Monday, August 16, 2010

Small Projects Week

We focused this week on trying to finish the medium bedroom. Unfortunately, we fell a little short. The remaining work shouldn’t take very long (but will be slightly delayed).

The work we completed in the bedroom included touching up paint, installing trim and the door. We ran out of time for painting the closet, installing closet doors, and painting trim. And just like the master bedroom we had issues with the radiator.

Before we bought the house, the previous owner had a friend from a heating company come in and cheaply fix the heating system so that it was functional. So instead of this friend doing things properly, he cut a lot of corners (sometimes literally).

On Friday night, we started installing the back portion of the radiator covers and discovered the problem. When the guy fixed a leak in this radiator plumbing, he ended up removing about 2 inches of the pipe. The radiator in this room is a large “L” shape and this 2” removal pulled the corner of the pipe toward the middle of the room. This means that the front part of the radiator cover would never be able to be put in place. So now we will have to do some more plumbing work before this room will be truly finished.

My parents came down for the weekend and since they needed a place to sleep we moved some of the furniture in prematurely (the walls are actually a green color – the picture isn’t great).

One thing that we accomplished this week has been hanging over our heads for months and bothering us every single day. We finally installed the knobs on all of our kitchen cabinets and drawers. While the actual installation was pretty quick, making the templates so that they all line up properly was rather tedious. It’s amazing what a difference this made in the functionality of the kitchen (i.e. no more getting frustrated and cursing while trying to open a drawer)!

On Wednesday night, Chris’ brother Matt and his family stopped by on their way to the beach. We gave them the tour of the house and I’m pretty sure they think that we’re in over our heads! Of course when my parents arrived on Friday, they were amazed at how great the bedrooms looked and how much progress we’ve made (of course they were in the house when it was a true “pee pee soaked heck hole!”). It just goes to show that it’s all about the perspective.

On Thursday, we had a really heavy rain with some high winds. Around 11:00 p.m. there was a light drizzle with no wind and that was when a huge branch from the tree in the front yard fell. Chris and my dad cut it up and hauled it to the backyard on Saturday. We’re starting to wonder about the health of the two maples – one in front and one in back of the house. These two may need to be removed this winter before they fall on the house.

On Friday, we had a company come out to clean our chimneys. We have three flues – one for the boiler and one for each fireplace. The report we got is not good. The boiler flue needs to be completely replaced – they collected about 2 gallons of tile that came out of the chimney liner. The other two need to be relined because they’re in bad shape as well. Also, the work our contractor did (fixing the crown and adding chimney caps) was sub-par and it needs to be re-done. The company is estimating that to do all that work will be about $4500. We could probably wait a few years before we would have a problem but we need to decide when we want to take care of this.

While my parents were here we focused on passing our plumbing and electrical inspections. The plumbing inspector had already come out and failed us because our contractor had closed up the wall before they could inspect the work (can you tell yet that we weren’t happy with them?). So my dad opened up the wall in the half bathroom and the ceiling in the basement so that all the plumbing is visible. What he found was not good (we had already assumed this based on our experience with them).

The “braces” that the contractor put up to support the plumbing was awful. My dad removed that and did it properly.

When he opened up the ceiling in the basement, we saw what we had expected all the time – the plumber cut a big hole and another big notch in the joist. This is a huge problem since it compromises the integrity of the structure. We will now have to re-enforce this joist. No wonder he covered this stuff up before the inspection!

To prepare for the electrical inspection, there was one glaring item that we know doesn’t meet code. Back in February, we had removed the linen closet in the hallway in order to fix the hardwood floor in that area (we were planning ahead for moving the bathroom wall later). At the time, we moved the light switch from one wall to another and just left it in that configuration.

In order to meet code we had a few things to do. The first was to disconnect the wire, feed it up into the attic (actually this was below the upstairs floor which made it quite challenging), move it about 6 inches (so that it would be in the correct wall), and try (many times) to fish the line back down to a new box. Second was to remove the remaining parts of the original walls, cut and place drywall, and add a TON of drywall compound.

One big reason this job was not quick and easy is because our walls are made of plaster. This means that each corner contains a big, thick wire mesh that is quite sharp and difficult to remove without removing the whole wall (which we kind of did in this case). Also, if you remember our insulation work earlier this year, you know that the plaster is not a consistent thickness. In the closet’s case, the thickest plaster was about an inch and a quarter and the thinnest was about a half inch.

After piecing in our half inch drywall, we had a LOT of drywall compound to apply (in some places making up 3/4”). The after picture below is following the first coat.

A few other things we did this weekend – we went to a party for a co-worker, met our Ragnar Relay team (6 weeks left - we really need to start training!), and tried to buy furniture (long story short – we drove 2 hours to find that it wasn’t what was advertised).

The next project on our extremely long list is to prepare to sand the remaining floors next weekend (this will require a lot of moving boxes, installing some flooring, and living in complete disarray for awhile!).

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