Sunday, August 26, 2007

The best seat in the house

In my opinion, the best spot in the house is our little breakfast nook. It's got a fabulous view of the bay, and you can see the front yard as well to keep an eye on the yard and make sure no one is using the portapotty who shouldn't be. It's nice and sunny in the afternoon. Now that the counters have been installed in the kitchen, it makes a great work area for me. Using an extension cord from the garage (where there's power), I can sit here with my laptop and work for hours. It's quite the place to be! Only now, at 8 PM, the sunshine is running out, and I'll probably have to return to the bedroom where there's light. Working from bed just isn't as productive...

Painter was here yesterday, and he finished painting the office (yay!). He's still got a bit more painting to do to finish completely, but he got a tremendous amount done yesterday. He does a really nice job and he's super conscientious, which I really appreciate. He primered the chimney (formerly brick, which stood out like a sore thumb), and will paint it the dark color of the trim. So hopefully it will disappear; if not, we'll stucco it at some point so it will blend into the house better.

Cabinet installer came on Friday and cut the requisite holes in the cabinets for the electrician, and installed the third shelf in the pantry. The shelf had been damaged, but they were able to repair it so you'd never know, so we were able to use the shelf just fine.

Monday, Ed can install the office door (another expensive experiment which may or may not turn out). Monday they should install the awning as well. Tuesday, the electrician comes, and we'll probably have a heated discussion about the undercabinet lighting. Hopefully we'll get all the remaining issues resolved and he can finish installing the remaining lights and electrical circuits, which will make us very very happy. Then, the long pole in the tent, so to speak, will be the stair railing. That's all we have left before we can final the project. (Since when did "final" become a verb?)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Are we done yet?

Well, no. But we're getting closer! Today we got plumbing! Each sink has a faucet and a soap dispenser, and the main sink also has nirvana... an instant hot water heater that will work and will stay working! I hope we can try it out soon. (The water was off when we got home tonight.) Our old garbage disposals didn't make it, so we'll have to replace them. But the old cooktop fits fine.

The downstairs bathroom is completely done, except for the attachment of accessories. The plumbing fixtures look really nice, and I'm very happy with the way it turned out. The water's still turned on there, so who knows, maybe I'll try out the shower... or maybe I'll wait until we get final signoff, as the water spots will be a dead giveaway.

And, I am communicating over DSL that is hooked up to the downstairs patch panel!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Kitchen Counters

The kitchen counters are nearly done. There is just one more bit of backsplash that has to go beneath the red cabinet. They will finish up tomorrow.

I had to come home from work early today as there was a counter crisis. One of the pieces had a slightly different sheen from the rest, and I had to make a decision as to whether it bothered me enough to make them find another piece or not. I probably wouldn't have noticed if they hadn't pointed it out, so I decided not.

The counter support is a nice compliment to the Caesarstone. I think they turned out pretty nice.

The other big event for today was the low-voltage wiring. Our main patch panel is almost in, and we should move the DSL down to the server room tomorrow (I hope). The cable too! It's very exciting. They'll have to leave the power on to that room because we'll need 24x7 operation, but hopefully that won't be too much of a problem.

Downstairs, they are working on rebuilding the stairs that lead into the deck below. I'm not exactly sure why they're rebuilding them, but I just know that they are. Probably more rotting boards or something. They're going to build the awning on Monday out of Trex, so that should forestall rotting wood in the future.

The paver folks finished rebuilding the pavers today. They definitely look better than before. All in all, it was a very productive day at the house. The electrical and the stair rail are still the long poles in the tent. I am hoping the electrician will be here again soon to finish up.

Tomorrow, the counter folks will come to finish the counters, the low-voltage guys will come to finish the wiring, and the plumber is coming to install all the plumbing.

Speaking of plumbing, they did deliver it all today. I now understand why the Dornbracht faucets are so expensive -- they are beefy faucets! In the package of deliveries were a few Delta boxes (for the downstairs bath), which is odd, since I didn't order any. Turns out that there is another job for a Segal (not the spelling of my last name), and the plumbing guy gave it to them by mistake. Good thing we caught it before someone tried to install!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

One year anniversary

It's around the one-year anniversary of starting this construction project. It's difficult to know what the true start date was, as we started with more of a whimper than a bang. But we had moved out of the house about a year ago, and the gas was disconnected a year ago. It does feel like pushing the world up a hill at times...

The non-sticking door -- Kurt's objective #3 satisfied!

Our new front door is in! Woo-hoo! We finally have, for the first time since we've lived in this house, door hardware that works and a front door that doesn't stick. Of course, the only bummer is that the glass in the door is completely shattered. Okay, we actually meant to do that. Personally, I think it looks really cool. Depending upon what time of day it is, the sun hits the glass in different ways, making it sparkle. At night, it sparkles too. It will take some getting used to, though, I admit.

The other big thing that happened today, other than the doorstops and mirror cabinet pull being installed (which are big too), was that the counters were installed. Not completely, but they did a big chunk of it. One of the counter pieces must be around ten feet long... it was interesting to watch them carry it in.

Tomorrow they'll come to finish the backsplashes, and then the plumber will come to install the fixtures and hook everything up.

I can't wait to have real running water with a real sink. (Hopefully we can use the sink before the final signoff, as we'd really like to use a real sink for a change.) And instant hot water. Coffee. Yeah. We could be brewing coffee in the kitchen as early as this weekend! I'm ever the optimist.

The other big thing they did today was to work on the pavers out in the driveway. When the waterproofing was done, they removed a number of the pavers so that the deep ditch could be dug. The paver people are back to reinstall the pavers, which will be nice. I'm still not quite sure how they're going to join the pavers to the new front porch, but I'm sure that Mike has figured it out.

More finishing details

The floor is darkening in the sun... it looks beautiful (although a little bit dirty at this point). The workmen are very good about taking their shoes off before they walk on the floors, which is nice. It's sad that we have to put a railing on the descending stairs, as it looks really nice open, and the floor serves as a barrier for the upper part of the stairs where you might hurt yourself if you fell. But I guess we can't be trusted not to fall through the cracks.

Many of the lights are in, but not all. The Leucos Ony B lights have been installed in the upstairs entryway and in the family room downstairs. They look really nice, I think. We installed Blauet Mercurio lights in the library, but unfortunately, the fixture is visible because the ceiling there is so low. It's difficult to discern these details when you're picking from a picture. It's also difficult to find lighting stores that carry these lights, so it's not a surprise that one choice might not work so well. So I am planning to move the lights in the library to the laundry room (where I didn't realize we needed lights), and buy another two lights for downstairs (perhaps Leucos Bisquit, which I really like).

The outdoor lights are in, and they look really nice. All in all, I'm pretty happy with what's been installed so far. What's not been installed are: the Artemide Ventanas (aka "the lights from hell"), the Smedmarks undercabinet lights, and the Lightolier track lights. The Ventanas, which are becoming the lights we love to hate, had their ballasts installed smack dab in the middle of the fixture, obscuring the hole into which the wiring must go. The electrician and architect have figured out how to work around that problem. The Smedmarks look fabulous, but the light is designed such that it has to be taken apart to replace the bulb, which would be difficult to do if the lights are affixed to the bottom of the cabinet. OTOH, there really isn't much of a choice as far as undercabinet lights go. Seems like a really silly design. The track lights were spec'd as aluminum track with black end caps. Apparently the black end caps are quite long and it would be better to have them in black. Hopefully we'll get all of this resolved tomorrow so the electricians can finish the lighting install.

One other surprising thing.. the floor receptacles only come in brass. Nice looking brass, I might add, but we don't have a stick of brass in our house. So we're going to get them plated black later, so they'll disappear into the tile.

They rebuild the deck downstairs (where there used to be stairs) and did a lovely job at that. We have to figure out a way to connect the stairs adjacent to the garage to the lower deck, but that should be pretty straightforward. We'll have a big job of landscaping to do once this whole project is over.

Rather than continue this post, I'll start a new one with all the work that got done today. (Today was a very busy day in construction land.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

More gives way to a house

With the floors done upstairs and downstairs, it's starting to look more like a house and less like a construction zone. Please leave your shoes at the door!

Today I took a pass through the house when I got home trying to figure out what they did today. It took a complete pass through before I realized -- heating vents! They put the vent covers over the heating vents throughout the house, which is just one more way the place is starting to look like a house again.

I think the electrician was here and installed the recessed lighting in the upstairs hallway, but it's possible he did that earlier in the week. Because the external fixtures haven't yet been added, it's difficult to tell or remember. Electrical is the next big piece.

They did some work on rebuilding the deck underneath the office. It's a gaping hole at the moment, but they are working on reconstructing it in such a way that we don't have to pay a lot of money to rebuild the walkway that takes you from the upper part of the yard to the back yard. (Long story.) I think what they have in mind should work just fine.

Monday, August 06, 2007


The second coat of the hardwood floor finish was applied today. Last week they finished sanding the floor down, and gave us a choice (NOT ANOTHER CHOICE!?!?) of whether to use a water-based or oil-based finish. The advantage of the water-based finish is that it's more environmentally friendly (I think), and it requires less work to apply (I think). Quite honestly, I guess I didn't pay much attention when he was explaining it to me. The oil-based finish is richer and results in a darker color. In the picture above you can see my original sample sitting next to the two possibilities, and there is really no question: oil instead of water. We're paying for that decision by breathing in the delicious fumes.

We stayed out of the rest of the house all weekend as they let the first coat dry. It's very susceptible to dust, so they didn't want us to walk around near the open floor lest it get dusty and they have to start all over again. We used the big door to the "kitchen" (the garage door, that is), and tried to stay out of the real kitchen as much as we could. It also meant that we couldn't go downstairs to see the new carpeting, but such is the price of progress!

The first coat was a little bit rough, as the floor needs to soak up all the finish. Once the first coat was done and the finish dried, they came again today to sand down the floors and put the second coat on. It looks very nice and smooth and even. I'm very pleased with the choice of color of the floor; it really is exactly what I was expecting.

The stairs are exposed for the first time since they were put in (several months ago), and they are quite nice as well. They made cute little plugs to cover the screw heads which secure the stair planks to the stairs. I'll try to take some good pics (or have Kurt take them) tomorrow.

Once the current hardwood coat is dry (tomorrow? Wednesday?), the electrican will come in and start installing the finish lighting. And a happy day that will be! It seems that we're so excited to get to the next finishing piece, but no sooner do we get there, then we are wondering why it's taking so long to get to the next step. I guess that's just remodeling, eh?

I had hoped we would be done by my birthday, but it was not to be. Now we'll have to shoot for Kurt's birthday. Actually, if they finish all the lighting by Kurt's birthday we can all do a happy dance.

Let's consider what's left to do: repair the deck beneath the office (I'll write more about that later, because they've actually made great progress on that, and I estimate they'll be done with it this week), install the front door (Chris, the painter, was here this weekend finishing painting it, so the installation will probably happen this week), install the kitchen counters and plumbing (next week at the earliest), install the office door (which is here .. if they're done painting in the office, they should be able to finish this), install the finish plumbing downstairs (can do this any time) and the accessories (can do this any time), install the awning between the first and second floors, and install the railing on the outside deck and inside stairs. The railing will be the very last thing that gets done, guaranteed (well, if you don't count the damaged kitchen cabinet that has to get reinstalled). I figure we have exactly one more laundry date at the in-laws before our washer/dryer is installed. We're getting close to being done!