Monday, December 12, 2011

Wiring Planning & Security

I've been spending some time lately trying to finalize the security system and the wiring elements for the audio and video switching systems.

Here's my current thinking on what I think I need to accomplish.

I sure wish UPB lighting was as affordable here in Australia as it is in the USA. If it was I'd be putting in a lot more lighting automation.

Wiring Plan

Monday, November 28, 2011

Render (Stucco) progress

Progress last week applying the rendered finish to the house.

This is the base coat (first of 3 coats).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Brickwork Complete

The brickwork part of the build is now complete, as is the framing for the outdoor dining area. Over the next few days the builders are re-arranging the scaffolding in anticipation of laying the lightweight cladding on the upper parts of the home. We'll be using a 100mm foam board, and then both bricks and foam will be rendered.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Air Conditioning & Heating

I finalized the air conditioning contract today, as well as the heating. It's been quite a challenge because the house design doesn't really allow the installation of a ducted heating system.

For the airconditioning we are installing a Toshiba Mini-VRF system. Toshiba calls it the SMMSi - you can find out more about it here:

It's  a scaled down version of the commercial systems that are used in buildings. It allows us to have a 28,000W AC unit outdoors, and then run refrigerant piping indoors, and have separate air conditioners in each room. It's pretty neat actually - we wind up with 8 different thermostats inside and individual room control, which isn't really possible with a ducted system.

Additionally, the unit can scale it's speed back based on the load of the various units indoors, so you don't always have to run it at full capacity constantly cycling it on and off. This should increase the overall reliability, efficiency and life span of the unit.

These systems are made in Japan - here's a picture of how the system works

For heating, we're putting in a separate gas powered radiant heating system. In this case we will be using a Baxi condensing hot water boiler that also has 28,000W of heat output. The Baxi boilers are an Italian product

Here's a link to more information:

We'll be combining the boiler with italian wall hung radiant heating panels (here in Australia they call it "Hydronic Heating"). The panels come in various sizes to suit different room sizes, as well as some nice chrome towel rails you can use to keep your towels dry while your bathroom is being warmed up.

The towel rails look like this:

The panel radiators look like this:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Working on making it water tight

The scaffolding is up and many of the windows have arrived - they are being supplied by Patron Windows, and are custom made kiln dried hardwood. All windows are casement type, with Truth hardware for the winders.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Heating and Cooling

We finalized the design for the heating and cooling system today.

Heating will be supplied by a 30Kw Baxi Condensing Boiler with 16 panels throughout the house. The panels, and the AC ducting are marked in the drawings below.

The refrigerated cooling / AC will be supplied by a Toshiba mini-split system, with 5 indoor units, and a compressor outdoors. See the below Toshiba schematic for more detail

Cummins Contracting will be doing the all the work for both the heating and cooling.

The things that surprised me most was (a) the overall expense of the cooling system (2x the cost of the heating system), and (b) the oversizing of the cooling system.

My own heat load calcuations show that the 5.6kw units could be 3.5kw (and still 50% oversized) and the 8kw bedroom could be 5.6kw. The cooling contractor however tells me that it will barely make a difference in cost to go with smaller units, and if it gets hot, the bigger units will cool down the house faster after the AC has been turned off for a while.The units are "inverters", and only run at the load they need to run at.

I'm also looking to integrate all this into the home automation system. We're using an HAI Omnipro security/automation system. We'll be pairing the boiler with an HAI omnistat2. Controlling the cooling system is more complicated, and I'm looking into using the Coolmaster 3000T to achieve this.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Frame Complete

It's been a busy past week or so as I get ready to head back to Seattle. Hopefully this will be the last trip back to Seattle for some time.

This past week I've ordered 160m2 tiles for the bathroom - La Perla (white) limestone from RMS in Brunswick here in Victoria. It's going to fill up 5 pallets and weigh close to 5 tons.

I've also ordered 300m2 of hardwood floors. I'll be using a pre-finished timber from Tait Flooring here in Melbourne. It's a 6mm European Oak veneer stuck onto a plywood substrate - it makes it a lot more stable (resistant to cupping), when you order wide planks that Claudette likes.

The good news for me is that it comes pre-finished with 7 coats of paint, so all I need to do is cut it to size & lay it.

Also this past week, I've met with the heating & cooling contractor to determine what we're doing for Air Conditioning and Radiant/Hydronic Heating. I need to supply gas loads for all the appliances to the plumber so that he can run the right size gas lines. To complete the picture I need to send him the heat loads for the swimming pool heater, and work out the size of the hot water system.

It took a while to evaluate options on the hot water heater. I considered 2 units (one for each wing of the home), and I considered a solar heated unit (with panels on the roof and a storage tank). In the end I opted for tankless hotwater system.

Rinnai make a 32 Litre a minute, environmentally friendly condensing instant hot water system that's almost 7 star energy efficient, so we'll be using one of those units.

Also this past week the carpenter has been busy putting up the roof trusses, and has started building the parapets that will hide the box gutters, and the central feature tower. They expect to have the frame finished up on Friday.

With me headed to Seattle tomorrow, it's going to be a while before I post the next update.

You can see more in the below photos.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Water Tank arrives & Top Floor Framing Begins

The water tank arrived last week. It's a 10,000 Litre tank that's going to sit under the deck that surrounds the swimming pool. We're going to hook it up to supply water for flushing the toilets, for the washing machine and for topping up the swimming pool in summer. You can see it down in the corner of the 2nd photo below. It came from Clark Tanks and was made here in Victoria.

Also, Tom the carpenter is back from Queensland, and he's been busy with the upper floor. He worked all day Saturday and made some good progress on the upper frame.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Color Schemes

Claudette and I are headed back to Seattle for another month. There's a list of things we need to get ready for the builder before we go. First up is selecting render (stucco) and roofing colors as these might be started while we are in Seattle, so we need to submit color selections. Also up are a lot of detailed questions around gutters and drainage that I've been working through with the builder.

This is the main color palette for the exterior

Primary Roofing Color: Colorbond Surfmist

Accent Roofing Color:  Colorbond Monument

Accent Wall Color: Dulux Namadji

Monday, August 22, 2011

Brick Piers for the Decks / Alfresco

The brick layers are back at work again, and have bricked up the piers that will hold up the deck around the swimming pool, as well as the out door dining area. These piers will be core filled with concrete

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Posistruts for Top Floor

The floor joists in the form of posistruts arrived late last week and the carpenter has been working on getting them all installed. All the joists and lumber comes from a local building supply store (Lamcal). The subfloor will go on next.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

More steel reinforcement arrives

More steel beams are being mounted on top of the main floor. This will help hold up the upper floor, provide some wind bracing and help reinforce all those big empty spaces that we have. The downside of all this steel is that it will make it hard to run AC ducts.

They are renting a small crane that arrives on the back of a truck. The crane has tracks on it so that it can get down the steep part of the hill. Once the steel is bolted in place, they will weld it all together.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Swimming Pool Concrete

4 truck loads of concrete, 7 people working without rest for 5 hours straight - and now I have a swimming pool shell.

The pool work is being done by Cantwell Pools here in Melbourne - they do about 70 pools a year here.

See below for pictures from the site today

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

framing progress

More steel showed up today. The long steel I-beam below is 13.6m long (over 40'), the truck that brought it was so long they couldn't safely get it down our street until well after dark when there was no traffic coming through. More progress has been made on the framing. If all goes well we'll have the framing on this level finished up this week.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Swimming Pool Boxing - More Concrete Soon

The swimming pool is now fully boxed up, and they are very close to being ready to pour concrete. You can see all the steel reinforcement laid out. You can also get a better sense of how the entrance to the house is going to look, now that it's clear where the central entrance will be.

And here's a view from the main level