Fall Photo

Comments   6   Date Arrow  December 2, 2008 at 6:44pm   User  by Christina

This photo was taken for an alumni magazine. I like it because Otis the cat wandered through.

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A few updates

Comments   2   Date Arrow  October 28, 2008 at 7:59pm   User  by Christina

It has been awhile since we last made an update and we realized it was time to have a photo of our sweet new addition! Hanz the puppy! He is such a wonderful dog and has fit seamlessly into our house of two people and two cats. We just added a fenced in area for him in our side yard and I am continuing to debate landscape ideas in my head. No landscaping is being carried out now although we did manage to get a few rye seeds started as winter grass.

Other interesting photos are of the chest that we moved to the second story via a crane! What a project. This chest has moved from my ancestors farm, to my great grandmother’s attic (not sure why they didn’t use it downstairs), to my grandparents basement. It was moldy and in bad condition but had good bones. We had a local guy clean it up wonderfully and moved it into the new resting place.

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Recent updates

Comments   12   Date Arrow  July 7, 2008 at 7:09pm   User  by Christina

After moving in to the house, we’ve been so caught up with unpacking, chasing after bills, and watching the new grass seeds grow that I really haven’t updated the blog with “moved in/semi furnished” photos. (A recent commenter suggested a grass lawn is not so hip, which is true but we desire anything green to take over the dusty/muddy soil- grass, weeds, ground covers, etc. We are starting with some grass seeds now (sod prices were too high) and filling in with as much non-mowable, heat tolerate ground covers aspossible.)

New photos:

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Geraniums but no grass

Comments   4   Date Arrow  June 24, 2008 at 8:28pm   User  by Christina

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Table arrives

Comments   2   Date Arrow  June 16, 2008 at 5:08pm   User  by Christina

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Clean house ready to move in

Comments   0   Date Arrow  June 3, 2008 at 8:32pm   User  by Christina

Well we have actually moved into the house now. We’ve been there one week and love it!! The first night in the new place seemed very surreal. We are in the process of unpacking and settling in and I will post some “moved in” photos sometime soon. It is a wonderful feeling to actually be living in the project that took 14 months to complete! The landscaping still remains to be done and most rooms are very sparsely furnished, but we like it this way. The house is very comfortable to us, as it should be! One of the best things is that the house is so clean (for now). After all the construction dust was cleaned up, the windows scrubbed, the floors uncovered, and no pet hair yet (cats moved in a day after us), it is wonderful to have a clean new house!

Here are a few photos from the day before we moved in.

This is the built in book shelves in the Family Room. The center cabinet is for the TV with sliding doors. The wood is dark stained walnut to match the other cabinetry.

Finished Kitchen now with cook top and oven in place.

Stained front door seen from the inside front hall.

Medicine cabinets in the master bath made to match the vanity bases.

And the flush valve toilet! After much discussion on many other blogs about toilet, I thought I had to post ours. We knew that this was what we wanted from the beginning so we had the pipes installed to serve a flush valve toilet. Many people thought this was strange (we got lots of questions from the plumbers), but for us it makes sense- on looks and function!

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Hearth gets installed!

Comments   0   Date Arrow  May 7, 2008 at 5:59am   User  by Christina

Martin smoothing the concrete of the hearth.

Hearth and surrounds of poured concrete installed! Yea!!!! This turned out really smooth and beautiful!! The oven to the right is in a holding position waiting to be installed. Not in this room!

Ash cleanout.

More garage photos.

Detail at garage door.

After living in the garage and on the terrace, it is a very big deal that the master tub is now in its correct place!!!! We were not sure if this would ever happen!!

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Chandelier Installed

Comments   5   Date Arrow  May 5, 2008 at 8:18pm   User  by Christina

As I mentioned previously, Dave found this chandelier at Cosmic Closet in Memphis and they ordered it for us. He worked wonders in rewiring it to make it drop the necessary 13 feet then Dave and Bob the electrician put all the glass pieces together and installed it last week. It looks wonderful!! I am very impressed! We’ve looked at all kinds of fixtures for this location and Dave has worked on many designs, so I’m thrilled to see the final outcome and how well this turned out. I was kind of skeptical about buying something off the shelf after he had talked about making something for so long (this could always happen in the future) and then I was very skeptical about the whole re-wiring process. Finding the right wire led us to all kinds of interesting stores but we actually found the right wire at Graham’s lighting (also where we got our ceiling fans). I like to give credit to the local shops when ever I can and especially to those that are always super helpful.

Since the garage doors were stained and trimmed this week and the lights are on at the garage, I thought I would post a photo of the garage at night.

Yvonne Bobo who made our stainless steel handrail installed it this past Sunday. She has had it ready for a few weeks but has not had the opportunity to install it with the painting and trim work that was ongoing. The handrail looks great!

There is really very little to finish onsite at this point. We have a move in date at the end of May- yea!! A bit behind schedule which has been frustrating but everyone is still getting along and we are liking the final product alot! We just want to be living in the house. For some reason it seems that everything cannot be just done, there is always one more piece of trim to install when the built-ins are finished, one more thing to paint when the trim guy gets finished, one more missing door to stain- not sure why we cannot get enough of the correct doors? The interiors doors. We’ve had a terrible time with them being warped. They are 8′ tall birch doors. I’ll mention no names for now till hopefully we can get some resolution. But this has been an going issue. Warped pocket doors do not work well and we have a series of pocket doors. We asked the supplier to inspect the doors and were told that anything within a 1/4″ was within the manufacturer’s tolerance. This seems odd to me. How is a 1/4″ warped door suppose to work in a pocket configuration? Some of the doors are scraping the frame as it slides into the pocket. Not good. I assume the pocket frame could have been made much wider, but that’s not the typical case and we didn’t need a 7 1/2″ thick wall just to accommodate warped doors! We have also been told that the doors can take up to 6 months in the hung position to straighten out. Six months! So does the painter finish the doors now that might be removed in 6 months? The trim carpenter worked on moving the top wheels on the doors and this helped a bit. The doors are still warped though and this is bothersome to me. I’m watching the calender for 6 months.

I don’t think the photo shows the extent of the warpness, but you get the idea. There is a wider space on the right and a very tight space on the left. The painter said today that with the hardware adjustments that have been made they are sliding better and not rubbing the frame. Still it’s a warped door.

Pocket door and by-pass door face pull in brushed nickel.

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Trim guys onsite = good day

Comments   8   Date Arrow  April 21, 2008 at 12:22pm   User  by Christina

The main trim guys were onsite first thing this morning (Monday) so we have started the week off well- I think. There is not much that they lack. Mostly building the closet shelves and a few other minor things that should be done in a day or two- if everyone stays onsite, has their needed materials, and doesn’t get side tracked. Then the painter can finish his remaining work and we can be ever closer to moving in.

As it warms up outside here in Memphis, we are drawn to the idea of starting to sleep in the new house as it is remaining a very cool and comfortable 64 degrees inside with no AC running. Actually the exterior AC compressors have not even been installed yet. I keep walking into the house and thinking “it’s cool in here, when did the AC get hooked up?”. Oh yea! The AAC’s insulating properties are performing wonderfully! We’ll keep checking back on the comfort level as the outside temperature and humidity climbs during the summer.

A few updates on trim work details.

This photo shows how the 1×8 base meets the 1×1 trim at the exterior doors. The 1×8 is beveled to meet the trim. The 1×8 is actually 3/4″ thick and the 1×1 material creating the door trim was ripped down to about 1/2″ thick (there was a reason to this that has to do with the window trim, etc). Thus the base ends up being slightly thicker that the door trim, which is reverse of the typical condition one would have and thus the need for the bevel detail. There is no shoe mould. The 1×8 is kept very square edged and modern which I think turned out well. I had been very concerned that the height of the 8″ base would be too heavy and traditional for the style of home. I kept wishing that maybe we should have done a revealed edge base. Paint on the walls, doors stained, I am now pleased with the final outcome. (The brown of the floor is brown paper covering to protect the floors, not a finished material).

This shows a stained door as the beveled 1×8 base meets the EZ-jamb. Since we’ve posted about the EZ-jamb and have had inquires about this product, I think it is only fair to show how the details are coming together. The trim guys held the base a 1/4″ from the EZ-jamb. Again- finished this is turning out better than I was concerned it might. In these photos there are still final coats of paint remaining- i.e. edges look a bit tattered right now.

The jamb still needs to be painted to match the walls. Interesting that the walls appear to be plain white in the photos, but in reality they have a touch of gray to them or “shoji white”.

Window with 1x trim

Sliding closet doors at master bedroom. The track hardware is very nice, in fact we considered leaving it exposed but are going with a revealed 1x piece over the track.

The upstairs floors were stained this past Friday and look great! The color is a little lighter than the door and window stain, but still complementary.

Formwork for terrace steps. The conduit is for step lights that are buried in the concrete.

I realized I didn’t have any recent photos up of the garage with the doors that are now installed. They will be stained to match the other dark stain work of the house.

Temporary electric pole is still here for now.

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More lighting progress

Comments   0   Date Arrow  April 16, 2008 at 3:19pm   User  by Christina

The actual progress onsite is still not at the pace we would like to see, but there are things that progress some days. I’ll focus on the updates. As the weather has gotten warm we’ve started planting a few bushes but are waiting for sod. No idea where the sod is? Dave surprised me recently by driving by the house at night and getting to see that the lights were now not only installed but on!!

Nelson buble lamp

Nelson Bubble Lamp in the Guest Room

A friend of ours gave us this wonderful lamp after she found it in a house she bought. For some reason she didn’t want it and we were happy to place it in our house.

Exterior front entry lamp from Restoration Hardware. The cord needs to be straightened out.

Pendant lights in the kitchen

Sconce in the bath

Interior Omnia door handles. These operate up or down. The front door and interior door handles are all by Omnia and we ordered these from usdoorware.com.

Fans on the covered porch. Modern outdoor fans are hard to find in dark bronze. We opted for a Craftmaid fan that was the most simple design possible. Why so elaborate with all that fan stuff? Same issue we continue to run into is that if you are shopping for something simple and modern it becomes the most difficult to find.

This is the chandelier that is on order for the dining room. We found it at a local store called Cosmic Closet. Dave has been working on some fixture designs to make but when we saw this one we thought we would give it a try in the space. The dining room has such high ceilings that we are just trying to see what works best. Strangely it was very hard to find a fixture that made the 14′ drop from our ceiling to the above table height. What do people do when they have high ceilings? This fixture only drops 5′. After careful examination, Dave and the electrician are going to make the necessary adjustments to make this lamp extend much further from the ceiling. Installed photos will hopefully come soon.

After grading the yard, we found what seems to be an old well? We are either going to fill it in or cover it with a plate. Strange that we never noticed this till now?

Otis in a box helping to start packing.

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Shower doors arrive

Comments   2   Date Arrow  March 27, 2008 at 8:27pm   User  by Christina


The glass shower doors, mirrors, and glass for some of the kitchen cabinets arrived today.

master shower

Dave looking through the sidelight glass of the shower



The handrail installation has also started. The "feet" were screwed in today and the stainless rail will arrive soon after the stairwell painting is finished.


A stainless steel "foot". The wood is a guide and is just temporary.  Dave found a local metal smith to fabricate the rail assembly.


There seem to be a million other things going on at the site but many of them not necessarily photo worthy yet. The painters (still can’t speak enough praise about them) are there daily painting and staining. The sheet rock guys and trim guys are on again/ off again thus there are some issues in getting everything finished, finished, cleaned up and ready to move in. But we are getting there. 

The utility room is stacked with boxes (as a storage place for now) of light fixtures and the electrician is making his way around the house installing fixtures and bulbs. Most of our fixtures we either ordered online or purchased at Lowe’s. As I post the installed fixture soon, I’ll document the source.

Wilburn continues to grade the site in preparation for sod and a few shrubs. I’m shopping plants in between hardware store runs, trying to get the awning ordered for the back door, and generally loving being onsite for all the little detailed questions.

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Getting closer to finished

Comments   2   Date Arrow  March 13, 2008 at 7:26pm   User  by Christina

There still seems to be alot to be done but it has been good on site each day this week with different crews all working toward the finish. Trim guys are finishing up downstairs and the painters have started painting upstairs.

No more plywood front door- the real one was installed yesterday!! The mail slot was cut in today. This was a very important item for Dave and I think it turned out very well! Door handle is by Omnia. The door is Spanish cedar which smells incredible! The cedar trim around the door is still to come.








The bedroom is painted “amazing gray” by Sherwin Williams. The door and trim will get stained soon. The 1×8 base will be painted to match the walls. I have to post about the painting and staining as it happens as this is something I’ve agonized over for months- what color, stain or no stain, etc…. The father and son painting team is wonderful that Martin hired for the project. They are very meticulous and detail oriented- just what is needed for the painting.

Today the grading of the site started and we went ahead and had Wilburn clear the debris of weed shrubs and metal fence from the adjacent lot that we now have also. Although with the debris cleared the shed takes on a much more interesting charm, it should be ignored as not pertaining to the over all design scheme. It shouldn’t be around for too long. It’s on the adjacent lot.





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Tile work almost complete

Comments   1   Date Arrow  February 26, 2008 at 9:14am   User  by Christina

Two weeks ago we had a group of students from Rhodes College (my alma mater) come through on a tour learning about alternative building materials which tied into a class they were taking on alternative sources of energy. We were pleased to show them the AAC (what’s left unexposed is only in the mechanical closet now) and tell them about some of the unique features of our house.

All tiling seems to be complete at this point and the showers await their glass doors which will come later.

The master bath marble is calcutta gold with Ann Sacks white penny rounds for the shower floor. We used the same penny round tiles in the downstairs shower floor also. The tiling seemed to take forever but we realize it is a very particular skill and there were lots of pieces to cut. At first the amount of veining in the marble surprised me as it went up on the shower walls. Why I don’t know since this marble has a very distinctive veining. Once complete with the grout I love it. We used 12×12 tiles with a smooth finish and asked that the veining all go in the same direction. But the pattern still ends up being sort of random. The only way to have controlled this would have been to layout all the marble and make some attempt to match everything up- we did not do this and I think it might have killed the tile guys if we did. I look at those huge slabs of book matched calcutta gold marble in magazines now and I am very impressed. Each step of the way you look at the materials you have used in a different light.





My vanity comes in close to the window and we intentionally created this little offset in the base and countertop to miss the window. It turned out well so I thought I should document it. Some people have asked if this was an oversight, but I actually planned the window location at this location and then designed the vanity to suit the unique circumstance.


This is the front door that just arrived and is waiting to be hung and stained.


Other things happening onsite are the windows and doors are being trimmed with a thin 3/4 piece and all the interior doors except the pockets and sliding ones have now been hung. This proved a bit challenging to the trim guys with the EZ-Jamb.

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Tile work in progress

Comments   0   Date Arrow  February 7, 2008 at 1:39pm   User  by Christina

I’ve contemplated the tile for so long that I only thought it was right to post a few photos to show how it is coming along.
The upstairs bath floor is “Lagos Azul” limestone in 12×12 tiles. No grout has been installed in either bath yet and the circles are tile spacers to be removed. I love how the color turned out. I was not sure if it would end up being too brown but it is not. It’s a very slate gray color and I love it.




The master bath floor (tub surround and shower also but not installed yet) is Calcutta gold marble also in a 12×12 tile. I love this marble. I actually thought it would be more white and less of the veins, but it’s marble and these things are always a surprise. I probably could have tried to select to have more white, but the gray veins give a beautiful texture.



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Countertops arrived

Comments   0   Date Arrow  January 30, 2008 at 4:30pm   User  by Christina

Now that the cabinets are in we were ready for the countertops which were installed this week. All of our sinks are undermounted and came installed with the counters. We ordered the sinks through faucet.com, Martin delivered them to Highland Systems, and they cut the quartz for the countertops. All of the tops (bath, utility, and kitchen) are quartz by Cambria in the color called Snowden White. http://www.cambriausa.com/colordetail.cfm?color=0110&colorname=Snowdon%20White

I loved this color from the 2″ sample and WOW these countertops turned out better than imagined! Always wonderful when things installed look better than the sample!




For all those out there on livemodern.com with the ongoing discussions of the best sink, ours is a “Blanco Spex Plus” with equal 14x16x8 1/2 bowls. For the baths we ordered a rectangular American Standard sink in white also from faucet.com. I looked at the “Blancoprecis” double bowl sink- love it. But hum- $1,277 for the kitchen sink versus $300? We went with the less expensive one and I think we will be ok. But that square edged Blancoprecis sure is attractive!


Dave’s vanity and sink

Also a bit more on our cabinets (ongoing discussions on livemodern.com for those followers). We did alot of research on these before making our final decision to go with a local cabinet maker. We shopped at IKEA which is in Atlanta and would require a long distance trip for us if we went with this option. Their cabinets are a great price and ok in quality. We looked around in a Scavolini store in Miami. Very fancy Italian cabinets with all kinds of cool stuff. Those were never in our budget but were fun to look at and know they were out there. None of the high end European lines have a retail store in our area. We also shopped at the local hardware stores, looked at the Venicia line by KraftMaid, and some of the local kitchen cabinet retailers. Our builder suggested we use HY Construction in Millington to make the cabinets. Before his suggestion, I had never really thought about going with a custom made option. We looked at their work and liked what we saw. Also we could customize the sizes to exactly what we wanted but still stay within our budget. This is less of an option with store bought cabinets although some of the higher end cabinets allow for customization. Dave found a source for walnut fibercore plywood at a good price and this really set the look we were after. Our design with slab front doors is straightforward. I designed the kitchen, bath, and utility room cabinet layout and another local architect that works with HY Construction took my drawings and fine tuned them into shop drawings. Everything turned out beautifully. I highly recommend the local custom made cabinets if this is an option in your area. It takes a little more patience, but you end up getting just what you want if you find the right people to make them.

The island cabinets are on site but are not in their final place as the concrete floor finishing work begins. The countertop on the island is also not installed yet. More photo updates as these get finished.


Master shower with AAC wall still exposed. My understanding is that they are going to install the tile over the AAC here and over the durarock board on the stud framed walls. I like this photo because it’s one of the last remaining places where the AAC is still visible. This other place is the exterior wall of the mechanical closet. This will remain uncovered both because it just doesn’t need a layer of sheetrock and because it serves as a window into how our house is built long after all the other walls are sheathed in other materials.


Master shower soap enclosure framed.




The above photo is in the upper bath with a tub where some of the tile work has started. We are using basic 3×6 white tiles for the tub enclosure and downstairs shower enclosure. The upper soap opening was cut and installed and we just decided to leave it and put a lower one in also to be easier to access from the tub.


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Trying to answer a few AAC questions

Comments   2   Date Arrow  January 30, 2008 at 3:31pm   User  by Christina

Since starting the blog we have loved the questions we have received from all those interested in building with AAC. I decided to respond to this comment as a post so that the q&a didn’t end up too buried. I felt that others out there might also benefit.


The comment:


My wife and I have designed a house that will be built on a 2 acre lot we purchased in the beautiful Texas hill country. We have also made a decision to go with AAC and will be using Contec here in San Antonio, Texas as our vendor. We are discussing trying to do all the interior framing in AAC versus wood. Do you see any drawbacks with this strategy? Additionally, I read Christina’s comment regarding specific chases for the electrical and plumbing. I assume this could be handled by strategically placing o-blocks for the needed chases. Lastly, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for creating this blog. It was a tremendously helpful read.


Basil & Sophia


My response:


Thanks for the positive reinforcement!!!!


I suppose the Texas hill country has similar climate to us in Memphis and that the AAC will suit you very well. I may have mentioned in a past post that we seem to be using very little heat (outside temps vary in the 30’s up to the 50’s now) inside to keep the temperature comfortable. We will have to see how this all works out once we live in the house. The master shower wall is still exposed AAC right now awaiting its’ skin of tile. This wall is not cold to the touch as a typical block wall would be in this temperature.


Contec is great to work with. Charles was who I spoke with during our design phase. We ended up using Aercon at the last minute due to shipping costs. For you in Texas, Contec should be perfect.


I am sure that you can use the AAC for interior framing. This really all depends on your house design, budget, and your needs. If you use the block on interior walls, you will have an 8″ thick wall. For our plan that thickness took up too much valuable floor space. Thus a 4″ wood framed stud wall made more sense. We also have alot of interior walls, but if your plan is fairly simple with few interior walls then the 8″ block might make sense. For us the block itself is more expensive than the wood framing, thus it would have made the project too costly to use the block inside. We also don’t really need the thermal insulation value on the inside of the house that the block provides. We did use typical batt insulation on many of the interior wood framed walls for sound insulation (we can already tell that our house is very quiet inside).


I suppose an o-block would work for a chase but I am not sure? I suggest you try to get an o-block from Contec and discuss this with Contec, your builder, and plumber (since the plumbing pipe has the largest diameter that will need to go through the o-block. The o that is cut in the block may be too small for plumbing? If you have the Contec design manual, they show a plumbing chase example in one of their drawings. If you don’t have this manual yet, you need to request it right away. It will help the construction make much more sense. Based on this drawing and our experience, I would recommend using the regular block but cutting it to form the chase in the wall as the block is installed. We routed the channels for plumbing and electrical after the block was installed thus there was a bit of labor in cutting- but it all worked fine.





Maybe this photo of the plumbing at our kitchen helps. The masons cut the first two or three courses of block as they were laying it because the plumbing rough-in was already in place coming through the slab (notice how the block edges on the left have a smoother cut and the right edge is rougher). They could have continued to create this chase as they laid the block on up the wall creating a chase. However they stopped after the first course or two. After that the horizontal cuts (which are probably a bit wider than recommended) and the cut for the valve were made latter as the plumbing was installed. If you are going to use chases this will require alot of stratgic planning on your part with the plumber/electrician and if you are installing the plumbing and electrical yourself then this may make sense for you.


If you have an electrical plan this will be helpful in locating chases for the wiring. Again we cut ours in after to block walls were in place. It’s doable but with careful planning chases may provide a cleaner option.


Since only our exterior walls are block, we tired to keep as much plumbing and electrical work from being in these walls. Another reason that using stud walls was helpful for us is that the majority of this work occurs in our stud walls to keep from cutting too much block.

I hope that this at least starts to answer your questions. Good luck with all and post another comment to us if you run into more questions.

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Comments   0   Date Arrow  January 24, 2008 at 9:55pm   User  by Christina

We chose to use a 6″ thick poured concrete with a broom finish for the drive and front walkway. There are expansion joints at strategic locations. The concrete is reinforced and we chose to leave it in its’ natural color and not stain it.




The doors at the back are access to storage closets.


Diamond pattern on the walk to the back door.


Front walk and steps. The walks are very white now due to the calcium deposits coming through. After a few rains they should fade to grayish. We went to the lumber company this week to see our front door that will replace the plywood beauty pretty soon. The door looks great and we can’t wait to see it in place!!!


We requested that our local utility company bury the electrical service to the house along with the gas line. Most houses in our area have electrical service that connects above ground to the house but this seems to always be in the way of trees and provides an unsightly tangle as it meets the house. Since we are building new we went ahead and buried the electrical service.

Other than driveway and utility work, we have been making final orders on lighting, door handles, fans, etc. Basically everything to get the house finished up inside.  I have spent way too much time online looking at every possible option out there and then I take Dave to the local stores to compare findings.  As many building modern homes may know, the choices on modern fixtures are so limited both in size and design- I want choices and lots of them. Omnia has proven to be a great choice for the interior and front door handles.  So with several orders placed we anxiously wait for the lights and door handles to arrive. More updates on all soon hopefully with photos of the installation.





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Immigrant workforce

Comments   1   Date Arrow  January 15, 2008 at 5:59pm   User  by Christina

Seems as if these last two posts are getting very political.

Our house was shown on the front page of the local news paper recently in relation to an ongoing series on immigrant workers in Memphis. Even though the house was shown our names are not mentioned. The story is about Jose our framer and other workers who are not American citizens, thus there was not a need to mention us or our builder. We met Daniel Connolly the writer from the paper this past summer. We knew he was doing a series on Jose and immigrant workers in Memphis. Link to the article:


Link to other articles I found and liked their stance:


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Kitchen cabinets and driveway

Comments   0   Date Arrow  January 15, 2008 at 5:58pm   User  by Christina

Kitchen and bath cabinet installation began this past week.








Downstairs bath vanity. The bath vanities are stained mahogany veneer fibercore and the kitchen cabinets are stained walnut veneer fibercore.



Covered terrace ceiling is tongue and groove stained pine. Holes are for lights and fans. The trim guys did such a great job with the ceiling that Martin suggested not using a quarter round or any trim piece that is typically used at the joint between the wood and the stucco. The ceiling looks tight and neat as it is and really doesn’t need this finishing piece. It creates a more modern look so Dave and I like this and agreed. The tongue and groove wood ceiling was applied over sheetrock. The sheetrock guys just kept going and sheetrocked the porch ceilings. We debated removing the sheetrock but in the end Martin and the trim guys decided it made for a cleaner installation.



The driveway is off a small side street that does not have a sidewalk or curb cut.


Reinforcing mesh being laid for the driveway. The curve in the lower corner is for a tree and planter bed.










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Discussion on American hardwoods

Comments   2   Date Arrow  January 13, 2008 at 3:45pm   User  by Christina

As I mentioned in my previous post, we looked at many options for wood flooring and chose quarter sawn white oak.

Sources of wood, tree farm practices, FSC, SFI, etc. have been an ongoing source of discussion with my father since our family has a managed tree farm. Typically LEED and all the organizations promoting green building only promote FSC woods. My father has said that this was a biased promotion or an option that needed further investigating. Thus I asked him for a few recommended web sites and to write a brief statement on his views of woods from managed farms. Web sites:



http://www.treefarmsystem.org/His statement:

I think FSC was set up as part of the movement to discourage destruction of the tropical rain forests by certifying that products came from plantations and sustainably managed forest in the tropics. Then they have tried to transfer the same method to support sustainable forestry in the US. Ironically they oppose the same practices here that they strongly encourage in the tropics such as intensively managed plantations. SFI and the Tree Farm System were established by industries as a standard for certifying industry owned and managed land and private non-industrial land. Both programs are now managed by independent boards, but they still have the association with forest products industries whereas FSC is associated with environmental groups. There is a lot of “turf war” between the two groups and accusations of deception by both groups against the other. The standards are actually pretty close to the same as far as I can tell but FSC puts more emphasis on social welfare derived from their effort to protect rights of indigenous people in the tropics. My objection to FSC is that they are encouraging people to buy products with their certification when they actually do not have a significant amount of land certified or products produced that can be traced to their certified lands so to buy wood with their certification you are going to have to buy wood produced in Sweden or New Zealand. This is not encouraging to US landowners to maintain their land in forests by providing a market for their trees. As the last paragraph of the NPR article points out, this is really the best way to preserve forests as a renewable resource. FSC really does not even have a system for certifying small private landholdings which typify US forests, especially in the east and its standards are directed toward management of large public forests. The only land in Tennessee that is FSC certified is the State Forests but even there there is no premium paid for the trees because they are certified and no method set up to trace the wood from the state forests to the final product. So I think FSC is really being deceptive if it is representing that buying products it certifies supports sustainable forestry. For reasons that seem to be completely political the LEED Green Building Code people only recognize FSC as a valid certification so that causes me to question the legitimacy of the whole program. As far as I know FSC is a legitimate system for certifying tropical forest products, but it seems to me it is a better practice to use local products that support sustainable forestry at home instead of using tropical products at all.

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