LEED Green Home

LEED Green Home
View of Carport with Two Hotrods


Week of September 11, 2007: Now we're really getting into all the prep work for the cedar siding. Alphonso does a mockup on the front of the house. It turns out to be quite labor intensive. As mentioned before, there are wood furring strips every 18"o.c. that line up with the metal studs that are behind the rigid insulation. In lieu of the wood furring strips every 6' o.c., there are stainless steel hat channels. These will line up with the punched opening windows. So a few things to keep in mind: All the furring strips, hat channels and wood siding need to be pre drilled. The screws attaching the wood furring strips also needed to be layed out so they don't interfere with the exposed screws holding the cedar siding. (I think we ordered 2000 stainless steel screws.) Jigs become your best friend and then you get as many people to help as you can. Papa (Alphonso's dad) is a never absent volunteer who brings Dunkin Donuts for Gianluca and Sandy. He keeps his conversations short while working and plows away whenever he stops by. He becomes invaluable as Alphonso's go-to guy for some hiccups along the way.

Meanwhile, the spray-in insulation is being installed in the exterior walls. Once all the exterior walls are filled, the contractor comes back with a huge scraper and slices off the excess so the insulation will be flush with the face of the metal studs.

Week of Septmber 4, 2007: Summer's over and it's Gianluca's first day of Preschool at the Bloomingdale Park District.

The roof materials have arrived and the white TPO (thermo plastic polyolefin) membrane has started to go on.

Inside, the spiral duct work is being installed. We will have radiant floor heating but we need the ducts for the air conditioning which we intend to use only occasionally. As with the concrete floor, many contractors are not used to having their product be a finished product; concrete usually gets a finished floor over it; ducts are usually hidden in the ceiling. Fortunatley, we have a good team that understands, "what you see is what you get". There is not a lot of redundancy in using additional finish materials to cover up the bones of the house.

Back outside, the furring strips are being put on the back of the house. All of these furring strips are located in line with the metal studs 18" o.c. The furring strips will allow the cedar siding to have an air space behind it reducing the chance of rot or mold.

The fireplace has arrived and is being installed. It is a completely sealed unit so that when it is in use, no air will escape from inside the home.

And the tubs have arrived...


Week of August 20, 2007: Alphonso explains the value of board insulation to Gianluca. The exterior wall will consist of the rigid insulation on the exterior side of the metal studs, house wrap, wood furring strips and then the cedar siding. There will also be vertical stainless steel channels every 6' feet that work with the design module and frame the windows.

Inside, there will be open cell foam insulation between the studs and then drywall. Select interior walls will have recycled newsprint insulation between the studs for sound insulation.

The factory stained cedar siding and furring strips have arrived.

Window flashing and first floor windows start going in.

The plumbing work in the Master Bath continues.

Week of August 13, 2007: The second floor exterior wall stud framing has started. What a cool view. Too bad we couldn't just leave the house like this.

Gianluca takes a break from working construction for a photo with Mom, who's now 4 months pregnant. We're definitely working under a deadline now!


Week of August 6, 2007: We start laying the conduit, plumbing and duct penetration locations in the second floor. The steel mesh has arrived and is being installed in preparation for the concrete to be poured.

Then the radiant heating floor tubes get installed.

...And finally the concrete.


Week of July, 22, 2007: The second floor steel deck goes up. Being on the reflective steel deck in the middle of summer feels like an ant might feel under a magnifying glass of some evil 5 year old... Carlo Battaglia of Battaglia Homes, Inc (shown in pic.) stops by to chat and helps lay out the walls on the second floor in the 100 degree heat. Although he builds traditional custom homes in Hindsdale, his expertise is something you don't want to turn away.

Then the roof steel steel starts to go up...

Gianluca in his usual "construction gear". Flipflops and socks.

And the first floor metal stud framing... This will be the playroom/office/exercise room. The opening in the ceiling is where the stair will eventually go.

Week of July 15, 2007: Alphonso works late into (just about every) night working out details as needed, making orders, working with the bank....

Gianluca on the other hand takes a break at the Children's Museum at Navy Pier. http://www.chicagochildrensmuseum.org/

We've gotten an early addition to our family, Sandy, the Golden Retriever. She was Alphonso's Grandma's puppy before she passed away. Given that the dog had to stay in the family, my Father-in-Law, Al held onto her. Since we were now going to have a house with a yard instead of a two-bedroom condo in the city, we were going to keep her. We figure, why not get the party started early? She can come live with us at the "Pheasant House" until our "Steel and Glass House" is done. This way Sandy can spend 14 hours a day outside being the site watchdog. (She watches for fallen donuts, bagels, sub sandwiches, fries, popsicles...)

And then that brings us to our cat, Renzo. He has decided he will go on a hunger strike again. He refuses to eat anything more than once and it's only one bite...and then he throws up that one bite. He did this a few years back and we had to have a feeding tube installed in his neck. The chances of having a cat that needs a feeding tube again is slim to none. Unfortunately we got the cat with those slim to none chances. I brought him back to Dr. B at http://www.burnhamparkvet.com/. He saved his life once and we needed it again. So the tube went in. I fed and watered him through the tube and gave him pills through the tube. Then it's just a wait and see game. We waited for about 3 1/2 months before he decided he would eat on his own again.

I, on the other hand have no problem eating. Even though I'm nauseous, I love food.
Week of July 1, 2007: The second floor steel beams are going up. The large trees make it pretty hard for the erectors to get the beams to the site, but they manage to do it... with relatively few branch casualties.

What you see is what you get. This is the second floor perimeter beam and column connection that will be left exposed on the exterior. The holes in the column with no bolts will be for the cantilevered deck.


Week of June 25, 2007: Alot of time has gone by but the 6 steel columns that hold up the entire house are finally ready for erection. One of our main ideas for this house is to use less resources for the construction of the house and to generate less waste during the construction process. By using steel columns and beams as the structure, all steel waste during the fabrication was able to be recycled by the fabricators at their shop rather than being thrown in an on site dumpster and eventually landfill as is normally done when traditional wood framing is used.

The house is based on a 30' structural grid and 6' design grid. This also translated into our metal stud wall framing being 18" o.c. (which works with a 6' grid) rather than 16" o.c. Following the module from 30' down to 18" also helped to reduce the materials used as well as decrease the construction waste as we'll see later.

These is a view from the street. Yes, the columns are there but so are the trees...

Week of April 29, 2007: Fortunately, I recently earned my Real Estate Brokers License and was able to list our condo on the mls. Although the market was slowing, we had our first showing the next day. We closed on the sale of our condo within 2 months of listing it and moved into the "Pheasant House" next door over Memorial Day weekend.

It was exhausting but very exciting. I was born and raised in the city so it was going to take awhile to get adjusted to the quietness. It also turns out that the move was so exhausting because I was pregnant with our second child! (Although I didn't know it.)

This is one of Gianluca's last days at the condo.
Week of April 15, 2007: The slab on grade has just been poured and the contractors are tooling the joints. As part of our concept to minimize the material resources used to build our house, this concrete will be our finished floor. Getting the subs to realize this takes quite a bit of effort. They are used to dropping tools, eating their lunches and leaving full coffee cups/ pop/ gatorade on the slab. Once the slab is sealed, I won't be so worried about stains.

Gianluca and I will spend the next week or so going out to the site to water the slab. Try explaining to a three year old why I'm watering concrete and not the grass.


Week of April 1, 2007: The 1,750 gallon underground storage tank arrives via FedEx. It will be connected to our roof drains to collect the water that lands on the roof. We will use it for washing our cars and for landscaping needs.

Meanwhile the underslab plumbing continues.

Later in the week, the underslab peagravel, vapor barrier and rigid insulation are installed.

The inslab radiant heating tubes are then laid out and the stub-ups are left in the soon-to-be mechanical room. Unfortunately, even though it's almost the middle of April, we get a light dusting of snow!