Thursday, March 23, 2017

This blog post was revised March 24, 2017, to correct an error relating to the thickness of the foam insulation under the stucco and replace the photo.

Insulating our new home is nearly complete. On Wednesday, a crew began blowing insulation into the space between joists that support the ceiling and attic floor above wing of the addition that houses our offices, RE rooms, choir room, crying room and restrooms --for ease of reference, the office wing.

The two most common types of blown-in insulation are cellulose, made mostly from recycled newspapers with a fire retardant, and fiberglass. For our purposes fiberglass was the only choice because it is the only way we can achieve the R-38 insulation value specified in the design. 

Blowing insulation into an enclosed space is a labor intensive process. Our crew from Mincin Insulation Service consisted of two men. One was assigned to drilling holes between the joists in our new ceiling and the other was tasked with blowing in the insulation. They used Owens-Corning AtticCat expanding fiberglass. The insulation is run through a machine, seen on the left in the picture of the truck, that according to Owens-Corning, "conditions the insulation by breaking it up and fluffing it, [and] adding millions of the tiny air pockets that give the material its insulating power."

The insulation is further conditioned as it travels through the hose. As the picture shows the hose has two components - a corrugated section like a vacuum cleaner hose and a smooth section. The smooth section is pushed through the holes in the ceiling and backed out as the void fills with insulation. Once the void is full, the installer puts a plug into it. When the insulation crew is done, drywall finishers will return and patch all the holes. Once the ceiling is painted no one will ever know the holes were there. 

This photo shows what the expanded AtticCat fiberglass looks like. The installers were, surprisingly, not wearing dust masks. When asked why, they reported that the blown-in fiberglass does not create dust like cellulose, and it is not itchy like the fiberglass used in batts.

Once the blown in insulation is finished, the only insulation remaining to be completed is the 2-inch rigid foam insulation, seen in the photo, which goes on the exterior of the building under the stucco. 

To recap the different types of insulation in our building: the roof over the sanctuary is insulated with 4-inch thick rigid foam between the wood decking that forms the ceiling and the sheathing that is the substrate for the shingles on the pitched roof and the rolled rubber on the flat roof. All of our exterior walls are insulated with 5 1/2 inches of mineral wool. The cathedral ceiling of the RE-Choir room is insulated with R-38 fiberglass batts. The roof and suspended ceiling of the attic are insulated with R-30 fiberglass batts. And, now the ceiling of the office wing is insulated with R-38 blown-in fiberglass. 

While it's not an exterior wall, the rear wall of the sanctuary is insulated with 5 1/2 inches of mineral wool for its fire retardant qualities, and the walls of the restrooms have been insulated with fiberglass batts for sound attenuation.

The commentary on insulation would not be complete without a mention of the attic space, which has been nicknamed the Taj Mah-attic. The attic is not heated or cooled, but because it houses air handling equipment and water lines, it has to be "tempered space." Tempered space requires insulation, just not as much as our occupied, heated and cooled space, called "conditioned space." To best meet the need, the walls and portions of the roof of the attic were insulated and drywalled and a drop ceiling was added with fiberglass batts on top. It has become, as you can see in the photo, a rather nice looking place, which most people will never, ever see. When the HVAC is completely installed, the blog will include a photo of the maze of ducts criss-crossing the floor and going up through the ceiling, and then we will turn off the lights.

Other essential parts of our heating and cooling system will be installed in the new-ish utility room in the basement. New-ish applies because the concrete block wall in the top of the photo is a new wall, but the parged wall on the left is a historical wall that has been patched and repaired. The old basement floor has also been replaced. When Sunnyhill was originally built, it was common for concrete basement floors to be only about 2 inches thick. The new 4-inch thick floor is more substantial. In addition, concrete pads have been added to support the furnace, pumps and other heavy equipment that will occupy this space.

On the subject of infrastructure, this circuit-breaker panel is located in a storage room across from Roy's office. It is the primary circuit-breaker box for the new addition and contains 42, 20-amp circuits. For the uninitiated, the white wires are neutral, the red and black wires carry the current and the green wires are ground wires, which are designed to prevent shocks. A similar panel for the historical section of the building will be installed in the basement in the area designated as the new RE library, but which for years served as an office for Mushroom.

The five sections of conduit seen in this photo will run under the steps and the landing of our new stair case. Joining them will be two pipes that will carry hot water from our new boiler to the radiators in the historical portion of Sunnyill and back to the boiler; our system is circulating hot water. A gas line and a water line will also run under the steps. On the other side of the purple and white wall at the top of the photo is the utility room. The new stairway will incorporate newel post caps rescued from the original Sunnyhill stairway before it was demolished.

This niche in Jen's office is the above the open coat closet in the hallway. A similar niche is in Rev. Jim's office.

This is one of two open coat closets -- no doors -- that will be on the east wall of the hallway in the office wing of the building.

The right side of this photo shows the wall that will hold the sculpture recognizing those who financially supported the building of our new home. On the far left, temporarily covered with Tyvek, is the window to the infant-toddler room. In between is one of two entrances to the sanctuary.
 Looking out from the door to the sanctuary next to the infant-toddler room the two large openings leading to the old fellowship hall can be seen. On the far left is where the rarely used door from the rear of the fellowship hall to the steps was located. When finances permit, a television monitor that will display church announcements will be mounted on the other side of the wall in between the openings.

The area under the window of Roy's office is being prepared for the brick veneer that will be a feature under all of the windows on the front of the building. The brick veneer will tie the design of the fa├žade of the new building with that of the old.

In other news, the New Home Construction Team met to pick carpet for the church. We will be carpeting the sanctuary, all of the offices and classrooms, the hallway and the various entry ways, the old fellowship hall and the large RE room in the basement -- so it's a lot of carpet. From an array of choices, we picked four that are available in our time frame and made a tentative decision. Since carpet will be a major design element of the new church, we are meeting with our architect on Tuesday to review our choice and make a final decision. We are using carpet tile, which will allow us to replace sections of the floor with wine and coffee stains that cannot be removed. At that same meeting, we will also select paint for the walls and the steel structure. An indication of how far along we are is that paint choice is now on the critical path. The sanctuary looks like it's just about ready for primer. The other rooms are still a few days away. We also selected the tile for the restrooms. The floor will be a 12X12 tile with the appearance of stone -- since it's impossible to describe, look for a photo as soon as one is available -- and the wall tile will be white subway tile as a nod to the original tile used when Sunnyhill was built.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Approaching our new addition on Wednesday morning there was so much drywall going up that the electric drill drivers sounded like a swarm of bees -- zzzzzzit, zzzzzzit, zzzzzzit. And, indeed, the interior was a swarm of activity. Except for one small section adjacent to the infant/toddler room, the sanctuary has been drywalled, and much of it has at least the first coat of drywall joint compound. (This blog will use drywall as a noun and a verb.) This morning, Thursday, a drywall finisher was at work on the rear wall of the sanctuary applying another coat. The speed and skill these finishers demonstrate is fascinating to watch and impossible to describe with words. In fact, drywall finishing is such an art, that they have their own union called...the drywall finishers union. Tales are told of some finishers who are so good that no sanding is required. 

Entering the building reveals how tightly sealed it is. On the exterior, in addition to the Tyvek building wrap, the new addition will have one-inch thick rigid foam and a covering of modern day stucco. Inside, the exterior wall cavities are stuffed with mineral wool and the ceilings have R-38 fiberglass insulation. The interior walls are also being insulated with fiberglass batts for sound attenuation. The windows are all thermopanes, and only a few of them open to let in outside air. The average home depends upon leaking windows and doors for fresh air infiltration.

The tightness of the building begs the question -- will we run out of oxygen during our first service together? The answer to that question came this morning after a climbing a ladder into the attic where the HVAC is being installed to talk to Ron, one of our HVAC technicians. When asked about where the fresh air would come from, Ron pointed up to the two giant vertical ducts running through the ceiling and the roof. One of those, he said, will bring fresh, outside air into the air handler where it will be heated or cooled and blown into the sanctuary, the crying room, the restrooms and the hallway, which are all part of one heating/cooling zone. The offices, classrooms, choir room and infant/toddler room will all depend upon the passage of fresh air through the doorways during the normal course of the day. These rooms also have some windows that open.

The three offices, the RE room, the RE/Choir room and the infant/toddler room will each have dedicated HVAC units mounted in the eaves of the attic and controlled by thermostats in each room. The sealed building envelope and the HVAC plan are all designed to reduce our demand for energy, and thus our carbon footprint, and to save us money. What could be better way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day than being green and saving green. In this photo of the wall of the RE/Choir room, the electrical box on the left will house the thermostat and the electrical box on the right will accommodate the light switch. The location, so far to the left, is so they clear the door when it is open. Note that the boxes are perfectly aligned. The devil is in the details.

The RE/Choir room has other special features. For sound attenuation, the drywall on the walls between the room and the adjoining offices is mounted on resilient channel designed specifically for the purpose. These channels are mounted horizontally and at intervals of approximately two feet. 

The RE/Choir room also has an additional layer of rigid foam over the batt insulation in the attic.
The ceiling has R-38 fiberglass insulation. As mentioned in an earlier post, the rafters had to be deepened to accommodate that much insulation. As a side note, from the exterior, light coming through the triangular window that will be at the top of the room creates a very dramatic effect when viewing the building from the outside at night. It's like a beacon for religious liberals.

Purple drywall, which resists moisture, mold and mildew has been installed in the men's room...

...the women's room...

The janitor's closet, and the gender neutral restroom (not pictured).

Roy's office...

 The northeast corner RE room...
...and a storage room have all been drywalled. The protrusion in the corner is a chase for the HVAC duct that goes from the attic air handler, through the storage room and under the floor for heating and cooling the right half of the sanctuary. There is another chase in a closet down the hall. Who gets dibs on this storage?

This wall, with the exposed pipes and wires will be the first thing you see when you enter our new space from the old fellowship hall, and is the perfect place for donor recognition. Sculptor and woodworker Scott Smith is working on a dramatic design for the space that will recognize everyone who has contributed financially to building our new addition.

To wrap things up, this photo was not included to show the Tyvek, but to show the soffit of the small gable over the north hallway exit door.
The soffit for the northside of the building, seen here in white, is Azek beadboard, a plastic building material known for its durability. The soffit will be painted a grayish-tan to match the aluminum fascia (pebble stone) and the Pella window frames (clay).

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Our time capsule has been placed in the void between the gender neutral restroom and the rear wall of the sanctuary. Now that all the plumbing and wiring have been installed throughout the new addition, crews will begin to focus on installing drywall, and our time capsule will soon be sealed in. I believe our successors will enjoy discovering our messages to the future. What are the chances the computer will operate 100 years from now (yes, there is a laptop in the box, but with no battery) or people will know what a USB drive and CD-ROM are? 

The wing of the church that was demolished to make room for our new addition was built starting in 1920. The youth group saved the safe that was hidden behind a panel in the RE office, and several architectural artifacts were rescued, but no secret hiding place with historical information was found. The internet has, however, yielded a treasure of historical photos of the Roush mansion being built. 

The design of the Roush mansion was modified after this model was made.

Our historical building was constructed largely of terracotta block, a predecessor to concrete block. The dining room and front entrance remain. The north wing was demolished in September.

Ninety-seven years later, this photo of our new addition was taken at about the same stage of construction as the 1920 picture.

In this view of the west facade, the demolished wing is to the left.

The west facade of the new addition is dominated by windows that will flood the sanctuary with light.

The mansion's former garage...
...found new life as a home, now 12 Sunnyhill Drive. The home has a patio in the rear yard that is a remnant of the original landscaping done by the Olmsted brothers. The only remaining connection between the two buildings is a shared sanitary sewer. Our sewer runs across a corner of the property and joins with their sewer before connecting with the township sewer system. 

This was the view from the back yard in 1920.

And this was the view looking north on Washington Road. Our front lawn is on the left of the photo. 

Getting back to today, the drywall on the west end of the sanctuary has been hung and is ready for taping and finishing.
The east wall of the sanctuary is also ready for taping and mudding. The four rectangular holes about 11 feet up the wall are for HVAC vents. Emergency lighting and fire alarms will also adorn the wall. The large rectangle on the left is the window to the crying room. Because the side walls of the sanctuary are dominated by windows, this will be the where we will display our quilt tapestries and other artwork.

If you look closely at this photo, you can see that the HVAC vent and the electrical box in the ceiling of the crying room have been extended down a few inches. This will allow the ceiling to be clad with four layers of 5/8 inch drywall to meet the fire code. In a nutshell, when the fire resistance of the rear wall of the sanctuary was upgraded, the window of the crying room had to be upgraded, too. Fire resistant glass is very expensive; the window would have cost about $6,000. So, in order to keep the window and save money, the decision was made to include the crying room in the fire zone with the sanctuary. That means upgrading the ceiling and the walls of the crying room to the same standard as the sanctuary, which is four layers of 5/8 inch drywall on the ceiling and all walls. The door will also be upgraded to withstand fire for a longer period. 

This picture was taken standing in front of the door to room 22, which is now part of the attic and no longer usable as a meeting space because of the fire code and the difficult access. The opening on the left goes to the dormer with the door to the flat roof. Straight ahead and to the left is the main HVAC room. The hallway will have a ceiling and insulation.

This drop ceiling is in the main HVAC room. Note the size of the vents that go through the roof.

This photo was taken in the vestibule to the sanctuary looking up through the return air ducts into the attic.

In order to accommodate R-38 insulation batts, the rafters in the RE-Choir room have to be furred out. The six rafters on the right side of the photo have already had furring strips attached.

Foam insulation has been added between the cement block and the studs in the well that will accommodate our stairs to the basement. The steps will go down on the left, turn 90 degrees to the right against the wall and turn another 90 degrees to the right to reach the basement level. 

These windows were formerly doors to the hallway, left, and to the closet, right. The white areas at the top and bottom will be paneled with oak and stained to match the window seats. These windows will look into the stairwell seen above. They will be above and to the right of the ladder.

(This is a correction from the earlier post.) Finally, a test of the brick accent under the windows is being conducted. The gray scratch coat is seen in this photo. Behind the scratch coat is metal lath, a drainage mat, two layers of waterproof building paper and 1-inch rigid insulation. Behind all that is the Tyvek building wrap and the building structure.

A brick veneer will be attached over the scratch coat. Our stucco will have the same base, but instead of a brick veneer, stucco plaster will be applied and troweled to match the current stucco. Wikipedia describes modern stucco as an exterior cement plaster wall covering. It is usually a mix of sand, Portland cement, lime and water, but may also consist of a proprietary mix of additives including fibers and synthetic acrylics that add strength and flexibility.