Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Winter's Here... It's Official

I just got back from Miami on Monday and woke up this morning to find out that winter is officially here:

So far the house has been holding up to the cold pretty well. The downstairs finished area is significantly colder than the upstairs (due to heat rising and all), but other than that there don't seem to be any cold spots in the house or drafts etc. This is a pretty huge difference from my last place where the windows seemed to make vague attempts at keeping the cold out.

One issue that has arisen though, is that my hot water temperature when in the shower has been fluctuating. I want to do some experiments to see whether or not it's just the shower that exhibits this, or all hot water lines. After I do that I'm going to call the people who I bought the instantaneous hot water heater from to see if they have any thoughts on the issue.

I'll be getting my kitten on Saturday, so there will definitely be more to come soon...

Friday, October 26, 2007


After 3 months of sitting in the front half of my bedroom so that I can just barely leach WiFi off my neighbors at worse-than-dial-up speeds, I ordered DSL yesterday.

Looks like because my house used to be in their system I didn't have to pay a whole bunch of money to have them hook the telephone line from the street wires to my house... only $50.

It's going to be installed next Friday, so after that I'll be able to post house updates from my house much easier and I promise to update this more often :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Addition to the Household

Well, I've been a total slacker about updates again. I gotta get on top of things.

Anyways, just a quickie to let everyone know about a very possible addition to the house: a kitten :)

Oh Hai!
I'm goin to check him out tomorrow and then would take him home in a few weeks.

Unless I come up with something better, he's gonna be named after the best father, husband and rapper of all times: Kevin Federline.

Monday, August 20, 2007

It's Showtime

After talking about it lots, my mom and I finally are making good progress on the curtain. She got the necessary hardware from a medical supply place and we installed it and hung the un-altered curtain!

I'm pretty damn happy with the way it looks. The curtain is 22' x 16', and the wall is 19'3" x 10' so a significant portion of the curtain had to be cut off. The width was fine, but yesterday we cut the bottom portion off and plan to use this to make curtains for my bedroom which will use the same type of track that we used in the living room. I would ideally like to not alter it and let it lay on the floor, because it makes it look really cool, but considering that I don't want to ever dry clean this thing and it doesn't make opening and closing it very easy, it's far from a reasonable option. Sanchez really seems to like the curtain material (and fortunately not in a manner that involves lots of scratching) so while we were working on it, she'd stroll up and down the length of it like it was her own catwalk (pun intended):

In case it's not obvious, I got some furniture in the living room by now :P I don't think I posted about this before, but I brought over my old futon that used to be my bed that's setup like a chaise lounge, a small single seat chair that can be used as a bed if folded out and in combination with the ottoman, and then a full size couch that folds out into a queen sized bed (or close to it). I'm using my old dining room table for the time being, which is far from "nice"
or "cool", but it works.

After talking with my friend Nick about the layout of the place in general I changed the approach from what I'd originally planned. I'd planned to have a really large living room setup and have the dining room table sort of in the kitchen area, but once I filled it with furniture a bit it became obvious that I could have both the dining room and living room in the one large room and leave the kitchen more as a kitchen. I think I'm going to get a metal island w/ a wooden top (maybe butcher's block) for kitchen but at this point I can't decide if I want to have shelves under it, have it be open so I can slide stools under it, or maybe even both.

Unrelated, I've started stripping the paint off of the large cabinet of drawers that I got with the garage. It's pretty much a huge pain in the ass because there are something like 70 drawer openings, and each one has 4 corners that need to be scraped with a tiny knife etc etc. It's gonna look really cool when it's done though, and it will be a great place for me to store random stuff.

Changing topics again, I had my first "get together" this Saturday. It wasn't the official house warming party (which everybody keeps asking about, and will happen), but just a fairly lengthy bbq/hangout session. It went well, with the whole back patio full of people, one of my friends drunkenly peeing in the stones surrounding the paver stones at the end of the night, and even a little impromptu dancing. A few people stayed over, and the futons came in quite handy. Here's a bad pic from the top of the spiral stairs of the bbq in action:

I think Sanchez had a little too much to drink herself:

The Mysterious Noose

I featured some pictures in the last post of the demolition occuring next door. Well, when I woke up two days later I looked over to see if any changes had occured that were picture worthy... I saw this:

Can't see anything special about that picture? Take a closer look:

Yeah, that's right... there was a noose hanging in the old jail. And when I came back at lunchtime, it was gone! My first thought was that one of the construction guys put it up that morning to pull a joke, but then I went back into the pictures I'd taken two days earlier and sure enough, lurking in the shadows is the noose still.

It's still possible it was a joke, but a tad creepy none the less.

Monday, August 6, 2007


I posted an HDR picture (high-dynamic range image made from combining different exposures) a while ago, and have been dying to do some others. I've used a program called Photomatix Pro to do these.

Note to people familiar with image editing: A trial of the program is available which leaves watermarks on the image saying PHOTOMATIX PRO in 3 places. I realized today though that you can get around this by processing two sets of files separately: one set that's the original pictures, and one set with the original image re-arranged on the page. After you do this you just re-arrange the altered image to match the original and cut out the areas where the watermark was in the original image. Paste over the original image and it's as good as the registered program.

This is the view from my window of the demolition going on next door. I set up a bookcase in front of my window as a tripod and plan on taking more of these to track it over time. Yeah... I definitely shouldn't started this before they tore it down.

(I'd highly suggest clicking through to the full size version)

**Jump back in time 3 weeks ago**

As I think I mentioned, the old jail across the street is getting torn down. Apparently they decided it wouldn't be worth trying to save it.... which really is too bad considering how cool it was, but I can understand that financially it might just not've made sense... or at least they didn't care enough to make it work.

I really had wanted to take lots of pictures of the progress of it being torn down... but didn't do the best job. I did manage to get some before it was torn down and then I took some HDR pictures tonight (make sure to check out the end the post for this).

The side facing my house:

The side facing Carson:

The side facing 13th St:

A couple crops showing the facade's detailed brickwork:
Early evening lighting:

I'm a bad blogger.

It's been quite a while since my last update on here, and I'm afraid that this isn't going to be a proper post either. I've been wanting to put together a blog for a while now, but haven't for various reasons. Some of these are legitimate ("I don't have internet at my house yet, and rely on just barely stealing neigbors wi-fi signals." or "I want to finish sanding and polyurethaning these transition strips") and some aren't ("I reallllly want to finish this Arrested Development 3rd season disc!" or "Man.... last night was a doozy.")

Either way, this post is more of a holdover than it is a real post. I want to take good pictures of a lot of stuff that's been going on and give proper explanations.

The Reader's Digest version though is that they've started demolition on the jail across the street, my mom and I are slowly making our way through the to-do list, I'm getting my furniture and other things into their places, and the contractors have finally started coming back to deal with the odds and ends that are left to complete that they're responsible for.

OK, more to come soon.... promise :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery....

... I just call it being a copycat :P

Granted, it's pretty different than mine, but this was just put up on the front of an old brick building in Larkins Way, along the way I bike to/from work. Same red color, and laidout (partially) vertically, like mine. I'd be pretty surprised if my place wasn't a direct influence on this.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Transformers Preview!!!!

Here's a sneak peak at the new Transformers movie. Watch how the VW Golf turns into the 3 story tall robot:

Oh wait... wrong video. Apparently that wasn't more than meets the eyes, it was just my garage door opening and my car sitting there.

Monday, July 2, 2007


Sorry it's been so long since I've posted an update. Lots of things have been happening, though compared to some of the major updates that have happened in the past, the newer stuff seems significantly less exciting. At this point, I'd really like a break from it all, but at the same time I enjoy it a lot and will miss it when i'm finally "settled".

One of the biggest projects was the painting of the spiral stairs. The ones I got came only primed (this saved a bit of money over galvanized or aluminum stairs). Any places where the stairs got scratched up during installation or just places that hadn't been covered by primer had begun to rust. This rust had to be sanded off, and then we primed those spots with some rustolium spray paint. You can see the red primer spray paint in this shot:

My mom and dad helped paint the stairs, which was great because every single railing rod had to be painted nad it was quite the task. Here they are, as requested by my dad to be in the blog:

We had to add what basically is sand to the paint that we used for the stairs themselves so that it added grip to the paint. Otherwise I would've needed to put some sticky strips on the stairs that invariably comes off.

One things that's really made it feel like I'm living "at home" is finally getting my washer and dryer hooked up. I got the washer for $25 off an old woman in the Hill that was moving, and the dryer from my old roommate when he moved to DC 3 years ago. Both work, but are nothing special. After struggling for a while to get the dryer vented to the duct work properly I went to plug the dryer in and found that the plug didn't fit. Turns out that the plug had been switched to be used for my old place's antiquated wiring. I went to Lowe's and got a new 4 wire plug, wired it in, and now it works fine. My washer and dryer, in all their glory:

The other day I put the knobs on the bathroom sink cabinets. I chose some clean, simple knobs that sort of feel art deco to me (in a good way... not in a pink and turquoise flamingo kind of way). I'm going to hold off on posting a picture, because all I have right now is a camera phone pic, and you really can't tell what's going on.

The last time I made a post I was talking about the theater curtain I wanted to get. Well, I went and got it... and it's pretty awesome. I haven't done much with it since I got it, because hanging it up is going to be a bit of an ordeal. I think I've figured out a way to do it using these right angle metal strips that I got from Lowes tonight, but it's still going to be a little while before it's up. My friend Casey's a sewing queen, so she's gonna help me alter the curtain to turn one 22' x 16' curtain into a curtain and a valence. The valence will hang down from the ceiling a bit out from the curtain to hide the track system I'm creating, and to also hide the projector screen that'll hang from the ceiling (or so the plan goes). The material the curtain's made out of is some serious stuff... 16 oz "Jezebel Red" velour. Unfortunately, from what I've read it has to be dry cleaned, which I'm sure would cost a fortune and will never happen considering the size of it. It seems fairly clean, so hopefully I won't have to worry about that for a while/ever. Here's a crappy camera phone pic of it spread out (it's HUGE):

OK, I'm feeling a bit under the weather, so it's time for sleep for me.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Black Lodge Southside Chapter

My livingroom/diningroom/kitchen from the spiral staircase landing:

Yes, indeed, the sun is nice... but it also is making my dark cork floor fade. I talked to a guy at Performance Lighting in Lawrenceville today and am going to be scoring a large red, velour, theater curtain to drape over the wall the sliding doors and spiral staircase door are on.

The other day I was telling somebody about my plans to do this and they said "Oh, you mean like the Black Lodge. (from Twin Peaks)." I almost entirely forgot about the Black Lodge because I must've been 12 when Twin Peaks was on, but after googling it, the similarity in floor color and the curtain are surprisingly similar to my idea:

Let's just hope Bob doesn't start appearing in my mirrors.

The Uxor Uxperience

So I've been living here since last Thursday night. All and all it feels prettttty, pretty, pretty good (to quote Curb Your Enthusiasm). There's still lots of things still to do both on my part as well as loose ends the contractors need to tie up, but as of now it's at least livable. My mom and I made a good bit of progress on my closet this weekend, so that's underway. Still to come is painting the spiral stairs, painting the basement/garage interior, finishing the bedroom closet shelving/organization, and doing the pantry closet shelving. The closet's looking good so far, and I've taken before pictures/video to compare with what it looks like after.

So far I've been pretty happy with the floor poly job. There are a couple place which were missed though, so once other projects are completing I'll put another coat on a few spots. Once area of concern doesn't have to do with the poly, but with the actual installation. The floors were supposed to be leveled, but in some places, apparently they weren't leveled enough, making the flooring gives a bit under your foot. They're not bad visually, it's just that I worry that over time the movement will break the tongues/grooves and the tiles will separate. Only time will tell.

Here's a picture of the floor using a new technique I found out about called high dynamic range photography (HDR). To do it, you take multiple exposures at different shutter speeds. The images are then combined together to create a single composite picture taking the properly developed portions of each picture.

The best I could get this picture without this technique was either very underexposed or very overexposed. I'm going to try and use this same technique with the outside of the building. Taking pictures of the house against the bright sky can be tough.

Sanchez (my cat) was very freaked out when I first brought her over. She went and hid under the bed, in the nook in the bathroom, behind the toilet, etc. etc.

This continued for a few days and is now starting to subside. She's getting curious about the rest of the house. Whenever I go into the garage area I can hear her crying because she doesn't know where I am.

She also hung out in "her" window seat a couples times, apparently missing the birds in this instance:

One thing I'm definitely not happy with is that the air conditioner condenser unit on the roof makes a considerable amount of noise in my bedroom. This is something I was assured wouldn't be a problem, so I definitely expect this to be taken care of.

There's lots more....
Sometime soon.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Not Perfect, But Pretty Close :)

Quick update: I went and checked out the floor this morning and although they're not "perfect" they're pretty darn close.

The finish on the new coat is the same as the old coat (which is still in the bedroom). There are a couple of missed sections by the top of the stairs and between the two rooms, but they're not too noticable. Other places here and there throughout the big floor have tiny spots of the very flat finish poking through, but I would be surprised if anyone other than me would catch them.

Also, we used 3/4 of a gallon, so there's still 1/4 left that I can use for touch-ups and the like.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It's About That Time

Tonight my mom, dad and I put the final coat of polyurethane on the floors. I'm pretty sick of talking about it, so to be brief: I think we did a good job and I'm fairly confident it's going to look really good tomorrow morning when I go over to look at it. And if it doesn't... well so be it at this point. 5 coats of this liquid gold is enough.

The real good news though is that the house passed the inspection today, which means I'm approved for an occupancy permit, which means that I'm allowed to live there... and because the floors are done as well, it means I'm going to start sleeping there tomorrow.

One of the biggest things preventing the inspection from taking place before was that the sliding glass door and stairway railings were not installed. My camera phone pictures didn't turn out to bad either:

I'm pretty happy with their general look, though not they weren't built exactly right to fit with the ribs of the house and to center around the door perfectly. This isn't really a noticable thing, but something that'll annoy me none the less.

As I said before, it's wierd to come to grips with the fact that I'm going to be living in this practically imaginary place. The transition between planning for it, and living in it is really going to be interesting.

I'm taking this large change in my life to make a really hard attempt (i.e. actually do it) at becoming more organized and neat in general. I've "inhereted" a lot of junk from the last two places I've lived in and I have pack-rat tendencies as well, so it might be tough, but after putting so much effort into the house, I can't junk it up.

Sooooo, I write this from (what hopefully is) my last night in Mount Oliver.

Here's a "bonus" picture of the transition between the glossy and the satin finishes before putting on the last two coats. The picture doesn't show off the floor much and was a bit hard to capture in a phoograph, but I think this gets the point across:

An Open Letter to the God of Polyurethane

Dead Poly-God,

My patience is wearing thin. I may be losing faith in You. After coming to terms with the generous donations required to obtain the Bona Traffic polyurethane and spending countless hours of penance on my knees buffing, cleaning and rolling I found that my lack of wisdom caused me to make the agregious error of pouring half the polyurethane out of the bottle and THEN shaking it, not the opposite. Half of the floor shone with Your presence like a shield reflecting all the rays of the sun, while the other half's matte finish calmly reminded me of Your calm and calculated wisdom.

To repent, I again buffed, cleaned and rolled the remaining half gallon, knowing full well that this half gallon could end up even more dull than the rest. I put my faith in You. I knew You'd let this poly dry true even.

But when the light of day was cast upon the floor, I did not kneel in thanks, but I rose my fist to the skys in anger as spots of glossy finish peaked and poked it's way through the extraordinarily flat finish.

After coming to terms with it, I've decided to ask the Oracle of Rossi Flooring to advise me in how to proceed and likely apply a last and final coat. Your advice no longer governs my actions. You're dead to me God of Polyurethane.


(In other words, I'm sick and @#$(&#ing tired of putting polyurethane on these floors. After attempting to fix a screw up that resulted in half the floor being glossy, I re-coated it which resulted in it being very flat in most sections, but with spots of glossy poking through all over. My plan is to spend another $100 and put one last and final coat on, unless the guys at Rossi floor suggest otherwise.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Polly Wanna Urethane?

Yesterday and today have been all about the polyurethaning of the cork floor. I need to wake up in just under 6 hours and put the third and final coat on, so I'll make this "brief":

-Got the poly for a little cheaper than expected (thanks Rossi flooring in Sharpsburg! *coughplugcough*).

-Cleaned the floor with brooms, then damp towels.

-Buffed the floor by hand with "mouse" sanders and buffing pads (this was largely done by my mom and Molly, you guys are awesome).

-While they did the buffing I installed cork tiles on the stairwell landing. This needed to be done very tightly, so was a pretty big pain in the arse.

-Cleaned the floor again.

-Applied poly (this was a lot easier than expected and was basically pouring the poly on the floor and then using a roller on a stick to spread it.

-Waited to dry.

-Discovered that I'd missed several spots.

-Decided that we needed 3 coats.

-Put second coat on.

There were a lot more little specks of dirt, lint and stuff in the polyurethane than I would've liked. Between the first and second coats I picked some of the bigger ones out. Hopefully that's good enough.

After seeing that I'd missed areas when doing the first coat, I decided that I wanted to put 3 coats on, so that at least each spot has 2 coats. Luckily the poly spread a lot more than it said it would, so 4 gallons should get me 3 coats plus 1/4 gallon left! It's spec'ed at 350-400 sq feet per gallon, but we were getting an entire coat of 800-900 sq feet done in 1.25 gallons! *shrug*

The railings and final inspector are supposed to be coming Friday. In make sure the third coat can be walked on when those things happen I decidcedto go in tomorrow morning at 7 to put the third and final coat on (my mom agreed to come help despite being busy with other stuff!).
ok, gnite.

Monday, June 4, 2007

What Have I Done?

It's really starting to sink in that I'm actually going to be living in this place soon. Well, I don't know if I'd quite say it's sinking in, but it's starting to sink in that it's going to need to start sinking in soon, haha.

I've put so much effort and planning and time and sweat and thought into this project over the last two years, to see it finally come together is a strange feeling. Especially because it wasn't always going to be in this form.... I think back to the other places I've looked at and can't help but want to switch to the alternate dimension in which I chose to do those projects instead and see how they turned out.

Funny how I'm going to really miss making all these decisions and choices that I never would've thought I'd care about before the project began. I'd love to start looking for another place right now.... but unfortunately my income's brief stint in my bank account before going to house payments probably wouldn't allow it.

My roommate asked me the other day, "What if somebody just knocks on your door and offers you $300,000 for it?" The only way I'd consider it of course, was if I was given an indefinite amount of time to build a new place first... but even if that probably unrealistic hypothetical situation occured, would I really want to turn around and sell it before I've had the chance to "tweak" to my exact preferences and really settle into it for a bit? Probably not. But then again, if the price was high enough that I could then afford to do something even crazier with my next one.... maybe I would. Who knows.

Then after I've thought through all that stuff I get back to realizing how lucky I am to have been able to do this by having the parents that have spent all the time working on it with me and put faith in my decision (for the most part).... and to have all the friends I have that've offered their help.... and to work somewhere that's willing to be flexible with my work schedule enough to allow me to do this.... and to live in a city where you don't need to be a millionaire to own a house within the city limits...

And then I realize that there's no way I should be upset about not being able to immediately start building a second house.

Alright, time to enjoy some sleep on the fine couch here at my current place.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Biggest. Post. Evar. ??

Well me last couple blog posts I was pretty upset. Having gotten over that initial panic, I realized that getting so upset about it really does no good. It's tough to tell yourself that at the time when it seems like the end of the world, but oh well.

Since that occured things have gotten kicked into high gear.

Saturday morning at 7am I rented a U-Haul (it was only available then!) and moved the stuff from my current place and my parents' garage into the garage/basement of The Hotbox (see previous posts for explanation of the naming... whether this name sticks or not, we will see). I couldn't move things upstairs yet because the cork still needs two coats of polyurethane applied. I'll be doing that this week. It took 1.5 trips with the U-Haul from my current place and just one trip from my parents'. There's still a good bit of small things to bring over, but over the next week I'm going to be bringing a lot of them down in my car. The move took surprisingly less time than I thought and was over a bit after noon.

Here's a snap of all my stuff piled in the garage:

And here's my cat, Sanchez wondering where all the stuff in my old room went:
(It's pretty hilarious she'll just go into the room and meow while looking around, clearly confused that everything's gone.)

Over the weekend workers were there much of the time, with Otto working till 10pm Friday night! (thanks Otto) There was a lot of joint compound, paint, and other general gunk on the colored concrete floor in the finished section on the first floor that had to be removed. Saturday night I went over and checked it out in order to give them approval to start the coating of it. This stuff was applied when the concrete was first poured (there are some blog posts related to this towards the begining of the blog), and seals the concrete, brings out the color which was mixed in with it, and allows it to be buffed, to create a polished look. I went over tonight to check it out and was really surprised at how much it changed the color! Over the course of the construction lots of dirt and dust have been ground into it, so that alone had lightened the color to almost a normal concrete gray, but the combination of cleaning that stuff off and coating it has really made a difference:

The other big thing I saw today was the installation of the bathroom countertop! The "Steel Gray" looks reallllly good with the black cabinets and black (with white speckles) tub surround. The continuity of the black works even better than I had planned. I think this is partially because of the little "seat"/storage area which we created at the end of the tub, under the countertop. It's not really a seat at all... it's more just a place to put things like soap, shampoo, etc, but it's similar to the seat that my parents' have at the end of their bathtub, so that's what we've been calling it. Unfortunately, this section is a bit of a tease because I didn't take a picture of it. The faucet isn't installed yet, and I wanted to wait to take the picture until it's all done.

(update: before posting this I went back the next day and it was done, so here's a pic)

As a consellation prize though, I took a picture of the half of the kitchen that's complete:

The oven sticks out a bit more than I'd like... but the countertop was already cut away more to try and move it back some, so I'm not sure what the problem is there. Aligning all the cabinet doors was a serious pain. At first I had no clue how to manipulate the hinges to make the doors move how I wanted. But when I finally got that down, it just got more frustrating. Having the two stacks of cabinets makes it so that once you adjust one door, you need to adjust three more to match it. Additionally, each door has three adjustments, and often times adjusting one means you have to re-adjust the other two.

The fridge is all hooked up and the water dispenser and ice maker are working! At first I thought there was a slight problem with the water dispenser squirting after the cup was removed, but it seems fine today. I also played around a bit with the controls on the front above the water dispenser: you can change the temperature by degree for the freezer or fridge, set an alarm/lock on it (so nobody can steal your beer??), and a setting with some crazy name like HyperIce.

In the garage area I wanted to have a crappy sink to wash out dirty/messy stuff, so I got a laundry tub w/ faucet and everything for like $60 at home depot/lowes:

I need to keep an eye on it in the winter, because it's in the unheated garage, but I doubt it will be an issue.

Here's a picture of the light in the guest bathroom on the second floor:

Toto toilets with the super G-force ultramax technology that I think I referred to before:
I'd been planning on working on the messed up section of the floor tonight with Otto, but when I called him early this evening to talk to him about it he said he dove into it and it turned out to be a lot easier than he expected. He was able to pull the tiles out, replace the messed up tiles and even only have to use one new tile in about 10 minutes! I was really happy this ended up not being as bad as it could've been. Had I not come over to check it out it would've kept coming in and sat there all night and caused who knows how much damage.

Alright, well this post is long enough and I think I want to post a separate one about general thoughts on moving, etc.

Friday, June 1, 2007

One Day's Worth of Work

"One Day's Worth of Work"

(read previous post for explanation)

As of June 1, 2007

- install garage door opener
- install laundry tub
- seal heads on side windows (3)
- seal around sliding door (inside and outside)
- level sliding door
- install sliding door’s screen
- remove construction debris
- sweep clean

- paint steel lintels (2)
- seal around window
- reset terra cotta coping on right CMU wall
- repair metal J below swinging door
- remove added wood below swinging door
- cover jambs with metal around swinging door
- clean windows and doors (4)
- remove extra mortar from concrete block joints
- install balcony railing

- Scrape, clean and buff concrete floors throughout (incl. powder room)
- seal concrete floors throughout (incl. powder room)
- install window sills (2)
- repair drywall under stairs
- install hardware and lock on entry door
- adjust furnace closet doors (left door hits right)
- set laundry valve box flush with wall
- repair corner bead to left of valve box
- install door stops (TK/AK)
- prime and paint repaired drywall (TK/AK)

- install recessed toilet paper holder
- clean & seal concrete
- install towel bar (TK/AK)

- install railing and handrail
- repair drywall
- install luaun on landing
- install cork tiles on landing (TK/AK)
- cut baseboards for landing (TK/AK to install if cork is not installed yet)
- install transition at top stairs (TK/AK)
- polyurethane treads and risers (TK/AK)

- install hardware on pocket doors (2)
- install cultured marble joint pieces on tub
- install cultured marble countertop
- caulk transitions of cultured marble in all places
- install and connect faucet
- replace crystal diverter knob with chrome lever
- replace broken window slider catch
- move sills back to close gap
- install towel bars and toilet paper holder (TK/AK)
- install medicine cabinet (TK/AK)
- install closet shelving (TK/AK)
- install cabinet door pulls (TK/AK)

- change direction on sliding door
- install balcony railing
- install quarter round
- buy pocket door hardware (TK/AK)
- install hardware on double pocket door

- level partial wall, repair drywall and reinstall cap
- move range and refrigerator into place
- remove disposal
- exchange broken disposal (TK/AK)
- install new disposal
- install remaining cabinet doors (TK/AK)
- install quarter round (none behind range)

- replace buckled cork tiles
- install hardware and lock on swinging door
- repair drywall around sliding door lock
- seal abandoned screw holes on sliding door jambs
- install pantry closet shelving (TK/AK)
- install quarter round

- replace broken tile
- hang door and install stops
- replace crystal diverter knob with chrome lever
- install toilet seat
- install hardware on door
- install vanity doors (TK/AK)
- install door stops (TK/AK)

No News is Good News?

Well... if you'd asked me this morning I would've said the fact that I've had little to no news to report about my house/The Hotbox, I would've said that was a bad thing.

I returned to the site the Tuesday after Memorial Day weekend to find very little accomplished and was pretty disappointed. I let the contractor know that I planned on moving my stuff into the back of the garage this weekend because I needed to move out of my room at my current place. When I explained that we still needed to put two coats of polyurethane on the floor before I moved things upstairs, he said there was only one day's worth of work left to do, so this should be fine.

After seeing the amount of work left to be done, I knew there was no way for this to be done in one day. I let the contractor know that there was much more than this to do and figured now that he was in the loop things would get rolling.

Wednesday night though, I still found nothing done.

Today (Thursday) I sent a reminder e-mail, along with a note about the bathroom countertop which is ready to be picked up.

At the end of the day a big rain storm was coming through.... my first thought was, "Hmm... I hope things are OK over at my house." Followed by, "Nah, I'm sure it's fine." After work I decided to go over to see the progress that surely had been made by now as well as ease my silly fears.....

...... to find the back door to the spiral stairs wide open and a huge puddle on the cork floor! And guess why the back door was open? Hmmm, could it be because one of the things still left to do that hasn't been gotten to is to put the back door knob and lock on?

I'd assume my sarcastic tone is making it obvious that I'm pretty pissed about this, but in case it wasn't clear: I am.

The transition between the two tiles directly in front of the door had taken water in, expanded, and swelled. Amazingly it only happened on this one seam, but because the water was coming in at the edge of the cork, water had seeped underneith the 5 tiles in the area around the door and the door casing also was wet. What will happen to these when they dry out, or over time, I really don't know. They might be fine, but I'm not sure. The two tiles with the swollen tongue and groove definitely need to be replaced though.

Because they're tongue and groove, removing just one or two tiles isn't possible (unless you cut off the tongue and groove, which is not "the right thing to do"). To do it right, the baseboards and door casing will have to be removed and a significant number of tiles will have to be removed and some of them will need to be replaced.

OK, that's all the bitching I have in me for now, but to wrap up: I plan on moving my stuff into the basement on Saturday and then as soon as the work upstairs is complete I need to polyurethane the floors and then move my stuff up.

Today wasn't a good day. (no comment on my use of AK's, please)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

We Be Plumbing

Looks like some plumbing work got done today. First up is the basement/garage powder room sink. My mom found a cool, new bar sink at some kitchen supply type place in the strip for under $100, plus it looks cool. We salvaged one of the lights from the original garage and used it for the above the sink light. I was a little worried this whole thing we were going for wouldn't work, but I like it a lot and am glad we did it:

I ran the water and checked to see if the instantaneous water heater was working yet....

... but it wasn't even plugged in. Oh well, at least it looks impressive. The washer and dryer will go under the water heater and to the left from the perspective of this picture. I only have a dryer now... so if anybody reading this has a not-horrible washing machine they want to get rid of, I could use one.

Tonight I had my first meal in the backyard with my mom (she took the picture):

I even made a little video of the microwave's first use to heat up our Qdoba, but I think I'm going to spare the general public and leave that on my computer.

Tonight I finished adjusting the kitchen stainless wall cabinet doors. There's still a lot more that needs to be done (install and adjust glass cabinets above microwave, adjust drawers, install and adjust under sink doors), and there's no countertop yet, so I'm still withholding any pictures.

The bathroom cultured marble tub surround is installed now and it looks preeeeeeeetty awesome. I can't wait to see it with the steel gray countertop. The cabinets are installed as well, and although they look very nice, the laminate we got has a neat texture to it, that doesn't visually stand out. You can tell it's there if you look, and you definitely will be able to feel the difference though. That's probably for the best anyways, considering the busy-ness of the counter and surround. Pictures to come once installation comes nearer to completion.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sunday Sunday Sunday

It's Sunday night... that means it's late and I'm putting off getting to sleep in order to do some updating. Before I do that though, let me just say that my two favorite characters on my other Sunday night activity the Sopranos and Entourage are Paulie and Johnny Drama.

So I've been going over to the house a good bit to work on stuff, and one of the biggest, but also least exciting tasks has been sanding and varnishing/polyurethaning the baseboards. My mom had always suggested we clearcoat/polyurethane the baseboards and trim etc rather than paint it like is normally done. Seemed fine to me, so I didn't think anything of it... untill we started, and I found out that doing that involves sanding, then painting on the polyurethane, then sanding, then more poly, then more sanding, then installing, then more poly and more sanding. It's quite the task, and if you don't put the polyurethane on just right it leaves funny marks on the wood. I'm getting better at it, but it was a struggle at first. (btw, don't ask me why it's called clear coating, varnishing, and polyurethaning.... but all three mean the same thing).

This is some of the baseboards on sawhorses during the sanding/coating process:

While over there today, I also picked up a bunch of the cardboard on the floor (to protect it) and swept a bunch of the saw dust up. I've been waiting to post good pictures of the floor until there's not much stuff on it and it's cleaned... but it's probably going to be a little bit before that happens, so I just went ahead and took this picture while it was the closest it's been in a little while:

The pattern turned out real nice. My only concern with it is it getting damaged because it's so soft. There were some small mess-ups with it from installation alone, and although there aren't that many workers going in and out of the upstairs, it's still taking wear and tear from all that's going on :/ I'm trying to leave lots of cardboard around to protect it, but I almost worry that because the cardboard's there, the workers think they can be more cavalier than they should be. I've found a few dents and scratches that definitely weren't there before.

The good news on that tip is that I started messing around with doing some patching of the cork. I cut out a little section on a scrap piece, then got some other cork, cut it up into pieces, jammed it in the section of missing cork, and coated it with polyurethane. Then I gently sanded it down flat, coated with more poly, etc etc. It didn't work perfectly, but it worked pretty well! With some practice (and I think maybe using a little glue initially), I should be able to patch it if bad things happen to it.

Another thing I've been working on, but withholding documenting quite yet are the kitchen cabinets. I drilled the handle holes, attached the handles and hung the doors this past week (after much thought and discussion into exactly how to position the handles) and this weekend I spent some time adjusting them so all the doors are spaced properly in relation to each other. The Ikea doors have three things that you can adjust to do this, and although they clearly show how to adjust each axis, it took a good bit of futsing about to figure out a good technique. The real problem is that if you change one thing, then you have to change 2 others on the same door, then if that changes how the door hangs in relation to the doors around it, you have to change all those. I'm doing a double stack of 24" tall cabinets too, so this makes the "surrounding doors" issue even worse. I finally got the hang of it today though and got a good bit done. Hopefuly I can get that finished up soon so I can take a proper photo n'at.

Alright, before I crash, here's a little video I took walking down the spiral stairs and into the patio. My mom brought over a little plastic table she got for free and some plastic chairs she got for a dollar, or something ridiculously as little. (Update: it seems as though the plastic table wasn't there when this was filmed... but don't worry, it's there now)

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Hotbox

I've been trying to come up with a name for a while now for my house, and with the help of Ash and Wikipedia, I think I found a keeper: The Hotbox!

My place looks a good bit like a railroad car, so I threw that into Wikipedia and then Ash found it.

Hotbox: An axle bearing that has become excessively hot due to friction.

It's great for my place because:
1 - Hotbox is a railroad car term
2 - My house quite boxy.
3 - My house is HOT (and this is why it's hot, hot; this is why it's hot).
4 - My house is red... like something hot.
5 - Just cause it's a cool term.
6 - etc

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

No-Party Time, Not Particularly Excellent

So up until a couple weeks ago I've described the non-finished portion of the floor as "garage/work/storage/party" area.... but unfortunately I've come to realize that it's probably going to be more like just "garage/work/storage" area.

I talked with the head of the acoustics department at work about soundproofing it, and he basically said that if there's a garage door, the only thing I could do to keep sound from getting out would be to build a whole new wall inside the garage. This is pretty much out of the question because I want to leave room for at least two cars to park (I will have two for a small period of time, plus future owners may have two), and building a wall after that much space would leave very little room for partying anyways.

He often times is overly cautious about acoustics in general, so at first I passed his comments off as exageration.... until yesterday when I was in the back of the finished area (about 40 feet from the front) and I could hear two people standing in the street front of the garage door outside talking. Not only could I hear them, but I could hear them fairly well, and they weren't talking particularly loud. The garage door closes in a way that leaves gaps around the edges, and I would imagine is the way most garage doors function as well (this might even be a requirement to allow venting of fumes).

What this means is that the garage door will acoustically act like a screen door.

Considering that a few of my neighbors hate me, that sound will bleed out of the garage area all over, and that my upstairs would be destroyed if I had a party there............ I've pretty much come to the conclusion that parties at my house are almost definitely not going to happen. This really sucks. I like throwing parties at my house and was really looking forward to it. The plan from the start was to have the basement/garage be a party area.

I'm not saying that I won't try my hardest to find a way around this problem.... but I really don't think it's likely. My best thinking now would be large wrestling mats that I'd have to hang from the ceiling to the ground right in front of the garage door, and somehow make a seal between them and the walls. Don't ask me where I'd get these from, or where I'd store them... but ummmm.... yeah.

Anybody that read this want to offer up their house for me to throw parties at instead (couch (or bed) for me to crash on at the end of the party is required)?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Kitchens are a good thing

I really should be going to bed now, but instead I'm going to finish with the major house updates.

While working on the flooring Wednesday the appliances were delivered. After a small scare of the fridge not fitting up the stairs (!!!), they got everything into the kitchen area. We laid cardboard all over the floors to prevent scratching and it seems to have done a good job.

Slide in range with convection feature:

Slick dual drawer washer:

Fridge with bottom freezer and french doors:

The cabinets were going in at the same time, so it worked out perfectly timing wise:

The microwave got installed today as well, but I don't have a picture of that. Unfortunately there will need to be an outlet in the cabinet directly above it, but thems the breaks, as they say.

To leave a little more of my personal touch on the house I wrote a note to future owners, and along with a dollar bill I sealed them with plastic and slid it under the cork tiles in the bedroom.

(yes that's a T2 allusion, and yes I realize how dorky/lame the entire message is :P)