Archive | February 2013

Busy Day

Today had a lot of different people onsite. The regular crew did more drywall work, nearly done putting up boards in the main dome. We had a visit from the electric company representative, to see about installing the line from the road. After measuring, the decision was to come underground, falling just in the 150 foot range for no additional charge. It will come through part of Sharon’s woodland garden, but only one plant will need to be moved. That is surprising and good. They’ll be back by the end of the week to do the work.

Also, the crew to install the septic tank system arrived. Since this was a day without rain and the ground had dried a bit since Saturday, it was just the right time before tonight’s storm is due. I feel bad saying this after such a long drought period around here, but I am tired of rain. The man who owns the company lives next door, so I got to meet another neighbor. His son was off school for a holiday and came along to help his dad. He’s going to be a very responsible kid, and a big help as he gets bigger (just 5 years old now).

installing the septic tank

installing the septic tank

After the area was ready, the inspector from the health stopped by and approved it. I’m impressed at how much easier things are with laser levels. They used one for the initial leveling of the site, too. Using the laser level to demonstrate to the inspector that it met all the criteria for depth and levelness saved a lot of time with measurements.

one of two drainage trenches

one of two drainage trenches

This dig required a large hole for the septic tank, then slightly lower, but on a level, is a trench that contains a half round tube of plastic which receives the flow from the tank. This is a better system than the old gravel filled trenches that were used prior to this. Then at a specified distance is a second back-up trench which will receive any flow when the first trench is full. It is actually unlikely to be needed, since it is a home for one person and I am installing as many water saving items as I can. I have a front-load washer and low-flush toilet. The dishwasher is only 18 inches wide, and only will be run when full. I have to admit I got that size for fitting into the kitchen, but since I have one in my Virginia house, I know how well it saves water.

The holes have now been filled in, with plenty of dirt left to level up the planned patio sites. There is one section of pipe to install after the electrical line is in place, then waste system is done.


Two More Inspections Passed

We passed inspection of both electrical and plumbing rough-ins. The crew has been busy with drywall on the bedroom ceiling and walls. Earlier this week they worked on the seams of the drywall on the shell.

The bathroom window is installed and I got a good surprise – I’d forgotten I ordered it with frosted glass on the bottom sash. I won’t have to tack up a sheet until I get a blind for it, frosted glass will be enough for a little while. I figure a blind will help with blocking heat, keeping it inside in winter and outside in summer, plus it will absorb sound echoes in a room with little furnishings like a bathroom.

frosted window

frosted window

More rain Friday and Saturday, then expect it again on Monday and Tuesday. I am so glad the crew has plenty to do inside now. It will soon be time for painting. I plan to use a neutral wall color and accent with blue. I like a couple of gray shades, may put a lighter shade in the bath and medium in the main dome. With white and black cabinets and furniture, that should pull it together. It won’t be as saturated as I like, but it will look very good. We’ve explored a tile store and have dreams of gorgeous (and very expensive) tile baths and back splashes. My kitchen is small enough that it might get a fancy tile. The bath will probably only get a stripe of the glass tiles. My floors throughout will remain concrete, but it will be painted with epoxy paint and have the paint chips for a spot of color. If this holds up well in garages, I figure it should do very well inside a house.

I have a special item, a small spot beside the bathroom is the back of a triangular space behind the kitchen stove and dishwasher, and it will be a broom closet. Below it are wiring and pipes, but it is tall, so handles will fit in all right. A little niche will be more convenient than digging into the coat closet, and it will have a door to hide it.

Broom Closet

Broom closet next to electrical panel

Next Inspection Time

We have an inspection scheduled on Thursday for the rough-in electrical and plumbing, and framing. Although the outer walls / roof do not require framing, there are the entryways with doors and windows, plus interior walls between bedroom and living, and the two sides of bathroom.

The solar tunnel in the toilet and water heater side of the bathroom is roughly installed – enough to see what kind of light I’ll have in that side without a window. It’ll be so much better than having to turn on a light in the middle of the day. I will have a wall light for nighttime. The shower and laundry side will have a three light fixture over the sink, plus a small chandelier over the center of the room. I found one at IKEA that is LED and all plastic, so it should be a good choice for this room. From there, I also found a small sink, approximately 16 x 16 inches, with a matching tall cabinet 8 x 18 inches with a mirrored door. It should be very good for holding lots of things in a small space, leaving plenty of room for the laundry area against the outside wall. My foreman built a four foot high wall to make the space flat for washer and dryer installation. Because of the curvature of the wall, there is not room for stacking units in this small dome, but there is room for side-by-side. For the present, I will have simple shower stall walls, with plans to tile it later. The window on the end is large, and high enough that I will have a blind from the bottom up and be able to leave a couple feet open for plenty of light and no compromise to privacy. The window does face the road, where enough brush has been cleared to have a good view of the street. We will plant a screening garden.

kitchen - wired and plumbed

kitchen – wired and plumbed

The kitchen has had a small change from the original plan, as my foreman put in an angled wall to meet the side wall as perpendicular. This is where the range and dishwasher will go, as the door needs to open without hitting the wall. In the small triangular space, he has wires and pipes, and at my request, will build a shelf/floor over that and put a small door on the side beside the bathroom door. I will use it for a broom closet. I am utilizing every bit of space. It helps that I have lived in a travel trailer. Those things are jam packed with storage, so I can see lots of usage of corners. There will be about six inches between the wall and range, too small for a cabinet, so I plan to keep a folding step-stool there. A step-stool will be necessary for reaching the top row of cabinets. I am using a double row over the sink base, as there is only 48 inches width, but about 12 feet height, counting the knee wall across the storage loft.

Waiting for Spring

A note from the resident gardener here. In the sparse days of balmy weather this February, I have been working outside. A few weeks ago I had the posts put in to make rustic cedar fences on either side of the driveway entry. The cedar had been saved from trees on site that needed limbing […]

Drier Weather and Progress

The weather started improving – the crew has applied another coat of concrete to the outside of the bath/laundry dome. The interior walls have been framed in and the electrician and plumber have been out. The electrical, for now, has been completed, and plumbing will start next.

working on more outside concrete, and new electric meter prepared

working on more outside concrete, and new electric meter prepared

The electrician installed the outlets and switches as per the plan, then we discussed what additional I wanted and he suggested. As he said, adding extra is much easier now than later. Since I have been living in a house built in 1940, I certainly realize that. When I moved into that one, I got a surprise when I found no outlets in the bathroom for my hairdryer. They didn’t do gfci outlets then, and had fewer electrical appliances. For the cottage, we even have a coaxial-cable outlet in both living room and bedroom, definitely a newer addition to house wiring.

With the laundry, bathroom, and water heater in one room and the kitchen nearly beside it, plumbing should be relatively simple. The sink cabinet and shelving I bought turned out to require a change in the door opening between the main bath and the side with the water heater and toilet. Originally the vent stack was set into the concrete slab where we now need the doorway – we didn’t know at that time, so a little re-do is now needed.

bathroom, with toilet, storage, and water heater to the right of the wall - shower, sink backed up to the wall, and laundry to the left of the picture

bathroom, with toilet, storage, and water heater to the right of the wall – shower, sink backed up to the center wall, and laundry to the left of the picture

My kitchen cabinets will be ready in about 2 weeks, but it’ll take another 2 or so to get a solid surface counter with integrated sink. I love not having a line around the sink and really want that option. In order to get me into the house earlier, my foreman said he had a sink at home that he could mount in a plywood counter to pass final inspection. That gets me excited, as it sounds like I may be moved into it in another month.

east side of cottage, dining room

east side of cottage, dining room

east side of cottage, kitchen

east side of cottage, kitchen 



living room with coat closet to left, next to entry door

living room with coat closet to left, next to entry door

storage loft, with wall and more electrical lighting and outlet boxes

storage loft, with wall and more electrical lighting and outlet boxes – it is high, with ceiling height of 9 feet in bedroom



Observing Nature

We are in the midst of about 3 more days of rain. A bit dreary, but good curl-up-with-a-book weather. I have noticed more critter activity on rainy days.

I am enjoying bird watching this winter. Sharon has quite a few feeders, plus lots of shrubs and trees to attract them. It is nice being outside the city and seeing so many more. I have noticed a difference in which ones stay around for the winter this much farther south – still seeing some bluebirds and robins, both insect eaters who left Roanoke for better feeding grounds. I have only seen a few juncos, so I guess they stay farther north, since I often saw those in small flocks on snowy days. There are a lot of cardinals, mourning doves, crows, blue jays, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and house finches year round, and sparrows of differing varieties. I see a lot of white throats now.

I’ve seen woodpeckers: downy or hairy, pileated, red-bellied, and flickers. Of course with open fields and pastures we see turkey vultures and red-tailed hawks.

We don’t have a pond, so no waterbirds, but the nearest shopping center has a small flock of gulls hanging around the parking lot. They must get fed, or I would expect them to move the approximately one mile over to Lake Keowee.

There are many squirrels and chipmunks, which excite both cats and dogs. With lots of oaks and some pecan trees, I expect we’ll always have them.

There is a large burrow at the back edge of the cleared meadow, where we are pretty sure the groundhog lives. We know there are skunks, rabbits, deer, and foxes nearby, and probably opossums. We are taking this into consideration before we decide to have chickens or bees – not sure what these will attract. Any plants are bad enough to attract deer – I suspect they will munch on anything at least once.

Sharon wants to try flower farming if there is a market in the area. It will need to be well fenced, maybe even keep an outdoor guard dog for chasing deer away. She’ll be posting more on gardening. My plans run to building planters around the patios and keeping elevated containers, plus a keyhole garden for edibles. I’m saving various scraps from construction for my keyhole garden. Here’s some pictures I found in a search – lots of different materials can be used.


French Drains Completed

The French drains and driveway clearing are done, but it is messy. With red clay all over, and dampness to make it sticky, our shoes and tires are gaining weight. It’ll be so much better once spring growth starts and mulch will probably help. Once the dome is completed, there will be little traffic, as I don’t always go out daily, both the permanent driveway to and through the meadow and the place the construction people have been using will have a chance to re-grow grass. I think the driveway next to Sharon’s house will sift the stone to the top, or she may be able to rake off some of the soil on the top. The actual trench was dug between tire tracks but extra dirt was smoothed over all of it. Some plants that had to be moved across the front of the house have been re-planted and soil smoothed to her satisfaction. There are a few days of rain predicted for next week, so we should see a dry basement this time.

French drain around dome is filled and covered

French drain around dome is filled and covered

We are having a couple of really nice days with warmer nights, so the crew is making progress on the bathroom dome. Sharon and I made a fast trip to IKEA on Sunday to get the bathroom sink and cabinets, dining room table and chairs, and some lights. I have spent time assembling the past couple of days.

progress on bathroom dome

progress on bathroom dome – one tier to close the top

There is a pasture along the back edge of the property, and with the leaves down, we’ve been trying to see one of our houses from the next road over, which we travel weekly to haul recycles and trash. We both have spotted the dome now. It sits higher and not quite where we expected. Maybe it just seems more real to see it from another view.