house in the pocono mountains

Started by pocono_couple, May 26, 2009, 11:28:24 AM

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Quote from: pocono_couple on January 31, 2010, 10:00:42 AMthey have a lot of information that you seems that there suggestion is that 3/8  inch lines will serve almost all of your fixtures.   ....

I agree that for most sinks and toilets 3/8" is all that is needed as long as there is sufficient pressure to push the water along. Every place you have a fitting the diameter available for water flow is much less than 3/8". I had considered 3/8 myself. But I discarded the idea when I realized that would mean another tool might be needed for crimping, plus the fittings, clamp rings and of course piping in another size. In my case I found that using what would then amount to three sizes of PEX would actually increase the cost of materials required, as I'd be buying smaller quantities of more sizes. Something to think about.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


Devil dog..i'm so jealous.  Those taxes are amazing.  No matter how effecient I am with our building can never shave our taxes to that :)


Quote from: pocono_couple on January 31, 2010, 10:42:24 AM
hmm.. i guess that i need to  do a better job of proof-reading!   :(  ( i get too excited about  sharing ideas on all of this building stuff..)      "their suggestion" looks a whole lot better for that last post of mine!

Even though I am a high school teacher.....I'm pretty sure we don't worry to much about grammar around here!! is short...enjoy the ride!!


hi john.  I am a high school teacher too.. but as far away from the English dept as possible!  - although i do enjoy discussing words and their usage with a venerable member of the English dept at breakfast each morning.  He does not share my enthusiasm for building houses, however..
so , i did get to spend some time in the shop  this weekend - never enough -  i had to take some students skiing this afternoon.. that proved to be a nice diversion, but it sure cut into shop time!

the plan is to build our own cabinets..  this is what we have so far..

this is a chimney cabinet..   I am not quite sure where it is going to fit in, but i am think that we will find a spot for it..   we are using it to test out the light green paint scheme.. 

this is a spice cabinet for the kitchen..  there won't be a lot of room for wall cabinets..  in fact, there will be one large one and then this one tucked in next too it.. that is why the left side of the top is clipped..   we will have a pantry closet which will come in very handy..

  there are still doors to be made for both this cabinet and the next piece which will serve as the bathroom vanity..

a colleague of mine from the art dept is going to make a bowl that we will use as the sink.. 

Don ,  thanks for the thoughts on the different sizes of  pex..  the thought is that the larger diameter tube holds more water so it will take longer to get hot water to the fixture.. but, in our plan, everything is so close together, it will probably not make a lot of difference..  And, I agree that it will be easier to work with fewer tools and fittings etc..


We installed a recirculation pump in the hot line (actually at the hot water tank) to avoid water waste while waiting for hot water. The pump does use a small amount of electricity but in the desert water is a more valuable resource than the small amount of power. Once again, to us at least.   That was a retro fit.

Our longest run is almost 60 feet. The recirculation pump saves a fair amount of water over the course of a month. That long run makes the use of a central tankless heater less attractive to me. I think if we were building this plan again I'd look into two smaller tankless heaters, each closer to the points of major heated water use.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


Very nice job on the cabinets!   8)

You will know the truth & the truth will set you free


thanks sassy - i am looking forward to getting them installed sometime this summer!

ok - next question..  in the short term ( 3-4 years)  i am thinking of just putting luan down and sealing it for floors..  eventually, we will want tile in the bath and kitchen an hard wood floors in the rest of the house.   we are leaning towards closing the house down for part of the winter..  the bathroom is on the small side - option 1 would be to just tile it and get things finished this year.  this would mean not worrying about raising the toilet and vanity later on when we tile  -  but - if we do that, do we need to be concerned about the tile or joints cracking since the house will be exposed to cold temps inside ?    thanks for sharing your thoughts!


Re the tile floor: I did the entire floor of our cabin in 12x12 ceramic tile. Last fall I installed Hardie backer board over the subflooring. Then when the weather was warm and staying above freezing in the spring I installed the ceramic tile. It's not been in a year yet, but so far there are no problems. The cabin floor has been through several cycles with the temperature going from below freezing to 75 degrees and back to below freezing.

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


thanks don -  i appreciate all of the thoughts that you shared.. i am sure that i will have a lot more questions as we go..   i am glad to hear about your experience with the tile.. it really does make sense to complete the floor in the bathroom before we put down the toilet and vanity..  it will be an area of about 6 feet by 10 feet..   i think that i should be fine as far as temperature is concerned if i wait until May to get started on  the tile work.   i have yet to rough in the plumbing, so there is plenty to do between now and then!

the house is about 25 minutes from where we live.  it is going to be nice to have a place to get away to on weekends..   there are times, however, when i am drawn to the idea of a place much more remote.. off the grid - very simple.  i still have john's plans for the 14 by 24 builders cottage tucked away - but those are dreams for another time..  your place in the mountains is certainly inspiring! 


ok - next item on the list.   i noticed that woodsprite posted some interesting info on the general forum regarding the possibility of getting the tax credit if an occupancy permit is granted by the end of june..  that would be quite a stretch for us..  of course, it all depends on how far along one must be in order to get a permit!   i guess that i will have to pay a visit to the code office.   any ideas?

anyhow..  we had pretty much set our sites on installing the woodstove that we have instead of going the gas stove or gas heater route..  so yesterday i drove out to the dealer's office to see how much a pre fab chimney was going to cost  - ouch!  because of the location of the stove in the house, we would need quite a run of outside pipe at what appears to be over $100 a foot.. all in all, the cost would be nearly $3,000.   i guess that i should have asked that question before...    i did get a quote on a gas stove last fall.  installed, it would be about $3,200 - and there may be a discount on that as we head into spring..   I know that we have to get off the fence at some point.. i really love wood stoves - but all kinds of signs are pointing towards the gas stove or gas heater...    I was just talking with my step daughter this morning about the word " compromise"   perhaps in this case, the smart compromise would be the gas stove.. looks like wood.. no mess,  we can leave it running when we are not there... it has a thermostat that does not require electricity.. ( or at least a micro amount so i guess it would run on a battery - this is important since the power in our area often goes out)

any thoughts that you would like to share are always welcome!

btw - looks like we are going to get hit by this next storm - tonight and all day tomorrow.. maybe i will get what i wished for!


To receive an occupancy permit the premises normally have to be ready for moving in, ready to be occupied. Carpet or whatever on the floor, painted, electrical fixtures, plumbing all ready. At least that's what the inspectors here need to see.

Yes, insulated wood stove chimneys do add up in cost.  :(
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


Quote from: pocono_couple on February 09, 2010, 12:05:20 PM
ok - next item on the list.   i noticed that woodsprite posted some interesting info on the general forum regarding the possibility of getting the tax credit if an occupancy permit is granted by the end of june..  that would be quite a stretch for us..  of course, it all depends on how far along one must be in order to get a permit!   i guess that i will have to pay a visit to the code office.   any ideas?

I just posted a response in the tax credit thread, but wanted to answer your question here, too. 

Unfortunately (for everyone else), our inspector is so wonderful that our experience probably won't be helpful anywhere else.  When the tax credit deadline was extended last fall, we talked to him about it, told him honestly what we were hoping to do, crazy as it is, and asked him flat out what it would take to get a certificate of occupancy.  His answer: "knock it together, close it in, make sure you have a front door and a back door, and we'll call it good."  We're out of our minds to even consider it at this point, but before we got the bad news about the amount of the credit, it was looking like a pretty big carrot.

Of course, he wouldn't let us "knock together" anything unsafe or illegal, but if it meets those criteria, he's okay with it.  Remember, this is the guy who said last summer, without a trace of irony, "[Our_Town] is white hot right SIX projects going to once!"

So the answer is obviously "it depends".  All together now:  Make Friends With Your Inspector!

Fabulous cabinetry, by the way!
The Chronicle of Upper Tupper
This place was made by doing impractical things we could not afford at the wrong time of year.   -Henry Mitchell


well, good for you guys!  and how far along are you?   
  i happen to think that our inspector is a good guy.. but maybe not quite that nice.. we will see. 
glad you like the cabinets so far.. i can't wait to see the sink to see how it will all work out..   good luck!


It was nice to get a chance to spend the day out at the house today.. sorry that I did not take the camera -  there was a little more snow out there than we got here in town, but a very thoughtful neighbor had our driveway cleared..  I decided to work in the basement and stopped at Lowe's on the way out for some materials.  I also picked up some gas for the generator and some kerosene for the heater, although , is did not have to fire up the heater today.   it was 32 degrees this afternoon - great working temperature!

the basement is a walkout basement.   We will insulate the 2x6 framing with fiberglass.  My plan for the concrete walls  includes putting 1 inch rigid insulation and holding it to the wall with glue but also with strapping ( furring strips)  which i am power nailing through the insulation - 2 1/2 inch nails with a number 4 charge seems to be working quite well.    then, i am framing a regular 2x4 wall with PT plate on the bottom.  so far, the drains seem to be working, I have yet to see any water in the basement, but one never knows..  plenty of electrical outlets will be located in the framed wall - this space will be used primarily as a workshop..  in fact, i was looking at plans that i bought for a kayak that i want to build for my wife.. but that will have to wait a while!   the 2x4 wall will have fiberglass insulation  -  the airspace due to the furring strips should help to keep moisture away from the fiberglass..
so - I am 2/3 of the way with the rigid insulation and inside wall..  made good progress today..   I hope to make it out again next weekend.   The next step is to finish up the electrical stage and then call in the code enforcement guy to see if he is happy with what i did.  if so, we can call the power company and get hooked up!  no more messing around with a generator..

so here are some thoughts that I thought i should share while working today..

1)  if you are going to buy a generator..  spend a hundred or so dollars extra and get a bigger one than i got!  ( 3500 w)
2)  pay particular attention to where you stack materials..   when one is working by oneself, which is typically the case with our project, moving a stack of 2x4's for the third time is a real drag!   

3)    A couple of years ago I was building a canoe with a student of mine, and we got to a point where he asked a question, and I said that  I would have to think about it for a while - he looked really dismayed that I did not have the answer right away.  My response was " if we waited to start building this thing till we knew all of the answers, we never would have gotten started!"     I have to remind myself from time to time that this project is also a  learning experience..    I think that it was someone on this forum who said that you have to build 3 houses before you really know what is going on..  i tend to agree -  there have been a few disappointing moments.. like when i dropped an 8 foot section of wall off the back of the house (  first i said to myself.. wow -  I am glad that I did not go with it!  and then I got angry for a couple of minutes.. and then I realized what a neat problem solving situation it was  -  2 hours later, the wall was back up on the deck and in place)

4)  I am not sure if I have done anything in my life quite as interesting, challenging, fun, worthwhile , fulfilling -  the list could go on for a long time, and we have not even moved in yet!   I am sure that those who have built home or who are building right now would agree..   

I will try to add some pics next week...


what a beautiful weekend!   I think that I 40 degree temps make for great working days.   I was fortunate enough to get out to the house both yesterday and today.   Yesterday I worked in the basement.  I finished insulating the second wall.   here is a pic of what it looks like at this point.  I will be adding insulation to the stud wall before the sheetrock goes up.

I put up a board for the electrical panel and painted it..  I am sure that the electricians in the group will cringe at the extra wire that I fed to the panel...  i just didn't want to end up short!   Every wire is labeled and ready for the panel as soon as i get it in place..

the next shot is one half of the basement, looking towards the back..  notice the workbench in place already.. looking ahead to building some kayaks - like the one hanging from the ceiling..  it seemed like a great place to keep it inside for the winter, but I have bumped it numerous times.. and it is in the way of the lighting that I need to install, so pretty soon, it will be outside.  the next one i build is going to be a cedar strip model..   in the meantime, the workbench is coming in very handy!  the shelves on the left are going to be moved once i get the sheetrock up = more building space!

this is a view from the kitchen, looking out the front door..  it sure was a bright day...   you will notice some items that are not usually in house that are under construction ( mattress,  chair..  etc.)  we were tired of paying the fee for a storage place, so we moved a lot of things out to the house..  i am glad to be saving the fee, but it is a hassle, working around furniture and the shelves in the basement..  maybe next time, we will just get rid of the extra stuff!

the main goal for today was to start putting some ext. trim up.. you will notice the two front windows trimmed out as well as the corner boards..  just need to get around the doors and then i can start nailing some ceder shingle up.. I can't wait to see how that it going to look..  the real reason for the trim, however, is that around the side of the house I needed to put some horizontal trim ( water table) on so that i could offset the electrical service..  forgetting one of the boards that i painted last night did not help matters, but I made due and got quite a lot done today..

spring break is just around the corner..  a quick trip to vt to visit my kids, and then, hopefully a string of days like this weekend will enable me to work outside - can't wait!


Wow, another boat builder!  [cool]

That's a nice looking kayak!  What kind of construction is it?  

What kind of canoe did you build?  Any pic's?  ;D

A couple of years ago I decided to build a cedar strip solo canoe.  I had NO idea what I was doing, but didn't have to the money to drop on a kevlar canoe, so decided I had to build one.  I made a lot of mistakes, but also learned a lot.  I'm pretty sure that if I never built that canoe I would never of had the confidence to try building my own house.  ;D
After I get the house done I really want to build a tandem.  Not sure if I'm up to building a yak yet, looks a lot tougher than a canoe!  d*

Here's a pic of my Merlin solo canoe.


You guys pick the hard boats to build. As soon as my house is done and were settled in,I want to build this 18'carolina dory to take my little girl fishin in. at least they make it look easy to build. and I'll probably test it a couple times before I let her in.
Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.
Ronald Reagan, President of the United States; 1985


hey beavers...  thanks for the shots of the canoe.. nice work!  i left a post on your page..

devil dog.. i think that we chatted briefly about the boat building back in the summer.. you saw my dory in the pic of the shed..  that was one of the easier builds, but the skills that you will pick up with that project will be directly applicable to a kayak or canoe..  once you get one project behind you, it is hard to stop!   I look forward to more boat building  in the future.. for now - gotta keep focused on the house - there is a lot to do :)   -   of course -  there is always time to chat about boats....


I love the way your project is coming along.

I was hoping you could share your experience with installing your septic system.  I had looked at some properties in your area and was shocked at the price for a septic system around there.  Some of the estimates were in the $15- $25k range.

Is your a raised and pressurized system?  Do you mind if I ask how much it cost?

Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough,  and I will move the world.


when we bought the property, the septic design was already in place, although, the time limit was nearly up.  we had to have the inspector come out and verify the holes that were dug for the original perc test and then got a 3 year extension.  i think that may have cost $75 or so.   the real plus is that it was an in-ground design - practically level with the existing grade..  that cut down on the costs..  so i think that the final bill was just under 6k.    I have heard that most of the newer designs in this area ( NEPA)  are "turkey mounds"  and that means bringing in a lot more material with significant added expense.    Frankly, I don't think that we would have bought the land if it was going to cost 15k for a septic system..     I have an old book that  makes a strong case for an outhouse being the best design to deal with human waste..   i guess that current building practices in this area just won't allow that, however!  in reality, my wife has been really flexible about a lot of the building process, but i suspect that she would have drawn the line if i suggest that we did not need indoor plumbing!  :)
   where are you thinking about building?   


thanks for the info.

From what I've found it seems that the new requirements almost universally require the "turkey mounds" and a pressurized system which are very expensive, and require a pump and are more complicated than gravity systems.  Good thing you could use the old type system.

Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough,  and I will move the world.


 ???  I have an electrical question.   I am hooking up my smoke detectors..  12/2 with ground  wire to the first detector and then 12/3 with ground  wire  after that, using the red wire to connect them all together..   so the ground is connected straight through to the last detector..  what do i do with it at that last detector..  this is probably so obvious for electricians - there is no mention of it in my book..  thanks! 


 Not all detectors have the feature where if any one detects smoke they all go off together. I believe that is what the third conductor is for. The ground wire will just end at the last box if the box is plastic and there is no ground terminal on the detector.

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


There is an interconnect wire between smoke detectors so that if one goes off they all go off. The red wire they are connecting to is the interconnect wire and is what the third wire in the 12/3 is used for. You can put a wire nut on the bare wire on the last detector.
Authentic Appalachian American


thanks for the responses..   yes, the third wire is to connect all of the detectors so that if one goes off the rest will join in..    looking forward to another day of wiring tomorrow!   not much that is picture worthy, though, I am afraid.