The Surprise in the Closet

February 26th, 2008 by Mary Schmelzer

The Surprise in the Closet

For a fun change, we had the inside of our daughter’s closet painted a crimson red. The color is used elsewhere, so we didn’t have to order another custom paint mix. She chose the room color of her previous bedroom (which is now an office) since she liked it so well. The closet is the perfect place to paint a fun, upbeat color that may become tiresome if it was a whole room. The yellow of the walls and the crimson of the closet work well together.

We chose to select our color palette right away instead of painting everything a neutral white and then painting again some other time. It is far easier to have the painter come in with a sprayer and paint all walls and ceilings the same (this is typical for production housing) but we knew it would be years before we got back around to painting again.

“Grand Canyon” bedroom

This is the bedroom across the hallway. It has beautiful south and west daylight from two windows. Part of the rationale for color choice was also the color of the trim work. Mark Schad, our painter, has been doing a very careful job with painting all the trim and we wanted the wall colors to show off the trim to its best advantage. Using pale colors may have been “safer” but as a color addict, various shades of white wasn’t going to work for me. As you can see, the final coat isn’t on the walls yet–perhaps today. One of the added benefits of this color is the way it pulls the color out of the wood floors. Together they just glow. (I’ll post a photo when the floors are unpapered and finished.)

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Our First Doorknob

February 26th, 2008 by Peter Schmelzer

Yesterday we saw the first door hardware installed on our new back door. I didn’t have my camera, but you’ll get to see it soon.

One bedroom is now completely painted; all that remains in that room is the lights, receptacles, and a closet shelf.

What still remains to be done inside or is underway:

  • Painting upstairs; there is quite a bit left to receive the finish coat.
  • Tile work in Master Bathroom shower
  • Door for the shower
  • Door hardware installation
  • Plumbing fixture installation
  • Light fixture, smoke alarm, and receptacle installation
  • One single door and one double door
  • Some minor trim and casing
  • Handrail installation
  • Final finish on hardwood floors
  • Carpet at hallway and stairs
  • Attic access panels
  • Attic pull-down stairs
  • Guardrail installation
  • The guys have been working hard to get things wrapped up, for which we are grateful.

    I’ll remember my camera next time, honest.

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    Nearing Completion on Plum

    February 23rd, 2008 by Peter Schmelzer

    Guardrail looking good at the metal shop

    This week, Mary and I stopped at Welding Resources to check on the progress of the new guardrail. Dean Odette really stepped up in short order and pulled the guardrail together; we made a last minute design change from a traditional cherry newel and rail to this stainless steel guardrail. Why? It allows us to save the original newel and save about $1,500 in the process. It was exciting to see the rail looking so good; Dean agreed.

    Stairway ready to receive guardrail

    Here is where the guardrail will be installed: between the newel post and the doorway in the background. The guardrail will be lag screwed to the newel post and the studs directly behind the door trim. The slenderness of the steel will work well in this application; we’re looking forward to seeing the contrast of the turned newel against the sleek steel.

    Master Closets awaiting paint

    These cabinets are the closets and dressers for the Master bedroom. We opted for built-ins instead of closets to optimize the space. The floor plan is very efficient, leaving no room for a walk-in closet. “Shoe-horned” would be an accurate description of how we worked four bedrooms and two bathrooms into the floorplan, but wouldn’t be an accurate way to describe the spaces themselves. They are appropriately sized and functional, and seem to flow well.

    So, back to the title of this post: nearing completion. We’ve decided not to try to move into the house tomorrow due to the work remaining (although not without some angst.) The final coat of paint remains to be applied to all of the bedrooms. The hardwood floors still need a final finish coat. The tilework in the bathrooms is incomplete, so the fixtures are not yet set. The light fixtures are still in boxes as are the door hardware sets. Three doors are still on order, which still need finishing and installation. Today they are finishing the last of the window trim and sanding the patches on the drywall. The new boiler and air handlers are not ready to go. The water is yet to be connected, since the fixtures are not installed.

    Outside, there has not been much progress, since the guys were pushing hard on the interior. Corner boards, water table and siding will be installed. We’ll paint in the spring when it gets warm enough. We also plan to insulate the exterior of the foundation, which can’t happen until the ground thaws. And we’ll need to do some dirtwork and landscaping.

    Causes for the delay? The airkrete insulation switch cost us a few days, then the icynene truck wouldn’t start in the cold, costing another day. We ended up putting new ceilings in two rooms downstairs due to inadvertent damage during construction, which forced us to paint both walls and ceilings. The drywall contractor’s work left much to be desired, so our painter has spent extra time patching and sanding the blemishes.

    So what of the delay? We have a contract for completion by tomorrow, so there will be some negotiation about how to handle the missed date and the additional costs and inconvenience it means for us. That’s the long and the short of it.

    Of course, we are more than ready to move back into our home. The adventure of living in “the cabin” has worn off completely. The cold weather has not helped at all, keeping us indoors for the most part. I am impressed with how mentally challenging this process has become as both the designer and displaced owner, on myself and on our family.

    The sun is out today and the temperatures are up! We are pitching in with the painting the walls (easy stuff) so our painter can focus on the cabinets, doors and trim (tougher). Our new goal is to sleep in the bedrooms next Friday night. I’m going to patch the newel today, sand it and prime it. We may be able to install the guardrail on Monday if its finish is properly cured.

    Oh, we stopped in to see the carpet yesterday. Vos Floors in Faribault received and unrolled it for our inspection. I looks great. We’ve chosen wool carpet for it’s durability, sustainability, and nice appearance. It will be installed in the hallway and on the stairs after the final coat goes down on the hardwood floors.

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    T-7 days and counting at Plum Street

    February 18th, 2008 by Peter Schmelzer

    Tile closeup

    It is amazing how much can get done in a week, but it looks to me like the remaining work on Plum Street won’t all be done by 24 February, the day our contract says the work will be substantially complete (when we can again occupy the house.) I have been proven wrong in the past, though, and hope for it to happen again. Much has happened since our last post!

    Tubes in the concrete

    Last Thursday, the Mudroom floor received sand, insulation and tubes for radiant floor heat. The copper tube encloses the temperature sensor for the thermostat.

    Valentine’s Day Slab

    Then, like the true romantic that I am, I bought my wife wet concrete for Valentine’s Day.

    Window trim

    Floor and wall tile installation began, too. Since this photo was taken, the vanity was set in place so we can get the countertop made and installed.

    Window Trim

    I believe the most visually rewarding development was the installation of window trim. This award may be usurped by the installation of baseboards, which started this morning as the last of the windows and doors are being trimmed. It looks great.

    We added a smidge of sweat equity to the project this weekend: sweeping, cleaning and a bit of re-painting where touch-up was needed. Thanks to Robert and Julia who came to visit and help! Actually, we have been sweeping and picking up around the project all along to help minimize costs. We can do this work after the contractors finish each day; that way we stay out of their way and allow them to be most productive while on site. Personally, I find it a great way to stay in touch with the project and spend time thinking about how things are coming together (besides getting some quiet alone time!)

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    Finishes and Details spruce up Plum Street

    February 10th, 2008 by Peter Schmelzer

    Front entry canopy

    The first week of February was a bustle of activity at Plum Street North.

    Installation of exterior trim and entry canopies began. With them, the scale of the house is becoming more humane. The siding will help in this regard also.

    Canopy Caravan

    Prefab Window Trim

    Many items came to the jobsite pre-assembled and pre-painted. This helps control quality, minimize jobsite waste, and contend with cold weather. It also quickly transforms the exterior of the project into a house!

    Floors, Floors, Floors More Floors

    The hardwood floors were installed and the painter started his work, priming all the new rooms and getting color on the kids’ bedrooms and baths. This morning we braved the sub-zero weather and checked out the floors. Caesar has a fresh coat of finish on them; it was great to see the depth of the wood shining in the sun!

    Finished interior trim was delivered yesterday and awaits installation in a pile on the porch floor.

    I noticed that the house is much tighter already than it was before. The new windows, the air infiltration barrier, and the icynene insulation make the house warm and quiet. The old furnace in the basement has no trouble keeping the house at 60 degrees, even though it is no longer connected to any ductwork. The cracked heat exchanger may be releasing combustion fumes into the interior air, which is a concern, except that we’ve seen open windows and attic hatches for fresh air. Once the drywall and floors are all sanded, we can switch to the new heating system and the energy recovery ventilator.

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    Fremont Circle Interior

    February 10th, 2008 by Peter Schmelzer

    Light and Airy interior

    Behind the translucent veil of the dust barrier, the drywall has been installed on Fremont Circle.

    The combination of a low ceiling and tall windows create an airy, connected-to-the-outdoors feeling. This will change a bit as custom window blinds and art glass are installed in the weeks to come…

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    Things are happening on Plum Street

    February 6th, 2008 by Peter Schmelzer

    Gable Work

    It seemed to take 100 years for the drywall to go up and be taped then sanded, but it was only a week. Now, it seems that the flood gates have opened, and things are happening!

    During the apparent lull, the contractors were shop-painting trim and siding. Here they are starting to finish the upper gable, and below they have it complete. Short of the final coat of paint, everything from the dripline up is finished!

    Finished Gable

    New door at Kitchen

    This is a view from the new mudroom through the new doorway into the kitchen. We love the way you can see through the house. I don’t believe I could understate the improvement this door will be to the flow our our house. Previously, all traffic from the back yard and garage had to zigzag through the porch and stair landing (none too spacious) to arrive behind the window. That meant navigating two storm doors and an old entry door with each bag of groceries. While not the end of the world, it was a pain.

    Rotten Rotty Rot

    Matt has installed the new front door, but it’s too dark for a good photo now, so I’ll show you what he found in the wall. Yes, Rotten, rotty, rot. This had to be removed and I’m glad it’s gone. How did we discover this, you ask? As it turns out, the 2’8″ door we wanted to slip into the existing opening was ten weeks out (since it was a custom size.) The 3’0″ model was in stock, fit the budget better, and shipped in two weeks, so we had to widen the opening. That’s when the discovery began.

    Mechanicals in place

    And the mechanical equipment is being installed! From right to left are our air handler, energy recovery ventilator, boiler and water heater. The water heater is actually just an insulated storage tank.

    The second floor has been primed and most of the rooms have their first coat of paint. Rumor has it the entry canopies are fabricated and ready to be installed. The hardwood flooring is acclimating in a stack on the Master Bedroom Floor, and the tile installation will be started next week.

    That’s the report for today. We are excited to see finishes on site. Our target move-in date is 24 February. We’ll see how it goes.

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