Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rough-In Success

So we officially have all of our rough-in inspections! We had thought this would be a day to celebrate wildly, but in fact our electrician only coerced the inspector to pass him, but is not in fact finished. Fortunately we will not be paying him until he is really done. OK, off to dinner for mini-celebration!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bath vanity

Last week we bought some new finishes, including the basement bath vanity from the same ebay seller who sold us our toilets a while back. It's expresso wood with a black glass top. The dimensions are also a perfect (and rare) fit. I figure we'll put a nice leather box on the shelf underneath for storage. We also settled on under-counter lighting (lucky Bruce). We went with these boxes in a variety of sizes containing xenon bulbs - they should be invisible once mounted.

Electric inspection but bound to fail!

We've pulled out all of the stops over the past few weeks trying to motivate our electrician, Bruce, to finish his rough-in (the other trades have been done for at least 6 weeks). We've called Service Magic, where we found him and where he confusingly receives top reviews. We've called DCRA's Office of Professional Licensing and also JW Electric, who holds the license he's working under. JW electric had Bruce commit to finishing by last Friday, but the earliest inspection time he could obtain was today. He worked Friday-Sunday from about 10:30-5 in his normal inefficient fashion and still Eric sent him a list of 31 things that are not completed as of last night, including really basic things, so I really hope he fails this inspection. He acts like he knows the inspector and he'll just be interested in whether "things are being done correctly." But, I'm really interested in the quality of installation of those last 31 things too, so in any event, I think we will be having a future inspection as well. Eric convinced Bruce to sign a contract amendment last week, incorporating some change orders, setting aside a materials reserve that we control (so he can't run out of $ anymore), and also establishing firm timelines for the rest of the project. He's due to have the exterior meters set by next week, which is another big step. Whether he makes it or not, I do not know, but unfortunately I think dealing with his shenanigans is better than going to court... but sometimes I wonder...

I sealed our bedroom brick wall on Saturday night and spent 1/2 of the day yesterday pointing up the brick walls. Eric is removing all of the nailer boards, cutting them in half (because they would show over the moulding) and then we're backfilling the holes with brick. This is tedious but will result in a nicer finished product. Our list of to-do's before drywall is dwindling, but insulation cannot start until Bruce is done.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dust in the air

It was a messy, dusty weekend of cleaning the brick walls in our house that will be exposed. On Saturday I cleaned our bedroom and the den walls. Yesterday, Eric built a platform over the stair opening and we did the top half of the stair wall (the hard part). The process involves brisk sweeping with a broom, followed by scraping with a metal brush, then I sweep again, vacuum and then point-up and major holes. The process is so messy and dusty that we wear masks & goggles but still end up getting covered. I'm going to try to get out of work early tonight so we can finish the bottom half and be ready to seal them later this week or weekend. It feels to good to be at this stage!

We continue to fight with Bruce who works 4 hours a day despite being 2.5 months behind on our rough-in. In fact he didn't work yesterday or today but is still on the hook to finish by Monday, although we haven't worked out revised payment terms, since he can't be trusted to set aside any of our money for materials, so he may get fired on Monday...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Did I mention our doorbell will play MP3s?

Eric has a pet peeve about loud, startling doorbells, but the iChime will play "La Cucaracha" when our friends arrive. Sweet!

Heat Wave and Cleveland Returns

Cleve is back, helping Eric for a few days cut holes in the masonry for our various dryer vents, bath fan vents, stove hood vents, etc. They rented this killer drill from Home Depot (please note size in relation to notebook), but it turns out that it's too heavy to actually hold, so each hole requires building a platform to rest it on. Meanwhile, Bruce continues to work at the pace of an ancient tortoise and I continue to research how on earth to fire and recover some money from him. I think he got wind of me calling the holder of his license this week, and all of the sudden found some money to buy more supplies... We're making a major push toward drywall. This weekend for me will entail a lot of scrubbing bricks and running speaker wire, which will be satisfying! Unfortunately no more 40 degree days like today, I think it's supposed to snow again!
Just received at 9pm from Eric: "The Hilti TE 76P-ATC with a 6" diam carbon tipped bit is my new best friend. Although it is a heavy friend. I'm really glad Cleve was around to help construct the temporary shelves / braces for the drill. Cutting through 2 courses of brick takes about 1.5hr or so; setting up the brace takes about 1hr or so as well. We got (3) 5" dia holes drilled and (1.75) 6" dia hole drilled today. Hoping to get the remaining 4" dia hole done and finish off the .25 of the 6" dia hole done early tomorrow. Maybe in time to return one of the drills or get charged only half days. Either way the drills and bits are working better then expected. Backing it up for the night."

Monday, January 11, 2010

To Do List

Every day we work toward knocking out this list of to-dos before drywall can go up. Eric is working on getting the drywall / finish scope & drawings out so we can get bids lined up, and then he can focus solely on the list. Here it is:
1. Patching the leak in the roof & waterproofing new vents - started last week, finished today
2. Install CAT5 and speaker wire (which sort of requires knowing what system we will go with) - Gill the Verizon guy is going to do this with us this weekend for a very reasonable price
3. Cutting holes through the brick for bath fan and appliance venting - this will take a couple days, rental of a heavy duty drill, and Eric needs a helper. Any volunteers?
4. Minor framing fixes - just a couple hours of fixes
5. Minor masonry repairs - we need to take out nailing boards and replace with brick along 2 walls. Eric also wants to brick up a chimney in the basement. It's definitely colder than ideal for this!
6. Electric rough-in inspection - This involves our ongoing saga with Bruce. God, I feel like this issue is consuming so many of my thoughts every day when I have such better things to spend my time on. Today I called the Industrial Trade Licensing Board to learn how to call his bond (the woman was out of the office) and researched small claims court in DC. I also called JW Electric (B- from the Better Business Bureau), who holds the electrician's license that Bruce works under and the $6,000 bond I would call, and left the owner a voicemail about my problems asking him to compel Bruce to finish ASAP. I am so sick of this guy's excuses.
7. Insulation - We already have a quote for this. Eric's going to call and make sure he still has time for us.
8. Alarm install - We're all lined up for this but the installers want to go after Bruce is done (see #6)
9. Seal exposed brick walls - We want to clean & seal our exposed brick walls now so that the red dust doesn't get on our drywall later. We're seeking a matte finish and my new favorite website, provided the secret recipe: 1/5 Elmer's glue, 4/5 warm water painted on with a brush and completely non-toxic. We tested this out on Saturday and I think it will work well!

When I write all of this out, it seems like a lot. Ugh, I'm so ready to be done.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Santa's little helpers

From Eric: "Got a call at 7am telling me that a roofing crew was available to install the new skylights and begin repair work on the roof [even though we weren't on the schedule for another 2 weeks]. After realizing i was not sleeping i said ok lets do this. By 8:30 there were 6 amigos on the roof cutting though 3-4 layers and 100 years of roofing material and bad patch jobs. The temp is apparently 20 degrees without the wind; and it's gets pretty wind 2.5 stories up on the roof. I think every type of roof has been on this sucker including gravel and tin. I decided to break in the new 1.4 qt Stanley [Stanley is his thermos], which can apparenly be used as a car jack and be run over by a bulldozer. Hopefully I will not need to use it as a roof rafter. I'm betting that 6 dudes jacked up on coffee can get the skylights installed before the snow starts to fall this evening. They seem to be on schedule and masters of cutting lumber off their leg with a circular saw......"

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Exterior lights

Today the electrician is roughing in exterior lights (yay!) despite constantly complaining about the cold. Eric put together some exterior renderings with the lights and house numbers and they make me very excited!