Friday, July 29, 2011

It's electric!

You are so very welcome for that earworm.

The carpentry crew must have been at another site today, so nothing new to report framing-wise. The dormer still has a scenic view of... tarp.

However, the electrician was at the house this morning to start some of the wiring! He was working on upstairs fixtures that will be much easier to do now, vs. when the roof is all insulated and sealed up. We spied the site of our future bedroom ceiling fan/light fixture...

...the light/vent for our shower...

...and a couple other big wires that must be for outlets, laundry machines, etc.

On an unrelated note, I forgot to photograph this yesterday when Steven pointed it out. This is the adhesive that the crew is using. We'd chatted with Steven about our desire to use low-VOC paints and other materials whenever possible, so I was really happy to hear that he had suggested this to the builders (I didn't even know this stuff existed). Our respiratory systems are psyched too!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Remember that giant hole in the roof on Tuesday? Well yesterday when we made it back over to the house, we saw this peeking over the south roofline...

The dormer! I may have produced a sound something like "EEEEEEE!!" Seriously, it is so exciting to see the very shape of the house changing every day. We have been forewarned that this is how it is with rough framing, and that we're going to be a lot less EEEEEE!!-full once this stage is over and we move on to plumbing, electrical, etc. So I am mentally prepared for that, but still totally enjoying how amazing this all seems - it is like my birthday every day!

(You may notice Steven in that last pic, doing a little painting... more on that in a sec!)

The inside of the house is filled with scaffolding right now for the work on the dormer - I know these guys are professionals, but it still makes me nervous to think of standing on all this!

We climbed up a regular ol' ladder to get to our future bedroom and check out the dormer from there. Here's Brandon soaking up the view:

That's the interior opening I have mentioned, which lines up with the windows in the dormer. Eventually we'll be able to sit up in bed and see this:

Well, minus the piles of lumber in the yard, plus a roof and actual window... details, details.

In other news, the trusses arrived for the garage roof! I told Steven to stand by them and look excited about trusses. I think he was just laughing at me, but it's about the same effect.

Speaking of Steven, and what he was painting several photos above... we picked out the exterior colors! We've thought for a long time that since the house kind of has a barn-vibe, we should run with that and use a barn-appropriate color scheme (Steven likes to class it up by calling it a "farmhouse cottage" instead). The siding is going to be mostly board-and-batten, and it is going to be dark red. The mission yesterday and this morning was to pick a trim color for the edges of the rooflines (fascia and soffits, I think, if you want to get technical - this is like learning a new language!).

Here is the siding color (middle) along with two trim options. The paint was still very wet in this photo, and all monitors are different, but hopefully you get the idea... We were trying to decide between a darker chocolate brown and a lighter, taupe-y color.

This morning we went back to the house to stick these to the wall and look at them dry(ish) and in place.

Up there, we all immediately liked the darker color better. It reads as really dark in this photo, but it was a very overcast day, and we still didn't think it was TOO dark. It'll be a really nice complement to the very dark brown window casings, and the warm golden color that we are planning for the doors.

Not sure if there will be much progress today - the crew was putting a tarp up over the dormer and doing some clean-up while we were looking at paint, because of last night's completely unpredicted FOUR INCHES of rain (not a typo). The house is a little, shall we say, swampy at the moment. And we all know I love swamps, but not in my future living room.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A picture's worth 1000 words

So I'm going to save myself 3000 words on today's progress (most of which probably would have been "HOLY COW!").

Is it the world's largest skylight? Well maybe for now, but it will ultimately be our dormer, which will (1) give us a river view from the bedroom; and (2) significantly increase the awesomeness of the living room. Here is a somewhat old schematic to help you visualize - the windows have changed a bit, but you'll get the idea:

There was also progress on the north side of the house, where the crew had started framing yesterday. Today they continued work, adding sheeting.

I am really looking forward to the day that the house has no extraneous openings to the outside world!

Also - after some technical difficulties, I think I have the slide show on the right side of this blog both functional and up to date (yippee!). I haven't mentioned this little project yet, but I've been taking photos from the same three angles every time there is a substantial change in the way the house looks. I am having a lot of fun with it, and think it will make a hilarious coffee table book once we're finally done!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ruff ruff

(This post title is a tribute to the way Brandon pronounces that thing that covers the top of the house. Elmo and Simon apparently also support his pronunciation.)

As I mentioned in this post yesterday, the roofers were out on Saturday and ripped all the old shingles and plywood off the roof. Today progress continued on that front, with framing going in on the north side of the house.

Of course we had to climb up and take a closer look. We were really excited to see how tall these boards are, because all of this space will be filled with insulation. We will be toasty warm in the winter and nice and cool in the summer! (More on our HVAC system soon - we are installing a geothermal system, so there should be some upcoming shots of the major excavation that entails!)

Anyway, here is Brandon checking out the new roof.

While we were up there we also did some peering down through temporary holes in our house... Here is the future entryway...


...and guest room.

We promise we won't invite you to stay over until the guest room has a ceiling.

In other news, inside we were excited to see some scaffolding and a couple of chalk lines where the new shed dormer on the south side is going to be. That addition is going to really change how the south side of the house looks, as well as how open and airy it will feel inside - exciting! You can click here to see the exterior elevations with the shed dormer on our designer's website, which should help visualize how it will look.

Non-construction miscellany interlude...

Brandon's brother Trent and his girlfriend Michelle were in town to visit us this weekend, which was a blast. Brandon roped another accomplice into his fishing vendetta against the giant carp in the pond...

...but of course they didn't catch it. Instead, Brandon got a fishing line caught underwater on a branch, which resulted in this scene...

Along with the discovery of another pond artifact!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Raise the roof

A couple big days of progress at Turtle House yesterday and today! We didn't make it out yesterday to take photos due to the Michigan Beerfest (an event which doesn't lend itself to driving afterward...). However, we went out this morning with my college roommate Jen and her hubby Mike (in town for another weekend event, the Blue Angels' Thunder Over Michigan show). It was super fun to see them and to show them our future abode.

The framers made a lot of progress yesterday on the east side of the house - check out the bones of our garage!

They'd also started the roof over the new entry.

Here is the view from the back yard (north side):

While we were there today, the roofers were finishing up removing all of the old shingles from the roof (on a Saturday!). I didn't have my camera on me, so I went back later in the day to snap these shots.

From some angles it seems that 75% of our house is made of tarps right now.

Before all the tarps were up we could see that they'd removed all the shingles as well as the underlying plywood. The existing roof actually wasn't in terrible shape, but we are replacing all of the fiberglass insulation in the house with more eco-friendly (and health-friendly) blown-in cellulose. The original plan was to add insulation to the inside of the roof (i.e., the ceiling), but we decided this wouldn't work because we really wanted to keep the existing visual aesthetic of the ceiling.

Insulating from the inside would have meant covering the beams and decking with drywall, which would have been a huge bummer. And since the roof was going to need to be replaced in the not-too-distant future anyway, we decided that doing it now and insulating above the decking was the way to go. We originally considered spray foam insulation, which does have a higher r-value than cellulose (in other words, it prevents heat exchange better). However, I got spooked after doing some research and finding a number of accounts of it off-gassing nasty smells and chemicals, sometimes for years (!). It has been really interesting to learn and think about what "green building" means, and how it can mean different things to different people. Some would opt to maximize r-value, which is a totally legitimate choice, but we decided to take a bit of a hit there to go with a natural product that we knew was completely safe.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Quick pic

Not a lot of new shots to share with you today, because we visited the site sans camera (duh!). However, Brandon snapped this one with his cell phone:

You can see that the crew has added a second floor to the entryway area at right (hooray!) - that actually happened yesterday. Today a whole lot of dirt got moved, as ground of the future garage is much lower and more level than yesterday.

We were excited to run into our fantastic designer, Steven Varnum, just as we were getting ready to leave the site. He mentioned that he is going to feature Turtle House on his website as well, so I wanted to provide a link for you TH junkies. Haha. And in all seriousness, if anyone in SE Michigan is looking for someone to work on a house design project, we absolutely can't say enough good things about Steven!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Entrez mes amis!

Another big change at Turtle House today, accomplished by the carpenters in 90+ degree heat nonetheless! When we arrived at the house this afternoon, this was the view:

See that big wooden box at right? That is our future entryway, where I will meet you to hang your coat up when you come over for dinner. Here's a closer view:

The door in this photo will actually go from the garage to the entryway, while the exterior door will be in the wall at the right side of the picture. This is the door I will gleefully skip through in the winter because I WON'T HAVE TO CLEAN SNOW OFF MY CAR.

Here is Brandon pretending to go to his snow-free car:

And here we both are in the future main entry door. This doorway will lead into a mud room with a big coat closet, and some stairs up to the main floor of the house.

I took this next picture from within the future entry, right by the door I was standing in just above. This is the existing side of the house. I thought it was neat that you can see a line on the concrete wall from where the ground used to be. There is going to be a door in this wall (not sure how they are going to do that?!) which will go from the entryway into the basement. So in the future, at this angle, you will see two doors - the left one leading to the garage, and the right one leading to the basement (everyone with me?).

I can't wait until the garage walls go up, and the rest of the entryway - the house is going to start looking really different!

p.s. Also finished spraypainting the "cookout table" and added a photo to this post, after a bit of a rain delay yesterday!