Low Voltage Wiring

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The City Building Inspector only cared about the high voltage AC of my project. When I mentioned I wanted to intsall HDMI, speaker wire, 1GbE wire, and RG6 coax cable, he said do it, but it would not require inspection. I plan to work with a system integrator to complete this part of the project.

I am laying the groundwork for the next 10-20 years of audio enjoyment. I been around the country becoming my own system integrator. I am the lead owner-builder on the project, doing most of work via subcontractors or personally. I am also the architect, specifying almost every product.

My hope is the integrate all these products into a cohesive unity of lovely symbiosis.

Current Displays
Sony Playstation 3D Display
HP Elite L2201x
Lenovo ThinkVision L220X CCFL LCD Display

Aspirational Displays Computer
Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display
Dual LG 34UM95-P Displays

Aspirational Displays Entertainment
Active 3D 55” 4K LED LCD with Localized Dimming
Sony XBR-55X850A
Sony XBR-55HX950

Blu-Ray Player
Sony 3D Wi-Fi BDP-BX58

DVD Recorder
Toshiba DVD Recorder

Color Calibration
X-Rite ColorMunki Display

Left Ear Fidelity
Phonak ComPilot
Phonak Brio R-312RT

Headphones
Sony Pulse Elite Wireless Headset

Current Receiver Portfolio
Denon AVR-610
Nakamichi AV-3s
Nakamichi TA-1A
Nakamichi AV-10
Yamaha neoHD YMC-500

Aspirational Receiver Requirements
HD Radio Built-In
Dolby Atmos Built-In
Bluetooth to connect with Phonak System

Aspirational Receiver
Yamaha RX-A800
Yamaha RX-A1030
Yamaha RX-A1040
Yamaha RX-A2030
Yamaha RX-A2040
Yamaha RX-A1000, RX-A1010, RX-A1020, RX-A2000, RX-A2010, RX-A2020, RX-A3000, RX-A3010

Current Home Theater PC
Lenovo IdeaCentre Q180 Windows Media Center
Lenovo Q190 Windows Media Center
Six network available ATSC HDHomeRun tuners

Current Speaker sets
B&W DM 310 Stereo Set
Vandersteen 2Ce Stereo Set
JBL Studio 180 4 Channel Set
JBL Studio 120C Center Channel

Aspirational Loudspeakers/Subs
Genelec G Series
Harman Revel Performa3 Stereo Set
Vandersteen Model 3A Signature
JBL Studio 1 SUB150P

1GbE Wired Network
TrippLite SmartPro 750VA rack mount line interactive sine wave UPS
Netgear ProSafe 24-port 1GbE smart switch GS724T

Interconnects
SANUS HDMI
AudioQuest
Belden 1309A Building Speaker Wire
Belden CAT5e, RG6 COAX, and 1GbE patch cable
monoprice.com Additional Interconnects

Current Control/Automation/Monitoring
ThinkEco Modlet System

Aspirational Control/Automation/Monitoring
Control 4
WattStopper Miro
Legrand Adorne
elgato eve
elgato avea

Typical Resellers
newegg.com
crutchfield.com
bhphotovideo.com
magnoliaav.com
pacificsales.com

Working with a Scaffolding Contractor

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Some aspects of construction I’ve not had the pleasure to perform. I did not handle the live electrical leads from the local power utility to the service panel. I did not make the final circuit connections at the main or sub-panels. I could have purchased scaffolding frames, planks, and level legs, but chose to select a local experienced scaffolding contractor instead. I hope in the short run, it will save money.

The assembly crew arrived at 7 AM for a 3 hour assembly of approximately 100 linear feet by 18 ft high scaffolding. My roof line is quit complex, so the various levels of the scaffolding also varies considerably to accommodate the level changes. I have learned many tips for the next scaffolding order, and wanted to share them, so the reader does not share in the frustration I’ve experienced while the planks and frames on my jobsite.

Safety is the 1st concern. Clear the jobsite on any obstacles for either the plaster or masonry scaffold frames. Have a plan for the contractor to work their way around the building, noting any special restrictions when it come to locations and widths. I have several constrictions around the building, and my contractor especially fabricated some frames, which is very convenient. Where lower roofs or ledges may interfere make sure the distance from the workplane to the first scaffold plank is maintained. One several locations around my building, the frame is pushed out beyond the maximum safe distance, or impedes flexibility by not allowing plank movement.

OSHA guidelines recommend a maximum of 18″ separation from 1st plank to work surface. International standard use a 0.5 meters standard, so technically you can maintain a 19-5/8″ gap between the plank and wall, and not violate any safety protocols. As the jobsite installation requirements moves from windows, flashing, weather proofing, to exterior cladding, the planks need to accommodate that variety too. I tried to maximize my plank location to 18″ from the wall surface, but there are several frames that were set too close, and I had to remove a plank, making the 36″ walkway just 24″ which can increase fall risk.

I should have made a scaffolding floorplan or elevation plan, and signed off with the contractor exactly where each level and position fell, to aid in window and door installation. I found myself upside down on the scaffolding planks installing heavy large windows. In one location, the headroom from level to level is under 5′ which forces a constant assembly and disassembly of the planks. With a complex roofline, I would have preferred a slightly higher final plank level, instead of going up and down discontinuous plank heights.

The contractor, for unknown reasons, on a few levels, left just one 12″ scaffold plank, instead of the 36″ wide plank boards, removing any margin of safety. I have not found any difference between solid wood planks to engineered planks in terms of stiffness. It took weeks to get used to the springy nature of the scaffolding, but if installed properly, that becomes an irrational fear. My contractor agreed to bring additional planks, once I complained too.

The scaffolding system allows me to perform faster and safer than any ladder jack, pump-jack, or other system. Careful considerations before the scaffolding crew arrives makes the job so much better.

Installation of Exterior Cladding

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I need every component of the finished siding on the site prior to starting installation. I processed the 15/32 CAT plywood sheathign into 2″ and 3″ strips and practiced ripping the HardiePanels. With the appropriate tools and blade, cement board cuts without dust or ColorPlus damage. The Ridgid R3400 fiber cement circular saw with a MK Diamond Plank Kutter easily cuts fiber cement expelling the dust into a 5 gallon bucket. The minor dust generated gets ejected under the workpiece away form the operator.

Since the majority of building does not have regularly spaces studs I’m using an alternative attachment protocol. I am using 1-1/4″ Paslode finish nails to temporarily attach the rain gap plywood battens prior to the stainless steel fasteners going either through the HardiPanel or just the aluminum reveals. The fiber cement panels get a 1-3/4″ SFS TW-S fastener while the bulk of EasyTrim Reveals get a 1-1/4″ Simpson Strong-Tie Wire-Lath Screw with a large 10.7 mm head diameter.

If I get the spacing layout of battens correctly, the panels and reveals should go up smoothly. Using a rotary laser level and detector, I can set a reference line around the entire building horizontally followed by a brass plumb bob for the vertical level. At the water table and over windows and door goes the window flashing trim attached under the battens, followed by the rest of the vertical reveals. I have a jig to speed up the pre-drilling of fiber cement panels to get the fasteners in just the right orientation and spacing. Z-flashing terminates each course of panels up the the soffit.

A Hitachi Miter Saw with non-ferrous blade make EasyTrim Reveals cutting a snap. Instead of a vent flashing at the start and stop of a panel run, I’m going to use a three dimensional mat that will keep out the bugs and other vermin who might want to take up refuge under the panels. It will take a little more time to get some all the fasteners and supplies, but I’m confident that the installation will go smoothly and effortlessly.

Sourcing Products from Around the USA

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Often your local lumberyard does not stock or have the capability to order all the products for a particular project. Sometimes a single vendor has all the materials, but will not distribute to residential customers or you geography. My journey to select the cladding material for my addition took me from various trade shows to vendor discussion via email and phone.

Tradeshows
The best residential construction show occurs during Design & Construction Week in Las Vegas. The world converges to the NAHB International Builders’ Show in the early part of the year for 3 days of exhibits, education, and the ability to see products in context of an actual building, not just a small sample. Regional shows like Dwell on Design expand on modern materials.

Vendors
The best relationship you can have are with local representatives of suppliers. They will help you walk through project objectives, give you tips, and answer any questions you have. I have saved in installation getting a better handle on products before I’ve purchased, making virtual models and installing the products on computer simulations before a single drill or saw starts.

Instructions
I search the internet for videos and downloadable manuals of competitive products. One instruction set may help in the installation of another similar product. Obviously, the vendor manual is sacrosanct when it come to warranty, but other manufactures often have more information or unique local perspectives not available.

Home Improvement Retailer
In my area, there are the big box home improvement retailers, the indepenent specialty distributors, and building material dealers. Each one has their advantages. After shopping at each variety of distributor, I get the majority of materials from the big box stores. They have fantastic return policies and delivery prices, and with patience can source most anything you need.

For my current cladding phase of my project, I actually got buiding materials and supplies from no less than 10 stores. I ordered stainless steel cladding fasteners from PMP Building Products, fiber cement panels and reveals from Lowe’s, aluminum window flashing from Tamlyn, torx insert bits and holders from amazon.com, sealants and nippers from Essential Hardware, bi-cellular backer rod from DK Hardware, carbide blades on eBay, and a water-resistive barrier from The Home Depot.

Fiber Cement Siding

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As global leader in fiber cement siding, James Hardie manufactures products unique to it’s market in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the USA. My structure seeks a modern aesthetic. If I had a choice I would have selected a Scyon system of exterior cladding or a EPDM tape option for a genuine rainscreen siding, but in the USA, we have fiber cement vertical panel and aluminum reveal to adapt to the limited products available.

Fry Reglet, Tamlyn, and Easy Trim Reveals offer fiber cement reveals. Each manufacture similar profiles to encapsulate the 5/16″ fiber cement panel on all edges to shed water away from the building, but only Easy Trim Reveals allows an easier installation of aluminum trim and a water management strategy, not just decorative trim. I worked with a handful of lumberyards for pricing and availability of products, and expect a delivery of panels, fasteners, trim, and tools soon.

Many firms manufacture fiber cement panels from the Japanese Nichiha and KMEW, to domestic Allura and GAF. Many of these cladding systems offer amazing textures and installation systems, but my walls are structural insulated panels, and few vendors are willing to warrant installations on this building system. James Hardie has an installation on sheathing exclusively with the correct fastener length in their Evaluation Report.

My final exterior cladding selection includes a Henry Blueskin VP100 Water Resistive Barrier, plywood battens for a 11 mm rain gap, HardiePanel in Colorplus Monterey Taupe JH40-20, SFS TW-S fasteners, and Easy Trim Reveals in clear anodized color. I had some primed Soffit panel that I needed to color match to the Monterey Taupe, and Valspar Paint customer service shared the recipe with my local paint store. For some reason Easy Trim Reveals do not offer a window flashing profile, so I had to order a Tamlyn XtremeTrim just for that part of the project.

Tools of the SIP trade

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The contractor finished assembly of the structural components of the project. Air sealing and applying the weather and fire resistive cladding come next. I though it would be a good idea to review some of the tools I’ve learned to use to make construction easier, and many times essential to a structural insulated panel building.

Cordless Adhesive Dispenser
I applied at every joint, intersection, overlay, and boundery a bead of panel mastic to seal the structure. After distributing over 60 tubes of 29 oz size, the DEWALT DC546K performed admirably. The tool weighs around 8 pounds, but saves the fingers to dispense such a quantity of mastic.

Cordless Palm Nailer
Practically every wall required a plethora of nails to act as a shear wall, living in a seismically active location. I’ve pounded over 250 pound of nails without the use of a pneumatic nailer. Skilled nailing acts as a key component holding up this building, where each nail does not break the panel skin, so achieving the maximum holding power. The majority of nails have been 8D box nails, with a good share of 8D common, 16D common, and 10D common nails. Along the walls in each 2 x 4 contains two rows of 8D box nails at a 3 inch spacing, making fasteners seem to be 1-1/2” separation. Without 3 palm nailers, I would still be pounding nails. The Milwaukee Palm Nailer 2458-20 has had it’s problems, but the manufacturer stood behind their product 100% in prompt repairs or replacement no questions asked.

Parallel Bar Clamps
It is often seen that truck straps are a good tool to sandwich two panels together at the seam, but I’ve found much better control and flexibility using long bar clamps. I have a system based on 50 inch clamps and extenders, where I can get a 16 foot or longer clamp to ease a panel together safely and efficiently. Likewise, a clamp will hold a panel together before panel screws complete the job at the corners. Sears once sold a Craftsman Parallel Bar Clamp system based on the Bessey Vario K Body REVO series of clamps with movable upper and lower jaws.