Wonky Weather: A Merry December

After the big relief of having the roof completed, we had a few weeks of rest on site as some background things were happening. My husband got started on the electrical in his spare time but other than that little happened of note. The weather in November was blistering cold all month. When December started the weather warmed slightly and work resumed on site with gusto. After a brief refreeze, the weather has been above freezing. We had a few days of bright sunshine and 50 degree F temps. Today there was rain. Boo rain!

First the rough ins for plumbing and HVAC began. (Hurry pick out all the things!!!) While we had thought and generally selected fixtures and bathtubs and all things plumbing, now we had to finalize and order all of it. The choices available are enough to just make your head spin right off. Not to mention trying to balance cost with quality. In the end, we made selections and erred on the side of quality for much of the plumbing, because no one wants a flood indoors! I will keep you all in suspense and show our selections later on during the finishing stage.

On the HVAC side, we had to figure out how to meet the new building code regarding exhaust and make up air (MUA). Due to how tight houses are becoming and because the government loves to add more regulations as often as possible, any house with an  range exhaust of 400 CFM or more is required to have a make up air unit. Also known as a return air unit, it allows for fresh air to enter the house (and gets heated in most cases) to replace the air sucked out by the kitchen vent. I have had lots of experience with these in professional kitchens, including some less than pleasant times spent shivering on the Roast restaurant roof in January, trying to get the heater portion of the huge make up air unit to reignite. Holding down a pilot light button, squinting through a minuscule square of darkened glass, hoping to see a tiny flame so the air blowing with gale force into the kitchen can be heated warmer than the sub freezing temperatures outside. Such fun.

The size (BTUs and dimensions) of my cooktop, the massiveness of the kitchen, and the use we expect in the kitchen led us to select a 750 CFM range hood. So we definitely meet the threshold for MUA, and this is no small additional expense. We hoped to engineer a solution that would meet code and save us some money but in the end, it had to be spent and a large pile of boxes hold the return air that will be installed. Minnesota has taken the federal requirement and modified it, allowing for exceptions and options for their homeowners/builders, but Michigan has not done so (yet) and we are stuck. It will make the kitchen beautifully efficient air-wise so in the long run it will be a worthy expense.

Make up air system

The final cabinetry measurements were also taken and adjustments to the cabinet plan were made to fit them in the unusual angles that the kitchen has, even with it being simpler than the main dome. Unusual angles for the carpenter, unusual angles for the roofer, unusual angles for HVAC, the plumber, cabinet installer, drywaller, etc… no one escapes the weirdness of our house! Well, perhaps the septic field contractor would have escaped them, but it is the same person who did our foundation and basement so he is certainly well versed in the unique aspects of our dear dome. Ah! I can think of one now. The well driller had a very normal process!

Wonky Angles!
The cabinet maker has lovely angles like this to deal with.

This week the remaining exterior work began. Our lovely brick came. I am thrilled to see it start to go on the house and it is exactly what I imagined. The color is Meridian brick’s “Meadow Brook” from their Michigan collection. It is queen size. We chose it because I was looking for a true brown brick in a darker color. I wanted to stay away from red/orange and grey colored brick. My plan was to finish it with a white “German smear” application of mortar on the face. My husband prefers it without, so I agreed to wait six months to apply the finish and see what we think, because the finish is permanent. I don’t anticipate changing my mind however, because the finish is so pretty.

My favorite example on the web of the german smear

Please beware, Houzz is a dangerous site full of beautiful and generally expensive ideas for home renovations and design. Proceed with caution, especially if you are planning any remodels!

The siding choice we made was to install white cement board (Hardie Board) in the few areas where siding would be. We wanted something low maintenance and durable. The trim everywhere on the exterior is white white white wherever we can to brighten up the massive amount of brown shingles that cover most of the house. Except for the front doors, which I am keeping quiet about for now.

As we head into the last few days before Christmas, I am very glad that work has picked back up again on our dome, but am mostly looking forward to next Christmas when we will celebrate within it. Hope your holidays are merry and bright and filled with love and peace.


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