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

Magnum Board, MgO, Magnesium Oxide Wallboard Installation

Mid-November 2008

On Friday Nov, 14th, commercial wallboard installers started hanging our Magnum Board magnesium oxide wall board. Dan Z.said he called a number of installers and told them we were using Magnum Board as a replacement for ordinary gypsum board and if they balked at all he just kept on calling. MgO board doesn't score and break easily like Sheet rock and one must use screws instead of nails to put it up. We have some tall ceilings and wanted some enthusiastic workers. Here you can see the beginnings of the ceiling in the main bedroom.

Below: I took these fellow's pix when they were taking a break. Andrews is in the front in plaid shirt. These guys took several breaks and left for the day at 3 p.m. This crew got replaced the next day by a much more energetic bunch of guys !

Mexican gypsum board hangers Mexican sheetrock worker
Magnesium Oxide MgO wall board ceiling installed.

This is the south wall of master bedroom with MgO board on it. The two small rectangle places that you can see are new fangled Onsia Speakers that go in your wall and are flush with the surface of the wall. You do wall board mud right over them and make them invisible in your wall. It will be really interesting to see how the speakers sound when we get them hooked up.

The Magnum Board is a bit of a challenge to hang. It is a brand of MgO or Magnesium oxide wall board. We are using magnesium oxide wall board as a gypsum drywall replacement. It takes a little longer to hang. We are using screws instead of nails and it is not so easy to cut as gypsum board. You cannot score and snap it as easily as gypsum board. But the bit of extra time is well worth it for the long term.

The sky lights make a huge difference. This is in the master bath. It is a Sun Dome tube light with a tough spherical clear cover on the roof.

In the master bath, the shower is going to have to be covered in tile. Originally Dan Z. had said we could get some of it made of glass, but when I went up there and looked, I was a bit surprised to see that it is gonna be rather enclosed and by the time we get cement tile all over the walls the interior is gonna be sorta small. But then, on the other hand, it kinda looks old fashioned. My grandfather's house had a tile shower that was not much different (except it was not in a corner). This shower does have provisions for a overhead light inside, so that is good. Only problem is that I didn't order enough cement tile to cover so much square footage. I may have to use some that is intended for closet floors and then order more for the missing places in the floor. It takes 6 to 8 weeks to get them so it is not like I can just quickly order more. I will probably have some extra solid color tile, but they will be pastel colors and the master bath floor has only black, taupe and white in it.

The wall board installers have gotten excess 'mud' on the concrete blocks. I do not think it is going to be so easy to remove as they think. The pits and uneven surface is going to make it a lot harder than regular walls. I will probably lightly sand and paste wax my interior walls, but I have not had time to do that yet.

The niche area, above, is getting covered over for now. We are suppose to have Dac-Art pieces for a handsome focal point in the foyer, maybe they will come later.

Foyer on first floor.

I got the guys to put a row of boric acid powder on the toe plates in the walls between the wallboard in case bugs ever try to take up residence in my walls. Supposedly they walk thru the boric acid and get it on their legs, then they go home and lick their legs and die...

The house is really looking different with the wall boards and ceilings going up. This is the guestroom.

What a difference the Sun Domes make ! These two small rooms are next to each other and neither has a window. The one on left is washer/dryer room and it was really dark in there in the middle of the afternoon. The room on right is the little office and it was pleasantly lit at the same time of day. I hope to be able to go back and add more Sun Domes later.

This is the new top floor hall looking towards the water. Looks like it might be a good place to hang my Shrimp Festival posters. Also it will look much more cheerful with the Villa Lagoon Tile "Surf Agua" tile rippling down the passage.

If I were going to go for a plaster wall look, I'd use one of the Venetian plaster products from this page.

This is how the same hall looks if you are in the kitchen area and looking towards the main bedroom.

2 x 4 wood balcony rail

Aaron is building rails for the porches from 2 x 4's for now. Ted has said that he wants to make special Venetian style balustrades but we have to have something to get a final inspection. I can paint these and they will look a bit more finished, or leave them as-is and the color kinda matches the house.

Aaron has also built me storage shelving in the basement (below) to store tile samples on. The tile weighs a lot so my shelves are very sturdy and attached to the wall.

2 x 4 storage shelves for cement tiles
building wood steps in basement

The final inspection is going to require us to have no more than 4" of space between the steps, so we plan to add a board to the lower part of the steps riser part to keep dirt from getting kicked off the back of the steps but we will still get a little light past the steps by using a narrow board that doesn't fill the whole space.

Thank goodness I can stand up in almost all parts of the basement. I have to watch to avoid the light bulbs that are in metal cages suspended from the ceiling and maybe a couple larger plumbing drains, but mostly I can stand up... no problem.

We have 3 locations where we have pocket doors. Aaron has installed a pocket door frame where they are to go. And speaking of doors, I am overjoyed to get turned on to Custom Millworks Inc [7882 County Road 24 Fairhope, AL 36532 ] who is making my interior doors and two exterior doors. Patrick from Builder Resource hooked me up and Mark at Custom Millworks is making solid wood doors for us. The style is 4 panels, one over the other. Some are odd heights. I am not sure how he is going to deal with that, maybe I should call and ask.

Four panel wood door

The doors from the foyer to the garage and the door from guest room to basement have to be exterior rated. The wood will be stain grade, but I will probably paint them anyway. The 'exterior' ones have to be painted on all sides.

I wanted doors that were something different than the std. 4 panel design and I wanted solid wood. I kinda have a 'thing' about not liking hollow core doors of any kind.

Pocket door framing

Aaron has his workshop area set up in the garage and makes quick work of carpentry jobs.

Dan has been real aggressive on clean-up. He has the men all cleaning up after them selves and he has had a lot of debris hauled off. He is getting ready for sewer and water supply digging and putting in our new driveway.

Arco Boleno granite for counters

Kitchen counter tops - I stopped in Cabinet Masters in Gulf Shores the other day and happened to see this sample on their wall of this incredible quartz material called Arco Baleno. They called and said the supplier had 2 slabs of it. I did a bit of research and found that many people refer to this stone as granite even though it is actually a quartzite.  Anyway, early Saturday I drove up to Summerdale to see the slabs and while they did have a bit of blue in them, they were mostly gray and not nearly exciting enough to warrant spending that kind of money. You can see the floor tile sitting on the ground. The slab looks good color-wise but the gray is kinda drab.

So now I am considering using my Villa Lagoon Tile in a solid color on the counter tops. I don' t have enough of one solid on hand, so I would have to use some that are suppose to be for the guestroom and order more for it. I do not have to have my floor tile down for the Certificate of Occupancy.

Arco Balani granite with floor cement tile

Stephen and the other fellow up at Natural Stone Distributors in Summerdale were really helpful in pulling these huge slabs out for me to see.

Granite slab blue stone fro counter tops
Volga Blue Granite for Countertops Volga Blue Granite for Countertops

I did see some other way-cool dark slabs with color changing crystals in them, but they are expensive and overall the counters would be very dark. The name of this stone is Volga Blue granite.

Arco Balina granite slab for kitchen counters Granite Transformations New Blue Color

Now I have also found that Granite Transformations has this new color in their glass/resin series, so I will ck on it tomorrow. Their specialty is putting granite veneer tops on existing counters, but I do not see why they could not do new construction. The color looks like it would be a good one with my floor tile in the kitchen and the price might be right.

Note: I called the the rep for Granite Transformations is coming out on Thurs. Can't wait to see how this color looks with my floor tile.

Sealing the exterior walls continues.

Treating our concrete walls for waterproofness. Sealing concrete blocks w/ Miracle 511 sealant

We (esp. Dave Perry) have been spraying Miracle 511 Impregnator sealant on our exterior walls. We need the man lift to get to most of the areas. Today I took a hose with a sprayer on it and squirted all the walls to look for dark areas that get wet and are skips in our wall treatment. Of course we found some since this has been done over about a week, with lots of starts and stops. I took photos and printed them out so we can reference them when going back tomorrow and catching all the skips. We purposely didn't do some areas that are not crucial at this time or are easily reached from inside or the porches. We also limited the spraying near the lower porch slab. If I want to lay cement tile there, the sealant might prevent a good bond with the mortars.

We have used 14 gallons of the $100 a gallon (inc. tax) Miracle 511 sealant, and we need some more. This was an expense we did not expect but by doing it ourselves, we saved a bundle.

Sealing concrete walls

Yipee !! Looks like I have a buyer for my crane. I am waiting for the money to get transferred to my bank account and then they will have a trucking co come pick it up. I am making copies of the service records that we have from the time I owned it. I will miss it, my old friend, but with building in a major slump, and a lot of equipment on the market, I feel fortunate to have a buyer.

The treated wood rails that Aaron made really do look pretty good. Not exactly what I had hoped for (I wanted the Venetian style concrete railings) but since they are about the same color as the house, they blend in nicely.

We have a lot of digging going on. Our sewer drain pipe is underground now, barely. It just has a little slop and it runs to our grinder pump. Luckily I can use the same grinder pump that was installed for the guesthouse. That is one less expensive thing to buy and have future maintenance on.

The City of Gulf Shores fellows came out and dug to the water main and put a tap into it for me. They are making me pay 2 water bills a month !  Yuck ! The minimum right now is $27 a month.

You can see the ground water puddling up in this hole that was about three feet deep. And it has not even rained in a long time.

Randy, Dan and Steve.

Jessica working with HydroStop on the basement vents. Jessica is Don's girlfriend. Don worked on our block setting.

The trench for the new water line to the house was dug by hand and the fellows kindly took care not to damage the clumps of bamboo that they had to dig between up meant the road.

Recycled Material Driveway Gravel - using our own scrap as part of our drive.

David Trull, Steve and Dan discussing the driveway made from recycled materials. Interestingly, Steve was raised in Mexico because his parents were Baptist missionaries in an area not far from Tampico. His Spanish is excellent of course.

David Trull at Reynolds Ready Mix told us about recycled driveway and roadbed gravel and it turns out that some of our very own Dac-Art scrap has gone into the mix that we are using on our gravel driveway. David Trull can be contacted about recycled concrete gravel at  251-747-4238 or 1-800-239-3879.

We stretched new lines from the Dac-Art entrance columns to the porch of the guesthouse and Steve used his tractor to grade the load after load of recycled gravel to a very straight part to the house.

We have a lot of gravel and it comes right up to the house walls. I have never been 'big' on foundation plantings and prefer gravel to the base of the walls. Part of the area near the guesthouse that had previously been graveled will now become grass, but right now it has a crane and storage container on it so that will have to be done later.