Chronicles of the Design & Construction of Two Waterfront Hurricane Proof Dry Stack Modular Green Custom Homes
1. Villa Lagoon, Wilder Italian Style Home
2. Nasello Italian Style Home

Construction Journal - Half Way There !

December, 2007

encaustic concrete cement floor tiles

I have decided what I want on the floor of this home....Encaustic Cement Floor Tiles. I'd call them concrete instead of cement, but 'cement tiles' is what they tend to be called. Perfect for construction of a modular concrete block home. They are not made around here and I am having to do a lot of research to see how I might get my hands on some. It will be worth it !

I have made a web page devoted to what I have learned about these colorful, patterned tiles and the places they are made. It took a lot of digging and there is a lot of info on that page. I hope it benefits others who see mine and decide they want them, too. I'll keep you posted on my progress towards getting these cool, but heavy (to ship) tiles. Might have to make my own !

www.VillaLagoonTile.com ...new tile designs for coastal floors.

Click this to see it REAL BIG

While I was gone, the big lintel for the garage door opening was trucked in and set in place. Wish I had seen it. It is the largest individual piece of concrete in the house (except slabs). We have had a couple days of nice weather but rain is suppose to come back. It rained a lot right before i took these photos... you can see water standing here and there.

the garage is going to have surface mounted conduit for electric receptacles. It was an oversight, but I told Dan today that it really is a good idea. If we ever had really high water and the lower wiring got salted and ruined, it would be a lot easier to run new wire thru the exposed conduit than thru the walls. Plus I am sure I will want it work-bench height. There is a lot of room on either side of the opening for work tables and shelves, cabinets, whatever...and the garage is going to look elegant with its four double sconces mounted up high on each inside wall. No yucky fluorescent lights for this garage ! (They are not flattering to women of a certain age :o)

Dan told me today that both floors will have a 9'2" ceiling height. He is talking to the truss designer about raising the upper ceiling into the attic space but he will have to re-design the trusses and don't know yet how much more that might cost. Another issue is cramping the area to run the A/C and waterlines, etc...by doing that. But I told Dan if we could gain a foot, it would be probably be worth it.

Click this to see it REAL BIG

Click this to see it REAL BIG

Click this to see it REAL BIG

We decided to add a foot to the windows on the first floor too. I think it is going to add about a hundred dollars per window.  We'll have skylights on the top floor, but the first floor won't have al that extra light flooding in. Plus we don't want any pinched nerves in our necks as we look up to see the Blue Angels practicing. BTW the Navy pilots have been flying like crazy before Christmas. Lots of sonic booms.

Click this to see it REAL BIG - The winter brings lovely sunsets.

Today was 70 degrees when I got up at 7:30. I think a cold front is suppose to come thru tomorrow, but so far, a VERY mild winter. Suits me.

I am happy to report that I have found some nice looking, non-rusting vent covers for the six large vent openings at the top of the walls in the above ground basement area. The openings are at eye level, so the grilles will be quite an focal point. I found what I need at www.FloorRegisters.net and also www.ColdAirReturns.com They are made of aluminum, so I will have them painted to see if we can hold off corrosion for a while. They will look something like the illustration on the right.

aluminum vent opening grille cover

Next day - Well, as it turns out, I can't use the aluminum grilles. They do not make them large enough. But, the good news is that the same supplier, Decor and Restore, Inc., is having stainless steel covers made for me like the one shown here (except in SS).

stainless steel vent grille cover register cover

These vent openings will get a temp controlled register inserted in each one. Then the stainless steel grille cover will be screwed into the block wall with stainless steel screws, in a lead plug in the drilled out concrete hole.

Location of basement vents on East block wall. Basement vent opening

We are moving into the second week of January and the weather is lovely. We had a few cold days but it has been at or near 70 degrees and sunny the last few days. I know people up north have had a bunch of terrible tornados due to the warm air , but for us it has been welcome.

The lintels are over the windows on the first floor.  This is the entrance hall and guest room floor. You now get a sense of what it will be link standing on this level. The ceilings on both this and the wall height on the upper floor will be 9 ft 2 in.  After looking at these marvelous books about Cuban architecture that I have recently gotten, I wish the ceilings were MUCH higher, but cost is an issue for me. 

An altogether new part of the planning is happening now. After much indecision about what kind of floors I wanted in this house, I finally came to a decision that I am thrilled about. I do not remember when the idea first floated up from my subconscious, I think I got so giddy when it did that my brain went bubbly.

The perfect flooring for a concrete house with an old world look is the type of tile known the world over as "Mosaico Hydralicos". I love the look and feel of these tiles. But the first dilemma was that I could not find anyone in the USA that makes them anymore. Back in the 1930's or 40's seems there were some plants out in California, but they are long gone. I located info about a man, a Mexico native, who moved to Denver 50 yrs ago and was making them there in 2000 but he has since died. I did hours of Internet searching to try to locate more about him or find how to get in touch with any of his family. I even searched thru Denver property tax records... no luck.

I did find, however, that the tiles are being actively made all over the rest of the world. I compiled my findings on a new page all about Encaustic Cement Tiles, as they are sometimes called in the States. I am sure that there are some additional manufacturers that I don't have listed, so if you know of any, pass the info along to me.

Now, after much digging and emailing and calling, I am about to go into the tile business myself ! More on that later. But for now, I had to tell Dan Z. that my flooring was going to add an additional 10 pounds per sq.ft to the floors. He had me call our engineer and ask if he needed to re-think the bolt system that holds the floor joists up and what about the total weight added to the building. So I called Anil, who told me to get Dan to call the truss designers first and then let him know what they said.

I did some research and determined that ordinary porcelain tile weighs about 3 to 3.5 pounds per sq.ft. so I will be about three times that in weight.

Dan and I talked to Dan Armstrong at Magnum Building Products about ordering the necessary magnesium oxide board and Jerry Nasello wants to order some to use on his porch ceilings when we order ours. We plan to use this product for the sub-flooring under the tiles and for walls and ceilings. It will be coming from overseas, I believe, so we need to be thinking about it.

January 10, 2007

These photos are from today. The weather is delightful. A bit cloudy but warm.

Click either of these photos to see a big one.

Here are two little videos of where we are today...

And another - this one is from the inside.

January 11, 2008

Today we added a second huge lintel to the north end of the house over the garage door opening. This piece is over 22 ft. long. Mike, of New Stone Age Builders said it is the largest piece that Dac-Art has made so far. I suppose that makes it the heaviest too, since it is a solid lintel.

The truck drove out the driveway the minute the lintel was off the truck bed.

The little video is about 10 min long. You can fast-forward and it won't hurt my feelings and I'll never know !! They did a fantastic job of placing this huge, important piece of my house.

Even the sun came out in a moment of glory after the giant lintel was set.

Now of all things, I have found some vintage Mosaico Hydrilaco brass patterns for sale online on ebay Argentina. !!  I emailed and asked if this dealer in various antiques had the outside frame molds as well, but he said he didn't. I bought the old mold patterns and think they will be great wall decor or would be very cool made into transoms over doors.

The Villa Lagoon Collection of Encaustic Floor Tile is in the making. We will be introducing the classic, historical tile in coastal themed patterns this spring. Each of our rooms in this house will have a different tile pattern to showcase the entire line. To learn more about encaustic cement tile, also called Mosaic Hidralicos - Click Here

A. J. Moss - We are thrilled to know that we will have luxury bedding in Villa Lagoon's two bedrooms from A.J. Moss. They offer sophisticated bedspreads, comforter sets, and coordinated bath accessories online and in their retail store at 2633 Main Street, North Conway, NH 03860