Progress and Setbacks

jeff2013August 11, 2014

We broke ground over 2 months ago and framing is about to be finished sometime next week.

I had planned for a lot of pictures and even thought about a building blog. Somehow I could not do it. Sometime I became too excited when progress was being made. Most of the time, there were problems that needs too much of my attention (and nerves).

Example issues we run into so far.
1. Dirt contractor walked away after he literally left behind him a big hole. He said sorry that he did not expect the difficulty of the work. Too bad the builder gave him 1/3 of deposit. We lost money and over 3 weeks of time there.

2. Concrete contractor did not follow engineer's plan to dig trenches. At first, we thought they used the designer's foundation plan instead of the engineer's plan. Too much information was given to them. Later, we realized that it is a mix of both plan and they also made their own changes without builder/owner/engineer's permission. I don't know how big the problem is. However, we spent a lot of time and money in dealing with soil test, engineered slab to deal with the fat clay soil. The interior load bearing beams should be positioned to support second floor walls. Some of them are off by 6-12 inches (besides some of the trenches from the designer's plan should not be there). The engineer was called for a site visit and corrections are made. Site visit fee, more concrete and steel cost.

3. Truss manufacturer made duct opening too short. Upon reviewing the truss layout, I realized that the head clearance of the first three steps could be made bigger than the minimum code requirement as in the plan. This could be easily achieved by changing three trusses depth from 24 to 12 over the stairs ONLY. However, they made the three trusses all 12 inch deep. Excluding the top and bottom cords, we only have 9 in duct opening. The engineer from the truss company was called in to identify a solution and problem got fixed quickly without extra cost to us.

4. Framing is slow as they only have half crew on our site. We complained they once had full crew showed up early in the morning. They only worked half day as some lumber pieces were not there. Apparently the framer/builder thought they had everything ready. The contract had planned 2 weeks for framing and we are now looking at least 4 weeks.

5. Roof framing problem. I realized there was a problem when the eaves from the garage and the ones from patio are at different height. Off by about 5 inches. That is not the case on the elevation plan. The framer and builder think they did not do anything wrong. When two walls share the same plate height and they have different pitches and same roof overhang, the eaves cannot be at the same height. After I sent a picture to the designer and asked him. He said that there was a drop of 3 1/2 inch in the patio on foundation plan. Therefore, same ceiling height of 9ft implies different plate height. That seems to make sense but it is not every clear on the plan.

Anyway, I proposed to make larger overhang in breakfast area so that the roof will meet the garage at the same height and the increased overhang would protect the door from rain and heat. The builder and I asked the framer to figure out a way to break roof height at the other side of the breakfast area as we do not like to have over hangs of 4ft over the entire patio. The framer made a mistake in that section of the roof by trying to make the two roof meets with a slanted eave and crooked roof.

I just figured out a fix to this problem and would tell the framer and builder how to make the correction tomorrow.

I am starting to think that thing would not happen as expected is the new expectation. Hopefully we would be prepared.

In the meantime, we need to make a lot of decisions soon. Bricks, roofs, ceiling designs, rough-ins. I am right now doing central vacuum systems piping with hide a hose. I plan to run structured wiring for cable, network, and home theater. I would also install surveillance cameras myself. I am not sure if I shall hire somebody to wire the intercom or do it my self.

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Things are bound to happen... we broke ground in March and we still do not have a completed roof as of yet. Sometimes I even wonder if anyone is following the plan or simply looking at pictures and doing there own thing. But too far along to look back. I keep thinking about being in for the Holidays.
I wish you the best of luck and hang in there. Glad you have come up with an idea to fix the framing problem.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 8:26AM
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jeff- our framers went off plan until we caught them at it and had them tear it out. It was at our expense though, one way or another. They did, however- stop improvising as much when they realized we were paying attention to the details.

The crew leader actually had the gall to tell me he went off the architect's plans beacuse he thought our neighbors would like his ideas better. No kidding.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 8:38AM
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colleennc and musicgal, thanks for your comments! It is hard as I do not know a whole lot about home construction. I am paying money to have the professionals do the work for me. It worries me when people are not following the plans / standards.

New problems that I noticed over the week
1. Drywall was installed over the garage ceiling with nails only. Are they supposed to be installed with nails?
2. Windows were installed without sealant before the fins are nailed to the frame. When I questioned the framer and the builder, both said that is the right way to do. They said there would be peel and seal flashing from outside and foam poly seal from inside and guarantee water would not get in. However, the manufacturer's instructions require the sealant. Another thing, they use fewer nails as required. For example, one bottom has no nails except the two at the corners. I am afraid the vinyl window would fall off if I push them hard.

On the positive side, we do have a roofer now. They are starting the underlayment and plan to cover the deck by tomorrow.

I am almost done with central vacuum piping myself. Would start working on some low voltage wiring next week.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 8:06PM
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Hi Jeff,

Sorry to hear about your stresses. Our framers and other subs often did not go according to plan either. We did not always catch their mistakes as soon as they were made, and in some cases have had to live with the mistakes that were made. It seems many subs struggle with reading construction drawings and the head guys are not always on site. Often times they just looked at the elevation pictures and did their best, but missed lots of important details.

It sounds like you are doing some of the work yourself. My DH is as well. It is a steep learning curve. Hope things go smoother.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 9:11PM
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Jeff, isn't exciting to see your house take shape? I like the way your roof is turning out. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 9:26PM
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Hey Jeff,

What is happening on your home now?


    Bookmark   September 27, 2014 at 10:56PM
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A few updates.

Things are moving after we had very slow start with the dirt and framing work.

1. Bricks would be finished within one to two days except for the area we are adding a window (ouch! change orders) after drywalling. We did decided to get rid of the wainscoting stone.

2. Top roofs are finished. It looks like we still have some water problems in the porch area from the low pitch metal roof section after two 'fixes' from the roofer.

3. I finished the central vacuum w/ hide-a-hose, secruity cameras, extra sets of RG6 and CAT5e/6, intercom, and some simple A/V wiring myself. It was a lot of work as I had little experience doing these things. My engineering background helps.

4. I had purchased toilets, flooring, and fans while they are on sale. Still need to select granite, plumbing and lighting fixtures. If we are too much over the budget, I may choose to do the flooring myself. We have about 1000 sqft of tile and the rest would be wood.

5. Painters finished tape and float and textures with orange peels. They are going to sart painting tomorrow and would finish the two topcoats of ceilings and the primer of the walls first.

We went to SW store today and made the selections below

A) Ceilings
SW Emilence Ceiling Paint Flat
Color code SW 7563 Restful White

B) Walls
SW SuperPaint Satin (except semi-gloss in kithcen, laundry, and bathrooms)
SW 7527 Nantucket Dune for main areas

SW 7526 Maison Blanche master bedroom
SW 6763 Retiring Blue teen girl bedroom
SW 7000 Ibis White, 11yr boy bedroom
plus some dark blue for baby boy bedroom

C) Trims and Doors
SW Proclassic oil-based semi-gloss
SW 7012 Creamy

We are terrrible with colors and usually have very different color picks between the two of us. We spent quite some time to come up with the list.

Question is if they work together? It seems to me they are too close and monotonous. I am not sure if we shall add more variations to the colors. At least we can be more bold with the master bedroom colors. Maybe I shall let my wife get her dream color of violet, say SW 6263 Exclusive Plum.

I would try to take some pictures of our house and hope to join the monthly how is your building process thread soon.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2014 at 3:21AM
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Jeff, you might want to take your paint questions over to the home decorating forum. There are some great color experts over there.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2014 at 10:02AM
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Mojomom, Just did that. Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2014 at 1:39PM
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Thanks for the update, Jeff. I do hope you will post updated pictures either here on the "How is your build" monthly post.

Can you please let me know more about the intercom system you installed? I would like to find a cost effective intercom solution.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2014 at 5:51PM
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Carol, The intercom system I installed is the I2000 from Instrasonic Technology. It costs me about $1000 to include 6 room units (4 bedrooms, office, game room) in addtion to the master unit, one door unit, and one patio unit. That is for the equipment. Cat5e cables, some stripping and crimping tools cost me around $150. They can be installed with standard 2-gang electric boxes so seperate rough-in is not needed. DIY Installation is pretty simple before drywalls are put on (otherwise a wireless or powerline system may be easier). Let me know if you need additional information. JF

    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 3:33PM
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That is very helpful and a much more reasonable cost than we had been quoted by the low voltage folks we spoke to. DH is doing lots of DIY, so maybe he could add this to the list of projects he is undertaking. Perhaps, we will email you if we have any questions? Our walls are still open so we are working hard to finish all the rough-ins so we can get on to insulation.

I think we will do the central vacuum install too. DH has done almost all of the rough-in plumbing - so it can't be anymore difficult than that. Where did you buy all the central vacuum pipes, etc?


    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 5:18PM
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