Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vote for our block color!

The guys started digging out the front entrance today and we need to choose blocks ASAP! We've narrowed it down to the 3 colors pictured here - note that when wet they get darker. We're looking to create an inviting entrance, using blocks that won't show dirt or age too much, and balancing this with cost. The darkest gray is standard cynderblock, about $2.50 each. The medium gray ("slate") is custom for $5.36 each and the white ("mist") is also custom for $5.70 each. I'm still waiting for Eric to tell me how many we need so how many total $ this translates into. What do you think? Oh, and how about Stanley's ridiculous sign!?

Underpinning is done!

Check out the new basement bedroom! Note that we will be cutting some windows into the side wall. Underpinning is the process of digging beneath the foundation and pouring new deeper ones section-by-section so that the whole wall is not undermined at once, which would cause it to collapse. Eric and Stanley's guys went around & around about the proper rebar configuration inside the concrete and we actually paid for extra, so it should be very strong. This is a great milestone!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Free porch?

Our friend Carlos, who is the landowner of the Erie and Eden condos on Champlain St, is willing to give us the roof and columns over the front porch of a house he owns (pictured here) that's going to be demolished this summer! The porch is just a few years old and was crafted to match the historic ionic columns all over the neighborhood. Amazingly it looks like the dimensions might work and it would be great to save it from a landfill! Eric has photoshopped it onto our house here - awesome. The only tricky part is going to be getting it around the block in 1 piece. We are still brainstorming on this...

Save the roses!

This week Stanley is going to begin digging up the front yard for the basement entrance so we spent a good part of Sunday moving the roses, a big one and a small one, to a temporary safe place in the back yard. The family before us owned the house for 70 years and the mom (of 7) loved roses. We believe these were planted by her over 20 years ago. The big rose has flowers that are a beautiful combination of yellow, peach & fuschia. Hopefully they will survive the move and can return to the front yard after construction.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Plumbing & HVAC

Stanley has finished all interior brick repairs & exterior repointing (phase 1). Underpinning is almost done and phase 2, including the dig-out of the front entrance began yesterday! This week Eric has been busy meeting with plumbers & HVAC guys, not extrememly picture-worthy, except for when one dude gave a plumber with a broken leg a piggy-back ride across our back yard through the mud and into the house - I can't believe Eric missed that Kodak moment!

Eric's been talking all about the slope of the waste line, pumping shit (literally) and pressurized (tiny duct) air conditioning all week. I've been swamped at work. Anyway, it's going to be a beautiful weekend! Maybe we will learn how to install windows...

Friday, April 10, 2009


I love Stanley (our contractor), Jose (the master mason), Gustavo (the foreman) & their crew! They've got this big dump truck and they've covered the house with scaffolding. Every day they make major, noticeable progress. They've finished repairing and mending the cracks in the interior walls created by the construction doors (doors in the party walls that went between houses for ease of construction), repaired various window openings and today worked on rebuilding the back wall! Seeing the back wall close up after all this time is so satisfying since it's sort of been a symbol of Jerry's crime & incompetence that we've had to stare at for the past 5 months. They've also dug out the first 3 areas for underpinning and will begin forming out concrete molds on Monday. In a week or so, they will be on to digging out the front basement entrance!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Upstairs Bath

It's not the master bath, although it's shaping up to be pretty sweet. We will add the master bath with the 3rd floor addition someday. We've purchased this vanity & 2 of these faucets for the "upstairs bath," after much shopping & negotiating. I think it's perfect because we are tall and can install it at the proper height - many vanities with bowl sinks are too low to the ground. We also came in a few $100 below budget, which is always the goal, because I suspect we will go over in lighting & flooring! It's so pretty. If you can't tell it has a 3/4" thick glass countertop. Now it's time for tile. I'm really struggling with whether stone (on the floor) & glass (on the wall) tile can work together. The only way to know is to order samples!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Stanley, Our Mason & Concrete Contractor

Today we are signing a contract with Stanley Tribue of Precision Renovation & Construction (http://precisionrenovationandconstruction.com/), whose crew will begin work today! We've checked his background, numerous references, license status & been through 10 or so drafts of the contract. This is very exciting to begin making significant progress again and Stanley seems like a class act. Actually, he's been following behind a lot of bad contractors and fixing their work. We are very optimistic!