Monday, March 29, 2010

Move In Day!

In order to prepare the condo for our new tenants, we had to move into the house before it is finished. This week we spent a lot of time packing everything in the condo – this was quite the task as there is not a whole lot of spare space in the condo.

My parents came down for the weekend to help us move. Saturday was a perfect day for moving – sunny and cool. We were able to move over almost everything by dinnertime. Since we’ll have work to finish at the condo the next couple weeks, we left a lot of the food, pots, pans, and dishes.

At the house, we are living in a small space so that we can finish work in other parts of the house. We are living and eating in the living room, sleeping in the dining room, and storing a lot of boxes and sports equipment in the den. Since most of the hardwood floor is still unfinished, we are using a lot of the rugs that my mom is letting us borrow – it makes for interesting d├ęcor!

On Sunday, we started our work at the condo. The big bathroom needs to be completely refinished and Chris and my dad were able to completely gut it – the toilet, tub, tile, vanity, and medicine cabinet are all gone. My mom and I removed the old vinyl floor from the kitchen and patched holes in all the walls. Towards the end of the day, Chris removed a few of the tiles in the small bathroom and found out that we need to patch some of the wall behind the shower fixtures.

This upcoming week we will continue our work in the condo so that we can pass our rental inspection.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It’s Hot in the Kitchen

This week our focus was mostly on the kitchen. Each night from Monday through Wednesday we sanded the kitchen floor, cleaned it, and applied another coat of polyurethane. There are a couple small spots that we missed with the final coat but we should be able to easily fix those later.

On Thursday afternoon we met with a sales rep from Gro Solar. We got an estimate for solar panels for electric and hot water. It’s a big decision that we have to make but at least now we have an idea about how much it will cost to implement.

Friday was an extremely busy day. Early in the morning the contractors came over with a dumpster to remove all the garbage that we’d been collecting. Now our yard is clear of the old gutters, windows, and porch enclosure. Our garage, sunroom, and storage area are all clear of our old tile, insulation, hardwood floor, and subfloor.

Around lunchtime, the mortgage company division manager came by the house to “verify that there is no mold” in our basement. Apparently they’re trying to ensure that I’m not committing fraud by saying that there is no mold – this has been the latest in a very frustrating argument that I’ve been having with the bank for more than a month. I just can’t wait until they pay my contractors for the work that they’ve completed.

Friday afternoon our kitchen cabinets were finally delivered. It was great to have them in the house!

After the cabinets were safe in the living room, I had to go to the county office to get the electrical permit. I went to the office where we got the other permits and when I arrived, they told me that they couldn’t give me one there since I am the homeowner. I had to go to another office about 15 minutes away and pass an electrical test before they could issue the permit. Since it was Friday afternoon, I only had about 20 minutes before the office closed at 3:30. I was handed a test and code book and by some act of God, I passed the test. I have no idea how I passed but I’m just glad that I did! The bank will finally pay my contractors once they get a copy of the permit. The contractors have been working for three months and haven’t received a penny.

Friday night, our parents arrived. It was the first time the Skociks have been to the house and I think they were impressed with how much work we are willing to tackle.

Saturday and Sunday were very busy days as well. The guys all worked to install kitchen cabinets – they ran into some plumbing and electrical issues that slowed them down a bit. We also learned that we have very crooked walls. Fortunately, we still have most of the cabinets in place now.

The girls were able to finish a lot of jobs over the weekend. On Saturday we removed the two windows in the den. In the den there is a light switch down near your knees and in order to move that up to the normal level, we needed to order windows that were slightly smaller than the original ones. We removed the windows on Saturday and my dad was able to re-frame for the new windows on Sunday.

The other big task that we accomplished was installing a temporary fence so that Tucker can run around in the backyard while we’re working in the house. The tree guys had removed a portion of the fence and, since we had to re-install it, we decided to move the fence farther back from the road. This required a ton of digging. We had to dig up the posts from the old fence and then dig the holes for the new location. The biggest problems we ran into were all the roots and rocks in the area.

A couple other issues we had were removing the strand of barbed wire from the top of the fence and removing the bottom parts of the metal fence posts. The bottom of the fence posts had big wings that were buried deep in the hard clay – a lot of digging was required to remove these!

The fence will work for keeping Tucker in the yard but it sure looks ugly! It is only temporary but Chris’ mom will be starting some forsythia for us so that we can camouflage the fence a little bit!

Sarah, Michelle, James, and Emma stopped by on Sunday afternoon on the way to the airport. Hopefully the next time friends stop by we’ll be able to offer them refreshments and a nice, clean place to sit down!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Flooring + Flooding = Frustration

Our big goal for this week was to finish the kitchen floor so that it will be ready for the cabinet installation next weekend. We also wanted to finish all the sanding with the big sander so that we could return it Monday. I’m definitely ready to be done with the sanding!

During the week we continued the floor work – Chris worked on the sub-floor and patches and I sanded most of the floor. On Friday, we were piecing in the boards in the master bedroom and started having some major problems. The walls in the room are square but the original flooring was not straight. When we were installing the new floorboards, the gaps between the new pieces started getting bigger and bigger. We decided to completely remove and re-install the floor at a later date – we’d much rather take the time to do it right than live with it as it is now. Besides, unfinished oak is much easier to sand than the fifty-year-old stuff!

Saturday, we continued with the sanding and replacing floor boards. Midday, Chris went to the basement and found some major flooding. Our gutters were removed a month and a half ago in preparation for the roof work. Apparently the rain we had over the weekend (on top of all the snow melt) was more than the ground could hold. So instead of finishing the floor work, we spent about an hour vacuuming up water. Chris was using the 16 gallon wet/dry vac and I was using the 4 gallon one – we both were emptying them every 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Over lunch we bought a good dehumidifier and fan. Fortunately, by Saturday night, the basement was dry. Below are a couple of the pictures that make it easy to see the water intrusion. The pictures I took of the deep water didn’t turn out very well.

My birthday, Sunday, we were able to make progress in the kitchen. We started by priming the walls and ceiling so that we won’t have to paint near the new cabinets. We continued the sanding in the other rooms to be able to return the big sander. In the evening we cleaned up all the debris and started staining the kitchen floor. The staining took more effort than we ever imagined. At first, the stain was too light. Then, we left the stain on the floor for too long. It was pretty slow going and we didn’t get back home until after 2:00 a.m. By the end, we were quite pleased with the way it looked and the couple bad spots will be covered with the cabinets.

In other news, we are starting to grow the seeds to start our garden. The window in my office gets a lot of sunlight which makes it the perfect place to grow plants. One of my co-workers started calling me “Farmer Kristy” and another one comes in four times a day to see the “garden.” We’re really looking forward to having a big garden this year – it’ll be much better than having a tiny concrete patio!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Under the Gun…

We are now definitely under the gun. We have found a couple to rent our condo starting in mid-April. We have been hoping to rent to someone we know – it takes the uncertainty out of finding a good renter online. An opportunity to rent to a co-worker’s son arose last week and we jumped at the chance. We met with the son and his girlfriend on Saturday and they have agreed to rent the condo for a year. Now, before they move in, we have to completely remodel both condo bathrooms, fix some odds and ends, and clean everything (including the carpet).

Our house move in date is now March 27. This means that in the next three weeks we need to have the floors finished, kitchen cabinets installed, appliances and countertops ordered, clean at least a few rooms, and pack everything at the condo. We have so much to do!

Our kitchen cabinets are complete and ready to be delivered but because the floors aren’t finished I had them hold the cabinets and they will be delivered on March 19. This gives us less than two weeks to patch, sand, stain, and polyurethane almost 2000 sq. ft. of floor – yikes! More on the floor later…

In order to help with the time crunch, my parents stopped by on their way back from vacation to pick up Tucker. He will stay with them until we move into the house – it will definitely help to have extra time that we would have spent on walks! Our bosses have also agreed to let us work compressed schedules for the next few weeks (either 4-10 hour days or 4-9 hour days with 4 hours on Friday). It will help to have that extra day or half day to get work done!

Now, for the work we completed this week – it was almost all floor related! Chris has been focusing on finishing up the patching of the floor. He finished the dining room, the foyer, and the hallway. Most of the patching has been very difficult with fitting new boards in between old boards. They always seem to shift during the repair process. He is doing a great job though!

On Thursday, Chris removed the bad floor boards in the master bedroom. There was a lot more to remove than we had expected. Some of the subfloor boards were bad and we had to remove those too. This is the last bit of patching we need to complete.

Saturday we arrived to find that the exhaust from the boiler fell apart again. The two elbows and connecting duct were laying on the floor and the exhaust was spewing noxious gasses into the house. Chris turned off the boiler and made the repairs on Sunday. Hopefully this summer we can replace this system.

I have been working mostly on preparing the floors for upcoming work. This included cutting out and laying tar paper, screwing down subfloor boards, applying wood filler to holes and installing plugs to cover screw heads.

This weekend we rented a couple sanders from ABC rental. One is a small radiator sander and the other is a large 4-head random orbital sander. I spent almost all of the weekend using the large sander. Last night I was able to sand under all of the radiators so that we could take back the sander early and save some money. I was able to completely finish sanding the den (36, 60, and 80 grit). Yesterday afternoon I started sanding in the dining room (with 20 grit) and was only able to remove the top layers of finish – fortunately the finish on this floor is much thicker than the others.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Floor Work Continues...

We weren’t able to get over to the house much this week because of other commitments. We rented a thermal camera from a guy at work and took images of the house on Monday. Even though we just spent a lot of time and energy on installing insulation, there were still some spots that were not insulated as much as we would like. Thankfully, we will be able to correct the majority of the issues. Below are a few images we took during our inspection (in one of them you can see our reflection in a window).

The contractor finally installed the windows in the sunroom. It looks great but it still smells bad – the previous owner used to keep the dogs there. Hopefully we’ll be able to remove the odor when the weather warms up a bit.

We worked a lot over the weekend on the floors. We were able to complete the floor in the den and kitchen. We have a lot of spots of bad floor boards that need to be replaced before we can refinish the floors. This involves removing the boards, chiseling out some of the board ends, reinforcing the subfloor, laying tar paper, cutting new boards to fit properly in the spot, pounding them into place, and face nailing or screwing them down. This is an extremely tedious process and it will take us at least the rest of the week to finish. Below are some pictures of the bad floor boards and part of the process of removing/replacing them.