Insulation, and Lots of It

Insulation. It’s not just for thermal resistance and minimizing energy consumption, though that is what first comes to mind.

Insulation – Interior

We used a variety of insulation materials. Exterior 2×6 walls got R-19 fiberglass batten insulation. Interior walls got R-11, primarily for sound-proofing. Amazingly, the batten insulation is so light that it was merely packed in and hung between the interior studs, prior to the dry wall going in.

And, the framing between the second story and the first floor likewise was insulated, for sound-proofing.

Ceiling Spray Foam

Ceilings received R-38 spray foam insulation. As you can tell from this picture, the spray foam is much better at filling all the gaps in the walls, and hence overall a much better insulating material.






Insulation – Garage

And, finally, you may wonder — do you insulate the garage? For a custom home, the answer clearly is “yes.” As long as you have the crews on site and the walls open — as my builder says — the cost is “pennies” (er, well perhaps dollars).  But, you get the idea.

Next stop, dry wall.


Frost Free Hose Bibs

Protecting outside water hose bibs from freezing is not one of my favorite tasks. Since this is a second home, I was interested in a way to avoid wrapping pipes or dripping water, especially since a cold snap can occur unexpectedly in the Winter.

Frost Free Hose Bib Detail

We found these frost free hose bibs, which are more commonly used up north. The key is the actual water cut-off valve is located at the end of a six inch shaft. When mounted, the cut off is located inside the insulated wall, rather than exposed to the cold weather.

Mounted Hose Bib

So, when cut off, the water is not exposed to the cold, and any remaining water in the faucet shaft just drains out. A great solution to freeze problems.


Pest Tubes

Here is an interesting innovation in pest control. Our builder has installed small distribution tubes in the walls, that can be used by the pest control company to spray for bugs. Seen below, the system consists of the thin green lines, looped near the white sewer lines. The lines have small perforations, so when spray is injected, the lines evenly spray the chemicals inside the walls.

Taexx Pest Control Distribution Lines

The lines are installed along all the exterior walls and interior portions where there is plumbing. Obviously, these are best installed during new construction, prior to dry-in.

The pest service technician does not even need access to the interior of the house to spray. The lines all converge at a central location where they are connected to exterior ports, which are secured and accessible to a technician outside the home.

Secured Taexx Port Box on Exterior Wall

Here is a picture of the port box on the outside of the home.

Taexx system details can be found at this website

Progress in Pictures

Once the framing starts, the progress is really fast. Here is the progress in pictures:

May 13, 2017 Porch Posts Installed

Front with Porch Posts

April 28 – Exterior Paint and Metal Roof

Paint and Metal Roofing

April 7 – Windows, Roofing sub-base, Board and Batten.

March 31 – Porch Framing up

March 24 – Exterior Vapor Barrier Started

March 18 Second Floor Joists and Roof 

March 14 – Framing Starts

February 16 – Foundation poured

Air Conditioning and Duct Work Challenges

Here is a cautionary note, if you are building a two story house. Plan ahead for the location of the A/C heating duct work, in the framing for the second floor.

Duct Work Challenges

In our case, the duct work details were not part of the architect’s plans, and it seems the normal process is to work the details out after framing is complete. That works if you have a house with a large attic, but here we had only about 18 inches of space in the joists to run first floor duct work. That led to some changes and compromises in our final layout.

Here’s the story. We planned to put the downstairs air handler in a closet in the garage, since we ran out of interior space in the house. While it struck me, the owner, as a strange location, it was the best to maximize the interior space in the house. But, after framing the house, we had a walk through with the A/C subcontractor, and he immediately made it clear that the garage location was a non-starter. It would not provide needed access to return air and the duct work exiting the plenum did not work with the framing. So, we lost a hall closet, and had to encroach about a foot into the master shower for the air handler.

Second Floor Joists

But, a bigger concern was where to locate the duct work to serve the first floor rooms? Obviously, the duct work needed to run in or under the second floor joists. But, as you can see from this picture the joists are so tightly spaced there was not room for the main duct between them. Lowering the hall ceiling was aesthetically not an option. We debated demoing/moving one joist, to create extra space, but that posed structural and cost issues. We also have a triple glulam beam that runs the length of the house, and presented a barrier to duct work crossing from one side to the other.

Ultimately, our builder found a nice solution.

Duct work running under the orange Glulam Triple

The main duct would cross under the glulam triple in the master shower, and we would lower the shower ceiling about 15 inches. We also lost about 12 inches in the ceiling of the master closet, where another run of duct work crossed under the triple, the orange beam shown in this picture. This fix was much better than exposed duct work, or lowering the ceiling in the main hallway. But, the take-away is to plan ahead, especially for the major mechanical features of a new home.


Structural Timber Trusses

One of the nice details of the Family Room is the ceiling height of about 22 feet, and large timber trusses, supporting the roof. The base of the horizontal truss is about 14 feet above the floor. Here is the look, installed.

Timber Trusses Installed

For a better perspective, here is the original design, which we changed slightly to lower the point where the lateral braces attach to the king post.

Vaulted Ceiling – Truss Design

The trusses are fabricated from Canadian Fir, rough-hewn with some distressing. After installation they will be stained.

Distressed Timbers

Here is the tie-in to the wall, note the five 2X6 supports, below the truss.

Tie-in Detail

Finally, a look from below, up through the trusses (the 2×10 boards to the left are just temporary walkways the framers were using).

Truss View From Below

Framing Part 1

We are now starting to make some real progress, with the start of framing. The exterior walls are all 2×6 lumber set on 16 inch centers, to provide strong support for the second story, and better insulation. Foundation plate sill is pressure treated, and tied to the foundation with anchor bolts. Weather has not been cooperating, it has been wet and that has slowed us down a bit, but the framing crew works pretty much other than when it is pouring. This video is a tad long, but bear with us, you can get a real sense of the progress now, and we have been awaiting this for many weeks.