Saturday, April 26, 2014

Exterior Details - part 2 and a 1" bump in the road

The weather is warming up here and things are moving along with the house.  Our architect, Erica, is off on her own adventure and has recently moved to Australia. It has change our house-build dynamics a bit, but overall, it is going well. We are having weekly meetings now and every single time we walk away, I say to Dan, " I wish Erica was here." :( We had to point out a few big things that had to be corrected.  We didn't really hash out who was paying for these corrections, so I guess that conversation is still coming.  

We are doing a board and batten exterior.  But, we were told that a true board and batten would be a bad idea - too much work, money and possible issues with the boards cupping.  We talked about fiber cement boards, but again, Alaska is a challenging climate and it would not be ideal.  We really didn't want plywood on the house, but unless we wanted to go with lap siding, we were running out of options.  So, we settled on a okume (similar to cedar) plywood with cedar battens.

After many discussions with our contractor, our awesome architect created detailed diagrams of all our exterior finishes (6 pages worth).  I made sure everyone had it, left a hard copy at the site. On it, it said 3" cedar battens and 10' plywood panels.  Here is the first page of the document everyone received:

Let me first say, I really like and trust our contractor. They have done an amazing job so far and we have had very little to comment on. A lot work goes into managing a house built from both their side and ours. There are a
zillion details to keep track of, which is why good communication and mutual respect are essential.

So, our contractor was out of town, his son (who has a construction management degree) created an full-size mock-up of our exterior. On the the mock-up they used 1x3 (2.5") battens.  We all stood there and Dan and I said, "Yes. That is it."  So, materials were bought and then every piece for the exterior was primed and painted with one coat of paint on all sides inside the shop.  The whole house will get a final coat later.

Supplies were delivered to the house and it took a conversation with the framers for me to notice the battens were now 1x4s (3.5").  I checked the document details, looked at the mock-up and then I called our contractor.  The disappointing part was that he tried to tell me I didn't understand nominal lumber (so, my husband, the woodworker doesn't understand it either?) and then that the sample was made up incorrectly by his son and foreman. I couldn't see how a written 3" on a construction document could ever be equal to a 1x4, especially after being shown 1x3s. I tried to explain how the batten size would effect the window trim sizes (the sides are suppose to be 1x4s), as they were suppose to be graduated. He offered to do another mock-up, which he did. Unfortunately, I didn't like that conversation much and I shut down.  I really tried to consider the new mock-up, but it wasn't right and did not include the window trim.

Two days later, we met and I tried to politely explain that I and Dan fully understand nominal lumber and after we approved a physical mock-up, we were expecting 1x3s. Since we originally talked about 1x2s, the 1x3s were already a compromise and 1x4s were not going to work. At my pressing, he reluctantly admitted they made a mistake and it would be corrected.  I think they just didn't pay attention and ordered the wrong material and probably didn't want to spend the time and money to fix it, but we insisted.  Anyway, last weekend someone ripped the battens down to the right size and they are off being repainted.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Exterior Details - Part 1

The roof is on.  That was a simple choice.  The roofing company recommended 50 year architectural shingles by Malarkey. As far as I was concerned, there was only one color option: Midnight Black.  I am completely satisfied with the roof.

Meanwhile, the framers, worked on our porch and decks.  The clear coated cedar was stained on all sides in the shop and brought to the job site. After it was complete, they covered it with plywood to keep it protected throughout the rest of the build.

Next up was the house wrap, which the guys call frog skin.  It is an upgrade from the typical Tyvek wrap you will see on many unfinished Alaskan houses.  That is an Alaskan classic.  :)  Anyway, it is fancy stuff, made by Vaproshield and is designed to let the house breath, so the the sheathing will be able to stay dry and shed moisture.  The window corners are available in orange or black and the house shield in either green or black, although I am not sure why you would have a preference. Anyway, we got what was in town, which is a mix of all three.

First they used multiple pieces to wrap all the window and door openings and then installed all the windows and doors, expect the mudroom and garage door, because those will be used all day everyday and they didn't want them to get beat up.

Before anything else can go on the walls, we had to finish the foundation.  We decided to keep it simple. Our contractor and roofing company suggested a molded metal wrap.  It comes in a variety of colors, but we went with black.  We had to heat the ground around the house to remove the ice, snow and dig up some of the dirt.  Our gas bill is outrageous!  Glad it won't be like that much longer.

After that, they wrapped the whole house and garage.  It was probably at least a month or more for 2 guys to wrap everything and install the windows and doors.

The last step before the soffits and siding, which are almost decorative at this point, is a rainscreen. 1/4"x 3"wide strips are tacked to the walls to create an airspace.  This will allow the walls to dry out behind the siding. With the frog-skin and rainscreen, the sheathing should be able to dry out and resist any future rot.