Saturday, October 31, 2009

Terry the electrician came back yesterday for a second day. He installed lights in the closets, put in an outdoor outlet near the slider, and installed some of the exterior lights.

Exciting, no? The top switch is for the exterior light - see below. And the bottom three are for the recessed lights in the ceiling.

Here's one of Jen's cast-off exterior fixtures. For the life of me, I can't remember why we chose to put it above the door, instead of to the side. I know we had a reason.

Here's the one by the front door. That's our zoning permit for the deck on the door. Technically, we aren't supposed to be starting construction until today - October 31. My rationale for why we're OK is this: we haven't actually changed the footprint yet.

All we've done is put a lot of holes in the ground. Which have subsequently been filled. See? No problem. There are big screws coming out of the center of each of those concrete disks.

Charlie, aka Clerk of the Works, inspected yesterday's progress with me. And this morning, much to my surprise, so did Maggie. At this point, all the treads but two or three have been done.

All the staining and whatnot of baseboards and shelves has been completed. I think Mike was glad to get that over with.

The chopped-in-half door is partially installed.

The countertop guy is coming this week...presumably the plumber and tile guy will be coming soon...We transplanted the day lillies back along the east wall of the house... that's all the news from here. Happy weekend, y'all.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sun! Hooray!

I'm sitting at the dining room table, looking at a very welcome sight. It's 7:30 pm, and dark out. The lights are off. From here, looking out the window, I can see the corner of the addition...which, for the first time, is glowing gently from the two recessed fixtures that have bulbs installed.

That's right: we have juice.

So as you might have guessed, Terry the electrician was here today. He put all the outlet and switch covers on, and installed the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. In other good news, because it was sunny today, Michael and Gary were able to get to the deck again.

They filled the rest of the sonatubes with concrete.

Plus, added bonus, the heat exchanger guys from Montpelier arrived and installed the heat exchanger.

And here it is. This is in the crawlspace under the office. Behind it - as yet unphotographed - are two vents directly to the outside, about six feet apart. One of them is the intake: it sucks in fresh air that ultimately gets distributed all over the house. The other vent is where stale air from indoors is released back outside. Both air streams come into close (but not direct) contact with one another inside the heat exchanger. In cold weather, the stale air warms up the fresh air, thus giving us the benefit of continuous fresh air, without the expense of heating it from freezing temperatures. In the summer, we get the opposite benefit. The reason for all of this is that with this super-well insulated house, it's a good way to get fresh air circulating.

As part of the installation process, the HVAC guys ran ductwork from the addition into the existing house through the attic, and added some vents to the bathroom and kitchen for stale air to make its way outside.

This is over the fridge. See that little round thing on the left? That's new. You can also see, at right, the scummy outline of the old 6" recessed fixture, which Terry replaced with newer 5" ones several weeks ago. Yet one more reason to have the popcorn finish scraped off this winter.

As for our regular gang: Steve got busy with the stairs - notice the new maple treads... well as the lovely mitered corners.

The door to the bedroom was cut in half, as desired.

Here's Jonathan, sanding it down.

By the end of the day, it was resting up near its eventual destination. We decided to stain the door jambs the same as the windowsills, but leave the doors themselves alone (aside from a protective coat of polyurethane).

Mike got busy with staining baseboards and shelves for the bookcases that will go under the windowsills.

The vanity is officially in place, and we're now playing phone tag with the stonework folks. This picture kinda captures the silliness of this bathroom. It was never intended to be a huge bathroom - when we first started out, we thought we'd have a small shower here, and a hot tub out on the deck. But one thing led to another, and we decided to go with the soaking tub. We cut into the space available for the closet as much as we could. And wound up with this: a tiny bathroom, with a simply enormous tub, and a pretty big vanity. You can see the edge of the tub at left, nearly in line with the door frame. (And by the way, that's a narrow door - 2'8"). And you can see how the vanity nearly comes into line with the door frame as well.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rain, rain, go away...

It rained all last night and today. The boiler kicked in to keep the hot water going. No progress can happen at the moment on the deck because Mike and Gary are at the point of filling the sonatubes with concrete - the rain interferes with that.

On the indoor front...
...the stairway has risers as of today. Steve is taking the treads to his own personal workshop to do some finetuning before he installs them.

The buckets of water did their job as a clamp, and the transition between the living room and the office is complete, I believe.

The little spacer thingy I mentioned yesterday, for the vanity, has come in and is attached already. The vanity is almost-but-not-quite in place. Maybe we can call the stonework guy tomorrow. Also in this picture: the bedroom door. Tomorrow, or soon thereafter, we'll talk about exactly where to chop it in half. The door on the downstairs closet is also almost in - just the frame at this point.

Looking down the stairs, the little shelf at right now is completely floored in maple.

I held the camera out the window on the first landing of the stairs and got a nice shot of Kevin at his desk, hard at work.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In which we whine, just a little.

We've had this fantasy that the addition would be done by mid-November, and everyone's going gangbusters, but it's hard to imagine it all coming together by then. Still to go:

1. The bathroom. The vanity needs to be installed, complete with its countertop. Same goes for the window, the baseboard heating, the shower & tub fixtures, the tiling above the tub, and the toilet. (And the towel rods, but we haven't even picked 'em out yet. The vanity needs to go in first because it's going to hog some of the real estate here - we don't know yet if we can fit the long towel rods we want.)

On the bright side, the sink and sink faucet arrived today, which means that we're almost ready to call the stonework guy to come take measurements for the countertop. I say "almost" because the vanity can't be smack up against the wall on its left side - the baseboard heating will take up about three inches. Since we don't want to be looking at a three inch column of nothingness above the baseboard, we need a piece of trim to cover the gap. But ideally, the trim would match the it needs to be ordered. The countertop itself will just need to be three inches longer, no worries there. But the stonework guy will want that vanity exactly in place before he comes out.

To tide us all over, here's the sink faucet we picked out. Just imagine it in a brushed instead of polished finish. This is actually a kitchen faucet, to accommodate Kevin's Big Manly Hands.
2. The baseboard heating needs to be installed in the addition. It works splendidly, by the way, in the existing house. But let us not forget that we still need to have a run of it installed in the current office ("the batcave"), which we haven't done yet simply because there is no room to manoeuver in there to move the furniture around.

3. Gary the solar dude (not to be confused with Gary the Deck Guy) needs to come back, make sure everything's working fine, and add the timer thingy that prevents the boiler from rudely stepping in when the solar panels are trying to do their thing. Then he signs off on the whole thing, and submits the paperwork for the tax credit. Oh, the solar panels are working beautifully as well. For days now, we've had the boiler turned to "eco", which means it only kicks in if there's a "drastic" temperature drop. I've done a kinky thing: I've showered with a meat thermometer (don't tell my mother) in order to determine how hot I actually like the water. (Survey says: about 108 degrees.) I've learned that it's common for the females of the household to like the water hotter. Apparently, guys are endowed with this thing called "circulation" in their extremities that means they don't need their water to be much more than what I would consider "tepid". Huh. At any rate, we've been getting our hot water exclusively from solar for a couple of weeks now. Rock and roll!

4. Oh yeah, the heat exchanger needs to be installed. Totally forgot about that.

5. Back to more carpentry-oriented stuff: The doors need to be hung and fitted with doorknobs. As mentioned yesterday, we picked out the doorknobs, finally. For the bedroom, we want a dutch door, so that we can get the light/view from the windows in the stairwell, but prevent certain cats, who shall go nameless but whose initials are "Charlie", from molesting us early in the morning. (No, he won't leap over a dutch door.) We found out some weeks ago that dutch doors will run you a cool $800 or so. Solution? Cut a normal door in half. So that still needs to happen.

Once again, imagine this in a brushed nickel kind of finish, instead of this bronze look, and also, we're going with the pain-in-the-neck square backing instead of that round one. (Sorry, the online catalog isn't the most sophistimicated.)

6. Rest of the flooring: I think all that's left here is the top landing.

Here's the downstairs closet, newly-floored in pine.

And here's the first landing, in maple.

7. Baseboards.

8. Wee bits of trim need to go up between the windows themselves, both in the addition, and in the bump out.

9. Stairs: the skirts - also known as stringers - are in on either side now. Next up: treads and risers.

We're using both kinds of skirts here. I forget their names. There's the plain vanilla one, as shown at left. And the toothy one that shows the treads (rather than hiding them), as shown at right. Oh, there's also the banister to go in. The banister will be kinda cool, actually - it will consist of steel posts and wire cables. We're going with a similar look for the deck. I've never met a balustrade I didn't want to destroy, is why. All that fussy lathe work. Blech.

10. Shelving under the windowsills. And, the standards and brackets for the stairwell. What, you say, are standards and brackets? I didn't know either. The standards are the vertical strips of metal that you screw into the studs, that are punched with little slots. The brackets fit into the slots at the desired heights. The shelves sit on the brackets. And, some sort of rod/shelf configuration for the closet.

11. The electrician needs to come and install all the light fixtures and whatnot. We still need to pick out a couple of things - the overhead light in the bathroom, and something for the hallway outside the bedroom. Other than that, we should be all set. I just picked up the ceiling fan and the pendants for the bump out today, and the gooseneck fixtures for the stairwell should be here any minute now.

12. Transitions: first, between the living room floor and the concrete floor of the bump out. And second, between the current house, and the addition. Also, staining the concrete a dark gray. While we're here, let's also mention that the handle on the door of the slider came in in the Wrong Color, Heaven Forfend, and that needs to be corrected before the demons of Poor Taste come for my soul.

Here we are, contemplating the transition from the living room floor, and the bump out. The crap paneling on the left is just that - it's a piece of old panel that's just protecting existing living room floor. The two boards in the middle are maple flooring of the sort on the first floor of the addition. It's just lying there looking pretty in this picture. And that's the concrete floor on the right.

As for the transition between the living room and the addition: what we've got here is a bunch of joint compound buckets filled with water - they are acting like clamps, weighing down the edge of the current living room floor. Jonathan was explaining this to Kevin earlier and I missed it, so I'm not sure what the story is. Something involving carpenter's adhesive. I believe a strip of maple will go up next to it. I may as well mention now that the addition is a few inches lower than the living room, so there is a step down here.

13. Insulating a couple of places: there is currently a hole chopped into the ceiling of the walk in closet, in case anyone ever needs to get up into the attic space above the bedroom. That needs to be closeable. There's a doorway between the walk-in closet and the attic above the existing house; I'm pretty sure there's some kind of wrap up work needed there - maybe some insulation, and a handle? And the trapdoor into the crawlspace needs to be hinged and I believe also reinforced - it's a little bouncy right now. Boing, boing.

14. Enlarging the opening between the current basement, and the crawlspace.

The guys had barely left this afternoon when we barged in, camera in hand, to see how things looked. We discovered that their awesome camp chairs for their breaks were upstairs, so we took the opportunity to enjoy the view and whine to each other about how much we want to be able to move in. Charlie came along.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Final stairs, closet floors, details, details...

The upstairs has been transformed into a workroom.

Happy consequence #1: the bathroom.

Happy consequence #2: the closet floor is going in. This is just pine - nothing fancy.

While Mike and Ben were thus engaged, Steve built the skirt for the stairs. He took off the temporary treads while he worked.

In the meantime, Michael and his crew dug holes out in the lawn for the sonatubes that will support the deck.
This necessitated the use of yet another cool piece of equipment - the enormous augur.

They covered up all the resulting holes with bits of wood to protect them overnight. The next step is filling 'em with concrete.

Jonathan fiddled in the bump out, straightening pieces that had gotten knocked askew. (Note the clamps.)

The afternoon's soundtrack: Beethoven's 9th, "Ode to Joy". Yippee!

We picked out doorknobs. As I rifled through the catalogue to show Jonathan what we want, he groused about a client who'd asked for doorknobs with a square mounting plate: apparently this is quite hard to get adjusted so that it's aligned properly and doesn't appear crooked. Much to his dismay, that's exactly what Kevin and I are asking for as well. (Insert evil laughter here.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Just another day in paradise.

A typical day at the Brennan Household. Note - this does not include the subsequent arrival of Jonathan's truck.

New arrivals to the scene, Michael and Gary, staking out the deck. Please note the platter of chocolate chip cookies, which is my contribution toward world peace. (Think global, act local; better living through chocolate...something like that.)

By the end of the day, the maple floor in the office had made its way closer to the north wall, at left. The shims mark the trap door to the Pit of Despair, otherwise known as the crawlspace.

While Ben and Mike worked on the floors, and Steve continued with staining and urethaning window frames, Jonathan got busy painting the bump out.

You can see that he's cut the corners here - the paint is slightly darker than the primer. The fun thing about the wall that divides the living room from the office is that we'll probably end up having to repaint the living room to match the white that we're using in the addition. Ah Well.

At some point today, hardier souls than I hefted the vanity upstairs to the bedroom, where it waits demurely for its life partner, the countertop. This is a delicate ritual, involving the participation of the plumber (who supplies the fixtures) and the stonework guy.

Plain pine boards were delivered this morning - I'm thinking these are for the floors of the closets. They could be baseboards, though. Not sure.

The closet doors have also arrived. We need to pick out door handles for 'em.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Six shades of orange in one house is about right.

This morning was my first day waking up in the house now that the addition is open to the existing house. I couldn't wait to check out everything by morning light.

The office. Note the early morning mist. Ah, fall in New England...

Good morning, Mike! Mike immediately got to work cleaning out the office in preparation for the maple floor to go down in here. Please note the amount of mess in the background, and start the clock.

Kevin and I headed upstairs and gaped at the loveliness of the cherry floor in the bedroom.

We admired the window frames - Jonathan and Steve have been working on staining and urethaning them.
We admired the roof. So, it's been what, maybe five minutes that we've been upstairs? By the time we got back downstairs, things were in full swing.

Figuring there is only so much squealing and coo-ing these guys can take and still be productive, I left them alone. Later on in the afternoon, Kevin and I went to pick up the bathroom vanity from Perkins.

Fun with forklifts! That's our cabinet guy, Dan, standing in the bay. He's fabulous.

Fortunately, this puppy fits nicely in the back of Kevin's truck.

By the time we got back home, the guys were pretty much done for the day. They'd gotten part of the maple floor down in the office, and have continued on the window staining/urethaning project. More of the same is expected tomorrow.

The siding, by the way, is completely done, now that the roof is done. (There were some bits and pieces wedged between the roof of the bump out and the roof of the addition that hadn't been completed.)

OH! We got our zoning permit for the deck. Sir Michael arrives tomorrow to contemplate the beginning of that project.