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The Status of Sundancer

This is the post excerpt.

Sundancer Blog – Bob Faucett

If you are reading this, you are likely familiar with our home on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  We bought the home in 1998 and over the years did extensive renovations.  Carol Ann and I plus our children and grand children have enjoyed Sundancer and St. John in the years since.  In addition, when we were not using Sundancer, our home was shared as a vacation rental home by scores of couples and families over the years.  Perhaps you are among them.  Many of you returned to Sundancer year after year and looked upon the home as your own.  We have been greatly edified by your accolades and friendship.

If you are new to Sundancer, you can see the website of the home by clicking here.

You may also be aware that on September 6 of last year, our home was destroyed by hurricane Irma.  Carol Ann and I were on St. John during the storm but fortunately stayed elsewhere in a secure home with good friends Dave and Robin Conro, owners of Cimmaron Management who manage Sundancer for us.  For the story of our experience during the storm and the destruction of Sundancer, click on the “Hurricane” pop up on the home page of Sundancer.com.

Here is what Sundancer looks like today.sundancer

So, here we are eight months later.  Some of you know that our son, Rob is a successful General Contractor in Central New Jersey.  He operates R Faucett Construction. Rob’s wife, Na’ama is a successful licensed architect who operates BINYAN Architecture Studio. Rob and Na’ama are both very talented and work both together and independently.

You may be able to guess where this is going.  Rob and our daughter Sherri (who many of you know also) have been traveling with us to St. John since they were preteens.  Our five grandchildren have been coming to Sundancer since they were born.  Thus, our family connection is strong to the Island and to Sundancer.

Rob, Na’ama, Carol Ann and I have decided to rebuild Sundancer in the same location, but even bigger and better.  As I write this, Rob and Na’ama are on St. John.  Na’ama finished the preliminary drawings and they have submitted the application for the first of two permits required to rebuild.  This first permit takes about a month to complete.  Once approved, then the actual building permit comes next.

Here are some of Na’ama’s renderings:

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Sundancer II will have three bedrooms, three and a half baths (with three outdoor showers I might add!), a large great room, a covered outdoor dining and lounging area plus a pool and hot tub.  Rob and Na’ama have done a wonderful job on the design.

We are going to use a somewhat different building system known as SIPs.  SIPs are Structural, Insulated Panels. Panels are custom made in a factory and consist of a “sandwich” of two outer panels laminated under high pressure to a dense foam interior.  Most outer panels are plywood or OSB particle boards. That won’t work in St. John because of the termite issues.  The panels we will use utilize Magnesium oxide boards (MgO) on the outside of the sandwich which is a concrete product that is fireproof, impermeable to water, termite proof and other benefits.  They are a finished surface for the interior walls.  They will be custom made for us according to Na’ama’s design at a factory in Virginia and shipped in a container to St. John.  We are hoping to rent an apartment to house the folks who will help construct the house.  This type of construction is said to go up very quickly.

There is much more to tell about the story and I will continue to provide further details and updates on this blog as the process unfolds. If you would like to be notified when new updates are added to the blog and to have a chance to share your comments, simply subscribe and you will get an email notification when new items are posted.

 

Sundancer.com Up and Running!

Our website http://www.Sundancer.com is now up and running with full photos of the new Sundancer.  Do take a look.  Note there is contact information for Rob and he is offering former guests and subscribers of this blog a 10% discount.  Note that the calendar link is not yet operational, but let Rob know and he will send you available dates.  A lot of dates are already taken.

Thanks to all of you for following the blog and your gracious and encouraging notes to us during the project.

Bob

Sundancer Complete – Final Post

As noted on our last post, the new Sundancer is complete.  All are in love with it.  Photographer Steve Simonson spent all day Tuesday (and into the evening) taking the photos that follow.  I think you will agree he and his wife Janet did a spectacular job and naturally these photos will be used to populate the marketing web sites for Sundancer.  (We make do another Blog post when the redo of Sundancer.com is complete in the next week or so.)  I will let the photos do the talking for us.  Remember, to rent Sundancer, contact Rob at Rob@RFaucettConstruction.com

Bob

We love it.  (Umbrellas will be replace.)

More outside

Night views

Kitchen and Living area

Master Bedroom (King)

Master Bath & Outdoor Shower

Twin Bedroom and Bath

Lower King Bedroom and Bath

Lower outdoor showers (2) and dining area

A couple of nice ones for the road.

Hope to see you at Sundancer soon.

Bob, Carol Ann, Rob and Na’ama

Done!

Ahh! It is a bit over a year since Rob and I returned to St. John to begin the task of creating a new Sundancer. Not “rebuilding” Sundancer, but building a NEW Sundancer. As we reported in September of 2017, the “Old” Sundancer was gone!

The New Sundancer is a product of the creative, artistic and adroit skill set of Rob and his talented wife Na’ama.

Carol Ann and I have returned to Sundancer after the Holidays during which Rob and his family took Sundancer for her first “Test Drive.”  Rob is still here working through the punch list of little, but time consuming tasks.  Carol Ann and I will stay through the end of February for the official “Shake Down Cruise.” So far so good and Sundancer will be ready for guests around March 1. Time to get your reservations in. Recall Rob offers 10% discount for previous renters.  His email is Rob@RFaucettConstruction.com

This will be the penultimate blog post as Rob has engaged famed St. John photographer Steve Simonson to take professional photos later in the month. We will share those with you when they arrive.

In the meantime Na’ama took most of the photos below and they give a good sense of the finished product.

The furnished deck, pool and the famous Sundancer View!

A night and day view of the master shower and staircase lattice work that provides privacy and dresses up the entrance appearance of Sundancer.

Some more exterior views!

The stunning furnished interior!

Carol Ann’s new entrance mural and Na’ama, Rob, Maya and Rachel during their holiday. IMG_1720

Another beautiful Sundancer sunset.  Look for the final post early February.

Just about Done!

This is a quick update with only a few photos. Sundancer is essentially complete! A few closet doors to hang, cabinet hardware to be added, some door knobs and trim to finish up and then the decoration work: placing furniture, hanging wall decor, etc.

All plumbing and electrical work is complete and thus I have come home for the holidays.

Rob is remaining and he is being joined by his family for the holiday break and they will be the first “civilian” occupants of the new Sundancer. Of course Na’ama is in charge of decorating so she will have her hands full adding the long awaited finishing touches.

Once that is done, we will post photos on our final blog edition right after the first of the year.

As an important update, we can announce that Rob and Na’ama are the new owners of Sundancer. They invested a great deal of time, talents and resources into this project and would one day take ownership anyway so Carol Ann and I decided why wait? The new deed was recorded last week.

Carol Ann and I will continue to occupy Sundancer for the months of January and February into the future. (You can’t give up everything!)

Rob is now accepting reservations for future bookings starting in March when we depart. He already has a spring booking from previous Sundancer guests. If you are interested, post a blog reply here and I will pass along your request or contact him directly at Rob@RFaucettConstruction.com.

One of Carol Ann’s art creations was installed last week. Looks incredible!

All of the extensive kitchen and bathroom cabinetry was designed by Na’ama and made at Rob’s custom cabinet shop in Flemington, NJ. The glass backsplash tiles were custom made by Carol Ann.

Kitchen New

This shot shows the custom exterior decor installed just this week with grill work around the outdoor master shower (left) and along the staircase.

front lights

That’s it for now. Look ahead to next and final blog post right after the first of the year.

 

 

Between “ready to finish “ and “finished”

It has been a while but progress marches on and we are at a very critical juncture. We are snuggled tightly between “ready to finish “ and “finished”. Pretty exciting!

Since last post the largest (and most expensive) project has been completion of a totally new Sundancer driveway. Past visitors will know that the original Sundancer drive, built with the house in the mid 80’s was a challenge. It was narrow, difficult to maneuver at the bottom and the lower retaining wall was in constant glacial movement heading to the sea because it was constructed on fill dirt. During our project, significant portions of that wall completely collapsed and had to be broken up and discarded.

In my last post, I showed preliminary photos of some of the extensive form work necessary to replace it with an ingenious engineering feat that saved us from having to dig extensive trenches filled with concrete perhaps 12’-15’ deep to build new retaining walls to hold up a replacement drive. Rather, using 12”x12” steel and concrete beams running perpendicular to the driveway at 10’ intervals, masons were able to pour the driveway plus an 18” high curb all the way to the street while adding about 2’ to the width of the driveway.

While this may not seem like a big deal, trust me. It was. It took six masons two weeks of daily grunt work to create precision forms plus they poured 60 yards of concrete to complete. (That is about seven truck loads!)

As Rob wrote when he sent final photos “ The driveway to last 3 lifetimes is complete!”

Other accomplishments include my closing in on the finish electrical work, installation of the solar panels, some rain water control landscaping, preliminary installation of our reverse osmosis water purification system, smoke detectors, plus a system to automatically monitor the amount of water in each of our two cisterns (thanks to technical skills of long time friend John Vollaro!). Final tweaking was done today as I returned to Sundancer yesterday.

cistern

In the meantime, a major milestone is the shipment of our final container which is now en route to us. We arranged for a 40’ dry container to go to Rob’s construction company shop in Flemington, NJ where his crew loaded with the custom cabinetry his staff had been building for the last couple of months. This is beautiful, tropical hardwoods for the kitchen, bathroom vanities and entertainment center.

In addition, all of the interior doorway and closet doors plus our appliances and tons of furniture, mattresses, soft goods, flatware, dishes and on and on!

load final container

That container arrived in Puerto Rico Wednesday and should be in St. John mid next week.

Finally, all of Carol Ann’s glass work is on a different ship heading to St. John and will arrive Monday. This includes the five amazing panels for behind the pool, a three piece glass mural for the outside of the house near the entry door plus the custom glass tiles for the kitchen backsplash.

Glass

I await our electrician to hook up the solar system to start selling electricity back to our power company plus connect the solar powered pool pump which was salvaged from the old house. The place looks great. Can’t wait to fill it up with cabinetry and furniture!

Soon!

Home Stretch!

IMG_1929Nearing completion!

Hectic past two weeks.

Let me go by departments again

Interior

All interior work is now completed and awaiting delivery of cabinetry, furnishings and all that is needed to set up housekeeping.   Just yesterday, Saturday, we installed temporary toilets and wash basins.  (see more under plumbing below.)

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Rob had two single beds shipped down and he moved to Sundancer a few days ago.  I will move in today or tomorrow.  Both of us are sincerely ready to get out of our rental home and move on.  While it has been a great help to have nearby accommodations since Thanksgiving, the house is old and infested with wildlife like bats, rats and frogs, not to mention the serious mosquito issues.

All of the screens at Sundancer have been installed as well.

Exterior

The big news is that the pool is finished and operational!

It is stunning with Carol Ann’s glass around the edge and her mandala on the floor, plus the beautiful marble coping on top of the edges.  Her glass murals on the retaining wall are complete and awaiting shipping when I return home next.  Rob and I have certainly been taking advantage of the pool!  All of the decking is complete.

The final major project of totally restoring the driveway is underway.

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As you can see, it is a significant undertaking as it is being widened by about two feet and completely repaved.  Lighting will be install along the new curb on the lower side.

The cable for the railing system arrived this week and we began to install it along the lower deck.

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It is really beautiful.  It is very high end which allows the cable to be tightened with hidden threaded plugs in the anchor posts.  Great design!  No unsightly turnbuckles which are standard in nearly all cable rail systems.

Electric

As I noted on last post we now have temporary service in the house and given I was away, I am now firing up the circuits one by one and trouble shooting where necessary.  Still a fair amount to do, but at least the house is comfortably livable.  Air conditioning in the three bedrooms will be installed this week.

Plumbing

Yesterday was a big day in this department as we installed the temporary toilets and basins and Rob installed two of the three showers.

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I installed the hot water heater.  Recall that we salvaged the water pump from the old house and that has given us water through a hose for the duration.  However, once all was hooked up it was time to turn on the water!!     Cold first, very slowly.  First issue was downstairs east bathroom where I had just installed the toilet and basin.  The shut off on the water line to the toilet was not seated properly and had to be removed and capped until Monday.  Then, we noticed a significant outpouring under the decking.  I looked up and recalled that I had plumbed a line for a future foot washing station near the future steps coming from the driveway.  I had forgotten to cap them off.  After fixing that and a couple of slow shower faucet drips, we are able to turn on the hot water side and when that proved all good I fired up the hot water heater and declared the house safe and livable. Rob took the first shower there last night.

Time to jump in the pool with a beer!

Rob pool

So now, we do finish work.  Rob is working on the deck privacy walls separating the two lower bedrooms as well as installing the closet shelving.  He will also be building the modesty fencing around the master bedroom outdoor shower.  I will be fine tuning the electric and installing the face plates.

Sundancer is open for booking!

For any of you interested, we are now preparing for the coming rental season and will begin to take bookings for the Holidays.  Final pricing is not settled but will soon be done.  The house will be occupied by Carol Ann and I with visits from our family during January and February, but aside from that, we are ready too book.  Rob will be handling the bookings.

Aerial Views

Here are a couple of photos taken by a friend with a drone.

Until Next Time!  Bob

MORE PROGRESS

 

Even we are amazed with the progress of the last couple of weeks! I am returning to Florida today and will return a week from Sunday. Rob is with his family in Jersey and returns on Thursday.

Let me update by department

Interior

Floor tiles arrived a couple of weeks ago and our tile crew went right to work. The tiles are all the same and are beautiful 12”x 24”. They finished in about a week and a half. Beautiful!

Immediately, the stucco crew returned. Recall that they had already finished the exterior. As of now, the lower level is complete plus the upper level should be done by this weekend.  Again – Beautiful!

install stucco

Pool and decking

The pool stairs and bench was poured early last week.  The event was that the concrete company had a schedule change and sent the pump truck and concrete several hours before expected by the masons.  The masons were on a job site where they had no cell service and didn’t get the message that crew was!  Daa, what now?  The pump crew and concrete truck driver jumped in and completed the pour and the finishing on their own.  Go figure!

poured steps

Coping was installed earlier this week. It is s beautiful silver marble from Turkey. Carol Ann’s custom glass tiles designed for the water line plus her sunburst mandala for the pool bottom was installed as well.

Plumbing and electrical for pool completed yesterday. We expect the pool finish and filling the pool to take place this weekend. (Yeah! Swimming!)

pool plumbing

As of today the decking will be completed. The posts around the decks are installed and when Rob returns on Thursday he will bring cables for the sophisticated cable rail system.

Plumbing

All plumbing is ready for the fixtures like sinks, toilets and showers which will arrive aboard the “Final Container” which should arrive late next month. Our new state of the art septic system was installed and I finished installing the connection to the house and the electric yesterday. It will be tested this weekend.

Electrical

While there are a few isolated “issues” that must be resolved when I return, our electricians worked the last two days installing the conduit and pulling the cable between the new meter monument at the end of the driveway and the panel box in the utility room. What is great about that is that they upgraded our temporary power to 100 amp service and it now feeds to the breaker panel. This means we can (and I have) fired up service throughout the house with the exception of a couple of issues remaining. I simply ran out of time.

Driveway

Those who have visited Sundancer know that the driveway has always been an issue. The lower retaining wall was built on fill and it has been slowly leaning seaward since it was built in the mid 80s. Plus the driveway was narrow. We expected to have to remove that short wall and excavate down to hard earth and build a substantial and permanent retaining wall. (A huge project. $$$$). Our mason came up with an ingenious alternative which you can now see is taking shape. We have removed the lower wall. (Not that big of a deal as it had a tiny footing.) we have cut about 10 12” wide channels across the driveway. Masons are building substantial rebar “beams” which will be placed in the channels and cantilevered over the removed wall and filled with concrete and a new 5” concrete driveway poured on top. This will widen the driveway by about 2 feet. An 18” curb will also be built into the edge. Still a substantial project but not as big as big as a new retaining wall.

Soon come!