Monday, September 29, 2008

Complaint Department, Please

The wood laminate flooring in the new room is about three-quarters laid. This past weekend, I found myself using the room as a short cut from the patio to the garage, and could feel the flooring give beneath my feet. Hmmm. I know the contractor specified that an underlayment be used to prevent just such a thing. Today I called and was reassured that the underlayment is there and that, once the floor is complete, that springy-ness will go away. I hope. The good news is the floor should be complete on Wednesday.

Second complaint was actually from my neighbor. Apparently, when the drywaller finished repairing the ceiling in my garage, he disposed of the leftover plaster in the storm drain. That is probably illegal, but worse, he removed the storm drain cover to do it and did not replace it. This addition does not have sidewalks, and I could just see someone taking an after-dark walk, stepping off the street to avoid a car, and falling into that hole. Yikes! The neighbor kindly replaced the cover (those suckers are heavy!) and I complained to the contractor about that as well.

No workers showed up this past weekend - a first! - and I enjoyed a couple of hours futzing around in the backyard. One of my personal failings this year was letting too many weeds go to seed, so I took a couple of plastic trash bags and filled them with seed heads. I also dug up the parsley plants, and have plans to dig up the basils, oregano, and some chives, for fresh herbs this winter. They should love that sunny new room.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Better But Not Best

After several people commented on the poor quality of the paint job in my new room, I called the contractor to complain. They suggested we tack sticky notes where the walls needed to be touched up.

I called them back and suggested that the painter just add another coat, which he did today.

These photos are not proof, but the color looks much richer now. I think he got in a hurry last Monday because the electricians were hot on his heels. There are still some major flaws, though, which I will point out to the contractor on final inspection. In my mind, new walls should be darn near perfect.

I still haven't posted pictures of the attic ladder and access. That is a long story, so I will save it for later.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Not Quite Yet

I was really, really, really hoping that today would be the final day of Project Renovation, but alas, it was not to be. Someone (moi?) provided the wrong dimensions of the new room, so the flooring guys came up short. More laminate was ordered, and once it comes in, the remaining work should take about an hour.

Considering where we started with this project (replacing an 18' x 12' Florida room) to where the journey took us (24' x 24' addition) to where we finally landed (18' x 15' room), it is not surprising that some dimensions were miscommunicated. If this is the worst mishap, I will be happy.

Someday, when I have recovered from this project, I would like to move the washer and dryer to the other end of the house, and maybe put a half-bath where they are now. Or a freezer/pantry. Or a big closet.

Somebody stop me!

I'm liking the option of light in the backyard. These two fixtures illuminate the patio; there is a two-bulb flood light on the corner of the new room as well.

Red is the color of autumn. Red leaves on the burning bush...

... and red berries on the chokeberry.

Never mind that it is still in the 80's this week.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weak Link

Progress on the new room has been steady, until the painters did not arrive last week as expected. Not on Wednesday (truck trouble), not on Thursday (sick), and on Friday, only one showed, to paint the trim.

Fortunately, they arrived bright and early today, and finished up just ahead of the electricians.

The new room is "oatmeal" while the laundry is "khaki" and the trim is "architectural off-white".

My daughter picked the colors and they look great. Even the painter was surprised impressed.

I splurged a bit on the ceiling fan (light kit yet to come)...

... and cheaped out on the laundry ceiling light fixture.

So far, so good!

What's left? The drywall/paint crew need to fix the drywall around the attic entrance and paint the outside of the French doors, the floor is scheduled to be installed Wednesday, and then the heating guy needs to appear with some registers. Oh, and I guess I will need to pay for all this.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Visible Improvements

From the outside, the new room looks like it is nearing completion.

The rest of the house has a similar look, now that the windows have been wrapped and the soffits soffitized.

The wasps have been evicted from their condo during renovations.

Inside, things look a little less done. Here is the mudding of the drywall.

And the Spanish lacing of the ceiling.

And a coat of something white. Primer?

Since I last reported rainfall on this blog, over 4" of Ike has dropped from the sky. Since the new room still lacks gutters, said rain puddled, then ponded, then laked around the foundation. If I were more agile, I would crawl under the house and see if things are wet. At least the vents are working.

At least, I presume they are open because they are working the way they are supposed to. I may have book learnin' but I am sadly lacking in skilled trades knowledge.

Friday my daughter and I picked out the laminate floor - "Sydney Eucalyptus". It was the only shade that did not have either yellow or red in it; it is brown, as brown as my brown leather shoes. Saturday we splurged on a kinda expensive ceiling fan, but went cheap on a ceiling light for the laundry.

The painter just called, to get the paint colors: oatmeal for the new room, khaki for the laundry, and "Architectural off-white" for the trim. The wood for the trim is in the garage, just waiting for the trim guys tomorrow.

The dumpster is getting full again, especially since the contractor invited some friends to add their rotten landscaping timbers to the pile. I can't wait for that behemoth to be hauled away. Not that I will be able to park the car in the garage right away, but I will be a step closer.

Some pretty things are also happening around the yard. These pink hardy asters are a surprise.

I obviously planted them because there is a metal plant marker next to them; I just can't make out the name.

Hardy something aster. Good enough for now.

The painted daisies look so crappy during the heat of August, but come cool weather, they become cascades of pink.

But these chrysanthemums are my faves.

Mmmmm... red.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Forward Progress

Yesterday the French doors were installed but the hardware was gold instead of brushed nickel. And the steps were installed. And the door between the laundry and garage reinstalled. And the drywall arrived.

Then it was a waiting game. The drywallers could not drywall until the framing inspector inspected. The framing inspector could not inspect until the mechanical inspector inspected. But where was the mechanical inspector? There was no way of knowing. He finally showed late in the day, and happily the framing inspector arrived bright and early this morning, so the drywalling could proceed on schedule.

Technically, the insulation should have waited for the framing inspector, too, but he was able to see what he could see after removing one ceiling batt.

This morning I was gone before the drywallers arrived because my SO happened to have a spare lock set, which he installed yesterday. Now I feel comfortable letting the workers do their thing without my presence.

Drywalling occurred, as did doorknobbing, but I can't figure out how to open the passive side of the French doors. They need to come with an instruction booklet.

Tonight the siding/soffit guys stopped by to drop off their stuff. I had been vacillating on whether to do the soffits on the rest of the house now or later. I decided on NOW. The "old" windows are to be wrapped as well (a fact that somehow was not conveyed to the siding/soffit guys until tonight, and then by me), so then all the outside stuff will be done. My house will look so purty.

I'm really happy about how bright the interior of my house is now, as are my sun-loving pets.

With the silver maples and Florida room gone, the patio door has become like TV for the cat and dog, literally a window on the world for their viewing pleasure. I will be glad when the exterior lights are installed so I can see what the cat is growling at after nightfall.

A few weeks ago I checked this book out from the library:

The authors' advice is geared more for the DIYers. They suggest that if you hire a contractor, you can leave town for the duration and come home to a completed project. WRONG!!! It would be nice to think the contractor has nothing else on his/her mind except your house, but that would be fantasy. While I am getting tired of the inconvenience, I am also glad to be here to see the daily progress and to answer questions and to make sure I get what I want. Fortunately, the contractor and I are on the same wave length and what problems have occurred have been minor and easily resolved.

So far, so good.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Falling Behind

I meant to take a picture of the now insulated new room, but when I got home from work, I stopped to chat with a neighbor, then the contractor stopped by to fetch a trailer full of windows salvaged from my Florida room that will be going to Habitat for Humanity, then the drywall-painter guys showed up to measure for drywall, and then my daughter arrived for our not-frequent-enough power walks, and then I ate supper and showered, and then I started washing more stuff that may be recontaminating me with poison ivy, including the dog's collars. So that is why there are no pix of the newly insulated room.

Saturday the siding guys were in the neighborhood, so they stopped by to do their measuring. On the one hand, I am happy to move the whole process along. On the other, it seems like not a day goes by where someone isn't ringing my doorbell.

Sunday, daughter and I hit the local home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowes, and Menards) in search of paint samples and light fixtures and a ceiling fan. We were somewhat successful. I had replaced my outdoor lights on the garage many years ago (we discussed just how long ago - I think it was longer ago than my daughter thinks), and was thinking it would be nice to match them.

Well, surprise, surprise. They still make them.

Must be a classic style.

Even though we reached a tentative selection of colors for the paint, we really can't be sure until we pick out the flooring. (I say "we" because she is my interior decorator and color consultant. I think I am missing a few rods and cones, plus I have no sense of style, so I need all the help I can get.) And we didn't see a light fixture for the laundry nor a ceiling fan for the new room that we were enamored with.

This morning, for a while, I found myself waiting for someone, anyone to show up and start working on the house. This is the part of this whole renovation that I find the most stressful: trying to make sure someone is here without my burning all my precious vacation time. My SO has been filling in for me, but I hate to have him stuck here all day when he has more interesting things to do. So tonight I suggested to the contractor that it would really help if he could install a lock on the kitchen door. Then workers could have access to the garage, laundry, and new room, and I could come and go without worry. It is not that I don't trust the workers; I just prefer that they not have access to the whole house when I am not here.

Besides the insulators, the county building inspector came to inspect the wiring. We still need inspections of the heating and the framing before the drywalling can begin. Hopefully, that will occur tomorrow. Fingers and toes crossed.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


The electrician came on Friday, which is another phase in the process that doesn't produce very obvious results but is very important.

Besides the usual outlets and switches, I am having some outdoor outlets and fixtures plus an outlet in the floor, as I expect to light primarily with lamps but don't want cords running all around.

A victim of all the deconstruction and construction has been my phone line. Last week service would mysteriously come and go, and when it was on, it was sometimes full of static. The electrician kindly checked things out and discovered two problems. One was a remnant of when I was self-employed and used the Florida room as my home office. There were two phone lines, one of which was still active. The active jack had the hole pointing up, which left it naked to the elements, i.e. rain, once the Florida room was dismantled. The second problem was a pinched wire. Even though the Amish have cell phones, they must not quite understand that landlines need their current to flow unimpeded.

So, phone service was reinstated, but not Internet access. For some reason, the wireless is hosed, but after about 1.5 hours with Verizon tech support, I am now back online via Ethernet. Better than nothing. My wireless tech support guy is my son-in-law. Guess I will have to cook up a Sunday dinner to lure him over to fix the wireless. Again.

Next week is insulation, drywall, and siding. That will provide some more interesting pix.

Someday, the view will be spectacular, or at least, better than this.

And, just for fun, a panoramic view of the back of my house, in progress.

There is some color in the yard these days. Here is a goldfinch on the past-their-prime coneflowers.

And hardy asters, which look much prettier than this photo shows.

And the brown-eyed Susan that are part of the nascent dye garden.

If I were bolder, I would go investigate my neighbor's yard, as I am betting that is how I contracted poison ivy, thanks to my dog. At least, that is my theory: dog nosing around neighbor's bushes brings home a scourge that is now evident on my hands and FACE. Today I am washing, the dog and the dog bedding and my bedding and towels and clothes. And trying not to scratch.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


I'm having a hard time keeping up with the chronicling of my new room. Here are the results of today's hard work. The framers' labors are very obvious, as they are the ones who create the shell and add the windows and doors.

Since building codes have changed since my house was built in the 1970's (and since the building inspectors don't have much to inspect these days, so are being very picky), my crawl space has vents that are controlled by a thermostat.

There will be French doors on the south side of the room, with steps leading to the patio slab.

The floor in the laundry area was raised, so now I have new steps leading from said laundry to the garage. I'm afraid one too many doors were thrown into the dumpster, though, because I can't find the one that goes between the garage and the laundry.

What is not obvious is the work done today by the heating guys. They were the ones to crawl under the house, to run the duct work from my furnace (which is almost all the way at the south end of the house) to the new room on the north end, plus install the duct work under the room itself.

While they were down there, they found a rusty pipe that needed to be replaced. It was under the drain for the AC that was plugged up last year.

The heating guys also discovered that the vent going from the furnace through the roof was not only cracked but broken, venting gases into my attic. That will cost me something to replace, the first extra expense of this whole project.

I forgot to photograph the new ladder for the attic access, but I'm too tired to do that now.

One of my Stella d'Oro daylilies is making a last gasp.

The yellow daylily next to the front porch has one last bud on it. We'll see if it blooms, too.

Yes Rain

Two inches. If it weren't for the new room, I would have been happy with the downpour. Unfortunately, the new sump pit filled up and then some. Even the laundry area got wet. At least, the weather has cooled down.

Here is the result of day one of the framing, from the north.

And from the south.

Half the roof was completed as well. This is "Weathered Wood".

The soffits on the old part of the house are an option that I think I will include, as this hole has become chez wasp.

Today I stayed home while the mostly Amish crew makes use of their power tools. They have cell phones, too. The heating guys have been crawling under the house, which unnerves the dog. But I think she is all out of barks... for now.