Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A House in 2D

When we got back from Australia, the foundation of the house was poured. Now we could walk the house in 2D. This is looking at the front of the house with James' studio and the driveway on the right, the entry door behind the second garage in the center, then the library, powder room and guest suite on the left. Behind the guest suite and library is the Great Room, then the kitchen, my studio, the Master Bedroom hallway. Down the steps is the Master Bedroom suite. Standing at the entrance and looking both ways down the gallery made me realize exactly how big this house is.

This is a closer view of the one car garage in the front of the entry door with the open courtyard behind it. Again there is the library in front of the great room.

This is the main two car garage on the left with James' Studio on the right in front of the theater, the other guest room, and the Master Bedroom suite below.

James and I are pretty good at reading blueprints, so not much surprises us when we see it built, but even so, there is something concrete about seeing the floor plans and walking on them. This small recess in the floor is for the theater screen. Our chairs will be at the edge of the stairs. It's a rather small theater, but then again we have a rather small family and we like to sit close, really close to the screen.

I will say that there were two design elements we didn't quite understand from the blueprints. First was the elevated seating area in front of the Master Bedroom shower. We knew there was a step up from the tub floor area to the seating area in front of the shower door, but we didn't really understand that there was a step down into the shower area itself. We are planning on sloping the shower to the left and put a floor drain across the shower head side, so the step shouldn't be as much as shown here in the concrete, although the concrete step will be covered with redwood/teak decking.

The most surprising element were the two floating triangles coming out of the Master Bathroom. The front one is between the sink areas. The back one is in the shower itself. Both of them are tall three pane windows that will be semi obscured glass. Both of them are shelf areas and not standing areas, so weight on these projections should not be an issue.

These are the only pictures we will have of the foundation itself. Before you could say the word, "construction", the cul de sac was full of lumber and the rough framing started. It should be finished by the end of the week! It seems fast, but there is still lots and lots and lots of detail work to do. After rough framing comes the roof trusses, then the start of the interior mechanical systems: HVAC, electrical, and plumbing. It will be a while before we have any real walls and long time before they start the drywalls. We are just trying to keep up with all the pieces before they need to be ordered. We have still not picked out ALL the plumbing fixtures. We will be working on that Real Soon Now. Tomorrow we have a meeting with the cabinetry builders and Friday with the HVAC people.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Several Weeks Ago

Several weeks ago we took these pictures, but then life intruded (chemo infusions and travel to Australia) and I haven't had a chance to put these up until now. This is the infamous Jones valve. It allows us to take non-potable water from a fire hydrant rather than using the increasingly expensive and unreliable water truck. (That was pumping water from a lower fire hydrant!) We now have water from the water system, but it seems like it has taken forever (actually it did take over a year). Water is vital for the next phase of construction -- pouring concrete!

That crazy pipe hanging in the sky is actually a pipe for pouring concrete. The contractor standing at the table is checking to make sure the concrete goes in the right places. Although the table is handy, it has ended up over the edge of the precipice more times than once. The winds can be fierce on the top of that ridge. I wonder if we will get waves in the pool from the strong winds. But the breezes should cool the house down nicely in the spring and fall when we have the windows open.

This picture gives a better view of the concrete pouring truck. That arm is long enough to put concrete almost anywhere on the property. I am glad that we have professionals doing that as I certainly wouldn't like to be pushing wheelbarrows of concrete into retaining walls. In fact, though we are handy enough to replace a faucet or troubleshoot a washing machine, I'd rather not take on any of the large construction jobs. In one spot in the great room we have a forty feet steel beam that needs to be placed. I want lots of machinery and skilled contractors to take on that job.

Here are the last of the retaining walls. Theoretically speaking this is not a retaining wall, but rather the footing of the master bathroom foundation. It just happens that we need to lift the final floor about six feet up before we get to the true floor level. Still, even standing down here we are finally getting a true feel for the size and scope of the finished construction. Yes, our master bath is bigger than the master bedroom. When you only need a bedroom to sleep, then this makes perfect sense.

The space at the end is for the two toilets and the large space to the right is actually two closets. The bedroom starts right at the turn on the left hand side.

Now there is a lot more finished than you see here. While we were in Australia, they started pouring the final foundation. The plumbers and electricians were busily digging trenches for any of their conduits that needed to be under the foundation before they did the final pour. At each step we re-evaluate everything that has been done or is about to be done. Although changes can be made at any step, we'd rather not waste money by tearing up anything that has been built. This means staying in constant communications with the contractors to remind them of any little changes that have been made (but maybe not communicated to the workers on site). It also mean thinking ahead to the next phases. Making changes before they build is always the best policy. So far everything is according to specs and we are absurdly happy about how this is going. We can't wait to move in!