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by Marshall Mayer last modified Aug 17, 2012 09:05 AM
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Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 12 votes)
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*That* Goes into the Sales Brochure

by Don Chartier from Rancho Deluxe  (build blog) — Jan 04, 2012 02:33 AM
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Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)

The concrete guy, who will be doing the T-Mass work, has been slightly delayed because he was pouring T-Mass walls at the new penitentiary.

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Taking Shape

by Don Chartier from Rancho Deluxe  (build blog) — Jan 04, 2012 02:33 AM
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Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)

The footings have been poured and now the forms are being set up for the concrete and the T-Mass insulation (the blue stuff). Note the connectors, which I'm told are poor thermal conductors (that's a good thing), that make sure the insulation is in the middle of the wall and tie the two concrete walls together. The structure in the middle of the photo is the master bedroom, which is somewhat separated from the public space. The idea here is to let people visit without my being there, allowing them the run of the house without me having to make my bed or pick up the towels. Not the most cost-effective design decision, but peace of mind is a wonderful thing.

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Color

by Don Chartier from Rancho Deluxe  (build blog) — Jan 04, 2012 02:38 AM
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Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)

There's many a ton of concrete in this beast (in polite company around town it's called "the concrete house"; I don't want to know what other, more judgmental labels have been attached to it). That's a lot of gray.

So we're going to break up the gray concrete walls with siding, gray siding. Darker than the concrete--pretty much a charcoal gray.

I'm toying with more of a barn red, which has caused long conversations with my architect. He's not 100% against it, mind you, but also isn't sure it makes sense. During the discussion, he pulled out a photo of a Steven Holl (one of the reigning starchitects) building that's all red (bright red). He terms this choice "intentional", which on reflection hurts a little--so my choice is random?

So, time for more input: charcoal gray or barn red. Remember, this siding lasts for 40 years.

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Higher. No, *Higher*.

by Don Chartier from Rancho Deluxe  (build blog) — Jan 04, 2012 02:38 AM
Editorial Rating: 1 2 3 4 5
Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)

It's gettin' up there. Above is the view from the Southeast. The grey box to the right is the basement for the guest wing. The wood forms in the foreground are for the master bedroom's basement and the taller forms to the left are for the high wall sections on the South and North sides that will support the shed roof. Here's the opposite angle, from the Northeast. Again, most of this is basement wall. The grade will come right up to the top of the wall on the right, which will support the curtain wall facing West.

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OK, that's high enough.

by Don Chartier from Rancho Deluxe  (build blog) — Jan 04, 2012 02:37 AM
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Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)

We've finally topped out the concrete, with the flatwork remaining. The above view (Lucky included for scale) is from the West, with the top of the nearest wall being ground level and the base of the curtain wall. The large wall parallel to it defines the East edge of the public space. From the Northeast, the ground level on the left is the kitchen, and the study will be above that, with a door to the terrace over the guest wing and some windows. From the East, the box in the foreground is the garage, featuring pre-cast concrete planks (the slabs with the holes in them). We're using these to better support the "green terrace" that will go on top of it. This terrace has a few things going for it: a softer, more natural view from the master bedroom, a cooler garage, and less forceful water runoff in rainstorms. And, if I get my act together to install a graywater system, free irrigation water.

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Thanks for your input. We're going in a different direction.

by Don Chartier from Rancho Deluxe  (build blog) — Jan 04, 2012 02:35 AM
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Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)

As for that poll on what color of fiber cement we should use for the siding (Barn Red or Charcoal Gray), um, never mind. The reds we looked weren't going to work well with concrete, and the combination of charcoal gray, concrete, glass and window frames couldn't come together, no matter what we tried. Plus, the charcoal gray that looked halfway decent was getting real dark, and we were in danger of this place being called "The Black House." I'm not particularly concerned about resale, but this is nuts. Maybe next time, expensive Swiss imported siding... So, we're moving to the more conventional, safer one-step-short-of-cliché cedar, but not the cedar shakes you're familiar with. This will be what some people call "channel siding", where the boards are long and thin, and not beveled, but are ship-lapped and offset so that there's a narrow (half inch?) channel in between boards. Probably horizontal. To keep this from becoming rustic (shudder), we'll use select, no-knot cedar and galvanized aluminum trim elements to make sure it's really clean. Everybody, including Barry the Builder (Bob wasn't available), seems to be happier and somewhat relieved. I'll budget for periodic maintenance.

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Going Vertical

by Don Chartier from Rancho Deluxe  (build blog) — Jan 04, 2012 02:34 AM
Editorial Rating: 1 2 3 4 5
Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)

I got to witness the first big concrete pour on Thursday--very impressive. There must have been 9 or 10 concrete trucks showing up every 20 minutes or so, for over 3 hours of pouring. It was hot and it was humid, and the crew worked their butts off. It was also somewhat humbling to find out it took a solid week to set up the forms to accomodate the T-Mass insulation, the wire reinforcing mesh, etc. Concrete guys probably like corners less than any other building trade, because it's a beast to get every form perfectly square with all the zigs and zags the walls make. Sorry guys! The construction economies I had expected ("I'll just pour the T-mass walls and I won't have to insulate, paint or install vapor barriers" would seem to have disappeared. Aesthetically, t-mass was still the right way to go, and I still expect to save money heating and cooling the place due to the tightness and the thermal mass effect of the concrete. Above is a panoramic photo taken 2 days after the pour, comprised of 5-6 regular shots, so don't be thrown by the bowed walls that are artifacts of the stitching-together process. There were some glitches with the aggregate hanging up and creating some voids, which is an issue with the above-ground parts and particularly those on the inside, so we'll have to come up with a touch-up approach that looks authentic and not "appliqué" – my architect's personal bête noir.

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Glimpse of True Potential

by Don Chartier from Rancho Deluxe  (build blog) — Jan 04, 2012 02:34 AM
Editorial Rating: 1 2 3 4 5
Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)

The excavation has been filled in and all the vertical concrete is done, with the flatwork remaining (or maybe it got done this week, I'm not sure). Ted, the architect, shot this perspective from the Northeast, which really puts the structure into context and, for me, gives me confidence that this design is actually going to work.

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I Have Wood

by Don Chartier from Rancho Deluxe  (build blog) — Jan 04, 2012 02:37 AM
Editorial Rating: 1 2 3 4 5
Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)

The concrete work is now done, and the conventional framing has begun, using 2x6's so that we can stuff more insulation into the structure. The green stuff is called "Greenguard Raindrop" by Pactiv (which also makes Hefty bags), and is new to me. It's a building wrap that, unlike Tyvek, has channels that will allow any moisture that gets behind the cedar siding to drain out to the ground. It supports a "rainscreen" approach, which says "I know that I'll never be able to completely prevent moisture from getting in behind my siding, so I'm going to make sure that that space behind the siding can breathe and drain out the water." That's the theory. Stay tuned.

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New Decision

by Don Chartier from Rancho Deluxe  (build blog) — Jan 04, 2012 02:35 AM
Editorial Rating: 1 2 3 4 5
Average Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 ( 0 votes)

This is the approach from the car court, going up to the front door; on the left is garage. This was intended to be a concrete "step ramp", that, unlike a set of normal stairs (we don't have enough rise to go with the long run) would have a "step step walk walk walk walk walk step step walk walk walk walk walk rest" (I'm winded) rhythm. Nor is it a straight ramp ("wheelchair races at 5, everyone"). Yes, it's narrow. I've decided to like it. Also, note how the path leads up to and aligns with the window. Ted, the architect, wants you to notice this important detail, which is why architects make the major coin. So Ted is now suggesting that maybe we leave this path just as crushed stone. What do you think--see the poll at right.

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this website is for sale

This website will undergo significant changes in 2020.  First, the domain name has been sold. Visitors will not be able to find the site at livemodern.com after the new domain owner publishes their new website. In the meantime, we are looking for a buyer for the content, someone who wants to continue the mission of the website. If that is you, contact marshall [at] livemodern.com. I will provide details.

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