Friday, January 30, 2004

Framing Inspection

The framing inspection went well, although they discovered that we are missing shear-wall plywood in the garage and where the backdoor to the basement is. Although the plans call for removing the door, we decided to leave it. However, this change may require an addendum by the architect. Also, the house was missing some tie-down straps over the dining room door. Apparently the plumbing inspection didn’t go as well. There was some issue raised about the venting. I don’t really know any of the details.

The electricians are back again today, hopefully to finish up the remaining rough-in items on the first floor and stairs. This will be stuff like the porch lights, hall closet, and pantry light. Because the garage interior requires plywood, they’ll have to wait to put the new outlets in there. Also today, they plan to add the recessed lights in the kitchen. This has caused a bit of controversy because the electricians are afraid to cut the lat-and-plaster ceiling. Last I heard, the general contractor had agreed to do the cutting. Jenn and I are going to visit her Dad this weekend won’t be back until Monday evening. So, I won’t know until then if the entire kitchen ceiling came down. Hope not.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Worried about Sump Pump

The electrical inspection went well. Apparently he wasn’t there long. The only change requested was that we add a hard-wired smoke detector to the sun room. It should be an easy change. The electrician said he would be back Friday to finish the job. Also, the plumber appears to have finished up down stairs. Yippee, two more things to check off!

One thing I’m worried about right now is the water in the basement. The forecast calls for heavy rains over the next few days and I’ve notice that the sump pump has not always been turning itself on when it should. I should just replace it, but for some reason I’m reluctant. We’re going to be out of town this weekend. Hopefully there won’t be any serious issues.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Electricians All Weekend

The electricians worked through the weekend and much of Monday to get the upstairs ready for an inspection. The downstairs was skipped for now in order to concentrate on getting the upstairs done. Once inspected, we can proceed with covering up the wire with insulation and drywall.

We did have one code violation in the plans. The plans originally called for two recessed lights above the jetted tub, which I changed to two wall sconces. However, the code requires that all lights be at least 8 feet above a tub, which the wall sconces, and even the recessed lights, were not. So, the solution was to go back to recessed lights and place them up the vaulted ceiling a little bit away from the original planned position.

All and all the electricians were very agreeable and seemingly eager to get the wiring exactly the way I wanted it, rather than just wanting to get done and get out of there. They were completely unfazed by my changes including the additions. However, it remains ambiguous how much, if anything, these additions will cost.

I met with the drywall guy this weekend. We agreed that they will end up doing all the work. They will hang the drywall, tape and mud, and texture the ceiling to match the rest of the house. The walls will remain flat. At one point, I had toyed with the idea of letting them hang while I did the tape and mud, but now I realize that it’s just too much work and would likely take me over a month to complete. Plus, with the pros, there is the added benefit that they will do a much better job of getting right, not only the new walls, but the blending into the existing walls. I think this house deserves to have professionally done walls.

I still plan to do the stairs, floors, doors, and trim. I did some investigating on stair building and found that Home Depot sells not only all the wood, but gives away free instructions, which I quickly grabbed. I think I’m going to do a combination of buying precut parts from them, such as railing and treads, and milling some of my own parts, such as the posts and spindles. I also found out that Lowe’s does carry the single panel fir doors, via special order. So, I plan to order 4 30” doors through them, rather than try and build my own. This, with the 2 existing 30” doors that need to be stripped, will cover all the doors needs upstairs except the door to the sunroom, which will be an existing 32” door (also needing to have the paint stripped).

Also this weekend, we ordered the jetted tub and the insulation. We ended up going with the special makeup Jacuzzi from Lowe’s called the Espree 7242, which is the same size as the originally picked tub, but has more jets, a longer warrantee, and costs $300 less. We still need to pick out a faucet. The insulation that we ordered from Home Depot should be delivered today.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Met the Electricians

I did a preliminary walk-through with the electrician today. It sounds like it’s going to be easy work for them. We did move at least 1 switch and decided to put the upstairs hallway lights on a separate 3 way switch from the stairwell lights. We also talked about the supplementary heating options for the sunroom and master bath. We’re going to put electric wall blowers in both, but with a detached thermostat in the sunroom. Also separate bath exhaust fan switches in each upstairs bathrooms. This will be another major step towards completion. The one kicker, they’re going to have to work on a Saturday.

Friday, January 16, 2004


We have stairs! Pretty exciting. The demo work is done and the stairwell is opened up. They are framing the main stairs and the closet today. They also got the kitchen switched around so that the fridge is on the opposite wall from the stove. I talked to Dave today about the railing. He said, although the sun room has a framed railing, the main stairs will not because the plan calls for open spindles. Therefore, I’m on my own. I think I can build something that is sturdy, safe, and decent looking. But, I’m not sure I can build something that will pass the city inspection. I’d hate to build something just to have some bureaucrat come along and tell me to rip it all out. We’ll see.

Friday, January 09, 2004

It got cold, I mean COLD!

Snow, ice, sleet, wind, cold, we’ve had a lot of weather lately. It snowed New Years day. We had about 8 inches of nice sticky wet snow. I built a giant snow man out back, but he lost his head overnight. Jenn and I walked over to a nearby park that turned out to be way bigger than we had thought. It’s huge! Funny how you discover such things on snow days. Then we walked into Hillsdale and had hot drinks at Starbucks. I had forgotten just how pedantic their servers are. I ordered a mocha latte and was assured that those are two complete different drinks, and which did I really want, a mocha or a latte? It took what seemed like an eternity to convey that I wanted an espresso, steamed milk, and chocolate, which if I had said ‘café mocha grande’ would have got me my desired drink without the lesson in Starbuckees. Despite the stupid pretentious corporate bullshit, we had a lot of fun that day in the snow. But, then it got ugly.

That weekend it got cold. I mean it got really cold, as cold as it gets in Portland. It was about 17 degrees with sustained 20 mile an hour east winds, which put the wind-chill factor around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, Monday night, it started to snow. Then, Tuesday the snow turned to sleet. Then, Wednesday the sleet turned to freezing rain. By Thursday, we had about 7” of snow, nearly an inch of ice, the airport was closed, schools were closed, many roads around the area were closed, even the Trailblazers canceled a game for the first time in franchise history. Portland was a mess. The worst day for us was probably Tuesday night when it was around 20 degrees, sleet was coming down and the wind was gusting well over 30 mph. The furnace was running nonstop and all of the plastic covering the windows upstairs and the new stairway was flapping and popping in the wind. It was horrible. The next day I went up stairs and found snow in the sun room and in each of the bathrooms, suspiciously under each of the skylights. I hope this is just a coincidence and there is nothing wrong with those skylights, but it is suspicious. We’ll have to see. It does appear that the roof is leaking in a few other places, like over the back porch. I will show this to the builders and see what they say. It’s not so bad now, but if this happens again next winter when we have drywall and wood floors and furniture up there, it could cause a lot of trouble.

Because of the weather, the builders have not been at the house much at all this week. They did show up Monday long enough to receive the new dropbox, but not much else. So, where we stand right now is we have most if not all of the framing upstairs complete. The plumbing is mostly in, but not completely hooked up in the basement. The sunroom has walls and a ceiling, but no roof. There are no windows or the door upstairs. There is no electrical. They have cut the hole in the ceiling for the stairwell and removed the walls surrounding the old closets, but the remaining walls that will be removed around the stairs have not been removed yet. The kitchen has not been touched despite Jenn and I carefully removing everything that would be in the path of destruction. Almost nothing has changed in the house over the past 2 weeks. The overall theme of this project continues to be 'hurry up and wait.'