Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Foundation almost done

Once the footers were poured, the crew came back and formed the foundation walls.

After the forms were in, the concrete pump truck and 3 concrete trucks arrived to pour the foundation walls. It was fascinating to watch the pump operator walk around with his remote control to move the pump arm where he wanted it and control the flow of concrete.

The pump arm could reach from the rear of the house all the way to the front.

Foundation poured - rebar sticking up will be bent over once the gravel and insulation are in. It will hold the final slab to the walls.

The foundation was filled with gravel (a lot of gravel). Then the plumbers came to rough in the plumbing that went under the slab. After that was inspected, the foundation was filled with gravel (a lot of gravel), then a layer of foam insulation board, then a vapor barrier. Next a grid of rebar was formed. After that, I installed the tubing for the radiant floor heating - All by myself! I'm so proud of myself! I put a pressure test on it - no leaks! Now the concrete is ready to be poured for the slab.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

906 - Open House 12/13/09 from 2 - 4 PM

We are putting the finishing touches on this week - the house has been landscaped (soon the grass will sprout!) Just a small bit of exterior paint touch up to go.

I love these front porches!

The fence will be done in a few days! Very cool metal fence like the rest of the Oakwood Cottages homes.

Comfy living room - gas log fireplace, built ins, crown moulding, dark oak floors.

Glass mosiac backsplash, granite counters, stainless steel appliances - What a beautiful kitchen!

Dining room - open to kitchen and livingroom - great floor plan for entertaining!

Master bedroom plus 3 more - lots of space. Loft on second floor. Laundry on 2nd floor.

Come check it all out Sunday 12/13 2-4 during the Oakwood Christmas Tour.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A dream starts to be come reality!!!

Ok, so I'm a bit of a green freak. I've always thought God had a better plan than fossil fuel! I have a cabin in VA that is powered by the Sun. I love the outdoors, and think we as humans have been given a mandate to manage it well.

So, I've wanted to build a solar powered/heated house for a long time, but I also like living in downtown Raleigh - not a lot of solar stuff going on in urban areas. Then I realized that when I bought the 6 dilapidated shot-gun houses a few years ago I got two long narrow lots behind them that happened to have a direct southern exposure. The only problem was that the lot with the street frontage is only 20' wide at the front. Current zoning code requires 30'.

Tell me I can't do something, and I'll almost go nuts trying to figure out how. Guess what - in Raleigh if a lot's boundaries pre-date zoning, it is permisable to build a single family house on that lot as long as you can meet set-back requirements.

One hurdle down. The next problem is that with a 20' lot, and 15 foot combined setback requirements for the sides that only would leave room for a 5' wide house! Well, low and behold - another loophole! My lot happens to be in the New Bern-Edenton Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District (NCOD). This is a special zoning district designed to encourage development that preserves the character of the neighborhood. Many existing homes are built right up to the lot line, so current NCOD rules allow zero lot-line building. So now, I can fit a 16' wide house with 16" overhangs!!! With a direct southern exposure on the long side of the roof!

So, I've designed a house that is 16' wide (narrow for a house, but not for a room - so design a house with no hallways to waste space) that will be certified green built and certified Energy Star. It will generate more electricity from the roof than it uses, and will heat it's own hot water for domestic use and radiant floor heating. It will collect rain water to be used to flush the toilets, do laundry and water the plants. It will have an open floor plan and be liveable but not a McMansion. I will be able to have my urban cake and eat it too - with free sun heating my house and generating my electricity!

This week Tri-City Contractors dug my footers. They were inspected promptly and....

The concrete trucks arrived. A hard-working crew quickly filled the footer trenches.

Next week, after the footers harden, they will form some concrete walls to fill with gravel. Then they will install rebar grids. My radiant floor heating kit is on it's way. I'll be looping 4 separate zones of pex piping through grids to be buried in the concrete slab. On sunny winter days, the sun coming in the southern exposure windows and the fluid running through the roof top solar collectors will heat the 8" thick slab during the day and the heat will be released at night. I can hardly wait for the next step! This will be a long process though - I plan to finish the exterior of the house in 4 or 5 months, then slowly work on the inside - doing as much of the work as possible myself. I will move in after I've lived in my current house for 2 years and can take the tax break. So check back - I'll try to be better about posting regularly since this is such a cool project!

906 Oakwood - almost there. Anyone want to buy it?

Rhumba Orange. That's the color of 906 Oakwood - the last house on the corner of Oakwood and Seawell. The block has undergone quite a change in the last 18 months - almost no more prostitution and drug deals, a row of totally renovated, brightly colored houses, within walking distance of Raleigh's Main Street, and a really nice place to live.

This house has a very similar layout to 908 Oakwood - see previous post. The 3rd floor is larger - 2 full bedrooms and a bath, but other than that it's basically the same. Dark oak floors on the first floor - gas logs, open floor plan. Same exposed brick fireplace with gas logs.

The kitchen has Maple cabinetry, granite counters and stainless appliances. It will have glass mosaic tile on the backsplash. It's quite a bit larger than 910-916's kitchens because the house is bigger and more people will likely live here!
This house has all of the green features of 908 Oakwood as well - Icynene spray foam insulation, no VOC paint, Rinnai tankless water heater, high efficiency heat pump, energy star windows and doors and light fixtures. CF bulbs. So far, my power bills have averaged $31 per month next door!
The second and third floors will be carpeted. The second floor has a Master BR/Bath with access to the 2nd level front porch - great views! Also on the 2nd floor is a guest room with a full bath and an office/loft area. The third floor has two full bedrooms and a bath. Very useable space - a lot of livability for the square footage. Views of DTR from the 2nd and 3rd floors.
This house should go on the market in about 2 weeks for $324,900; but if you want to get a jump on the market email me and I'll be happy to show it!

908 Oakwood Finished

I've been a bit delinquent in posting, but that's because I've been busy! After working really hard on another house over the spring, I got 908 Oakwood done, then went on vacation to Peru and hiked the Inca trail. I moved into this house in early August and LOVE living back in the 'hood.

908 and 906 have a different floor plan and are larger than 910-916. That is because the original footprint was wider - closer to a square, so there was a bit more design flexibility. This house has 3 bedrooms plus a loft/office area and 3 1/2 bathrooms.
I am really enjoying the backard - when I'm not on the front porch! The back yard is a small area but very nicely landscaped. When the shrubs grow it will have some very nice natural privacy screens.
The living room is really cozy - not too big, but big enough and open to the dining area and kitchen - great floor plan for entertaining. I love the gas logs too! This house was spray-foam insulated, so it takes very little energy. My peak power bill (with A/C running full blast this summer) was $51. Not bad for a 1500 sq ft house. Last month the heat started cranking and I thought the bill might be a bit higher - $23!!! YEAH! GREEN BABY!
Speaking of Green, I did some other green things too. Bamboo floors, no VOC paint, low VOC woods in the cabinets, a paver-stone driveway with little runoff, of course Energy Star light fixtures, windows and doors, and CF bulbs and a Rinnai tankless water heater ($12 gas bills - cooking and water heating).
I like having a dining room table - missed that while living in 912 Oakwood. I like having folks over to eat.

The kitchen is significantly larger since this is a 3 br home. I used granite in this house rather than concrete - just because I didn't have time to make concrete counters again.

It's nice having an office with lots of natural light and a view of the DTR skyline!

The master BR has access to the 2nd floor porch on the street side - overlooking the cemetary - very pretty.

The TV is upstairs on the 3rd floor with a full bathroom - the roofline makes it cozy, and skylights keep it bright during the day. Very relaxing room.

So, at this point, there is one more house to go as far as renovation - 906 Oakwood, and we have just broken ground on 316 Seawell - but they are topics for separate posts!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The story continues...

It has been a long time since I've posted, but the work has continued!

This is 908 Oakwood. The other 4 houses are all occupied, one is by me! I'm living here since I sold my big house and am downsizing. I'll eventually move into 908 - if all goes according to plan.

Currently it is framed, most of the siding is on, the electrical, mechanical and plumbing is roughed in.

This house is really cool - a great use of space - I can't wait to move in. It was just insulated - and I'm using spray-foam insulation now. It's amazing to watch that stuff go in, and although it's reall expensive, it is supposed to have a 2-3 year payback period.

These houses are quite a bit larger than 916-910. 908 will be 1513 sq feet and 906 will be a tad bigger.

The difference is that in 906 there will be a full shed dormer on the East side so that we can get two full bedrooms and a bathroom on the 3rd floor.

I really like the 2nd floor porch - that is off the master bedroom.

The neighborhood has really improved since the first 4 houses occupied!

It's been a long time (4 months!) since I last posted, but the progress continues on Oakwood Avenue.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

908 Oakwood Begins

908 Oakwood and 906 Oakwood will be a different, larger layout. These houses will have a full second story and a finished attic. The first floor will have a LR, DR and Kitchen as well as a 1/2 bath. The second floor will have a Master BR and a second BR with its own bathroom. The master will have a porch overtop of the front porch. There will also be a laundry center and study or play area.

The third floor will have two bedrooms and a bathroom.

These cozy, well designed homes will be energy efficient as are the other homes in Oakwood Cottages. They will have higher-end finishes and be a great addition to the neighborhood.

Another one finished and sold!

It's been a busy few weeks, but 910 Oakwood is finished! (Except for replacing a mysterious broken window! - Opps!)
Joe & Erin have moved in - best wishes for Happy Years together in your new home!
This is the rear of the first 4 houses - what a difference!
Joe & Erin have a kitchen that is a different layout - it's great! The kitchens in the other houses were designed to allow for a side-by-side washer dryer. Joe & Erin elected a stack unit accessed from the hall area under the loft, leaving their kitchen a bit larger - no island, two walls of cabinets, more space in between.