Monday, September 27, 2010

Today’s Advice – Train for Races!

Our main accomplishment for this week had absolutely nothing to do with the house. Several months ago one of my co-workers came into my office with a question. He said “would you and Chris like to be miserable and sleep-deprived for about 30 hours at the end of September?” And of course we were na├»ve enough to agree to run the Washington DC Ragnar Relay.

The Ragnar Relay is a race that starts near Cumberland, MD and goes 201+ miles all the way to Alexandria, VA. The relay is broken into 36 different legs ranging from 2.5 to 9.8 miles in length. Each team consists of 12 runners (less for “ultra” teams) and each runner has three legs to complete.

Our team consisted of co-workers Bryan (the organizer), Caitlin, and Matt, Bryan’s 4 siblings (Beth, Michael, Erin, and Amy), their friend John, Caitlin’s husband Andrew, and Matt’s friend Katrina. Since there was so many with a connection to NASA we went by the name “Astro-Nuts.”

I ran legs 1, 13, and 25 and Chris ran 3, 15, and 27. Our total distances were similar but the elevation profiles were quite different…

Normally, we would have spent sufficient time training for such a race but with the house work we’ve been out of time and energy most days (not to mention the ridiculously hot summer we’ve had here). Fortunately, I was able to complete my runs with minimal (almost non-existent) training. Our legs are pretty sore today so hopefully we’ve learned our lesson that training is a very good idea!

We did have fun but we were sleep deprived and, at times, miserable. The high temperatures for the race were around 95 degrees. Our legs were run on Friday morning, Friday evening, and early Saturday morning, so our van missed out on the hottest hours. Our team started the race at 8:30 Friday morning and finished a little before 7 pm on Saturday – that’s a total of 34 hours and 15 minutes!

After getting plenty of rest on Sunday, Chris was able to finish installing the light tube in the kitchen. The light tube was initially installed by our contractor and it was done incorrectly. It is very delicate and finicky so it took awhile to get it all right.

I’ve been working on moving everything back out of the medium bedroom so that we can start unpacking and organizing everything. My parents will be bringing down the rest of our furniture and boxes this coming weekend so soon we will finally be all moved in!

Also this week, the chimney company finished up everything on Tuesday and we had our boiler serviced on Wednesday. Now we are ready for (and looking forward to) cooler temperatures (this weekend we tied the record for days over 90 degrees – we have had 67 so far this year!).

This coming week we’ll be working on unpacking and installing radiator covers and trim. It’s really starting to come together. We still have a lot of big projects to complete but having finished rooms definitely lessens some of the stress.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Champion Chimney is Amazing!

This week we finished some more items in the living room and small bedrooms. It now looks like we actually live here. Some of the items we completed were installing trim, radiator covers, and doors. We also had to install a bleeder valve in the small bedroom and add some additional length of pipe to the heating system. We got to move in some furniture and it looks much better! We are planning on installing some crown molding in the living room so we didn’t paint all the way to the ceiling.

A couple months ago we failed our first plumbing inspection because our contractor had closed up the wall before the inspection. My dad had opened up the wall and basement ceiling and fixed the support. We had our second plumbing inspection on Friday and finally passed – it’s so nice to have that completed!

Our house was very busy this weekend. A month ago we had our chimneys cleaned and the prognosis for the flues was very bad. The company sent us a quote to correct all the problems and we finally decided to go forward with it.

Joe Sweeney, the owner of Champion Chimney, showed up with two guys on Saturday and three on Sunday to do the following work:

Remove flue tile from the boiler line
Install liners in each of the three flues
Install a new crown
Install new chimney caps
Install smoke guards on the fireplaces
Install new ducting for the boiler

This was a huge undertaking – they worked all day Saturday and half day on Sunday and still need to come back this week to finish the job. We have been very happy with all the work they have done so far. At each step in the process they have taken the time to explain exactly what they were doing and why they were doing it. We would recommend Champion Chimney to anyone in a heartbeat!

I took several pictures of the work throughout the weekend and will get more when they come back tomorrow.

The boiler ducting blew apart a couple times this winter and Chris had patched it up with some new elbows and aluminum tape. When they removed the flue tiles this weekend, they had to open up this end to remove them and then replaced all the ducting.

It was tricky getting the liners installed in the two fireplaces. The one in the living room was easier but they still needed to cut out a few bricks so that they could position it properly (the basement fireplace is the reason they’re coming back this week). The mortar that they used will lighten up as it dries and won’t be as noticeable.

There were many buckets full of the old flue tiles…

And our chimney was left like this overnight before they could finish the liner installation…

While the chimney guys were working, we were able to prep, prime, and paint the dining room. The color is similar to the living room paint but a shade lighter. I’ll be sure to post some pictures of it when we get the dining room table and chairs in place in a couple weeks.

Ever since we saw this house for the first time last July, one thing that never made any sense was the double door knobs on the back door. This made it extremely challenging every time you needed to get to the backyard (which for us is at least three times a day to let Tucker out). And if you were holding something, it was impossible to open the door.

At the yard sale we attended last weekend, we found a deadbolt and bought it right away. I still have no idea why we didn’t buy one nine months ago! It is so wonderful that now we’re able to open the door with one hand!

We’re slowly, but surely, getting closer to having the main level finished. I am still amazed at how far we’ve come in such a short time – I never thought we’d be painting and finishing rooms this quickly! Hopefully soon we’ll be able to have an actual housewarming party without being too embarrassed by the state of the house!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Prep, Prime, Paint, Repeat

This week was focused mostly on finishing the living room (because we want to get the couch out of the kitchen) and small bedroom (because we have company coming in two weeks and need to have a place to set up beds).

Each room needs a lot of prep work before we can prime. Since the house is over 50 years old and the previous owners were pretty rough with it, there are a lot of holes, dents, and divots in all the walls.

In the living room, there was some water damaged plaster on the ceiling from a previous leak. Chris had to remove a pretty big area of plaster to be able to fix it properly.

The window trim also have a lot of holes from blinds and curtain rods and some big gashes and gouges. We have used quite a bit of paintable caulk to fix these.

On Sunday, we were able to paint the ceilings and walls. We think it makes a huge difference. We were apparently in a very bold color mood when we picked these colors but we think they’ll look great with our furniture. The living room is painted “Sahara Shade” and the small bedroom is “Utah Sky.” All that’s left to finish these rooms is the trim, radiator covers, and doors.

I also was able to replace the light fixture in the small bedroom – a 5 minute job that makes it look much better! Unfortunately we could only find “daylight” bulbs and with the light on, the Utah Sky is practically glowing!

We have also been working on moving the mulch pile from the left side of the yard so that we can seed it this fall. We took back a few truckloads this weekend – if we do it a little bit at a time it won’t be too overwhelming.

Our highlight of the weekend was going to the dump. Throughout the last nine months we have been collecting a lot of garbage. This is all construction materials that can’t be placed out with the normal trash. On Saturday morning we took a truckload of garbage to the local landfill. This trip was mostly the debris from the front porch wall, tile from the condo, old fencing, and some old (stinky) floor boards.

At the landfill, after we unloaded, we decided to get a load of compost to work into the soil before seeding. The landfill composts all the yard debris from the county. This was one hot, steamy, pile of black gold! We also picked up a couple bags of lime on the way home to throw on top (this bare area of yard is where all the big pine trees were removed – very acidic soil).

We found a really great yard sale on our way back with the compost. We ended up with four big items – an antique sewing machine, woodburning stove, metal cabinet for the garage, and a bookcase for the living room. They all need some work but we couldn’t pass them up!

This week we hope to finish the living room and small bedroom, paint the dining room and start unpacking!

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Married Superman

This week we finally finished the floors in the small bedroom, living room, and dining room. We still have a little bit to do in the hallway but it is so nice to have the big rooms completed.

Because it was pretty humid this week, we had to wait about 48 hours between polyurethane coats. That’s why it took all week to finish them instead of only a few days.

Friday night we drove to Pennsylvania to go to my cousin’s wedding. On Saturday morning we went running with my dad’s running group. We only ran about 5 miles but it is a much hillier course than we’re used to.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and watching football before the wedding – it was so nice to just lie around and do nothing!

The wedding was at a local park. It was nice since I hadn’t seen some of that side of the family for years.

We drove back home on Sunday morning. The weather was so wonderful that we decided to do some outside work. There have been huge mounds of mulch in the yard since December and it definitely needed some help.

We moved 2 truckloads of mulch to the back yard and it looks like there was barely a dent made in the pile. This was just the first step in a long list of fall work that we need to complete.

Throughout the home renovation work, Chris has shown his super strength on multiple occasions. This week he gave one more example.

On our property, there is a “No Outlet” sign. It has been pretty crooked ever since we bought the house. It has bothered Chris every day and he finally decided that he had had enough. He went out early in the week to try to straighten out the sign and…


He broke the sign completely off.

At least he put the sign up in the bushes so everyone will still know that they can’t find another way out.