Asheviller: Ron and Valerie Move to Asheville…

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Oct '10

I Cannot Tell a Lie, Father…

It’s been a busy week for us at Camp Bell. We finally cut down the cherry tree in the front yard. It was pretty beat up, having lost a couple large branches in a storm last fall and having several other dead branches about to come down.  We felt bad, but it had to go before we put Camp Bell up for sale next spring. I started the task with my 16″ chain saw but it got lost in the tree’s 24″ trunk so I rented a 20″-er that, with a little work, took it down. Later in the week I had a guy come by with a stump grinder to remove the last remnants. Valerie bought a new weeping cherry tree (50% off at BB Barns) and we planted it in the same spot. It’ll take a few years, but eventually it will grow and fill in the yard, nicely. The old tree didn’t die in vain, though, as we saved most of the branches for burning in my BBQ smoker and Valerie’s pizza oven.

Valerie’s been working on her pizza oven at least once a week and she’s currently painting (more like total rehabbing) the five windows in the kitchen. She took a break from working on the master bath because with winter coming, the windows rose higher on the priority list. After painting, they need to be left partially open for a few weeks to dry (so they won’t stick). Camp Bell is drafty enough, without open windows, so this way we’ll be sealed up again by December.

I just finished repainting the garage doors and the iron railing on the stairs. I also replaced the severely weather-worn lights on the front balcony and at the front door. On the back of one of them someone scrawled the date that it was installed…11/1974. The music hits of that year…Kung Fu Fighting (Carl Douglas), Seasons in the Sun (Terry Jacks)Waterloo (ABBA), and The Joker (Steve Miller Band). It was time for new lights.

Next up, weather permitting, is to scrub the front of the house. Our white vinyl siding is quite gray with dirt. Gotta make it Spic-n-Span. Valerie will switch back to the master bath. The final job (if there ever is one) is the kitchen — painting the walls and trim, putting down a new vinyl floor, and scrubbing the cabinets. I can see the FOR SALE sign in the front yard!

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Oct '10

Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, White

Exterior materials and colors? Check. Decking? Check. Appliances? Check. Cabinets? Check. Faucets? Check (today). Tile? Ahh, I don’t know. Soon. Interior paint colors? Ahh. I’m losing it! I’ll defer to a memorable quote from the movie, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, where Murial Blandings is discussing with her contractor and painter what colors she has chosen for her home.

Murial Blandings: I want it to be a soft green, not as blue-green as a robin’s egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow, but don’t let whoever does it go to the other extreme and get it too blue. It should just be a sort of grayish-yellow-green. Now, the dining room. I’d like yellow. Not just yellow; a very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshine-y. I tell you, Mr. PeDelford, if you’ll send one of your men to the grocer for a pound of their best butter, and match that exactly, you can’t go wrong! Now, this is the paper we’re going to use in the hall. It’s flowered, but I don’t want the ceiling to match any of the colors of the flowers. There’s some little dots in the background, and it’s these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the delphinium blossom. Is that clear? Now the kitchen is to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic hospital white. A little warmer, but still, not to suggest any other color but white. Now for the powder room – in here – I want you to match this thread, and don’t lose it. It’s the only spool I have and I had an awful time finding it! As you can see, it’s practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy winesap and an unripened Jonathan. Oh, excuse me…
Mr. PeDelford: You got that Charlie?
Charlie the Painter: Red, green, blue, yellow, white.
Mr. PeDelford: Check.

The drywallers will probably be done on Friday. That means the painting starts next week. First the primer (tinted to match the final color), then the ceilings, then the windows, then the walls. Somewhere in there the tiler will start on the entry, mud, pantry, and bathroom floors. We have lots of decisions to make in the next couple weeks. And, they have to be right ’cause I ain’t repaintin’ nothin’. I’m officially retiring our painting tools after finishing Camp Bell (and our new workshop).

Red, green, blue, yellow, white.

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Oct '10

The Wall

This morning, after seven days of hanging drywall, they began mudding and taping the seams. That’s a lot of drywall. Steve took over 4000lb of scraps to the dump so if you assume maybe 5% waste, that’s over 80,000lbs of drywall in our house. Yikes.

The theory about drywall is that once it’s up, all the rooms that you thought were huge become much smaller and closed in. They’re right. I think, though, that our house now looks more reasonable and closer to the 3000 square feet that it really is. When people were walking though during the Parade of Homes many commented that the house seemed much larger than its advertised size. I don’t think they would have that same opinion, today…and that’s a good thing. We didn’t build a McMansion and I was beginning to think that we had. Just don’t walk around back and look up!


I did have some angst this week over the size, really the height, of one wall. It’s the one separating the living room from the office. This section of the house is all one space with a 14′ cathedral ceiling. Rather than build two individual rooms we opted to separate the two areas with a freestanding wall. The wall was only intended to go up “so far” with open space above to the peak of the cathedral ceiling. Unfortunately, the law of unintended consequences, took over. I asked the electricians to put an outlet on the top so we could plug in Christmas lights (or accent lights or whatever) and we intended to have a ring of trim, called a headband, wrap around the room at about that height. An inch got added here, and inch there, and although the wall looked okay with just studs, once they rocked it, WHOA! It was too high. The 96″ bookshelves were already ordered and couldn’t be cancelled and the heights of the beams between the rooms that the headband would wrap around couldn’t be raised. On Tuesday morning, Steve and I spent a good hour measuring and remeasuring, talking options, and trying to decide if we needed a hammer or a saw to fix it. In the end, we needed a hammer and a knife. I made a quick trip to Lowes for a 2×6 (believe it or not, there wasn’t one around, anywhere). Steve dropped one beam a couple inches and I cut 6″ of drywall off the divider. Later, I’ll move the outlet down from the top to the side and we’ll set the bookshelves on the plywood floor rather than the finished wood floor to shave another 3/4″. When it’s all trimmed out the top of the wall and the top of headband will be just a smidge over 8′. I think it will look just fine…unless we paint the wall bright red.


Meanwhile, out back, the framers are building the main level of our deck. The perimeter and joists are 75% done. Weather permitting, they should be able to finish it next week then spend a couple days building the stairs. I’d say by November 12th the deck will be 100% done and the interior will be ready to prime. Guess we better finalize those paint colors and tile choices…

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Oct '10

Sheet Rockin’ Out

Wednesday was a BIG day. The “hangers” arrived and began installing the drywall AKA sheetrock! Woohoo! I’m really thankful this milestone has arrived because every day since I declared “I’m done with the wiring” I’ve thought of something else and have gone out to the house to add more wire. Once the exterior walls were foamed that limited me to the interior walls, but now that they’re getting covered up, my wiring days are over—except for building the media closet and terminating several hundred cable ends. One of the last things I forgot remembered was running the main cable and phone lines from the outside to the media closet. Oops. How did I forget that? It wouldn’t have been a big deal since the mechanical room was planned to have open studs, but we recently decided to drywall it. So, Wednesday morning, just ahead of the drywall hangers, I was drilling the final holes and running the last cables. DONE!


Other fun stuff this week? On Tuesday, Luis was visiting his Mom in Raleigh and they drove over for a house tour and a BBQ lunch. It was a perfect time because he got to see the guts of the house and even some drywall being delivered into the front door.


We finally got our main level decking delivered. It’s a new product called Cambia. It’s a heat treated poplar that’s advertised to have all the benefits (long life, low maintenance, durability, etc) of composites like Trex but looks better and is more natural because it’s real wood that isn’t pumped full of chemical perservatives. The process of heat treating wood is common in Europe but they’ve just started doing it in the US. They put the deck boards in a big chamber, pump out the oxygen so the wood won’t burn, then crank up the heat. All the organics in the wood break down but the structure of the wood remains. You end up with a rich brown wood that won’t decay or support mold growth. It’s beautiful stuff. We’re one of the first to use it in NC so maybe we’ll start a trend…


The metal roof was completed today. It’s gorgeous! The roofers still need to finish the flat roof over the breezeway and return after we have the gutters installed to install snow guards, but essentially, the roof is done. We’re going with as few gutters as possible, probably just over the doors and the deck. But, because snow slides off metal roofs and will tear off gutters on the way down, we need snowguards. They’re simple horizontal metal strips that clamp to the ribs of the roof panels to hold back the snow. They’re not attractive but are a necessary evil with a metal roof over gutters. All the more reason to have as few gutters as possible.

And, finally, we’re getting real stairs! The installers were working this week to get all six runs installed (less the rails). Our stair installation is a bit complicated because two runs pass in front of windows (by design) and therefore need to be coated with polyurethane before they’re installed. Then, somehow, with a very small roller or bush, the painter will have to paint the drywall behind them. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a unique look and you’ll understand when you see it. I’m glad Steve’s getting paid to figure out the sequence of work. We’re having a tough enough time choosing paint and tile colors.

Up next week…drywall, drywall, and more drywall. Building the main level deck. Siding. Rocking. Oh, and the plumber still isn’t done. He’s now working on the plumbing in the garage and shop for the utility tubs. Don’t get me started on our plumber…

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Oct '10

DuPont State Forest

The leaves are in the midst of changing so we set aside today as personal day to go exploring. Dupont State Forest is about an hour south of Asheville and has over 10,000 acres of forest, trails, and waterfalls. Several falls are a relatively easy walk from the road and make for some great picture taking. Unfortunately, during the morning some high clouds rolled in and covered our normally blue sky, but it was still a fun day out. We got some fresh air and exercise…and, most importantly, got away from the house(s) for a while. The weather is supposed to be better later in the week so we’ll try to trek out again for another day trip to the North Carolina mountains. The leaves, they are a changin’.




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Oct '10

Hot Things Hot and Cold Things Cold

The inspector finally came, yesterday, at 3:00. He spent nearly two hours looking over the house (5:00 was probably quitting time) and gave us a conditional “pass”. He wanted some metal brackets installed in the ceiling of the living room and pointed out a few minor plumbing issues that needed to be fixed before we covered up the walls. That meant Steve and the plumber, Tom, were busy this morning working on the main level while the foam insulation guys started on the upper level, turning our house into a giant Thermos bottle.

I was only able to sneak a couple pictures because you’re not supposed to be anywhere near the spray without a protective suit and respirator. It expands over 100 times its initial volume on contact and would be bad news to breath in or get on a camera. The guy with the spray gun was up in the master closet so I was able to take pictures of the completed work looking up from the stairs. For the most part, the foam was staying within the stud and rafter cavities but occasionally too much would be applied and it would expand out the front. Another guy was running around with a long saw shaving off the overage and it was piling up on the floor. Maybe they recycle it as packing material. By noon, they had finished the upper level and had moved to the main level. At that point I had to leave because they sealed off all the doors and windows. No admittance. I’m guessing they’ll do the lower level and possibly the crawlspace, tomorrow. Can’t wait to see the finished product and I’m really curious to see what our energy bills will be.

If you’re interested, here’s more info on spray foam insulation:

What was I doing at the house? Running more wires, of course. The walls are still open and I keep thinking, “hey, I could use another net cable here, or another camera wire there, or another TV hookup in that wall.” Now that the exterior walls are foamed, they’re ruled out for additional wires, but the interior walls are still fair game until next week when the drywall goes up. Until then…where’s that spool of wire?

Valerie was at Home Depot re-finalizing our kitchen cabinet order. Re-finalizing? Well, we placed our HUGE order yesterday afternoon—kitchen, basement wet bar, master bath vanities, master bed shelves, and office shelves. Last night she was checking over the order sheet and WHOA, we didn’t order alder cabinets, we ordered (or thought we ordered) cherry cabinets! So, she was back at the store this morning to get everything corrected and re-ordered. We’re good. Now we wait five weeks for the cabinets to arrive. I need to pin Steve down on when he thinks we’ll be ready to install them. December-ish? And, there’s that little thing about choosing countertops. We’ll give our brains a rest and revisit that decision next week, after we choose the floor tile. Whew. Decisions Decisions.

The final picture, below, is of the nearly completed rock work on the center section of the house. They’re still working around the side but the front is done and, wow, does it look good.



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Oct '10

It’s a Parade of Zombies

We thought Seattle could be a bit weird sometimes…but, welcome to Asheville. Today is 10/10/10 and Asheville can’t let a weekend go by without some sort of festival or event so this year’s (yes, it’s an annual thing) Zombie Walk took place today. Why is 10/10/10 significant to zombies? I have no idea.  I do know that at 6:30pm the police blocked off the streets downtown and over 1000 people, dressed up and acting like zombies, paraded ambled through the city. It was quite the spectacle. Young, old, men, women, even a few babies and a couple dogs. Serena watched, but didn’t participate.




Here are more pictures from our local paper…

And, I just read that on July 3, Seattle’s ‘Red, White, and Dead’ zombie walk set the Guinness world record for the largest ever walk with over 4200 zombies. There are some very strange parallels between Seattle and Asheville.

But, seriously, on the Parade of Homes topic, there was a steady stream of people both days. We were at the house a couple hours on Saturday and I was there all day today. Most people didn’t stay long as I think they didn’t catch the “under construction” tag in the catalog and were suprised that our house wasn’t completed. But, many people visited all three floors and several commented on liking the floor plan saying that it seemed much bigger than the actual square footage. A couple guys asked questions about the construction but I don’t think any were seriously looking for a home builder or remodeler. Steve, though, says that he had calls a couple years after the last parade he was in. When people are ready, they’ll come calling.

Yesterday, Valerie and I checked out four other houses in the parade. We’re still shopping for finish ideas (paint, tile, trim, etc) and need some inspiration. We’ll see a few more houses next weekend. I think we’re onto something regarding our window trim…

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Oct '10

It’s a Parade of Homes

Wow, with umpteen guys working on the house, it’s amazing what can get accomplished. The Parade is this weekend and Steve wanted to get as much done as possible by noon, today. After that, it was “EVERYONE OUT!” and it became cleanup time. Jeff, our excavator, came to move the pallets of rocks, large deck posts, and the pile of sand out of the front yard. Steve was busy putting up handrail, both temporary and permanent, and I vacuumed the house from top to bottom. By five o’clock, the house was looking pretty spiffy; incomplete, but spiffy.

The electrical inspector came out and spent a good hour going over everthing. He found a few holes that needed filled with fire caulk. He wants an outlet added between the kitchen and the dining room. And, although he isn’t the framing inspector, he noted a couple areas that need additional fire breaks to prevent flame spread from one floor to another. Nothing big, just random to-do items. Personally, I think the whole fire caulk thing (all holes drilled for wires that run between floors must be filled with special caulking to prevent the spread of fire) is a conspiracy by the 3M company to sell more caulk, but that’s just my opinion. No matter, I ran around and filled the holes and Caleb will be out Monday to add some wood blocking. Next up is the plumbing inspection, when/if the plumber ever finishes, and then the final framing inspection.

Now that the screened porch is framed I have some minor wiring to finish up — speaker cables for porch and deck speakers and a TV/intenet connection. I also want to put blocking in the walls for towel bars, grab bars, clothes rods, etc. All that work needs to be done by Wednesday because…drumroll…that’s scheduled to be insulation day. The foam guys are coming to spray all the exterior walls. Once we’re foamed, there’s no going back, no fishing of walls for extra pipes or wires. We’ll have a 3000 square foot Thermos bottle. Oh, and before that happens we need to take pictures of every wall to show where the pipes and wires are located so if we ever need to cut the wall or access the utilities, we’ll know exactly where to look. Things are a happening.


Oct '10

All Hands on Deck!

The Parade of Homes is this weekend and next and there’s a mad rush to get the house looking good. Roofers, rockers, siders, framers, electricians, plumbers, and more are climbing all over our house. These pictures give the first glimpse of what the final house is gonna look like. Hope you like the colors and materials we chose. They’re very earthy. We love them.




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