Cool outside, comfortable inside

There were several items checked off the long 'to do' list this week.  Among them include:  all the siding installed and ready for paint, some kitchen and bathroom cabinets installed, kitchen and bathroom sinks ordered, garage door installed, steel cap on garage roof installed, mudroom and bathroom floors prepared for tile, kids' bathroom floor tile down, master bath shower water-proofed and ready for tile, drywall and taping done in the basement, hardwood flooring delivered, bedrooms measured for carpet, plumbing for the tankless water heater finished, and the house is now connected to Minneapolis city water!  Phew. 

Cooler fall weather kicked in this week, and we had our first glimpse of how the solar passive house behaves.   It was chilly on Wednesday and Ryan closed all the windows in the morning.  When we entered the house in the evening, we went from the cool outdoor air into a comfortably warm environment inside the house.  Considering the house is still not connected to electricity or gas, we were enjoying heat from the sun, retained by the super-insulated walls and air-tight construction.  This is so cool, or as our 8-year-old would say, this is epic!

Light, Bright and Fun

This week, builder Ryan was busy painting the interior while his crew worked on the siding.  There's just one side of the house to go, and then the exterior will be painted too.  Meanwhile, carpenter Keith was busy off-site building our kitchen and bathroom cabinets.  He delivered most of the base cabinets on Thursday and Friday and will be back on Monday to install them.  Once installed, they will be measured for the fabrication of the quartz counter tops.  We also placed the order for the appliances.  Exciting!  The second glass back door was installed yesterday, and now the main room is extra light and bright.  We went with "chalk white" for the main room and stairwell paint color, and included fun pops of color throughout the house.  Check out the latest pictures!

Everyone asks when we're moving in, and it's looking like mid to late October.  There is a long list of tile, trim, flooring and other finishing work to do, not to mention important things like getting the house hooked up to electricity, gas and water!!!  When city workers insist that you already have a water meter, but clearly do not, all bets are off.  Let's hope we get that little detail worked out soon! 

Paint, Siding, and Doors!

We're very excited to see paint adding color inside, siding going up outside and gorgeous exterior doors being installed!  We're using zero VOC paint and, wow, what a difference that makes for the air quality.  We can take the boys over to see their newly painted room and not worry about them breathing the solvents.  For the siding, we switched from the planned cement board to using oriented strand board (OSB) siding on the recommendation of our builder.  He likes the SmartSide OSB product and thought its strength is better suited to span the distance between the rain screen spacers, which are 24" on center.  With half the house and the whole garage finished, we think the siding looks great and are working on finalizing the paint colors for the exterior.  As for the doors, we have to say that they were worth the wait.  They turned out just as we had hoped.  The front door was installed the day my uncle Ron and aunt Jeannette came to visit from Marshall, MN.  After giving them the grand tour, my uncle said this is the way all houses should be built.  That was of course after he did his share of teasing the crew that I was timing them during their lunch break.  Uncles.   :-)

Living Roof

A later addition to the scope of our home project was the need to build a garage.  We had originally planned to delay garage construction, but part of the building permit process is a design point system that totals 15.  You get zero points for energy efficiency and 5 points for a garage, so what do you know- a garage is built.

Beyond a 2-car-garage with extra storage space, having a living roof on top was the only requirement we had.  The main reasons were to minimize storm-water runoff, do our part to improve urban air quality with more garden space, and to have a beautiful garden view from our second floor.  We have yet to decide what will be growing on top, but have been inspired by some books and pictures.  We look forward to working on this big gardening project next spring. 

Inspirational pictures to help with the design..

A picture is worth...

The blog has been secondary to summer outdoor activities as of late, but we took the time to document via pictures a few things to share regarding progress:

With all the insulation inside and out, the house is starting to look like a traditional build, but on the inside it sounds anything but traditional.  With the windows closed and all the insulation, you can't hear anything at all.  The pictures below show insulation, webbing, Bildrite, Tyvek, and finally the Fir framing.  Next up on the exterior will be cement board siding and paint!

The window frames received a final round of insulation, since the window/house interface is the weakest part of the window.  To solve that, 4-inch rigid foam insulation was installed around the window and a Tyvek wrap around the bottom.  Once the siding is installed, an aluminum window sill will finish everything off.

Finally, we finish with pictures of the sheetrock going up inside the house making the space well defined and another step near the finish.