Chapter 15 – Spam, anyone?!

Chapter 15 – Spam, anyone?!

Let me start with an apology to those of you who received my last blog and found a viagra ad inside the post!  Discount Pharmacy hijacked 20 – 30 files on our website and added this “freebie” to my post.  Since I use Google Chrome for my internet browser, I have a higher level of security so it prevented me from seeing it.  But I know plenty of you saw it and I apologize!!  Our webmaster Nathan Jordan at Market Connections has been hard at work scrubbing the website, we’ve updated our version of WordPress (the software I use to post the blog), and we’re turning over the security of the website to a group called “We Watch Your Website.”  For $30 a year, they’ll keep the bogeymen out!!  Not only did we have to scrub the website, we had to prove to Google that the website is clean so that BRES is now appearing again in Google searches.

I want to pass on recommendations from our security experts for all my friends who are computer/internet users. Use Google Chrome for your internet browser.  This provides much greater security than either Internet Explorer or Safari.  Download Malwarebytes (for free) and have it run every day because antivirus software is no longer enough.  Also download Avast, free antivirus software.  This is worth the minutes it takes to download because many other antivirus programs just aren’t enough.  Hopefully that is a chapter behind us….and as I always say, “live and learn.”

Jamie Shelton is on vacation in Oregon.  A much needed vacation since he completely wired my entire house by himself!!  It seems so simple but oh the details!!  Smoke detectors, two-way and three-way switches, locations of all light fixtures and tv outlets, code requirements for outlet locations and GFCI outlets.  Do you know what a GFCI is?  It stands for ground fault circuit interrupter, a device that shuts off an electric circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, possibly through water or through a person. It is used to reduce the risk of electric shock.  It works by measuring the current leaving the hot side of the power source and comparing it to the current returning to the neutral side. If they are not equal, this means that some of the current is flowing along an unintended path, and the GFCI shuts the power off. When the problem is corrected, the GFCI can manually be reset by pushing the reset button. There is also a test button that can be used to verify that the GFCI works. It is recommended to test GFCI’s at least once a month. GFCI’s are required in kitchens, bathrooms, unfinished basements, garages, outdoors, and anywhere near a sink.  That’s just one of the critical elements to wiring a house that will pass code.

Solar sub panel in the garage

Sub panel in the garage for the photovoltaics

Another consideration is that we installed a secondary panel box in the garage to facilitate the photovoltaic installation.  I confess I don’t understand the details, but Jamie does….and I’m so glad to have his expertise!

Andy Presley is in charge of the rough plumbing.  Even after arthroscopic surgery on his knee, he has been hard at work installing an Uponor plumbing system.  Traditional plumbing uses copper or pvc throughout the house.  Acidic water eventually does it’s damage and leaks occur over the years.  That’s costly to repair, and disruptive to say the least!  Uponor is also called PEX-a, crosslinked polyethylene, a flexible plastic tubing that has been used for more than 35 years.  There are different grades of PEX and we are using the Engel-method PEX-a.

The PEX tubing industry considers Engel-method PEX-a tubing superior because the crosslinking is done during the manufacturing process when polyethylene is in its amorphic state (above the crystalline melting point). Because of this, the degree of crosslinking reaches around 85%, resulting in a more uniform product with no weak links in the molecular chain.

13 07 15 uponor garden tub rough in

Uponor PEX-a garden tub rough in plumbing

The properties in PEX-a tubing make it the most flexible PEX on the market, allowing for the tightest bend radius available — as little as 3½” for ½” tubing. Its flexibility also greatly reduces the instance of kinked tubing. However, because of the thermal memory of PEX-a, if a kink does occur, a simple shot from a heat gun returns the tubing to its original shape.

Key Benefits of PEX-a 

Uponor PEX is the clean, green and healthy alternative — no solder, no torches, no fluxes or solvents.

All connections are done with engineered fittings that, when properly installed, are leak-resistant and will last the life of the system.

Uponor PEX is lightweight and flexible, requiring substantially fewer fittings than copper or rigid-plastic systems, so it installs more easily and efficiently.

Uponor PEX is quiet, with no pipe noise or water hammer. Uponor PEX also features low thermal transfer, so it is virtually sweat-free in most environments.

Uponor PEX is durable. The superior makeup of our PEX makes it resistant to freezing and to aggressive water and soils — the kinds of problems that cause metal systems to fail prematurely.

Uponor PEX is trouble-free and backed by a 25-year warranty.

Uponor is the only PEX manufacturer with fire-resistant construction listings that comply with ASTM E119 and ANSI/UL 263.

If you are a physicist or science Geek, I encourage you to visit the Uponor website for more details!

Cool Metal Roof installed

Cool Metal Roof installed

The standing seam metal roof and trim are on the house.  It is so exciting to see the color palette begin to take shape!  Eli Ochoa is ready to start the stucco, but we’re about two weeks away from that, so be patient, and in another month, I’ll have photos of the house in living color!!

The past two weeks have also focused on details, and I mean details! How will the sheetrock meet the windows?   I don’t want any window trim for a very contemporary look and that requires a very good sheetrock crew!  I have looked at countless photos of baseboard trim and door trim detail.  I now know what we’ll do, but it has taken me quite a bit of time to get there.  Of course there are design “rules” for baseboard height relative to ceiling height, and door trim width relative to baseboard height.  I followed the rules and hope you like the final look.  Those photos will be MUCH later in coming!

HVAC/HRV ducts

HVAC/HRV ducts

HVAC (heating, venting and cooling) installation has begun.  Rick Greene and Lorne Duncan have installed the duct work in preparation for insulation and sheetrock.  Amy Musser, co-founder of VandeMusser Design and one of our LEED for Homes certifying professionals, has calculated the air volumes required to make my home energy efficient and have a healthy indoor air quality.  Rick and Lorne have sized my systems accordingly.  I will go into much more detail later about the systems that we are using but here are the highlights:

A geothermal heat pump, using well water which remains a constant 55 degrees.  This means the heat pump will have a cooler starting point in the summer and a warmer starting point in the winter.

A heat pump water heater which uses electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. Therefore, a heat pump water heater can be two to three times more energy efficient than conventional electric resistance water heaters.

A whole house fan as a cooling/ventilation method to reduce air conditioning costs.  The Department of Energy recommends the use of a whole house fan. They say, “Whole house ventilation using a whole house fan can substitute for an air conditioner most of the year in most climates. Whole house fans combined with ceiling fans and other circulating fans provide acceptable summer comfort for many families, even in hot weather”.

A Heat Recovery Ventilator.  HRV provides fresh air and improved climate control, while also saving energy by reducing heating (and cooling) requirements.

A NEST thermostat.  Most people leave the house at one temperature and forget to change it. So Nest learns your schedule, programs itself and can be controlled from your phone. Teach it well and Nest can lower your heating and cooling bills up to 20%.

Preliminary landscape plan from Muddy Boots - Nancy Duffy

Preliminary landscape plan from Muddy Boots – Nancy Duffy

Another true thrill is the amazing landscape design that Nancy Duffy has created!!  I’ve never had a professionally designed and installed garden from top to bottom, so this is a gift to myself that I will always cherish.  Her incredible knowledge of plant species and varieties is enhanced with her sense of proportion, texture, function and site planning.  For LEED points in Sustainable Sites, we avoided all invasive plant species and conventional turf.  The plant choices are predominantly drought tolerant plants and we created shading from trees and plantings to reduce the local heat island effect.  I dictated that her preliminary plan follow the LEED guideline of installing the landscaping so mature plants are 24″ from the house.  However after much consideration, we have chosen to forego 1/2 point to get the garden that I really want.   The plan just looks so much better with some trees of height closer to the house.  I can hardly wait for the construction crew to leave so the installation can begin!!

It has been a very frenzied time for me so I revisited my journal and found this favorite quote that hopefully will resonate with all of you:

“Stop every now and then.  Just stop and enjoy.  Take a deep breath.  Relax and take in the abundance of life.”  Unknown


Mignon Durham is a retired computer consultant, avid art and craft collector, founder of Toe River Project Access, and founder of Toe River Valley Watch. She has always been fascinated with what makes a place feel like home, and she hopes this blog will enlighten your own personal journey home.