Published on Thu, Mar 17, 2005 by ack Kintner

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Home Improvement

By Jack Kintner

Concrete sets, pipes to follow

Don Scherck’s styrofoam insulated walls in the lower floor of his new house were poured last week, and once they’d had a chance to cure Scherck applied a rubber coating to the outside styrofoam wall as a vapor barrier before back-filling over drain tile he laid around
the base of the foundation. The material comes in sheets
and has a contact bond adhesive on one side. “If you ever get
crossed up and the glue side sticks to itself, that’s a throw-away,” hesaid. Once the sheets were applied to all the outside surfaces that will
be below grade, Scherck filled drain rock over the drain tile and put some of the soil he dug out for the basement on top of that, and also filled in the bottom of his garage to bring it up to grade in the front of the house, several feet high than the back wall which features
a daylight basement and exterior door.

Inside the walls the contractor was able to take down the temporary
internal bracing and scaffolding once the concrete set up, leaving little behind but the walls and dirt floor. Internal walls and utilities were mapped out on the dirt surface in spray paint, then a layer
of pea gravel was spread around to cover drain pipes and some of the
plumbing that will end up under the floor.

A layer of styrofoam sheets is fitted on top of that to support a network
of flexible pipes, a little like garden hose, that when filled with hot water will heat the concrete floor that will be poured in over it. With walls that achieve r-values approaching 55, most of that heat will rise, heating the entire house.

A Semiahmoo renovation

John and Dolores Bennitt’s house, hard by the first fairway at Semiahmoo near the end of Quail Run, is a pleasant assemblage of smallish rooms they bought on July 5, 2003.

“We had in mind an upgrade of some kind when we bought it,” said John Bennitt, “because it was sort of dull. Everything was off-white, and there wasn’t much woodwork.”

This is the fifth house that the Bennitts have given a main floor face lift to with wainscotting and added wood trim, such as crown molding around the edges of ceilings, chair rails and other minor pieces to match. The dining room features a “tray” ceiling out of which hangs a chandelier, so part of the work involved adding wood trim to that as well.

“The key guy was Gary Lehmann, who was recommended to us by a cabinet maker in Everson. He also was recommended by some neighbors, as was the painter Si Halbert of Upscale Enterprize, located somewhere east of Blaine,” Bennitt said. Since they’ve been down this road before they know what they want.

Lehmann used medium density fiber (MDF) for the trim, a sawdust and glue combination that makes for extremely accurate cuts. Lehmann’s challenge was to jump the trim around various angles and small walls that often need a little relief in the arrangement to look correct from the perspective of someone entering the room.

He seems to have succeeded masterfully, and the Bennitts are quite happy with the work, something they said frankly was better than they expected. The effect on entering is a house with detail like a jewel box, drawing your eye around corners and up staircases to find out what’s just out of sight, an old gothic trick to draw pilgrims into cathedrals.

Colors were chosen for their strength in the sun that often flood the more formal end of the house, and in the dining room the original Martha Stewart Red was repainted the same color. The woodwork is as clear a color of white as it’s possible to get, sprayed on in enough coats to give it a lacquer-like hardness and finish.