Another imperfect post…

In a perfect blog world I could share with you a piece of the house when it is complete and include the “before and after” photos.  Yet, it just doesn’t work that way.  For example; the roofers were called away a couple of weeks ago to finish up another job that stalled earlier, allowing them to start on our job.  We thought they would be gone just a day or two.  By the time they were ready to return to our house, our landscapers and brick masons had taken over the front of the house and there was no room for them to return.  So they are waiting for us to make way for them, meanwhile they began another job and will hop back over to ours to finish up when the time is right.  It’s quite the juggling act they maintain!

Each piece of the metal roof is hand crimped to make the standing seams.


The sheets are then connected to one another and fastened down to the wooden sub roof.

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Remember this look?

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Another view…almost done!


Parts of the the old roof waiting to be picked up for recycling.


Our front porch was removed, new piers constructed and the framing replaced.  Now we wait for eco-friendly Proteak wood to arrive in Richmond.  Proteak is a renewably-harvested wood grown through environmental stewardship on reclaimed ranch lands in Mexico.  This method of farming alleviates the human, financial and environmental hardships of strip farming from the Southeast Asia trade.  It produces a FSC certified wood.  We will be using Proteak for the flooring of the front porch.  The first time we saw the wood we knew we wanted to use it!  It’s one of the hardest, long-lasting materials suitable for outdoor uses plus it ages beautifully with extremely low maintenance.   We have spent weeks figuring out how to cut the wood for installation.  The boards come into Richmond precut into deck boards.  Our preference is a tongue and groove application but we haven’t been sure that when installed this way, outdoors, there will be enough room for expansion and contraction with climate fluctuations.  Yesterday John and I visited Ecosupply, the local distributor for Proteak and after some discussion came up with a suitable tongue and groove installation plan that will leave about a dime’s worth of space between the boards when they are installed in December.  This should be the appropriate amount of space for the boards to swell during the summer months.  No “after” photos yet!

The framed porch awaits flooring.


The front yard landscaping is one major undertaking!  In the last few days before installation was to begin, the plan ballooned into a much bigger job than originally anticipated.  In an effort to prevent storm run-off, we decided to capture the rain water from the front half of the roof and direct it into the center of the yard in a holding basin or cistern.  The sidewalk will also be slightly slanted inward to direct falling rain toward the center of the yard.  The pitch should be unnoticeable when it is complete, much the way our roadways are pitched to facilitate rain runoff.  In the end we will have a self-watering system going on up front.  The cistern is a 10‘ x 10‘ square that is just over 4‘ deep.  It’s a BIG hole layered with gravel and corrugated pipes, and topped with soil for planting.  The pipes have drainage holes so that the water can disperse into the surrounding ground.  The rain gutters from the front half of the house are connected to the cistern by large plumbing pipes.  That part of the project, the BMP (Best Management Practice) is complete!  The sidewalk that forms the courtyard around the cistern requires meticulous persistence.   We have been told that Hector is the perfectionist at Rock Creek Innovations and we have certainly witnessed his attention to detail.  I have watched him level and re-level the stones dozens of times. I have seen him chisel a stone out and go after the mortar with a hammer to start again.  Each day this week I visit to see how far he has gotten and to photograph the progress.  The stone is still dusty from cutting and transportation but I can see the variety of colors and look forward the great reveal when the installation is complete and the stone is washed.  That will be a while as I have been told that after each stone is in place, every single joint is hand cut to ensure they are all the same width and then grout is applied.  When that is all said and done, the trees and shrubs will be planted.

Matt from Rock Creek and his cohort spent an entire day measuring for the precise placement of the cistern, walkway and plantings.


More leveling and measuring.


Digging the BIG hole!



Thousands of feet of perforated piping waiting to go into the hole.


The white rigid pipe is coming from the downspout.


The pipe is covered with gravel.


The walkway is dug out and bordered with wood to accept the concrete.


Ready for concrete.





Variegated Bluestone is delivered and the concrete base is ready!


Hector, the perfectionist.  Who doesn’t want a perfectionist on scene? Thankfully, it seems we have several on site these days!DSC_0018

This is how it looked when I left yesterday.


John and Bobby have continued to work on the basement stairs and door.  Again, not quite done but you can certainly get the idea now!  The final piece of that puzzle is the door which should arrive next week.

A new drain is in place.IMG_5879

Gravel and support rods are next, followed by yet another inspection from the city!


Bobby in the stairwell.


John up to his shenanigans again.





We reached another milestone on Tuesday.  With the insulation complete we passed another inspection!  Brad and Paige from EarthCraft came in and performed their inspection. They found a few crevices that the blown insulation missed.  John filled them by hand with canned foam.  The goal is to form a tightly sealed envelop from top to bottom.  In the near future we will post details about the ratings and the differences between open cell and closed cell insulation.  The city also sent an inspector to take a look and he signed off on his part.

The insulation team arrives.  Two different chemicals are mixed together to form the expanding foam barrier that is sprayed onto the walls and ceiling to form an envelop around the house. DSC_0022

Respirators and suits are worn by the installers.  We were not allowed inside so I held my iPhone up to the window and stuck it through the plastic from the outside to sneak this shot wile they were working upstairs.


They worked late the first day and after the sunset one of the guys had to hold a light for the other.


After the foam dries it is leveled with the wall and ceiling surfaces by gently sawing it off with a small hand saw.




Paige and Brad inspecting the window and measuring the depth of the insulation.


Brad is in the attic storage area measuring and looking for holes.


The city inspector arrives on scene as well.


The joy of technology…

Brad took a photo with his iPhone of a gap in the attic and after he climbed down shared it with Richard so that it could be fixed.


Can you see the insulation that oozed out of the holes below the windows?  It did this all over the house, which is great because it forms a vapor and moisture barrier as well as insulating.  This is one of the reasons that we used the spray application as opposed to sheets of insulation.

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With the insulation complete… the sheet rock arrived!




By the end of the first day the bottom level walls and ceiling were just about covered.


Next time I write the walls should be complete and with any luck so will the sidewalk and plantings.



  1. Yay!! Looking just beautiful!!
    The changes in the landscaping are indeed exciting.
    You are right, it’s great news to have perfectionists on the job. It’s in those details!!

  2. We are still waiting for our brick guy to come finish the end caps of our steps. Please just finish it. Ugh…
    So glad to hear your progress. Want to bring my husband by your house this week. Drive by. If you are there we will stop in….

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