Saturday, September 29, 2012

Porch and deck finished

Friday afternoon workmen finally finished the front porch and the rear deck and ramp, seen below.

They also finished the railings, front and back, as well as the front steps. In the picture below, you will also see our three painters up on the roof, getting everything ready for the outside painting.

Meanwhile, inside John is sanding the wood floor in the living and dining area, in preparation for filling cracks with a latex compound and then applying a clear finish.  

And while he does that, a delivery truck from Sears has brought six appliances that will eventually be installed in the kitchen and laundry room. These are unloaded in the front yard and temporarily put in the master bedroom and kitchen, until the kitchen and laundry room tile floors are finished.

This week we also got door knobs and locks installed all around. We've starting to choose electrical fixtures and additional floor surfaces - i.e. carpets and vinyls for bedrooms and bathrooms, respectively. And we're choosing kitchen and bathroom countertops, while Paul Pringle finishes up the cabinets, which are to be installed during the second week in October.

We're still hoping it will all come together in October. We'll see.  --oc

Friday, September 21, 2012

Front porch railings, steps, trim

A good deal has been accomplished this week on the front porch, as the picture below shows.

Steps have been added on the east or garage end, as well railings with round black aluminum balusters. On the right side of the picture, one of the painters is looking down on the beginnings of the center steps.

The workes have gotten as far as putting up the stringers, and the treads, risers, and side railings will soon be added. In the next picture you can also see that the posts have been encased and capitals installed above.

The final shot of the front porch below was taken from inside the dining room, looking toward the garage. If experience with the previous house is any guide, most people will come up the steps at this end of the porch and knock on the kitchen door, but the front steps will be available for strangers and formal occasions.

On the opposite, sunny side of the house, decking is still being applied to the framework around the master bath and eventually on the ramp that will descend gently to the area beween the garage and the woodshed.

That ramp will be used to roll loads of firewood up to the living room door and inside to the stove, but it will also be available for guests who have to be rolled into the house, as occasionally happens.

Finally, I want to leave you with the interesting image I spotted through our decorative glass entry door. It comes across as something like an abstract painting, but somehow it loses some of its interest when you know that the blue in the center of the window comes from a port-a-potty parked in the front yard. It means, however, that the window might also add interest - or at least amusement - to visitors who stand before that door.

More work still awaits inside our new house, and the painters, who have just about finished the inside, will start soon painting the outside. We expect our tile people to apply grout next week, and our electrical and plumbing folk should get going soon on installing their various items. Appliances are due to arrive by the end of the week, and the kitchen cabinets should be installed early in October. Sometimes I can't believe it's happening so fast; other times I wonder why it isn't happening faster. One thing is for sure: it won't be finished too soon.

I'll be back in another seven days or so. Until then . . .  --oc

Friday, September 14, 2012

Time to hit the deck

Since I was rather late getting a new post up on my blog last week - in fact, it didn't go up until this week - I'm trying to get one finished early this week. The big news is that we've finally started installing the decking on the front porch and the back deck. Here are a couple of shots of the front porch before and after the workmen left, and I cleaned up a bit.

The deck floor is a composite material made from recycled plastic and sawdust. This selection is called Beach house Gray. The empty spaces under the porch are where two sets of steps will go. The picture below shows the beginnings of the rear deck. The two decks are laid with a system of hidden fasteners, so that there are no screws showing. Some of the boards here still have to be cut to their correct lengths.

When I took this picture, there was no decking behind where I was standing. I had to be careful not to step back in an attempt to get more in my picture. That east end of the deck is framed only around the master bathroom, and a ramp must still be added in order to reach the ground at the back corner of the garage.

Work continues inside, with our three painters still putting a clear finish on the doors and trim. They completed the basement level and have now started on the main floor. After they do that and the loft, they will, I assume, start painting the walls. Outside, they have a lot of Hardie Board and other surfaces to paint.

Also inside, our builder has constructed a divider between the living and dining areas. Behind the divider and in front of the stone wall is the hearth area. Although the wood stove is too dark to show up, it is already in place and can be seen (or at least imagined) behind the top horizontal piece of the divider.

In the picture below, our neighbor and cabinet maker Paul is in the process of building the kitchen cabinets. On his right are several of the base cabinets, on which he is building fronts and will soon be installing doors and drawers. The rest of his workshop is also filled with various other parts of the cabinet system, which he will be installing in about two weeks.

Many things still need to be done to the house; many choices must still be made (bedroom carpets, bathroom vinyl, and light fixtures, for example); and much work remains to be done on contents, both in refurbishing things that survived and replacing things that did not. And, of course, what furnishings we have must be moved into the new house. But I'm confident it will all get done somehow, by someone, sometime.

Take care, and have a good fall. It doesn't start until next weekend, but it feels like it already. It should be good weather for a housewarming.  --oc

Monday, September 10, 2012

More tile and carpentry

We had a short work week after Labor Day, but still made progress. Our tile men were very busy. In the picture below John is beginning to lay tile in the kitchen. The gadget at the bottom with a red handle is designed to score the tile in a straight line and then break it in two. It makes sawing tile necessary only where there are inside angles.

The second picture is a closeup of the tile, called Florentine Scabos, a kind of Travertine. Mixed in with the large 12X12 tiles are scattered 6X6 squares, which give some variation to the pattern. Within each 6X6 unit is a 4X4 tile with the image of a leaf or seashell fired into it, also to give variation and interest to the floor. The adhesive is called "thin set mortar," and here, where the floor may give a little, the thin set has a little latex mixed into it to give it a little flexibility and keep the tiles from cracking when walked on.

This past week John and his associate Herb also added tile to the oak floor in the living room to create a fireproof hearth to go under the woodstove and into the wood storage area.

This tile is called Espresso, although it looks more like capuccino. Whatever the flavor, it should go well with the surrounding oak flooring, once it is sanded and covered with a clear finish. The same tile has also been put in the front entry way (below) and in the area inside the door to the back deck. 

Finally, here are two picture to show that it was not just about tile last week. On the left is a shot of cabinets and bench storage for toys in the loft above the dining room, which looks down on the living room. On the right, one of the painters is putting a clear finish on the paneling in the stairway going down to the basement.

 It's been a busy week - even if a short one - and that, in part, accounts for my blog being a little late in coming out this week. But work continues in many areas, and by next week we may get a sneak peek at our new kitchen cabinets. Have a good week!  --oc

Monday, September 3, 2012

Little by little it comes together

Today, Labor Day, marks four months of labor on our new house. Last Monday began with our two flooring workers starting the job of installing an oak floor in the living-dining area on the main level.

The first picture shows John nailing in a piece of planking in the hallway from the living room to the guest bathroom with a special air hammer. After fitting the board snugly against its neighbor, the business end of the air hammer, which hangs from a handle in John's left hand, is held against the board at just the right angle. Then with a regular hammer the other end of the air hammer is tapped, and the it sends a nail through the board and into the floor.

The end result will be a floor that looks like that on the left. Once the entire floor is covered with the oak planking, it will be sanded smooth, and a clear finish will be applied. That should make the wood even prettier than it is here.

Monday also saw the delivery (below) of the decking material that will make up the floor of the front porch and the back deck. We expect that to be laid this week. Work will also be done soon on the porch steps, the lattice on the front for the porch, and the posts that hold up the porch and its roof.

Meanwhile, our builder George continues his carpentry work, for example, on shelves in the cedar lined basement closet shown here, and on trim and bookshelves under the windows in the basement den.

Finally, here is a picture of a pleased Manita, who has just made a great discovery. She found out that the black soot covering an ancient rocking chair could be removed with Murphy's Oil Soap. That chair came from her grandparents' home, and its antiquity is indicated by the price of $4.50 that is written on the underside of the seat.

When we had it refinished years ago we were not pleased with the glossy finish they put on it, but that seems to be the key to the ease of cleaning off the soot. The pieces of furniture we have that have a satin or matte finish are much harder to clean, and some cannot be completely cleaned up. By the way, we will be having a furniture cleaning party in the next few months and would be glad to have some volunteers.
Well, that's the news from the Deans. We're a little later than usual this week, but then it is a holiday. Tomorrow begins a new week of work for our contractor and subs, and a new week of choices for us (I think it's light fixtures this week). Come again next week for our continued rebuilding adventures.
--O. C. and Manita