Monday, August 14, 2017

House Update

It's been a while (3+ years), but I wanted to document a few additional house changes. After the kitchen project ended, some friends and I redid the basement bathroom, after that a leak led to needing to do some work in the hallway/under-stairs area in the basement, we had the upstairs bathroom reglazed, and (prompting this update) we replaced the AC (again). Still in the future? The old carpet in the basement should go at some point, the retaining wall out back needs painting (as does the front porch), the shutters should be replaced, and we may eventually follow through on the idea of expanding the house.

Basement Bathroom

A few months after the kitchen was finished, we discovered a long hidden leak, which led to a compromised vanity and drywall. What began as ripping out some bad spots lead to a full demo. It took a long time with lots of starts and stops, but the old pink tub is gone, replaced by a nice tiled shower (United States Ceramic subway tiles), vinyl floor replaced with nice tiles (Ceramica Sant'Agostino Aspen series), and everything else redone, too. One nice touch (after a lot of discussion over storage solutions): school-style gym lockers. As part of the project a lot of Roxul ComfortBatt rockwool insulation was added (along with more than a few DC Brau cans ... I do wonder, when some future homeowner goes to redo the space, what they'll think of that ...

For the shower, we used a Redi Trench shower pan with a solid linear drain, a VIGO Pirouette frameless shower door, and a Symmons Elm commercial shower faucet. The sink is a Mirabelle console on a stainless-steel pedestal with Delta Vero faucet and a Feiss Infinity Collection oval mirror. The light over the sink is a Kichler Caparros 2 fixture Evelin won from; the other ceiling fixtures are NUVO Polaris 60-608 flush-mounts. For ventilation, we used an Air King 150 cfm exhaust fan. The suspended ceiling with mineral fiber acoustic tiles was replaced with a CeilingMAX system that uses Fas├Ąde Quattro PVC tiles with a trippy pattern embedded in them.

While the downstairs bathroom tile work was being done, we went had the same guy add a tile backsplash behind the stove and under the window behind the sink. As part of the kitchen renovation project we considered doing this, but decided against it. After living with it for a while, we changed our minds. The tile used was the one the interior designer had recommended, Glazzio Tidal Wave Blend.

After all that was completed, the hose that goes from the wall to the toilet tank developed a leak, which took a while to discover. At first we thought it was flooding due to crazy rains, and then possibly a leak connected to the shower. Once the culprit was discovered, it was an easy fix, but the vinyl tile in the hallway/under-stairs area just outside the bathroom was all damaged, along with more wet drywall ... so I took all that out, replacing the flooring with TrafficMASTER Allure vinyl planks and replacing the drywall with greenboard. It took longer than it should have, but not as bad as the bathroom.

Keeping Cool

And today, we're getting replacing our AC for the third time in the past 17 years. The unit that came with the house when we bought it in 2000 died in 2001, days after the home warranty provided as part of the purchase expired. The replacement for that lasted until the 2012 derecho hit and a tree limb fell and speared the compressor. At that time we replaced the full HVAC system, upgrading to a high efficiency furnace. We have had an issue with the AC working as well as it should and has increasingly been losing coolant (and the guy who did the work disappeared on us, so ...). This year, when we had the system tuned up at the beginning of the summer and coolant added, it worked until the massive July heatwave at which point it was clear that the system couldn't keep up. Instead of topping off the coolant three or four times a year, we decided to go ahead and replace the AC system.

We opted for an American Standard Silver 14 SEER unit. We couldn't really take advantage of a higher SEER unit without upgrading the full furnace system too, so after some discussion we decided going from 13 to 14 SEER was good enough. The previous unit was only 2 tons and mathwise the house needs somewhere around 2.6 tons of cooling, so we opted to go with the 3 ton one. We're also having the compressor relocated to the side of the house; this gets it out from under the deck, which will be good for airflow for the unit as well as hopefully mean less noise when we're on the deck.

(A few hours later ...) The work is done and it difference is amazing. Barely audible from the deck and quite effective at cooling the house. The guys who did the work did a very nice job, too, taking care to consolidate the piping and wiring in ways that gained us some space in the basement. As part of the job, they also replaced the old whole-house humidifier with a new Aprilaire Model 700 unit. In doing the work, we realized a small change to the ducting would allow for better air filtration, so they'll be back in a week or three to make that happen.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 62: The Big Reveal

Day: 63 (I'm writing this after the day in question)
Schedule: T−3
Prognosis for Survival: Have Entered a New Stage

So yesterday, Day 62, was the big reveal. The contractor and his team hosted a reveal party for us, inviting a good chunk of the neighborhood, along with other folk, to see the finished product. The recycling bin is full of bottles and Lucy had many scraps off the floor, plus we got to see just how many people the deck could support (a lot of them). It was a nice time, and we're glad to be moving into the living-in-it phase of things.

There are still a few punch-list items left to go, but hopefully they will be done by Wednesday (which is when the replacement stove is supposed to arrive). All in all, it looks quite good, but I'm not sure where things are. I did cook my first meal in here on Friday (pasta and peas for the girls) and my second one tonight (tacos) ... hopefully, next weekend will be a bit calmer and I can have a go at making a nicer meal.

On to the pictures (which Evelin wishes were of a cleaner/neater space):

Looking into the kitchen from by the living room.

Looking from the kitchen into the dining room.

Looking across the deck.

Looking into the kitchen window from the deck.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Day 57: A (Few) Coat(s) of Paint

Day: 57
Schedule: Wednesday
Prognosis for Survival: The Time Is Near

There was some clean up work outside today, but the big news was inside where the painters gave the dining room and kitchen a full going over. The walls are Benjamin Moore #1585 Wales Gray tinting an eggshell finish base. The ceiling and trim are shades of white that are a little off from the cabinets, but closer to the window trim. The colors don't really pop in these photos (maybe I should turn on the lights).

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Day 56: Shedding Light on Things

Day: 56
Schedule: Working on a Sunday
Prognosis for Survival: The End Is Near

When I was going through all the lighting options, one thing sort of became clear to me: I'm liking the new LED lightbulbs. They are more expensive than compact fluorescents (and way more expensive than even the new generation of incandescent bulbs), but they turn on very quickly and are immediately at full brightness and color temperature. Some of the fixtures we picked for outside and undercabinet have integrated LED blubs, but most of them are traditional fixtures taking a mix of incandescents and CFLs. For most of them the bulb isn't really exposed, so aesthetically it shouldn't matter how the bulb will look, but for the sconces over the sink, the bulbs are very visible and on display. The manufacturer recommends an A15-shape/size frosted incandescent bulb, and that's what the contractor put in. An A19-shape/size LED replacement would have been too large for the fixture and the heatsink on the bulb would have been too much on display.

Digging around at Lowe's, however, I found these Utilitech 4.8-Watt A15 replacements. The heatsink is fairly small and blends in well. If you look at it closely, you see something looks different, but nothing glaring. And the color profile (3200 Kelvin) and light output (300 lumen) are pretty good. It's a little less bright than the 60 W incandescents that were in there, but it's also a bit less yellow of light (without shading into blue) that blends well with the light from the CFLs in the ceiling fixture. Evelin mentioned something to the contractor about me wanting to switch out the bulbs, but he asked that I not do it until after he'd had his pictures of the final work taken ... but that entire conversation happened after I made the switch so I'm not sure it was even noticed...

I'm not sure when, but I think I'll replace the incandescents in the pendants at some point with dimmable candle-shaped LED bulbs and, if I can find ones the right size, I'd love to swap out the bulbs for the built-in task lights on the microwave with LEDs. In both cases, the biggest reason is the heat the incandescent bulbs generate, but the long-term energy savings and lowered environmental impact would be big pluses, too.

In the second picture, you can see to the left of the sink the shelves, which started going up today.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Day 54: Let There Be Light

Day: 54
Schedule: See Below
Prognosis for Survival: Why Not?

Under the original scheduled, today was supposed to be finishing up the punchlist and cleaning ahead of the handover of things on Monday ... but we're a few days behind. The expectation is that we'll have things finished on Wednesday (June 18).

The big things are mostly done. We have all the lights up and working. The appliances are in place. Plumbing is done. The inspector signed off on everything. The flooring has been finished (and we can't walk on it until Sunday morning).

So what's left? There's still a little bit of electrical work that needs to be finished, including installing the USB charging outlets and the undercabinet lighting, as well as power for the radio. The shelves have to be built. There's a bit more painting and trim work that needs to be done. And there are some details for the deck that aren't finished. And the issue with the stove.

It'll be a bit of a mad rush to the 18th, but next Saturday (June 21st) is the grand reveal/open house, so it'll have to happen, right?

Looking from the Dining Room
(Globes Missing from Chandelier)
Looking from the End of the Peninsula

Dark-Sky Friendly Sconces (LED) The Fixture Over the Kitchen Door (CFL)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Day 53: Appliance Shuffle

Day: 53
Schedule: Behind
Prognosis for Survival: Resigned

We got word about the stove yesterday. During the install of the stove, it was discovered that something was broken (as I understand it) with one of the leveling feet. The repair guy came out, took one look at things, and announced that it couldn't be fixed and that we'd have to have a new stove sent. We'll find out at the beginning of next week when it might arrive.

Today we also got the old fridge out of the living room. It was taken away as part of Pepco's Appliance Recycling Program, so not only is it gone but we should be getting a $50 check at some point. So the old stove went to a resale shop, and the dishwasher and fridge are both being recycled. Once we're done with this, I guess the old microwave goes to the thrift store and the sodamaker will end up on one of the local listservs.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Day 50: Got a Handle on It

Day: 50
Schedule: Moving Along
Prognosis for Survival: Ready for the End

Again, I'm sure small things I'm not noticing are getting done, but one obvious advancement is the addition of some handles to the cabinets ...