Tuesday, February 26, 2013

One Year Walk Through

This is going to be one of those posts our earlier followers will appreciate, but our more recent followers may not find interesting. It's the first of a series of posts we'll be writing as we review our home building process now that we've been living here a year. For those of you skipping this post, no worries, we'll be back soon with photos from the slew of projects we completed in the last two weeks.

We don't know if it's typical for builders to do a one year walk-through, but our builder scheduled a walk-through with us today to discuss the issues we've discovered in the year we've been living in our house. We thought it might be interesting for those who have been following along to see what items are in our punch list one year later.

Three points worth noting when reading the lists below:
  1. Overall, we are thrilled with the quality of our home. The items on our walk through list are fairly minor and minimal. Charis has been fantastic to work with in the year since we've moved in, and has quickly come to fix things along the way. 
  2. For the most part, Charis has been aware of the items below, and in many cases, has already been working with vendors to fix them. The final walk through is meant to make sure that both we and Charis are working off the same punch list. 
  3. The man doing our walk-through, Kurt, is a much needed addition to the Charis team. He came on after our house was complete so this was his first time seeing our house. For that reason, his response was often that he need to go back to Todd, our contractor, to discuss. We expected this and because of our builder's proven history in making things right we didn't take these responses as inaction.

General Building:
  • HAVC Pressure: We have had various error messages on the control unit. The furnace itself is working without any issue, for the rare times it needs to kick it. Our house maintains a constant temperature extremely well. The initial recommendation from our furnace company was to use a lower MERV value filter, but when we went down from MERV13 to MERV8 we still had two of those pressure warnings. We want to be able to use the MERV13 to maintain the air quality in the house. Action/Response: Our builder will consult with the furnace company
  • Flaps on the bathroom fans: With strong winds the back-pressure causes the flaps to open and close loudly since it's bare plastic against bare plastic. We wonder if a gasket or pad of some sort could be added to muffle the noise. Action/Response: This has been an issue with several houses and they are still looking for a solution. We will also do some research to see what we can learn.
  • Door bell doesn't always ring: We have had several people tell us that they rang but the bell never engaged. Action/Response: First, we changed the batteries. (We should have thought of that!). The bell still worked sporadically. When the doorbell was brought inside, it worked every time. We will check with the electrician about moving the main component closer to the front door which should be easy as the system is wireless...)
  • We have several nail pops: We know these are common as the house settles. They aren't in every sill, but in several of them. Action/Response: the painters will come back to fix those.
  • One of the outside faucets leaks: Small drip, but since it's near the foundation we had our builder take a look. Good thing we have ICF so the water can't penetrate and goes straight down to the weepers. Action/Response: the plumber will replace the broken piece tomorrow.

  • Let there be light: No light switches on the inside to turn on the ligths. Action/Response: There are light switches for the lights on the garage door openers. We just didn't realize it. Oops. Case of hiding in plain sight...

  • The kitchen islands 'flexing' when you walk by: You can hear the plates and bowls rattle when you walk by. Although great for catching people trying to sneak into the kitchen it is not a 'feature' we had on our list. Maybe in 10 years or so, but not for now... Action/Response: The lumber guy is already making plans to add additional blocking to support the joists below the kitchen
  • Floor transition -1 -: The transition between kitchen cork and mudroom tile is too high for our ADA goals. Action/Response: Our flooring guy will be replacing it.
  • Floor transition -2 -: There is 1/2" or so gap between the cork and the transition. Action/Response: Our flooring guy will be replacing it.
  • Glue residue on one of the Quartz counters: There are were several bits of installation glue on the baking center quartz. Action/Response: Canton Cut Stone was able to remove the glue last week.
  • Main sink disposal drain connection loose: The drain connection from the main sink garbage disposal was loose causing water to spill into the cabinet and on to the floor. Action/Response: The plumber was here today and replaced the joint. We are very grateful for the prompt response...and that we have two sinks in the kitchen!

Downstairs Master:
  • Cold draft below sliding door: When you sit on the floor in front of the sliding doors - as we often do while playing with our son - you feel a bit of a cold draft coming from underneath the sliding door frame. Action/Response: Because we have carpet in this room, we can't have a shoe against the door frame. Since this door goes directly outside, we are thinking of pulling out a strip of carpet, laying down a strip of tile and then putting a shoe against the frame. (Note: If money wasn't an object, we wouldn't mind replacing the carpet with cork, but that will wait a few more years until D is in school)
  • Ceiling fan wiring / remote: The current fan is our third fan in this room. The first two were bargain ones from Tuesday morning that both stopped working after a few months. The new fan works, but we can't have the fan on without the light. Also, we can only turn on the fan with the remote, not with the switch. And, when the remote is used, it also operates the fan in our master bedroom upstairs! Action/Response: The electrician will be coming out.
  • Recessed outlets: We would prefer a recessed outlet where we are planning to hang a TV on the wall. This is one we didn't pay too close attention to during the build. That happens to the best of us... Action/Response: Our electrician will bring the outlet with him when he comes to fix the fan, and we can pay him directly for the work.

Leviton 689-W 15 Amp 1-Gang Recessed Duplex Receptacle
Upstairs Master Bath:
  • Rust stain behind left faucet: We saw some rust appear behind the left faucet between the countertop and backsplash. Action/Response: Canton Cut Stone came by last week and resealed and recaulked the granite. The faucet wasn't leaking when the plumber looked at it, but he could see that it had been. He'll check it again when he comes to fix the outdoor spigot.
  • The light above the bathtub is flickering: When we want to use the light above the bathtub it always seem to flicker (no offense to our Dutch readers...). Action/Response: This may be an issue with the kind of bulb we're using, but we should be able to use CFLs. Our electrician will be looking at this, too.

Upstairs Family and Downstairs Master Bath:
  • Caulking by the tub and shower: Some parts of the shoe are not caulked and/or caulked in the wrong color. The parts where the caulk is missing could allow water to seep under the floor cover. Action/Response: The painters will come and redo this.

 Upstairs Laundry:
  • The window needs a screen: For some reason, we haven't had much luck getting the right size screen. It's not a big deal to us, but it will be good to have it in eventually. Action/Response: The proper size screen was ordered a few weeks ago and should arrive shortly.

Downstairs Laundry:
  • Washer / Dryer stability: need something to stabilize them since they bounce around like a hyper-active teenager on hormones. Action/Response: One option is a rubber appliance mat like this.
Rubber-Cal Heavy Duty Appliance Mat
Another option we found are these cork WashPucks
WashPucksEco 8‒Pack Anti‒Vibration Pads For All Washers & Dryers
  • The riser looks unfinished: This was one of the very last things done, and done by a sub with whom communication was a challenge. We should have made a bigger deal then but we were weary of working with him so we put it off. Action/Response: Kurt will talk to our Todd about what can be done.

So, one year later, only twenty relatively minor issues with the house. One was our cluelessness(hello, garage opener light switch!) and another one was a simply a matter of changing our mind (hello, recessed outlet!).

However, we are glad to say that we have no structural/foundational issues at all, and our goal of building a earth-friendly, energy-efficient, universally designed home far surpassed our hopes.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tour: Boy's Room

It's been awhile since I've posted a room tour. It seems there's always just one more thing to do. Niels and I finished several projects in the last few weeks so I hope to have a few more of these going up soon. In the meantime, here is a tour of our newly-completed boy's room.

Our son is now four. He was two-and-a-half when we started building. In our old house, he was still in his nursery, which was a slightly lighter blue and chocolate. His favorite color had been yellow for quite awhile, and while he campaigned hard for a yellow room, we're all happy that we went with blue (Sherwin Williams Scanda, to be precise) because now blue is his favorite color. 

D's two favorite things are trains and books, followed closely by Legos, blocks, planes and rockets. As a general rule, we use our bedrooms mostly for sleeping. Most of D's toys are in the basement, but he can have quiet toys in his room: books, stuffed animals, a drawing board, and occasionally a Lego creation or an odd train make their way up. 

Two things we love about our son are his love of reading and his willingness to take naps. So he spends a decent amount of time in here. We wanted it to be a peaceful place with lots of words to inspire and encourage him to be a boy who makes loves God and makes good choices. 

When we were designing the upstairs, we had the option of making the space below into a retreat area in our room, part of D's walk-in closet, or a space for our son. We chose to make it into a book nook (or a super-secret-hiding place, depending on D's mood). When he's a little older, we may turn it into an indoor tree house, and when he's much older, we can turn it into a desk space.

Our family is not big into clothes. Niels and I decided early on to keep D's wardrobe fairly small since he grows out of things so quickly. We keep the vast majority of his clothes in the dresser under his gallery with underthings in the armoire. 

When he's older and more concerned about what he wears, he'll likely use his closet for clothes, but for now, his closet holds mostly books and a few dressier items and jackets.  

I bought these two laundry baskets on clearance for $5. They're just a little too big for our shelf, but they work well enough for D's spare sheets and sleeping bag (Thomas the Train, of course). The other basket holds his "friends," all the stuffed animals that he no longer plays with but isn't ready to donate.

The walls have lots of juts and bumps, but I think we made the most of them. These shelves hold D's treasures, like photos of his namesakes, a sculpture of a little Chinese boy that I bought when I was in China, a train wire sculpture made by his grampa, and a train made of the letters of his name, which we bought in Paris. The Thomas the Train hooks were much-appreciated gift from a friend.

D's armoire holds his radio, underwear, socks, shorts, and PJs.

I love that the totes and drawers are at D's level so he can put away his own clothes.

Along the side we have a verse and the guide to living we wrote for him for his baby dedication.

Every little boy's room needs a bottle of scary spray to keep monsters, shadows, and any other frightening things a little boys can imagine. (It's water with a few drops of peppermint essential oil). 

The last item on our to do list was this gallery of (mostly free) printables. The good night art is based on the phrases we say to D each night in English and Dutch.

I was very proud of this night stand makeover. It was my first attempt at painting furniture. Certainly not perfect, but much improved from the orangish hue of the previous incarnation.

D's library box is always close at hand and full of books. I bought about twenty of this bins for $5 each at Ollie's. I learned my lesson to buy as many matching totes as I think I will possibly need all at once. It was a good thing I did because they were all gone the next time I looked for them. I made simple labels for all the totes because our son has inherited my love of order. 

Our little engineer loves his train pillows. 

One of the first accessories I found for the room was a lucky find. I had seen this boy's room with the words "soar" and thought it was a great sentiment for boy's room. One day I was at Big Lots and found this sign on clearance for $10! All three of our colors, a plane, and the word soar. Big score for Mommy!

Most things in D's room (other than his furniture) are either second hand or DIY projects. Our one splurge was getting organic sheets. Since D is a good sleeper and has allergies, we coughed up the big bucks for these Pottery Barn train sheets. We are definitely getting our money's worth out of them. 

The ceiling fan above D's bed is the Hunter Ashlyn 42" white ceiling fan, with the blades and pull replaced by Hunter blue/green airplane blades.

The ABC/I Heart You art is a carry over from his nursery. I bought it at Target about three years ago. 

Above the book nook hangs an international mobile I found while I was still single. I love that it has a Dutch person on it. 

Wrapped around the three walls of the nook is this alphabet train from the dollar store. 

I bought these letters from Hobby Lobby and attached them to the wall with magnets after a certain someone tore them down. If I had known about command strips, I would have used those instead, but the magnets are fun, too. 

D is very particular about the books in his book nook. On the left side, he has his favorite books on top, with his "God" books on the lower shelf. 

The center shelves are all about transportation, especially Thomas the Train.

The shelf on the right holds his Dutch language and cultural books. He has many more books of each category in his closet and we rotate them around fairly often.

Under the Dutch shelf is this personalized art display

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Printable Gallery Wall

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the newest gallery in progress. Today is the big reveal! 

We had a big wall in our son's bedroom that looked a little sad and disjointed. When we first moved in, we put the mirror above his dresser. A few months later I made the good night art and we quickly hung them up so they would be easy for him to see from his bed. 

I've been waiting for inspiration to strike. It came one day when I noticed how our little word-obsessed guy was reading every sign and note around us. I thought I could take advantage of his eagerness to read by making a gallery wall with some of the great printables with scriptures and words of wisdom I've pinned on Pinterest. I love the idea of him pondering these thoughts as he dozes off.

When I last left off--why is it that gallery walls always turn into long, drawn-out projects?!--I had printed off the printables I wanted. (Click here for my printable pinterest board). 

I knew I wanted to use the bright Nyttja frames. Since our nearest Ikea is two hours away, I had to wait a bit until we could take a road trip. I really like these frames in kids areas because they have plastic instead of glass.

Once everything was framed , we took the printables, the mirror, and the good night art to our room where we had space to determine our layout. (To the right you can see another project in process, the cardboard stacked letters.)

Once we thought we had a final layout (we ended up flipping the top and bottom rows), Niels drew out the measurements. 

First we centered the dresser and mirror.  

Next, we added the good night art. And wondered why we didn't do this in the first place.  

Once again, we used command strips. We used large strips, but medium would have been better. 

I think to command strips hold the frames more securely than hooks. Important for a boy's room, where said boy has learned to climb on his dresser. 

I kind of eyeballed the placement so it's not perfect. Niels was manning the camera and the only photo he took of this part of the process was a nice close up of my backside. We'll just keep that to ourselves.

Side view. I think I did pretty well with lining up the frames.  

The gallery matches the frames we already put up on D's armoire.

The six frames on top were all found online. You can find the corresponding links below the photo.

The bottom five prints were created by me. I wrote about them in my previous post, but I've included the non-photo ones here for your convenience. You can right click to save these for personal use. 

Here are a few other printables I considered:

Now we have everything from Pink Puppy Paper Company
Responsible via ZeroDean
Pinned Image
I prayed for this child from Enduring Arts
Be Strong by Clingspiration
So, for those keeping track at home, this is gallery number eight. (Number nine is currently laid on our kitchen island, number ten is sketched out, and number eleven is still in the photo-gathering stage). I really do have an addiction. I blame Pinterest.

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