Archive for December, 2009


December 28, 2009

Inspections are “third party” verifications that various phases of work are being performed in accordance with the required building codes and the requirements of the five programs that this home will be certified for. The first group of inspections was performed by the City of Wichita when the basement was being constructed. Those inspections checked that the house was correctly located on the lot and that the required reinforcing steel was installed in the basement footings and walls. These inspections were preformed on August 26th.

Before the insulation can be installed in the house, a second group of inspections is required by the City of Wichita. This series of inspections are to check the “rough-ins” of the HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems. These inspections were performed on November 13th and 16th. After the trades “rough-ins” are approved and signed off, the next required inspection is the framing. It was performed and approved on November 17th.

Signatures and dates on the City of Wichita inspection card. View of the backside of the card taped to the Kitchen window.

Upon completion of the insulation, another series of inspections will be required to assure compliance with the LEED® for Homes, ENERGY STAR®, NAHB Green Building, Indoor airPLUS, and the Builders Challenge programs.

Indoor Contaminant Control

December 23, 2009

Indoor Contaminant Control is a subcategory of the LEED® for Homes, Indoor Environmental Quality credit category that is intended to reduce the creation of and exposure to pollutants. Several features of this home are a direct result of the Indoor Contaminate Control requirements.

The first feature is an area in the Laundry Room for shoe removal and storage. This area will include a bench, shelves for shoe storage and hard surface flooring. There will be eight shelves, 2 required for each bedroom.

The second feature, a central vacuum system, is installed at the same time the HVAC, plumbing and electrical work was proceeding.

View of an electrified inlet valve installed with vacuum piping to the central power unit. The central power unit will be installed in the Garage.

Utility Service Connections

December 21, 2009

As work is progressing inside and outside the house, the sewer, water and electrical service connections are being made to the various utility service lines.     

City Sewer Connection    

The city sewer is located in the utility easement at the rear of the lot. The sewer contractor excavates a trench from the rear of the house to the main sewer line, installs the new sewer line and backfills the trench.      

The sewer contractor is excavating for the new sewer line. View looking from the deck to the Northeast.

The sewer contractor cutting pipe preparing for the installation. View looking down from the North corner of the deck

Sewer contractor ready to place pipe in the trench. View looking toward the house from the East.The vertical pipe is a clean out required by city code. The sewer contractor is connecting the next section of pipe.

The vetical pipe is a clean out required by city code. The sewer contractor is connecting the next section of pipe.

The sewer connection is complete and the trench is being backfilled.

City Water Connection

The city water main is located on the opposite side of the street from the house. The city water department taps the main, then bores under the street and sets the water meter.     

The plumbing contractor backfilling the trench from the front of the house to the street for the new water service line. View from the front yard, looking South.

The new water service line in the approximate location of the water meter on the East side of the street. View from the East side of the street, looking West.

Excavation on the West side of the street by the city water department. View from the middle of the street, looking West.

The pneumatic horizontal boring tool is set up in the excavation on the West side of the street. View into the excavation on the East side of the street, shows the tool as it appears after crossing under the street

View into the excavation on the West side of the street, showing the city water main with tap attached.

View into the excavation on the East side of the street, showing the connection for the new water meter. The black pipe at the top is from the house.

The new water service line is pushed back to the West side of the street to connect to the main. View from the East side of the street.

The new water service line is ready to connect to the meter setting. View from the East side of the street.

The water meter is installed with the new water service line from the main across the street on the bottom left side.

The water service installation is complete and the trench on the West side of the street is being backfilled. View from the middle of the street, looking Southwest.

Electrical Connection   

The electric company transformer is located in Northeast end the utility easement at the rear of the lot.  

Trench for the electric service along the North side of the lot. View looking West.

The electrical contractor starts by connecting the conduit to the meter box on the North side of the house.

The electrical contractor checking the conduit from the trench to the meter box before attaching it to the house.

The electrical contactor working toward the transformer. View looking East.

The electrical contactor excavating near the transformer for the final connection. View looking Northeast.

The trench is backfilled and the meter box is ready for the meter.

The installation is complete with the electric meter in place and the connection made at the transformer.

Construction Waste Management

December 17, 2009

According to the USGBC, waste from building construction projects accounts for about 40% of all the material sent to landfills in the United States. To encourage the recycling of construction waste, both the LEED® for Homes program and the NAHB Green Building program awards points for recycling efforts.

We investigated the recycling options in Wichita and set a goal of 25% waste diversion. The plan includes recycling cardboard, wood, and gypsum (sheetrock) as follows: 

  • Cardboard: All cardboard packaging is to be recycled.  
  • Wood: All wood scraps are to be re-used by one of our employees. 
  • Gypsum: All gypsum scraps are to be made into compost.

This photo illustrates a situation that we had not anticipated. Our project dumpster was frequently used by others in the neighborhood. This picture was taken several days after framing was started. In the dumpster are electrical components, empty paint cans and an air filter. Obviously at this time none of these items came from our project. One morning we even found a dishwasher in the dumpster. 

Despite the extra debris, we have kept over 3,000 lbs. of waste from the landfill and we believe that we will achieve our 25 % diversion goal.

Plumbing, HVAC & Electrical Rough In

December 11, 2009

While the work on the exterior of the house has progressed, so has the work on the interior. Shortly after the windows were installed, the plumbing sub-contractor started installing drain, waste and vent piping. This work begins in the basement with the extension of the piping that was installed under the basement floor to the main level at all locations of plumbing fixtures and water using appliances.

Waste piping in floor trusses.

Master Bath waste piping. Lavatory drain pipes are on the right. The pipe branching to the left is from the toilet. The pipe offsetting and going straight ahead is the shower drain.

Waste and vent piping for the lavatories in the North wall of the Master Bath.

Waste and vent piping for the clothes washer in the South wall of the Laundry room. View from the stairway.

The water supply system is a Vanguard Pipe & Fittings Ltd., MANABLOC distribution system that utilizes a modular manifold and polyethylene hot and cold supply lines to each fixture. Benefits of this system include: minimum water temperature and pressure changes during simultaneous operation of numerous fixtures, faster hot water delivery, water and energy savings and fewer fittings located behind the wall.

Modular manifold installed on a basement wall with hot (red) and cold (white) polyethylene piping.

Close up of manifold with built-in shut off valves.

Hot and cold piping for the lavatories in the Master Bath Room.

Hot and cold piping for the lavatory and toilet at the South wall of Bath 2.

Several days after the plumber started, the HVAC and electrical sub-contractors begin their work as well. Ductwork starts to take shape in the basement while electrical boxes for outlets and switches are nailed to the studs.

Supply ductwork in main level floor trusses. Since all the ductwork will be in conditioned space, it does not need to be insulated.

Washer box with electrical outlets for the washer and the dryer nailed to wall studs. View from the Laundry room.

Waste and vent piping installed in the West wall of the Kitchen. Outlet boxes are nailed on the wall studs.

Sometime during the framing of the house, the owner decided to finish the basement. This required the selection and delivery of the modular tub-shower unit for the basement bath.

The modular tub-shower unit for the basement bath.

The modular tub-shower unit installed in the basement bath room. The pipe sticking out of the floor is the drain line for the toilet.

Hot and cold water supply lines for the tub – shower unit in the basement bath room.

The mixing valve for the shower in Bath 2 with polyethylene hot and cold piping. Copper pipe above the valve is to the shower head.

While performing the energy modeling for this house, an electric heat pump was chosen as the heating and air conditioning system. The equipment suggested by the HVAC contractor is a York, 18 SEER air-source heat pump. To obtain two additional LEED® for Homes points, a MERV 13 filter is also installed and as an option, the owner selected a General Aire bypass humidifier. Other equipment not yet installed includes a Lifebreath heat recovery ventilator for two LEED points and a Beam HEPA central air filtration system for 1 LEED point.

HVAC equipment installed in the basement. The York variable speed air handler is on the right side and the humidifier is on the left side. The filter rack is between the return air duct on the left side and the plenum under the air handler unit on the right side.

Each bathroom will have Nutone® Premier ENERGY STAR® rated bath exhaust fan vented to the outside. A motion sensor switch will control each fan. View of the Master Bath ceiling.

The decision to finish the basement also means that additional light fixtures will be installed in the ceiling of the Family Room. View of the Family Room ceiling looking North.

As the work progresses, the basement ceiling become crowed with ductwork, water pipe, light fixtures and wiring. View of the Family Room ceiling looking West toward the stair to the Main Level.

City code requires the location of the electric meter to be visible from the transformer located in the utility easement at the rear of the lot.

The meter box is located on the North side of the house, just outside Bedroom 2. The transformer is located out of the photo to the left.

City code also requires the location of the electric service panel be a maximum of 15’ away from the meter.

In order not to compromise the building envelope, the electric service panel is surface mounted on the Garage side of the Bedroom 2 closet.

Electric service panel installed on the East wall of the Garage.

The owner selected recessed light fixtures for the Kitchen, Living Room, Dining area, Master Bed Room and Family Room. Since all these fixtures , except those in the Family Room ,will be in the attic, they are required to be ICAT (Insulated Ceiling Air Tight) labeled to comply with the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s ENERGY STAR® Thermal Bypass requirements and the Builder’s Challenge requirements.

Kitchen light fixtures in vaulted ceiling.

Close up of recessed light fixture with a seal around the housing.

Deck Stairs

December 8, 2009

After the patio is complete the work on the deck stairway begins. The materials for the stairway are the same as those used to construct the deck.

The landing and rail posts are rough Cedar. Stair stringers are treated lumber. An additional 2 x 12 is used on each side of the stair to conceal the ends of the treads and risers. View from the East.

The material for the treads and risers is TimberTech®, Floorizon® Plank, same as the decking.

Treads and risers installed. View from the Southeast.

View from the East.

View from the deck, looking down at the landing.

Completed stairway with handrail. View from the patio.

Completed stairway with handrail. View from the Northeast.

Completed deck with stairway. View from the South.