Saturday, March 04, 2006

Glass Block and Escutcheons

Since the last post, I've been installing the glass block by the front door and in the shower, running wires and placing boxes for the rough electrical, and today Kat helped me move the massive new back door down from the carport and install it.

The glass block was more of pain (no, not pane, you punsters) to install than I figured, because as with a lot of things, the edges are more difficult. Well, in a narrow window (1x8 blocks on either side of the front door) or a small window (3x3 blocks for the shower window), almost everything is an edge. The last row is the hardest, because there's not much clearance, and you need to get the last block in without scraping off the mortar from the top of the row below. But I managed. And it looks pretty good, I think.

Installing the rough electrical has been going pretty smoothly. But with a fair number of lights and switches, and NEC code requiring an outlet every 6' in a bedroom, there's a lot of boxes and a lot of segments of wire. And then there's the whole 3-way switch thing...

Today was fun, though. The current back door is a pair of 5-light French doors, strangely installed (they open outward, so the hinges are on the outside, and they're not recessed but flush with the siding), and in bad shape. But they do fit the overall design of the house. When I changed one of the windows in Kat's office into a door, I got a 5-light door of basically the same design.

So when I originally designed the new back door, I chose another 5-light door of the same design. It seemed like it would be a tight fit for opening and not hitting a wall, but would work. When I got around to actually framing things, it became clear that even if a swinging would fit, it would be a tight enough fit that it would be less than ideal. So I found some sliding doors that would fit, and ordered them with the same 5-light design. Being custom, they cost a bundle, and with a solid wood frame, dual-pane, and a metal covering on the outside, they weigh a ton. I figured I'd have to get a bunch of people, and do something like I did with the roof trusses -- take them next door, and instead of passing them over to the roof, ease them down the hill to the back of the house.

Instead, at Kat's suggestion I removed the sliding part of the door and carried it down, then Kat helped me move the rest down the steps (with several stops to rest) and through the addition to the back. Then we moved the siding which I've been stacking in the entry and dining room area, and installed the new back door.

It looks beautiful. It matches the existing one quite well, though is more functional, since it slides so we can have a screen, and not use up space next to it inside or out. And with more glass area than the original design of a single swinging door, it lets more light hit the thermal mass for passive solar.

The existing back door will become a wall, but with 3 large casement windows that overlook the deck and include some of our SF Bay view. Not a million-dollar 3-bridge view, but it'll be nice enough for us and then some.

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