T H E C H I S H O L M S / / P A N T H E R L A K E
28 Aug 2000
So it's finally happened. We logged our property this weekend to make room for house, shop and drainfield. Lot's of trees came down and Ken, our fabulous logger/bother-in-law lived up to his reputation. It was awesome to see.
I know there's lots ahead of us, but we've finally gotten started.
25 Oct 2000
The Chisholm casa is finally underway. Last month the land got cleared and the hole dug (and redug} The concrete crew poured footings last week and today they're pouring the walls.
And some walls they are. Our basement will have 14' ceilings now. We're seeing that as one of the benefits of having to dig deep to get beyond a massive cedar root and to good hardpan. We could have filled back in with sand or pea gravel and had more traditional 8' or 9' ceilings, but we thought an indoor racquetball/basketball court was just what we needed. Actually, it's unfinished space and judging by how long it took us to get to our last few unfinished basement projects I don't think we'll be playing ball down there anytime soon.
We did get electricity on September 6, almost a year of powering ourselves on the MOTHER OF ALL GENERATORS, so now we're just like the rest of you. We can turn on the stove or flush the toilet without thinking twice. But we're glad we went through that process of really getting to use our "backup power" for a while, so when Storm Watch 2001 hits and we're without power for weeks because of downed wires, we're ready.
30 Nov 2000
OK -- it's the next big installment of the Chisholm house project, all-consuming as it is. Our concrete crew left weeks ago and as soon as they were gone we had 1/2 million pounds of pea gravel poured into and around our overdug foundation. That's for good compaction and drainage (important on our lot) and the best base for our concrete basement floors. We also had the outside walls sprayed with a dampproofing product and installed sheet drains along the upper side of the house to further help with drainage concerns. We put in the footing drains ourselves and I have to say, with all the steps that foundation had, that was some task.
The excavator came in and backfilled around the house some, so it doesn't feel so strange around the foundation walls and our framers started soon after. They took some time with the basement walls. Some of them were 14' tall, their tallest basement to date (, a record already). They're done down there and on to the main floor and this is pretty exciting. We've been working on these plans for over a year and a half and it's something to see the rooms in 3-D. They've got a few more weeks to go before they get the whole house framed and then we plan to take a big break from all of these hired professionals and start working in earnest on the "guts" of the house.
We plan to do all of the plumbing (except what we had the plumber do under the basement slab) and all of the wiring. We're going to put in radiant floor heating, and I will be doing the siding and window trim (if I'm not too scared to be up so high on the west side of the house--something like 35'). We've got lot's of other stuff to fit into the walls, including central vac and more data and low voltage wires than I'll know what to do with. But Dan's got a plan and wire is cheap! Cheaper, at least, than 1/2 million pounds of pea gravel.
Once our house was framed, we took a break on it for a few months and built our shop. When it was completed, we were ready to get back to work on the house and still have a place to store our stuff. Over the next several months we worked mainly on the exterior to get the house weather-sealed and secure. The plywood was wrapped in a vapor barrier and the windows and doors installed. I trimmed them out and painted the trim and also the eaves. The siding took me most of a year to complete. Several hundred square feet of stone siding and then several hundred more of the cedar shake. We dipped the shakes in oil to preserve them all the way around before stapling them up. Then it was on to the Hardi-plank siding for the remainder of the house.
After finishing this up, we turned to the inside of the house and began the plumbing process. We decided to run individual supply lines to each fixture throughout the house. A hot and a cold manifold in the basement plumbing room distributes 40 lines to all the bathrooms, kitchen and outdoor faucets. This way, no one using water in one part of the house can affect someone in another part. If you've ever lived in an older house and had someone flush the toilet while you were in the shower, you'll understand our motives. And with the help of our plumbing inspector (who was great!), we solved all the complexities and challenges of our drain lines and moved onto wiring.
We ran radiant tubing lines between the main floor ceiling joists to heat the top floor of the house and then stapled down tubes throughout the main floor and had a 1.5" layer of lightweight concrete poured as a thermal mass and insulation component.
When wiring this house, we kept in mind our generator (Mother of all generators) and wired in an emergency panel that gives all the rooms lights and power from our back-up battery source. All of the heavier loads (like our stove and many of our kitchen circuits) went onto a second panel that could be powered by the generator while its running but would not be used much if we had a power outage.
With all of our interests relying heavily on computers, we went a little crazy with the low voltage wiring. Alarms wires, Coax, Cat 5e and more Cat 5e. We pulled several thousand feet of wire throughout the house, so every room has options for speakers and computers, networked games and phones.
Finally, with all of the electrical and plumbing work completed, we moved on to venting lines, which were 2" insulated lines working with a high velocity air system that filters and warms the air, as well as exchanges it throughout the house continuously. With this finished, we were ready for a final framing inspection and then onto the finish work.
We hired a company to insulate the house
and another one to sheetrock and then I floored and trimmed and painted
and painted. We chose tongue and groove bamboo for much of the main floor
and upstairs. We also used slate, marble and ceramic for kitchen, baths
and laundry. With the radiant floors, the tile is a comfortable and
So, after four and a half years of building, we moved in right before Christmas in 2004. We did 90% of the work ourselves and are very proud of our efforts. Of course, we see lots of room for improvement, and in spite of all the thought and work we've devoted to our home, we've been known to say "on the next house . . . " but I can tell you with certainty, that won't be any time soon.
p.s. Here's a picture of our new kitten, Lex. She's 4 months old and is adjusting well to life with 3 boys who can't put her down and a lab who can't leave her food alone.
Gill cuddling with Lex