Serving The Sacramento Region & Northern California

Folsom Mansion Takes Shape

Phase 3: The “Rough-In” Phase

Our third major building phase for this new 10,400-sq. ft. custom home in Folsom, Calif., is called the “Rough-In.” This process includes the installation of major home components — windows, ventilation, roofing, the exterior stucco system, and all the utilities inside the walls and attic spaces.

This phase takes place over two to three months and must wrap up (with inspection and city approval) before the installation of drywall, insulation and other “finish” elements, like tile, flooring, interior doors, cabinets and many others (see future Folsom Home progress Blogs).

Consider constructing a home to be like building a human body (all you West World fans will understand this analogy). During the prior Rough-Framing task (see Phase 3), the ESI Team and subcontractors created the bones and much of the muscular structure of the building.

This was completed along with some major connections (run from the street) for the “body’s” arteries (i.e. water supplies), the nervous system (i.e. electrical, phone, TV, internet, and alarms, etc.), energy (natural gas and HVAC), and digestive/waste removal system (sewer).

In this next “rough-in” phase, the home’s components go from simply being under or at the edge building to becoming part of it.

This is when a home’s basic structure gets all the critical elements that will bring it to life and ensure a healthy, vibrant, enjoyable and sustainable environment for many years to come.

Windows and Doors

Technically known as “fenestration,” the arrangement of exterior doors and window openings requires particular attention, to capitalize on the functional needs and aesthetic appeal of a home.

Energy efficiency, views, position relative to daily sun exposure, and preferred construction materials are all important considerations in the design process.

For this large project, the home’s design included 115 windows and 12 exterior doors – some incredible numbers and added beauty for this dwelling!

The massive wrought-iron front doors and windows above bring out the mission-style design character the owners sought while also maximizing security and visual impacts throughout the home (See photos).

Aluminum-clad windows and other exterior doors match the color palette of the home and are located for specific access needs and preferences.

During “rough-in” stage, window technicians from Sierra Pacific Windows executed a basic three-step installation process for each opening:

  • Added a sealant around the exterior of the framed lumber opening;
  • Slid the window into place and checked for plumb/level and nailed it to the lumber edges, using the existing 1-2 inch flanges (with pre-drilled holes) around the window edge;
  • Covered the secured window flanges and opening frame with adhesive-backed “flashing,” (a thick rubber sheet approximately 8-inches wide, used to prevent water from intruding behind the windows and into the home). (See photos.)


During a four-week period, we ran or installed “rough-in” electrical wiring from the main panel (or sub-panels) into each room and out to the porches and other exterior areas with electrical needs.

To do so, our team’s pros from Slama Electrical drilled access holes in wood framing members, floors, and walls throughout the house. As needed and called for by current code, the pros secured the insulated copper wiring to framing lumber with clips, conduits, or staples along each route to the electrical demand.

Each run terminated in pre-installed plastic or metal junction boxes for switches, plugs, lights, and other fixtures (See photos).

Similarly, the team ran wires from switches to future lighting and, where needed, to the nearly 200 recessed or “can”-light housings, which they also installed and connected.

This extensive task also includes hard wiring for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, more than 20 appliances, outdoor plugs, floor and stair lights, and any other powered home feature.

Water Supply Plumbing

From the main water valve entering the house from the street, the plumbing professionals installed plastic supply pipes to each bathroom, laundry room, kitchen, and to all exterior faucet locations. More durable and flexible than copper or steel pipe, this “Pex” brand plastic piping is color-coded: red for hot and blue for cold.

When elbows or couplings or tees are required, the connections have a strong and tight compression fitting.

We installed copper fittings at the end of each piping run and “stubbed” out for later “finish plumbing” tasks and for new “stop valves” or other valves for showers, faucets, toilets, ice-makers, and other appliances.

Like electrical wiring, the piping was run throughout the house in walls and attic spaces and fitted through holes drilled in framing lumber.

Natural gas-fueled tankless water heaters will supply hot water, so the red pipes originate from those centrally located appliances.  Hot water piping is also insulated, to restrict heat loss and ensure efficient delivery.

Once installed, all water supplies were capped and will be pressure-tested and inspected prior to insulation and drywall installation.

Wastewater Plumbing (Vents and Drains)

The plumbers also installed wastewater piping, which is most commonly black-colored ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) piping. These pipes range in diameter from 1-½ to 4 inches. We installed gravity drains from every wastewater source in the home (i.e., sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, laundry, etc.).  These collectively drain to the street through a main sewer connection installed during the grading- and rough-framing phase.

ABS vent pipes also run through holes drilled in the roof. These critical vents are sized appropriately by the number of drains per vent and provide an air source, to ensure that air vacuums do not slow or back up wastewater. (Note: Think of the smaller air vent in a large laundry soap bottle that lets the liquid flow easily and not be slowed by the “glug glug” of air passing through the opening).

We wrapped all wastewater piping located in the second floor above the first floor, or in the walls of the lower floor, with sound-deadening tape, to silence draining tubs and showers or flushed toilets in other areas of the home.

All rough plumbing stub-outs were plugged, tightness tested and inspected during this phase, to ensure a tight seal before the walls are closed in and sealed with drywall.

will supply hot water, so the red pipes originate from those centrally located appliances.  Hot water piping is also insulated, to restrict heat loss and ensure efficient delivery.

Once installed, all water supplies were capped and will be pressure-tested and inspected prior to insulation and drywall installation.

Gas Plumbing

Natural gas lines are fashioned from black steel pipe and run from the main gas source at the edge of the building. The gas lines were sized by the heating demand of each appliance – which typically ranged from a ½-inch to 1-inch diameter.

During this rough-in stage, we ran these gas supply lines from the main meter at the edge of the home through the attic, walls, floors, or other spaces. Once installed, the pipes were just capped or “stubbed-out” for future “finish” connections.

Like the water and sewer plumbing, these pipes are sealed and pressurized to test for leaks and pass City inspection before walls are closed with drywall.

In the future finish plumbing process, valves will be added to each gas appliance, supplying the hot water heaters, furnaces, clothes dryers, BBQs, stoves, and perhaps exterior locations for outdoor fire pits.

Fire Sprinkler Systems

As per California building requirements for all homes, we installed sprinkler systems in every room and hallway, and on the exterior porch.

For easy identification, these PVC pipes are orange in color and run in the spaces between floors and walls, as well as in the attic of the top floor.

Our plumbing professionals followed a specific and approved design for pipe and sprinkler head locations, to ensure full pressure and coverage in the event of a fire in the home.

Folsom Custom Home - in progress fire sprinklers

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems and Ducts

Ultimately, the comfort of a home is one of the most important aspects of an owner’s or family’s enjoyment of the spaces. A well-designed HVAC will improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of a home – delivering heated or cooled air to just the right places when needed.

California regulations under Title 24 and state building codes dictate the minimum levels of system efficiency.  For this large custom home, the designers, owners, and Title 24 consultants specified seven separate HVAC systems, each with zones to control specific areas and only deliver conditioned air where and when desired.

Our experienced HVAC professionals at Nor Cal Mechanical provided the systems and installation services for the Folsom mansion. From each of the five full HVAC units, the team ran insulated, flexible supply-ducting to carry cooled or heated air into each conditioned room in the house (see photos). Sized by diameter for specific airflow-delivery rates, each sealed connects to a supply register in the room.

Additionally, return-ducts were placed in specific areas to pull air from the home and recirculate it back to the HVAC units for conditioning.

Two other units — called mini-split systems— run a bit differently as heat pumps. These are ductless and provide conditioned air to just one room each.

Structured Wiring (Alarms, Communication, TV, and Internet)

Similar to the electrical system wiring of the home, the structured-wiring provides for amenities and security in key areas.

Wiring for TV systems, alarms, telephone, and internet all run from the street to a specific central control box in the home. From there, wiring runs through walls, floors, attics, and other spaces directly to the windows, plastic junction boxes, and other termination points. During this “rough-in” stage, the wires are simply bundled or tied to the termination points.

We will make the final connections during the finish wiring process after drywall, texture, and other finish lumber installation tasks are completed.

This home includes two main control boxes servicing several areas of the home and providing all the basic structured firing needs (see photos). Each box has up to 50 different “home-run” wires to it bundled and ready for connection to distribution panels and specific controls.

Framing “Pick-Up” Tasks

Small things matter.

During this rough-in phase, the ESI Builders team also worked with the future homeowners to identify the locations of every towel rack, toilet paper holder, light, fan, wall-mounted TV, and closet pole, etc. Our carpenters added needed wood backing or structural support to each spot in every room. Other “pick-up” framing tasks included decorative ceilings, interior door frame preparation, and water-proofing of exterior decks.

Managing the “Ultimate Building Experience”

Coordination of this process and all phases of construction is key to the ultimate success in quality, schedule and budget. As you can imagine, having 10-15 subcontractors working side by side on a project during this “rough in” phase is complex and can be challenging. Like surgeons that believe their part of the body is the most important and should have priority over other tasks – subcontractors must be directed and closely managed by the General Contractor.

The ESI Builders team provides that key leadership by working proactively and on an hourly and daily basis.  We coordinate schedules, sequence every task, develop a game plan with each subcontractor with mandatory onsite pre-arrival job walks, issue guidelines, and deliver very detailed work scopes & schedules.  Also, ensuring that our clients and future homeowners know every step, issue, and resolution – we provide a web-based client portal to review daily progress reports, see photos of key elements or issues, and track action items.  This level of communication makes everyone comfortable and educated at each step.

Learn more about the team and unique building process and “The Ultimate Building Experience” at: