Plumbing and Radon Mitigation

Posted Tue, 09/08/2009 - 20:39 by kpbadger

From all indications, today was another busy day for the electricians and HVAC crews.  However the most visible progress for the day is the plumbing and installation of a radon mitigation system, so today's post will focus on those two items.

Plumbing (including drain water heat recovery)

Today the plumbers installed our Power-Pipe (which is explained in much greater detail on our Drain Water Heat Recovery page). The folks at Dave Jones plumbing were cooperative with us on this install, arranging the drainage so that all three bathrooms, including all showers, drain through this system.

They also installed the supply pipe and vent for the hot water heater (natural gas). The plumbing in that area is a little bit congested, and will become even moreso when the second hot water heater arrives. However, we are keeping all this stuff in a small area to maximize the space for finishing the basement.

Radon Mitigation

Radon is a radioactive gas that’s invisible and can neither be smelled nor tasted. It is produced from a natural breakdown of uranium in soil, water and rock and can contaminate the air you breathe. According to a recent National Academy of Sciences study, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. today behind smoking.

A sealed sump pit was a requirement for Energy Star qualification of the home. A rough-in radon mitigation system was good for a couple points on the Green Built Home checklist. The total charge to us for the sealed pit and the passive system was $500.

As it turned out, Focus on Energy offers a $250 rebate for an "active sub-slab and moisture management and ventilation system" -- and the cost to us to add a fan was about $200. Thus, the option to add the fan was cash-flow positive, so we got the complete solution up front.

As for the attic fan, we located it right next to the attic access, over the master bedroom closet. The fan is supposed to be virtually silent, but over the closet and toilet room, that doesn't matter as much. The average fan is also expected to last 7-10 years, so this location is much more convenient for servicing when the time comes.

Electrical, Plumbing, HVAC, Framing, ...

Posted Thu, 09/03/2009 - 21:08 by kpbadger

This morning I met with Matt and Modern Heating & Cooling at the house. We discussed placement of the geothermal heat pump, ducts, and thermostats. I also picked up the housings for our LED recessed lighting at Madison Lighting, and brought those out for the electrician. Tonight, under the light of the setting sun and the rising full moon, I came back for picture time.

The "punch list" contained many of the issues that were discussed yesterday with Laura during our Energy Star visit.

I also took a video this morning as Madison Gas & Electric was digging the trench for the gas line:

Today was a busy day for us, both at the lot and away from the lot.  In chronological order:

Construction Loan Closing - Finally, the construction loan is closed! As somebody on a forum that I visit had posted:  "You should buy your agent a gift; construction loans are very unforgiving.  Tons of work and the borrowers are usually upset as they are extremely complicated even after they close."  Kristy from Jim Pope's office slogged through a bunch of painful paperwork and largely kept us insulated from it; for this we are very appreciative.

Energy Star Visit #1 - At 2:00 PM we had our first appointment with Laura Paprocki. The main purpose of this visit was to identify opportunities to insulate and seal the house better. She had a lot of questions for Matt and a lot of recommendations for both Matt and the insulation contractor. We already knew that contracting her services was a good investment, but after this meeting there is no doubt.

Electrician's Walk-Through - The most eagerly anticipated meeting of the entire construction project for me, since I have very specific requirements and seeing that they are met is one of the most significant reasons why we are building a new home. Dan Flanders spent 3 (!!) hours with us, making sure that all of our electrical and data wiring would be to our liking.

Installation of Windows - During the Energy Star visit and the electrician's walk-through, the windows were being installed.  I joked to my wife that this is the only time that Windows will be installed in our home.  (Get it?  Hint: we only use linux and Macs.)

Other work - Plumbers and HVAC were there as well. I meet with them tomorrow though.

That was quite a mouthful but as I said, busy day. Here is today's installment of pictures.

Video tour of the second floor

Posted Tue, 09/01/2009 - 22:59 by kpbadger

Today's work at the house was the beginning of framing the deck/patio, some finishing details on the ceilings of the bedrooms, and the start of the rough electrical work. Since none of that lends itself to particularly interesting still photos, here is a video tour of the second floor of the house.

A few last framing details

Posted Mon, 08/31/2009 - 20:33 by kpbadger

Today, the framers kept busy making the small changes that we discussed with the Ackers last Friday night.  These included cutting one of the joists over the stairs to make an angled piece, raising the head clearance from 6 feet 4 inches, by a few additional inches.

They also raised the windows in the guest bedroom by 3 inches to avoid a conflict with the pitch of the roof.

And they were quite busy in the basement, installing our staircase and getting ready to install the 2x4 framing over the cement wall.

We added continuous R-5 foam insulation around the entire perimeter of the basement's cement walls, upon the recommendation of our Energy Star consultant. This is both to stop heat loss and for moisture control. The "foam sandwich" was installed below the stairs already.

The windows arrived today. They're all wrapped in boxes, which isn't that interesting. Pictures will be posted when they're installed. This evening we also had an opportunity to talk to one current neighbor, one prospective future neighbor, and Dan the electrician as he was dropping off a trailer for the upcoming electrical work.