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Building A Barden Home

My step by step experience with Barden Homes

Selecting Our Barden Home Master Bath Tub and Shower

clock August 28, 2009 09:30 by author Donny Kemick

Our general contractor supplied our 1st floor shower and our kid’s tub/shower on the 2nd floor.  Both were Lasco super core models.  We wanted to do something different in our Master Bath, so we started looking around online.  My wife had a cast iron, claw foot tub growing up, and really loved it.  So, we came across a great site, with FREE shipping and great prices on claw foot tubs:  www.VintageTub.com

We also bought our shower with body sprays for the master bathroom through Vintage Tub:

 

One challenge that we faced was that the turnaround on the shower was 15 days after the order is processed.  That sounds like plenty of time, but we waited too long to order, so we’ve held up the plumbers a bit.

We highly recommend VintageTub.com!



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Wiring Our Barden Home For Internet, TV, and Phones

clock August 27, 2009 08:10 by author Donny Kemick

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I have a Web Marketing & Development firm with an IT Services division.  Having a business/techie background makes me very mindful of the future and what capabilities may be necessary in the years to come.  It also allowed me to wire our new Barden Home for Internet/Network, Television, and Telephones. 

While my firm has great experience in wiring businesses, we really don’t do large home wiring jobs.  Not because we can’t or don’t want to, but because people don’t ask for it.  I have run most of my PCs wirelessly in our previous houses, and that works fine, but it’s never as efficient as running from a wire.  You can achieve much higher throughput with a cable.  So, I decided to run cable to every room, in addition to the wireless we will have. 

What Do I Want to Run?

Because I already had to run networking to each room, I decided I would run coax (quad –shield RG6) cable with my network runs so I could have TV in all rooms.  While I was at it, I figured I may as well pull another wire for phone.  So, I ended up pulling 5 wires total for each run:

- 2 Cat6 Network cables for Internet/Networking
- 1 Cat6 Network cable to be split into 2 phone jacks (you only need some of the twisted pairs in a network cable for phone)
- 2 Quad-shield RG6 coax cables for TV

My jacks will look like the diagram on the right.  Yes, it was a lot of cable to run!

Where All Do I Need It?

EVERYWHERE!!!!!!  Sorry, I got carried away there…  Maybe not everywhere, but pretty darn close!  Here are some of my drawings that indicate locations for each jack (in red):

First Floor and Outside Deck:

1st-Floor-Locations

Second Floor:

2nd-Floor-Locations

There’s no doubt in my mind that you are thinking I am completely insane.  That’s okay!  I’ve excepted that fact :).  Some day, you will all regret your judgment of insanity toward me, when your washing machine can send you an email saying the darks are done!

Planning

Just planning the locations of each jack what quite time consuming.  I did my best to envision where potential devices (Phones/TVs/Computers) would be in each room, or how technology might become a part of each room and place outlets at each location.  In bedrooms, I planned outlets on useable walls, in locations that could cover a whole wall if need be.  In living areas, I put outlets where we had pre-planned on having TVs or technology.

What Cable To Buy and Where?

Working so much with networking I knew up front that I would be running Category 6 cable in my house.  It’s one grade slower than the fast of the standard network cables, behind Cat6A which is very, very new, and thus very-very-very expensive!  When it came to the Coax cable, I knew I would be running RG6, but wasn’t sure about shielding.  Some reading lead me to believe that Quad-shield RG6 is currently the best, so I went with that.  For phones, I originally planned on running two phone cables (Cat 3 I believe), but found that I could run 1 additional Cat6 line and split the wires inside into two phone lines.  So, I had my 5!

After doing some VERY rough measurements of the amount of cable I needed, I quickly found that I would need about 2,000 feet of each cable.  The cable comes in 1,000 foot rolls, so I had to buy 10 boxes of cable total.  Because I needed so much cable, I decided to do an exhaustive search for the best deal on these rolls as possible.  My search lead me to FireFold.com.  They had the best prices on all of the cables by a sizable margin, and even gave me a further price break because I called to place the order. 

FireFold’s selection was huge as well, which allowed me to pick a different color for each cable.  That will make things 10 times easier to identify in the central closet that this mess ends in!  See below:

Central Closet: (wires come from the basement and 2nd floor to this closet)

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Basement: (Wires run to their first floor locations, and back up to the central closet)

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Second Floor Closet: (Wires run from the 1st floor closet, up to the attic, where they drop down to their locations on the second floor)

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DSC00569

As you can see, my runs look like a bag of skittles :).  Again, this will help tremendously in keeping them straight.  I labeled the closet end of each run with the outlet name/number from the diagrams above.  If I use the same colors for the same purposes at each outlet, keeping cables distinct should be fairly strait forward.  I still have to label each individual cable.

Online Resources

I obviously researched online for tips to make running the cable as easy as possible.  One of the biggest resources was a site written by a man that did exactly what I needed to do called the Structured Wiring How To.  There were a ton of great tips on the site about achieving the best signal possible by avoiding electric cables, and cross them the correct ways when you have to.

I Told You I Had a TON of Wire to Run!

I kept telling the GC and electrician that I had a ton of cable to run.  I don’t think they took me seriously :).  Then my boxes of cable showed up, and I got the typical “I think you have enough cable, hahahaha”.  Then, they came back after my weekend of work and saw the pile of cable in the wiring closet.  I think they finally GOT IT, that I was running some cable :).

I just figure, you may as well do it while you have free reign of the open walls.  I ended up running about 10,000 feet of cable total.  Here’s a shot of what was left at the end of my pulling: (just enough for some patch cables)

DSC00576

Cleanup and Next Steps

I now have to go in and get my cables out of the way so the drywallers don’t cut them.  Then, after the drywall and paint are done, I have to put the jacks on all of the ends… I’m REALLY NOT looking forward to that. :)

 



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Barden Home Electric Update

clock August 22, 2009 07:18 by author Donny Kemick

The electrician is winding down on the rough in wiring for the house, so we can get the rough in inspection done before the insulation starts.  As I mentioned in my last post about the electric, we were able to use a friend of the family as the electrician which has been nice.  He’s a semi-retired electrician that works alone, so as you might guess, it takes him a little longer than an entire crew.  The major benefit is that he really works WITH us to achieve what we’re looking to achieve with the electric.

Airborne or Underground?

You have two options for the utilities that come to the house, overhead or underground.  We are opting for underground, so we don’t have wires hanging overhead.  This adds a little bit more cost because it requires digging and conduit, but we think it’s worth it to not have wires overhead.

3 Breaker Panels

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Garage                                         Upstairs                                      Basement

In all of our previous houses we’ve only had one breaker box in the house.  While everything was in one spot, it was inconvenient to always have to go to the basement to flip breakers.  In the new house we have 3 breaker boxes, 2 of which we’ll use.  There’s one panel upstairs in the laundry room and one in the basement.  The 3rd panel is in the garage where the electric first comes into the house.  The addition of the panel upstairs means we won’t have to run all the way to the basement to flip a breaker if a hairdryer upstairs trips the breaker.  It seems like a minor thing, but it’s an added convenience.

Because we’re NOT finishing the basement now, but likely will in the years to come, we put a large panel in the basement that supports the 1st floor and exterior electric, along with having enough open circuits to wire the basement in the future.

Have Your Lighting Ready!

My wife and I hadn’t planned on picking our light fixtures until closer to the end of construction, but we found out very quickly that we needed to have many selections made so the electrician knew where to have the wiring.  Some examples include:

- Exterior Lighting (doors, garage, etc…)
- Bathroom Vanity Lighting (sconce or over mirror)
- Lights or light/fan combos
- Recessed

Knowing where you want each kind of lighting is important.  We chose to have all of the rooms wired for a ceiling fan and light combo to support future fan installations, but we are only putting 2 fan/lights in.

Shop Wisely – Use the Internet and Save a Hundreds

My wife and I hit all of the regulars for lighting, like Home Depot, Hull Electric, and even Value Home Center.  We ended up having the most luck shopping online.  The selection was much greater, the prices much better, and shipping was almost always free.  We ended up buy ALL of our light fixtures online.  I’ll do another post on who we bought from and what we bought.  We were able to find coupons online that helped us save hundreds of dollars beyond the already better prices the sites had.

Recessed Lights Seem Expensive Until You Compare

If you are like my wife and I, you want your foyer, family room, living room, dining room and master to have nice lights.  Nice lights equal big price tags.  We were surprised when we heard the rough cost of an installed recessed light and assumed we wouldn’t be using many.  While we really didn’t use a ton, it became apparent that they were actually a savings over some fixtures. 

Recessed lighting also provides a nice open feel in a space because you don’t have a light hanging down.  Our Kitchen, Breakfast Nook, and Family Room are all connected, so we didn’t want a bunch of hanging lights that hung in the way.  So, we went with recessed lighting in the 3 rooms.

New Code, New Outlets

Our electrician mentioned to us that the electrical code will be changing soon and that all receptacles will have to be tamper proof receptacles.  You can read more about them at the link I provided, but they basically don’t allow anything in the prong-holes (technical, I know :)), unless you put something in both of them.  This will stop children from putting a paperclip in one of the slots and getting fried. 

Our electrician said they are the same price from him as regular receptacles so we decided to go for it.  We have two little ones now, and piece of mind is worth it!

 



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