2012 Home Renovations – Part 32 – Usable, final punch lists outstanding

We are down to a couple of punch lists. I need to sit down and do a final reckoning and accounting for this project. Hopefully that will be of use to anybody else thinking of embarking on a similar voyage.

Our salt system is not yet functioning – this should be rectified on Monday as well our iAqualink system is not able to do its job properly as it was not configured correctly. I’ll be working with the pool guy (Dwight) to get these items sorted out and some issues with our Fastlane. Hopefully I can get everything set up for virtually hand’s off functioning after that.

But we shocked the pool with some chlorine to make sure it is OK after sitting for a week plus with tap water in it. After that we were able to go in and try it out. The heater was able to do its job and pulled the pool up the last couple of degrees to make it really comfortable. I figure about 80 is going to be good for daytime jumping about and being refreshed and I’m guessing that 83 – 86 will be needed to make it comfortable for night use.

I’m reading through all the manuals to make sure that I understand everything there is to know about my system. I’m finding that asking questions about specifics concerning most of my equipment yield only general, and often incorrect, answers. So, as in anything else, you are your own advocate and you really want to be as expert as possible so your investment doesn’t go South on you. The information that I’m finding valuable has to do with the anecdotes and overall approaches to pool maintenance.

Our next mini-project is to pick up the furniture that we want for the new area. Then to build an area within which to perform maintenance tasks (cleaning filters, mixing chemicals, etc). This was never considered in our original planning.

Finally we’ll move on to some basic landscaping and then settle down for a while as we absorb where we are and what we think is important for our next step.

If anybody has suggestions for fun / practical purchases for a small swimming pool (12 by 28 feet) let me know…

2012 Home Renovations – Part 31 – The Pool Liner is In

2012 Home Renovations – Part 33 – Landscaping

2012 Home Renovations – Part 31 – The Pool Liner is In

We came home from a week in Puerto Rico to find some minor updates had been made and that our pool liner had been installed and water was trickling in.

The sandbags are to hold the liner in place until the water can come up to that level and do the job itself.

Also the Fastlane has been installed

Michelle has some concerns about the liner color, but you can already see how it changes as the water is added.

Here is a nice overview shot from the sheltered part of the patio.

The screens in all these pictures look blurry because it’s actually pouring rain as I take these shots.

2012 Home Renovations – Part 30 – Driveway Prepped and Poured

2012 Home Renovations – Part 32 – Usable, final punch lists outstanding

The insanity of outdoor lighting “standards”

Maybe I’m missing the boat here. We want to install outdoor lighting fixtures. Of course these installations need to be waterproof – at least between the base plate of the fixture and the junction box.

Can anybody tell me why it is that you can only buy 4 inch outdoor junction boxes, yet nearly everybody and his dog makes their fixtures with a 5 inch or greater base plate?

It seems the only fixtures I can get that will mate up with the junction box and be guaranteed to pass electrical code inspection are ones that are designed for use in or around barns or industrial areas. This is fine if that is the look you are going for. Unfortunately that look does not at all complement our vision for our back patio.

I *could* buy the larger light fixture and silicone the hell out of the back so it would certainly be watertight, but that seems ridiculous and may or may not pass inspection.

Both my contractor and my electrician have lamented the silliness of it all. Apparently, if anybody could make 5 inch outdoor junction boxes they’d make a fortune as this is a common issue.

Does anybody know more about this where they could offer some sage advice?

Call me frustrated


2012 Home Renovations – Part 30 – Driveway Prepped and Poured

This post comprises 3 working days on the project. The first and last days were too small for me to want to post separately about them and they are all related.

On Friday (April 27) the driveway leveling was completed using the bobcat which was also used to tamp it down.

One of this project’s goals were to change the grade of the driveway such that the top portion would be on less of a grade than before to make it easier to get into and out of a car if you were in the turnaround pad and to make it easier to load and unload any vehicles near the house.

We also widened the driveway such that we can now park cars along one side while allowing other cars to get past them so that people should no longer need to park in the street when we have guests over.

To accomplish both goals consumed all of the earth dug out from the back yard and necessitated the creation of the modular retaining wall to accommodate the extra dirt used for leveling.

A pleasant side-effect of needing a place to store the dirt was that the grass / weeds in the front yard have largely been obliterated and we now have a clean slate to start again with either some more robust (and slow growing) grass or something completely different.

Also on this day the outside portion of our old half-bathroom window was covered over by some vinyl siding that was repurposed from some other part of the house. A quick pressure washing will have it looking ship shape. The entire deck area will be pressure washed shortly to get rid of most of the dirt and grit from the construction work.

On Saturday the cement trucks arrived. I think it took a total of 4 of them for this pour. I was very happy to be around for the whole job this time. The first truck had trouble backing up the grade of the driveway and eventually gave up and the next truck came and did it. I’m not sure if this is to do with the skill / aggressiveness of the driver or just the treads on the tires but it was something to watch the truck rev up and then hurtle its way up the driveway.

The cement was much courser than that used on our deck

As usual, the J&A crew worked like a well oiled machine. Everybody seemed to know what to do and where to do it. It was a marvel to see them in action

While the cement pour was going on, Michelle was meeting with a Landscape Architect (Jim Collins). He was supposed to review the entire yard, front and back and create drawings that we could use to fill our now barren areas. Unfortunately he found the cement activity a bit too distracting and wasn’t able to do the front yard. The back yard drawing looks pretty good and incorporated much of what Michelle had expressed. But the price was pretty steep @ $125/hr and 3.5 hours. Does anybody know if that’s reasonable? Does it make sense to have him back for the front? He knew his stuff but I’m much happier knowing the price before we do the job.

Also, any opinions on the plan would be welcome.

Meanwhile the work continues

And things start to look more finished

And here they begin cutting the expansion joints (or crack directors)

Work for today stopped short of the to-be-stamped areas

On Monday J&A came back and poured, colored and stamped the base of the driveway and the walkway to the front patio

We were a bit freaked out at first since Michelle had originally asked for the color to be “Smokey Blue” but then called back and changed it to be “Pecan Tan”. As you can see it looked WAY more like the Smokey Blue than Tan.

It turns out that the grey/blue stuff is just the releasing agent. The cement will be pressure washed in a few more days and we’ll get to see it’s real color then. When this was done on our back deck we were just leaving for vacation and did not see that part of the process.

Also the electrics have been largely roughed in. If you look closely you can see where the outlets and light fixtures will be going on the back wall of the lanai

And the downspout for our supergutter has been installed and hooked into our new drainage system

We did have a mishap today and now some extra ventilation now in the laundry room. That was my excitement for the morning.

Now we are waiting for the inspectors to OK the electrical rough-in and then we can finish that up. Michelle is still looking for sconces / lighting fixtures – hopefully this will be faster than the rock wall decision but that was such a smashing success that I suppose good things do come to those who wait.

I am told that the vinyl for the pool should be in any day now and all is ready to begin that installation. Best case scenario has the pool filled by this coming weekend.

2012 Home Renovations – Part 29 – Driveway Demolition, New Door, Window Gone

2012 Home Renovations – Part 31 – The Pool Liner is In


2012 Home Renovations – Part 29 – Driveway Demolition, New Door, Window Gone

Today was a day of much progress. We had a contractor and sub meeting and made more decisions – each of which I’m sure will cost me a wee bit more…

We had ordered some sconces with the intent of mounting them on our two interior supporting columns facing the pool.  We had also intended to mount three lighting fixtures – supplied by the company that supplies the materials for the lanai enclosure – above the deck on the far side of the pool.

Handy Tip 1: You cannot mount lights within 5 feet of a pool (under 12 feet above the pool). Our columns are 4 feet away and the height was going to be about 6 feet off the ground. Fortunately we were able to cancel the order for those sconces before they shipped.

Handy Tip 2: You’re not going to get very far with the inspectors if your lighting fixtures are not grounded and especially if they do not have a UL seal on them. Surprisingly the fixtures from the enclosure supply place suffered from exactly those two deficits.

Handy Tip 3: Between 5 feet and 10 feet from the pool, lighting fixtures cannot be less than 7.5 feet above the pool.

So we obviously had some drivers that moved us from our intended roof mounted lighting to wall mounted (right at 7.5 feet) that will extend out from the wall far enough to throw a cone of light on the new rock wall as well as to provide accent lighting for the deck. Now we just have to find light fixtures that will mate properly with the electrical boxes that will be installed over the next week or so so as to have a weatherproof and water tight seal.

We had the window from our tiny half bathroom removed


We replaced the laundry room door with one that has a blind build into the window


And the old solid laundry room door has been repurposed as the door to our garage replacing the hollow core door that served that function before.

Demolition began on the driveway and front walkway


It took quite a while since there were *two* driveways to remove. We’re still trying to figure it out but it looks like the original driveway was poured and, very soon after another driveway was poured over top of that one.

This picture below shows this for the walkway – the top layer is broken off and the bottom layer is waiting underneath

Anyway, much progress was made

The view from the garage

and the view from the front porch

and from the street

The pile o’ dirt grows smaller still, it seems we will have much less dirt than I expected to use in leveling the lawn after the driveway has been suitably built up.

Below you can see that the Lexan roof has been mostly installed,

As for the pool, holes have been cut for two lights in the primary filter (those black circles in the center of the picture)

And the electrical sub panel has been installed and the wiring is beginning

2012 Home Renovations – Part 28 – Screening of Lanai Done

2012 Home Renovations – Part 30 – Driveway Prepped and Poured


2012 Home Renovations – Part 28 – Screening of Lanai Done

Another incremental day. I’m pleased to say that you can’t really tell that the screening has all been installed 🙂

You *can* see the chair rails and the doors are now all fully operational.

This first shot below is still waiting for the Lexan covering for the roof. This small part will not be screened so that I can (finally) bar-b-que unmolested by the rain.

The screen on the roof is a heavier grade than that used for the sides so it is more visible (the oblique angle doesn’t hurt either). It can support real weight. I think we can do up to 6 inches of snow should it ever come to that.

The pool heater with auxiliary filter and booster pump were hooked up

and here we have the beginnings of our control center for the pool.  Top is the Jandy controller, below that the Aqualink controller (controls EVERYTHING and can be accessed via iPad, Android and web interface). Below that is the hydraulic pump that will power the Fastlane.

This picture below was taken as a “before” picture to highlight the ceiling fans that we will be replacing with…

this nice fan we found on Amazon (Minka Aire F574-ORB Concept II Wet Bronze Outdoor Flush Mount 52" Ceiling Fan w Light & Ctrl).

2012 Home Renovations – Part 27 – Framework for Lanai is largely done

2012 Home Renovations – Part 29 – Driveway Demolition, New Door, Window Gone

2012 Home Renovations – Part 27 – Framework for Lanai is largely done

Things have been a bit busy around here lately so I’m combing the beginning and end of the day pictures this time.

Yesterday they DC Enclosures guys were here and they erected the bulk of the skeleton of the new lanai

Shortly after the above pictures were taken I got together with all the major parties: DC Enclosures – acting as contractor – and the Electrician and the Pool Guy and we discussed where we needed to get to from here. Tons of decisions needed to be made that I would ordinarily take perhaps days to think about.  It’s possible to change some of the items that were agreed upon, it just becomes either pricey or disruptive to do so the further into the project you go as all parts have dependencies on the other parts it seems.

We agreed to create a walled corner in the shed to house some of the equipment and the control panels and electrical sub panel. Originally we were going to have the new electrical sub panel on the side of the house (near where the air conditioner condenser used to be) but when we got up to needing to pull about 25+ wire pairs through the piping that we’d laid down (plus needing numerous safety disconnects for the pool equipment) it made more sense to just wholesale feed all the electricity to the shed and then parse it out from there.

Also, it turns out that the receiving and return pipes for the pool (white pipes in the background below) need to be rerouted since the inputs to the heater are on the near side of the unit instead of the far side as was originally thought. The maintenance panel on that unit needs to be easily accessible and it either needed to be turned around as it is now or jutting out into the walk way. Fortunately we had left the wooden retaining wall unfinished and the top few beams are not even attached to accommodate such eventualities.

Also, lighting was discussed. The pool lights are going to be controlled by the iLink system which will also control the heater, booster pump, salt system and filter. The main lights will be controlled by a new bank of switches which will be mounted inside the laundry room.

Overall we will have:

  • lights at each of the 3 screen doors to the Lanai,
  • a pair of sconce lights gracing the two columns supporting the old patio roof,
  • 4 more sconce lights around the perimeter of the lanai to provide accent lighting around deck,
  • a couple of spot lights at the peak of the gable over the old patio roof to provide working light on the deck,
  • another pair of spot lights at the peak of the lanai roof overlooking the rest of the back yard,
  • some new spot lights for illuminating the bar-b-que area and
  • a replacement set for lighting up the rest of the back yard behind the gym.

A LOT of lights to think about…

Anyway, when the guys left a LOT of the infrastructure work and planning had been completed and it looked like this

2012 Home Renovations – Part 26 – Lanai parts have arrived

2012 Home Renovations – Part 28 – Screening of Lanai Done

2012 Home Renovations – Part 26 – Lanai parts have arrived

A bit earlier than expected (almost always a good thing in construction) was this trailer load of pieces that will eventually make up our lanai.

There was a fair amount of relatively invisible work done installing the anchors around the deck and on the retaining wall. The most visible piece is the large support that will hold up the two separate peaked portions of the lanai.

You can see it here upper right (big dark brown – bronze – beam over the ladder)

and here upper left

But it’s best seen in overvier

As a reminder, the finished lanai is supposed to look like this from the outside

and like this from the inside

2012 Home Renovations – Part 25 – Rock Face completed

2012 Home Renovations – Part 27 – Framework for Lanai is largely done

2012 Home Renovations – Part 25 – Rock Face completed

It was hit or miss today, the original forecast for today had been 10% POP but, as can be attested to by my rained out bike ride, mother nature does not watch the weather reports. So some workmen showed up today, milled around a bit and then left. Some of the other guys came by to pull hay bundles across the foot of the driveway to ensure dirt does not get pushed out into the roadway by any pop up storms.

But the afternoon was largely rain free so the crew from Daco Stone showed up and finished the wall(s).

We were toying with having the back face of the wall by our boulder wall covered too but thought better of it and settled for a smoothing coat of mortar to give it a more refined look than the native industrial concrete

We also had the portion of the driveway retaining wall rock faced just to be consistent with the stamped concrete patio area that we now have as a “Cap” for the driveway.

Walking around the wall from the shed:

And overall…

Michelle is very happy with the look!

The way is now clear for them to come in and install the lanai. This should begin in a couple of days weather permitting.

2012 Home Renovations – Part 24 – Rock Face on retaining walls has begun

2012 Home Renovations – Part 26 – Lanai parts have arrived


2012 Home Renovations – Part 24 – Rock Face on retaining walls has begun

Michelle was concerned about the colors of the stones that arrived from Daco Stone. The sample board we were using to drive the decision was only about 15″ x 19″ of stone and, while it largely represented what we actually received, the darkest stones were represented as no more than a couple of inch high sliver on the sample. So there was some great back and forth before we were able to move forward with the install. I think most of the last minute stuff could have been avoided had the guy from Daco been more responsive to Michelle’s earlier email and phone calls from the earlier in the week.

Anyway, work has begun and will likely only need one more day to complete.

Part of such a large project – for us neophytes at least, is that there are a LOT of things that are taken for granted by the builders. i.e. the “normal” way of doing things or expected results when you make a selection.

One of the things that we absolutely did not know was that you would need to specify that “capstone” meant a solid single piece across the top of the wall if that is what you want. It turns out that having a capstone built out of smaller pieces looks fine, but I was surprised nonetheless since it was never discussed and my and Michelle’s assumptions had been that it would be solid.

At the end of the day here is what things looked like

Note also in the picture above that our pool heater has arrived. There are also some other boxes that you can’t see behind this that speak to the impending completion of the project!

2012 Home Renovations – Part 23 – Columns continue and Rock Face Stones have arrived

2012 Home Renovations – Part 25 – Rock Face completed