Sunday, February 28, 2010

Might as well madness......?

It seems that "might as well" madness is setting in around the Cardboard Box. These are well known to be highly dangerous words in a remodel situation. The phenomenon involves looking around your house, noticing things that aren't perfect, and commenting to each other "While we're doing [XYZ], we might as well [put that right]."

The focus of our MAW-ness today concerns the light switch on the living room wall. Now the old thermostat has been removed, it is floating in the middle of the wall. It is also crooked. Will we succumb to paying for the electrician to move it 18 inches to the left, the drywaller to patch the wall, and the painter to repaint?

Watch this space.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Another Day, Another Hole

I got back to the house at 10:00am to find Site Supervisor II waiting for me on the drive. He wanted to get my reaction to the new, big hole that the landscaping guys have dug in the front yard. We just looked at each other and laughed our heads off (in a wheezy kind of way). We're both heartily sick of the landscaping holes, and not very impressed with the landscaping crew. SS2 mentioned that they had dug a similarly big hole in another part of the front yard yesterday, but had filled it in today and dug this new one. It's for the front yard dissipator. What a joke.

On the bright side, the sun is still shining, though the sky is dark and cloudy, and the concrete team - led by a cheery Irishman called Damien - is out in the back yard laying rebars in preparation for the pouring of the concrete on Monday. It can't come a moment too soon.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Photos of the Guest Bathroom

As it was site meeting day, I was able to get a little look at the bedroom/bathroom extension. Here are photos from that.

Photo 1: This is the light well over the hallway.

Photo 2: This is the guest bathroom shower, looking towards the interior seat.

- and, Photo 3, towards where the water controls will be. Note the chicken wire which is an important part of house construction in California.

Photos of the New Kitchen

Cabinets - clear stained alder
Countertop - Caesarstone in "oyster"
Floor - porcelain tile with stone mosaic accent
Appliances - pre-existing

All we have to do now is choose the color of the plates for the electrical outlets and light switches. Do we want biscuit, eggshell, pale almond, or simply white?

Who knew there were so many vital decisions to be made in a remodel?

The New Faucet

I am about to post some photos of the kitchen. It is very important to remember that the whole kitchen remodel started because one of our taps had a crack in it and needed to be changed. As a result of that need, we first decided to reface the cabinets. That turned out to be just as expensive as buying new ones, so we decided to go for new. We planned to reuse our Corian countertops. After a long delay, it turned out that no one would be willing to do that job because of liability concerns, so we decided to go for new. And at the eleventh hour, the fact that our most environmentally-interested friend said she thought we'd be daft not to change out the floor persuaded us to replace that too. So, for one dripping tap, we give you - THE NEW KITCHEN.

I thought the replacement faucet merited a blog entry all of its own.

Turning up the Snugness

As well as all the doors being removed and replaced over the past two weeks, the guys from Jim's Bunch have also leapt ahead with the window replacements.

All the new exterior doors - except for the laundry room's dutch door, which hasn't yet been delivered - have been installed. They also lack hardware.

More impressively, the guys have replaced the glass in all the fixed pane windows so that we are now double-glazed (dual-paned) throughout the house. For the first couple of days it felt a little drafty. To replace the glass, the trim has to be prised off, and that process seems to leave small gaps. Over the past couple of days the workmen have been adding new trim to each window; and that seems to have made the house feel positively snug.

Photos here of our family room from the outside and living room from the inside.

Knock Knock II

When we arrived home on Sunday, we discovered that all our interior doors had been removed. The guys from Jim's Bunch had kindly considered our modesty and hung hessian curtains at all the doorways. They billowed gently in the heating breeze.

The new doors were found piled in the office extension awaiting the ceremonial installation. This has been going on all week and was semi-completed today. The hall closets are still doorless and the new door furniture has not yet arrived. Hubby was a bit perturbed by how the new doors seemed to fit less well than the old doors, but Site Supervisor II (who has a tremendously bad cold) assures us that it will all come together harmoniously when the new door furniture is installed.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Home to Many Changes

We got home this evening from our RV trip. The kitchen is close to completion. Most of the windows have been changed. The interior doors have all disappeared and been replaced with sacking curtains. The power is out in the living room again. I'll post more, and pictures, when I'm not so tired.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Utterly Dedicated to Improvement

We are so dedicated to the remodeling cause that, even though we are in Death Valley, we have been reviewing the preliminary planting plans for our front and back yards. Overall we gave the plans the thumbs up. We only had a few questions (for example, do we really want to put a holly-type plant next to the guest bedroom sliding door?). Emailing the Landscape Designer back with our comments, I begged as nicely as I could to be allowed to grow a bourgainvillea. I know that they are probably too common for words, but I do like them and it’s my yard! One thing she took on board was my liking for daffodils, and proposes planting a swathe of them under the redwood trees for that woodland look in the spring.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Progress in the bathroom too

The kitchen isn't the only place where things are moving ahead well. On Thursday afternoon I was able to get a look at the bedroom/bathroom addition. The sheet rock is all done - Site Supervisor II said the guys were just finishing the "mud" (which is the compound they add to the walls to bind the edges of the sheet rock together so there are no crevices).

The bathtub enclosure had been framed and the tub put in place. Site Supervisor II was incensed to discover a footprint in the bathtub and swore he'd string up whoever did it. The hot mopped shower pan had passed it's inspection the day before, so tiling can now start. We discussed the positioning of the faucet on the bathtub, and it turns out it needs to be placed on the side rather than at one end or the other. This threw me rather - I commented that I'd need to amend my visual image of the typical bath - but I agreed to it as I could see the functional need to have it where the architect placed it.

This morning I had my second discussion in two days on the subject of grout. I kept to yesterday's decision to have the grout for the kitchen floor made the "Classic Bone" color. Who knew there were so many possible decisions in the world?

Kitchen almost complete

Works continues on the kitchen. The countertops and cabinets are in. The tiler is almost done with the floor. The painter has brushed a sample of "Golden Lab" on the wall so we can see that we really like it (which we do). Here's a few catch up photos from Thursday afternoon showing various elements of the kitchen, with the tiler at work.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

More doors

I went out all day yesterday as the construction works were so intrusive just about everywhere in and around the house. The kitchen is going along well - the floor is nearly done, the countertops are in with the cooktop back in place. The guys from Jim's Bunch have been working away on the new exterior doors. Here is a picture of them working in our living room. I think it has an interesting "Psycho" feel to it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Go on, torment me, why don't you?

The house has been in total turmoil today. It was fairly oppressive.

The diggers and jack hammers were hard at it in the back yard, removing every last vestige of concrete from around the pool in preparation for the 200 feet long trench that needs to be dug for the BBQ utilities. Worryingly, the landscape guys decided that the posts that hold up the overhanging roof outside the family room and living room were in the wrong place; and so they removed them, propping up the roof instead with flimsier looking sticks balanced on wood blocks. I almost ran round to Site Supervisor II for reassurance when I saw this - figuring that he knows more about houses and roofs than the landscapers would - but then I decided that they must have consulted. Hubby thinks this is an example of plunging head into sand rather than opening potentially difficult (embarrassing?) dialog....

The dining room was taken over by a couple of men from Jim's Bunch installing the new French doors. This involved ripping out the existing door unit, of course, leaving a large hole in the wall for most of the day. Much drilling and sanding, as the threshold of the old door and that of the new door proved to be incompatible. The guys covered everything in the dining room with plastic and blue tape, as there was lots of dust. As a result I could not get at anything in the dining room and haven't been able to make a cup of tea all day (sob). Luckily I was headed out to a friend's house to do some pre-RV trip cooking and she fed and watered me at lunchtime.

In the kitchen we are seeing great progress. The countertops are in, complete with sinks. I am a little concerned that there seems to be no space cut for the cooktop (which is currently sitting dustily in the garage). The microwave/appliance garage cabinet still needs to be installed. The floor has started. The dour Russian tile guy put the concrete layer down on Monday, and today he started putting the actual tile down. I reckon he's about a quarter way through. I popped my head round the door late this afternoon to take a peek at what he was doing, and he was quite affronted that I disturbed him. "Do not step on the tiles!" he ordered. "I'm not coming anywhere near them," I told him with a cheery wave of the hand.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ahem, ahem

Returned home this morning after health-giving walk to find the house full of stinky smoke. When I got out of the car in the street, one sniff revealed the presence of tar. There is, indeed, a tar heater on a truck in the street, and a grey haze coming from the family room. I deduce that the guys are "hot mopping" the shower pan in the new bathroom. Alas the doors between the family room and living room were thrown open, hence the delightful smokiness throughout the house. Site Supervisor II is appalled and has taped up the family room doors. So no TV for you naughty children later!

I am now sitting here with windows open - though not the french doors, as CAT man is out there doing something - and wondering where to eat my lunch.

Welcome to Week 18

Week 18 of the remodel. The sheetrock guys were here the whole of Saturday putting the walls up in the kitchen, laundry and office. They are here this morning putting the sheet rock up in the bedroom/bathroom/family room. Lots of drilling. Here are a couple of photos of the bedroom with blown-in cellulose insulation on the walls and ceiling, pre-sheetrock; and the laundry post-sheetrock. You can see the new electricity subpanel at the right in the laundry.

Work continues in the kitchen. The countertop guy is here this morning. We've just had "one of those conversations" about the location of the main sink, where I'm being asked to say if I want the sink two inches to the right or the left on the basis of something I can't see. I'm sure it'll be fine....

Here is a photo of the kitchen as it stood on Sunday, and also the office. Kinda looks like a room now, doesn't it?

The electricians are whirring away behind me as I speak. I think they're trying to fix the outlet that has never worked in the dining room. Maybe they'll even get to fixing the outlet boxes in the living room floor today - Deep Thought bruised her foot on one last week, so we're keen to see them put right.

Finally, the landscaping crew is outside in their digger removing the final bit of concrete in the area where the outdoor kitchen will be. What a job, digging holes for a living.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Lots of rain overnight. Quagmire back yard. The sounds of gentle drilling from the kitchen, despite it being a Saturday. I think the schedule may have slipped another day - the countertops didn't make it into the house yesterday - so the workers may be here trying to play catch up.

Friday, February 5, 2010

No more trenches

At least not in the back yard. I went out and came back two hours later; and by the time I did, the dissipator, the gravel and the massive trench had all disappeared. The smaller trenches in the back yard are also filled and compacted. We still have a small trench open in the front, but I think that'll be gone by the end of the day. The rain monsooned down yesterday afternoon/evening, so it was lucky that the drainage guys were able to make such good progress beforehand.

In other news, the office/laundry addition walls have been insulated and the sheet rock (that's similar to plaster board, for our British readers)has been delivered. It may be that the bedroom/bathroom addition is in a similar state of insulation, but I can't get into that area when the workers are there (because of Elf and Safety), and I can't get in there when they aren't (because it is all closed up), so I can't report definitively one way or the other.

The kitchen walls have been primed. The cabinets have all been installed except for the one which takes the microwave oven (there was some drywall patching that needed to dry), and the supporting plywood has been installed for the countertop. Site Supervisor II and I went over some final points about the countertop corners this morning.

All the sliding doors have been delivered. The guys have run out of places to put stuff, so I said they could store them in our half of the family room; with the result that when we watched TV last night, the sofa was pushed forward and we were sitting rather close to the screen! But we'll live....

Heavy rain is forecast for the weekend and into next week. It's dry today so there is the usual level of frantic activity around the Cardboard Box.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Return to Gravel Mountain

That's the most significant thing that happened today: The arrival of a very large pile of gravel on the drive. I guess it must be going into, or perhaps around, the dissipator. There's so much of it that I now have doubts about it going inside...

I also had some discussion about the countertop, in particular the shape of the upper counter that doubles as a breakfast bar. In the end I printed off a photo of the old kitchen and told Site Supervisor II to make it just like that.

No rain, lots of sun today. Work going well, I think.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

We Almost Passed the Inspection

We had the All Trades inspection this afternoon, and we almost passed. The two things we need to do to pass the inspection actually have nothing to do with the work that all the construction guys have been busily doing!

First of all the inspector says that we need to upgrade our gas meter - that it is undersized for the house with our current appliance load, never mind when we add the extra items in the outdoor kitchen. Since this will involve the City, I can only imagine how expensive it's going to be.

Secondly the inspector wants us to remove a piece of asbestos waste pipe from the front yard. Site Supervisor II says this is really pretty silly, since it is a waste (i.e. attaches to sewer) pipe, the asbestos is the "good" sort with no damage, and it's two feet undergroud. But if that's what the inspector wants, that's what he gets. So the Site Supervisor has asked the hardscaping company to dig yet another trench through the front yard in order to remove this pipe (about 15 feet). I fear it might spell the demise of our cherry tree, which is ironic in a city that is so keen on trees.

Photos attached from today:
1) the current state of the kitchen - don't the cabinets look fine;
2) a big, big trench in the back yard, waiting for the dissipator to be installed tomorrow - rain permitting - and also a photo of the plug that goes in the end of the pipe (I thought this was just funny, whoever expects to see an 18 inch plug?)

One of the families in Deep Thought's class heard that we have no kitchen, and brought dinner round to us this evening. Aren't people nice?

Still no rain, lots of activity

The rain in holding off, so we have teams of guys around the house again today. The hardscaping crew are still in the back yard trenching and adding drainage pipes. I had a discussion with the Hardscaping Boss and the Landscape Designer today about adding an additional 200 feet long trench alongside the pool in order to allow the power, water etc to run from the house to Hubby's blessed outdoor kitchen. This trench will have to be dug by hand and will take two men three days to complete. Does that sound expensive to you?

Here's a photo of the dissipator pipe, and also of the man digging a hole for it in the lawn area. (Look for his head and a long stick in his hands at the center of the photo.)

The house wrapping continues and is nearing completion.

The central vacuum man was here scoping out the work and prepping to make an estimate for the vacuum to be extended into the bedroom/bathroom addition. Turns out that the regular pipe for use with the vacuum is so long we don't need to add attachment vents in the office or laundry.

The lights in the dining room and hall that were out over the weekend are back in action. Apparently the outage was caused by a short in the kitchen. We still don't have a doorbell, but that's hardly an issue since no one ventures over the front yard any more.

This is how the kitchen looked at the end of Sunday. The dry-wallers have now completed their work, the walls have been primed, and the cabinet company is busily completing the installation of the cabinets. Site Supervisor II reckons we lost a day with the dry-wallers taking too long.

Finally, the concrete guys are back, pouring additional concrete around the foundation of the bedroom. You remember the not-perpendicular-house problem from a few weeks back? After the additional foundation material has been poured, it will no longer look like our addition experienced an earthquake.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Activity Before the Rain

It poured on Friday night. The weekend was dry and fine, but the sky is darkening now. The Cardboard Box is surrounded on all sides by people working away, trying to get things finished before rain starts up again. We are forecast to have rain tomorrow and all through the rest of the week, peaking on Friday with another monsoon.

In the back yard, the hardscaping guys with the CAT have been digging trenches, back-filling and compacting all morning. They've just finally ripped out the remnants of the lawn in preparation for puttin gthe disipator into the ground. At this moment the digger is getting tangled up in the gopher-resisting net that our gardener installed under the lawn a couple of years ago. The guys look a bit surprised.

Out front, the men from Jim's Bunch are busily wrapping a 15 lb felt moisture barrier around the exterior of the additions. Site Supervisor II explains that this is the final frontier for penetrating damp coming in from the outside. The additions will be pleasingly black and shiney when they have finished.

The roofing people were out this morning too, replacing all our remaining old gutters with new galvanised steel ones. None of them are painted though. I expect that painting them will turn out to require yet another "change order" and an additional expense. Presumably the activity can be picked up when the house exterior is painted. The forthcoming rain will be a good test of their weather-worthiness.

In the kitchen, not much happening today. The dry wallers are there again. That may be putting a stop to the cabinet installation. I shall go and have a nose later on.

Noisy drilling on the outside of the house outside the kids' bathroom resulting in the removal of a strip of stucco and the peeling back of the chicken wire underneath. Hmm. Can't quite see what that is for, though Azmir worked away at it with a will for over an hour.

Over the weekend we chose paint colors for the kitchen and the office/laundry addition. Honeywheat for the office and Golden Labrador (can you believe it) for the kitchen and laundry. Swiss coffee for the ceilings (that's off-white to you). We also went back to Artistic Tile to make yet another selection of tile for our kitchen floor. We went for something that is similar to the last one, but a little colder in tone. The main thing was that it wouldn't take weeks to arrive, as the tiler reckons he'll be ready to start at the end of this week.