Friday, June 26, 2009

Old school vs. New school

Eric and his friends Cleve & Todd worked on installing the replacement roof beam yesterday, although it's not quite done. The 100-year old wood is being replaced with 3 of these LVLs. Check out the difference in grain. The work has physically been challenging for Eric lately, with a few days of back pain, so I'm trying to convince him to take it easy.

Long week!

It's been a busy week with no time to post, so I have much to report. The front steps were poured on Tuesday and have dried, so here's the latest & greatest photo of the front. The stone cap on the retaining wall will be installed on Monday and maybe I will paint the columns this weekend!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Shiny New Gutters

Eric was very excited today that a gutter and downspout were installed on the back of the house. It was custom-painted, by Eric, to be shiny metallic, which will look great with our silver windows. This should really help with all of the water we've been getting in the basement. Stanley's also doing some pretty intensive waterproofing this week and the plumber is installing a sump pump, so our basement will be well-protected from water (unlike the one next door at the house that Eric rents!).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

LVL delay

The roof beam replacement is causing a bit of a delay. Eric has an engineer working on the appropriate sized/configured Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL)s, which are apparently stronger than wood. The split beam was removed last week so the roof is being propped up with floor jacks on every floor down to the basement, which is now holding up pouring of the slab. This is not a big deal, as the beam needs to be replaced correctly. Alternatively, we could just take the roof off build up from here, but I think that would be too much of a stretch for us financially right now...

You wonder why Eric doesn't post? That's because every other word would be F$%#. F*&% this, F#$& that, etc. Construction is a trying job. Have you seen Lost in Translation? Eric equates it to that, but without Bill Murray...

Friday, June 12, 2009

One step closer to a new slab

Today Stanley's crew laid a french drain in the basement and began putting down the gravel layer in the, in preparation for pouring the slab soon!


Eric was enlarging a joist pockets on Wednesday below the main roof beam and suddenly it partially split and caused some bricks to shift. Jose immediately helped Eric to brace it with several metal floor jacks. Everything is ok but it really rattled Eric - Jose says he turned white. Eric stayed up all night determining a way to replace the beam, got Tony's sign-off Thursday morning. Eric and Jose also went to Home Depot to buy the wood yesterday and I think they plan to replace it today. I'm glad I paired Eric up with Jose. He is so nice, trustworthy, and has a perfectly round head. He's done great work on my Lamont St. house.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wall Status

The retaining wall has made awesome progress in between thunderstorms. Today the crew worked on the short retaining wall adjacent to the sidewalk using the same block as the larger retaining walls. I also think we've settled on using a stone cap on the retaining walls (pictured here). They are much better than the 4" concrete ones intended to go with the blocks and add a natural feel to the yard. I can't wait to do some landscaping but Eric says we have to leave the yard all opened up for a few more weeks until Pepco and Washington Gas come in and move the lines, do the separate metering, etc. Also Stanley won't be pouring the stairs until he's ready to pour all of the concrete at once, which includes the basement slab, light well exit, and various landings. You will also notice that the new brick column to the left is slightly mis-aligned with the one above it - we're going to get them to fix this.

Mr. Ass

Any wrestling fans out there? "Benny" sports this T-shirt frequently on the job site. So funny!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Retaining walls nearing completion

This picture is from today. Eric then augmented it by noting where an additional course of block is needed and where our planters will be. I'm leaving work soon to go check out stone samples to cap the wall and also look for modern planters. I like the idea of aluminum but no rust is allowed. The brick column will be painted to match the color of the house (blue/gray) and we intend to finish the rough edge of the concrete porch by bolting a metal panel to it.

Eric and I spent Saturday doing manual labor upstairs. We used a Home Depot gift card from my aunts Donna & Candace to buy a 2nd hammer drill so we could both work on enlarging the joist pockets on the 2nd floor. Basically the original joists were only sized to support a ceiling below. We need to install larger ones to support a future 3rd floor! The work was hard for me but I got a few done. Tomorrow my handyman, Jose, who did all of the work on my Lamont St. house is stopping by see what Eric needs in the framing department and hook him up with some laborers.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Build those retaining walls already

Eric and I spent Sun-Tues in Duck, NC, our first vacation since buying the money pit. It was nice to get away for a bit and Stanley's crew screwed up the block order so we were waiting for the delivery most of the week anyway and they couldn't do any work (and in turn mess anything up!). It's been raining ever since we returned but Eric rigged up some plastic over the porch so the crew could work on the retaining wall despite the rain (pictured here). We're behind schedule but making progress.

We've also made progress on HVAC this week - we're leaning toward a ductless mini-split system that allows us to minimize duct size, add the 3rd floor with ease (i.e., no major equipment in the attic) and is also extremely efficient, but not LEED compliant, which was a credential I was exploring. It turns out that while building green is a good idea, LEED for Homes is a racket. There are only 38 "Providers" of the LEED for Homes certification, only 2 of which serve DC, and they want to charge $5500-$8500 in fees even before the cost of upgrades. The prerequisites are the larger challenges - we'd have no problem racking up points to achieve Silver or Gold certification. I wanted to do it because ours would be just the 3rd LEED house in DC, but it looks like our HVAC system choice will prevent it - more because the LEED requirement in this area is antiquated - our system is extremely efficient! We will still have lots of green features - dual flush toilets, energy-star appliances & fixtures, and I'm even exploring a central vacuum!