Friday, November 16, 2007

What is a Green Build?

I don't claim to be an expert on green building, but I have found on the internet websites that explain what a green build is.

The information below is excerpted from and

What Is Green Building?

Green Buildings are sited, designed, constructed and operated to enhance the well-being of occupants, and to minimize negative impacts on the community and natural environment.

Green Buildings:
Provide a healthier and more comfortable environment
Improve long-term economic performance
Incorporate energy and water efficient technologies
Use recycled content materials in their construction
Reduce construction and demolition waste
Bring higher resale value
Are landscaped for water and energy efficiency
Include renewable energy technologies
Improve indoor air quality
Reduce environmental impact
Are easier to maintain & built to last

Even in the greenest of projects it is likely that many products will be used that are not themselves green—but they are used in a manner that helps reduce the overall environmental impacts of the building. A particular window may not be green, but the way it is used maximizes collection of low winter sunlight and blocks the summer sun. So even a relatively conventional window can help make a house green. Creating a green building means matching the products and materials to the specific design and site to minimize the overall environmental impact.

We achieved a green build with our house by using:

1. ICF-insulated concrete forms for our outside walls structure.

a. While building, we had reduced disturbance around the perimeter of construction site and less construction waste . Plastic ties in icf blocks are made of recyclable material and blocks are lightweight (like lego blocks for adults) and easy to install

b. Well insulated, sealed building envelope, with significant savings in heating and cooling costs.

c. Safe and strong, 10 times stronger than stick built, fire resistant and tornado resistant (see this information at ).

d. Permanance, will neither rot or rust, a solid investment.

e. Healthier air quality, reduced air infiltration by 75% compared to stick built, no gas emissions from styrofoam or concrete compared to wood.

2. Simonton Windows - Energy Star rated

3. Pex Radiant Heat on 1st floor only. Tubing in our concrete foundation fills with hot water from hot water tank to heat rooms.

4. Steel Joists (between 1st and 2nd floor) made of an aluminum steel (recyclable)

5. Spray foam insulation, open cell foam blown onto the underside of roof about 5 inches thick, much higher r-factor than traditional fiberglass insulation and much safer, long life too

6. American Standard 14 SEER heat pumps and ERV (energy recovery ventilator). Efficient heating and cooling and ERV air exchanger for better air quality and lowers humidity

7. Concrete bricks (Novabrik) on exterior, less waste than traditional brick and mortar, easy installation, installed in any temperature

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Finally Done!

Though we've gone through DROUGHT, ICE, AND RAIN this past year, we're done, at least until we have more money for a paved driveway ,and a finished carport and bonus room in the back.

Our certificate of occupancy was issued on July 31, 2007 by the city of Lone Grove. We had Mike Hammitt come one more time to do a punch list for us so we could move in. We still needed bathroom mirrors and shower doors installed and a several other small odds and ends that if he hadn't done these things it would have taken us forever to do after we moved in. We officially moved in the week of August 5. We were so glad to be out of our apartment. The kids now have separate rooms and have alot more space to run around, and no more crickets (we had tons of crickets at our apartment building)! We are now living in a 3000 sf home with 4 bedrooms and 2 3/4 baths. We, also, have two eating areas, an office/spare room, living room, and a big kitchen!

Our bay window has become a stage for our 3 girls.

We special ordered a 8ft x3 1/2 ft storm door and had Mike install it. See how wide our door jambs are, both girls can fit in between the storm door and the front door?!

I'd like to make a few notations about our heating and cooling in this ICF home. One of the reasons we built this type of home was to save on our utility costs. So far we've been very pleased with our American Standard 14 seer Heat Pump's performance. It does feel very comfortable in the house at all times. We have special humidity sensors on our thermostats. We have a 2 zone system, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. We have an American Standard Accu Exchange ERV (energy recovery ventilator) in the attic which helps the humidity come down in our house since we have such a tight, well insulated house. It also pulls in fresh air. The biggest difference I notice is when I walk upstairs there's no or very little difference in temperature and the air doesn't seem heavy upstairs, but fresh.

As far as cost savings in our utility bill, we've seen moderate savings, but we've only lived here two months and we're getting used to what thermostat settings are the most comfortable for our family.

We've been really impressed with spray foam insulation in the attic, too. There's hardly any difference in temperature in the attic as there is in the rest of the house.

I'm including some photos of the features I've just mentioned.

This is our digital thermostat that tells temperature, time and humidity.

ERV in attic , air exchanger

You know this was our first time building this type of house, let alone building any kind of house from scratch with no contractor. We met many great people along the way. And I, especially, know alot more about the steps of building a house than I ever thought I would ever know, or that I would even want to know in my lifetime. There are many things we could have done differently and done in a better order, especially with painting, but in the end all the praying and mental and physical excerise we had to go through to get to end was well worth it.

"Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." Psalm 127:1

Monday, October 08, 2007

July 2007 Final Countertops, Cabinets, Flooring

When I look back it's amazing how many final items were completed in July compared to all the other months of construction where maybe two construction details would get done. We were also dealing with several rainy days, but at this point of construction most of our items were inside details that it didn't matter the weather.

Here's a picture of our temporary power outlet that supplied us power for almost a year, it was our lifeline to build our house. It was like losing an old friend that served us well.

On July 18, we finally no longer had to rely on temporary power, but now we had power right at the meter attached to our house. I was crying tears of joy on that day. I finally felt like we were near the end. The same emotion came over me the day (July 30) the portable toilet was taken away. It had been a little over a year since we started this journey, and we were finally seeing the end to our labor mentally and physically.

We finally cut down the tree that was so close to the bay window. We had decided several months earlier to cut it down because it blocked the view from that part of the house and it would be a problem to grow grass in the front yard.

Dave installed all our kitchen cabinets, which was quite a challenge , because of the 45 degree angle in the kitchen, just to get everything to line up like it was supposed to. But, he prevailed and the trim carpenter installed all our trim for the kitchen cabinets. Then, Steve from Counter Act came and installed all our cultured stone countertops in the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room. He even came on the weekend to install them. We were very pleased the countertops and his work.

Deanna reclining in the kitchen with our newly installed cabinets, counter tops, and appliances.

The kids bathroom newly installed lights, mirrors, cabinets, countertops, and sinks.

Our air conditioning was turned on officially July 23, right when our flooring was beginning to be installed. Which was perfect timing, it made their work conditions so much more comfortable. We hired Mike Blomberg to do all our flooring, which we had a combination of ceramic tile, laminate, and carpet.

This is looking from kitchen into breakfast nook. We have ceramic tile in the kitchen and laminate in the nook.

This is looking from the living room into the entryway and kitchen. That little step up into the kitchen took alot of extra work and creativity to get the tile work straight, since some of the concrete was damaged behind the door and not perfectly straight. But, Mike was able to work with these issues and do beautiful work. In the middle of the entryway is a medallion that Mike recommended to really set off our entryway. We're glad we took his advice.

Here's a closeup of the medallion.

Tile work Mike did around our jacuzzi tub.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

July 2007 Final Stairs, Painting,Septic,Guttering

Things really got crazy the last two months of construction that I didn't have time to update this blog or take alot of pictures. In July we were in our final countdown of getting all the last of the interior done and finally getting our septic system installed. God was faithful, all those last things fell into place. We finished before our building permit expired (8-6-07) and before our 12 month construction loan would have ended in August, also.

Since, my last posting on June 24,2007 , getting our stairs finished was the next step. This picture shows our stairs completed with carpet. Our trim carpenter, Bill Hunt, did the caps and side wall trim out of mdf and used the iron balusters and oak posts and railings we had picked up from Latham Stairs in Sanger, TX. He was an excellent carpenter and we were very pleased with his work. We found out there's not too many trim carpenters who like to tackle these kinds of stair parts. But, the beautiful end result was well worth the effort and cost ($$).

Here's some more pictures of our stairs and the walkway above the entry.

These next series of pictures is when Carla Milligan, an art teacher from Kingston, came and painted murals on Dillon and Danae's room. We had been having trouble figuring out the final colors of the kids' rooms, when I came upon her ad in the classifieds. It was perfect timing. God did it again! We were so pleased with the results!

Danae and Dillon are sitting in the windowsills (they make great seats since our windowsills are almost a foot wide) after Carla had painted Danae's room. She has horses on every wall of her room. Danae had told me several months ago she wanted a horse scene in her room. Her prayers were answered.

Here's Dillon's room. Since Dillon's room was already painted a turquoise color, an underwater scene worked out well. Dillon had her paint sea dragons and ocean coral, but he asked her to also incorporate his favorite bird, the bald eagle. Not pictured are also a golden retriever and a cheetah , which also wanted painted. Carla was great at incorporating all the ideas the kids had and make it all blend. It was so hot the days she painted, too, which didn't bother her. I would highly recommend her. We'd like to have her come back in a few months and do the other two bedrooms.

While all this inside work was going on, we had work going on on the outside, too. Our septic system was installed by Chickasaw Nation free of charge. I started the application process with the Chickasaw Nation Office of Environmental Health a year ago July, just so we could get on the waiting list for the septic system. In October 2006 we made it on the approved list. Then they said the installer would come when we were within about a month from being finished with the house. Back in October of 2006, I don't think we ever imagined that we wouldn't be ready until the next July. I, also, found out once they were here installing that they could have dug and installed our water line from the street, but I would have had to request it with my original application. Oh well, hindsight is always clearer. Anyway, we are very thankful for the work they did and for the septic system. It was a great savings on our construction budget.

Here's the contractor smoothing out the site after they installed the septic tank and lines. We got a nice sprinkler system out of the deal, too. Look closely and you'll see Deanna standing next to one of the workers. Here she is making friends again.

We had our guttering on our house completed in July, also. One of the days they came, we had a terrible thunderstorm come through. The day it came through, not only were the guttering workers there, but also, the electrician, the HVAC workers, and the bricklayers. We all stood on the front porch or watched out the windows as it downpoured outside. Here's a picture of the aftermath of that storm. A truck of one of the workers got stuck in the mud near our newly installed septic tank. Fortunately they didn't damage anything, just made big ruts in the ground.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Novabrik Done, Still Painting

I'm going to have alot of pictures in this update. The novabrik system is really interesting, so I'm including several shots of the procedure.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Novabrik & Front Door Arrive!!

After almost 3 months of waiting our front door is finally ready. Dave picked up our front door on Monday, June 4th. It's 8 ft tall and 42 inches wide. It's a solid core door with mahogany veneer. We ordered it from Norman Door and Plywood in Norman, OK. They had the best price around for the size of door we needed. Needless to say, we're very pleased with the door. Dave has stained it, now we're in process of varnishing it.

The brick layers have started to brick around the door. Here's Daria showing off her cheerleading shirt. You can see how massive the door is compared to Daria's size.

Deanna's sweeping up the sawdust next to a pile of leftover baseboards. Notice the baseboards, crown molding and the color of the walls.

Here's Dillon drawing on the styrofoam wall in the dust that has accumulated on the wall. You can see the Novabrik is starting to go up, too.

The kids strike a pose on Dave's truck. We're all excited about our Novabrik arriving and our front door!

Going backwards in my photos. This is when our 14 pallets of Novabrik arrived on May 30, 2007. We ended up hiring a truck through OK Steel & Wire , where Dave works, to deliver. It was less money than using one of Novabrik's trucks. We, also, hired a friend of Ronnie Nichols, the Novabrik dealer in Wilson, to use his forklift to unload the truck.

Deanna became fast friends with the truck driver and even got to blow the horn a couple of times.

The west side of the house partially covered with Novabrik.

Interior Trim Work & Painting

Painting, painting, painting that's all we've been doing for the last month. We realized in our construction budget that we had not allotted enough money for a professional painter to do the painting. My dad used to be a painter many years ago, so he has been helping us paint a few times a week. It's taken us the last month just to prime paint the entire house. We rented a sprayer to do all the ceilings one weekend. As of June 2, all of our baseboards and crown moulding have been installed. All we have left is our stairway and entryway to be trimmed out with crown moulding.
The kids have helped us do the priming. They enjoyed helping. Above is a photo of Danae painting in our dining area.

This is a photo of all the boxes holding our kitchen cabinets. Notice the color of our kitchen and dining area now. It's called Bungalow Gold. All our trim work will be painted white. I won't use such a dark color if we ever do this again. We found out the darker the color the more coats of paint you need to get an even look. We're happy with the color , though.

Mike Hammitt returned to our house and built us closet shelves and installed our closet rods. We wanted simple, but an efficient use of closet space. He used MDF for all our shelving. We used oil based white primer on all our closet built ins. As recommended by a professional painter.

It's hard to take a picture of an inside of a closet. This closet is in the shared girls room, Deanna and Daria's . We have double rods since the clothes are smaller right now and you see the shelving to the left. They each have identical closets in their room. This picture doesn't show it, but all baseboards are installed now.

We got an idea from my brother , David, that we should pre-prime all our baseboards before having them installed to save some painting time. Here's Dave using an oil based white primer on all our baseboards. It only took about a half day to prime 800 linear feet of baseboards, not bad. Now , that they are installed we'll have to lay on the floor to do the second coat or use a sprayer. I'm leaning toward the sprayer option.