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Time to Start Finalizing Finishes – To Do List

by Chad Ludeman on October 15, 2008 · 13 comments

in Design,finishes

Now that construction is moving along and our target end date can be measured in weeks, it’s time to get down to the details. There are a lot of items on the to do list as far as finalizing materials, finishes and design. This post is as much an aide to the team as it is intended to entertain our readers. Below is everything I can think of that is still up in the air and needs a decision in the next few weeks.


  • IKEA Cabinet Selection for 100K (thinking of all black cabinets)
  • Pappajohn cabinet final design and order
  • Countertops (leaning towards paperstone)
  • IKEA accessories for backsplash wall
  • Backsplash wall material (most likely sealed plywood)


  • Tile for flooring
  • Laminate for walls & possibly ceiling (really excited about this)
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Sink
  • Vanity & lighting?
  • Bathtub
  • Solatube?
  • Misc fixtures & storage (towel rods, toilet paper holder…)

General Interior

  • Concrete stain? (I think we may go for the natural grey)
  • Concrete sealant
  • Stairway wall design
  • Stairway design
  • Light fixtures throughout (really bummed about the Home Depot basement fixtures)
  • Specific plywood for second level flooring (FSC, No Formaldehyde if we can afford)
  • Low VOC Polyurethane for plywood surfaces
  • Built-in desk and railing design in second bedroom
  • Paint type
  • Paint colors
  • Additional built-in storage (have an idea for something outside of the bathroom near the ceiling)
  • Closet door design
  • Closet storage accessories

General Exterior

  • Landscaping design (this is a big one)
  • Fence design
  • Rainscreen installation details
  • House numbers
  • Doorbell


  •  Supplemental A/C in 120K House
  • Dehumidifier in 100K House
  • Local ventilation in kitchen and bath
  • ERV and duct placement
  • Mechanical room layout
  • Whole House Audio? (researching affordable designs)

Dang it this list is long.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 mike October 15, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Curious what you think about Paperstone — I’ve been considering them for our kitchen but wasn’t sure how hard it’d be to work with or how well they’ll hold up or anything.

2 chad October 15, 2008 at 1:48 pm

Mike – From what I’ve heard and seen for myself, they hold up great, look like stone and are much easier to work with than stone. I believe you can use many woodworking tools to cut them which is attractive if you are a DIY’er.

Even if they do wear a bit over time, that would just make them more attractive to me. I don’t understand this desire by many to have their countertops look the same in 10 years as the day they were installed. Give me something that will age and develop a nice patina every time and I will be happy. Put some character in that shiny new kitchen!

3 jake October 15, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Unless it’s a Philly thing- the code requirement to lense your fixtures should apply only to closets and damp locations. The vast majority of light fixtures have exposed bulbs in some degree- that said bare builbs are pretty tough on the eyes. A friend of mine did some fixtures where he made simple cones from parchment and hung them over the bare bulbs with a simple wire clip to hold the cone off the bulb. It softens the glare and costs next to nothing

4 Kevin D October 15, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Drop the whole house audio. The solution will be wireless, so don’t install anything “obsoleteable”. Think of all the homes built in the 90′s with this big recess in the family room wall near the fireplace. D’oh

What’s the rain screen? You mean siding?

5 Robert October 15, 2008 at 7:34 pm

As Kevin D said above, I wouldn’t hard-wire any audio.

I would go for wireless streaming. An Apple Airport Express (about 100 bucks) with a set of speakers (your choice of how much you want to spend on these) and you are ready to get music from your iTunes library. As a bonus, you could use an iPhone or iPod touch as a remote control (not sure if this trick works with iTunes for Windows though).

6 Brandon October 15, 2008 at 7:35 pm

I agree with Kevin that you should drop the whole house audio wiring. I don’t think the solution is wireless as most wireless speakers (even high end ones) pale in comparison to wired ones…but I do believe it’s an unnecessary expense.

You should however wire the house with CAT5 cable which would make it easy for someone to access the internet or install a VOIP phone in any room. I know a wireless router solves the internet issue, not sure if VOIP phones work with wireless internet yet or not. Not sure if you had this planned already or not as it wasn’t on the list.

7 Brandon October 15, 2008 at 8:21 pm

You said above you were interested in doing black cabinets. The Ikea Nexus doors come in a very nice looking black/brown finish and are very affordable. Check’m out.

8 chad October 15, 2008 at 8:43 pm

Jake – Thanks for the heads up. I’ll dig into the code when I have time. I do remember the electrician saying that this was a new requirement in the past year or so.

Robert / Brandon – Good points on the audio. I am looking into wireless as well. A big part of the whole house system that I will be posting on though, is the ability to have speakers in multiple rooms and outside. These will be powered and be able to access music wirelessly and possibly via a central receiver. If we are installing CAT5 cable everywhere, then doing a wired whole house audio system at the same time would be very easy as these systems use CAT5 more than speaker wire. The wire is cheap and having the electrician run it while he is running everything else should also be cheap.

I feel that whole house audio, like radiant, is a premium feature that can be very affordable if done correctly. It would add a lot of value to the home in my opinion. This is late in the game though and it may need to wait for the next project… I’ll try to finish my research and post in more detail on the subject before I exhaust everyone’s good comments on the subject here.

9 Kevin D October 16, 2008 at 5:53 pm

I know almost nothing about home A/V systems, but I’ve heard that if you needed HDTV video feeds to several rooms, the only cable that can handle those huge data rates & bandwidth is fiber optic.
I can’t even figure out if CAT 7 has it, but fiber optic will come to big city neighborhoods soon.

I’m guessing that a digital HDTV satellite feed would need better than CAT5 cable as well.

Good for you for trying to add $ value for pennies.

10 chad October 16, 2008 at 6:09 pm

Good point. I think we would only try to tackle whole house audio and not bother with video. If we did video, there would only be one location chosen to place your TV and it would have to be close to the receiver in the system. I’m not sure that we will even have a TV in our own house…

11 jake October 16, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Don’t stress about HDTV- it doesn’t require a fat pipe- and the signal doesn’t travel via network cable (CAT 5 or 7).
HDTV signal comes in four forms- over the air for network-tv locally, cable tv, sattelite tv, or Fios. In all except over-the-air- a receiver handles a signal input through standard coax (even fios has a converter “at the curb” so that it’s fed the last few feet through your house through standard coax). If the cable/sat boxes are by the TV then coax goes into the box and hdmi or component video connects to your HDTV.
In most of our jobs that have a server closet where all the cable boxes are mounted remotely- it’s easiest to run component video (RGB video) for the high def signal. HDMI is problematic in long lengths and field cuts.
Basically it boils down for most people that if you have standard coax to where you want TV- you’re covered.

12 Seattle Architect October 16, 2008 at 8:28 pm

You guys should look at using EcoTop and EcoClad on this project. They are great new products from the guys that created the paperstone product lines with some great new inprovements.

13 chad October 16, 2008 at 8:36 pm

SA – Thanks. We are looking into EcoTop for countertops and may even use something similar to EcoClad for the counters in 100K. The cladding is too expensive for the exterior though. Hardi is the ONLY option for this budget…

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