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Archive for September, 2009


Keep on Sheetrockin It Baaaaby


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Have no fear sophisticated readers for I shall not carry on. The sheetrock has been hung and the video below shows it in all its gypsum glory.

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Thank You Inspector! May I Have Another?


Sunday, September 6, 2009

We passed our rough inspection. That sounds slightly dirty, but it just means that the city inspectors have approved our framing, electrical and plumbing work. This is a BIG deal. It means that all the work we’ve put in since finishing the foundation has been approved. The next major inspection is the final. That’s the one that will allow us to legally move in. And really, the final is more of an i-dotting, t-crossing thing than a real inspection. The rough inspection is the one where they check the bones and guts of the house before you cover it all up with insulation and drywall.

When the inspector showed up, I was suffering from high anxiety. Literally months of work was being examined. It seems so strange that they let people get so far without checking their work. The day before the inspection I called the building department and asked them what I needed to have ready. They told me that our plumbing system should be full of water at city pressure and that the vents and waste pipes should be full of water as well. I hadn’t counted on that. So I hung up the phone, freaked out, mumbled incoherently and ran to the hardware store to buy stuff. I think that was some sort of Pavlovian response to building stress, since I hadn’t really evaluated what stuff I needed to buy. I walked aimlessly around Orchard Supply for about 10 minutes before snapping out of it and returning home.

In order to test the water system I first attempted to pump it up with air. If the system can hold 20lbs of air without losing pressure, then it will probably hold water. Unfortunately I couldn’t get 1psi of air into it. I ran around the house looking for leaks but couldn’t find any. My heart started thumping and I sensed pieces of the sky beginning to fall. Major leak. Major, unfindable leak. Major, unfindable, costly leak that will take days to repair. I called Bert, my voice trembling, asking him to come over to help. I figured I could pump in the air and he could run around listening for where it was escaping. After hanging up I realized that I had simply forgotten to look behind the fridge where we have pipes that lead to the outdoor shower. Hadn’t plugged those. Doh! Never mind Bert! Sorry! After that, (and after a few more unnecessary freak outs concerning maladjusted valves and a couple more spazzy calls for Bert’s assistance) the system pumped up fine. After days of soldering copper pipe together, I figured there had to be some leaks somewhere. Hundreds of joins are involved here. Either we got lucky or there’s gonna be a surprise water slide in the hallway a couple days after moving in.

Next were the toilets. They are installed in such as way as to make testing slightly difficult. Ditto for the way I had set up the washer dryer. Oh and I had forgotten to link the hot and cold water sides of the plumbing for testing. Oh and did I mention that this was the morning of the inspection? So at 6:30am I had three hours to fix all these problems before the city man showed up. Running. Running. Actually, normally I’m a fairly level headed person, even under stress. Sometimes too calm in fact. But that wasn’t the case this time.

The inspector showed up while I was hooking the hose up to the water system. I had to slowly flush it before applying full pressure. So while he walked around counting roof trusses and matching them to the engineering drawings I filled up several buckets of water from the ass-end of the system. He would ask me about whether we were planning any additional counter space, and then I would run out and see if the water was sputtering out or flowing out smoothly – showing that the air had been fully evacuated from the pipes. He knocked on the vents to check that they were full of water and walked around looking for any leaking water. He checked the bolts on my hold-downs (metal brackets that keep the shear walls from distorting). He told me he was going to make a list of all the things he wanted me to fix in order to pass. I asked if he would return the next day to check. He said I should call him when I’m done fixing things and he’d return to sign off on the inspection. In the end, there was no list. He wanted me to move one of my grounding wires over a few inches so that it was more protected on the wall. After signing the permit sheet he said that he almost never passes anyone on their first attempt. I thought I was going to pass out at that very moment. In the end I didn’t finally relax until the next day.

We’ve got some insulation dudes coming to insulate our house on Wednesday. Why are we hiring that out? It turns out that hiring people to do your insulation is cheaper than buying the material and doing it yourself. Weird, but true.

After that is drywall. This is also being hired out. Because hanging drywall sucks. And taping and texturing it is hard. Every single person I’ve talked to about this has strongly recommended getting a subcontractor for this.

Hopefully we’ll have real, non-see-thru walls in a couple weeks. After that… man… we start a new phase of finish work – installing the radiant system, kitchen cabinets, hardwood floors, interior doors, trim, and painting. And we gotta wrap this baby up before the real baby pops. Um… wish us luck – we’ll need it.