Google+ House Revivals: July 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

No More Closet of Death

Sometimes, the little things sure do mean a lot.  Getting a new floor in the closet under the stairwell is one of those things.
Do you see that patch in the subfloor?  That was a crawl space access when the house was only three feet off the ground.  Now that the house is twelve feet off the ground, we can access the "crawl space" through a door in the garage -- and accessing the crawl space via the access panel might not end well for the person involved.

The access panel kept getting knocked off of the opening by workers, and they never bothered nailing it down permanently -- even though I repeatedly asked them to (I had visions of my dog falling through)....

We started calling it the "closet of death".  A couple of weeks ago we finally got it buttoned up, and got the new flooring laid.  No more Closet of Death.  Like I said, it's the little things....

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Putting Lipstick on a Pig (or Painting a Faux Brick Wall)

We have a really ugly wall in our house.  I mean *really* ugly.  It's a former owner's DIY faux brick wall. Did I mention that it's ugly?  I actually coined a new word to describe ugly faux brick: fauxgly.  Lest I offend someone, let me just say that not all faux brick is ugly.  When done right it can be very attractive.  Mine was not done right.
We're not going to demo the wall right now, because it is the outside wall of our stairwell, and we are thinking we may re-orient the stairs in a future remodeling project.  We don't want to redo the same wall twice, so we are just leaving it, for now.  But, my goodness, it sure is awful.  Many of the "bricks" are broken or cracked, and they are not laid evenly.  In fact, the lower courses slope a good three inches from one end of the wall to the other. I decided to paint the wall, to kind of camouflage how bad it is....
There was also a giant hole in the wall.  I kept imagining it was a spider hole, so I taped it up and patched it.  Yes, it's an ugly patch, but seriously, an ugly patch isn't going to make this wall any worse than it already is.
Nobody is sure what that funny white box is that is hanging on the wall.  The electrician thinks it may have been part of an old security system.  We're not even sure if the wire is still tied in to the home's wiring.  So, there it stays until the electrician removes it.
Here is the wall, after a couple of hours with a brush and some Kilz.
It's still pretty ugly, but at least it blends a little bit with the other walls, so it's less of an assault on our senses when we enter the space.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tile in the Master Bathroom

We finally have tile in the master bathroom!  It has been quite the ordeal, but it is finally installed.  We are planning to tile the countertop, after the cabinets are installed, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
When we returned from a trip to Colorado a few weeks ago, the tile was supposed to be finished.  It wasn't.  Only the shower stall was finished, but it was wrong.  I walked into the bathroom, after driving eighteen hundred miles, to discover the wrong tile had been installed!  They installed 6x8 field tile, instead of 3x6.

The tile setter was there, and when I told him it was the wrong tile, he told me he had worked for days on that shower stall, getting it perfect, and it was too late to tear it out, and why couldn't I just live with it?  I honestly didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  Who talks to a homeowner that way?

I called my GC, who called the tile setter's boss, who came out and argued with me that I told him the wrong tile.  Seriously?  The boss pulled out his notes from our conversation, to prove his point, and right there in his own handwriting was "3x6 subway tile".  He was embarrassed and apologetic.  His tile setter refused to pull off the wrong tiles, so the boss did it himself.

You would think that would have been the end of the drama.  It was not.  As it turns out, the tile setter was slow as molasses.  I've had plenty of custom tile work done, so I know it does not take three weeks to tile a shower stall.  We've started living in the house, so I would often peek into the master bathroom to see just what was taking the tile setter so long.   Most of the time he was sitting on the edge of the tub texting.

Poor guy, no wonder he was having such a rough time finishing my tile job.  Have you ever tried to set tile and send a text at the same time?  It's very nearly impossible.  He also needed many, many smoke breaks.  And beer breaks.  The last straw was when I caught him smoking IN MY HOUSE.  I had him fired.  I was really livid that he would smoke in my home, especially knowing that our daughter is expecting (she is staying with us while her husband serves in Afghanistan).

You would think that would have been the end of the drama.  It wasn't.  I was running errands when the tile setter was fired, so he marched back into the guestroom wing of our home and KNOCKED ON MY DAUGHTER'S DOOR.  Who does that?  He proceeded to tell her his whole sad story, then wouldn't leave. He actually went back into the bathroom and resumed setting tile.  I was pretty upset, as my daughter was alone in the house with a very disgruntled man, so my GC had the tile setter's boss go immediately to my home and escort him from the property.  And then I had a word with my GC for firing someone over the phone.  He was pretty embarrassed and apologetic, and had not realized that my daughter was in the house at the time.

And do you know what really burns me up about this story?  The tile is still wrong.  Why is it so hard follow simple instructions?  I will not be having it ripped out and redone this time.  I just don't have the time, and I need my house back.

Of course, nothing is ever simple, is it?  These tile setters were also supposed to patch my kitchen floor. I've decided not to bother with it for right now.  For several reasons.  The main reason is that grandbaby number one is due to arrive in the next week, but another reason is that the tile setter had said his floor patch would be a focal point in the room.  Really? A focal point? I don't think so.  I had my GC drop some plywood in the hole.

Edit:  I realized, after posting this, that it might seem I am unhappy with my GC.  I am very pleased with my GC.  He is hard headed, and sometimes boneheaded, but he is honorable and dependable and hardworking, and he is an expert in his field.  He is a good, honest man, and I will definitely use his services again. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Our Newest Project

It looks like we are buying the bank-owned condo I mentioned in an earlier post.  We have a contract, and as long as we are happy with things after doing "due diligence," we will soon own a little pied-a-terre.

The beach house is great, but we really need a small place in the city during the work week.  After two years of renting a very tiny apartment, we knew we needed something slightly larger, so we could entertain comfortably -- or something even smaller, so we wouldn't even be tempted to try to entertain!

Other criteria included an easy commute to work, a safe neighborhood, a parking space, and a pet friendly building with an elevator; and it needed to be well-priced.  This little condo met all of our criteria.

When we saw the rough shape of this condo (which explained the "too good to be true" price) we were ready to walk away -- then the realtor threw out two little words -- "boat slip".

We were hooked.

This is the slip that goes with the condo.  I wonder whose boat that is?  Maybe it comes with the slip?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How the Beach House Looks Right Now

Here is an update on exterior progress on the beach house.  The decks on the the street side of the house are finished.  We had to make a few design changes, due to the building codes, but I still think they turned out great. We need to wait a couple of months before staining or painting.  

For readers who are new to this blog, this was an early concept for the home's exterior.

This is how it looked when we bought it.

The decks and courtyard were in pretty rough shape!

The courtyard is still pretty rough, in spite of many hours of cleaning and raking, but the decks are looking great.

We actually spent most of Fourth of July weekend on these decks -- this side of the house is well protected from the ocean winds, and so it is perfect for grilling.  And it is not without a view -- off in the distance is the harbor and beyond that is Mount Rainier.

We still have lots of new shingle work that remains unpainted.  It will have to remain unpainted until sometime in September, when it will have dried out enough.  We should have a window of about two and a half hours between when it's "dry enough to paint" and the beginning of the rainy season....

It's come a long way, but we still have quite a way to go. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

What I've Been Up To, Lately

Posting has been a bit sporadic around here, lately, but not because I'm not doing anything.  I've been so busy with the beach house, I haven't had much time to take photos or write about the projects.  And, honestly, how much "wow factor" is there in posting about buying a twelve foot extension pole with a pivoting brush attachment for cleaning cobwebs from the rafters?   Or stripping more of that doggone wallpaper?  Or trying to coax a fireplace door, that has been rusted shut for years, to open? 
Out on the coast, we get serious rust.  After many applications of WD-40, and scrubbing with a wire brush, I did get one door to open...
...but the other one never budged.

For days, I scraped at the grasscloth wallpaper.   Thirty year old grasscloth is really nasty.  There is no good way to clean it, and it has lots of texture, so it can actually hold massive amounts of dirt.  And all that dirt gets everywhere -- in your hair, in your eyes, in your bra -- as you remove it.

It's a little disheartening to spend days stripping wallpaper, only to realize you need to spend many more days cleaning and sanding and repairing the drywall to prepare it for texturing and painting.
The former owners randomly hammered holes in the walls. I have no idea why.  They also allowed their pets to use the grasscloth as a scratching post, and allowed their children to hang garland and Christmas lights everywhere, using thousand of tiny staples....

We had dozens of these lovely window shades installed throughout the house.  Here is one gloriously extended to show its full beauty.

We (I) removed them.  But nothing is ever easy, is it?  Each blind was occupied by a fat shiny black spider, with webs and nests, and aggressive attitudes.  So, first I sprayed them with toxic chemicals, then cleaned them out with a broom.  Only then could I start the tedious task of removing them. Afterward, I felt all itchy and weird.  After all, what if the spiders had survived and hidden behind a fold, then jumped into my hair or clothing or something?
And, I still had to touch them all one more time to haul them out to the dumpster!

So, that is some of what I have been up to.
And this is why I'm doing it.