Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bonus Room Summer Update Part Deux!

Just a quick follow-up from my last summer update.  We had the HVAC contractor come back for some assessment / adjustments and in the process marked the existing positions of dampers and vents prior to adjustment.  That way when winter comes rolling around we can just change the settings back to what seemed to work after our first go-around without any fiddling around or trouble.  After some adjustments to the main dampers I'm proud to say that our summer second floor heat wave seems to have been mitigated.  Granted the HVAC unit runs a little longer since the first floor takes a bit longer to cool, but now everything seems consistent, which is what we wanted all along.

Hopefully this is a sign that things are finally settling out in the right direction!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bonus Room Summer Update

Hi everyone!

Just a quick update on the Bonus Room and the temperature deltas up there.  It's still close to "in spec" for the summer, however everything on the second floor is hot hot hot!  If you crank the HVAC cooling to 72 on the first floor you get to roughly 76 on the second floor and 78-81 in the bonus room.  The ceiling fan makes it comfortable up there and is a must get for this room.  I honestly think their "conditioning" of the unfinished basement space and no blower to force air up the center stack of the house in the one zone configuration are the two main reasons for the discrepancy.  Not really sure where to go with this, since everything is barely within specs but still not happy with the situation.

We got our topcoat done a while back, like everything else they just showed up unannounced and did their work.  Too bad they didn't cover the whole width of the driveway and now the topcoat is cracking on the back curve.

I also re-did all of the mulch beds with proper mulch since the scattered "natural wood" they gave us for our winter close showed more dirt and weeds than cover.

Settling is coming in full force, we have the one bedroom where we can't close the door because of frame settlement.  Master bedroom second door and the back patio door are also suffering settlement issues.  Drywall is cracking in interesting ways, they better plan for a week to fix it all at the 10 month.

Other than that, still like the location, and we're still working on getting everything how we want it.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Bonus Room Fix Assessment

Now that the seasons are changing, I think it's time to report on how the sealant fix went on the bonus room.  On average it improved the ~4 height temperature to within 3 degrees of the thermostat, and the floor improved by about 5 degrees.  It was still colder in the winter, but that's in part to the unconditioned garage space underneath it.  I'm not sure if more insulation would have helped further, but since it is improved (for now) we'll have to see if the sealant holds up through the seasons, or if settling breaks all of that open again.

We also fired up the A/C for the first time, so far so good.  I need to get a garden hose (or 2 or 3...) to hook up to the external faucets to verify they actually work.

As for the drywall, settling cracks are coming into their own.  Our bonus bath has a few, as well as a couple of the other bedrooms.  It's to be expected, however I'm wondering how large they need to be to warrant a separate call out vs. the 10 month "we'll fix the settlement drywall issues" call.

With the warm weather we're also finding a few of the doors now stick, which with a winter closing and how materials expand in the heat, makes a lot of sense.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

House Rebalanced, Bonus Room Fix Attempt 2 Inbound

So a bit of informational backstory as to all of the different parties involved in our Bonus Room cold issue.  Ryan Homes is the builder.  They had an engineer design the HVAC system based on the design of the house, which as part of that design has certain expected CFM values per vent to make it work as designed.  This is then installed by the HVAC subcontractor upon build (Sobieski in our instance), and verified by a third party Energy Star inspection company (PEG Environmental).  As part of our service request, since this is a continuing issue Ryan wanted to bring out PEG to inspect everything again before having the HVAC contractor try some more dark magic to fix the problem.

Fast forward to yesterday when the fine folks at PEG Environmental (actually an independent subcontractor hired by them, who in turn was hired by Ryan) came out and did a re-balancing of our vents in the house.  Most of them checked out AOK and some had a few tweaks.  I then showed my wonderful makeshift two sensor thermometer in the Bonus room reading 6 degrees colder than the thermostat at about 4-5ft and a whopping 14 degrees colder at the floor.  The PEG guy had an idea about why it was cold, and set up a blower test. 

The blower test actually creates a negative air pressure inside of your house, which makes it easy to feel where the drafts are entering your home.  Thankfully he offered to do this, because it showed that the cold air was blowing in along the bottom of the walls under the baseboard.  Since those walls are kneewalls, and there is space behind them to allow the airflow for the roof to work correctly this makes sense.  The kneewalls itself were insulated but there was no sealant for the interface between the kneewall and the floor.  The HVAC system was fighting a losing battle between the hot air it was pushing into the room from the top vs. the cold air drafting in from three sides on the floor. 

The gentleman then reported back to my service rep at Ryan what he found, and they're going to try and foam seal along that frame, which involves pulling up the carpet and removing the baseboard to get in there.  Hopefully this will alleviate the problem, and I'll be sure to add another follow up when its completed.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Bonus Room Update

After having RH adjust vents all over the place, not good:

Thermostat downstairs (we only have 1 with the 1 zone system), was set to 73 degrees.  I really want to see their Energy Star certification testing documents, I'm getting the impression that it was rubber-stamped and they didn't actually test anything.

Time to submit another ticket...

Morning Room Ceiling Fan

 I promised a separate post for the morning room ceiling fan install, so here it goes.  We had the ceiling fan prewire done in this room (highly recommended, only marginally more expensive than standard light rough-in) since it would have been a royal PITA to do it after the fact.  In the first picture you can see what a ceiling fan rough-in looks like.  Note the can isn't open in the middle, as it's around a beam in the center.  All of our ceiling fan rough-ins are like this, I'm presuming to use the beam as additional structural integrity for the forces of the fan.
 The ceiling in the Victoria Falls is great however we wanted the fan (that will be over a table) closer to the ceiling height of the kitchen for lighting purposes.  We used a 36" drop pole to make this happen, it's perfectly in line with the ceiling in the kitchen, so it's high enough to not do anything stupid with your hands in the blade (not that you would!) but low enough to make the light adequate for the table.  The fan install is a bit hard to do by yourself for one reason:  trying to hang the fan and drop pole by yourself with the Hunter kit is awkward on a ladder due to the fact you have to "hook" the drop plate onto the mounting bracket by tilting the whole assembly sideways.  It's much easier if you have an extra set of hands hold the base up on the side while you hook this into place.
 If I didn't have to stop for that extra assistance, the fan install would have taken me less than an hour.  So far everything has been great with the fan, and I'd buy a Hunter fan again.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Week 13: Closed. And We Survived.

Well we made it to the other side.  I think.  We closed on the 14th (pretty schedule accurate, only a day off the original target date!), moved a bunch of things over that weekend and now we're the proud owners of two homes!

I've been tackling a bunch of items that need to get done right away (blinds (deserves its own post), morning room ceiling fan and office light (again, own post), sealing tile, and unpacking.  As for moving, did you know you can rent a 26 foot Penske Truck on your regular ol' drivers license?  I had to ask three times to make sure, and yes you can!  Now I know whenever I see one on the highway to give plenty of space, because it's probably a first time driver like myself!

We got our appliances all delivered and hooked up, Verizon came in and hooked up our FIOS Triple Play.  Not sure why they gave us a lower DVR with our multi-room DVR package so I need to give them a call to see if I can get that fixed.

As for the finished product, some things are great, and some need some work.  You can tell which subcontractors take pride in their work and others just get it done to get it done.  Nothing that can't be resolved in the 30 day and 10 month appointments, but definitely some head shakers in there.

The big issue is the bonus bedroom.  It's cold.  I mean COLD.  For those of you with Victoria Falls builds w/ the bonus room this is a heads up, make sure there's a conversation between you and your PM.  We're doing some normal fixes with the HVAC / PM now that we're in there to see if that helps, but variances of over 10 degrees between that and the rest of the house doesn't cut it (and should have failed the Energy Star certification).

As for our backyard, it's been a treasure trove of wildlife. Two separate sightings of deer (group of 5 and a group of 3), birds, and a fox.

I plan on posting all of these "post-closing" items for reference as well as some extra upcoming things in store.