Monday, August 30, 2004

A Visit with Ursula

This weekend I spent much of Saturday and Sunday working on the columns on the front porch. I covered the full-height end columns in plywood and built two half-height columns to flank the front stairs. The columns are square and tapered and when complete should enhance the overall Craftsman feel of the house. I’m pretty happy with them so far. The plywood is ¾” sheathing, which doesn’t look that good, but I’m hoping I can improve it with some wood-fill and paint. I’m also going to wrap the joints with some ½” molding that should give the columns a panel-and-frame look.

While working, Ursula, our neighbor two doors to the north who is also converting her house into a Craftsman, dropped by. I gave her a quick tour of the inside and she inviting me over to her place too. They have done and excellent job on her house! I’m especially impressed with the detail work on the rafter tails and the porch columns. Very nice! I think we are both happy that the other did the work they did. The two houses work to complement each other and have transformed our street from a row of very similar looking war era track houses into a street of unique and interesting homes.

I did talk to Dave late last week again. He said the plumber would be by this week to help install the tub. Surprisingly he said the plumber would also install the faucets in the shower stalls. I’m both happy and a little disappointed in this. I’m glad he will do this, but it means I don’t have much say in what the faucets will look like. Oh well. The main thing is that I want them to get the jetted tub mounted and the drain installed. I’m also hoping to talk them into install the faucet for the tub too. We’ll see. Dave also said the electricians will return this week to finish their job. I seriously hope so! We did finally get one order of light fixtures to show up. The Dolan Designs fixtures for the 2nd bedroom and 2nd bath arrived. Still waiting for EVERYTHING else… Gah!

This week I hope to get the molding put on the columns in front and get the front porch put back together (I had to remove a bunch of the decking where the half-height columns went). I think I’ll try and get the back porch columns finished before I try and build the railing. I need to have the columns finished before I contact the gutter guys. I expect they will want to attach the downspouts to one or more columns and I need them to be complete before they start. We’re going to see Jenn’s dad in Oakland this weekend so I won’t be able to work on the house then. Good thing too: I’m tired!

Going forward my highest priorities is the exterior. I want to get the porches done, the trim painted, and the gutters installed before the weather goes to hell. I also need to get a wood stove insert for the fireplace.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I Got a Big Pipe...

I got the 70” pipe installed on the back hose bib! Yippee! I was really worried that it would be this huge struggle, but turned out to be a breeze. I drilled a hole in each joist and slid the pipe through, first try. Very cool. I tapped up the threads and screwed it in. No leaks.

The electrician finally did some work last night. But, he didn’t finish. Most of the outlets are wired and hot and most of the switches are in place. It turns out the heater for the bathroom was the wrong voltage. The box said 120V, but the heater clearly indicated it was 240V. So, I exchanged it at the Hell Depot last night and got a bunch of light bulbs and trim kits for the recessed lighting. Still no can in the kitchen, and he didn’t wire the switch for the kitchen yet either. He also didn’t do any outside wiring or the garage. One other disappointment is that the doorbell still doesn’t work. I can’t remember for sure when the doorbell stopped working, but I was hoping that when the electricity was restored on the north side of the house the door bell would start working again. It’s not. I left a note for the electrician to have a look. Hopefully he can fix it without much work.

I called Dave and left a message today to tell him about the electrical progress, but also to let him know that the jetted tub is ready for install. I still need those guys to fix the drain so that it will work. Also, I need to know what the deal with the shower facets will be. I’m not sure, based on what they roughed in, what brand limitations there may be, if any. I’ve just never changed out a shower faucet before.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Cruising the Net Looking for Lights

I’m cruising the net looking for light fixtures. Today I bought the sconces for the 2nd bedroom and bath. So far I have bought sconces for the stairwell, the upstairs hallway, the front porch, the back porch, the 2nd bedroom, and 2nd bath. These I got from Lamps I ordered the Dolan Designs DOL-491-30.

So far, none (NONE!) of the lights I've ordered have arrived yet. Geez! I still need to order fixtures for the master suite, sunroom and balcony.

The plywood and fencing for the porch arrived today. That was good. The ladder also arrived, but I’m looking at it thinking it is too small. I should have got the 28’ rather than the 24’. In fact, I now think the one that Dave loaned me was in fact a 28’. Oh well. It’s not like I’m going to take it back. I’m hoping I can spend at least some time working on the porches tonight. I hope.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Back to the Porch

It rained much of the weekend, more than an inch, which is pretty strange for this time of year. I spent a little bit of time working on the back porch on Saturday, but by Sunday it was too wet to continue. I did more buying than building this weekend, although I did reach one key milestone. I got the tile for the tub decking in the master bath grouted. Now, we can install the jetted tub (although I think the electricians need to do some work first). Speaking of electricians, they came on Friday and put most (but I don’t think all) of the circuits in the breaker box. This is another major milestone.

A went to the Hell Depot again on Sunday. That place really wears me out. But, I bought a ton of things that I really need. I bought the plywood for the porch columns, the fencing for the porch skirt and railing, a 24’ extension ladder, a 70” pipe for the back hose bib, 8 shutoff valves for the bathrooms, grout for the tile, an electrical box for the outlet for the future over-the-stove microwave in the kitchen, 4 8’ cedar 4x4s for the newel posts on the porches, a couple door mats, and I’m sure some more things that I can’t think of now. Whew. Total cost: nearly $1100. Ugh. But, I should now have everything I need to finish the porches. Total cost of porches: about $5000. Ouch. But, they are going to be worth it.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the past week thinking about the porch and what the columns and railings will look like. I’ve decided to go with Bob’s original design for the columns. However, I’ve added two ‘half-columns’ to flank the front steps and I’ve changed the design of the rails. The half-columns for the front steps will have the same at the bottom and the same tapered angle, but they will only be about 3 ½ feet tall with a flat top. Visually it will look like the other columns, only cut in half. For the rails, I’m going to use cedar fencing boards, spaced 4” apart, and some may have patterns cut out of them. I was thinking about the classic ‘Dard Hunter’ Rose, but I’ll work with Jenn to pick something that we both like. If not a rose, then maybe an iris or something more abstract like the McIntosh squares. I don’t have to decide for a while.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

$88 wet saw worth every dollar

I finished cutting the tile for the tub deck in the master bath. For $88, that wet saw is worth every penny. I did find that one limitation is the rip fence. You can’t set it to a certain width and expect to run tiles through and find that they are all the same width. The rip fence is especially cumbersome when trying to cut tiles that are connected with the mesh backing. I remember when I was shopping for a wood cutting table saw that one salesman told me that the main difference between a cheap table saw and the more expensive ones is the quality of the rip fence. Apparently this is true with tile wet saws too. But, what I found to be very effective was to place the tile overhanging the opening, mark what I want to cut off with masking tape (cover the portion of the tile I want to keep with the tape, the outer edge is the waste line), then cut the tile on the saw without the rip fence. This method produced perfect cuts every time, even when I left several tiles together with the mesh backing. I was very proud of myself last night. Now that the cutting is done, I hope to set the tile tonight. I got a small tub of grout and a trowel and I think I can get this done in no time. Oh, one other thing, I bought a laser level a few months back not really knowing what I’d use it for. But, last night, I used it and it was great! I used the laser to make sure my tile was lined up perfect. I just ran the laser light up the grout line and I could easily see where the tiles were out of alignment and easily re-align them. When I was done, the tile looked perfect. I can’t wait to get this grouted.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Cutting Tile

Talked to Dave yesterday. He assures me that the electricians will be in our house this week to finish up the wiring. He said it would take them 2 days. I think the time estimate is optimistic, but I’m hopeful that they can at least start this week. That would be great!

I started playing around with the tile for the deck of the jetted tub. I tried the score and snap cutter and found it to be a lot harder than I remember. It was hard to make the score evenly and the tiles weren’t breaking cleanly. Perhaps it’s this tile that’s harder to cut than the ultra cheap Hell Depot tile I did in the old house. After fumbling with the score and snap cutter, I found it was easier to just use the snips to break off pieces of tile until I’ve shaped it to the right size. However, this took quite a while per piece and my snipping hand started to hurt. So, I went back to the Hell Depot and bought the cheapest wet saw they sell. It cost me $88. I was very skeptical, but I unpacked it, filled up its water reservoir, and made a couple small cuts. It works great! I’ll have to see how well it holds up, but I think this is the tool for me. At this point, I’m hoping to have the tub deck tiled by the end of this week. We’ll see.

I did order a faucet for the tub from Faucets Fast.comIt’s a relatively contemporary deck mount (Roman) faucet by Delta with a brushed nickel finish. I like the brushed nickel. It’s kind of silver colored, but a warmer tone than chrome. I will likely get more fixtures with that look. But, I’m not sure about ordering fixtures for the shower enclosures. There is already some kind of control built into the enclosure. I’ll need to ask Dave if there is any limit on what kind of fixture I can buy for them.

I did look at the compression mount shutoff valves. Dave’s right, it does look easy enough to install. I just need to make sure I get the right angle and the right pipe size. I thought our pipes were ½ inch, but after measuring them I think they are actually 5/8”. If so, hopefully the Hell Depot has them in stock.

I haven’t had too much luck with the light fixture orders. I ordered the front porch lights from Beaverton Lighting. They are a Maxim Lighting brand wall mount fixtures, craftsman style, with a cast-iron finish. There will be 1 for each side of the door. They should arrive this week. However, the interior wall sconces I ordered from Littman Brothers haven’t even been billed to my credit card yet. I ordered these over the internet, but they had to call me back to verify that I would pay the $20 shipping. On-line retailers that can’t automate their shipping estimates? Geez. Because they still haven’t billed my credit card I’m guessing that they haven’t shipped. The sconces that I ordered from them are Minka Lavery, craftsman style, with a black-matte finish and they cost something like $40 each. I only ordered 8, enough for the stairwell and upstairs hallway. I don’t want to order any more until I see them first hand. If I like them, I may buy more (probably somewhere else).

Monday, August 09, 2004

Painting Done? Really?

I think we have finally reached the official, unofficial, completion of the painting in the addition. It was a tough and grueling ordeal. One I hope not to repeat. We started painting primer on May 30th. That means we spent 10 weeks painting. No wonder I’m soooo sick of it. Even though I’m declaring that we are done, this doesn’t include much of the first floor like the kitchen and the hallway. This work will have to be done when we remodel the kitchen.

I called Dave (again – after he didn’t return my call last week). He says the electricians should be able to start next week. When I asked if this meant Monday (8/16) he said he didn’t know and asked if he should ‘lie’ to me. I didn’t know quite how to respond to this, so I ended the conversation. Very strange. Mostly, I just want to get done with all these contractors and the electrical work is the last step. I hope.

Having said that I’m probably going to hire a plumber. I really don’t want to deal with some of the plumbing needs such as the shutoff valves in the bathroom by myself. I’m also inclined to ask this new plumber to deal with the jetted tube and the outside back faucet. Even though Dave said he would install the jetted tube once the tile was set, I’m tired of calling him and asking for things. Even though the plumber would probably charge a lot, it may be worth it just to get all those things taken care of at once.

In addition to the plumber I’m definitely going to have to hire someone to install the gutters. I probably could install a component system on my own, but I think it would be better for the house if I got seamless aluminum gutters. This can only be done by a contractor. If that wasn’t enough, I’m seriously considering hiring someone to paint the exterior trim. It’s very high up and would take someone like me a very long time to do it. Jenn has already announced that she won’t be helping in that task. Oh, and let me not forget that I will need to hire someone to install the fireplace insert. So, I need an electrician, a plumber, a gutter guy, a house painter, and a wood stove installer. I guess I’m still going to be dealing with a lot of contractors. Sigh.