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A Place to Walkabout

I discovered that my commercial grade weed whacker was perfect for cutting short the native grasses and weeds with greater efficiency than I imagined. Last Saturday I managed to trim back about a half acre in short order. Now, one is able to pad about the grounds without fear of unwittingly challenging a rattlesnake for territory. I am considering scaling back the xeriscape to a more limited area near the house and letting the look below hold sway for the rest of the hill top.

The hot tub is now full of well water and awaits a final blessing from the electrician. Perhaps next weekend I can try it out.

Inside the house, the final punch out items are being addressed. Metal railings are the last items to be installed as there is a back log at the powder coating shop and they may not make it before this weekend. Final cleaning service is scheduled for Friday, along with our final walk through.



Closing in on completion

We are pretty much down to the finishing touches inside the house. Window motors, activating the water system, metal railings, installing door stops and work on the A/V system remain. The rest is outside. This week should see the completion of the well house, barbeque area and patio. Then, cleanup time for the house and property. The month of June is largely punchout and fine tuning. The movers come in early July. I am more than ready for that day.

April was all about flooring

The tile contractor and to some extent the painter had the house to themselves most of April. The entire floor coverage in the house is ceramic tile and it took a looong time to install and grout it. It’s all done now, though and May has kicked off with a flurry of activity from many trades.

Last weekend Carolyn laid out the tile patterns for the backsplashes and the island kick wall. The exercise involved laying the tiles out and orienting them correctly, then drawing out a grid on paper and numbering each tile on the back according to the grid. For the island kick wall, there were 192 tiles. It took a while.

If all goes according to schedule, the next two weeks will see the house mostly completed. The trim carpenters are installing baseboard and great room beams, plumbing fixtures, hardware and lighting are being installed. The water filter and pump system will be installed and activated.

Outside, the action is picking up as well. Site cleanup and prep for the patio and barbeque are in progress. The cement drive apron and the larger driveway work is scheduled for late May. It will be very good to have that steep portion of the driveway cemented. With all of the rain and abuse from construction vehicles over the past year, four wheel drive is almost a requirement to get up to the house these days.

The end of the project is in sight.


As a side note, the rainwater cistern is now 100% full. The spring rains have been kind in that regard. Last weekend the sun was shining, though and some magic light came our way as we sat in a porch swing at our cabin.



Floors and Doors

The eight foot, five panel doors turned out to be a good selection as well. The modernist touch pulls back the reigns on the Tuscan thing a bit. I think they work particularly well as exterior doors in the front where they are solid mahogany finished with several coats of tung oil. Matching interior passage doors are painted in taupe as shown below.

The flooring is being installed now. Wood plank look ceramic tile is the only way to go for our lifestyle. I have destroyed too much wood flooring over the past 30 odd years to go with anything else. It should take the rest of March to get it all installed and finished.

Interior Stone and Trim

We selected a field stone mix for the fireplace and arch to provide a bit of contrast to the white native limestone and add a measure of warmth to the interior. The selection was made from photographs on the internet and I was holding my breath that the result would be what we hoped for. Happily, it turned out very well.

The trim carpenter has worked for a couple of weeks now building out closet and pantry shelves and doing the trim around the windows and doors. Ceramic tile work begins today. The cabinets are all built and now reside in the garage, awaiting installation of the ceramic tile floors.

The cistern is now about 60% full.

Completion of kiva, rock wall garden, and interior plinths

The rock wall garden was my idea and a later addition to the original plan. The thought was to have a cool retreat during the blistering Texas summer. I envisioned water features and some nice potted plants that would not be a salad bar for the local deer herds. To the right of the kiva will be wrought iron fencing to preserve the view from the shaded porch. The trim carpenter will build a wooden door for the opening at the end. I think this space has a lot of potential for landscape design but I’m going to have to sit with it a while.

The only interior feature that will use the same stone as the outside are the gallery plinths. These were completed last week and I’m pleased with how they help frame the great room. The fireplace and great arch will also be stone but a more warm, field stone look.



The Solar Goes Live

This week, the local public utility company inspected the solar panel installation and installed the necessary equipment for net metering, which includes a meter that is capable of running backwards. The power for all of the electrical equipment needed to complete construction of the house will now be supplied by our nearest star.



The Cistern Begins to Fill

On February 12 and 13 the local rainfall was 1.67″. That was enough harvested rainwater to move the cistern gauge as shown below. We started with maybe a couple thousand gallons and now it looks to be more than twelve thousand, or about 40 percent full. More rain is expected Monday and Tuesday. That roof really captures a lot of rain.



And with Drywall Comes Texture and Paint

The painter located a nice sunny spot in the master to display the colors we selected for ceiling, walls and trim (left to right below). They passed the test which is a bit surprising considering the difficulty in the past I have had with selecting colors from those little sample cards you get at Home Depot. The texture we decided on was a light hand trawled finish. It is smooth with a bit of ridge here and there.


And then there was drywall….

And it went up quickly. The entire house was done in about three days. Tape and float, a hand trawl finish and primary painting will take most of the rest of February to complete. March will see ceramic floor tile and a visit from the trim carpenter.