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)