Thursday, December 8, 2011


Major Appliances
The world of Energy Star appliances according to Jim...

I did a great deal of research before purchasing new appliances for our home. My first goal was to find Energy Star rated ones and the most efficient. Refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers have Energy Star ratings; however, ranges and dryers do not because of the heating elements. Fortunately, I found a range that has technology that is more efficient, having induction cooking that does not use standard heating elements, but magnetic technology and a convection oven that cooks faster meaning less energy to prepare a meal. The clothes dryer’s efficiency is based on how well the clothes washer wrings out the water from the wet laundry and if it has built in sensors to shut down the dryer as soon as the laundry is dry.

Refrigerator: Maytag bottom freezer modelMBR2258XES. This is a no frills fridge with no water in the door. We picked this because we access the refrigerator more often than the freezer and plan on storing more fresh food. It is equipped with humidity controlled drawers that keep veggies and fruit fresh longer. This unit is one of the most efficient around and costs about $43.00 per year to operate.

Dishwasher: We discovered that a dishwasher is considered a luxury item by the State of North Carolina which is only significant because this past weekend Energy Star appliances were exempt from sales tax. This is frustrating because the federal government give an Energy Star rating to dishwashers that meet the criteria. My research discovered that most dishwasher use less water than hand washing dishes. I found that Bosch, a European brand is one of the most efficient made because in Europe water regulations are way more strict than in the US. The model SHE7ER55UC uses around 1.9 gallons of water per full load and even less with its half full and short cycle options. It will cost about $23.00 per year in electricity running about 4 loads a week. I have not factored in water cost because we have a well. Also the cost will be lower if we run the dishwasher at the times our solar hot water system is working.

Range/Oven: This was the most expensive appliance on our list because of the induction hybrid feature. Frigidaire FPCS3085LF. Here is the lowdown on Induction:
1.     The element's electronics power a coil that produces a high-frequency electromagnetic field.
2.     That field penetrates the metal of the ferrous (magnetic-material) cooking vessel and sets up a circulating electric current, which generates heat.
3.     The heat generated in the cooking vessel is transferred to the vessel's contents.
4.     Nothing outside the vessel is affected by the field--as soon as the vessel is removed from the element, or the element turned off, heat generation stops.
Believe it or not, this is not new technology; however, it has been made more efficient. This range also has traditional electronic burners to use until we master cooking with induction.
The oven has a convection feature. Convection ovens use fans to force air movement. By moving fast hot air past the food, convection ovens can operate at a lower temperature than a standard conventional oven and yet cook food more quickly. The air circulation, or convection, tends to eliminate "hot spots" and thus food may bake more evenly.

Clothes Washer: We went with the Samsung WF461ABW.  It is front load (uses less water than top loaded) and it will cost about $9.00 per year to run if we were an average family doing 8 loads a week and consuming 4388 gallons of water a year. Wow, this statistic blew me away! That is a lot of valuable water down the drain. After finding out this number I checked and the average person in the US uses 80-100 gallons of water per day for showers, laundry, and toilet flushing. Anyway, the machine I picked is on the most efficient list.

Clothes Dryer: We went with the Samsung WF431ABW and it has sensor drying. When paired with the above washer it will be efficient. If we hang the clothes on a line will be 100% efficient. Edrianna did request a close line. It is on the project list. 


It ain't over yet.

Our first assignment in the kitchen was to prepare cranberry relish for Thanksgiving. We had dinner with Tom and Kathy at their house in Franklin. No heat or hot water in the house yet, and no appliances - but the electricity works and so do the space heaters. At times we only needed one space heater because the passive solar worked so well and because the house is so well insulated.

Jim is busy painting the bedroom walls. The hatch above him to the right is for our attic crawl space. Since we had to put some sort of hole in the wall  he decided to make it look cool. He made it out of the same boards on the ceiling. It does look pretty cool.

Grey and Sunoor from Sundance Systems arrived on November 29th for their second day of work on the electrical system for the solar.

It started to snow that afternoon so Grey and Sunoor left early so they could safely get off the mountain.

We went out in the evening to take some photos. We had about 2 inches before dark.

Our shower doors were installed on December 2nd. We ordered one for our bath and one for the basement. I didn't get a shower door for the healing room bath - using a curtain instead to add some color - like we need more color!
We added a piece of glass between the healing room and living room. Jim designed a sun burst out of mountain laurel branches. That will go in when he can get to it - not a priority right now.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, we got our CO!

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, we got our CO!!!!!!

On Thursday November 17th the inspector came by and signed off on our final building approval. We weren't here, we were in Franklin.

We finished these little platforms when it was dark so I didn't have photos of them. We needed them for the inspection but we made them so we could remove them after getting the CO. They are actually a little dangerous and awkward. We all have tripped over them since we put them in. They will make nice bases for our firewood.

Craig and a helper came by from Willow Creek to take a look at the chimney. It was a rainy day and Craig couldn't get any farther than where he is in this photo to measure the chimney height. They returned sometime in the week and added another pipe and bracing.

On Wednesday, November 16th, Jessie came by to do the final HOT check of the lights and outlets. It was so exciting to see everything light up. Everything checked out A-OK.

Jane doing her best "Vanna" - she was pretty thrilled about the lights as well.

Jim holds his enthusiasm in... can you tell!

Jane and I hung a towel bar, robe hook and a toilet roll holder in my healing room bath.

Jim started staining the divider wall between his office space and the living area. It is looking good.

We spent a few days at the cabin at Tom and Kathy's while Jane was visiting. Luna fell in love with Jane and we thought she might end up in Jane's suitcase. 
On Saturday, the day before Jane headed home, we went into Asheville to see the Ginger Bread House competition at the Grove Park Inn. It was amazing. If you have never seen it and happen to be in the area it is worth a stop. 
On Sunday, the day Jane headed home, we put her to work one more time. She helped me mop most of the main floor.

It was quite a task. You can tell from the photo above how dirty the floor was when you compare it to the floor in the door way in the left of the photo. It was a three bucket job. Constantly rinsing the mop with fresh water to get rid of all the dirt that has been tracked in. Makes you wonder how much of that stays when tile or carpet is added. Makes you go Hummmmmmm!

Jim was busy scraping the floors in each room before Jane and I arrived with the mop and buckets. Some areas of the floor had lots of over spray from ceiling insulation and mud from drywall.

We finally gave her a break. Times up! Back to work. 
Actually, Jim, Jane and I all flaked out on the sofa at the end of the afternoon and Jane and I fell asleep. The passive solar windows are working.

Monday, November 21st Jim called me from the house to let me know the power had been turned on. Exciting! 
I missed out on the big day because I had to stay in Franklin to do a pre-record session for my internet radio program I've been preparing for.

It is so great to have Electricity. All the bulbs we are using are either LED or Florescent. Both use a lot less electricity and you can get a larger selection of color temperatures now, compared to when they first came out. The LED are the most efficient and long lasting but they do cost a lot more. You can bulbs that you can dim in both LED and Florescent and electricity savings will pay for the bulbs.

Jim also started painting the living area walls but just hasn't finished yet. Everything will get done eventually.

Yet to come...
Sundance may be here on Monday to begin the final installation steps for our solar hot water so we can heat the house and take hot showers.
The shower doors should be arriving soon. We ordered one for our shower and one for the basement bathroom. The healing room bath needs a rod and curtain - need to go shopping for that. 
Our refrigerator, range and dishwasher are due next Thursday so I won't be cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving. We will be at Tom and Kathy's this year.

Today is 11/22/11
We are spending our first night in our house tonight. We don't actually have a bed yet, but we do have that huge sofa and some excellent space heaters. It was just too tempting to resist since we finally have lights and flushing toilets - I'm a bit over the port-o-john.
(Thanks Al for the use of the heater.)

We are feeling tons of gratitude for all we have so it is very fitting that this is the week we begin to officially move in to our new home. 

A big thanks to Jane for spending her vacation with us and helping us out with all our projects. There aren't many people in the world that would do that. We love you Jane!

We can't wait to share our new home with our friends and family.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Close but NO C.O.

We waited several hours for the inspectors to show. Al hung around from about 10 am until the inspector finally arrived after 2 pm. Jim and Jane were working on the stone stairway on the side of the house. And Kathy, our sister-in-law came by just before noon and stayed several hours. She broke down the remaining cardboard boxes in the basement which we will take to the recycle place. And she helped Jane finish up the rock stairway. Jim had to shift his focus from the stairway to the entryways to the house because of the inspection. As it turns out a new code is in effect that says if a door opens out then the landing can't be more than 1 1/2 inch from the bottom of the door. Codes do change frequently and it is a bit hard to keep up with every single change. Also, the inspector didn't think our chimney is tall enough. He didn't measure it he only looked at it from the ground. We still have to have Willow Creek come and check to make sure they did things correctly. That might not happen tomorrow because the weather forecast is calling for 90% chance of rain. It isn't a good idea to be on a metal roof when it is raining. We might not get that issue solved until Thursday.

Before Jim and Jane started working on this today, Jim already had 5 steps in from previous work days. 
The scrap pvc tubes on the left come in handy when you need to move really big rocks. You just pry up one end of the rock, roll one of the tubes under and then roll the rock across the tube. Just like the Egyptians use to do. 

After Kathy got done with the boxes she and Jane finished the stairs. 

They did a great job and their work received Jim's seal of approval! 
We have 15 steps now that lead from the driveway to the basement. It just so happens that its the same number of walls around the house - I think that is pretty cool. 

After the inspector left Jim started working on making platforms in front of all our doors. He started with the basement door. Jane helped out and I jumped in as well. Al headed out to get lumber and returned just after the first platform was completed. 

This is the platform for the basement door. It had to be 3 feet wide and the width of the door. 

I don't have photos of the work we did with the other 3 doors because it was already sunset when we started and we worked like crazy to get it done. Al, Jim, Jane, and I got everything done except for one small strip and attaching them to the house. Hopefully that can be accomplished before the rain arrives.

Thanks to everyone who sent us well wishes for the inspection. These small things are really minor in the whole scheme of things.

A big hug and special thanks to Kathy for her help today.
And thanks to Al as well for hanging out with us in the dark to get these projects completed.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Eleventh Hour...
We are so close to getting in the house that Jim says he can almost taste the pumpkin pie cooking in the kitchen.
Al called for our final inspection today and the inspector is due to arrive tomorrow. We also need a final Well inspection so hopefully that inspector will be here before the inspector comes to do the final.
Jim spoke with Al today and he is confident that we have accomplished everything he put on our list. We had to install Rock Wool for fire proofing insulation in the mechanical room in the basement - also known as the Control Center! Edrianna sprayed fire block around some pipes in the basement. I adjusted a gutter drain and finished up the pocket door to the bathroom in the basement. As a side note: our real estate agent, Georgia Gant, mentioned to us that when it comes to selling a home, if the basement doesn't have direct access to the main floor, even if it is finished off, you can't claim the square footage in your total living space. Since we plan on living here until we are dead - that won't be a problem for us.

It is so wonderful to have Jane back. Not many people would spend their vacation time shoveling mulch, raking dirt, vacuuming, picking up garbage, moving rocks, painting, etc...that was only the first day. 
She must love us very very much!

There is a small discrepancy between how many loads of mulch it took  to create a path from the driveway to the front porch, to cover the area in front of the utility room porch, and to complete the path coming from Turtle Rock (camper site). Jane says it took 30 loads and Jim say it was more than 60. That was what his sore back said.

The day started out really cold, but after all those loads of mulch we warmed up fast - you can tell because the porch rail looks like a laundry line.

Jane is taking a break after we finished off our rock bridge. It was an area that got pretty soggy when it rained - not any more.

I'm not putting in my guess as to how many loads of mulch were moved because I was just standing around until one arrived and then I flattened it with a rake. But, I did haul a few - here's proof that I did at least one.

Oh look, at least 2! 
Another side note...Jim must have said a dozen times "Thank God for the pitch fork." Just so you know what that means, we switched from using a shovel to a pitch fort to move the mulch. It makes all the difference.

It was quite a climb back up to the house after we loaded up. Like I've said before, when you are on our property you are either walking up hill or down. There aren't many flat places.

Remember Luna? She is the cat Tom rescued and we are sharing the cabin with her. Since we are staying in our camper so much now the days between our visits have increased. When we do see her she takes full advantage of our time. I think I might miss her!

Please wish us luck for tomorrow.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


More Details
Today was a very busy day. Jim got started early by moving dirt to fill in near the utility room stairway. He also moved the barbed wire so Ted could around the house easily.

 The plumbers arrived first. Craig installed our kitchen sink while Mark caulked the toilets.

Ted arrived next. Jim and Ted walked around the house and Jim explained what we needed. Ted began moving rocks and dirt, and Donny helped out where he could. We watched and took photos from inside. It was pretty cold today.

Just outside my Healing Room window, Ted added dirt where it had settled next to the house, flipped over a rock, giving us a cool place to sit outside, moved some dirt around the rocks so I can plant my herb garden and graded the entrance area.

Just outside the basement door Ted added some large boulders to keep the dirt and gravel from sliding down the hill.

At the front entry deck he placed some big rocks at the edge of the steps because, once again, the ground slopes and we needed to raise the grade level up to the steps. 

There were a lot of large rocks around the property that would have stayed right where they were if Ted hadn't moved them. We were really glad to have them around because we used them all. 
This photo is the corner of the entry deck. You can see in the left corner of the photo all the concrete blocks supporting the steps. Ted had to add a lot of rocks and dirt to reach the bottom step.

Two inspectors stopped in to check out the electrical and heating/ventilation. 
We passed the electrical - yea!
One of the inspectors was climbing around in our attic crawl space for a while. When he came out he asked me where our air handler was for our air conditioner. I told him - We don't have an air conditioner. Oops! 
I guess he just assumed we had one. 
We didn't install an air conditioning unit but we did add wiring for a wall mounted unit in case we decide we need one in the future. The wall mounted are really nice. I had one in my Healing Room in Florida. It was quiet and also could switch to heat mode. 

Steve from Deltec also came by today with Chuck from Classic Roof. They are working on new design ideas for putting metal on a round roof. They liked our copper top. 
We have been having a lot of fun showing people our house. We are pretty thrilled with how nice it is coming out.

The last event of the day was the delivery of our washer and dryer from Lowe's. 

Jim is working on an informational blog post about all our appliances. We picked all Energy Star when we could. You can't get an Energy Star dryer or range because they have heating elements. Recently, North Carolina offered a "tax free" weekend for all Energy Star appliances - WE WENT SHOPPING! Unfortunately, even though you can get an Energy Star dish washer, NC considers a dish washer a luxury item and there for it doesn't qualify. DARN!