traditional new home project

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Re: traditional new home project

Postby phansford » Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:46 am

See ..... there you go...... you build something nice for the ladies and the next thing you know we aren't allowed to use. :lol: Does AuntBirgo let you park in the garage or is that off-limits too. :lol:
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Re: traditional new home project

Postby unclebirgco » Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:13 pm

The goal of this project was to create a comfortable, efficient home office with an old fashioned look of built-in cabinets and shelving. The two units were site built and installed on the north/south walls of this 12 x 16 foot space located off the main entry foyer. Large west facing double hung windows separated the two opposite expanses of wall while also providing ample afternoon light with inspiring sunsets. Similar to our kitchen plan, simple paint grade plywood boxes were constructed to minimize cost and maximize efficiency.

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This design included detailed crown moldings, beaded plywood backs and inset drawers.

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The north wall layout included space for a computer, printer, fax machine and files though lower shelving to accommodate two casement windows.


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Scrap 2 x 4 cut on a diagonal adds nailing support for the crown molding

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Recessing each center wall unit while pushing out and dropping the desk unit adds visual interest to the long expanse of cabinets.

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Inset drawers take more time to build (at least for me :wink: ) but the finished product is worth the extra effort.


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Left over pieces of 3/8th beaded plywood were efficiently used for drawer bottoms.

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The deep, rectangular north facing casement windows provide some indirect light and the perfect place to frame an antique bust.

....more to follow
Last edited by unclebirgco on Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: traditional new home project

Postby unclebirgco » Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:37 pm

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Trying to capture the two opposite walls of built-in cabinets is difficult without a wider lens but this is close. Late afternoon light casts a peaceful glow of a time before the advent of computers and high tech gadgets.

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An old desk of quartersawn oak contrasts nicely with lighter toned reclaimed white oak flooring.

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Reproduction antique light fixtures create soft downlighting with three CFL's. The fixture consumes less than 30 watts of electricity.

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Built-in desk with reproduction lamp



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While bookcases have traditionally served to display and store reading materials, more contemporary treatments have led to combinations of books, personal mementos and photos. .....and sometimes an occasional cat :)
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Re: traditional new home project

Postby unclebirgco » Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:41 am

Another Winter Solstice has just past us by with little fanfare, but subtle changes to the way sunlight passes through the windows of a building can cause one to think more about the possibilities of Natures best heating source.

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Fading sunlight minutes before sunset on a cold December afternoon illuminates this corner of the kitchen counter unlike any day earlier in the year.

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Sunlight at dawn early last summer. Light patterns change and slowly disappear with each passing day.



A teenager from Long Island recently presented scientific findings about how the structure of a tree may be more efficient in gathering energy from sunlight than a standard rectangular solar panel. His research created a firestorm of controversy over the Web but the underlying hypothesis is thought provoking and a stark reminder that there is much to be learned and gained from continuing to search for sustainable solutions to heating, cooling and lighting our buildings.
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Intense sunlight creates dark shadow lines early on a summer morning.


Even though the concept of using the sun to heat and light our homes dates back thousands of years, it is only in the past 50 years or so has it become an urgent issue. Efficiently and economically tapping the power of the sun holds the promise of lessening and eventually eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels.

Image Simple solar attic fan has used zero electricity since installation.

The lesson from the young man from Long Island is that we need to look at all the possibilities solar energy can provide for the planet. Integrating passive solar design into a building requires experience and thoughtful planning but little additional expense and should be a part of every construction project, new or old.

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Reading up on the latest solar publication is well worth the effort
(even if it's been around a while) :wink:

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Last edited by unclebirgco on Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: traditional new home project

Postby Kevin » Sat Jan 07, 2012 3:15 pm

Delightful, informative, thought-provoking. What a continuing gem!
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Re: traditional new home project

Postby unclebirgco » Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:17 pm

Thanks for the positive comments.
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Re: traditional new home project

Postby phansford » Tue Jan 10, 2012 8:52 am

Were you able to get any tax credits out of the Truman Administration for your solar house? :lol:
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Re: traditional new home project

Postby unclebirgco » Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:00 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: traditional new home project

Postby unclebirgco » Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:18 pm

One of the best features of designing extra space into a roof or attic area, is the ease and relative low cost of finishing it at a later date when either time or money (or both) are less of an issue.

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laying out a clean work area

If your budget is flexible, it's smart to plan any mechanicals, electrical, heating and ventilation because it's less expensive and easier to complete as the major house construction is being done. Finish materials such as moldings, flooring or built-in cabinets can be added later.


Previously, we rough finished this future work and exercise room with electrical/lighting boxes, double 2 x 4 knee walls for the exterior envelope, 12 inches (R-38) blown cellulose insulation and 24 inches (R-75) in the ceiling.
Radiant heat tubing and aluminum backed foam insulation board was installed under the subfloor.
4 foot by 12 foot drywall was also installed, taped and primed.


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wood structural columns are partially finished with 1 x 8 #2 pine. Additional decorative trim will be added later.


This building strategy (plan now expand later) is also compatible with people who need flexible living space that can grow with changing family needs such as a growing or extended family coming on board.

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Skylights were previously installed for some morning/early afternoon light. Roof shingles, sheathing and roof insulation would also not need to be disturbed at a later date.
Note: skylight/roof orientation is important because skylights placed on the south or west side of the house can create excessive summertime heat and will need shades to block afternoon sun.

Our reclaimed white oak flooring was one on the more costly finish materials when the house was originally built so we planned to utilize a less expensive, character grade oak for this 750 square foot attic space. This grade flooring is 6 inches wide, tongue and grooved/end matched and back relieved for greater stability. It also contains more surface "defects" such as knots, color variations and streaking. I consider these variations more appealing and visually interesting than select or clear grade flooring.

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Next we'll take a look at installing character grade oak flooring for our finished attic work space.

More to follow.............
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Re: Installing character grade wide oak flooring

Postby unclebirgco » Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:16 am

Installing traditional wide oak flooring is a fairly straight forward process but when staple-up radiant floor heat is also part of the plan, a few additional steps need to be carefully followed.
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As previously noted, the selected floor material is 6 inch wide, back relieved, end matched tongue and groove "character" grade white oak

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Knot holes like these are not common but they can be filled with black 3 part epoxy for excellent results.

We begin by cleaning the sub-floor and checking the room for general "squareness". This process is simplified when a long wall is checked against a nearby seam in our OSB sub-floor. It is also critical to carefully mark the center location of each floor beam because the oak flooring can only be nailed at this point. Any error in the nailing pattern could mean putting a hole in the radiant floor tubing. This task is also made easier because our floor "joists" are actually floor trusses which are set two foot on center and feature a 3 1/2 inch wide 2 x 4 top nailing surface.

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Measuring out from each long wall end marks the starting point for the chalk line which is about an 1/8th inch wider than the width of a floor board.

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With the chalk line in place, it is now a matter of fastening the first line of flooring securely to the perpendicular floor beams and sub-floor.

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It's also a good idea before you begin to check the sub-floor for any uneven joints or protruding nails.

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Note The staple-up radiant heat system makes it necessary to eliminate the red rosin paper that is customarily installed under most wood flooring. This paper makes it difficult to accurately nail the floor to the
OSB (oriented strand board) and trusses so a sub-floor adhesive is applied which helps to eliminate squeaks and improve floor stability.


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To ensure the first row of flooring doesn't move as more flooring is nailed in place, we counter-sink 2 inch screws into the truss and sub-floor. The screws we use are coated star drive deck screws because they can withstand the torque needed to tightly fasten the floor board without breaking.

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These 3/8th inch holes are counter-sunk and easily filled with yellow glue and oak plugs

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Oak shims are also installed at each wall stud to keep the first line of flooring dead straight on the chalk line and allow for expansion of the floor during the summer months.

More to follow......
Last edited by unclebirgco on Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:19 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: traditional new home project

Postby phansford » Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:14 am

Where do you get character grade flooring? Is there a specific manufacturer? Or is this a specification graded item.

This project should go well....... as long as CousinBirgo doesn't come over and try to help or drink you Rolling Rock.
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Re: traditional new home project

Postby unclebirgco » Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:03 pm

Phansford, the "character" grade white oak we installed comes through a middle man and a major mill. It's a spec graded item that is comparable to #3 common oak but I have found that the quality of this grade flooring can vary greatly between manufacturers. The flooring we just installed is very similar to #1 common white oak with probably a 5% waste factor. It's considered a "budget" item but short of installing a much wider/longer combination of floor boards, it can be a product of choice and not just a cost factor selection. The quality of each board is consistent, though as previously mentioned, there is a greater variety of color, streaking, and "imperfections" such as small knots or pin holes but this can result in a visually more interesting or antique looking floor surface. This particular floor costs about $2.70 per sq. ft. plus bulk shipping fees by truck (very reasonable).
I'll PM you with the purchase info.
(I usually don't like to give out unsolicited advertising info over the forum.) :roll:

Hope you're staying out of trouble unlike cousineddie who just sent me a post card from Alaska. Gold fever I think. :lol:
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Re: traditional new home project

Postby unclebirgco » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:04 am

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Once the first row of flooring is straight and tightly secured to the sub-floor, the hardest part of the job is done. It's now a matter of choosing the right length board so each new row of end joints is offset from the previous row by about two feet.

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Laying out enough boards in the work area allows for good selection of each successive row of flooring

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We like to use a simple manual nailer because the heavy force of each hammer blow does a good job of making each board fit tightly against the next.

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When applying the sub-floor glue make sure the bead is full and not smeared. A round glue bead creates better adhesion between the two surfaces.

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As work progresses, the floor takes on the "character" grade look which features color variations and small defects for added visual interest.

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Next we'll look at sanding and finishing the floor.
It's easier than you might think....... :D
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Re: traditional new home project

Postby Helenni » Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:53 am

Very nice sharing!

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Re: traditional new home project

Postby unclebirgco » Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:07 am

Thank you for your comment. :)
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