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 ...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Day 49: Ancillary Projects

Day: 49
Schedule: Running Over
Prognosis for Survival: Eh ...

There's a small problem with one of the leveling feet on the stove; we have a call in for service but that conspired with getting the subcontractors coordinated means it looks like our completion date is slipping by a few days to the middle of next week instead of the end of this one.

It's not part of the project, but as I noted back on Day 22, the retaining wall in the garden looks pretty bad and repainting it is probably inevitable. I borrowed a pressure washer from a neighbor and between that and a belt sander, cleaned it up a lot ... Evelin says it still needs to be painted, however. (Also, patchy as it is, there is some grass taking hold a top the mulch we put down after all the brush that existed along the old fence line.)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Day 46: More Small Progess

Day: 46
Schedule: Devil's in the Detials
Prognosis for Survival: Sure. It's Been This Long Already.

I'm sure much more is getting done than is evident to the untrained eye. The one obvious development is that the microwave is now hung. The question now is whether or not the task lighting incorporated into the unit is sufficient, or if we should go ahead and install an LED bar underneath (recognizing that getting it to mount will involve a hack... I'm leaning toward not adding the LEDs.

UPDATE:  (Day 50) After some discussion and back and forth, we're going to not try to install a PRuler under the microwave.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Day 45: A Burst of Energy

Day: 45
Schedule: On
Prognosis for Survival: There's a light at the end of the tunnel (but it might be a train)

After yesterday's subtle advances, today was a bigger deal. Some trim work is up around the door, some appliances and fixtures have been placed, and a few things are working. The big things — fridge, stove, dishwasher — are in. There's apparently an issue with one foot on the stove that needs to be dealt with still, but things are pretty much in place. The hood is wired up and working, as is the water chilling/carbonation system. As expected it is quite tight under the sink, but there might be room enough to upgrade the CO2 tank from 2.5 lbs. to 5 lbs., which would be great. (The cost for the bigger CO2 tank and to keep it filled is just a small increase from what it costs to buy/fill one half its size.) Also in (and working) is the kitchen ceiling light. Outside, the outdoor faucet is now in place, along with the outdoor electrical outlets. And the lights in the living room are once again working. (Originally they'd been wired with a switch by the front door, the stairs, and in the dining room; when the dining room switch was removed, the lights didn't work ... until today.)

Looking from the french doors Looking from by the living room

Looking from the basement door Under the sink

UPDATE (Years Later): I finally did buy a 5 lbs. CO2 tank. It's a tight fit (especially since Grohe changed its filter system, which necessitate a different filter head and hookup, but supports a bigger filter), but it does work. I'll probably replace the two other 2.5 lbs. tanks with 5 lbs. ones eventually...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Day 44: Our Current Kitchen

Day: 44
Schedule: On
Prognosis for Survival: Numb to the Reality

Not much evident work today; it looks like some paint went up and some more prepping for bigger things was going down. With no grand progress to point toward, I figure I should highlight our current makeshift kitchen. For the past month and a half, we've been relying upon our old fridge and microwave, plus a toaster, in the dining room, and to clean things up we have a loaner shop sink hooked up to a hose in the side yard. It's not classy, but it's served it's purpose.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Day 43: A Place to Put Down a Drink

Day: 43
Schedule: Ahead
Prognosis for Survival: Steady

I came home tonight to counters and a sink. We decided to go with Cambria engineered quartz based on the low maintenance and durability. The color is Atlantic Salt, which seems to go pretty well with the blue and the white cabinets, as well as with the brick. The sink (an Elkay Crosstown, ECTRU24179R, undermount with a right-hand drain) is changed a little from our original plans because of everything going on in the cabinet under it; because space is so tight, the cabinetry had to be trimmed a bit to get the sink to fit properly. Next up, I think, is getting the plumbing and electrical lined up and the appliances in place.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 40: Hoodies

Day: 40
Schedule: On
Prognosis for Survival: Wishing the Days Away

There was a little activity today with the installation of the kitchen hood, a Best U10230SBI. As expected the slim hood takes up a fair amount of space in the cabinet above the stove, but the hood itself is very discreet.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 39: They're Here ...

Day: 39
Schedule: On
Prognosis for Survival: Choices Are Limited

The appliances arrived today. There was a bit of juggling that had to go on so that I could make my morning meeting and Evelin could make her afternoon meeting, but between telecommuting and leaving work early, one of us (me) was here for the arrival and inspection. The contractor was here too, using the time to take care of a few details.

Of course, the best part of the appliance delivery is the cardboard. The fridge was only wrapped in plastic, so the girls didn't get to enjoy a giant (wet, since it was raining when the truck arrived) cardboard box, but the slide-in range's box is making a nice room-within-a-room for Q.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day 38: Lighting Roundup

Day: 38
Schedule: On
Prognosis for Survival: Steady

Work's been a bit slow coming out of the holiday weekend, but that was in the schedule. Yesterday, templates for the counters was made. This morning we met with the contractor and the designer to look at a few details and to nail down one of two small things. The designer also brought along several of the new light fixtures for the kitchen.

The old kitchen was primarily lit by a lot of flourescent lights mounted in a dropped ceiling that had textured plastic panels, creating an effect where it looked like the entire ceiling was a light ... when the bulbs and ballasts were behaving. Evelin's hated it since day 1 (or Day −5070 by the timeline we're using on this blog).

So we needed a new ceiling light for the kitchen, and some pendant lights for over the peninsula (which have the added benefit of helping to divide space between the dining room and kitchen), a new globe for the dining room chandelier (after the accident with the electricians), and some sort of lighting over the kitchen sink.

The over-the-sink light became an issue because the current trend, apparently, is a penant of some sort in that space, which struck me as a horrible idea. The more examples I was shown, the worse it looked. After a bunch of back and forth (no-one liked my idea of recessed lighting in the ceiling), we ended up with a solution where two downward-facing sconces would be in the wall above the window.

Undercabinet lighting was also a question mark since we don't have many hanging cabinets. There is a light built into the undercabinet radio, but it only covers a little bit of space. By the mixer, since the microwave mounts above it and there's no way to mount a light directly to that, there was a lot more angst about the options than expected. I think we have come up with a solution that works, but I guess it won't be for certain until the electrician starts to wire things up.

Outside, I really wanted to make sure we were using dark-sky friendly fixtures. Although most of the online stores have dark-sky friendly as an option to search with, it's not clear they're always accurate in categorizing the fixtures. And not all of them are IDA-certified as dark-sky friendly. We needed lights for the deck and over the kitchen door. Since I was looking at light fixtures, I ended up getting one to replace the existing porch light (which proved a reminder of the joys of old-house wiring).

Friday, May 23, 2014

Day 34: So Long to All the Trash

Day: 34
Schedule: Quiet
Prognosis for Survival: It's the Small Things

7 a.m. this morning there was some honking outside ... the truck was here to remove the tip. After a scramble to get cars out of the way (thankfully only ours). He backed in and with only a little trouble given how full of concrete the thing was had it up on the flatbed in no time at all. Great excitement for the girls, their cousin, and (of course) the rest of us ... except Lucy (she spend the entire operation hiding out upstairs).

The tip has been a source of amusement and excitement during its time here, and it's drawn the occasional interest from scrap metal seekers. Earlier in the week, Evelin was cutting the grass when she saw a truck pull up next to it and a man got out to look in the tip. She stopped and asked if he was picking up or dropping off, because he was welcome to take things out, but if he was dropping off then she was going to yell at him. His reply: "You can't yell at Big Tom!" Evelin replied, "Of course I can!" ... which earned a few more protestations that she couldn't yell at him. Truth is, Big Tom doesn't know what he's talking about.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 33: A Few More Signs of Progess

Day: 33
Schedule: On
Prognosis for Survival: Just Keep It in Perspective

As the title says, there are a few more signs of progress. The crown molding is up above the cabinets. The kitchen radio has been mounted, and some of the hardware for the fizzy water faucet has been placed into the sink cabinet. (It's really tight in there ... there's just the chiller and the CO2 tank in there now, but they still have to have space for the filter and disposal, as well as the regular plumbing stuff.) The cookie sheet cabinet is in. Molding around the exterior of the door and window are in. The door to the basement (a salvage piece) is hung.

Looking Across the Kitchen

The Radio The Chiller for the Grohe Blue

The "New" Basement Door Inside the Pantry Jumping Outside: The French Doors

The Kitchen Window (From the Outside)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 32: Taking Shape

Day: 32
Schedule: On Time
Prognosis for Survival: The Devil is in the Details

Cabinets have been unboxed and installation has begun, so we're starting to get a feel for the real shape and size of things ... and its looking good. In other exciting news, the HVAC connections have been moved and the Nest hooked up. Now that I'm getting more whole-room pictures again, I might want to put the wide-angle lens back on the camera ...

View from the Kitchen Door View from the Dining Room

The Fridge (space) and Mixer Station The Pantry The Kitchen Sink

Another Angle from the Dining Room The Nest!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 31: Lots of Boxes

Day: 31
Schedule: On the Nose
Prognosis for Survival: Reasonable

So we're a month in. A lot has been done, but there's still a little less than three weeks to go and it's almost all finish work that's left, so changes are likely to be less dramatic (although tomorrows will be pretty dramatic) but all important to finishing the project right.

The floors were finished up this morning, and some paint went up on the kitchen walls, but the big news is all the boxes that are in the dining room ... the cabinets are here. They start installing them tomorrow.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 30: Smelly

Day: 30
Schedule: It's On
Prognosis for Survival: Loopy
The kitchen floor is being finished, so the windows are open, but the smells are strong. They finish up tomorrow ... in time for the cabinets to arrive...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day 29: Peaceful Sunday Morning

Day: 29
Schedule: Surprise!
Prognosis for Survival: Sleepy

Of course Q had had me awake for about an hour, but I was still in denial about being able to laze about it bed when around 7 a.m. there are some noises out on the deck. At first I thought Evelin was out there moving something around, but then she came in to the bedroom to tell me that she'd forgotten that the contractor said someone would be coming by on Sunday morning. It turned out to be a surprise visit from the mason to install a belt course for the window sill under the new kitchen window. Early morning noise, but it looks good ...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day 28: Deck Details

Day: 28
Schedule: It's the Weekend
Prognosis for Survival: It's the Weekend

There were some questions about the deck, so here are the answers. The mesh we were looking for was a 4"-×-4" square, 16 AWG, powder-coated. It proved difficult at best to source. What we ended up with is hot-dip galvanized and a little bit bigger gauge to make sure it would hold up. The wire is stapled to the top and bottom of the frame, which is screwed together and then toenailed into the newel posts. It should be strong enough to put up with typical interactions with the kids, but most of the structural strength is coming from the handrail/top-cap.

Some detail work remains to be done to roundover and finish the edges, and a vertical framing bit will be added to the screens that are on an angle going down the stairs. We're still considering whether or not there should be the same on the wide horizontal panels. There are a few screws that were placed for the framing that still have to come out, too. In any case, it looks pretty cool from all angles.