Wrap. Steel posts. Tie rods. Insulation. Shelving. Siding. Drywall. Stairs. Lots. Of. Periods.
But first some drone footage of the house from the very end of November.
Every contractor who has worked with our roof has given us a hard time about the roof’s pitch. I can stand a little bit of complaining, though, because that pitch was a core design element of the house and I think it looks awesome. One lesson we’ve certainly learned is that trades will often push for decisions that make their jobs easier rather than produce the right design outcome. I have come to love the contractors who take pride in their work and are excited to tackle challenging projects because they are excited about the outcome.
These lucky guys got to wrap the house and rappel at the same time!
One of the most important elements of our tight envelope is the use of spray foam insulation. This method is becoming more common by the day. It’s more expensive than the old batt insulation, but our math said it would pay for itself relatively quickly. All of the companies who bid the job told us we were crazy for the thickness of foam we were requiring. Their rationale was that the most important aspect of insulation is to eliminate air flow, so additional foam doesn’t do much for you. After consulting with our architect and several experts, we settled on a compromise between the original plan and what the installers were recommending. We investigated spraying the insulation ourselves, but after reading countless horror stories online, we hired a company to do the work.
We originally wanted closed cell spray foam, but we ended up using open cell foam. In AZ you don’t get as many of the benefits of the more expensive closed cell foam, so it was hard to justify. We put 11″ in the roof deck and 5″ in the walls.
After the insulation was sprayed and cured, we decided to put in the extra work required to touch up the insulation. For several days we burned through cans of foam filling in little holes and cracks. We figured if we were going to do it, it was worth doing right.
The two main volumes of the house are being covered in white board and batten siding. Despite protests from the installers, we insisted on smooth battens. For some reason, it’s difficult in AZ to find smooth trim products. The battens we specified were more difficult to install than the faux wood product, but there’s no question that they produced the right look.
We delayed designing and building the stairs as long as we could because I wanted to see how the house was coming together first.
The original design called for the stairs to turn toward the front door. In the end, we decided that was a waste of square footage because it was more efficient to have the stairs run straight.
We designed through a process of trial and error. I conceptualized them as a suspended set of glulam treads and risers. The idea was to have the first few steps protrude into open space and appear suspended. Then they would cut into the wall and appear suspended there as well.
Our framer was also our stair carpenter. First he installed traditional stringers in the hidden portion of the stairs and attached the glulam treads and risers. Then he fabricated the suspended steps using the glulam and heavy, industrial bolts. Once they were installed, though, the top two steps were a little too bouncy. We then installed a wood stringer in the middle of the back side of the steps. This did the trick! We know there is some risk that the wood will loosen up over time and begin to creak or give a bit. But we love the design so far and will deal with the wear and tear as it occurs.