Putting Up Walls

We’ve had some amazing progress in the last week: The siding subs wrapped up. We ran conduit for future expansion and installed embedded speaker wire. The insulation company has nearly completed, the power has been connected, and someone left several small heaps of sheetrock at our house.

Quality Control

Terry squares up studs

Terry squares up studs

Terry Murphy spent his Saturday at the house squaring up studs, installing backer blocks for future wall-mount fixtures (towel bars, handrails, etc), and performing other important tweaks in advance of the drywall install.

The Murphys take great pride in producing a high-quality product. If you ever need a truly sound-proof wall built, these guys can deliver. One of my favorite things about working with MBC is that these guys are passionate about their trade. Each one of them can geek out about construction and I would happily spend all afternoon talking shop if they’d let me!

Electric Drop

Lighted playhouse

The shed out back is powered up

I was excited to see Seattle City Light there Wednesday pulling the new service connection. To date, all of the sub contractors have been running extension cords all the way out to the temporary pole and only having four outlets to pull from. Having electricity available at select locations in the house will be a big improvement for anyone who needs power tools.

I had forgotten that the new service cable is not immediately followed by the installation of an electric meter. It will be another several days before they install the globe on the side of our house. In the meantime, there is a temporary power shunt providing unmetered power to the few finished receptacles we have in the house. Time to bust out the popcorn maker and electric space heaters!

Insulation and Drywall Delivery

Drywall: Ready to rock!

A flatbed semi-truck stopped by and left behind a full load of gigantic drywall sheets. They used an onboard crane to deliver the product directly into the upstairs window, saving gobs of time (and materials). Most of the sheets they brought in are 10 feet long.

The insulation team really outdid themselves. In a single day, they completed 95% of the work. They exceeded expectations by insulating areas I hadn’t even considered, such as the interior walls surrounding the upstairs main bathroom. Since the broad wall of that bath forms the hallway above the front foyer (the left-hand wall in the photo above), the installers figured the sounds of showering would otherwise propagate throughout the house.

Very thoughtful!

Siding Work

Siding completed

Siding completed

The siding team wrapped up last weekend. The house is now fully wrapped in a concrete-board siding product like HardiePlank. It is a concrete fiber compound formed into sheets that is practically bullet-proof and should provide decades of low maintenance service.

The garage doors are the last exterior element to be installed. Once those are installed, the structure will appear complete from the outside. We’ve re-affirmed our paint scheme and the painters should be on site not long after.


Murphy includes a structured media box and a pair of huge 2″ conduit runs to attic and crawlspace by default. Since I’m geekier than the average bear, I wanted a bit more. The electrician wanted what I considered a big chunk of change to install the “smurf tube” conduit–something I was happy to do myself for just the cost of materials. A very good friend came by to help me drill holes and pull conduit to ten locations throughout the house. Several satisfying hours of work later, I’ve saved enough money to justify getting the next nicer model of refrigerator. Cha-ching!

Almost all of the conduit will remain empty for now, but as future needs arise, we can easily pull wires for new technologies through them. If we want an HDMI signal sent from the TV room to the kitchen, that’s no problem. Any cabling we knew we needed right now was run directly in-wall so as not to consume valuable conduit space.

Since we knew the house would need data connections, we ran two coax and a pair of Cat5e cables from the exterior of the house to the media panel. I also pulled several hundred feet of speaker wire inside the walls. The TV room is wired for 7.1 surround and the rest of the house is wired with four pair of built-in speakers.

Since I am planning on driving the embedded speakers with Sonos devices, I nearly made the mistake of not making an allowance for physical volume controls. Sonos devices are controlled via smartphone or computer, so there is no need for a hardwired volume knob.  However, not installing access points for them would have been a big mistake, forcing me to either re-wire later or continue to use technologies with remote management.

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