Friday, December 26, 2008

Ceiling, Plumbing, and Drywall, Oh My!

I'm pretty pleased right now. Just got back from the building and there has been good progress on the ceiling. The guys will be there tomorrow as well so, by Monday, they will likely be well over three-quarters finished. It's hard, painstaking work and it takes time and muscle, and the finished product will look very good. Once they're done, the HVAC guys will probably put up some hangers for the ducts and the electricians will hang some wire for the lighting. It looks like that bit of the project will be done soon and we'll all be very, very happy.

Work in the changing rooms is moving along very quickly. The electric work is done and the rough plumbing looks like it's done as well. I think this week they'll start putting up walls and maybe even tiling a bit in there.

Drywall is up, taped, and mudded above the courts. I was VERY pleased to see that the guys covered the court walls with some plastic to make sure that no mud or other stuff is left on the bare CMU walls. The Anderson Court people said that the walls need to be perfectly clean so that the plaster can properly bond to the block. No paint. No joint compound, no mud, no tar, no bodily fluids, no nothing. I'm really happy with the care that our general contractor, Wyldewood Construction, is taking to make sure that these courts are pristine. So thanks to James, PJ, and the rest of their crew.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Framing, HVAC, and the Overall Aesthetic

Now that the masons are finished with their interior work, PJ and his crew are able to get on with more framing. The changing rooms and shower stalls are framed out, as well as the office and the storage areas. You can really get a feel for how the place is going to look when there are actual walls. Starting next week, they'll be able to put up the Durock in the shower areas and sheetrock everywhere else, then begin tiling the bathrooms.

The biggest hold up now is the work being done up in the rafters. As you may have seen in some pictures, the building is an insulated steel building. From what I've heard, these buildings are inexpensive to build (relatively speaking, of course) and are pretty efficient in terms of their energy use. That said, these buildings are not the prettiest buildings inside or out. Thick plastic-backed insulation is squeezed under the z-girts and purlins so what you see on the inside is steel beams and white plastic insulation material.

I told you that so I could tell you this: we would like to keep the sound of the balls somewhat quiet by reducing the echo of the ball strike to a minimum. To do that, we are going to spray a sound-deadening material called K-13 on the ceiling of the building. Apparently this stuff sticks to just about anything, except of course, the plastic insulation-backing material used in steel buildings.

No problem, we'll just attach plywood to the ceiling first and spray the K-13 on to that. Great idea. Unfortunately, this process is taking a wee bit longer than we had anticipated. They were hoping to be done with hanging the plywood about two weeks ago. As it turns out, they aren't even half way through yet. That work has to be finished before they can spray the K-13 and also before the electricians hang their lights and the HVAC guys put up their duct work. Maybe by the end of this week that work will be done.

On a different note, I realize that this is going to be a squash club, a "fitness" center, if you will, but I'm really hoping that Madison Squash Works will be something more. The idea for the club has been brewing in my head for many years and is the result of visiting squash clubs and fitness centers around the US and Europe. I've taken into account things I've liked and disliked about various clubs and had the good things incorporated into our design and have avoided some of the bad elements. For example, at "Results: The Gym" in Washington D.C. one of the things I liked about it is that there is artwork everywhere: sculpture, painting, ceramics, you name it. I thought that was pretty cool. So, for our club I thought we needed to make sure that we had decent artwork on the walls because I think it's Important.

I was out at the site yesterday and noticed that the electrician had put a fire/strobe light right in the center of the wall where one might consider putting a piece of, you know, art work. Jeez Louise. I realize we have to take appropriate safety measures, but for Pete's sake do fire strobes and other ugly mechanical devices need to be placed in The Most Prominent Places?

I asked PJ if he could move this thing to a more discreet location.

You know, I'm just a jock at heart, but for crying out loud.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Squash Courts in the Raw

I've been out of town for a few days. While I was gone, the masons finished the walls. The picture is what raw courts look like. Now they have to sit for 28 days for the mortar to completely dry out, or "cure," as the masons call it.

Some framing has been done and the HVAC guys are still hanging duct-work. Also, as you can see in the picture, the guys put up some drywall and the framing above the front of the courts.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Court Walls #2

The big movement right now is still courtesy of the masons. The headwalls are done and now they've begun work on the side walls. Court 1 is 90% done, and by default half of court two is nearly finished since courts 1 and 2 share a wall. The masons plan to be finished with all the walls by the end of Tuesday.

Yesterday we pulled out the laser thingy again to check tolerances and I'm VERY happy to report that the wall we checked was within 1/16th of an inch over the entire length of the wall. You may recall that the tolerance for the walls must be 1/8th of an inch over a 10 foot area. We'll check the remaining walls as they go up.

Elsewhere in the construction, we're doing a bit of waiting on the HVAC guys to finish (start really...) hanging their duct work. They have to do their work before the framers can frame out the changing rooms, office, and restrooms. They were supposed to be done last week, but there hasn't been a lot of movement on their part. One problem might be that there is a conflict over the lounge area behind the courts. As you may recall, we've got a 14ft diameter Big Ass Fan going up there, but the HVAC guys seemed to have designed their ducts to occupy the same airspace. Phone calls were made, accusations flew, sabers were rattled. The fan isn't going to move. HVAC guys are going to have to work around it somehow.

The electricians were in all week getting their rough stuff in. The plumbers have been waiting for the restroom framing so they haven't been in. Drywall guys have done a good bit of work, but they are at the mercy of the framers and again, it all points back to the HVAC guys getting their act together.

Outside of construction news, I've been talking to local printmaker, Mark Cullen, to put together a series of work to show at the club. We have a LOT of wallspace and I was thinking that we really can't afford to buy a ton of artwork, but we COULD use the space to feature local artists where they could sell their work. That way, we get a room full of art and we can change it out for new stuff every couple of months or so. If you know any artists who might be interested in showing their work, let me know. Have them write to me at

Monday, December 1, 2008

Court Walls #1

On Monday we had a meeting with the general contractor, the head mason, the site supervisor, and the architect. Mostly we wanted to make sure the mason was aware of the wall tolerances and answer any questions about the structural plans.

The head mason has been laying brick for over 30 years and has some seriously beefy and calloused hands. Usually when I'm around these guys, I keep my soft, pink hands in my pockets for fear I would be laughed off the job site. Anyway, I think we can trust this guy to meet our tolerances.

The first thing the masons are building is the headwall for all four courts. In our case, a single wall 84ft long and 15ft high with expansion joints every 21ft. Again the tolerances are very tight: 1/8inch of plumb and straight over a 10 foot area. By the end of the day, they got about 4ft up and when I arrived, PJ, the site supervisor, used this cool laser device that measures just how close to plumb and straight the wall really is. The first 21ft section was dead-on. The second 21ft section was off by just 1/16 of an inch. That dog'll hunt.

That's the good news. The bad news is the second delivery of CMU (Concrete Masonry Unit), or cinder block, arrived and 8 pallets are going to go back to the supply company. The court spec says that the block must come from manufacturer dry and be stored dry at all times, to prevent shrinkage when drying out. Eight pallets of block were wet all the way through and one pallet even had a bird's nest or two in some of the block. That block was most definitely not stored inside.

I went over today and the offending soaked block was taken away. I had a good chat with the head mason and he totally gets how important this part of the project is to us.