Friday, June 25, 2010

Ductless mini-split HVAC

Our ductless mini-split HVAC system is in the process of being hooked up this week. We made this decision a long time ago because it seemed like the best compromise between performance, efficiency, cost and appearance. We're very excited not to have soffits for ductwork (other than bath & dryer vents) anywhere in the house! The system has compressors outside like traditional central air, but instead of ducts running around the house, there are tubes for coolant, power and condensate that run behind the walls to wall-mounted units. Our wall-mounted units happen to look like picture frames, and when turned on they tilt open and begin blowing air. Eric says they are like transformers - I haven't seen one in action yet. These are very popular in Europe, not sure why it hasn't caught on more here. We also have some ducted ductless portions of the system (I know this sounds funny), but this equipment is all mounted in our bathroom ceilings and air pours out into the surrounding rooms, so we have 8' ceilings in the bathrooms, but 9'+ everywhere else. We also have 7 zones so we have tight control over the temperatures everywhere!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Master bath mosaic tile

This tile is really cool. I think we're going to use it for the basement backsplash too and it looks like Eric and I will be grouting the bathroom and laying the backsplashes ourselves since our tile contractor turned out to be a disappointment and isn't returning calls... Eric set the medicine cabinet frame in the hole for this photo so that's the shower tub surround you're seeing in the background.

Kitchen progress this past weekend

We spent much of Saturday & Sunday building our upstairs kitchen. We decided to move the upper cabinets up another 3 inches, just to give the room more openness, and because we are tall. We also leveled everything on the left side, bolted it to the wall and began drawer and door installation, which we're not going to complete until the end when they are less prone to damage. We also assembled the pantry cabinets (right side) but haven't gotten them bolten in yet. I'm making another trip to IKEA momentarily for some last-minute stuff and questions. Notice the really cool stainless steel side panels - those will be fun to keep clean. It's really starting to take shape!

Out with the old, in with the new A/C!

Eric's very intense insulation of our house has meant that we've been keeping the place cool for the past month+ with just a single window unit in the upstairs den. But today HVAC hookup began!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Par for the course

We're about to fire our tile/flooring contractor before he's done with his scope, which is pretty much par for the course with us and contractors. He complains about replacing glass mosaic tiles that are cracked and crooked, saying they were broken on the sheet, he didn't do it, but clearly we are not paying him to install broken tile! Now he's grouted our basement tub surround (light gray) and our master bath floor (dark gray) and the color is totally washed out because he didn't let the grout sit 20-30 min per the instructions (which are also in Spanish) before washing it. The basement bath looks ok, the grout being basically white, but the master bath floor grout is really light to the point that it jumps out and doesn't blend with the tile. It's also very inconsistent and blotchy. This guy showed us 22West, the luxury Vornado apartment building, as a reference for his work. I asked Eric if he was hiring guys off the lot at Home Depot, but Eric thinks its his sons doing the shoddy work, who are clueless.

Today we also ordered basement light trims (Halo) and our wood flooring for upstairs, from It's a 4 3/4" wide, handscraped Hickory - the color is called Gobi - and it's very dark with a touch of red. Build Direct seems to have mixed reviews but we got a decent deal $4.05psf and 20% off shipping, and have a 30 day money-back guarantee. We decided to go with hardwood in the end so we could potentially sand it down and refinish it in the future, which is greener than bamboo, which can't be refinished and engineered wood, that would just have to be torn out and replaced.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tile continues

Kitchen floor tile and master bath glass mosaic tile are the most exciting developments of the week. They look so good. Our kitchen floor is metallic! Phil also assembled all of the upper kitchen cabinets today so they can be placed once the floor is grouted. I think he's an IKEA expert now.

Unfortunately Eric was rear ended on the way to TW Perry yesterday in his Blazer. He was hit so hard his radio flew out of the dash, his hat flew off, and the passenger's window popped out of the track! He's feeling pain in his neck & back but the Dr. says this is normal for 3-5, but if it persists after that to come back. He's slowed down a little but not a lot. I'm hoping the Blazer doesn't get totalled, as its been crucial to our renovation mobility.

Also, tomorrow's our big day in small claims court against Bruce... should be interesting...

Kitchen progress

I'm so delinquent in posting! Eric and I spent Memorial Day week in the Outer Banks getting some much needed R&R. Meanwhile Phil was back home assembling the basement kitchen. Awesome! Of course we were missing some IKEA pieces, so we went this past Sunday and retured bunch of stuff and order even more than we returned! If you can't tell, the base cabinets are black and the upper ones are frosted glass. You won't see any of the birch insides once the coverpanels and appliances are in. We're looking at getting white Silestone down here to lighten things up. Also, did you know IKEA cabinets have slow-close hardware? So cool!