Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Post Replacement: Day 1

Things are about to pick up speed here with our tenants leaving and the work starting. The tenants have until midnight tonight and they seem to be waiting until the last possible moment to vacate completely. Thadeus has moved out but the other two are still up there and seem to be having slumber parties every night. I can't for the life of me imagine what they are sleeping on since I swore I saw them move out all the beds. Not my problem I guess.

Miro came yesterday and put the temporary screw jacks in place to support the building, while the old posts were removed and the new footings were dug and the concrete poured.

Above, you can see the temporary jack.

Here, you can see the reason why we have to add an additional post. Some genius comprimised the structure of the building to run radiator pipes through a beam. We believe it's original to the building. This additional post clutters up the basement a bit more, but we'll deal with it for now.

Here's a shot of one of the footings.

And here's a shot of one of the removed and rotted posts.

We wish we could afford the permanent solution, which would be steel, but with all the other work we are doing right now, we just can't. Down the road, if we dig out the basement and finish it, we will replace the wood with steel beams and then we can eliminate many posts and make a better space.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Did someone mention knobs?

Decorator Hardware has more than a few to choose from. The problem, they are not cheap. Now for our kitchen we got knobs from Rejuvenation, which ran us between $7-$12 a pop. But for a rental apartment, we don't want to go that crazy.

Has anyone found any nice knobs for around $3 each?
We saw some at Home Depot we liked but they were out of stock. We will try and get those if we can find them in stock.

We have the same dilemna with the bathroom fixtures. The things we like are expensive and we don't care for what HD carries. Like Goldilocks, we need something right in the middle.

Later on, we could add nicer knobs up there. Right now, we have too many other things to spend money on.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

And the award goes to....

Steve and Jocelyn for maximum use of Home Depot and I-Go car in one day(and no we did not drive on the highway like this in case anyone is wondering).

As we tied a garden cart and patio chair to the roof in the Home Depot parking lot, I didn't feel silly like I often do when we tie things to the roof of the car we are driving. Rather, I felt proud of our ingenuity to get things done with whatever means we have available. I believe this is part of what drives us with the house too. That and we want a nice place to live of course.

We went to the following stores yesterday: Lowe's, Home Depot, Decorator Hardware, Buy the Yard, and Abt.

And of course, there was the requisite visit to the nearby Steak and Shake after working up an appetite in HD.
I'll post the results of our shopping expedition soon. We didn't accomplish everything we would have liked, but we made a dent.

And we realized how much work we have to do.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

World's longest move out

I think our tenants are going for some kind of record.
5 boxes a day or something over a period of 2 weeks.
The good news is: They are Moving!!! It's the end of a not so great era!

I can hardly wait to get upstairs and dance around the vacant apartment and best of all...take the treasured "before" photos. It's so close I can taste it.

and...we just got a call from our contractor who is ready to start the post replacement job and our electrician asking for a start date. woo hoo!

and...tomorrow we are going to Abt to buy the appliances among other things. Busy weekend ahead.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

positvely dreamy light fixture

Don't you love those moments where you find something you really like? I do. Recently in my never-ending browsing of Old House Journal and Old House Interiors, I started to notice ads for a place called Brass Light Gallery. I liked their ads and I noticed they are in Milwaukee, a mere hour and a half drive from us.

I went to their website and started looking around....and I liked what I saw. They don't have prices there, which made me nervous, but I am going to perservere and get some quotes soon.

I love the light at left (Bayview Ceiling fixture Goldenrod Collection)and want to get it for our bedroom. It shines up and down- how perfect! and it has craftman elements but seems somewhat transitional, which matches our home style.

You see, our bedroom badly needs a light fixture- wouldn't you say?

It's been like this, since the old jimmy-rigged fixture failed on us. When I get a price, I'll post it and let you know if it's do-able. Do you like it for our bedroom?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Gratuitous Peony shot

This year we got 4 flowers on our Peony tree. Last year, we only had one, but it was huge. These flowers are literally like 7" diameter.

The first year we had a tragedy with it. A roaming band of kids came into our yard and broke half the baby tree off. They also ripped out some of my tulips.

I confronted them one morning about it. They have since moved away and the Peony is recovering. I think next year will be it's "big year" to establish.

Here's a close up of one of the flowers.

What puts a twinkle in my eye?

Some women like jewelry, for some people it's food or a car, maybe even spending time with that someone special. Honestly, I like those things too. But putting that last coat of varnish on the shoe moulding for the kitchen, that made me smile...

This was me last night. After having a splitting headache at work all day, I decided to finish the shoe moulding so we could install it today. Instant headache cure.

At left, Steve using our new hand operated Jorgenson compound miter saw. He is now quite skilled at coping as well.

Here's a shot of some of the finished work. We have a few more boards to install as I kicked the drill and broke the last drill bit while I was passing through the kitchen.

Next up- finishing the shoe moulding in the entry and cleaning the entry floor.

Working on the house really does fullfill me. It actually makes me better able to deal with my annoying day job because I feel I'm accomplishing something for myself. I am an Administrative Manager and sometimes I feel like I have 10+ kids at work. All day it's people whining at me, "Jocelyn, Jocelyn, Jocelyn, I need you..." I rarely get a moments peace. "House"-work is quiet and peaceful and I get to work alone or with Steve, whom I like. It's good to be back!

Thursday, May 18, 2006


We have to decide on some things soon for the 2nd floor project. Like....

What kind of doors we are going to put over the awning- do we put real French doors or do we put sliding doors that just look like real doors. We are looking at Pella and Andersen. We, of course, prefer the authentic door with sidelights or French doors for obvious reasons. But sliding doors will not take up space in the room and they are a bit less money. I think we are leaning towards real doors.

We selected the cabinets and we are using Kraftmaid Lexington style in Toffee. These are mid-priced and way nicer than what you see in most apartments. Steve is making a few custom maple shelves to go over the sink, which will make it a bit more custom looking.

Lighting-wise, we are going with all Rejuvenation and Schoolhouse Electric. It is going to be very nice. I am going to wish I lived up there!

For the ceiling fan, we saw an article in Old House Journal this month that featured more authentic vintage style fans. We like the Hunter Classic Series. Most of the ones at Home Depot are hideous monstrosities. We have an ugly one in our living room right now that we are going to replace with one of the Classic Series too.

There are other things, but this is all I can bear to think about right now. (Bathroom fixtures, appliances, kitchen sink!)

I neglected to report on our visit to the "Stripper Man" last weekend. I have to admit I was somewhat sobered and mildly frightened after meeting him. His shop was really bare bones. He said he had "just moved" from up the street. It was actually a store front with a beauty salon next door and I didn't see any respirators anywhere.

We came in and he was sleeping in a chair and he jumped up and said, "Sorry, I had a rough night." It's the kind of thing where you worry about him disappearing and us not being able to get our wood back. I am probably being a nervous Nelly. I mean, Steve called him 6 months ago and he was in business. He does work for Jan's and Salvage One. He's the under the radar cheapest guy.

My gut and my conscience doesn't like it but we don't have much choice as everyone else is 4 times more money and we don't have time to do it ourselves. We're just going to have to gamble a little on this one. It will probably be okay. Suspense in renovation yet again.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

to save a facade...

We've all seen examples of muddling up a facade or building. We've all seen beautiful buildings of architectural significance snuffed out.

It's nice to see someone saving a spectacular facade.
I have heard from a friend who lived in Paris for years and worked in the construction trades, that developers in Paris were forced to keep the facades of buildings and preserve the character of the city.

Steve is often fond of saying (in his bitter moments) how a stereotypical American goes to Europe and loves the art and architecture but then comes home satisfied with strip malls and Walmart. They don't seem to realize we could be like Europe if we wouldn't keep tearing down and building newer and cheaper.

The facade at left looks a little bit Louis Sullivan-esque. And you know, they just don't make 'em like that anymore.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Back Porch

We have an enclosed back porch. I doubt it's original simply because a wood porch would not last that long. The porch was probably enclosed in the 1970's judging by the panelling and the windows. Our posts need to be replaced that much is for sure.

We've talked about tearing down the porch and having a deck built, but it's possible we could just replace the posts and freshen it up. We're not doing that right now of course, but with our tenants moving out next weekend, we decided to address another issue related to the porch.

I didn't take a photo before, but if you look at the photo here, you can see where there was a wall earlier today.
See where the gray paint ends? There was a full wall with a door that separated the stariwell from the landing.

It was a very tight squeeze and no one could possibly move in or out through there. A larger person would almost have to sqeeze through as a matter of fact! Well, no more. Now the tenants can move in and out through the back.

The bonus is that it has a much more open feel and lets some more light into our kitchen.

Here's the view from our back door. We are thinking we will put a storm/screen door on so we can keep our back door open and not let critters or flies in.

I'm planning to repaint it and clean it up a bit. I pulled an old radiator cover out of the basement and I'm using it as a plant table. I'll paint it too and I'll have a nice herb/flower garden to look out on from the kitchen.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

We got it!

We've got our permit! It's funny how all the angst of things led up to this simple solution. The main demons were the unknown, what the city would require and of course, if we could afford it.

Things are looking good with our budget and timetable. Our tenants have said they are moving out the weekend of May 20th and I've seen some boxes come in for packing.

We have signed contracts with our electrician and contractor. They are ready to start as soon as the tenants leave and we remove the trim for stripping.

This weekend we are headed to Home Depot to do the cabinet configuration for the kitchen with one of their consultants. We did this for our kitchen with Kraftmaid cabinets and it worked out pretty well. The lead time on cabinets is longest so we want to get them ordered right away.

Then we are going to meet our Stripper Man who will remove all the paint from the trimwork and doors. I can't wait to see his operation. Maybe he'll let me take some photos, we'll see.

He says he will pick up the wood from here too, which saves us some hassle.

In the kitchen, we are doing a few things differently than we did on our floor. We are using a corner sink for one thing, which will be a nice touch. We are also having some upper cabinets since the pantry upstairs will be made smaller for bedroom closet space and thus will need more storage. The nice thing is we've been through the whole kitchen and bath projects before so we know exactly what we need to buy for supplies etc...

We're keeping the maple floors and Steve is building a smaller version of some of the custom shelving too. I think it will be a pretty darn nice apartment by the time we are done- good enough for us to move into should we decide to...Stay tuned...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Please sir, might we have a permit?

Steve went down to the Permit Office this morning and we hit a small snag. He showed them our plans and said we were doing new electrical and drywall. And they said, "Anything else?" And he nonchalantly sid, "Oh, and we are adding a dishwasher." They then told him we'd have to have mechanical drawings, and a licensed plumber install it, etc...etc...

So Steve left, annoyed because we could have had all that ready had we known we needed it. Except for one thing. We don't want to take a chance that the city will tell us we need a larger than 1" water line going into the building for this minor change so we are going to skip the dishwasher...for now (ejem).

So he has to go back now next week and tell them that we eliminating the d/w because this is just a rental unit and we can't deal with any complications right now, etc... He was a bit disappointed, but it could have been worse.

We always want to do everything to code and we will even pay for permit fees, but we just can't go bankrupt renovating our house- we just have to draw the line there.

Just thought I'd post our experiences in case anyone can learn from them. Not such interesting reading I'm sure.

On a more fun note: Tomorrow I am going to poly the quarter round moulding for the kitchen and entry so we can install it as soon as the 2 coats are dry. We can also try our our new manual miter saw.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Can you repeat that please?

Life can be pretty funny at times. I got back from Las Vegas and I wasn't feeling so great. Got a sinus infection and then noticed this strange rash on my left thigh. It was itchy and red and I was worried (after watching too many Dateline shows about the subject ) that I was a victim of bed bugs! I went to the doctor and she told me that an irritated nerve and stress caused a recurrence of Chicken Pox!

I can demo a room, dry wall it, strip loads of lead paint off wood, dig a new garden bed with no ill effects. Put me at a trade show in Las Vegas for a weekend (sans drinking, smoking, or gambling) and become so stressed I get sick in a few different ways.

Yes, I'm a homebody.

Fortunately I only have it in a few areas and I'm staying home from work for a few days to rest up. It's just a mild outbreak and I only have spots in a few places, but it's icky to me.

On the home front, Steve is going to see the city for a permit tomorrow. He got a call today and they said he didn't need an appt. for our type of job- just walk in. So hopefully, he'll come home with the permits tomorrow!

And since I am low on energy and conserving, I am just going to congratulate Nick and Trissa over at Pigeon Point on their soon to arrive baby!! I'm happy for you both- hope you read this!

And Greg- I wish I had your energy ! I've been reading but not commenting lately- but I'm always lurking about.

And to all other housebloggers: Beware Las Vegas!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Meet Stanley and Stella

No, Stanley and Stella aren't our new tenants. But they will reside here for a long time to come.

They are 2 fastigated boxwoods we planted Easter weekend. It's amazing the difference greenery makes. They really soften the concrete steps alot. They will only grow 1 1/2 feet wide and 7 feet tall. And they are evergreen- we like 'em.

This photo is of Stanley. Forgive me for naming them, but he really does look like a Stanley doesn't he?

The past few weeks have been extremely busy for me at work. We were getting ready for a big trade show and then I went to Las Vegas for the show last week.

I think I've mentioned I work for a high-end wallcoverings manufacturer and we always show at the Hospitality Design Expo in Las Vegas. This was my first year.

I managed to walk the show a bit and didn't I just go and fall in love with this outdoor lounger from Janus et Cie. A steal at about $2K. I think it represents where I want to be someday as far as lounging with my sweeties (Steve and dogs), a good book, and a glass of lemonade.

I also got to buy 2 new dog beds from the Crypton line at wholesale cost. I guess you can see where my priorities lie.
These beds are sold by specialty dog boutiques in case anyone is interested.

As far as the 2nd floor project, we have contracts signed with our electrician and main guy. We are just hoping that the tenants will move when they promised. We are planning to ask them for an update this week. We are also contacting an attorney to see how to handle if they don't move out.
Hopefully it won't come to that, but I know that ultimately we will prevail.