Lights, Concrete, Landscaping!

Man, what a busy couple of weeks it’s been since my last post! One of the key things we’ve needed to finalize at this stage is all of the light fixtures and switches. You might think this would be a simple matter, but no, not in this house, anyway.

Take the lamp that’s going to hang over the table in the dining room. First of all it’s heavy: 35 pounds! Second of all, it’s going to hang from a high ceiling. Third of all, that ceiling is sloped. Can it hang from a sloped ceiling? One that’s that tall? How do we mount it to the joists? Are we going to have to redo the drywall? If so, we need to do that while the drywall guys are still on site.

Then there are the outdoor lights. Cochise County has a “dark skies” lighting code to keep the night-time skies, well, dark. There’s a huge amateur astronomy community here. In fact, my across-the-street neighbor is going to have his own observatory. (Cool!) So that means outdoor lights can’t produce any light that shines upward. (Reflected light is OK.) Lighting the west patio wasn’t going to be much of a problem because it’s covered by a solid roof, but the south patio is going to have a slatted roof in part, and it’s too big for wall-mounted sconce lights. How are we going to light it? This is a problem we still haven’t quite worked out. We’re exploring strips of LED lights.

And then there’s the hallway to the exercise room and master suite. We decided a while back to put in a cable lighting system. Two exposed electrified cables (10 feet above the floor, so they’re safe) will run along the hall, with some kind of fixtures dangling from them to provide light. But how many fixtures? And what style? These lamps are going to be illuminating artwork on the walls, so how wide do these spotlight beams need to be?

So, a rep from the lighting store in Tucson came down and she, builder Bill, and I spent a couple hours reviewing every single fixture and switch placement. Gotta get ’em right now!

Meanwhile, outside it’s time to pour the pad for the “auto court” outside the garage doors, but before we could do that, we had to agree on the exact dimensions and where, relative to the doors, the pad would end.

Garage apron 1

There’s a lot of finishing work that needs to be done on a pad this large.

Garage apron 2

Those grooves let the concrete expand and contract without cracking (much).

We also had to figure out where the sidewalk to the front door was going to go. The original design featured rectangular blocks, with each rotated 90 degrees relative to its neighbors. For a straight path, that might have worked, but we had to get around a 90 degree corner, and that had Bill and his concrete contractor and landscaper really scratching their heads over how to make it work.

The solution? Scrap that design and put two 45 degree bends. Voilá. Problem solved.

Angled front walk

The footers for the small walls in front of the house got poured at the same time.

Meanwhile, out back, that tree that I said last time was going to be used as edging for the “lawn” out back was cut down and put in place.

Tree trunk edging

OK, it doesn’t look like much now. It should look better once the buffalo grass is in.

The metal roofing is finally on too.

Back roof almost complete

Gutters and downspouts still need to be done, as do the slats over the main part of the south patio but it sure looks a lot more complete now.

Finally, one day Bill asked if I really wanted the big beams over the entry porch and the west patio to be red, the way they came. Nothing else is red and it just didn’t look right against the stone pillars. So I went to a paint store, got some samples, and brought them down to the site. The top one on the stack was a dark (“Jasper”) green, and before I’d even had a chance to show him the others, Bill said, “I like that one!”

But just to make sure, we got a sample and painted a portion of the beam. In the shade, it looks great.

Green beam test

I still need to get down to the house and see the beam in full sun. When I looked at it when just a small portion of the beam was painted, the color was a lot lighter–and very wrong.

Before the garage doors can go on so the house can be sealed up, the garage has to be painted. The walls have been textured so we’re getting close.

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