Group 6 4 minutes Read

progress report: week 19 (part 1)

Lauren Zerbey

Electrical inspection…passed! Framing inspection…passed! Insulation inspection…passed!


Lots to report on this week…so much in fact, that I decided to break up the weekly post into two parts. Kyle and I both took off on Friday and with inspections scheduled and a looming drywall start date, we got a lot done. And it feels so good.

Hello light at the end of the tunnel…is that you?


1. We (finally) wrapped up the electrical work and Kyle got a big gold star from the inspector (ok, not really…but I would have given him one).

2. For our doors and windows, we’re doing a simple casing around the frame that the drywall will then butt into. This meant trim had to go up pre-drywall. When we did the bedroom and bathroom two years ago, we used MDF that we then painted white. This time around we decided to go VG fir (with a coat of benite and a few coats of clear finish).

We even found FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) fir at our local lumber yard. For consistency, we redid the bathroom and bedroom door casing too. I’m really pleased with how it turned out – it really pops against the white walls. We also decided to install the boards a bit proud of the drywall (that just means it sticks out further). It’s a nice touch.

To properly undercut the jamb pieces, we used one of our cork flooring samples.  So exciting to visualize the final product…we’re getting there!

I really love the fir sill at the kitchen window and couldn’t resist transferring the lavender from the bathroom for a quick photo. Actually, I think this image is a good metaphor for our current situation – focus on the end goal, not the big pile of crap in the background. 

3. As mentioned last week, one of our “before drywall” tasks was to rough in for the stair guard rail/cabinet. The base of the cabinet is composed of four IKEA upper cabinets (we chose those since they’re shallower than the base cabinets). The cabinet boxes are designed so that the top and bottom pieces extend about a 1/2″ out to provide clearance for the mounting rail. Since we weren’t going to use a mounting rail here, Kyle installed a piece of 1/2″ plywood within this recess which provided extra rigidity.

Quick side note – Kyle loves basset hounds. Each Christmas, as a sorta joke I used to get him a day-by-day basset hound calender…which really is a great way to start the day because they’re just so funny. Anyhow, a few years worth of bassets and we had a nice stock pile of scrap paper that we use for dimensions, notes, etc. During a remodel, a little comic relief can go a long way.

Here’s the semi-completed unit. After the boxes were structurally tied together, we mounted them on a plinth made of 2x4s and then installed another layer of 3/4″ plywood  to the back as a substrate for drywall. Kyle then installed another layer of plywood above the cabinet boxes to serve as a substrate for the open shelving. (More on the design of this unit later.)

Here’s a glimpse of the backside that will be sheetrocked over. Since we had some concern about lateral forces on this guy (i.e. – people leaning against it) we thoroughly fastened the assembly to the floor to resist an overturning moment. Literally. No one wants that kind of party foul.

One of the challenges of a small, open house is figuring out where the various system components will go. We only need one return grille for our forced air system, but we didn’t have many options as to where to put it. Ideally, it would be centrally located and away from the kitchen. We also wanted it to be wall mounted instead of just a hole in the floor, which would inevitably get clogged with dog fur. But who wants to see a return grille? So we decided to incorporate it into the base of the stair cabinet. Essentially, the two cabinets on the right have an open area underneath that acts as a plenum. Eventually, we’ll put a custom grille/toe kick over this opening and air will travel through that and then down into a hole in the floor and through the return duct in the basement back to the furnace. The toe kick cover will be removable so we can periodically get down there and vacuum out any errant Bailey fur.

4. With the framing inspection complete, it was finally time to insulate! Our house may look like some version of Smurfville now, but it’s so gratifying to finally have a fully insulated house. With the hot temperatures this weekend, we noticed a perceivable difference right away (even though we tend to think about insulation during the winter time, it also helps to keep the heat out during the summer). We used recycled denim insulation from Ultra Touch (purchased at Ecohaus). It’s a bit more expensive than fiberglass but, 1) it doesn’t make your skin itch like crazy, 2) it’s not damaging to your lungs if you inhale it (although we always wore a mask because really…who wants blue boogers?)and 3) it’s the dream product for old or remodeled homes, where the stud spacing is nowhere near consistent and so there’s a high level of “customization”. We ended up buying a couple of bundles each of 16″ and 24″ batts and the scraps were easily incorporated into other areas or shoved in various cavities here and there so there’s virtually no waste.

We also insulated all of the interior walls for sound attenuation. It certainly can’t hurt and acoustic privacy is one of the few hard-to-solve challenges of living small. (We did buy some r-30 fiberglass batts for the attic side of the vaulted ceiling, but the rafter bays were consistent and they came in a plastic sleeve which made handling a bit better.)




Bailey, what do you think this is? Fashion week?

That’s it for now…stay tuned for part two where we dive into the world of reglets and bead board!