Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Bella Terra: Built With Chicken Wire

From Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Foley, Alabama       Three larges boxes of cultured stone were delivered to our lot on August 16th. David's text to tell me was thrilling. As the daughter of a building contractor, the smells of construction and the sight of building materials are as exciting to me as going to a potluck dinner at a southern country church. I couldn't wait to see the stone and examine them.

Straight stones in the red stripe box. Corner stones are in the blue stripe one.

Content of the boxes! 
Stone installation for the casita began on August 22nd. David explained that the stones aren't real but cultured. They look real! Some are "L" shaped for use on corners.

David's stone workers use a unique application technique for adhering the stone to the Hardie board... chicken wire.

Chicken wire is attached to the Hardie board.
Rico is the master of stacked stone application.
Marcus attaches the chicken wire to the Hardie board. 
The first of the stones are set.

"Before" stone application
The contract is well beyond the half-way point with a targeted completion planned for the end of September. I sure don't see that happening.

Bella Terra: The Devil In The Details

From Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Foley, Alabama        It is hot in Foley. Every day. Not just hot in the sun but sweltering hot, even in the shade... with unbearable humidity. My clothes are soaked with perspiration within minutes of stepping outside... sun or shade. Thunderstorms roll in regularly and that adds to the awful humidity. Some days I swear I smell mildew outside. My morning walks are a faint memory. I wouldn't dream of even trying it in this heat.

We are shut-ins most days until after dinner when it's cool enough to venture out for a golf cart or convertible ride. Lexie and Ozzie are becoming less stressed in the convertible. The wind bothered them the first few times but I've cut their hair to keep it from whipping around their faces and Wayne's short, low-speed routes are helping them adjust.

Pups and Pops ready to roll out for an evening ride to the beach.
The video below was taken before I cut their facial and ear hair. 

But all that's outside the realm of the real summer project: Construction. It continues at a fairly steady pace that I think is slow but David, the contractor, doesn't. Work that's hard to see: metal strapping, outside trim, reinforced joists, beams and the like are important but not easily seen, though on close look, the frame has a tighter, more finished look.

Kevin Trussel
Grill Island, Pensacola

Kevin Trussel, of Grill Island in Pensacola came by Tuesday morning, August 15th to see what modifications will be needed to the outside kitchen. It is time to build the frame and attach it to the porch wall. This will be done in late August. Then while he is on vacation the first week of September, stone workers will cover the frame in stacked stone. Once Kevin returns, plumbing, gas and electric will be attached and the granite will installed.

The bar will be a backward "L" shape along the porch wall with the grill centered. An exhaust hood has been added between the windows. Kevin measured the 12 foot length and examined the gas, water and sewer lines already in place. We are good for liftoff.

Grill hood will be centered between the windows. Gas, water and sewer lines are in place. 
Next day, Wednesday, August 16, Kevin returned with this revised diagram. My excitement was short lived when he pointed out that we had boxed ourselves into a problem with the devilish details. The diagram below shows placement required by the already cut windows and power for the exhaust hood.

Once the 24" counter and an additional 12" of raised bar space are added to the outer edge of the outside kitchen,
a mere 18" of space is left for seating. 

In centering the windows and exhaust hood on the porch wall, we backed ourselves out to the edge of the porch at the bar. Here's how: The porch is a 12' extension on a 4" raised portion of the concrete pad. The grill hood outlet was placed halfway, at the 6' point with two window openings cut equidistant from the point of the grill hood.

The grill hood would dictate placement of the grill directly below and that would force the bar out so far that a mere 18" of bar stool space was left.  I had a mental picture of friends on bar stools falling off the the tiny 18 inches of seating space. How could we remedy this error? I spoke with David by phone. He was calm and unflappable. Later that evening he sent "It's all good! We'll take care of it" in a reply text.

And so the problem was remedied. After several seemingly good ideas we settled on this: We will take out the window nearest the casita and enlarge the other one.  With a simple snip, the water lines can be shortened to fit farther in and the gas line is flexible. This should reduce the wall side of the bar by a foot or more. David and Kevin will meet to confirm it will work. That was easy.

But then I thought about how nice a couple of hanging pendant lights would look over the bar and conveyed that request to David. No sooner asked than done!  I ordered the pendant lights and the electrician installed the wiring.

Right window was completely removed. Left one will be enlarged slightly.
Water, sewer and gas were moved to the right.
Portals for pendant light directly over the bar are added but might have to be moved a bit. 
It's a bit easier now to see how the vaulted ceiling will look.
HVAC tubing has been installed over the shower stall. Metal plates were added  where the wall joists meet the roof.
This will protect our little casita in 140 mph winds... I hope.  

The living area wall.
18 inch metal straps are attached with at least a dozen nails. 

...and so progress does go on and on. Even the tiny, hard to see details.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bella Terra: More Casita Roof, Windows and No Doors

From Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Foley, Alabama      Window installation began on Monday, August 7th. What a thrill. Here are a few of the most exciting pictures.

Monday, Aug 7. Living area and garage windows are in! 

The bathroom has just a tiny horizontal window. It faces south... toward the preserve.
It will not require a hurricane shutter. 

All casita windows except the small bathroom one will require hurricane shutters. The casita itself is built to withstand 140 mph wind. The hurricane shutters will be attached to the frame just below the small top window. I'm told they are heavy and difficult to install but look nice and are adjustable.

The kitchen window also faces the wooded preserve to the south.
The storm shutter will be affixed just below the upper section of glass.

The garage window opens to the west. 

The shower stall was delivered Monday too. It's lying on it's stomach in the grass a and looks like a big dead elephant. It's embarrassing but I'll live with it.

The giant 8' front glass double doors and sidelights are expected to be delivered any day. Without the doors, the impending framing inspection will fail. David said today, however, that he will move forward with the framing inspection even with the failure to give Steve (the carpenter) time to remedy any other items found in the inspection.

Windows have been cut into the porch wall now too. These will have wooden louvers -- no glass and, of course, are not required to be hurricane proof. An "L" shaped bar will be built against the wall -- a gas grill will be on the side counter and an exhaust fan will be attached to the wall over the grill.

So this is our "look" for today, Tuesday, August 8. Metal roof installation is expected be complete next weekend.

A last minute electrical addition was made today to add two downward lights on the sides of the outer window.
The preserve behind us is home to coyotes and we are afraid they catch us by surprise at night with the little dogs.
I snapped the window pictures while Wayne waited in the topless car with the pups (in the picture below). Bless his heart, he is so "not interested" in the building process. Gnats were really bothersome so I hurried back for our late afternoon ride in his convertible. Gee he loves that little car.

The shower stall was removed from the yard and installed in just a couple days. It's a tiny thing -- about the size of the one in the coach.

Honey! the bathroom is shrinking!

Then on Monday, August 14, the huge Gazebo kit was delivered. It is as large as a pickup truck! It will be erected on the raised pad at the bottom of the picture. The pad will be stained before the gazebo is built.

The roofers returned Friday and resumed the application of metal roof panels but it still is not complete. Wayne and I began looking around at furniture and appliances to get an idea of what we'll want to buy when the time comes for that important finishing expense... er... I mean "touch."

Monday, August 7, 2017

Bella Terra: Electric and Plumbing

From Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Foley, Alabama      Wednesday, August 2nd marked the end of the fourth week of our contract construction. The sheathing inspection by the City of Foley was done today and passed -- I don't know what "sheathing" is. Framing is nearly finished but I was wrong (in the last post) about the next phase of casita construction. My final sentence in that post was that we'd be getting roof, doors and windows next. In reality, the electric wiring, plumbing and roof would be next.  That's whats covered here.

July 31st. See the light coming through the roof? That plywood gap resulted in Steve firing of one of the framers. Surprisingly, he didn't see to the remedy right away. I sent this picture to David who will see to the remedy.
Guess the inspector will catch it if it isn't repaired properly. 

The casita roof is covered in a product that has thick black adhesive to hold it onto the plywood.
A TV will be mounted in the shaded corner of the porch. Another will be inside the casita.
This will bring our total TV count to six -- seven if we put one in the gazebo. Way too many.
 I cannot operate any of them.

The electrician began stretching electric wire through the rafters and down the walls August 2nd. I made an executive decision to determine location of the porch TV. Considering bar, grill  and window placement, seating and late afternoon sun, I chose to forfeit one porch light and hang the TV in the eastern corner. As always, Wayne isn't interested in making the decisions, but expects I'll make the right ones.

August 2 -- The Island Electric truck remained on site this evening.

On August 2  the recessed can lights were mounted into the vaulted ceiling of the casita. 

August 2  inside the garage. I suppose the electric box will be to the right on the white paper. 

Wayne is standing in our single closet August 2.
 The tiny closet measures  just 2.5' x 2.5' and opens from the bathroom.

We will forgo the porch light on this side of the door to mount the television.
Two windows will be cut into the wall and an exhaust fan will be mounted in the center over the grill.

On Monday evening, David sent a text to say plumbing would commence Thursday and the roof installation was scheduled for Saturday. HVAC work is expected sometime in the next few days too.

We enjoyed a string of three days without rain but the next four days brought showers, including a near full day of steady rain on Friday, August 4th.  It would be Saturday evening before we stopped in to see the progress. Here's what we found....

Saturday, August 5 - Here's what's cooking on the porch...
Water, electric, sewer and gas lines for the still-to-be-built bar. 

August 5 - electric box has been installed.

Washer and dryer connections are complete by August 5 too. 

Kitchen plumbing - also August 5

August 5 Lexie and Ozzie join me for a visit to the location of the toilet. 

August 5 - The exterior is covered with Hardie Board.
A light mounted on the southeast corner will show onto the wooded area behind us.
There is an ever growing coyote population in this preserve.  They howl when emergency sirens go by.

August 5 - two fan mounts and six recessed lights are mounted in the porch ceiling.
NOTE: The gap in the roof plywood appeared to have been remedied when this picture was taken.
The roofing crew came in on Saturday, August 5, despite the 70% threat of rain which finally gave way to fair weather. Appears the job requires just two guys, accompanied by two pre-teen boys who look to be more trouble than worth. Nevertheless...

Saturday, August 5th -- Sheets of metal are going onto this side of the roof.

The front has roof panels a few hours later

August 5 at the end of the day.  Still incomplete though.

The view across part of the lake from our site

A 40% rain chance remains for the next two days, followed by three days of 30% chance. It keeps the grass green anyway.

At this point we are pleased with David Thompson of Gulf Construction in Fairhope. The construction pace seems steady and well managed.  We are approaching the point of the first construction draw which occurs once the utilities are roughed in. Not to be confused with the first payment to the contractor: A deposit was made prior to commencement of construction.

I am happy... hope to remain so.