ideas (which resulted in a lengthy list of modification costs). However, up to this point the pace of things was largely dictated by us and how quickly we could make decisions and feel like those choices were final. Now that all of that had been done the builder then had to have it’s engineering staff review the plans to make sure that the plans with our modifications would be structurally sound and pass the city permitting process.

This was the state of the lot during this waiting period:

After a couple of weeks the city was presented with the plans and a request for a building permit. A couple of more weeks passed before everything was approved and actual building could commence. The day before Halloween the builder broke ground and dug the hole for the footings & basement, woo-hoo! This is where it all begins, time start watching that everything goes correctly.

The timing of this couldn’t be better. A few days after building had actually commenced I would be passing by this site every single day as the new office building is now open for occupancy which puts the home build site right on my commute path every morning and evening. This will make it ultra convenient for me to keep tabs on the build progress, check the work, and get pictures.

By the end of the first week there was already real concrete progress (couldn’t resist the pun / double entrendre):

That is all to report for now, stay tuned for more progress reports as there is something to update.

Scary moments in race track support

Have you ever had one of those “WHAT AM I DOING!?” moments?

Italy trip 2011 – entry 7

Ah, traveling in Italy…

Having reached Roma, the next challenge is to decide what in the world to see and do. As I mentioned previously, there is so much to choose from. Many things are well known, some less so, most are worth the time, and some (similar to Juliet’s balcony in Verona) are popular just for being popular.

Being in this city means the end of the trip however. It has been a blast, hard to say it hasn’t been long enough though of course we wish it didn’t have to end. However the credit card bills, work, and other real-life needs will need some tending to. It is time for the last bowl of Italian pasta, the last gelato, one last passeggiata, and then try to cram everything back into the luggage one last time.

Ciao Italia, ci vediamo al prossimo!

Italy trip 2011 – entry 6

Frequently, when one thinks of visiting Italy the main cities of Firenze, Pisa, Venezia, and of course Roma are on the itinerary. If one is feeling more adventurous then side-trips to small towns in Tuscany might be added to the list. I wonder if it is possible to visit (and I mean more than simply drive through) every small town in Italy in an entire lifetime.

Sulmona is not a large city by almost any standard (25,000 inhabitants) but when compared to the many much smaller communities around it, Sulmona feels large simply by comparison. Bugnara, Pacentro, and Rivisondoli are some of these much smaller towns that are found all over Italy. We spent a couple of days in this region in an area and geography that made us feel right at home, many times per day we would look up at the mountains and have to convince ourselves that we weren’t going to see Rock Canyon, Squaw Peak, Mount Timpanogos or a block Y in the mountains around us.

We drove through numerous tiny towns, with the focus being Bugnara which is one of the towns in Italy from whence Kerry’s ancestors originated. Some of these small towns at least expect some small trickle of tourists even though they are certainly not equipped to handle, nor do they receive, even the 100th part of the number of tourists visiting Firenze or Venezia (probably not the 1000th part or more). Bugnara strikes me as a town as accustomed to wandering tourists as Phoenix, Arizona is to snow removal. It isn’t that tourists aren’t welcomed, but what are the chances any tourist would purposely visit this incredibly sleepy (snoring, even) little commune? So I’m sure that seeing us in the town on two consecutive days, wandering the streets and even taking pictures must’ve left any who saw us scratching their heads. We also were able to spend some time perusing church records of baptisms, marriages, and deaths (not necessarily in that order) dating back to the 1600′s and some even to the 1500′s thanks to a very accommodating Priest.

Roma will be the point of departure shortly. Even if it is possible to visit all of Italy’s tiny towns in a lifetime I am certain that it is not possible to acknowledge, visit, appreciate, and study all that the Eternal City has to offer in many lifetimes. There have simply been too many years of civilization heaped upon this geographical zone.

Italy trip 2011 – entry 5

As you travel more north in Italy there are marked changes in culture, food, landscape (of course), and the composition of the cities. The population density increases and the general attitude is a little more reserved and more business-like, but only to a small degree for this is still Italy after all.

Verona – the city that offers the setting for Romeo & Juliet and has the spectacular Arena, an ancient Roman stadium where operas are held every summer – is right at the foothills of the Dolomite mountains (Italian Alps) but just to the south are expansive plains producing much of Italy’s produce (animal & plant) and reminds me of California’s central farmland region. It is this area to the south where a particular pasta dish is popular that holds a spot in my list of top 5 Favorite Italian Foods – Tortelli di Zucca (pumpkin-filled tortelli).

The whole Juliet’s balcony thing is a farce, a blatant play to the tourist’s sentimentality and to separate them from some money. If you just ignore that then Verona is a beautiful city that is enjoyable to walk around and enjoy the views. The aforementioned Arena is well preserved and seeing an opera there is reported to be quite amazing, however that will have to be for another trip as the season has not yet opened. Up on the hill at the edge of the historic city is an unearthed Roman amphitheater that was only discovered in the last couple of hundred years. If nothing else, ascending it offers impressive landscape views of the city and surrounding area, but it is intriguing to imagine Romans in 25 BC or even 300 AD congregating up there on the hillside for entertainment overlooking the Adige river that nearly encircles ancient downtown Verona.

That takes care of the north of Italy for this trip. Now we return to central Italy to the hereditary homestead area before the inevitable road leading to Rome.

Italy trip 2011 – entry 4

Old stomping grounds and a different type of culture.

Back in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy which is responsible for some good Italian cuisine (that is, cucina Italiana) as well as some fine engineering and beautiful design. Emilia-Romagna is the region where I lived for over a year, and a few more months in nearby Lombardia. In short, a part of the country I once knew so well. As can be said for many things in Italy, most is the same but there are some changes as well.

To enjoy the the engineering and design, visits to Ducati & Ferrari.

…as well as Ravenna for the ancient glass-tile mosaics (that counts in the design category).

To celebrate the cuisine, a cooking class at the Academia Barilla in Parma.

Note to future-self and any others with desires of cooking instruction in Italy, don’t plan to cook all day long! It is great to be so immersed, but cooking is hard work and to enjoy the fruits of your labor you need time to digest as well as to possibly sleep it off!

In other good news, the weather is turning warmer now with no rain in sight. Getting ready to head north before returning somewhat south.

Italy trip 2011 – entry 3

Firenze is a beautiful city with plenty to do, though something about the thronging tourist groups caused us to remain somewhat aloof. Also, the Tuscan weather really showed us what it was capable of. Firenze is a bustling city with a ton of history packed in it. There are art galleries (Uffizi and the Accadamia), historical sites (Dante’s house, Basillica of Santa Croce, etc..), and grand edifices (Duomo & Cupola and Palazzo Pitti). There is also a pretty significant shopping presence, most notably the outdoor stalls but also with the stores in the buildings along the roads as well. Most of this is aimed at the tourists from out of town, and most of the contents of the stalls are identical (having come from the same sources). However the leather and ceramic dishware in this region are rather special.

Late in the afternoon the not-so-hot spring heat managed to churn up quite an impressive thunderstorm and downpour.

There are many rather small towns liberally sprinkled throughout the Tuscan hills. Once you arrive at one it is easy to get caught up in the trap of thinking “well, the next one is only another 20 minutes this way, we should go ahead and go there as well.” Before you know it you’ve traveled hundreds of kilometers and you’ve spent the whole day hopping from one tiny little town to the next. San Gimignano is one of the more well-known of these types of towns, but really all have very similar things to offer. However in San Gimignano you can find a particularly high-quality gelato, the quality lives up to the advertising truly.

But now it is time to bid farewell to Tuscany and head north, the area I am much more familiar with. Ciao Toscana, Emilia-Romagna vengo subito!