Sunday, June 30, 2013

Working in Miniature

Joe has been doing some serious thinking about the pergola he's about to build for us. There are many considerations to factor in, some known and some unknown. To be able to foresee all of those considerations better Joe decided to build a mock-up to scale and construct a miniature pergola using proportional pieces of wood for the pergola. He noticed a couple of issues during its assembly and after calling Karen over to have a look we believe we've got the solutions figured out.

Antonio's work on the retaining wall was held up at times by continued wet weather but he was able to place his last brick Thursday night with an hour of daylight remaining leaving me the next couple days to work on landscaping around it.

I'm Steady Eddie when it comes to this sort of work but still I spent most of my Friday and Saturday with just a few minor interruptions working on landscaping around the retaining wall. I could have done without the half inch of rain we got Friday night. All that's missing are two or three additional shrubs and the accent lights.

The replacement window for the damaged bank of windows on the east side of the porch will be delivered and installed tomorrow and that will allow work on the inside of the porch to resume. Everything pretty much came to a full stop while we waited for the replacement window to arrive. Once the window is installed Joe can finish applying the cedar siding and Jeff can come back and finish both the interior and exterior painting of the porch.

I think Joe's main focus this week will be the construction of the pergola. I'm not sure that I've fully grasped just how large it will be even with Joe's miniature mock-up. It should be exciting to watch it being built.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Karen to the Rescue, again!

Jeff arrived early Monday morning to apply a coat of primer to the cedar we'd been drying out in the garage for the previous two weeks.We'd mentioned to Joe that we were planning on painting the pergola white but that decision hadn't quite been set in stone yet. Jeff said it was important to get the right tint to the primer and that he really needed to know our color selection before he could prime it.

Hmm...what to do?

I knew I didn't want something stark-white because that would be a bit too bright for my liking. Tammy agreed. I called Karen but couldn't reach her so I sent her a quick email. Still no response. I was getting worried because I didn't want to make a mistake with this decision and Jeff was waiting. Plus, I needed to be leaving for work in less than an hour. Usually we're more prepared but I wasn't expecting to have to make this decision for a few more days.

Just when I was about to give it my best effort Karen arrived having just gotten off the phone with a client. She had me get the sample tile for the porch's flooring and then we placed that against the composite decking sample we'll be using for the deck. We held both samples against the side of the house and used a fan-deck of colors to find something that worked for the pergola. It didn't take long for us to settle on Biscuit Beige, a creamy off-white color that works well with all of our other choices.

I thanked Karen again and again before heading inside to get ready for work.

We're still waiting on the replacement bank of windows for the east side of the porch. If it doesn't arrive soon it will begin to hold up the project. Joe was assured that a "rush" has been put on it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Insulation and Drywall

Week 7 of our project.

One of Joe's bigger tasks this past week was to remove the sliding glass door that leads out to the porch as well as the windows on either side of it. But rather than take the door out completely, he moved it a few feet inside the house so it can serve as a barrier to help keep drywall dust from getting into our home once they begin the mudding and sanding phase this week.

Besides moving the door, the main focus for this week was getting the space insulated and hanging drywall. The drywall should be finishing up as I type this update.

Joe plans to begin putting cedar siding on the south and west sides of the porch tomorrow. The east side will have to wait until the replacement window arrives and is hung. While he waits for that he plans to begin laying out the joists for the deck.

I'm looking forward to watching the deck being built. We're going to use a composite material for the flooring and railing, one that will require no future maintenance. Who has time for that in retirement? The only catch with using the composite material is that you don't want to get any paint on it because it's nearly impossible to remove. The pergola will need to be painted and to minimize the risk of having paint drip onto the decking while painting it, Joe is going to build the pergola before he installs the decking. He says this will be the most elaborate pergola he's ever done. We're looking to create a couple of different levels to break it up some but we haven't yet firmed up those plans.

And here's an overview of the project. You can see the pergola to the left of the image.

Here's a video of some of what went on over the past week...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Curbing My Enthusiasm

Keith came by last Monday morning to have a look at our window dilemma. Without hesitating he suggested moving the center window up as high as we could and moving the trapezoid windows on either side of the fireplace down and toward the outside of the wall centered between the fireplace and the wall. He then suggested positioning the transom windows just beneath the trapezoids. It would take a little bit of visualizing but I knew it had to be better than what we had. Joe smiled while taking it all in stride then proceeded to get busy. He and Keith assured us that this sort of thing happens all the time.

Our original window configuration along that wall had 3 transom windows in the design but after placing our window order we decided we could only use 2 of the 3 transoms. We'd have to scrap one of them. While Joe was repositioning the center window he had an idea. He suggested that maybe we could use the soon to be scrapped transom after all by placing it beneath the center window. Why didn't I think of that? It was a great idea! We'd have to lop off about 6 inches from the top of the fireplace so the bottom of the window would be visible to anyone standing in the room but that wouldn't be a problem. We had plenty of fireplace to work with.

Before and after photos.

I felt so relieved that we had a solution that we could not only live with but one that we were also happy about. I'm glad we didn't settle for how they were.

Our plan is to eventually (when we're retired) do stained-glass in the transom windows. What sort of design has been the question and one that I didn't expect to have an answer to for quite a while but I may have just stumbled onto an idea for a design. I came across the photo to the right online the other day. It's of an original design by Louis Comfort Tiffany and one that I've always liked. The idea I had was to do a replica of Tiffany's window in the center window along the south wall (above the fireplace) and have the feathers of the peacock trailing down through the trapezoid and transom windows and working their way into the transoms above the bank of windows on the east and west side of the porch. I think it could be so cool if done right. It was one of those things where I just knew it's what I wanted to do. I started getting excited just thinking about it.

But then I had the wind taken out of my sails!

I found Tammy and told her of my idea, expecting her to share in my excitement but that wasn't happening. Okay. She just wasn't sure. We already have a peacock window above our entryway, a simple-something I did when I was first learning the art. I assured her that I can do another design above our entryway.

I then went next-door to Karen's (we've hired her to help with design elements and more) and pitched the idea to her and once again was met with a very lukewarm response. Hmmm. She's concerned that the colors won't work with the rest of the room and that there will be competing focal points between the fireplace and the windows. Valid points but I assured her that I could make this work. And I'm determined to. But maybe having my enthusiasm curbed just a little isn't such a bad idea. I'll give this step a lot of thought.

Here's a video from week 6...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Dilemma

Since having the fireplace installed last Wednesday much of Joe's focus has been on installing the skylights and shingling the roof. The skylights are in and he's nearly done shingling.

After getting the fireplace framed in and installed I stood looking at it and felt that something wasn't right. It became apparent that the two lower transom windows on either side of it are tucked in too close to the fireplace and not spaced evenly between the outer walls and where the stacked-stone surrounding the fireplace will be. At least to my eye it seems the space there should be equal. I contemplated saying anything to Joe to see if maybe I could get used to looking at it the way it is but I don't seem to be warming up to the idea. It probably bothers Tammy less than it does me but she agrees that it would be nicer if it were more balanced.

What to do?

I think the problem comes in with the rectangular center window above the fireplace. Ideally it would be another 8 inches longer allowing for all of the windows to be pushed 4 inches closer to the outer walls giving us the balance I'd like to see. I suppose it's not too late to do all of that but it would likely mean putting parts of the project on hold while we have another center window made.

Or is there another fix or two?

We could eliminate the center window (which was something we were seriously considering early on in the design phase) and take the stacked-stone all the way to the ceiling. We'd still have to re-position the remaining four windows so they were centered between the wall and the fireplace. It will cost extra to take the stacked-stone all the way to the ceiling but it would save me from possibly having to put the project on hold while we wait for a new center window. Plus, there wouldn't be the additional cost of a new window.

Another fix we're considering is to push the two lower transom windows 4 inches closer to the wall. They would no longer line up with the trapezoid windows above but I could more easily live with that arrangement than the way they're situated now.

I emailed Joe and Karen to tell them of my concerns.

Joe is always thinking long-term when he does a project; will it stand the test of time? The video below gives a good example of his approach to potential problems and the extra effort he makes to avoid them.