And a delightful time was had by all

…who weren’t there.

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Yeah, it’s been a day of plumbing – so all the runs under the house are complete. Ish. Insofar as they go from the place where they’re meant to start, through the floor, along under the floor and then they pop out in what will, at some point, be our furnace cupboard.

It’s sort of a hybrid of a manifold and a series run system. Each bathroom has 2 feeds of hot and cold – the shower (and in the main bathroom the shower/bath), and also the toilet* & sink**. The kitchen only gets one run (which feeds the refrigerator, dishwasher, pot filler and the main kitchen sink. It’ll also feed the outside hose for the back garden). The laundry gets its own run too – from which I intend to vamp the front-garden-hose tap.

That should mean that, for the most part, the hot and cold water demands don’t lead to massive fluctuations in temperature anywhere where we care. Although I refuse to get non-temperature controlled showers anyway. Having lived with them as a student and as a kid such barbarism is unacceptable in a house we build. I squeal for no-one in the shower***.

So the next step in our JIT purchasing is that I’m ordering a nice adequate manifold, and shall install it in such a way as we can just unscrew it and pop the drywall behind it. Then I need to finish the rough-in and get it checked. Much of it is done to the point of the nipple on which the taps will go. There are however a few bits that still need doing, and I need to get the laundry and fridge boxes bought and installed.

….

I do feel sorry for anyone who wandered past our house today and heard the crawlspace shouting “You complete bastard, why do you keep coiling that way!”. It turns out that while PEX is way easier than copper in many regards, its persistent desire to be a coil wrapped around you, under-floor posts, itself, other bits of pex, any random bit of anything it can find… is quite irritating when you’re working at 3< °>C / 37< °>F. Mind, I was warm enough under there because I was scrabbling around and trying to hold my head and neck out of the ratshit.

And yes, there are fresh, err, deposits, down there.

I was very glad for my filter mask.

Anyhow, I said mostly done because I ran out of clips, and all that pipework needs insulating. Oh, and (of course), there’s still the soil (DWV) pipe to run. I pulled out a section of the old today, and am starting to ponder the new. But most of that needs the top-plates installed on our walls and we’ve only installed one layer of top plate (because then we can use the second layer to help tie things together).

I’m hoping to hell that we’re doing this right. I will be really, really f’kin sad if we’ve got any of this wrong, but the inspector looked at our work and said “just keep doing what you’re doing”. So we are.

* Yes, hot *and* cold to the toilet because I think a bidet is potentially a good idea. But only if it has warm water.
** Which I still refuse to call a lavatory, despite what I wrote on the plans for the building, because that’s just wrong.
*** Uh, I’ll just leave that there.

Yesterday was a good day

We spent much of the day on Sunday doing calculations and measurements. We worked out the height of the wall in our bedroom, we spent a lot of time working out what bits we needed to cut to what angle. We spent a lot of time thinking about how the walls interlock, and how that works for each joint. Then we spent a lot of time carefully marking and cutting…

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Then yesterday we took those many pieces of wood and nailed them together, and despite it just being the two of us, and us not being hugely strong, we used physics to get the 13′ high wall up and nailed in place.

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We fought with the unsquareness of the house, the squareness of the roof, the unevenness of the floor, and the bendyness of 16′ lengths of stud-grade douglas fir. We read and researched and despite it being a a cathedral ceiling, with our joint being made on a slope, we did that all and we won. Yesterday was a good day.

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Today was a crap day, in contrast. We had a small (1.6m / 64″) section of wall that sits atop the doorframe between our bedroom and our en-suite. We’d calculated this, but didn’t realize that in our adjustments to make the wall sit right(ish) in the unsquare house we’d made one of our measurements wrong. We realized this after we’d manoeuvred the wall up to the top of the door frame and it wouldn’t fit. We took it up and down several times before conceding that there were problems in more than just that direction. We ended up dismantling it, cutting it shorter, reassembling it in situ (with toe-nailing). And in the end, it still didn’t meet the standards we’d like it to. No matter that we can hide all the problems (we think), because they’re in a storage area, not in ‘the house proper’. No matter that the house is a honking pile of unsquare crap and that’s a part of why this is such a mare of a job.

I hate it when we don’t meet our own standards. I hate it when we’re left with something slightly shoddy because we couldn’t get it to sit right. And I’m frustrated that it took us four hours to put up 7 bits of wood.

I shall take this and put it in the place of – we’re learning. But it’ll take me a day or two.

Just add more plastic

Progress on the house continues apace. If it weren’t for the mould taking over the ceiling – and the struggle to dry out the damp, then I’d actually feel pretty positive about how things are progressing. We’ve put up about half the walls (granted, mainly the easier ones), tweaked the design ever so slightly (moved one wall about 10cm / 4 inches) when we realized that the en-suite just wouldn’t work as it was. Well, technically you could make your way past the toilet to the shower, but it would have been really tight. We’ve now got the lumber for most of the other walls in the house and it’s slowly drying out (it rained when it arrived). There’s just about a 4.5m / 14 ft stretch that goes above the corridor and bathroom that we’ve not got wood for yet, and all the ceilings are currently unwooded.

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Having originally planned to mainly reuse the studs carefully extracted from the walls we realized that they have an odour – not a hugely strong one, but it’s definitely noticeable – and we really don’t want any more of that in the house than we have to. So we’ve opted for fresh timber inside – and that’s added about $1k to the cost. The good point about that is most of that lumber can be used in the garage, if we get as far as building the garage. We just need some treated timber to be the sole-plate. AFAIK here, you don’t put in a damp proof course – I’m not sure if it’s required for new builds – and instead just use pressure treated timber. Which is weird, because then you have this soggy wet piece of timber (at least, that’s what makes up the sole plate of our house).

Anyway, so that extra $1k is a little painful because this house was already at it’s value limit (we suspect), and now we’re adding $1k in shiny nice timber…

…as will the mould treatment. That’s about another $1k.

…and it turns out that contrary to all the estimators we’ve found online, installing a gas line is about $2k (the estimators pitched that at $400).

…and the cost of our chosen siding just went from the previous estimate to around $4k – an increase of nearly $2k (so I think that’s probably nixed).

But, on the plus side, our windows have apparently arrived at the supplier, so we can start actually installing windows. And we’ve paid for them already – so that’s good. In a move that I think is basically “go away and leave us alone”, our roofing company have decided to simply pay for replacement of the guttering they damaged (rather than painting it and seeing if we were willing to accept that). This is, I suspect, you’re getting nothing for the mould we caused on your ceiling, but now you can’t say we didn’t address the other issues with installation.

I’ve also been plumbing… well, sort of. I’ve finally given in to the call of PEX. It must be said, it’s certainly easier than copper – even if it’s less recyclable. The house should be roughed in, completely, in 2 days. Which is pretty impressive for me working on my own… Were we not building walls and framing windows when Kathryn’s working on the house too, it could probably have been knocked out in a day. Something of a change from days and days, which is what it took me to do the central heating plumbing in Slough.

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Once that’s done – and the walls are done – it’s on to the electrical. We’re nearing the point that I can start that anyhow, as some of the walls are in. I just need to go buy a boat-load of cable. One of the delights of 110v electrical is needing a k-bilion separate circuits, because the current demands are so high.

Feh.

I have that planned out (sorta), but am kinda inclined to wait until the mould’s resolved, as that’s going to be a lot of time hanging about in the rafters, enjoying the delights of the currently mould-ridden space. Either I wait, or I put on a mask for it. And I like to reserve my mask-wearing time for when I’m enjoying the delights of our crawlspace. Sometimes (often) I wonder why we’ve done this to ourselves. It’ll be nice when it’s done, but it’s never going to be like the Bristol house – something that I can be unreservedly proud of. Yes, we’ve made the structure less shoddy, but it’s always going to be a 1970s tract house built to the minimum building standards of the time. Yes, we’ve made it better, we’ve dragged parts of it up to more modern standards. But it’s always going to leave me less than loving it.

So yeah, there we go.