Monday, December 24, 2012

House 3, Week 13

The new doors are hung on the bedrooms. Nice, six panel doors. The old doors were hollow core lauan which is contractor speak for ugly brown slabs of wood. The new doors make me think "cozy." They just look happy.

The Mr. has trimmed out the windows in the bedrooms. Again, think "cozy." A nicely trimmed window isn't necessarily something you will notice, but you'll notice the flat, sterile look of an untrimmed or poorly trimmed window. 

There are even little sills now (something the house didn't have on the windows before).

This is one of the front bedrooms "before." Notice the windows are just framed in with flat pieces of wood. Ugly.

This is how it looks today. The moldings have more depth and, again, a small windowsill for putting stuff on.

The new tub is in and ready for action. It will retain its protective shield until the last minute to avoid any scratches or stains.

Outside, the windows have been scraped to prepare for painting. Yet another reason why I would be a failure at home improvements. I would totally not have the patience for any sort of prep work.

Do you remember how the back of the house used to look? Tired, old siding and one big mutant out of control bush tree thing.

And today. Ugly greenery gone, new roof, new siding.

Wet paint...

Yikes! What the heck?

This is the fancy pants vent for the new furnace which will be going in the utility room. 

All of the Mr.'s project houses get new furnaces with side vents. No need to build a chimney which costs money and is not always the most attractive thing (since it would be out of metal, not $$$$ brick).

I'm thinking that an added bonus is that this one will blow hot air onto the driveway (might help with snow melt in the winter).

Everything moving along well and on schedule. Woo hoo!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

House 3, Week 12

This week the attic insulation went in, but I was too lazy to drag a ladder inside so that I could photograph it, so you'll just have to believe me. I will note that the house was noticeably warmer without all the hot air seeping out the roof.

The rough electrical inspection was completed as well. Big milestone.

Outside I found Helper Bob a bit despondent. 

The Mr. had decided that the siding on the right side of the house looked nasty, so he and Bob spent all day Saturday taking every piece of siding off and putting it back on. 

Here's Helper Bob contemplating the new and improved right side...

So that he can make sure the left side looks just as good. Almost there.

The nasty green carpet has started to come up to reveal, ick, nasty brown tile. 

Gerry No Crack is in the final push to get his plumbing work ready for the rough inspection. 

I found the way he stubbed out the kitchen quite lovely.

And here's No Crack himself busily applying the concept of the lever with one of his super sized pipe wrenches. 

Most of this work was accomplished in a small space with views primarily of Gerry's backsides which, I am happy to say, were showing no cracks at all. Phew.

To get a better view, I went around to the small bathroom and took a photo through the wall. The bathrooms share a plumbing chase - how convenient. I don't know what is going on here, but it looked quite serious and even involved a torch at one point.

Due to the plumbing activities, most of the water is shut off, so Gerry installed a temporary faucet in the small bathroom. Delightful.

Lots of fussy, invisible work going on right now, but pretty soon, things will start coming together.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

House 3 Week 11 - and a commentary on sledgehammers

Before I get to this week's update, a few words about sledgehammers.

Here we have a sledgehammer.

Despite what one sees on all those do it yourself shows, a sledgehammer is actually rarely used by home improvement professionals. Why? Well, mainly because it is a clumsy and dangerous tool. Swing a sledgehammer and stuff goes flying all over the place, supporting structures are vibrated from their moorings, and the demolition is impossible to control.

To paraphrase the Mr. "You need to know how something is put together to take it apart." Meaning that the brick wall was taken down, not by a sledgehammer, but by loosening the bricks and placing them neatly in a wheelbarrow. Similarly, interior walls pop right out after careful application of a sawzall.

In fact, just about the only time the old sledgehammer is used is for breaking up a cast iron tub.

So here you see where there once was a cast iron tub in the large bathroom. Now, after application of the sledgehammer, just a space, ready for a new tub and plumbing.

Lecture over. Let's see what else is going on. 

Floors are coming up in the bedrooms. 

The Sparky boys have been in to start running wire in the kitchen.

So much easier to work with open framing.

One alert reader posed a question regarding the moss growing on the living room floor. If only. Sadly, that is actual carpet. My eyes!

I found Helper Bob and the Mr. having a deep conversation regarding the installation of soffits.

Or is Helper Bob just waiting for the Mr. to wake up from his meditation?

A quick trip outside revealed more progress on the siding.

The kitchen has been all planned out and measurements and instructions written on the walls for the benefit of the Sparky boys and Gerry No Crack.

Speaking of whom, there's Gerry No Crack himself. I think he's explaining the wonders of new plumbing materials. Looks like the Mr. is taking another snooze.

So remember.


Use sparingly.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

House 3 Week 10

Yeah, I missed a week. Had the flu. Nasty business and still not cured, but at least I don't have a fever and am able to function.

But enough about me, how's the house?

Much improved.

The front is done and it looks stunning. Here's before and after.

New siding, doors, windows, roof, and the Swiss Chalet cap has been integrated into the front to give it a cleaner look.

Out back, the new soffits are up, along with the cozy house wrap.

I ran into Helper Bob working on the soffits on the side. Pretty smug look on Helper Bob's face, eh? That's because he was on the phone when I walked up (trying to explain to his ten year old son why they couldn't get a dog right now - boo hoo).

Whilst talking to Helper Bob about the pros and cons of one dog, two dogs, no dogs, small dogs, big dogs, etc., I heard some alarming smashing sounds coming from inside.

Helper Bob was nonplussed, but I had to go in and see.

Well, that's one way to remove a toilet.

The Mr. put up plastic between the family room and utility area to keep the heat in until the blue board is up. There was nary a whiff of oil odor which was a great relief.

The nasty brick wall between the living room and kitchen has been removed and packed into the dumpster. 

You can see that the new wall is all framed in. Just high enough to hide kitchen cabinets and provide outlets, but low enough to give the house an open feel and allow sunshine and summer breezes to be shared between the rooms.

Cutting the bricks along the chimney was painstaking. The goal was to have a smooth surface to butt the wall up against and still preserve the mantels (upper and lower).

Nice job!

The winter has been kind. Some cold days, but this week promises to be in the fifties (at least for the first half) which will keep the snow away and allow for more progress on the exterior.

Should be getting the rough electric and plumbing done this week as well. Moving right along.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

House 3 Week 8 - Perking up the Front

We're starting to get the "WOW" factor going with the new siding and first coat of paint on the doors. 

Helper Bob's on his own today as the Mr. is taking a much needed day off. Since Helper Bob only works weekends, he's got plenty of energy to keep things going.

Cozy house wrap all set on the other end of the front. 

And bits and pieces of the interior are finding their way into the dumpster. Always a little sad to see personal remnants of a home (like the little decorative thing attached to the former closet doors here). 

But I've seen enough full dumpsters that I don't dwell on it. 

The main wall in the kitchen is now free and clear and ready for plumbing and electrical. It's a busy wall which will eventually have washer / dryer hookups, dishwasher, sink / disposal, oven, microwave, and a place for the refrigerator. Lots of planning to get everything to fit.

Anybody need an oven?

Oh nasty. Look at that ceiling. The outlines are where there used to be cabinets. Hopefully James the plasterer can work his swirling ceiling magic to cover up those spots and blend them with the rest.

Note chandelier is in place, but will eventually be added to our collection. 

There remains an oil smell from the whole oil spill event last week. Since the spill itself was contained to the utility room, I hope that once the walls are closed off and the new carpets, paint, plaster all installed that the only lingering odor will be out in the utility area. Either that or we'll be burning a lot of  Yankee Candles during the open house.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

House 3 Week 7 - Oil Spill

Ho hum, a photo of the oil tank, so what?

Not so fast.

Notice how shiny and pretty that oil tank is? That's because it is brand spanking new. Why? Let me tell you.

The Mr. was merrily working on the area above the oil tank when.... whoops! Dropped a piece of wood on the line leading out of the tank and.... SMASH!

Oil line snaps off. 275 gallon oil tank starts emptying its contents on the floor. Uh oh.

So, after spending a few moments doing this...

He called the fire department (meanwhile shoveling dirt against the foundation to try and create a dam).
Fire department arrives and puts down a truckload of magic oil soak up stuff (photos are a bit blurry as they were taken with the Mr.'s prehistoric phone).

Next, call the oil company.
Oil company comes and pumps out the tank, followed by turning it on its side and moving it out of the way.

At some point, the EPA shows up to see if we have now created a toxic waste site. 

Then, NStar arrives because (how could he have forgotten) it was the day of the energy audit.

I just hope we get that many people for the open house. 

Call to insurance company, followed by Clean Harbors.

EPA declares the spill to have been contained. Phew.

Clean Harbors shows up and applies more soak up oil stuff along with scrubbing bubbles.

Next day, new oil tank arrives, and is installed by the mysteriously named "Froggie" whom I have yet to meet, but is apparently our oil burner mechanic of choice.

Saturday, oil company comes to put back the oil they pumped out.

End of story

So, let's see, last week three days lost due to Hurricane. This week one day lost due to Nor'easter. Two days lost due to oil spill.... uh oh.

By now, the goal was to have those seven day work weeks over, but it's all about catching up with getting the exterior ship shape for the winter.

My weekly trip to the job site found the Mr. continuing the painstaking process of putting the soffits up.

Poor dear. So many trips up and down the ladder and each piece has to be cut and placed just so. You don't think this house is anything like square and plumb, do you?

Helper Bob, the weekend warrior was out back. 


I offered to pop a $20 in his pants for his excellent performance, but he was having none of it.

The site of destruction looks all spiffy. The only indication that anything happened is a lingering fuel oil smell. The Safe Harbors people assured us that it would dissipate well before we put the house on the market, but in the meantime, doors and windows open whenever possible to create fresh, oil stink soaking up breezes.

No word from the insurance company yet, but I'm not going to count on much relief there. At best, I suspect, they'll pick up the cost of Safe Harbors (after our $1000 deductible). Ca ching, ca ching.

I am hoping that the coming week is mind numbingly dull, with sunny days, warmer temps, and nothing more exciting than stepping back to admire a completed front wall.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

House 3 Week 6

After 52 hours without power, I received a nice call from NStar informing me that my recent disruption of service was due to "inclement weather." Ya think?

Yup, Frankenstorm came to call and while neither of our houses suffered any damage, we did lose power for a few days which shut the job down.

But on Thursday, the driveway guys arrived and now we have a nice new driveway and walkway.

I had a query about the house color. The truth is that it is showing up as different colors under different lighting conditions. The siding is aluminum and it is all coming off.

In fact Helper Bob is hard at work stripping the siding off the side of the house.

That is, of course, when he isn't yapping on the phone. Uh oh.

Might have to dock his pay...

Weather permitting, there should be big changes in the exterior by the next post. The curb appeal of this house is going to be awesome.