Monday, November 17, 2008

DIY jobs

With the inside completed (and paid for), I've turned my attention to the smaller, do-it-yourself projects. First up of course was thoroughly cleaning the entire house from top to bottom to rid the construction dust/crap. A job such as this took an entire two days - WHEW!! I hope that helps.

The contractors installed a new water heater (50 gallons - yay) so we have more than 5 minutes of hot water and better water pressure.

Deep breath, here's what I've completed in the last few weeks. I had to replace a faucet that got broken by the contractor, paint a gutter that was missed, touch up exterior, electrical tape the garage wire that the contractor used masking tape (smacks head), reconfigured the pendant light in the kitchen so the side wires go straight to circle plate, installed peep hole in the front door, installed a floating shelf and wire hider in bedroom for the DVD and DVR, programmed garage door and hung the remote. I've also painted the front door, but we don't like the color - red and its a "bit" much, so we're going to repaint the original burnt orange choice. I also installed the stereo but will eventually have to redo whene we upgrade the tv/speakers to a true home theater system...Financially its low on the wish list right now.

The big project that I am working on is the garage. The first stage was to remove everything from the garage, including the washer/dryer to prep for epoxying. In our last house, we had used garage paint on the floor, but found that hot car/motorcycle tires tended to pick up the paint. This time we opted for an epoxy finish which was not water based and theoretically would not pick up from the tires and still provide the oil droppage protection. We first cleaned the garage with water, then etched it with a chemical etcher and let dry. Once dry we mixed the 2-part epoxy together and quickly went to work. I do mean quickly, becaure the working time was only 40 minutes to get the floor covered before it starts to cure. Applying the epoxy is a two step process and really works best with two people. You have to pour a large area of the floor with what is now a putty-like constinecy, then trowel it evenly accross the surface, then roll it flat with a roller. Easier done in theory than practice and upon review of the finished product, we missed a smattering of small rolled areas where the epoxy is trowled and one small area where the epoxy is a little thin. But for our first time I think it came out pretty damn good. We had to wait 24 hours to walk on it and a full 48 hours before we could bring the items back in. After a few days, a trip to San Francisco to get our storage shelves, reinstalling the washer/dryer and slop sink, repurposing the old kitchen cabinets as a work bench and cabinet - here is the finished product. We still have shelving to install throughout the garage, but we are 95% there. Plenty of room for a second car when we get one and all the moto's for now. Whats better is that all the boxes are out of the inside and we have some closet space back!

I am certain the next few entries will be DIY stuff, but I still will post to keep you all updated on the progress. The landscaping is still a major undertaking and we are going to try to do a lot of it ourselves throughout the winter and spring due to budget contraints, hopefully culiminating in some hardscape concrete work for patios in the springtime. I'm sure the neighbors will love our dirt patches, but they will get over it, hah! Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Atriumus completus

Atrium - In modern architecture, an atrium is a large open space having a glazed roof and/or large windows. I think this qualifies :)

We spent the better part of the last two evenings painting the trim, support posts and garage entry door in preparation for our appraisal (to refinance not sell). We did not get to the front door, but it looks ok in bare wood and we'll get to painting it this weekend.

Lots of space in here! We "staged" what little furniture we hace for the space, but we'll need to recover a bit before furnishing, especially if we want the outside hardscape in before the winter rains.

After the glass came down, we were able to install a fan - which of course means it will stay cool for the rest of the year. It is reversible though, so it will help push the warm air down in the winter.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Painted lady

Just a couple of quick pics to show our painting progress. The exterior is finished with the exception of a few hours of touchup - which I'll get this weekend.

The atrium walls are ready for inspection, which triggers the tiling. A few more weeks and the house will be done - sans landscaping.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yes, the garage door is dirty

...but look above, the new glass is in from Palo Alto Glass. We got a smoked color so its not as easy to look in, but still allows light into the space.

The garage fire door is in too! Along with the final kitchen cabinet door and shelf repair. Slowly, but surely we're getting there.

The front door will be picked up and installed today as well as the period teardrop light. Then all thats left is to paint the atrium for inspection, afterwards we can tile for the appraisal. In the meantime, I'll have to finish painting the house next weekend - Oh joy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Full frontal attack

Ahh the serenity of a new house color....but let us start at the beginning

This week, and the past two weeks have been absolute turmoil in the financial markets. The government has facilitated the aquisition of Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch, taken over Fannie and Freddie Mac and is currently allowing Lehman Brothers to sway in the breeze as we digest the greedy real estate decisions over the past 5 years (thanks Greenspan, not!). Whatever volatility these actions have brought into the markets, a side benefit is the appearance of liquidity in the mortgage market, causing rates to finally fall in line with the 10-yr T-bill. Over the past couple of weeks, the conforming 30-yr fix rate has fallen under 6% and now was out time to pounce and refinance. This week the market cooperated and we locked into a 5.875% 30-yr fixed conforming loan, a significant improvement fron the 7/1 fixed ARM at 6.6375% YAY!!!!

The only downside is that we need to be reappraised for all the work we've done, and thus, the house needs to be DONE, FINITE, COMPLETED - - BEFORE the close of the refinancing. Oy vey!!!

The concrete foundation has been poured and we are now waiting for the front door, which should be here next week. The garage fire door is delivered and will go in tommorow, as will the glass above the garage from Palo Alto Glass. After the front door goes in and the inside is painted, we can be inspected again. That will trigger the tiling of the floor and removal of the last single-pane glass. So two weeks or so of work for the contractor and one major task for us to complete.

This giant hurtle is the fact that the house needs to be painted. So I took friday off and made an attack on the painting of the exterior of the house. Lorinda and my mom had picked out colors a month ago and the securing of the mortgage triggered a very long weekend of work. I started Wednesday afternoon by powerwashing the most sun drenched side of the house (aka the peeling side) and scraping the lose paint when dry on Thursday.

Friday morning I primed the stripped areas and the window sills which will change color to the white Swiss Coffee. In the afternoon I tackled the main portion of the wall with the new color. By the end of the day I had this to show for my efforts.

Saturday morning I ran errands and finished the main portion of the glass wall side. Lorinda helped and primed the bare wood that went in with the new windows. We'll paint the posts when we trim the house next weekend.

Steven's crew dug a trench and prepped the gas line extension, while the landscaper prepped the irrigation system. This was a priority so they could pour the remaining concrete squares on the side of the house to replace the ones that were draining towards the house.

They also finally got the right size redwood to rip and install on the inside sill of the windows. Needs a little more stain and a little more cleanup, but we're very happy it finally looks right. The last remaining cabinet door also arrived and is finally the right color.

I finished out Saturday by painting the two front sides of the garage, as we had an early dinner party to attend.

Sunday, I was feeling very weary, but made a concerted effort to push through and finish the front of the house. The entry tunnel was especially brutal, as the siding is twice as high in those three sides. By the end of the day, here is the result...

Lastly, the retaining wall is complete, the cap just needs to be glued on and the open wedges filled in. Next is the rest of the irrigation and completed and the dirt will backfill the wall.

After this weekend - man am I poopered and work will seem like a vacation, hah!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Spanish pause

Well... we're heading into the final stretch with the second phase and you know what that means - time for a break, this one courtesy again of the city of Cupertino. The atrium and garage is all prepped are ready for the foundation concrete, but the inspector wants to come back and inspect the rebar before allowing the pouring to commence. Another couple days wait while we have to practice for the NFL to get to the front door.

In the meantime, the landscaper has started the retaining wall and it is starting to take shape. We're now in a race against time, as the interest rates have dropped dramitically since the government took over Fannie and Freddie and we would like to refinance before the rates go back up again. The only problem is that the project (excluding the landscaping) has to be finished before the appraisal. So we have approximately 3 weeks to finish up!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Man cave continued + landscaping

Garage work continues, the old tinderbox of to the garage door has been walled up, as the new garage door is relocated to the atrium area. We'll wait to paint, as there is sure to be more mess made when the old single pane windows and sliders are removed.

Drywall and insulation in the garage is just about done, one wall remaining - but of course this means lets move on to something else and not finish (insert sracasm). Apparently its more important to prep for the garage concrete and the atrium foundation than to finish minor details. I shouldn't be surprised though, the inside is still has minor things being done and redone when done wrong.

Subcontractors ROCK!!! The garage people showed up on time (7am!!) and had the garage door assembled and working in 2 hours, wow!!

Thank god for little things. After three tries, we passed the city inspection, which means they can work on some of the little finishing details inside. The dishwasher vent (unneeded) is replaced with a soap pump.

...and the pendant lights are in - sorta.. We chose a line-voltage pendant to avoid the low-voltage magnetic transformer issue. Only problem is that the two side pendant wires have to run along the ceiling and the contractor didn't think to buy the wire hiding conduit. More finishing work for B&L we suppose.

Lastly, the other subcontractors - the landscapers are ready to start the retaining wall in the back yard and the wall blocks were delivered on Friday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Man Cave

Well its been three weeks since our last post and the garage construction is well underway. The garage has been framed and the single garage door has been taken down, necessitating a plywood facade for the front, but at least you can see the large increase in size. The windows above the garage have been ordered from Palo Alto Glass and will probably be here in about a month.

Here is the new entrance to the atrium. The front door was moved forward about five feet, which shortens the tunnel to the front door on both sides while maintaining a distinctive Eichler feel. There will be a sconce to the left on the outside and on the inside there will be another sconce and the original Eichler teardrop globe.

As you can see however, the redneck backyard has migrated to the front yard...

But the backyard is cleaned up - no vegetation (except the orange tree we're keeping) and no more concrete! We've decided to rebuild a proper retaining wall in the back, as the old one is rotted and not holding much of anything up. The new wall be serpentine and hold some more fruit trees, a couple of Japanese maples and a veggie garden. Hopefully the construction of the reatining wall will begin in the next few weeks. I will also be digging a trench so the gas line can be extended both into the fireplace and into the backyard to supply a future BBQ and maybe a firepit.

The inside of the atrium looses some space where the plants were previously at the expense of the larger garage. Here you can see it is drywalled and ready for tape and mud. The opening is for the new door to the garage, which will be a fire door instead of the tinderbox door currently in the dining room.

Now the garage from the other side. The old door will be walled up. The insulation is in on most walls, as is the new electrical work. Next up is the drywall.

You can see here that the carport cement is still jackhammered, the reason being is that we uncovered the original return pipe from the hot water heater was crushed under the concrete, leading us to believe that it is the source for semi-poor hot water pressure. So we're trying to see how far it goes. We may have to jackhammer further out to the hot water heater to replace the pipe before concreting over the garage and epoxying the floor. They need to get a move on and at least concrete the front of the garage, as the new garage door is due to be installed next Wednesday.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Dirtpatch 2008

It's been a while since I gave an update, mainly because not much has been done since the last post. The inside is still 99% done, as we had our inspection and promptly failed for some minor errors. Which of course holds up the lighting, which is really one of the few items left to do. We also are having the cabinet maker come onsite to look at a few cabinets, as the stain variation is just off enough on 5 cabinet doors to make it look a bit off - kind of patchwork-like.

What also held us up was the City of Cupertino, which took its sweet time reviewing and finally approving the plans for the outside garage. Work started again today and the crew set off breaking up the carport concrete. The jackhammer was in use at another site, so they started by hand with the hopes that the jackhammer would be free tommorow.

During the downtime, we interviewed gardeners and decided to start some of the work removing the vegatation. Remeber the giant overgrown junipers? Well gosh darnit, there's a house behind them. Say hello to our new and improved...dirt patch.

The back yard got the same treatment. The only plants that were saved was one bird of paradise which is getting potted and our mature orange tree. The concrete will be coming out next in the back yard as well, then we'll have another GIANT dirtptach. I can't wait for the rainy season, mudwrestling anywone?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Don't throw stones..

That's what they say about people in glass houses. As of today we are proud owners of new double paned, low-e glass for the back of the house, the master bathroom and the office. We can already tell the temperature difference in the house. Of course all this serves so we can more clearly see our redneck construction backyard.

The living room has a Blomberg aluminum window like our master and uses Palo Alto Glass' system for the fixed windows that have virtually no frame, preserving the authenticity of the Eichler design. Of course we still have the single pane up between the living room and the atrium and the slider to the dining room, but they will serve to keep the construction dust out when the garage and atrium projects start in two weeks. After completion, then they will come down and give us an really open floorplan.

Office window

Hallway opaque window

Standard vinyl master bathroom window

Knock Knock...

Who's there? New interior doors that is, Yay!! Still have to paint them, but they are installed and make BIG difference.

Keira's room is cleaned up and furnished, just have to install the blinds, paint the door and closet door and do some minor touch up. But it is liveable and we're hopeful Keira will start sleeping in there soon.