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Building A Barden Home

My step by step experience with Barden Homes

Barden Home Construction Progress Update

clock August 20, 2009 04:54 by author Donny Kemick

There has been quite a bit of progress inside the house over the past week or so, with the electrician getting much of the house roughed in, the stairs inside set in, the HVAC piping being run, heating components delivered, the plumbers winding down on their rough in, the Internet-TV-Phone wiring run, and the remaining concrete poured.  Here’s some photos of the progress:

Electric (An Update Post is Coming On This)

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As I noted above, a full post on the electric is coming soon, so I won’t elaborate much here.

The Stairs Are In Place

It was very difficult to get an all-inclusive shot of the stairs in the foyer because I couldn’t get back far enough!  There are some shots below though.  Having the stairs in is a huge help to the contractors, and to me.  Every time my family and i go inside, my little girls wanted to go upstairs, but couldn’t.  Now they can see where their bedrooms are :).

Our plan is to stain the steps and run carpet down the center.  We’re actually still debating the carpet, but I would really like to have it there, because it’s easier on your feet, quieter, and less slippery.

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HVAC and Heating Components

The GC’s crew has been running the HVAC piping and returns for the past couple weeks, so they are ready to work with the heater in the basement.  The heater and ducts were delivered over the past couple of weeks:

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I just wrote a post about the plumbing status so I won’t rewrite everything here.  They have finished most of the rough in work, but are waiting our master bath tub and shower delivery to finish that part.  They also have all of the outside work left like, the grinder pump, water lines, sewage lines and some hose connections.

Internet, Television, and Phone Wiring (Detailed Post Coming)

Because my business has a division focused on IT Services, I have a technology background, and therefore wanted to run my own network, TV, and phone cabling.  This was to save the cost, and so that I could run a ton of cable.  I kept telling the GC that I would be running a ton of cable.  I don’t think they believed me until they saw the mountain of cable running to the wiring closet :).  I ran 5 cables to each outelt (3 Cat6, 2 Quad shield Coax), so I bout 2,000 ft of each cable.  I ran out of cable!


The Garage Floor and Porch Concrete Was Poured

The remainder of the concrete was poured on Tuesday of this week, so we now have a garage floor, and porch floors for our 2 front doors.  We’re going to wait to pour sidewalks for a year to give the ground some time to settle.

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Upcoming Posts

As I mentioned above, I will be detailing some the items I touched on above in some follow-up posts, but here’s a list (In no particular order) of the posts I’m planning on:

- Full Electric Update
- Heater Details
- Air Conditioner Details
- Internet, TV, Phone Wiring
- Shopping for and Selecting Bath Fixtures
- Shopping for and Selecting Lighting Fixtures

Check back or start getting the RSS feed to read the upcoming posts!

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Our Barden Home’s Electrician

clock August 11, 2009 11:22 by author Donny Kemick

DSC00533 It’s been quite a few days since I’ve posted an update, primarily because there hasn’t been a whole lot of excitement on the project.  The plumber roughed in the majority of the 1st and 2nd floor last week, making it to the basement, which he will finish up next week.  The framing crew has been off for several days, and from what I gather won’t be back until next week.  It’s really too bad because the remainder of the week looks to be nice.  The GC’s guys have just about all of the HVAC stuff run, and received some heating components today to hopefully finish that off.

Selecting Our Electrician

We’ve been fortunate so far in the selection process for subcontractors because our GC has relationships with so many.  In the case of the electrician, he did have someone that could do the work, but we also knew a local electrician that we really wanted to work with.  He’s a friend of the family and my best friend’s father-in-law.  After determining the number of outlets, etc… we found that our friend’s quote was within budget so we decided to move forward with him. 

The electrician is semi-retired, and has been an electrician for many, many years.  It’s hard to find a home or business in our small town that he hasn’t done some work on.  His experience is undeniable.  We’re very happy to have him doing the work.

Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You…

The one advantage to sticking solely with the GC’s subcontractors is that they all know each other, and have worked together before.  It’s been noticeable when I run up to the house to see what’s happening.  Because my GC is from another town and state, pretty much all of the subs have been people I’ve never heard of.  Bringing in a “foreign” electrician likely makes the GC and his other subs a little wary.  Completely understandable.  I just hope they all work together well! 

Working WITH Your Electrician

While I’m sure any electrician will work with you to determine what the best layout of outlets, switches and lighting is, we’ve been very happy with our electrician, and how he’s helped us see the practical placement of various switches, etc… Our initial placement of some items was less than ideal, but it wasn’t until he explained a potentially better placement that we noticed it.  That has helped a lot.

One small thing that he brought to our attention was the value of having a sub-feed box on the 2nd floor of the house.  Imagine that you are running late for work or school and you blow a breaker in the bathroom.  Without it, you have to run all the way to the basement to correct the problem.

He also recommended that we ensure the contractor grade light/fan combos that go into the bathrooms had glass lenses versus the standard plastic ones.  The plastic ones always change color as the bulb stays on.  This was something we noticed in our previous home, but never thought of when selecting the fixtures.

One area that my wife and I neglected was outdoor lighting beyond the lights by the doors and garage.  He recommended and we agreed that we should have some spotlights on the rear and walkout side of our house.  We hadn’t even thought about them until he mentioned it.

Get Your Light Fixtures Early!

In our arrangement with the GC and bank, we are responsible for selecting and buying the light fixtures for the house.  For some reason I had it in my head that we wouldn’t need them until well after the drywall stage.  I was wrong!  The electrician needs some of them to determine how high or low on a wall to place the roughed in wire for the fixtures.  Examples:

- Lights on the sides of the garage door
- Lights next to your actual man doors
- Lights over vanities in bathrooms
- Some other lights throughout the house

This caught us off guard so we had to really buckle down and pick our outside lights.  They range in price, quality, and style so it was a very difficult decision for us.  If you would like your inside lights to coordinate at all, as we do, we really have to pick all of our inside lights to know which vanity lights we want.  We still need to pick the vanity lights.

Support Local Businesses and Shop Online

My wife and I have been trying to look around town for the items we need before we shop online because we’re already using predominantly out of town contractors.  We’ve been able to find some things locally.  He didn’t have much luck with lighting.

Here’re some great websites for lighting that we used and continue to use:


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Barden Home Plumbing with Pex

clock August 6, 2009 08:55 by author Donny Kemick


Now that the plumber is doing some rough-in work, I’m able to see what materials they are using and get a feel for what runs where, etc…  You might be asking yourself, why would I have not known what materials they are using for the plumbing?  The honest answer is, I don’t know enough about plumbing to ask.  In fact, I had never heard about or seen Pex tubing until it was installed this week!

Like I’ve said in the past, I like to learn about what’s going into the house , so I decided I had better understand what the funky red and blue tubing was!  In all of our previous homes, everything but gas and waste was copper, but we always bought homes built before 1960.  Seeing the tubing running around truthfully made me a little nervous.

What is Pex?

After a bunch of reading, I was able to conclude that PEX stands for:

P – Poly
E – Ethylene
X – Cross linked

In other words, Pex is cross-linked polyethylene where one or more processes is used to create links between polyethylene molecules, creating strong bridges (thus cross-linked).  Developed in the 1960s, it has been used in Europe for many plumbing and radiant heating applications since.  It only made it’s way to the US in the 1980s.  So, the technology isn’t new, which eases my worries a bit.

Pros of Pex

- It is far more flexible and stronger than copper at a wider temperature range (below freezing to 200 degrees Fahrenheit)
- It’s flexible so less elbows are needed
- It uses fewer fittings, which means less leaking potential
- It’s more burst resistant due to it’s ability to flex
- There’s a shutoff valve at each supply line, making it easier when repairs are done
- Personal Opinion:  the colors make it easy to tell which is hot and which is cold :)
- With the current price of copper, it’s no longer the expensive option
- Less theft risk because less copper is used

Cons of Pex

- It cannot be used outside because of it’s need to avoid UV light in high amounts
- Not 100% bacteria resistant like copper (more on this below)

Legionella and Plastic Pipes

As I mentioned above, there are rumors around online that plastic pipes can lead to the build up of biofilm on the inside under certain, rare circumstances like having pipes sit for a very long time with stagnant water in a home with a well, or with untreated water.  Biofilm can lead to Legionella growing.

I couldn’t find a single resource online that without a doubt said this was the case, only that it could happen.  This article and study: 

says that copper has the same risks.  Other articles I’ve read say that if the municipal water supply is treated (as most is), the risk is pretty non-existent.  I feel that there is just as much of a risk with drinking public water that has contaminants as there is in having issues with PEX.

Working with PEX

My research was very conclusive that plumbers like working with PEX and that once the tools are purchased, it is much easier to work with and faster to install.  I found a good video from a Pex supplier that shows how the connections are made and the different options:

Cold Climate Advantages

Living in an area that has very cold winters, freezing pipes are pretty common.  We obviously hope that with new construction and a full basement, that won’t be an issue for us.  If, by chance we are away for an extended period of time in the winter, and the electric goes out, there is obviously a chance that the pipes could freeze.

The nice thing about the PEX tubing is that it expands and us much less likely to burst.

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