Life in the Crawl Space

Its Been a Long Haul…

me after a day in the crawl space

but after many days in the crawl space, I have most of the heating ducts in place. I’m not sure what the inspector wants to see so I haven’t taped the ducts or wrapped them with insulation yet.

I’m happy with the heat distribution. I can feel a good force of air at all of the heat registers. Now if I just had some insulation on my second story I would probably have a nice warm house. Its been pretty cold for this area and I definitely don’t want to waste too much energy trying to keep the house warm. I do warm it up for short periods of time though.

You may remember the plan here.

The design changed a bit due to engineering, realities of the space and fittings available.

 

There is a reason they call it a “crawl space”

I bring the crawl space inside with me

I’m not a big fan of going into my crawl space for all the electrical and duct work that I’ve been doing. I usually end up bringing some of the crawl space back inside with me. I know people must do this kind of thing for a living but I can’t wait until its all over. I still have to run new plumbing for my second story bathroom which means I will be going back.

For now I’m resting on my laurels a bit and enjoying some forced air heat on these chilly mornings.

 

 

 

The Fun Part

You know that I am much more interested in the superficial pursuit of interesting design. I’ve spent many hours on the internet looking at all the options for heating registers. The final frosting on the top of a more practical infrastructure. It is kind of amazing how many websites there are out there that specialize in heating registers.

 

Just a Couple

Here are just two examples of what I have been looking at. These two are specifically for floor applications. Obviously if it sits on the floor it needs to be sturdy enough t0 step on. Its not very easy to judge the quality or durability through a website. Price is not always a good indicator. These are both metal.

I look at the shipping weight too and that can help to determine how sturdy it might be. One that I found online is actually at a local store so I’ll take a look at it in real life.

Drop me an email or comment here if you want any additional information such as  the links for any of the websites that I’ve been looking at recently.

Details….details….

I’m working on a lot of different things at the same time. I’m figuring out how to do many of the things that I was unsure of; but then, it seems I often have to move on to something else due to the order that things need to get done. For instance, I figured out the railings for my decks but now I have to wait until I finish the tile. The railing was going to be in the way. I couldn’t run the large duct under the floor until I had the structural beam in place for the new stairway. Still working on that but the stairs are roughly in position.

Let there be heat

verb2 ducting

This is commitment !

I actually committed to the placement of the ducts. I’ve put large holes in the wall and the floor. All of the final ducting is not in yet but I am testing the furnace for heating and it is amazing what a difference a bit of heat makes to the comfort inside the house.  I’d say that “heat” makes a home more than anything else that I have experienced so far. This hole takes the duct underneath my house to be directed to separate spaces.

 

 

Big holes for big ducts

 

This hole goes from my garage into the living space and I had to consult with the engineer to see how big of a hole would be allowed to pierce through the structural shear wall. I had to reframe some of the wall around the hole. The 4×4 stair support is also right next to the opening. I don’t know if all houses are like this but a lot of stuff has to be coordinated together in a tight space.

See the heating layout concept here.

Railings for the decks

Railings are just getting started

I’m really excited for the new exterior spaces that I have created. I have designed the railing panels so that there are places where the sun can come through and there are also places that provide complete privacy. I hope to spend a lot of time on the deck shown in this picture. The other deck (or terrace) is on the left here. The terrace is mostly a place for plants and a bit of outdoor space right outside of my new bedroom.

Railing design

working out the details

I started watching the sun set over my new deck over the last several months. During certain months the sun will be coming right onto my deck and into my new living room. I wanted to take advantage of that. I didn’t, however, want to see or be seen by my neighbors. I developed an angle that I hope will allow for me to look out toward the ocean but will block my view to the neighbor’s house. Different sections of the railing will have different designs. Some designed for letting light through and others to block visibility as much as possible. I learned a lot from the first fence that I built for the ground level. I learned to base everything on stock lumber that I can easily get nearby. Look at fence design on verb2. The railing should relate to the fence below but the requirements are a little different.  Here is a rendering of the railing concept :

A rendering of my concept

A big step for mankind

Stair metal fabrication just arrived

I designed the new staircase to be similar to those old exterior stairs you see on ’70s and ’60s style apartment buildings. The exterior ones have concrete steps. I am going to use a wood construction material for the steps but I borrowed the idea of a single big steel center support.

I worked with a local steel fabricator that helped me to refine the details of construction. I like working with people that are able to have a conversation about process and design. He was very good at making suggestions and also still listening to my crazy ideas.

A little help…

It helps to have strong friends

The finished steel structure was pretty heavy. My friend told me that I had to post a picture of other people helping me because I give the impression that I do everything by myself. There was definitely no way that I could never get this structure in place by myself and it helps that my friends are tall and strong.

 

 

From the Practical to the Fanciful

I’ve been dealing with a smorgasbord of engineering and design issues. The seismic retrofit is done and inspected except for the final application of plywood sheets to solidify the newly reinforced wall areas. With help from my brother (an engineer) and a local sheet metal shop I laid out the basics of my new central heating system and, at the same time, I’ve been looking at some of the available products to personalize my new home.

The Practical

With help from my brother, I laid out a schematic diagram of what I want to do with the central heating system. My house never had central heating before but I believe this system will help to keep the humidity under control and dry out the furthest corners of my house. I’m concerned about keeping my house dry in this humid, coastal environment.

Three dimensional CAD drawing of furnace layout

From this basic concept I worked with the sheet metal fabricator to come up with the system approach. The average person could have all of this design and installation done by a professional but I can’t afford the thousands of dollars that it would cost right now and I’m very motivated to get some heat in my house. Once I get all of the custom pieces made, I can use stock ductwork to make the runs and connections. Its fairly simple and inexpensive once the basics are in place.

Fanciful is more Fun

Of course I don’t mean “fancy.” You know I prefer a clean and simple design but the search for good design is definitely a “fanciful” pursuit. Good design is almost always more expensive and harder to find. The money I save and the extra time that I spend doing the final construction myself allows me the luxury of searching out products that I really love. I can take my time deciding what bathtub I want because I am the one that has to install it as well as pay for it.

I decided that I needed a couple of ceiling fans to maintain good air circulation away from my new peaked ceilings. There are many different fans available and the one you pick is definitely a big part of your design approach. Hopefully a ceiling fan won’t be changed very often and therefore is a more permanent part of your interior space.

Ron Rezek ceiling fanRon Rezek ceiling fanI looked around locally and couldn’t find anything that was simple and of small scale so I switched to an internet search and found a good variety of products at ylighting.com. There I found a couple of simple fans that had the option of shorter fan blades. Coincidentally I’m familiar with this particular designer, Ron Rezek’s, work as well. I’ve seen and appreciated many of his simple light fixture designs. I have no connection to ylighting but I found their website easy to use and their prices comparable to or lower than other sites. I like ordering from people that make my search easier and maybe even enjoyable.

Entrance stairwell under construction, beginning of shear wall plywood

A space begging for a centerpiece

While I’m working on the plywood shear wall nailing, I can’t help but think about what my new entrance space is going to look like when it is finally finished. I have very intentionally created a larger scale entrance into my new home. I wanted to make the stairwell a feature rather than just a necessity.

My plan here is to have some sort of hanging light fixture. I am not sure yet how big it needs to be in order to look right with the scale of the space. I’m going to have to mock something up in order to figure that out.

Pendant lighting research begins

I know that it has to fit within my general concept of style for this house but I am not sure yet just how big it has to be. I’ve been looking at websites again, from Ikea to Crate & Barrel to ylighting and I’ve seen a great variety of fixtures and a huge variation in price. Some of the large fixtures can cost up to $4,000. The Ikea light that I am looking at is made out of paper and is very cheap but I’m not sure it is big enough and maybe not even durable enough. If I can’t find the right fixture I’m thinking about making it myself. As you can imagine this fixture will have a big effect on the feel of the place.

Crate & Barrel Finley Pendant

IKEA pendent made of paper requires assembly

Available in many different sizes but the price goes up accordingly

22" dia. for $700, not much bang for the buck

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crate & Barrel fixture is 28″ in diameter and is only $200 but I’m not sure if thats going to be big enough. I think I am leaning toward something really simple and therefore may end up making it myself. The simple circles don’t look that hard to make do they? Experience tells me however, if I can find something that I like and can afford, then buy it.

 

Both Practical and Beautiful?

Morso small wood stove

Satisfying my needs for beautiful function are these next two items on my wish list. I am definitely buying this wood stove when I can fit it into my finances. I looked at a lot of different stoves and when I saw this one in person, I was sold. It has the solidity and weight of an old fashioned stove and the size and simplicity to fit into my small space. It’s worth the wait to get the right thing.

Duravit shower / bath

This is the tub that I’m thinking about but can’t afford to buy yet. I’m really intrigued with the design concept that allows for a larger showering space and also a nice place to soak a while. It isn’t the cheapest design but I think it will be great to use and also look really nice in my new bathroom. It looks a bit like the plan of my house.

As always, just comment here or drop me an email if you want to know any more about anything here. I want to be helpful and keep things interesting. I’m not advertising anything here, I’m just trying to share my interest in good, useful and beautiful design.