Island House: Plumbing, Wiring, Insulation

The weather is outside now!

Lots of AFCI breaker required in the latest code update. Costs have jumped from about $8 per breaker to $50 or more, staggering.

A lot of time has passed since our last progress report and it’s time to update. I don’t know exactly how I got so out of date with my blog entries on the subject, since progress on the house is all I really think about!

Here’s what we’ve been doing. Plumbing rough in, wiring rough in, priming and painting siding, seeing the insulation installed, mostly siding the garage and having the propane tank installed, putting up the furring strips for the wiring chase inside and continuing with preparation for the all important electrical inspection.

The plumbing rough in is basically done. We are going to have it inspected shortly, along with the insulation. Just a little more abs pipe to hook upin the kitchen. We did an inside water test and all the Pex lines are holding their water!  No leaks, no problems. We bought a little thing called a “test ball” for our DWV (Drain, Waste and Vents) test and will be able to have that done shortly. We hooked up the septic system to the power source and were delighted to hear it humming along pumping - it has been in ground for 6 years so we were a little anxious about it even though people told us not to be. (Why do we tell each other not to worry about things that are nearly impossible not to worry about?).

We spent four days working outside while our insulation was being done. Our insulation consists of a “flash and batt” method where a few inches of spray foam are put in and then covered over with Knauf Eco-Batts, which we used on the Beekeeper’s and like very much. The house is warmer already, feels wonderful! The first two days we worked from home as the spray foam was going in and the roar of the generator was too loud (and we were in the way). We had to suddenly move out of our rental (story started badly but ended well) and thankfully the spray foaming coincided well with this inconvenience. When we got back on site, we worked outdoors for a few days hanging the siding I spent the previous week priming and painting with my new Wagner power paint sprayer. That was a fabulous tool. I am generally a hand painter, and still prefer trim painting by hand, but the siding is an enormous project and I was incredibly pleased with the way the simple little gadget worked. I’ll be reviewing it shortly and will leave further comments till then. We had the siding ready and painted and needed to side the garage so that the propane tank could be installed. The siding is 8 inch cedar bevel and looks gorgeous. The yellow is rich and sunny, a perfect antidote to a dark day. Today the skies grew heavy and gray, poured rain for a couple of hours. The brightness of the garage was a joy to see though the kitchen windows, it actually made me feel happy just seeing it out there. I heartily suggest painting your house yellow if you live in a northern clime. The siding is easy to work with, very light weight. When time and weather permit, we will hang the rest of what we have on the house and probably finish up in the Spring time as we don’t have enough siding on hand and the weather is slipping into non painting weather. Still and all, never in our builds have we managed to get to siding at all in the first year, so this feels like a great accomplishment!

We have now returned to wiring work. Shawn has almost all of the wire drawn through the house and taken to the panel. This week he will work on cleaning up and tying up the box. It’s somewhat difficult this time around as the electrical code has changed and now requires AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interruptors) on every 20 amp circuit that serves habitable space. Not only are these AFCI’s expensive, but sometimes they have to be combined with a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor). It’s different than our last wiring work and somewhat complicated by the fact that our island resources for these circuits don’t exist and so we have to order online. That’s not generally a problem, but sometimes during a project it takes getting into it to realize what you’ve forgotten to order. Plumbing jobs are famous for this Murphy’s Law related issue, and this electrical job should experience the effects of a heightened Murphy’s Law as island resources are limited. Tomorrow Shawn will assess his requirements to the best of his ability and see what else he needs. A fair amount he’s already ordered, so at least a solid start can be made. Today we had a short day and finished installing the wiring chase/furring strips for drywall installation and also installed the hangers for recessed lighting throughout most of the house. Tomorrow we are going to drop the ceiling slightly in the kitchen and install the remainder of them.

We’re also having someone come and give us a bid on helping us to install the siding on the dormers. We have tried getting up there to do the papering and the siding of them and it is nearly impossible for us as it involves constantly going up and down to do the cutting and with our limited tools for working at heights, this is a real nightmare. We’ll see what he thinks of the job (sounded enthusiastic when he heard it was a small job and he only works with cedar, so so far so good) and hopefully this can be done shortly. We felt a good sense of relief at the idea of just hiring this work out, it was one of the last areas where work at heights was going to pose some real problems for us and slow us down immensely. Some jobs are definitely worth hiring out to professionals. You simultaneously support the locally skilled economy and save yourself a ton of time and stress.

The next two weeks will include finishing electrical and calling for inspection (hopefully not this Wednesday but the following), having our final plumbing and mechanical inspection, and having our insulation inspection. Then we can move on to preparing for temporary occupancy, ordering/installing plumbing fixtures, drywall and finally flooring. We are aiming for a move in date of December 1st. Let’s see how we do. We’ve got about 50 days to go.

Thanks as always for reading along...