Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Looking up

The GHouse, or now called the Cottage by the plumbers (snort), is starting to look not only livable but really darned cute. I can remember dreaming of finding a little "carriage house" to rent while in school. I'm looking forward to moving in for a bit while we work on the MHouse. I don't think we'll have any trouble finding a quiet student to rent the place eventually. The plan is to price it a bit under market so that we can be a bit more selective in our tenant.  Mostly I am looking forward to living in a clean place that smells good with a functional kitchen and a bathroom where nothing is falling apart or tipping over. I can see the light. 

We finished installing the flooring today. It took us two good solid days of labor to lay the 6mil vapor barrier, lay another 'quiet underlay vapor barrier' the install the floor. We went with a floating floor and ended up having to glue all the joints. That was the most time consuming part - aside from the self leveling concrete and grinding. Getting the first wall flush and shimmed up right took quite a while too but was worth the effort since the last row ended up perfectly straight! It seems that the two opposing walls are indeed parallel.  Not to mention that the two hired hands were bragging about our work on the floor to our real estate agent and he called and will be stopping by tomorrow. 

The tub was delivered today and it looks good. We also met with the sewer lateral gentleman and his bit came in way under budget but that's o.k., we more than made up for it with the rest of the plumbing bid. 

MHouse news: The plumbers, sewer lateral, foundation/structural dude + crew are starting Nov. 9.  We have a tentative start date for the roofer the following Monday. We ordered our kitchen sink and faucet as well. Once again, I'm feeling a bit odd about my excitement for a kitchen faucet since the major selling point (aside from appearance) was how easy it would make cleaning up the sink. Do you see the wonderful pull down sprayer faucet with three different spray functions like aerated stream and power spray!? Sigh. At least I wasn't the one (E) totally in love with the soap dispenser. 

As for tomorrow I will be M.I.A. I have an audition in the city for a Young Artist Program. It will be a nice change of pace. I'm feeling like one lean-mean-general-contractor/opera-singing-machine.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yippie Skippie

Yesterday started out wonderfully. We received our tub filler for the GHouse and it is prettier than in the picture. Our washer and dryer do indeed work!  I piked up some more Mrs Meyer*s (no I am not sponsored by them, but should be). And for the first time since moving here, we used something that worked 100% without a glitch and made the house smell delicious! I also, scored an audition with Central City Opera YAP. Then some other good stuff I can't remember. Then the craziness began. Erik totaled 3 trips to the Depot, one of them included a cashier and a manager refusing to sell him two sticks of crown moulding because they were marked "contractor pack" and thus couldn't be sold separately, even though they were clearly the only two around, available, and unattached to a 10-pack. I'm not bitter. 

The other trip to the Depot that I was a part of is a bit of a blur to be quite frank. I think the
 third trip resulted in several bags of self leveling concrete. Speaking of which, I believe we have the GHouse floor adequately leveled so that we can start to install the flooring tomorrow!

Today was pure fun. My gift card from Lowe's showed up and we went shopping. The loot:

Pedestal Sink
Shower/Tub Faucet

Three thermostats for the heating system
Smoke Detector

We met with and hired the plumber this morning, his crew will start in several weeks, giving us almost enough time to get our act together by demoing both baths and the kitchen, getting permits, ordering all of the required parts/fixtures/appliances/sinks/etc. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Another e-bay triumph! I'll save you from the nail biting details and simply present to you our completely and utterly non-necessary but oh-so-lovely EXTENSION MIRROR: 
This beauty retails for $249 on RestorationHardware.com. Not to fear budget minded followers, I scooped this baby up for roughly 80% off. It is "new in box" I might add.

Other successes today have been harder to come by. Our trusty helpers that are working on the GHouse had a 50% successful day.  The crown moulding defeated one of them with a staggering blow to the ego. In 3 hours he successfully put up one 4' section. E and I will be putting up the rest of the crown this evening as their hourly labor rate just shot through the roof with that one.  I'll let you know if we are likewise defeated or if we have just a smidgen more success having put up crown in our last old house. 

The range for the GHouse was delivered and they hauled away the range from the MHouse (for free). I'm missing a working cook-top already but seeing as how the oven didn't work, it had to go eventually. 

And how could I forget the most important news of the day -I was sent on a mission to purchase a chop saw and ended up returning with Mrs. Meyer*s Cleaning products instead. I blame my upbringing. I couldn't resist. I'm hooked. I would have brought home the laundry detergent and dish washing liquid as well but alas, our washer and dryer are non-functional and we are short one dishwasher. In my defense, it is the best smelling thing in the house. 

What was that?

E: Did you see that?
K: Holy!
E: Was that really a raccoon?
K: I think so, and it just went under our house. Just how big do you think it is?
E: Big.
K: Is it as big as a small Labrador?
E: No. 
K: Is it as big as a bull dog?
E: Maybe.
K: I think it is the biggest raccoon I've ever seen! It had to be a 30lb coon!

Further research reveals: 
"Adult raccoons may be anywhere from 24 to 40 inches in length (including 8-12 inches for tail) and weigh 14 to 40 pounds depending upon locale (larger raccoons in the north) and sex (males are larger than females). Average is about 3 feet and 25-30 pounds. Captive raccoons can weigh considerably more than their wild neighbors and they have a tendency to obesity."

Monday, October 19, 2009

More Rain

Today has felt largely unproductive. We have a trench in the back yard gathering rain water where we should have plumbing for the GHouse. We made the last minute decision to move the kitchenette around a bit and with it the plumbing for the sink. By paying a little more upfront we ended up saving ourselves bigger bucks later on as when the trench was dug, we discovered the pipe was leaking 2' under the foundation possibly adding to the slightly cracked/skewed concrete pad. Not much else happened in the way of physical labor. We shopped some more - drywall/self leveling concrete, electrical wire, plumbing - you get the picture.  Over the last several days we have ordered the following for the bathtub and kitchenette (plus a rectangular curtain rod for the tub not shown below):
We scored some pretty sweet deals. The fridge was a closeout in stock for 30% off and the tub faucet/shower was another e-bay find which E plans to modify by building a wall mount for the shower handle.

In other news, the walls are painted! We have falsies for window casings that look pretty darned cute if I do say so myself, just don't squeeze and they look real. 

Other than that, I'm meeting with the window installer to measure for our new windows this afternoon and I'm measuring for cellular shades in the GHouse once the rain stops. I'll also be sending off a signed contract to the roofer and E and I are gathering more info in order to decide on plumbing bids.  Plus, the cat bite is healing up quite well. I haven't seen the cat around since "the incident" but hope I'll see his HEALTHY mug around to stop the rumors of rabies from swirling about.*

* Don't worry mom,  I don't have rabies, as I said, a filthy-filthy rumor. 


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cat Scratch Fever

It was a dark and stormy night. The dog was nestled on the air-mattress next to me, the cat was prowling the house and E was out of town. The rain was gently tapping on the window, then blowing against the window with gales of 40mph, then horizontal sheets of water were thrust directly through the window and door and onto the bedroom floor while gently, no, violently spraying my face with cascades of water. Well, it isn't too far from the truth. 

The Neighbors were terrific, lending me a huge bag of beach towels to stop the water from infiltrating the house. Here I was, all worried about leaks in the roof. I had buckets, pots and pans all ready to go. I didn't expect to be wrenching the door open with a hammer the following day with visible veins of water in the wood.

That isn't even the fun part. The best was when the tiger cat presumably fed and left by the previous owner yowled from 3am-10am when I lured it out from under the house with food. The animal shelter/animal control didn't have any units available due to the vast quantities of rain that landed in my room the previous night and was still seeping in. They suggested luring it into a box and bringing it into the shelter. Thus it began. The cat came, purred, rubbed, licked, then BIT. It latched it's komodo dragon of a mouth onto my hand. To the ER I went, thankfully I had my father-in-law's automatic truck. The sparkle in the sky part about this story is that the ER is awesome. The wait time was nil (I'm sure a blood soaked paper towel helped) and of all the ERs I've known before, and there have been many, this was the best.

Now I could go on about how the parking garage only accepted cash/check and I of course left the house thinking "I better make sure I have my check book at more than $5 in cash on me". I could tell you that the hospital's ATM was broken and I was directed down the street which I dutifully started walking to in the pouring rain. I also realized after 6 blocks it was crazy and went back, tried asking the parking lot attendant to let me out, hold onto a credit card, and I'd be back with cash. Nope. I could then tell you how I then walked in the rain again to another 'closer' place to get cash. You see, I could tell you that, but that would have nothing to do with the theme of this blog, but if I did, it would be extremely therapeutic.  

Back at the ranch the rain continued to come down and towels continued to get soaked. In the past 48hrs I've learned:

The roof doesn't leak
The windows/doors leak
The clothes dryer doesn't work
The oven doesn't work
The fire alarm Does work. 

And on a last note, I withheld pictures pertaining to today's post owing to the fact that I am way too tempted to take a picture of the puncture, blood, and puss on my hand. Instead, meet Betsy the neighbor:

Monday, October 12, 2009

No -> Go Motivation

It is cold. The dog and cat are huddled around the space heater in the master bedroom and I can't quite get it together enough to go out and buy the paint for the back house and start painting. 

The water heater was installed in the GHouse this morning. I spent my time running errands and going to the Depot. 

A final decision has been reached on the great tub/shower debate of the past few weeks. And the winner is:
The cast iron clawfoot tub is a 54" Randolph Morris Near Perfect unit with chrome feet. I was lucky enough to see a 48" version of a RM slightly blemished model in a store recently. There was nary a nick or a scratch to be seen. At -$200 to -$500 the going price for a new one and only +$100 more than the elusive vintage/used models, I opted for the shiny new version delivered free of charge to the front door.  Plus, we don't have to dig up concrete and re-plumb! 

I still have the plumbing fixtures to pick out and order but I've found a few good deals on shower units that I'll run by E when he gets back from his exotic trip to Newark, NJ.

Now that I'm typing away I guess I have made a bit more progress than I thought when starting this post. My mom-in-law and I picked out the cellular shade colors for the GHouse and MHouse yesterday. I've narrowed it down to three possible models for the gas-insert fireplace in the living-room. To top it all off, I won a pair of Restoration Hardware lights on ebay for the master bedroom for the awesome price of $90 total (retail $249ea/on sale now for $125ea). 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Workin' it

Things got done today. 'DNA Chimney' came by and made the fire box structurally sound. They added metal flashing to the top and buttoned it up tight against moisture. Our two hired guns worked on insulating the wall in the GHouse and added the first coat of top coat to the new drywall. There's a door for the closet as well. 

I spent my day learning a thing or two about drywall and then the other 4 hours were spent priming the siding on the house. Yesterday was a rip roarin' good time with the caulk gun. I somewhat enjoyed it. I've honed my skills for when it comes time to caulk the tub in the MHouse, the new shower in the MasterBath, the GHouse Bath/Shower and the backsplash in the MHouse kitchen. It is hitting me right now just how much tiling I have ahead of me. This may influence some of the designs I choose. The last thing I want is to be certified nutty based on weeks on end laying and grouting 3x6 subway tile - as pretty as it is. 

There are some design decisions that are pending. Here is the kitchen spread for the GHouse so far:
I'm deciding on flooring and paint. I think we'll be able to easily install engineered wood on the concrete slab. I'm getting some bids from the pros on Monday. The two floors in the running are as follows:

Paint colors I'm looking at. I'm thinking about the first three as an accent wall behind the kitchenette and either Dolphin Fin or Hazelnut Cream for all the other walls (minus the bathroom): 

The bathroom tub/shower situation is still a situation. The space is still too small (4'11) for a standard tub and the plumbing is still sitting in a bed of concrete and ready for a claw-foot tub. This avenue although awesome and cute looks to be pretty expensive. I've been toying with the idea of custom building a mortar bed for a tile shower and re-routing the plumbing up the wall. To be continued...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I'm a Winner

I'm a winner. Really. I won a $500 gift card to Lowes because of  the San Diego kitchen paint remodel that I did! Looking at these pictures makes me miss having a kitchen. Actually, looking at our decrepit kitchen here at the new house makes me miss having a kitchen.

The pieces for the guest house kitchen continue to pile up in the dining room but there is hope on the horizon.  We hired two general construction/electrician guys that our real estate agent
recommended. They finished the siding project and are going to
frame out the garage wall/closet tomorrow. They are great with
letting me watch, help and learn. I got to fire a concrete gun with a 22-caliber blank for the base of the new wall in the guest house. They laughed when I ran into the house to get ear plugs but these ears are worth "some" money! 

Yesterday was a research and gather day. We looked at and decided on a gas fireplace insert, decided on windows, went to a 
salvage yard for granite (to be repeated several more times), I 
found a lumber yard for birch 1"x12" for kitchen shelving and researched stainless shelf brackets for the GHouse, went to a lamp store for GHouse bathroom sconces and decided on master bedroom lighting as we're sick of  squinting at the empty electrical boxes in the cottage cheese ceiling when we could be looking at each other. 

Tomorrow I caulk, prime and learn more about wall framing. Really, I'm excited! It is a way better job than trying to pry the old walls of granny curtains down in the MHouse (Which was today's project). I can guarantee that in the 50+ years they were up they were never washed - EVER!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Belated Guest Blog

I was asked to guest blog on Friday but I've been very, very busy. Sometimes I just like to do my own thing. So far I like the house. It smells funny in the kitchen - I think an old dog liked to pee on the floor by the doors a lot. The big bedroom is sunny all day long and is a great place to take naps. My days have been occupied monitoring the activity around the house.  I like to monitor. 

Highlights of the past week include: 

1. herding Stan the cat back into the house when he got out - he really should just do as I say,
2. going on a walk with the new neighbors - one growls at me a lot and the other just runs away but I like them, 
3. inspecting the new kitchen cabinets brought home for the guest house.

The best thing ever happened today when the neighbor guy made me a new window to look through. The small neighbors still growl and run but I am beyond happy!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kept it simple

We're working on the guest house. The plan is to move into it in two weeks time so that when the major work begins on the main house we'll have a bit of a sanctuary.  Bids are coming in from foundation, structural repair folks and plumbers. 

Today U, my father in-law, and I spent an hour in the Depot gathering materials to frame a wall and closet in the guest house. U remove the rotted plywood on the exterior of the guest house and we replaced it with non-rotted wood. It was a fun feeling to put something new on the property today as everything up until now has been "crappen" removal. 

If you would notice in the image above, a tiny PINK rectangle in the lower right corner shows the previous color of the building. At least the previous owner, whom I am assuming re-painted it, got one thing right. 

Tomorrow is Friday and the first of our guest blogs (I just thought of that).