After the dramatic rise of the house exterior about a month ago, we have had our attention turned to the more pedantic elements of home construction. Watching and learning from a variety of trades people has provided us with the opportunity to really know what is involved behind the walls. The past few weeks have felt like a roller-coaster – “ups” and “downs” each day.
Shingling: often, finishing the roof happens later in the process, but when the roof has to be prepared for solar panels, this is done earlier. Definitely an “up.”
Lumber: interior framing happened quickly which was an “up.” A few minor “downs” as we had to tweak some door openings. We now know what it means to “fir” a wall. Lots and lots of (B.C.) lumber involved as the rooms take shape.
Ken is our main guy, seen here constructing stairways. He also determines the music of the day and you can see him conferring with S about the boombox.
Pipes: the all-necessary plumbing of a house starts with locating drains and marking pipes. This necessarily involves deciding on fixtures. Lots of “ups” and “downs” here as we have been immersed in (and sometimes overwhelmed) visiting bathroom shops to consider showers, tubs, sinks, & faucets. The biggest challenges have been: (1) no one shop carries all the brands we either want or need; (2) some shops only want to communicate through the builder (who is very, very busy); and (3) we never thought selecting a bath tub would be so complicated (which is why we still haven’t finalized this selection, amongst others). The “ups” have been the easy things: kitchen sink & faucet, which were decided a long time ago, the toilets, and some of the items in secondary bathrooms where we have limited space & orientation options. The “downs” have been the more difficult items: our ensuite bathroom & the type of kitchen island bar sink/faucet. Admittedly, some of the challenges have been self-imposed in the form of being creative and/or customizing to our needs. Also, having access to a world of products through the internet only to find little is available to us in Canada or is of questionable quality can be disheartening.
Wires: it was amazing to watch Matthew and his crew wire drill holes and pull all manner of wires while jumping from ladder to ladder in seemingly race speed. An “up.” More challenging for us was to do a detailed walk-through to consider where we wanted and needed outlets, switches, and lighting fixtures.
We literally had to visualize how will live in these spaces, our day to day activities, and anticipate everything from where furniture will be placed to cabinetry that has not yet been constructed. And all marked on the walls in a foreign language. There were no real “downs” – more like problems that needed solving. How high will your television be? Not sure if we can put an outlet in a kitchen appliance garage. What is an appliance garage? Must put an outlet here to meet code. Can’t put an outlet there as doesn’t meet code. We need very specific pot lights and housing in a passive house ceiling – your choices are black or white. Where do you want the switch to be? Can’t put it there. It’s easier to rough-wire now for future eventualities. Beware “scope creep….”
Windows: a big “up” was the arrival of windows and the installation of the first. The windows and doors are from Fenstür (on Vancouver Island) as these are windows certified for passive houses. Installation requires some special processes involving membranes and stuff beyond our ken. Braeden (from Fenstür) instructs the design and build crew in installation of the first window. We had the opportunity to tour Fenstür’s operations late last year and are happy to know that they mill their own lumber from Vancouver Island trees while creating windows with advanced technologies.
A big “down” was learning that the south-side windows and front door are back-ordered as the manufacturer of the special solar glass technology was out of stock. These items should arrive in June. We’re also expecting the windows and doors for the secondary suite to arrive shortly (from Cascadia).
Coordinating everything in the background is our construction manager, Mike, from Blackhawk. Organizing trades, ordering materials, anticipating installation timelines, and troubleshooting where necessary is no small feat, and we are just one of Mike’s projects. We are grateful that he is mindful of budget and suggests alternatives that save on costs.