Saturday, December 25, 2010


Welding produces awesome fireworks. Our stairs and rail installation started last week and is almost done, delayed slightly by some shoddy work they had to redo and then by the holiday schedule. Very exciting!

Still plenty of punchlist and perging/organizing to do but we're making progress and even hosting Blodnikar Christmas on Tuesday!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Long Time No Posts

We're pretty close to done but still have plenty of punchlist and boxes of stuff we don't have room for! We finished our dining room and den light installations, which were tedious but worth it. I even hosted a surprise 60th birthday party for my mom on 11/13. We also have a fabulous Christmas tree. Pictures to come.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nice photos of upstairs before we moved in!


This is an old photo but my new computer has issues uploading photos, hence the delay. This backsplash is all done & grouted now. We're in clean-out and organization mode as I'm planning to move in this weekend and we're having out-of-town guests for Halloween!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Details, details...

Eric got our washer & dryer hooked up this week, trim on the exterior doors and I think doorbells were installed today. If you recall, ours plays MP3s, so that will be fun to play with this weekend. Our helpful neighbors Oliver & Reed are pictured here modeling what will be our house numbers! Once we get more construction materials out of the house and more of Eric's boxes organized, I will take and post pictures of everything, and I guess that means blogging is almost over!

Monday, October 4, 2010

urban camping

We made our normal trip to the dump on Saturday to drop off a load of plywood & recycling and then met with a re-upholstery gal about refurbishing Eric's 70's-vintage red chairs for our den, which I'm really excited about! We accomplished more on Sunday, setting slate over our front step, drywalling a closet for the washer & dryer, installing coverplates, another outdoor light, towel bars med cabinet shelves & drawer pulls, all the basics. Eric's helpers aren't available until late in the week so he's working on a few projects but also trying to get all of metalwork (inside and out) designed, which will have some lead time to fabricate and build.

Eric is now living in our house mid-construction, which is definitely a form of camping. Yesterday I cooked for the first time, making very simple pasta with red sauce and shrimp. Seeing as we have no furniture downstairs, we ate on the stairs, but made it work, and even enjoyed a celebratory glass of wine.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Move-in time!

Eric moved in yesterday and we slept in our house! We were giddy with excitement about it until Eric tried to arm our alarm while bypassing the motion sensor and ended up setting it off at midnight! He disarmed it in under 10 seconds but the alarm co had automatically set the police in motion and I had to prove my identity to 4 police officers shining flashlights into our windows at about 12:20am. My ID doesn't have our new address on it yet but luckily they accepted a delivery invoice from IKEA with my name and our address on it. I didn't really fit the description of their typical burgular either, so that helped. :)

There's definitely more punchlist and clearing out construction materials to do, mainly on the 1st floor, but I'm planning to move in by 10/31, yay! You can see that Bonsai is settling in just fine...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Labor of love

This staircase has required some master carpentry and has taken much more time than anticipated, but Eric and Phil got it to "substantial completion" yesterday and it looks great. Eric spent today babysitting Joshua and Ricardo, our plumbing duo who were completely stumped over why the water wasn't hot in the shower while Eric was the one who thought to adjust the HWH temperature. Why are we paying these people?

The A-team

We hired CityVista's punchlist team, Gilberto and Nacho for the entire week to handle a bunch of details while Eric and Phil continued to concentrate on the stairs. They installed all of the basement closet doors, a coverpanel on one of the kitchen cabinets, a shelf on the knee wall, the basement washer & dryer and most recently they have been sanding and painting window trim and baseboard upstairs so Eric can move in this weekend! Eric has very high standards for workmanship and I think these guys get a B or B+, which is pretty good considering...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Under-Stair Doors

You may have heard Eric mention "the series of panelized doors under the stairs" and wonder exactly what that meant. Here's a picture of them coming into place. Each one hides something different behind: washer/dryer, hot water heater, storage/electric closet, Rudy's litter box, etc. and they will be controlled with a push-and-pop magnetized mechanism which I'm really excited to see! These of course will also be primed and painted and the stair treads will sit on top. This project has been lot of work for Eric & Phil to mastermind and execute so precisely.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lights, mirrors & bamboo

Lots was accomplished today! Eric and Helen spent much of the day installing the under-cabinet lighting in the kitchens together. Eric said he was so glad to be working with her instead of Bruce, who would have made it much more of an ordeal.
Eric also drilled a hole in the 4" bamboo vanity so we could install a faucet. And finally, he tested out the 1/2-bath mirror by making me a photo strip with his ipod app. :)

Natural beauty

Eric and I spent Sunday pre-conditioning and staining the reclaimed wood stairs. We used a natural stain that effectively drew out the color contrast of the wood grain, just like we intended! Monday, Eric and Phil put on the 1st coat of polyurethane, which is toxic stuff, and coat #2 goes on tomorrow.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jupiter II

This is the fixture on our cable track light that will go over our staircase in the 11' ceiling area. It's called Jupiter II by Prima Lighting. We're only buying 3 for now but eventually need 5. So cool! The little eye ball is only about a 4" diameter but with the fins it's about 11" wide.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Our final fan was installed today in the living room, the Minka Aire Artemis. Ooh so pretty! It looks invisible when on (for obvious reasons). Joshua, our plumber dropped off his alcoholic assistant Ricardo today too who fixed a few things and F&#$ed up a few other things, but we do now have hot water in our unit which is huge.

Sounds like my tasks for the weekend involve cleaning, making an IKEA run, installing handles on the kitchen cabs and doing some mudding and sanding.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Progress in the dark

We had one crazy storm at 7am this morning, a lesser one this afternoon and then there was a fire at the Washington Hilton a few blocks away which contributed to power being out on the job site for a while today. Eric actually thought the plumber and his helper worked better in the dark, maybe we are on to something! Here's a picture Eric sent me today of our hot water heater - these are the things that excite us because it means showering can take place!

Here are few more shots of the master bath too, which is really looking great.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Reclaimed wood stair

I expected these stairs would take a while but Phil is really inspired by Eric's design and the reclaimed wood itself, so the two of them cranked away on Monday cutting and laying out the wood. Nothing is nailed down but its looks really good set in place. I love the detail on the end of the runs (close up below) and how it will look from the side, the chunky exposed risers & runs, once the doors are built out underneath.

Eric's bathroom

Eric masterminded the design of the half bath. I almost don't want to post pictures and lessen the surprise of seeing it in person! It has a black toilet and really everything else is secondary to that. The flooring is metallic, same stuff that we have in the kitchen. There are glass mirror mosaic tiles behind the toilet and a very cool laquered bamboo sink. Here's an aerial shot. Please disregard blue tape.

Friday, August 6, 2010


We've hated this weed turned tree in the yard next door for so long and today Eric and Phil decided to remove it. Pepco also decided, with no notice and no return phone calls for about 3 weeks, to do our electric heavy-up today. They ran a new service line because our trunk was too small to feed the electric boxes for both units and then convert our service from 1-unit to 2. Amazingly, they do this for free too!

Among other things, Eric, Phil and Cleve mounted both upstairs bath vanities today - pictured here is the one in the master bath. I can't wait to see them in person! We also decided today to call another plumber since Joshua's availability and commitment to our project are unacceptable. He's worked about 4 or 5 half days in the past 3 weeks and we are just done playing games with contractors. I called Kelly Walsh today, also known in Brookland as "the Wench with the Wrench."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hicksville Planing Mill

Eric and Phil picked up the wood at Hicksville Planing Mill this morning in Frederick, MD. Eric says it looks really good with interesting grain, knots and holes. I think Eric's too tired to start building the stairs today, but maybe tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Master bath

Yesterday Eric and Cleve grouted the glass mosaic tile in the master bath. I showed up at the very end to help clean the tiles. Grouting always creates more contrast between tiles and really makes them pop - it's beautiful. Phil finished the baseboard downstairs and did some other tweaks to finish trim - he's the master carpenter of the bunch. Today Cleve cut holes in our vanities for the electric outlets (so we can store our toothbrushes inside, yay!) and mounted them on the wall. They look awesome. I think installing the vanity below will happen very soon, and then I'm definitely moving in! Tomorrow the planed down wood returns to the site and staircase work can begin. Also, Joshua will be back to continue hooking up the plumbing fixtures. Argent is ordering a part for the basement A/C, but besides that, I'm thinking the basement could be pretty much done by the end of this weekend!

Monday, August 2, 2010


Today the Kemco alarm guys were on site wiring up our alarm system and I ordered a basic Verizon phone line for it to run through (to be hooked up tomorrow). Fixing up our security is a high priority before leaving for Europe. I asked Eric if we were going to plug in a phone and use our land line. He thought that would be fun and "novel". Maybe we will get a rotary phone too.

Our plumber worked a 1/2 day today, as usual. Eric has him focusing on the basement and now the hot water heater is hooked up but not wired, because apparently he doesn't know how to do that and we need to get Helen back in. Just to recap, we had wanted to use tankless, gas hot water heaters in both units but it would have cost $10,000 to upgrade our gas line sufficiently. Electric hot water heaters also use a ton of energy so we had to plan our use of amps carefully, but both units have electric tank hot water heaters.

Phil worked on baseboard trim today and also loaded up his truck with our reclaimed joists, which are going to be planed down in Frederick, MD this week and used as the finish material on our staircase. We're going to use a clear matte stain and next to the expresso floors, it's going to be gorgeous!

Here's what the boards will look like when planed down, 100-year old old growth VA pine:

Weekend fun

We had a fun Saturday that started with a trip to the dump to drop off cardboard for recycling, followed by Home Depot, followed by a 2nd trip to Home Depot because I realized we had the wrong type of grout for glass tiles. We started work on the house mid-afternoon and worked until 2am, Eric completing the wood flooring on the 1st floor and sanding some drywall under the stairs, and me grouting the mirror tiles in the 1/2 bath. Everything takes so long! Just for something fun and different on Sunday, we spent the day in Frederick cleaning out a bunch of Eric's old models and files from his mom's garage, since she's moving to Baltimore soon. Ah, the glamorous lives of Terra & Eric! This photo is at the dump and shows off the retro-red interior of Eric's 20-year old Chevy Blazer that has been a lifesaver during construction.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Utilities are great!

Our gas meter was hooked up today. We have a gas stove in the upper unit, a gas line for a future fireplace in the living room, and a gas line running to the back yard for a natural gas grill. We also have running water in the basement! You'd think we're close to moving in but we still need a Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) to do so and we need to have railings, no wires sticking out of the wall and more or less finished for that. The goal is to move Eric in before we leave for Pablo's wedding in Turkey and to move me in when we get back!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tile and wood floors too

Other things we've been working on are glass mirror tiles in the 1/2 bath (me) and hardwood flooring upstairs (Eric).

Also we settled with our deadbeat electrician's insurance company for $2,600 yesterday. I think Eric has settlement remorse because our full claim due to Bruce going to prison and delaying our project, including interest, double housing costs, re-keying our house, etc. was $5,000, but $2,600 was the actual cost of correcting the flaws in his work and because we settled we get paid in 30 days instead of having to enforce some unenforceable judgment. We actually settled with the master electrician, so we can still go sue Bruce later, which we might do...

Big day, toilet installed!

Our plumber has been trying our patience over the past week but finally showed up with his helper today and have been knocking some things out.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Counters and floors

Lots of progress today.

Check out the Silestone shelf to finish off the basement tub surround.

And the basement kitchen.

And, drum roll, the wood floors. It's kinda redish in the light, so pretty!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tops are coming in...

This is white silestone (composite quartz) going into the kitchen. Wood flooring is starting today too and the plumber comes on Monday!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Because we fired our tile guy...

Eric and I became experts in grouting glass tiles yesterday. We started in the basement bathroom and will need to do the master bathroom next weekend. We also have to set and grout glass tiles in the 1/2 bath and both kitchen backsplashes. It took a lot longer than I thought it would but turned out really nice. I'd rather take the time to get it right than live with the crap Jose's guys were delivering. We had to get this done because our countertop guy is coming on Thursday to install Silestone kitchen counters and bath shelves. We listened to the World Cup Final on the radio, which may have been more entertaining than the game itself since the commentators were so negative! Helen was also at the house on Sunday installing our Minka Aire ceiling fans, yay!