Friday, April 30, 2010

Fences and Concrete and Doors, oh my!

The sun is shining and most of the fence - back and left - is done. Presumably the right will be done on Monday, although they might be waiting for some of the material that is piled against the fence to be removed. I'm trying to entice one of our friends, who has just started a remodel, to take our used redwood siding, which is apparently quite valuable and in pretty good shape. Site Supervisor II says that if he had anywhere to put it himself, he'd take it.

The concrete has been poured in the side yard and looks pretty sinuous and interesting. Now we have to resist walking on it till Monday.

SS2 has been working around the house all day picking up small jobs on the punch list. Most of what we have left is for the electrician and plumber.

A man came from a local garage door supplier today to fix our garage door. He changed our motor unit, including the chains and what nots that make the door physically open; tightened all the springs; installed the sensors that prevent the door closing on someone's head; and programmed two remotes and an exterior keypad. All this for $371, which seems a bargain. SS2 installed the light bulb for me, and that was another job done.

We also had a visit from the local BeamCo representative - that's the central vacuuming system. We've never used our whole house vacuum, as we've lacked a hose and the inclination; but as we made the effort to have the vacuum extended into the new parts of the house, I thought this would be the moment to find out how it works. Anyway, the rep came and had a look round at our floors. He recommended a hose and brush attachment and said he'd mail them to me. I asked him to show me how to empty the unit. We went into the garage and he began to demonstrate - and the unit basically blew up. He then spent almost an hour repairing it! After that, he decided to walk through the house with a stethoscope, listening to the walls to see if we had decent suction everywhere. The upshot of that was that there is a leak in the pipes somewhere in the extension...and he'll be back next week to crawl through the attic looking for it.

In other news, I think I've found a bed that I'd like to buy. We're planning to move our 12 year old gothic wonder into the new bedroom and have a new bed for ourselves.

Tree Murder

The sun has been shining since yesterday morning and we are experiencing a burst of progress. The hardscaping guy has been here laying stone in the front yard; and he is now out back supervising the rebars and concrete pouring for the dining room patio, side yard path and the famous pergola stand. The pipe is pooping out concrete as I write.

The back fence is almost complete - except for one panel, which the fencers are saying they can't do because our old garden furniture is in the way - and they are currently at work on the fence to our left, replacing some rotten panels and putting the trellis on the top. While doing this, they have cut down one of our trees. To say I am not happy about this would be an understatement.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nice Weather for Ducks

More rain today, just a light shower this morning, but looks like it will be settling in this afternoon.

Site Supervisor II and Azmir have been cleaning up debris from the back yard; the hardscaper was also here this morning cleaning up his palettes and so on. The Landscape Designer is keen to lay out (with paint) the side yard path so we can decide how sinuous it should be; and it's hard to do that with piles of stuff everywhere.

The fence guys returned today and are bravely working through the rain. The back fence is coming on quite nicely: see photo. I spoke to our neighbor - owner of the vacant house - this morning and got his okay to let them go into his yard, and also to cut back any of the trees/bushes that might impede their work. Since he's planning to take out the two trees against the fence (an exceptionally ugly and messy lo-quat and a sadly neglected olive) he was perfectly fine with that.

No action on the patio stone today. It's really too wet. As you walk across the stones in the back yard, you can actually feel them squelch. I presume this is normal.

Also posting a photo here of flowers sent to us for our wedding anniversary from my mom and dad. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away Redux

Hard to believe that there is still rain, but there is. Today it is pouring. Bah. The fence contractors and the stone mason arrived, watched the rain for a bit and left again. Site Supervisor II is picking up a few odds and ends around the house, but since most of the remaining action is on the exterior, it is extremely quiet here today. The forecast is for rain through Thursday. This will impact the schedule for the pool plaster - which can only be applied when the pool surface is bone dry - and the stone grouting - which also requires a bone dry surface. Double bah.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Interior photos: The Guest Bathroom

Hubby and I are rapidly coming to the conclusion that, having made the house much bigger, we're going to be spending all our time in the new office. Indeed, over the weekend, all four members of our family crammed into the office for various reasons for extended periods of time! The only issue we have is that it gets a bit hot in the later afternoon - so I shall be heading out to a window coverings provider very soon to fix that.

The thing that might tempt us out of the office is the new bathroom. Wow, so glitzy. Azmir installed the fixtures I purchased at Restoration Hardware, and it looks fab. See the photos, including the close up of the Vetrazzo. We can't get enough of that, it looks so stylish.

Exterior photos: The Landscaping

Today we have the fencing subcontractors here. Weather permitting, they'll be repairing, replacing and adding to our back yard fences between now and Wednesday. I think they're also supposed to be providing the six foot gate at the front into the side yard.

Photos here of the prep work for the pergola; the pittosporums after they had been pruned back (to encourage more growth lower down); the back yard stonework finished except for the final grouting; and a hitherto unseen view into the San Francisquito Creek, which runs behind our house. It has a fair bit of water in it, also unusual.

Exterior photos: The House

Photos here showing the brown coat of stucco, and also the framing for the concrete to be poured for the patio outside the dining room.

C Day plus seven...and we really are there on the interior

Over the past week, Site Supervisor II and the other guys have been working away on all the little bitty punch list items. They really are all pretty small beer, and most of them have been despatched with little effort. I reckon that, of the list we compiled on Wednesday/Thursday, SS2 had tackled about 75% by the end of Friday. We added maybe a half dozen more over the weekend, but it is trivial stuff.

On the exterior, we've been waiting for the brown coat of the stucco to cure/dry. The brown coat is the second coat of stucco, so called because once upon a time it was made from dirt taken from the lot. These days it is a cement mix, but the name sticks. The final, finish coat is due to be applied on Wednesday this week, weather permitting. (Unbelieveably, we are scheduled to have another day or two of rain.) When that has been allowed to cure for a week or two, the painters will be able to come in to do the exterior paint. We're having the exterior done in a combination of Swiss Coffee (white) for the trim and Brewster Grey (a blue grey) for the walls.

On Saturday a subcontractor was out putting gutter guards on all the gutters, to stop them filling up with tree needles etc. He came out with two buckets of baby pigeons that he'd rescued from another job. The kids were entranced to watch him feed the babies with baby rice from a syringe. Little Starlet was brave enough to pick one up.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

C plus One Day

We now have glass in the top part of the laundry room's Dutch Door. Wow, who knew it could be so light in there?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Views of the Family Room/Bathroom

The cabinets at the base of the "media center" have an enormously expensive metal grill in rubbed brass over them, backed with very cheap speaker cloth (in "cocoa"). This is to help the remote controls communicate with their machines. See also the window seat, which is long and wide enough for an adult to sleep on (and, yes, the purple cushion fits beautifully, we just haven't installed it yet to prevent dust contamination). Also a photo here of the guest bathroom, still in progress, but now with a glass door on the shower.

Views of the Kitchen/Office

Note the frosted glass sliding doors dividing the new office from the kitchen.

Views of the Guest Bedroom

Views of the guest bedroom, now painted in Kelly Moore's Swiss Coffee white and Benjamin Moore's English Hyacinth purple. Also views into the hallway outside the bedroom where our family room storage has been relocated.

C-Day Arrives...and Leaves

Today was supposed to be punch list day, which we might also term Completion Day. Over the course of last week, this became reframed as "punch list for the interior" day. In the event, it was not completion day at all.

Don't get me wrong: The project is very close to being finished (at least inside the house), but every room has something in it that needs completing, tweaking, fixing, touching up, etc. On the instructions of Site Supervisor II, I went round the house - though not the family room/ bathroom/ bedroom end - this morning with a pad of paper and some painters' tape, obsessively opening drawers, looking for scuff marks, and such like; and I sent him a list of 29 items requiring attention. Since sending it, I've spotted two more, but 29 seems like enough to be getting on with for now.

The list includes things like electrical receptacles unfinished, the phantom screens on the office windows being sticky, some minor dry wall damage in the dining room, scratches on the top of the dresser in the master bedroom.... By themselves, nothing major, but adding up to enough work to keep them busy for a few more days at least.

The only rooms that are finally complete are the master bathroom and Deep Thought's room, which were having only minimal work done to them anyway. The guest bedroom looks done, but then you discover that the lights inside the closet have not been wired in. The family room looks done, but then you open the TV cabinet and discover that the shelves where the DVD player and other kit should sit are not straight as the holes for the pegs to hold them have not been drilled at the same level (I kid you not). The office looks done, but the desk grommets need to be secured in place and the screens need correcting. You get the idea.

To say that SS2 is frustrated by the lack of finishing would be an understatement, I think. The cabinet makers reached the top of his hit list again last week, having made medicine cabinets for the guest bathroom that were too large to allow the light fittings to go between them (despite the light fittings having been in our garage for three months). Hubby is also getting pretty fed up with the endless fiddling about that is required at this stage. I am trying to be stoic about it as I have to live with it - and answer multiple questions every hour on all manner of subjects, from handle placement to likely mode of using the windows.

The two big steps forward of the day seem have been having door handles (well, actually finger cups) added to the office doors, which now look rather stylish; and the finalization of the cable man's work on the telephone, ethernet and cable installation. We now have a "smart panel" on the wall in the TV cabinet that should eliminate any need for ugly grommets and wires on show.

Friday, April 9, 2010

New Sculptural Installation

Our doors, being painted in the family room.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Where did the week go?

Here we are at Thursday! I've been so busy this week it's been impossible to get to the blog. Plus our internet connection has been having some screwiness - we think Comcast, rather than the remodel - which has been frustrating. But here I am now.

Landscaping - We accepted a bid from a landscaping firm, and they'll be here on Saturday to start clearing up the back yard and prepping the soil. The stonework guy returned to work and has been laying the patio out back. It looks great.

Remodel - Site Supervisor II is compiling a hit list of subcontractors. High on his list are the cabinet people, who have delivered the TV cabinet wrongly made for the second time. (As I write, the painters are shouting angrily at each other in Serbo-Croat in the family room...I think there may have been an "oops" moment. I try not to notice.) The electrician has gone AWOL, but it sounds like if we get to a critical mass of things for him to do then he will come back. The hinges for the interior doors were delivered - in the wrong size. I've filled our closet with clothes twice this week...and then had to take them all out again.

Anyway, it's been a bit like that all week. I think SS2 may explode with frustration soon. (The head painter is now scolding his workmen in English. I can't see them, but I can sense them hanging their heads in shame.)

Our microwave oven has been installed by SS2 (who has started simply doing the work himself instead of delegating it), and we also got the new dryer. SS2 and the plumber installed the washer/drier units, and managed to get them closer to the wall than the original installers.

Jim and SS2 claim that we'll still be finished on April 12. The Architect is skeptical. Well, I guess we'll see.

In other news, our large purple window seat cushion was just delivered. I do hope it fits.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Wet Weekend Round Up

So little seemed to happen last week that I gave up writing the daily blog. So here's a brief summary of action:

- wood floors went into the bedroom, office, and the base of Little Starlet's closet, and each received their sanding and first two coats of varnishy stuff;
- the gimble mounted lights went into the bedroom and office ceilings;
- the snap-on outlet plates were installed in the kitchen (mostly);
- the baseboard and crown molding were painted in the master bedroom;
- the tile was almost finished in the guest bathroom, except for a small area around the toilet sewer pipe;
- the tub deck in the guest bathroom had the corner rounded to eliminate potentially injurious point;
- some of the cabinets in the kitchen were adjusted (again);
- the shelf inserts inside the main food pantry were installed - but they have to be removed because now the rolling shelves have no way to come out.
- the door bell was repaired, and now plays the first couple of bars of the 1812 overture (not sure this is a big improvement on the last tune).
- wood siding installation began on the exterior of the bedroom/bathroom
- the "scratch" coat for the stucco was installed on the office/laundry and the rear main wall.

That may sound like a lot, but is actually not a great deal. Most days we only had one or two guys here, which is a big difference. There was no action in the landscaping at all, as our stone layer was off with family issues.

In other news, I had a bit of taxpayer triumph. A couple of months ago, Site Supervisor II spoke with the City about repairing our sidewalk and road. The City told him that it would be ten years before they were back on our street, and that we were essentially out of luck. Last week I took matters into my own hands - inspired by new puddled formed by new rain - and contacted the Public Works Department. Long story short, they came to inspect and agreed to add our section to their repair schedule for 2010. In fact they said there were 20 places on our street that needed repair, so they'd be repairing the whole block! Hubby says, maybe they checked the computer to see how much property tax we pay....