HiStar Ranch

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Design
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English Partners, Inc.
P.O. Box 201273
Austin, Texas 78720


Major Milestones of the Construction Process
Temporary Driveway (12/25/2007)

The Whitewater Springs Property Owners Association requires that a temporary driveway, consisting of at least 4 inches of caliche or similar materical, be constructed before any other groundbreaking can take place. This requirement is to minimize if not totally prevent mud from being tracked onto the roads during construction.

Excavation (12/30/2007)

Work in progress pictures of excavation area.

Foundation (2/25/2008)

The cement trucks began arriving to pour the foundation bright and early on a crisp, clear February morning. Although we arrived too late to see it, our builder told as the sunrise was really pretty, turning the sky orange and pink as it came up over the hills.

Framing (3/9/2008 - 3/29/2008)

Framing began the first week of March and by March 29 the first floor framing was well under way and the second floor was in progress.

By the second week of April, the second floor was complete and exterior sheathing was in progress. At the end of the week, exterior framing was almost complete and the roof with soffits and eaves was underway.

A visit to the construction site on April 23 showed that the framing phase was basically complete. The house was now “dried in” as the roof had been constructed and tar-papered and the windows had been installed.

Mechanical Rough-ins (May 2008 - June 2008)

With the completion of exterior framing, the next phase of construction began around the first of May. This phase of the mechanical rough-in (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.) will continue for several weeks.

Exterior Painting and Metal Siding (June 2008)

While the mechanicals were being completed during June, interior framing was completed and the painter began the priming and painting of the exterior lap siding and trim.

At the same time as the painting, the metal contractor began the installation of the metal siding over the last two weeks of June.

Roofing and Low-Voltage Wiring (7/14/2008 - 7/18/2008)

During this week of a very hot July, the Galvalume (55% Aluminum-Zinc alloy coated sheet steel) roof was installed. The roofers began the installation on the back side of the upper roof on Monday, July 14, when the local temperature hit 105 degrees. The roofing and the hot weather continued on Tuesday as the roofers moved to the front part of the house. It was a busy day as the painter was there painting the rear porches and the low-voltage installers were busy stringing a lot of wire.

While the roofing, painting and low-voltage wiring was being completed, the builder was busy installing PVC pipe for the rainwater collection and filling in the area around the foundation to lessen the sloped grade. As the week ended, the roofing had been completed and, as the next week began, the builder began trenching for the utilites.

Landscape Design (July - August 2008)

In mid-July, we contacted Michelle Austen, owner/designer of Red Sun Landscape Design in Austin, Texas. Michelle met with us at the house construction site for our first of three landscape design consultations on Monday, July 14. After reviewing the property, getting our input and obtaining a copy of the lot survey, Michelle was off to prepare a preliminary design.

We met with Michelle again at the house construction site for our second consultation on Tuesday, July 29. At this consultation, Michelle reviewed her preliminary design plan with us and offered her preliminary plant list for that design.

Michelle’s third and final consultation was on Friday, August 8. At this meeting, she presented her final design and reviewed the various plants on the accompanying plant list.

Insulation Installation (8/6/2008 - 8/8/2008)

After a brief delay due to mechanical problems with equipment, the insulation services contractor arrived on Wednesday, August 6, to begin installing the insulation. Polyurethane spray-on insulation was sprayed to the underside of all roof decking (6-inch thickness) and all exterior walls (3-inch thickness). This will give the roof an R-value of 22 and the exterior walls a value of 11 and completely seal the conditioned space within a thermal envelope.

As the insulation was sprayed onto the walls, the foam expanded quickly to about 3 inches in seconds (see videos).

The garage walls were insulated with R-13 fiberglass batts and the garage ceiling was insulated with R-22 fiberglass batts, which were also used to insulate the ceilings on both porches on the rear of the house.

The insulation contractor was also responsible for soundproofing the plumbing on all interior walls in the house. This was done by spraying cellulose fiber insulation into the spaces between the studs.

After 3 days at the job site, the contractor had completed all insulation.

Drywall Installation (8/15/08 - 8/28/08)

The drywall installation contractor, Millennium Drywall of Buda, Texas, came onsite on Friday, August 15 to begin hanging the drywall. They made quick work of the installation by completing much of the work on Friday before returning to complete the covering of the walls and ceilings on Saturday. Hanging drywall creates a lot of mess on the floor and our visit to the new the new house on Sunday revealed that the workers swept the floors before leaving for the weekend.

The installers did not return until the following Thursday, August 21, to begin the taping and floating of the drywall. Although Central Texas was experiencing drought conditions this summer, there was some rain around the area this week and the drywall installers had gotten delayed at another floating job since it was taking longer for the drywall compound to dry.

On Wednesday, August 27, the drywall installers returned to sand the floated walls. They arrived the next day, Thursday, August 28, to spray texture on the walls and ceilings to complete the drywall installation.

Septic System (8/28/08 - 9/10/08)

While the drywall contractor was texturing the recently installed drywall, Alcam Services of Jonestown, Texas, and serving Central Texas, arrived on Thursday, August 28, to begin preparing an area for the aerobic septic system. After digging less than a foot, the backhoe operator hit the solid hard limestone bedrock that is indigenous to this area of Central Texas known as the Glen Rose formation. The Glen Rose is the youngest formation of the Trinity Group of Lower Cretaceous Age strata, and its outcrop forms a narrow prairie in the Austin area from Mt. Bonnell northwest to Burnet.

The backhoe operator spent the next two days slowly chipping away at the limestone to create a hole large enough to accommodate the septic tanks which were finally installed on Friday, September 5. The final install to the septic system came on Wednesday, September 10, when the distribution line with two spray heads was installed.

Interior Painting (9/16/08 - 9/22/08)

Now that the drywall has been installed and textured, the builder began painting the interior walls on Tuesday, September 16, with the first coat of Sherwin Williams paint and finished on Monday, September 22, with the painting of the window and door trim.

Exterior Stone (9/24/08 - 10/2/08)

The long-awaited stone masons appeared on Wednesday, September 24, to begin the stone on the exterior of the house. They began with 8 tons of stone and worked on the exterior for 7 days before running out due to the excessive waste that comes when hand-chopping stone blocks.

The stone is Texas sandstone, a natural sandstone from the Kirby Stone Company quarry located in Lometa, Texas. The color selection for this house is a blend of stone colors called Autumn Blend which is a blend of the colors red, orange, rust, moss and tan. Our specification was the composition be more tan (60%) with some moss (30%) and less red, orange and rust (10%). The stones came in various size blocks ranging from 4 inches to 14 inches. The stone masons, using rock hammers, chopped individual stones to fit. The mortar used for the stone was a color called "Texas Tan".

Cabinets (10/1/08 - 11/5/08)

While the stone masons were completing their efforts on the exterior of the house, the cabinets began arriving from the local cabinet maker, JB Murphy Co. in Florence, Texas (near Georgetown). The cabinets were delivered in three phases. On October 1, the Kitchen cooktop cabinet and Living Room media center cabinet were delivered as they are adjacent to interior stone and the stone masons were onsite. But since the stone masons ran out of stone before completing the exterior, it was immaterial that they arrived first as the interior stone laying would be delayed until more stone was ordered and delivered.

The second set of cabinets arrived on October 9 when the stone masons returned to complete the exterior and begin the stone on the inside. This set of cabinets consisted of the Dining Room Buffet, the Garage work cabinet and cabinets for the bathrooms. These cabinets were moved to respective locations and installed over the next week.

On October 16, the final set of cabinets -- these for the kitchen -- were delivered. After a majority of these cabinets were installed, a representative from New Stone Concepts was onsite on October 20 to measure for the Silestone countertops.

The Silestone countertops for the Dining Room and Kitchen were delivered and installed on October 30. After the Silestone countertops were installed, the remaining Kitchen cabinets were installed and completed on November 5. The Silestone for the Master Bath will be installed after those cabinets are painted.

Interior Stone (10/9/08 – 10/29/08)

After another 4-ton load of sandstone was delivered, the stone masons returned on Thursday October 9 to begin the stonework on the inside of the house – the stone columns by the Kitchen cooktop, the Dining Buffet, the Living Room fireplace and the Screened Porch fireplace.

The stone masons had to leave again as the white limestone fireplace hearths and exterior posts caps were not ready. They returned on Tuesday, October 29, to complete the Living Room fireplace and the Screened Porch fireplace. The last thing that the masons did was to mortar the white limestone caps on the front porch columns.

Concrete Parking Area (10/17/08 – 10/18/08)

The parking area immediately in front of the house and garage was paved with salted concrete. Salted concrete is normal concrete that has been sprinkled with rock salt immediately after the concrete is poured and floated. After the concrete dries and the salt melts, the resulting pock-marked concrete has an attractive finish.