Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Phew! Flooding crisis narrowly avoided!

Wow, Mother Nature! You are sure putting us through our paces.

It was good you rained my friend Arden and I out of our scheduled golf game!

Instead, we went for dinner.  And it rained steady from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. After dinner, we decided to drop by the house, as Arden hadn't seen it since he helped me spread some sand around the basement, before we poured concrete!

And with a crack of thunder, it began to hail. And pour rain. In buckets.

And the rain began to fill the window well near the basement suite door. The same window that leaked in the last rain storm.

Torrential rain. We were soaked.
Thank god for Arden who immediately helped me dyke the water from further pooling near the window, then helped me bail out the window well so it was below the waterproofing membrane. I can't imagine what would have happened if we didn't drop by the house to check it out.

The lack of flooding is a tribute to Ken Albrecht, our cribber, who did an amazing job with the foundation! I am so glad I asked for a waterstop in the footing key. And perhaps it is the luck of our site- as the water, when it does disappear behind the ground surface, manages to go somewhere.

A few inches away from diaster!
I was concerned after bailing water out of the window well, why the newly installed sump pump wasn't working- and the sump pit was slowly rising dangerously close to the top. Thanks to Jordan, our plumber, who answered my urgent text message as to how to get it started. I'm not sure why it didn't kick on automatically. But it did start up when I plugged in only 1 of the plugs from the sump pump. Hmmmm.... Hopefully he'll drop by tomorrow to figure it out.

I am also wondering why the sump pit didn't fill more often- during other rains and snow melts. And why it didn't fill fast in today's down pour. Is the weeping tile clogged or plugged with sand?  Is the water finding other courses below the surface?

And there she blows! Sump pump spitting
out the water!

Yay! A sump pit with a very low water level!
I am wondering why it hasn't filled more often.

Again, thank you so much, Arden- for helping me narrowly avoid disaster in the basement. I can't imagine the havoc all that water would have created had it come through the window.  And we'll have to re-schedule golf! I owe you big.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Insulating for sound...

When we were working in the basement last weekend, I was able to hear the painter and his music upstairs. This was not good, as I don't want to hear our basement suite tenant, nor would I like for them to hear us. So, I kicked myself hard for not putting in mineral wool batts before we drywalled. 

So, instead, I really annoyed my taper/mudder.  I cored about 80 holes of 3.125" diameter in the basement ceiling and my good friend Sonny helped me blow in recycled newsprint insulation into the joist spaces over two very late evenings. It took 9 hours in total. In hindsight, it would have also been wise to have added resilient channels. Kick me again, please. I should have known better.

Sonny workin' the cellulose blower.

Holey ceiling.

Finally, Slave labour!

We finally got Adar helping out on site! He was good at
getting the little bags of insulation into the window.
And that's our neighbour David helping too.
Let me know if you ever need exercise.
We can put you to work!

Retaining wall/ window well in. But right over the screw piles. Doh!

More silly mistakes at the house. This time the retaining wall installer placed the long side right on top of the three screw piles we drilled for the posts to the balcony.


Now the fall back is to create a top bearing plate on the cap stone of the retaining wall, as it is too much work to re-do the entire wall.

This is why you should always meet your trades-person on site and review what to do before they start. Sometimes they don't bother to ask you a simple question that would have not created a huge headache. * SIGH *

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Yay! Stairs to the basement!

It was a busy Saturday- Nigel and I were able to get the basement stairs installed. I'm surprised only two of us managed to jostle the very large landing in place!

Is it level?

That is one heavy run of stairs.

Already muddy. Great.

Yay! No more ladder to slip into the basement!

Crazy colours! He wanted a blue ceiling!

Adar wanted a deep blue ceiling for his bedroom.
And it is so.
Any guesses how long it will be that blue?
and green walls.

Our bedroom is less vibrant. Wrought iron
dark grey with "whitestone" grey walls.

Art niches in the stairwell!

"Startling orange" is the name of the colour.
We couldn't resist.

Nothing like torrential rain to test the building envelope!

The rains this past week really tested our building envelope. I wish we had them before drywall and mudding, though! We have discovered three leaks.  The chimney flue I have already talked about in the previous post. Two others emerged that need some repair. 

One is the window in the northwest corner of the basement. The northwest corner receives the brunt of the weather, particularly driving rain.  So, it was no surprise that without drip flashing at the base of the exterior wall, and no peel and stick around the windows that water found it's way in. Darn it.

Basement window- leaking through the bottom corners.
Amazing how much damage just a bit of water can do.

And then the bigger, more scary leak. At the electrical panel. Without an eavestrough, there was a lot of water falling on top of the power meter on the outside of the house, which is located on the north wall. And it seems that the exterior pipe that contains the main power line going down into the power meter needs to be caulked and further waterproofed. Since I put a tyvek cover on it, it hasn't leaked. So, hopefully it will dry out soon and I'll caulk the top of it. And I think I'll get some spray foam in where the wires bend into the house And get some eavestroughs in ASAP.

Not good. Water coming in the electrical panel.

This is the likely culprit.

Water hugs the wires and follows
the conduit inside.

It makes you wonder: how do spec-built or other "regular" on the market houses get tested/fixed for leaks? Do they bother to take out the wet drywall? Do they really find the causes/problem? I hope so.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Two steps forward, one step back...

Puddle on the floor.

Water was hugging the flue stack.
New caulking on the chimney flashing.

Well, it's good we discover little flaws now I guess. When it rained all night and most of Tuesday morning,  it revealed a little leak at the chimney flue. I found a nice puddle of water on the living room floor from where water found its way down.  I called our roofer, Al Schreiber, who was great about coming over in the afternoon.  So Al had a look and thinks it was the caulking around the vent pipe above the roof. He also put a better bead of caulking around the vent pipe flashing. I am still skeptical so we'll see if it will leak in the next rain, expected tomorrow.

Does it match my jacket?

I kinda' like it just white!
In a step forward, we are almost complete with mudding!  And the painter Al Hood from Sky Blue Contracting started!  Our walls and ceiling for the most part are a nice white colour of primer! I think we've finalized our colour selections for the walls. Adar was by far the most bold, choosing lime green walls and a dark blue ceiling. I'm pretty boring with charcoal and light grey. Serena, is well... We'll try to punch in some colour in places! I'll leave it at that.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Party's over! Now get to work!

We are just recovering from our post-EcoSolar Home Tour glow. We had 177 people officially drop in on Saturday!  Four people came Sunday, because they didn't read the date correctly on the website.  We had a great time showing all who visited our place.  It's coming together!

But there are hundreds of little things to do. I spend my time chipping away at them.  Like tonight. I fixed the stud/drywall where it needed to stop short so a railing post could go in nicely.

And I relocated a junction box for a light that needed to be aligned with a kitchen light in the basement suite.

And I found more stuff for my taper to do!  Like cut out drywall where it is covering a fresh air duct!

 And I'm please to say we were able to get some new air barrier up on the back of the house. This time, it has some strapping holding it down! So, there is only a small section left to re-do. Phew! I'm glad, because it's suppose to rain for the next few days...Just 242 more things on the "to-do" list!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Railings in!

Dan and Jeff from River City Metalworks dropped off all the panels and installed the guard rails around the loft opening and stairs!  Now we can have people safely visit tomorrow!  There will be a couple panels that didn't get their power-coat finish, but the important part is they are in place.  And they are solid.

PV installation!

Big Heliene 300 Watt modules.
Great Canadian Solar was keen to have the PV system installed ahead of the EcoSolar home tour. If you asked me last week, I would have said it was very optimistic to make it happen. We didn't even had someone to put up the siding that needs be to up behind the PV at that point. But somehow, the planets aligned- albeit with some weather challenges today.

Clifton, Ben and Chris persevered and there they are!  Ready to be grid-tied!

The first one goes up!

Ready for the last one?

Bloody heavy inverter!

Chris, Clifton & Ben. Everyone survived!

Yay! 16 Modules ready to rock!

SMA Sunnyboy inverter up!

Guts of the inverter.

Screw piles / Building porches!

 Landon, Dave & Devon [& Will too] built our front and back cedar porches today in the wet, windy weather. What troopers! Ahead of that, we had to put in six screw piles- three for the porches and three for the balcony off the kitchen.  It was quite a machine that drives the gigantic screws into the ground. It's too bad the soils are very silty clay around our house, as we needed extensions on the screw piles to get enough bearing pressure. So, they cost more than I expected.  But it didn't involve messy concrete mixing/pouring, etc.

By 5pm, the front and back porches [with no steps] were done.  They still have to finish them, seal them- but for tomorrow's tour, they are more than great!

Phew! Hardie-plank installed ahead of PV modules.

"Boothbay Blue" siding glistening in the sun.

After Clifton put up the PV structure, we had to race to get the hardie-plank cement-fibre board siding installed before his team installed the PV modules.  I hired Pelican Decks to help. Landon, Dave & Devon obviously do more than just decks!  They were great to help me in a pinch, as I still don't have a siding company signed up...
The "snorkel" lift really comes in handy.

Happy Hardie Installer.

And that's the last piece!