Archive for December, 2011

Roof In Place, ICF House Shines

December 23rd, 2011

“Oh the weather outside is frightful”… uh frightfully warm and unseasonably temperate for this time of year. Basking in the glow of 70 degree temperatures we revisit the ICF house which has made a tremendous amount of progress over the course of the last few weeks. Roof trusses on all levels are now set and being sheathed with 5/8″ CDX plywood in preparation for the self sealing weatherproofing surface to be apply prior to the spanish tile roof panels. Some of the finer details are becoming evident such as the pointed top windows leading up to the stair tower and the view to the waterway afforded by the open sliders in the rear. The windows for this huge structure ordered months ago arrived yesterday and will be delivered for installation after the first of the year. Once the building is “dried in” all the interior functions can begin. For those of you who have been following the construction on this house, it is easy to understand the significance of having the roof in place. it is the cultimation of interpretation, designs, and planning to create the look which is unique to this particular house.

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What I Learned In 2011

December 22nd, 2011


  • The year 2011 has been a humbling learning experience of economic recessionary fallout coupled with a flailing construction marketplace. Survival became the operational mode replacing “break even” as the goal as the year progressed. Looking at the year in retrospect, it would be a shame not to review some of the lessons learned as we progress into 2012. In no particular order I share my thoughts and opinions on the year that was:
  • Apples to Apples: Whenever faced with unexplainable pricing differences diversions are made to put questions into the buyers conception of what they are receiving against what you are quoting. One can assume if you are sophisticated enough to locate the fruit stand perhaps you will be able to distinguish an apple from a orange.
    Going Vertical: A trite phrase used as construction slang referencing when a project is starting. I am now thinking going horizontal precedes verticality because foundations spread before they grow.
    The Value of a Relationship: Prior to 2011, this was considered priceless. Post 2011 it has a dollar figure of $500.00. If your buyer has dealt with you and feels comfortable with your service this is the exact figure your loyalty is worth over the competition.
    Reinventing the Wheel: Used to be considered a waste of time and effort and was generally discouraged. Post 2011 this is a battle cry and essential for survival. Those of us that remain have spent a considerable amount of time altering our approach, methodology, and product lines better suited for today’s market. If it doesn’t work you had better fix it because there is someone else around the corner waiting to replace your outdated techniques. We reinvent ourselves to remain viable.
    Going Deep: Besides the obvious football and sexual innuendos, this references the ability to offer products and services outside of the previous boundaries we confined ourselves in. Below the surface of the product offerings, modern customers expect more for their money. You must find opportunites outside of your comfort zone to be successful, whatever they may be.
    Cash is King: Not only is it king, it is the whole providence and country. Property ownership and material possesions are nice but just don’t compare with cold hard cash. It is king because it rules.
    Quotes, Pricing, and Budgets: Quotes are individual job prices of scope for a prescribed period of time. Pricing is unit numbers for very specific short durations of time designed to titillate buyer’s interest (sometimes referred to as “hot sheets”). Budgets are quotes which can be held for longer periods of time that are more comprehensive in scope and generally entail a greater range of products and services. Hint: always ask for a budget if you do not actually have the job in question. The net value of each of these pricing methods is zero. Although they may lead to orders, only orders have value to salespeople. Hint: for the best pricing possible tell the salesperson “this is an order”.
    Busy is Good: Try not to be put off by a salesperson whose phone is ringing and feels compeled to answer it. There is generally a reason someone is in demand and that is a positive thing. Would you prefer to order something from someone who is not busy? When it is you on the other end of the phone calling to verify details, would you prefer to talk to the salesperson or voicemail? Fine line here requires contemplation between being rude and responsiveness.

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    Wagon Wheels

    December 19th, 2011

    Just like out of the Ben Hur movie, the horse driven chariots wheels with razor sharp knifed edges revolve with the propendency to dislodge the driver from position. Ok so it is not really all that earth shattering, merely the circular red oak booth tables designed to seat eight (each booth of course). Red oak is an excellent choice for the table tops at the open pores stain and finish easily, allowing for a evident tight knit pattern. The booth from previous posts are stained and installed in the restaurant awaiting the companion pieces shown here. There is another large project afoot in the shop as demonstrated by the receptionist desk fabrication. Still find it interesting more productivity is seen in a diverse shop environment, where a variety of projects working at once are preferable versus singularity of concentration. This is not contrary to how the mind works though. Having many “irons in the fire” seems to encourage creativity and productivity. Reasonable solutions require contemplation and overview only acheived from stepping back from the creation and allowing spontaneity to arise from the process. Some of the greatest scientific discoveries were emitted from minds at rest, such as the double helix, which came to James Watson whle playing tennis. A perfect example of this is when someone is trying to recall a fact or figure and cannot seem to draw it into their conciousness. The harder the effort the further the answer is from arriving. Then, without the concious effort of any type, the mind is continuing to process the information. The answer comes without effort usually when the mind is actively involved in other processes. Many talented individuals report creative moments while being “in the flow” where concious effort is not involved.

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    Morton’s Salt

    December 13th, 2011

    Well you know the Morton Salt adage, “when it rains it pours”. Jimi Hendrix started it off with the Rainy Day imagetry and from September 13 of 1972, Yes album “Close to the Edge” follows right behind. Funny story, about five or six years ago I “commissioned” my artistic son Michael to paint the waterfall image for me. Now out of the blue he tells me he is trying to finish it by Christmas as my gift. I am now convinced unity conciousness is at work here. Great site I found this review on.

    Wanted to share some of the wonderful nuiances demonstrated in the ICF house as the wood framing of the interior moves forward. The same picture I have shown now for the third or fourth time now is a mirage of arches. It is the view from the master suite all the way through to the wet bar. I love the framing from arch to arch. The one I call “grotto” reminds me of my Catholic upbringing where a statue of Mother Mary was placed. This has depth and flat surfaces continued by arched planes that give it symmetry and flow. I do not know what the owner has in mind for this space but it lends itself to making anything appear magical if you ask me. The arched theme is present in the hall leading from the main house to the garage. The ICF walls are slotted to receive the 5 1/4″ x 14″ parallams which makes what was special ordered incorrect in length. The measurements shown on the plan were face of wall to face of wall (20′-0″). The beam needs to be reordered 28′-0″ long to compensate for being “threaded” through the 11″ walls on both sides for bearing. That’s going to be a tough one to explain.

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    Rainy Day

    December 12th, 2011

    Rainy day, dream away. Let the sun take a holiday. Flowers bathe and uh, children play. Sit back and groove on a rainy day.” Jimi Hendrix 1968

    Lack of sun don’t mean much at all really. Looking for aesthetics, reflecting on architecture and nature to define meaning today. So if I am a bit melancholy it is because I am a light child bathed in the warmth of the moment. I look for realism in darkness, shadows can ill afford to cast. The Live Oaks clustered together were a chance encounter having gone a block or two further than I should have looking for a jobsite. They offered the opportunity to “sit back and groove on a rainy day”. Yeah got to admit I could hear Jimi strumming the chords in my mind, connecting the dots of the tree leaves and melody together as a concious entity. If it weren’t for the incessant shrill tone of reality the phone clamoring, I might have enjoyed those brief fleeting moments more. There are bills to pay, people to respond to, demands to satisfy, all of which require diverting my attention elsewhere. I have learned though, to tuck these moments into the recesses of the mind, replayed at will in dreams, idle thought, daily recollections, all of which are the same. Collections of reality and fantasy roll together and become lifeblood which travel in and out of conciousness on autopilot, creating the tapestry we call life. The hope is to not “be” anything other than the receptor of these trancient fluxtuations of information and energy. To allow meaning to assimilate from the randomness of the projections. To allow life to form miraculously without human design and intervention into a force greater than we could possible invent.

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    Furr Downs And Critical Junctures

    December 11th, 2011

    As progress continues on the ICF Stands Tall home, we can witness the process of furr down ceilings, often mentioned but infrequently illustrated. Two ceilings in this house have special celings created by furr downs, the study and the dining room. As shown here, floor trusses separate the top and bottom levels of the house. When you have a 10′-0″ ceiling height, it is possible to create these unique looks by “furring the ceiling down” to a 9′-0″ height. In one room you can see the crossing of faux beams creating a 12″ tray ceiling between the upper ceiling and the newly created lower ceiling. In the other room the more traditional spacing of faux beams adds character and depth to an otherwise smooth and flat apperance. The radius ceilings between the rooms create meaningful transitions reminiscent of Roman Baroque style to the home. This effect can be used in preexisting situations as well to add value to a home on the market, or simply to add elegance for the sake of changing a rooms apperance. Roof trusses generally have 10 psf of dead load for sheetrock or whatever the ceiling required for the house. This is more than enough to support this type of exteraneous framing and the sheet rock to boot (figure 2 psf for sheetrock). Looking at the critical junctures of this particular home, the left side where the treated deck meets the roof system required some special planning. Decks need to be dropped at least 4″ below the floor surface of the home in the interest of appropriate draining of water, not to mention splashback during storms. On this left side, we had roof trusses bearing at the same point where the beam required this 4″ of difference. This deck will be completely and throughly waterproofed but necessary precautions are still in effect. The right side deck photograph is behind the steel beam location and is independently supported by 6×6 treated posts. We are all excited about the roof system being swung and nailed into place, the cultimation of weeks of design and planning.

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    Bench Pressing

    December 11th, 2011

    Well you know it is basketball season, and the bench was my favorite spot to spend the game. Actually these are the booths for the restaurant rennovation in the coffered ceiling post featuring poplar. All of the work that can be accomplished in the shop is done there. Transportation is certainly simplier than creating shop conditions required for optimum fabrication techniques. Things tend to become crowded in the fabrication phase of construction for a shop with limited space, but assimilation and continuity are valuable resources that cannot be overlooked. Quality control’s watchful eye caught an imperfection in material which will be remedied prior to sending into the field for installation. Staining and finishing are accomplished in a controlled environment both for safety and uniformity. When our products are released to their final destination, they have been checked several times for accuracy, material quality, stain and finish throughness. The coffered ceiling in the beginning phase of the rennovation, along with the trim and aspects of the wine racks and bar were best conducted in the restaurant itself. Whatever can be done in shop always will be done there limiting exposure to outside intervention and uncontrollable situational factors which may affect the overall quality of the finished product. Installation is an important part of of business but should simply be that process alone.

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    Proof In Details

    December 4th, 2011

    Visiting several jobsites leads me to the conclusion details are the fabric of change. How one building material is acceptable under certain constraints is totally different with another material. Take for example the 22′-0″ wall of the ICF structure against the wood wall 20′-0″. The ICF wall made of concrete and steel has no difficulty handling heights such as these. The wood wall requires specific details to meet requirements to obtain these heights. The 20′-0″ wall shown here at Smithfield 10, is constructed out of parallam columns and headers utilizing the Framer’s Series lumber to meet the qualifications of a free standing wall of this stature. How one cosmetically achieves the look of a radius opening with lumber in the field varies greatly when compared to the “kerfed” arched opening of the wall panel timberstrand. They look the same completed but how and why one is more cost effective depends on the vantage point of where the construction is taking place (in the field or plant). The completed Lakes 49 shown here looks the same from the outside as the previous building, but as documented, Lakes 49 uses the latest and greatest Energy Star requirements of in line framing and new insulative additions. It isn’t till you “lift the hood” to examine the details where important differences are noticed and appreciated.

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