Paint and itch

Progress continues almost apace. At the weekend our lovely family and friends turned up to help us turn the house green. With the change in the weather we were really keen to get at least one coat of the exterior paint on those t1-11 rainscreen sheets of plywood. And after a frantic day of us applying making tape and paper, running to keep up with our crew of painters who, it turned out, were bloody quick, our house is green.

It turns out it’s a pretty limey green, somewhat brighter than either of us had expected, and perhaps more 1970s then we’d expected.

Which is period appropriate. Done moments I really like it, others I’m a bit unsure about it. But whatever it is, it’s up, and doing its job. Yesterday I went and picked up the final two sheets of plywood for the front. These are the ‘tricky’ ones which are meant to be cut, to some extent, to fit around the cedar trim. We are simplifying this, we think, given the struggle to get accurate positioning of the boards.

Given the multiway variability of the many interacting things… (The roof line, the foundation height, the wall height, the thickness of the various bits of cedar…), our original plan looks a little like utter insanity. So we’re trying to work out exactly what we’re doing on that front…

But our main project has been the installation of vast amounts of insulation.

We’re nearly, but not quite done with the world of itchiness. Then we can call for another inspection… And then, drywall!

Inspection the first.

So we finally managed to reach an actual formal inspection point. We’ve had partial inspections which have allowed us to proceed in a non-standard order (exterior framing so we could wrap and rainscreen the building; but that’s not a formally recognised point).

But today after we worked all through the weekend we got all the work done to get the wiring inspected.

IMG_20180911_113920

And…

We passed!

IMG_20180911_173742

There were a couple of earth issues which he asked we change – so that’s done (it took about 20 minutes); he described the install as being neat (which I didn’t dance at, despite the urge); and he didn’t have any issues with the panel wiring, which had me quite worried. He also wanted some fireproof foam on the conduit through to the panel – so that’s done too (I had that around, just didn’t want to spray it until he’d inspected).

The panel is still missing 2 breakers – a 40A one (which arrived today) for the Rav4 EV charger, and a 15A AFCI (I think, it’s either an AFCI or a GFCI). The wires are in place for it, and the earth is wired in, but the actual breaker hasn’t arrived for one of them, and the other arrived this evening at about 8pm.

Since the weather has been somewhat inclement this week we’ve switched to doing some interior work, and have started putting up the baffles on the cathedral ceiling. The hope is that we’ll get the next inspection on Monday and then move on to insulating. That will mean we can heat the house.

IMG_20180911_173405

Which given that we’re entering the colder, wetter part of the year is important. There are a couple of bits of plumbing to do under the house (connecting up the bath and the shower drains) and then we should be good to spray-foam under there (that’s a job we’re paying someone to do).

But at any rate, despite the wetness of the weather and the fact that we’ve not yet got the rain-water holding tank in the ground, or the outside of the building painted*, passing the inspection has injected some positivity into a project that was starting to feel like an interminable awful thing with no end in sight. At least now there’s it feels like there’s actual progress and we’re moving towards a place we can enjoy.

IMG_20180911_173439

* Painting party next weekend folks…unless it’s raining!

Snip, strip, clip, repeat

So during / after my little breakdown on Tuesday (sorry about that, you didn’t really need to endure it, but hey…) I went down to BOB and forked out some cash for a few new tools (a chunkier wire stripper, a pair of “electrician’s scissors” and a less bent set of needle nose pliers which I will endeavour not to cover in engine oil and gunk, I promise), a terrifying quantity of sockets (outlets), lightswitches, little wire-joiners, wire twist joiners (which I still think are hideous, but they are easy), and some more odds and sods, and set to on the wiring.

I realised after my little freakout (again, sorry), that actually – as inspections go – for the first time we’ve ever fully wired a house – “please connect these things and I’ll come back” is really a fucking amazing outcome. I’m hoping that <em>is</em> the total of it when he comes for the do-over. But really – not getting “jesus, what have you done” is a serious prize.

So I spent yesterday fairly solidly working on the wiring – caught a mistake <em>I’d</em> made (extra, pointless wire) which I then sat down with Kathryn last night going over the circuit several times to be sure it was right before today wiring everything that could possibly be related to it, and concluding that no – that wire is pointless – and pulling it out.

I also realised that if we’re having a separate gas hob and electric oven (the new plan because we can’t afford a euro-size cooker and our kitchen is titchy, and US cookers are needlessly massive as a general rule; this way we can at least save some of the wasted space by getting two built-ins – It also means we can have the proper arrangement of appliances. Gas stove, electric oven) then we need an outlet for the spark-igniter to plug / be wired into.  So I added that one in to one of the kitchen circuits. As a side point, I’ve not seen an equivalent for the Europe’s Fused Connection Unit faceplates which are nifty things… But most of the gas stove tops I’ve seen just have a plug on the end of the lead anyhow…

So I’ve worked my way down  starting from the lounge – I think I’ve done all the sockets in the lounge, kitchen, laundry, dining room, and one bathroom (with the exception of the ceiling fan, which I need to be up in the loft space to connect). I’ve started on the main bedroom, leaving the boiler cupboard, the main bathroom, the second bedroom, the hall outlets and the outside sockets to do.

I’ve also ordered a frankly terrifying quantity of breakers – made worse by the fact that since we’ve replaced / upgraded the panel and the wiring I suspect (though am not sure) that everything has to be either arc fault or ground fault protected except for a couple of items… and actually, now I come to think about it, they may also need to be protected too. That means that instead of using a $6 breaker, I’ve had to order breakers that are well into double figures. And I’m now wondering if the two standard breakers that I picked up at BOB (which were cheaper than the online prices, amazingly) might need to go back because I’m thinking they may well need to be GFCI instead.

Which’d mean instead of $16, they’d be $80, at best ($150 at BOB).

Still. Hopefully we can get the wiring side all sorted by the end of the weekend (although the breakers won’t be in) – and it looks like it <em>might</em> be cool enough – and not rainy for long enough for us to get the last of the rainscreen up. That would be good.

Also, our rainwater tank arrived – and it’s fucking massive. Which is great, except that I’ve looked at the hole it’s meant to be going in, and it ain’t big enough. So that’s a bugger. If anyone has a burning desire to dig holes in rock-hard clay, be sure to let me know. We rented a digger and tried, and it didn’t seem to be successful.

Today it felt like a bit much.

I’m sure the political situation didn’t help… listening helplessly as a country slides into a tin-pot dictatorship run by a misogynist 4th rate fascist is pretty tiring mentally… but we’ve had some frustrating days recently and today topped that off nicely.

We had hoped to get the rainscreen finished on the south end of the house yesterday, but the promised slightly cloudy day suddenly became extremely warm and cloudless – making being at the south end of the house pretty much unbearable. Which – after we’d really struggled with a bendy piece of wood that didn’t want to go into place (deeply fun on a 4.5m high platform which is not exactly stable because it’s stood on gravel) – left us both feeling less than thrilled. Not least because there are only two pieces of rainscreen left, and then we can move on to priming what’s there… but mainly because it’s another 3/4 finished job in a massive list of 3/4 finished jobs where we don’t seem to be able to get over the finish line.

…we did also start work on the front of the house, tackling the open joint cedar cladding there – which looks gorgeous but takes an insane amount of time. Part of this is the attention to detail, which isn’t really the full attention to detail it should be getting, but does look good anyhow. I mean, really it should have all the joints made more carefully than we are, but it’s already taking hours / days (and potentially weeks) to get this cladding on.

IMG_20180903_181929

IMG_20180903_182033

Frankly, on our budget, I’m damn proud that’s happening at all.

So coming in to today, which was theoretically inspection day for the electrics, I was already feeling somewhat angsty. Now, as you’ve probably gathered, the “theoretically” implies that something went awry. Which it did.

See, my understanding of the rough-in (which it turns out was wrong), was that the wires run into the outlet boxes, but are not connected, and run to the panel, but not into the panel, and are also – not connected. Apparently, that’s not how it’s done here. The inspector was (again) very nice and explained that all the grounds need to be connected through all the boxes. And that the panel needs to be wired. Which somewhat terrifies me – because I am not at all fond of having the wires connected to breakers in the panel that aren’t connected to functioning outlets. But hey.

Also, I am less than thrilled at cutting the descriptions off our cables before wiring them in to switches – particularly for the multiway switches where I want to know which cable comes from where and goes where. But the positive is that he looked around and felt like ‘most everything else was fine. He just couldn’t inspect. Now I remind myself that this is a good thing. He didn’t come in and go “dear god, what have you done”. That’s always a good start. He is – broadly speaking – seemingly happy with our rough in, how we’ve fed and arranged the cables, etc.

However, the 37 outlets in the house all need us to sit down *now*, before we can have our inspections, and connect all the ground wires. All the switch boxes need us to work down how the wiring – and thus – grounding for each set of switches works (because some of the boxes have multiple feeds from the fusebox) – it’s not complex, as such, just there’s a lot of f’kin wires. Nearly all the main switch locations in the house switch multiple locations. The hall lights are switched in two, the kitchen lights in three, the dining lights in two… This means we have many ground cables flapping around. Well, in boxes. Still.

So while it is positive, it again means we’re not at the first inspection. I don’t see that inspection happening this week – because it is going to take hours to install the fusebox. And honestly, I don’t really want to pay the hundreds of dollars for new breakers to meet modern code*, so am looking for overstock and some discounts… so as to take the costs down again. But we really (really) want to get past this inspection so we can insulate the f’kin house before it gets colder and wetter, and we end up with it being full of mould. Because that would be heartbreaking at this point.

* Because apparently, we can’t just stick the old breakers in the new box**. Feh.
** Actually, they wouldn’t fit – but we can’t even just stick modern equivalent breakers in. All the circuits must be either AFCI or GFCI protected, except (curiously) the high current ones (which seems counter intuitive to me, but there y’go).