Blog Cabin 2011: Q&A With Matt Blashaw
You wanted to know! Our 2011 show host answers questions posted by fans of this year's getaway home, located in Susan, Virginia.
Q. What type of flooring was installed in the bathrooms? Do any bathrooms have radiant floor heating?
A. We used hardwood, a People's Choice pick, throughout the house. The product is true hardwood (not engineered) with a beautiful warm tone. We did not install radiant flooring, but the super-efficient Trane HVAC units should eliminate chilly spots.
Q. Are there any special ceiling treatments in the home or rooms with crown molding?
A. The kitchen beams are wrapped in pine and whitewashed, the master bathroom features a beautiful tin and beadboard ceiling treatment, and the game room features one of the most incredible antique tin ceiling treatments I have ever seen. I can't wait for you to see it.
Q. Were any modifications made to the existing well and septic system? If so, what changes were made?
A. We installed a brand-new septic system that is specifically engineered for the area. The original system, located next to the drinking water well, was outdated.
Q. Even though there will be no two-car garage, would you consider building a carport?
A. There will be no carport, but the driveway is big enough to park at least five or six vehicles.
Q. What's your favorite room so far?
A. I love the master bathroom. It fits the house perfectly; the amenities are state of the art. We also added some really cool antique features that take it over the top. I'll just say this: A piano top makes a really cool sink shelf. Just wait until you see it.
Q. You mentioned on Facebook that the surplus lumber was going to be reused. Can you tell us of a special project that involved the home's original 2x4 studs?
A. We built a table in the great room, a game table in the family room and an outdoor bar with that stuff. We wanted to keep the history in the house.
Q. What type of treatment did you guys give the concrete patio? Any chance the pickets, railings on the double porches and bump outs where made from the original 2x4s or the shutters?
A. The patio floor is made of concrete cobblestone pavers. The system is incredibly easy to install (even in the fan pattern we created). The "stones" come attached to a plastic backing that keeps its shape when laid down. It's basically like installing big mosaic tiles, minus the mastic.
And no reclaimed wood was used on the porches and bump outs. We chose vinyl railings with Trex decking to withstand the weather and termites.
Q. Matt, are you getting attached to this house? I think it would be hard to work on a project like this without having some attachment to it, or the area.
A. I am extremely attached to the house, the workers who helped us and the town of Mathews. The scenery is breathtaking and the people in the area are some of the nicest folks I've ever met. It truly felt like I was leaving a family. I am so proud of this vacation getaway and I know the winner will fall head over heels for it. It has only been a week and I'm already missing it. I sorely miss watching the ospreys (sea hawks) dive from the air into the bay to grab fish. Jason Cameron and I saw one dive during filming, so hopefully it will make the cut.
Q. Is the space between the ground and the first floor usable storage space?
A. The space below the house has a sandy bottom and is basically there to protect the house from flooding. The space has water vents on both ends to allow the water to pass through. If items were stored there and a large storm surge occurred, you would run the risk of debris blocking the vents. I'd suggest you store items in the attic.
Q. Will there be an emergency generator, and, if so, where will it be located?
A. A Generac generator, complete with its own propane tank, is located on the left side of the house. It will automatically kick on when the power goes out; it has enough juice to power the entire house. When the power goes out, your party will still be going strong!
Q. What were your biggest building challenges?
A. One of the biggest challenges was moving the big items like the refrigerator, sofas and the enormous 600-pound tub into the house. The home is very narrow in some spots, so getting things around corners was backbreaking. I'll put it to you this way: I hope the winner REALLY enjoys the air hockey table on the third floor. The outdoor shoot with Dean and Derek was quite challenging. Temperatures reached 90 degrees with high humidity. We got a little delirious and punchy after the third day − it made for some good entertainment.
Q. Are there upper cabinets in the kitchen?
A. We installed big uppers above the oven and refrigerator and there is an upper above the cooktop that is partially blocked by the hood vent. The other side of the kitchen features three big floor-to-ceiling cabinets. We packed the kitchen with storage!
Q. Is there an underground sprinkler system to keep everything healthy and green?
A. There is no underground sprinkler system. Some hand watering will be required, especially in the middle of the driveway. The larger trees should be fed sufficiently by the water table. I would definitely suggest that the winner install an irrigation system.
Q. Could you give us a hint about the sounds you hear at the cabin? Do you hear boats, Jet Skis, tranquil birds, fish jumping or neighbors on ATVs?
A. Blog Cabin 2011 is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. You can hear the very occasional boat pass by in the bay or bird squawk from the shore, but other than that, the property is as quiet as it gets.
Q. Did we get a laundry chute? Can you see out to the bay if you're cooking in the kitchen? Did you place the kitchen sink by the window so the winner can daydream?
A. No laundry chute, but we installed front-loading units on the second floor near the guest bath. A window is located right next to the cooktop in the kitchen, and we installed floor-to-ceiling windows on the other side of the dining area. You will enjoy that magnificent view as you cook all those crabs!
Q. Do wetland regulations prohibit the construction of a detached garage or installation of a picket fence? Are there gutters on the house?
A. I am not sure if another structure can be built, but my instinct is yes. It would have to be built just to the right of the house. I don't think installing a fence would be an issue as long as nothing is built in the RPA (Resource Protection Act) zone. The winner would have to ask the "Bay Act" committee, as well as the proper Mathews County authorities. The house does not feature gutters, but the house seems to have sufficient drainage. I didn't spot a single puddle after two huge thunderstorms ripped through the area.