Yesterday was a big day on the build site. Remember me talking about those “irreversible decisions” and how much pressure I feel when I have to make them? There were quite a few of those that day!
The plumbers and electricians showed up to run pipes and conduits through the under-slab layer. They needed down-to-the-inch details on where certain things would be located, and I knew that once the slab was poured there would be no changing them! Then in the course of those discussions, other issues arose that needed to be decided upon. Here are just a few of the dilemmas we encountered and solved that day:
- How wide is the bathtub surround going to be? The framers needed to know because one of the bathroom windows was to be centred between the bathtub on one wall and the vanity on the other, but I hadn’t decided how wide the tub surround would be, and that would affect how wide the attached shower would be. I soon realized that the shower pan I’d picked out (a pre-formed acrylic “floor” designed for a shower that will be tiled) was the wrong size. After a quick call to the plumbing supply folks to see what other options we had, followed by a discussion of the cost comparison between using a pre-formed pan vs. having a custom tiled shower floor (a pan is cheaper), a decision was made.
- Can I manually control the recirculating pump? When a faucet is located far away from the hot water tank you can wait quite a while for the water coming out of it to get hot, and meanwhile you are wasting lots of cold, clean water. Once it runs hot and you are done with it, that hot water sits in the pipes and cools off so that if you wait long enough, you have to repeat the process to get hot water again. To avoid this, our house has a recirculating system built in. Instead of letting cold water run out of the pipes, that cold water is sent back to the hot water tank, and fresh hot water is pumped out. I was concerned about having this system running 24/7 – that seemed a waste of electricity – and wanted a switch to turn on the pump only when needed. They are programmable but our family, with 2 self-employed adults and 2 partly-homeschooled kids, has no regular schedule to speak of, so that wouldn’t be a good solution for us. It turns out that the new models are not only very energy efficient, but they can sense the temperature of the water in the pipes and turn off when the water is hot. Adding a dedicated breaker switch means I can turn it off at night if I want, or when we go on holiday. Problem solved.
- Where exactly does the in-floor electrical outlet go? In my 3D modelling adventures I played around with different furniture layouts for the living room. It’s actually a pretty small room, and it’s open on 2 sides, with a wide patio door on the 3rd side, and a wall with a wide door in it on the 4th side. This really limits the furniture arrangement possibilities, and the best one I came up with has the sofa in a spot where any lamps next to it would end up having cords running across traffic areas. An in-floor outlet under the sofa or side table is a great solution. But today I had to decide precisely where that would be! I don’t even have a sofa for that room yet, and there’s no knowing whether I will want to change the furniture arrangement later. But I decided to go for it anyways, and if I end up not using it I can just pop some protective covers on it and throw a rug on top!
Here are a few more questions I had to answer definitively today:
- How wide do the interior door openings need to be? (I haven’t even ordered them yet, so had no idea)
- How tall will the interior doors be? (All the windows and exterior doors are at 7 feet, so I went with that for the interior doors)
- Do you want to take advantage of a deal on rigid foam and add an extra inch of insulation (adds another R=4) under the slab for only $500 more? (that seemed a no-brainer, even if the recommended under-slab insulation is only 5; I hate cold feet)
- Do you want to decrease the width of the vertical slab perimeter insulation to avoid having to cover up 2 inches of exposed foam around the inside of your floor? (no. perimeter insulation is probably the most important part of insulating a slab; we’ll use footings or shoe molding with the baseboard trim to cover that up; more on our slab insulation system in a future post)
- Do you want to truck in part of the roof truss order so the framers can keep working on that part of the house, which means doubling the trucking cost when the second set of trusses arrives, or do you want to truck them in all at once and risk having the framers sitting idle for a few days? (truck them in two separate loads; save time and keep our awesome framers happy)
Things are moving so fast. Stay tuned for more photos!