While we were gone over the weekend, they put in the insulation.
We wanted sound insulation to be installed in the bathrooms and the laundry room but normal insulation was installed. Funny they have sound insulation on the hall bath tub. They also put up tar paper in teh hall bath with no insulation behind it.
Here are some pix:

Outside the hall bath on the left and the master closet on the right. Bummer they stapled the plastic into the molding under the gutters, but I guess that can be patched.

Outside the master closet.

Outside the master closet.

Outside the master closet.

The fire warning on the insulation.

Master ceiling.

Master ceiling.

Hall bath. The window is in!

Hall tub.

Above the livingroom.

Also above the livingroom.

Also above the livingroom.

This is the sound proof insulation. We don’t see it anywhere else.

Here it is in context. The wall behind the tub has no insulation so that tar paper needs to be taken down so the insulation can be added.

The master bath interior wall is insulated with regular insulation, not the sound insulation

Fireplace Niches

The framing for the niches is done.

The three niches will be 1 foot by 2 feet.

A straight on view.

The three niches are on the left, and the bookshelf is on the right. They will both be stained birch.

Roof Goes Back On

Getting this done was like pulling teeth. But the heated conversation worked! They put the roof back on before the major storm hit. And now the integrity of the roof can be tested. This storm is going to be intense.
They didn’t have enough to finish above the master closet because some of the material broke when they were removing it, but they got most of it done.
It looks a little funky, but they assure me it will even out with time.


The structural engineer came out today. I asked him to call me on my cell after and tell me how it went as we were going to be gone on our Christmas vacation.
He called and we passed! Whew!

Inpection Corrections

Here are pix of some if not all of what they did to get ready for the next inspection on Friday. Mostly metal straps to futher stabilize the joints in important places.

Took off the old sheer wall that the fight started over. Also, a specific kind of bolt is installed. Glad we didn’t need another deputy inspector out here.

And replaced it with the new one, which is correct. The plywood is vertical and staggered.

About the picture below. It is a picture of the big beam spanning the living room back wall. On the other side is the Dining room which we are using as our living room during the remodel. To install this, they had to break the wall in the dining rrom, in our living space. I told them to hold off while I ask the engineer if there is an alternate way to do it so that they would not need to break through to the other side of the wall. They said there wasn’t but I asked them to hold off anyway. I emailed the engineer but didn’t hear back from him so they went ahead. I then get an email from the engineer the next day:
“Have him use the Simpson ‘LCE4′”
The foreman said “That’s what I wanted to use but he said no.” Sometimes even in the face of such bull##$%^, you have to just suck it up, deal with it, and keep your mouth shut. Argggh.

I’m not sure I understand what the lower brackets are doing in the pictures below. They attach the big beam to the 2×4 above it, but the 2×4 above it isn’t attached to anything so it seems stupid to me.

Engineering Inspection

The nails from the roof went in and we are ready to have the structural engineer come out and look the house over and give his sign off.
The engineer is a pretty uptight kind of guy. Not the kind of guy you want to have a beer with. Very buttoned up. Very manicured. But very serious and into his work. At least I have a fair amount of confidence that our house will survive the big one.
He’s checking everything out and finally he turns to the foreman and says “What is this?” It descends into a yelling match that I still can’t believe.
“Don’t yell at me!”
“Anybody doing this for 2 months knows that this is wrong. Is this your first job?”
“Don’t f%&^^&%^ng talk to me like that.”
“I can say anything I want!”
After they calmed down and the engineer went into the attic, I pulled the foreman aside and told him to be nice to this guy. He has what we want, namely a signature.
It ends up there is a list of twelve items that do not pass. And one shear wall has to be redone. The engineer even pointed out that one of the other sheer walls was done correctly. Why was this one done wrong?
I was hoping that we could get this passed before Christmas as promised, and press for it. Can we take pictures of the corrections and send them to you? He says he would but not for this many things. Implying that this is unusual.
He gives me the list, and I amke a copy of it for everyone.

The foreman promises to get all this done and we set the meeting for Friday at 2PM, the last working day before Christmas.

Reconfiguring the Master Bath South Wall

The sheer wall on the south side of the bathroom had to be reconfigured due to how we wanted the mirrors and lighting to be set up. Sheer walls need to have 4×4′s every 4 ft with a 4′x8′ sheet of plywood spanning from 4×4 to 4×4. But we need 60″ without a 4×4.
Click here to see the light mirror set up needing the 60″
So… we got a drawing from the engineer and it required 2 new 4x4s 60″ apart. And each now needs to be secured with a hold down. So that means the deputy inspector needs to come out again, which is more money. Hence our first change order! Yippee!!!

The open space for the mirrors and lights.

The two hold downs at the bottom of each of the new 4x4s

Window Pix

Here is a look at the windows even though they are not right.

One of the 4ft windows from the front. They are going to adjust the top of the frame down by cutting out the top inch or so of the side frame. This will hide some of that extra wood up there where the retractable screen is housed. The stucco will extend over the window a little.

The 3ft window for the hall bath.

We got Rabbeted Pair/French Casement windows. There is no center frame so they open up wide and airy.

This is the rectractable screen. The white crossbar will blend in once the windows are painted white.

The hinges are “sticky hinges” so they keep the window in place once you push it out. We didn’t want to have cranks.

Windows Arrive

Well kind of.
When we signed the contract, the contractors made a big deal about getting the window order in early because they take so long to make. This was in July. They went back and forth with the architect making sure everything was correct. They went back and forth with the distributor making sure everything was in order.
So after all this time, yesterday was the day the windows and sliding doors are finally coming. They look beautiful but …

On the truck.

A door waiting to be taken into the house.

… some are missing, and some are wrong. Can I use swear words here?
The explanation about the missing windows was that when they were delivered to the distributor, there was condensation between some of the double panes so they had to be sent back to the factory. They would be delivered on Thursday. Okay, no problem.
I didn’t notice the incorrect windows until after the delivery guy had left. I mention to the foreman that they look shorter than existing. He says that they are according to plan.
I ask “where are you going to loose window from the top or the bottom?”
“The bottom,” he answers.
With all that is going on, I just nod. I can’t remember all the details from so many months ago.
We got six sliders for the living room. 4 sliders for the Master bedroom. They looked correct. We got a 3 ft window for the guest bath. It looks correct. We didnt get the door shaped window for the master bath because of the condensation. We only got 2 of the 4 5ft windows for the living room and the second bedroom.
I measure the existing windows and they are 5 ft. And the new windows are only 4ft. I think there is no way we ordered smaller windows. After all, we are trying to brighten this room which we always thought was too dark.
I immediately go pouring over the plans and window schedule looking for the possibility that our architect made an error. Or if we really did order 4ft windows. Everywhere on the plans and window schedule calls for 5ft windows. I get this sinking feeling. This is a disaster. Are we going to have to wait until April for the correct windows?
I call the contractor and tell him the windows are wrong. I could hear the panic through the silence on the other end of the phone. He says he will find out what the deal is, and hangs up.
He calls me back with this explanation: The 4ft windows belong to another order. They will be picked up tomorrow. So 2 5ft windows are coming tomorrow and 2 5ft windows are coming on Thursday along with the master door size window. Okay.
So today, no one shows up! No one picked up the 4ft windows, and, more importantly, no one delivered the 5ft windows. What is the deal? I call the contractor. “We need to get the ball rolling. You said that things were going to pick up.” Etc. I was angry and frustrated. “Two weeks with nothing going on is a lot of lost time.”
I ask him if he still feels a February finish can be done. He says yes. I ask him if he will tell me a February finish cannot be done as soon as he realizes it. He scoffed at the question and said “Of course, Dana!” I don’t know.

Trust But Verify

The engineering plans call for another 4×8 spanning the length of the master closet suppported by 2 4x4s on either end of the master closet to support a 4×4 which would in turn support the surprise 6×12, which comes to an end above the closet. Sound confusing? I have no idea what I just wrote. But the contractor had another idea. Support the 6×12 by a secured 4×4 in the wall between the master bedroom and the master closet. The reason being that in the drawings it appears that the big beam would extend 6 ft over the closet when in fact it extends only 3 ft. approximately.

The larger beam does not extend as far as we thought it would. I think this is because of the way the three sides of the roof converge closer to the wall than thought. But I am guessing.

But this whole set up didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Why is the strongest thing in the structure the thing being supported? These wimpy 4x4s are supporting a massive slab of tree. Plus it seemed like the 4×4 was being supported by floorboards and a 2×4. I asked about this and they told me they put wood under the house so all this weight was resting on solid wood.

this is the lower supporting 4×4.

So, here comes the trust but verify part. After getting home from the gym on this Saturday morning, I climb under the house to look at the pieces of wood. I was petrified at first. Were my shots current? Was my underwear clean? I climb into the netherworld of rats and possums feet first.



I have a little panic attack and get out. Mission unaccomplished. #$%^$&#^!
Okay let’s do it again.

I get back to where I freaked before. Hey, this isn’t that bad. I found a little dip so I had some room to turn around and get to a better place to see the new wood. I felt like an archeologist in a weird way.

Ah HA! New wood!

You cant tell it from these pictures, but this wood is jammed in there very tight.

I do not know how it is secured, but maybe since it is in there just pure friction will keep them in place. There a lot of hammer marks so maybe it is not secured at all except by the weight of that massive 6×12.

I feel like I accomplished something by climing down here — going to the dark side and back.

More Pix of what has been done recently.

The contractor told us that things are going to wind down for the next few days until the windows get here. Then there is going to be a big push and a lot of activity. I reluctantly accept this since the windows are supposed to be getting here any day now.
So here are some more pix of what they did in the past couple days. I went up in the attic to take some pix of the tray ceiling from above.

It’s a bummer they had to cut up some of the plumbing they did. It passed inspection and now it’s all cut up!

The finished the sheer wall in the garage. To do this they had to take out some of the ceiling next to the wall because it had to be continuous. Luckily, the joists are going parallel to the wall and not perpendicular to it. That would have made the job tougher.

Tray Ceiling

How did youspend you thanksgiving? I built a tray ceiling in a Master Bedroom. We were kind of surprised they were working on Turkey Day. Makes you wonder about the whole illegal immigration thing and our role in it.

But Not All is Lost

They beam they had to take down they were able to reuse in the bathroom sheer wall. Not sure why they are replacing a 4×4 with this beam at this stage of the game (okay I think I have an idea) but they need a 4×8 support another 6×12 going in.

The beam is now on its end with the hold downs.

I gotta say, I didn’t even know this was happening. I thought I was more up on things than this. This monster beam is supposed to support the roof. But it seems to me (and to the contractor and architect) to be overkill. It seems like it is not holding up much and a lot is needed to hold it up!

I wasn’t so much worried that he couldn’t hold it, but I was worried the ladder couldn’t hold him. The ladder was getting ready to buckle under all this weight. And it was our little ladder, not one of their heavy duty ladders.

Resting on the wall between the closet and the master.

The ladder was seriously about to give. I was stressing.

From the bathroom looking up.

I don’t know how he is holding that beam up. There must be someone behind him.

Getting it positioned.

The beam had to end at that corner point in the roof.

Looking straight up.

Bolt downs

I Find a Major Mistake

I had noticed this a few days ago, but I finally got out the tape measure. The sliding door opening in the master bedroom is off. Way off. And I immediately panic. This is what it looks like:

So the beam is in place, the hold downs are in place and inspected. But the opening is not centered with the landing, and it is too small to fit 4 2’6″ doors. It is only 124 inches wide. And you need at least 128 inches. Story continued below pictures.

The landing is 70 inches wide.

The opening is 29 inches past the landing on the north side.

The opening is 24 inches past the landing on the south side.

123″ is not large enough to fit the doors.

The opening is not centered on the landing.

So I have nightmares all last night. They are going to have to redo so much. How did this happen? I go over the plans and it says the doors are 2’6″ and it says that the doorway should be centered on the landing. From this info, the contractor is supposed to figure out the rest.
I call them and tell them the news and they are both over the next morning in damage control mode. They tried to sell me that the plans were unclear. Standard procedure I think. What the contractor did is measure the space between the wall and the edge of the door on the drawings and scale it up. Not the way to go. He also pitched that he was trying to center it on the bedroom. But it wasn’t centered on the room either! I finally had to walk through the logic stated above. He admitted defeat kind of and then fixed it the next morning. It meant installing a new beam, and turning the hold down around so the posts are on the outside of the hold downs. Thank you-know-who that they did not need to redo the hold downs because that is a chunk of change to get the inspector out to the site again.

They moved the posts so they are on the outside of the hold downs. This is on the south side.

They moved the posts so they are on the outside of the hold downs. This is on the north side.

Framing Nearing an End

They added more sheer wall today. Around the edge of the closet. Up in the attic. They peeled back some of the garage ceiling so the sheer wall could go up all the way from the first floor to the roof uninterupted.

Up in the attic.

Up in the attic.

Sheer Walls Go Up

They put up the shear walls in the Master Bedroom and around the master closet.
The bedroom:

And here is the closet:

Shear walls have to have 4×4 every 4 feet and the plywood is nailed to these with nails 2 inches apart. Also they put in nail spacers between the plywood to allow for settling.

New Living Room Sub Floor

The insulation is in and now goes the sub floor. It looks like they will need to put in a couple levels to get this floor even with the flor in the original living room.

Glue goes down.

The sub floor goes in.

This is the glue they used. “Subfloor sonstruction adhesive.” No doubt what that is for.

Insulation for the New Living Room Floor

I guess this goes under framing. In between the sleepers goes some insulation. All new floors get insulation. Old floors don’t have to get it. The foreman asked me to take these pictures and send them to him so he could show them to the city inspector.

The sheets of insulation.

It’s a very hard foam.

Cutting it to fit between the sleepers.

In place.

Pocket Door

They put in the pocket door frame for the Master Bath. Of course, when I saw the kit, I did a little research to see if it was a good one. It is. They are installing the by Johnson Hardware 1500.
I checked to see what kind of hanger they were going to use. the 1120 or the heavy duty 1125 with ball bearings for door weighting up to 200 lbs. At this point, the foreman kind of looked at me trying to figure out if I was for real. Hey man, I just want this door to glide right. Gotta ask the tough questions!

Studs taken out to make room for the frame.

In place.

Channel profile tracks instead of the I-beam track. Using tricycle hangers for even movement.