We are excited to announce that we have uploaded five video interviews with Latitude 38 homeowners. Ross McDermott did a great job filming and editing and we hope you enjoy watching! They are embedded in the pages for each project or you can watch them all in a larger format at our Vimeo site.
To visit the house any other time, please call Tom Raney at Real Estate III (434-981-2608)
There are different schools of thoughts on this, but we like to see a few coats by the front door. Maybe a sweater or two. Maybe throw in a scarf on top of a jacket to spice things up. Some people like to hide all that away in a little closet. Totally fine. I think seeing them left exposed reminds me of my grandmother’s house and just feels homey.
But, we like to have it both ways, so because you enter on a split level, we were able to carve out a little closet area on top of what is the pantry that you can access from that little built in bench.
So. We love that cable rail. We love metal, we love horizontal lines, we love the simplicity of the look. Honestly, I also think part of it’s allure is you actually don’t see it that much in the flesh. You see it a lot in magazines, some in commercial buildings, so I find people really want to reach out and grab it when they see it in a house.
Did I mention that it can be used as a musical instrument? Tom knows how to play both the theme to Jeopardy and The Facts of Life. I know how to play the first part of the theme to Jaws. The part where the shark is coming.
So, we were honestly a little timid when it first came to the cable rail thing. Mainly because of price as the proprietary systems cost a fortune. We have to thank Moriah for making it seem easy as he turned us on to a method of doing it with material right off the shelf of Lowes. Since then, we’ve trolled the internet and our currently spending our time at e-rigging.com (cable and ferrules) and mutualscrew.com (You have a dirty mind! That’s where we are getting the turnbuckles and eye hooks).
So here’s the system: One end you have a small eye-hook. You thread a cable through that and create a loop that is crimped with two ferrules. The first ferrule is what locks the two cables together. The second ferrule is cosmetic and is what caps the wire off as you run it maybe only halfway through the ferrule. You could get away with one ferrule, but you should really take the extra time to crimp carefully. Then, the wire runs along and at the other end you make another loop with two ferrules that runs through the eye end of a 4″ turnbuckle. The jaw end of the turnbuckle runs through another small eye hook. We are complete.
So, obviously the big difference is that the proprietary systems are much more streamlined: The rail at one end slips into a small tube that is anchored to the post and has small little allen screws digging into the wire to lock it in to place. The other end has another little tube scenario that swivel up a threaded rod to get taut. Ours has more components and is a bit more chunky. But, if done right, looks great.
A few keys to success:
Take the time to really cut all the wires exactly the same length and to crimp all the ferrules in the same place, so that the loops are all the same. Take the time to make sure that when you put on the turnbuckles, they are slack to the same degree. That way when you add tension, all the components line up over each other and it doesn’t distract the eye.
Spend twelve bucks and buy a portable drill press attachment for your cordless drill cause you are not free handing all those posts. Except if you trying to recreate the album cover to whatever Joy Division record that is.
Code says no 4″ ball can ever pass through it. So that means not spacing your cable more than 3 1/2″ apart tops. For, if you can put your hand in between two cables and flex it such that the cable moves to get that 4″ gap, you fail. And, you would have to add a crazy amount of tension to not make those cables move much. So, give yourself some breathing room.
If you’re inside, it’s all super cheap as you can get all aluminum zinc plated. If you’re outside, you got to not skimp. Go with stainless steal over galvanized, particularly for the wire as that will rust pretty easily.
So, you go in to pretty much any restaurant with a modern decor in Charlottesville and you are going to see DuRock, a cement backer board, on their bathrooms walls. Zocalo, X Lounge, Mas. I feel like there is one or two more. They love it.
We’re just as guilty of stealing that idea as it’s our third bathroom we’ve used the Durock as cladding. For me, it’s got so much texture and visual interest to it. It is a colder material, so I like to soften with some wood. In this case, we went a simple wood chair rail. Again, one thing I can’t get away from is taking a traditional form and updating it with modern materials. So, we took a classic two tone look with the chair rail, but used the bright red candy apple tile down low (look closely, we’re missing a tile. It’s on the punch list), with the durock above.
IKEA has this new lines of sinks that are really sculptural, so I thought it cried out for an equally sculptural support for it. So, just made a simple slatted support out of wood. I love me some slats. That’s why all our of railings and fences are always slatted. No pickets!
Anyway, got one more bathroom to show off, maybe tomorrow. General philosopy on bathrooms: such a small space that material wise you can go a little crazy and not break the bank and have some fun.
We just got our heating and air conditioning system hooked up and running at the end of the week. To be honest, we haven’t needed it as we have been leaving all the windows open at night to cool the house down. When we get there in the morning, we shut all the windows. With the house being so well insulated, it has been staying in the low seventies inside even when it’s over ninety and muggy outside.
For, the HVAC system, I sort of take things for granted and really don’t think the things we are doing are that amazing. Anybody building to earthcraftt or leed standards is already doing all of this. In the little bubble of friends and like minded builders, it already feels like the norm and not a big deal. But, lot of people are not doing these things, so running through some of the things we did:
properly sized the duct work for each space and properly sized the equipment based on the manual j calculation. Lot of HVAC folks still like to rule of thumb of it rather than sizing things appropriately. Our HVAC guy had two seperate programs run the calculation. One came up with a load that needed a 3 ton heat pump, the other 2.5 ton. We intentionally went with the undersized as it is more efficient and if you oversize a system you leave open the chance for cooling off a space too quickly and not taking the humidity out.
We went with a variable speed air handler, meaning the blower motor ramps up slowly rather than blasting all at once. More efficient, quieter. We made sure to get equipment that met the Federal Stimulus package qualifications for energy efficiency to receive the $1500 tax credit to the homeowner.
With the house being so tight because of all the spray foam insulation, indoor air quality can really suffer as you can easily end up with stagnant polluted air. Pretty much, if you are working with foam, whether it be SIPS, spray foam, superior walls, you have got to introduce fresh air.
We went with a ventilation control that introduces fresh air directly into the return plenum of the air handler. It’s got a damper on it that that is electronically controlled to open at proper time intervals. It also has a temperature sensor and a humidistat, so that it does not open up it is incredibly humid outside in the summer, or below freezing in the winter. Now they also make a control that costs about three thousand more that conditions outside air on its way in, which is awesome, but I can’t find anything quantifiable that you will ever make your money back on that. The folks at Oak Hill National Labortories are doing some pilot homes where they are trying to achieve a zero energy home and they are just going with the same type we are using, so I feel fine about copying them.
Honestly, the big thing I want to push myself in the coming years is to make the move towards geo thermal because of the greatly increased efficiency and durability of the system. While removing the cap on the tax credits is great, the expense is still prohibitive. I’m hoping as more people move to it, it will bring the cost down in the coming years.
The Hook’s On the Block recently rated our Rockland house at 8 out of 10.
Kitchen is coming together. I feel like I waxed on about the design a little to heavy in a previous post, so thought I would stick to some practical construction aspects of actually building the thing.
So, I had this vision of the stainless base cabinets with the butcher countertop contrasted with grey concrete counter and wood cabinets for island. Had the kitchen layout and sizing designed. Framed up the house, plumbing and electrical were in place, drywall, paint ect. Time came to run the Ikea gauntlet. Found out at the store that the stainless cabinets only come in a few select sizes. I was able to rework some things on the fly, but they don’t make a stainless corner cabinet, which I had to have. It’s a 2 hour drive up there and I needed to come home with some cabinets. Sheeeeeeit (Clay Davis style)
A lot of terrible solutions came to mind like reversing the kitchen where the stainless and butcher would be the island. But, I saw the island as the place where the magic happens and really wanted a surface that you could put hot pots on or roll out pie crusts and not be a pain in the ass to clean.
Anyway, bought the stainless and bought a white corner cabinet and figured I’d come up with something. Long story short, bought some 4′ x 8′ sheets of brushed stainless steel via the internet and worked with the awesome folks at Martin Roofing and sheet metal. They bent some pieces to clad the corner cabinet along with bending some stainless for my backsplash. Also, Ikea doesn’t make a stainless toe kick. I didn’t want to leave it open and create a fantastic home for crumbs and dust, so made some stainless toe kicks as well. It’s a nice touch.
Another thing I like is the the little ledge shelf that it’s in the kitchen. Great place to put herbs, vases, whatever. That comes from my idea of wanting to use 4′ superior walls, but instead of building a floor on top and having a crawl space, we would pour a slab inside (that way the slab is encased in insulation and protected from the elements) and stack regular 8′ walls on top of the foundation. That way when you step down into the slab, you’ve got 12′ ceilings. By stacking 2 x6 walls on a 11″ foundation, you are left with this great opportunity. So, the ledge shelf detail carries around the dining room and the living room. My personal motto: always need to have a place to set your g & t in case you need to gesture wildly.
For the shelf we actually used stair treads that had yet to be cut for steps and were 16′ long. That way they were a really good grade and had a nice rounded nose on the front.
I also really dig the lights. You have to see it in person as they are all different heights and it’s pretty dramatic. I like it because it gives the feel of dropping the ceiling and making the kitchen feel more intimate.
Thinking about the ceiling (you can see the plywood ceiling in one of the photos): It’s a mosaic of 16″ wide by 8′ long pieces that I really like the look of. A little thing I’m proud of: We ripped 4′ wide pieces into thirds on the table saw (made a ton of sawdust for Jesse’s chickens as I recall). We made three separate piles that way each sheet of plywood being ripped in third would be in a separate stack. Then, when we installed it, we pulled from one stack completely before moving onto the next. That way we got a ton of variation and contrast between pieces and never put two of the same pieces next to each other. These are the things I enjoy thinking about.
Also plugged in the fridge. Ice cold lemonade from here on out.
We finally got around to stripping off the forms to the concrete steps we poured a few weeks back. We need to add more dirt around the edges and also around the driveway section, but you get the gist. There is just something so pleasing about 3 x 1 shaped rectangle. It’s going to look great once grass is growing around them all. (I took my inspiration from those steps at the park opposite Preston and Madison Ave).
You can kind of make out the driveway in one of the pics. Basically, we poured two strips for tire tracks and we are going to fill in the rest with river rock. Because we don’t want that rock to wash out, we also poured a narrow retaining wall all the way around. On the grass side, we need to build up the dirt such that it’s level with the top of the wall.
House #’s were kind of a splurge. We haven’t installed a mailbox yet, but I’m thinking we might build one out of scrap cedar and mount it to the house so it ties in with the cedar on the bump outs and porch.
As always, my camera sucks and I like to think doesn’t do justice to a compact, but wonderful master bathroom. We went heavy on the yellow pine, but I think it works really well with the grey mosaic tile in the tub and the aluminum and glass ikea cabinet. I forgot to get a shot of the floor, but we put in black slate with a grey grout. I don’t know, I really like the yellow pine and it could almost tip things over into being to cabiney (if that’s a word). But, when you juxtapose it with some colder, more austere material, you get what we at Latitude 38 like to call…”urban country.” Boo yah.
So, the kitchen is kicking some serious ass these days, like chef kicking ass. Sous chef, pastry chef, they’re all gonna wanna party in there. We’ve got the countertops and large farm sink in, but I’m waiting until just a few more little trim things are in before snapping some pics.