My Construction Diary
Picked up some finishing materials for the basement stairs and perhaps
the second floor stairs as well. As I'll have to sand the stairs before
finishing it, and as it'll take a half day between coats, I'll probably
start this particular task next Friday so as not to get in the way of the
various workers who need to get to the basement.
The roofers finished today, and it looks good. No more tarps. They took
down the scaffolding Gary and John built to work on the wall above the
porch roof, so that has to be rebuilt. Gary and John installed a
few more windows and finished the indoor framing, other than some nailers
for the drywallers. We made a few more decisions about the bathroom roof
line and the entry to the upstairs hallway.
After our daily meeting I went to Home Depot and bought 5 gallons of
primer and 3 gallons of white exterior paint and some buckets and another
brush. Luckily I ran into a painter who gave me some advice on which
paint to use. We haven't found a painter who could start right away, so
Zack, our resident linguist and assistant carpenter, has just been
promoted to painter.
And we even let him use the nail gun.
I looked at some bathroom medicine cabinets at HD and wasn't impressed
with anything they had. I bought some electrical tape for myself but I
forgot to buy the T-50 staples Gary needs. Oops.
Gary bought staples, so of course I found my stash of staples that evening.
Gary and John installed the rest of the upstairs windows with the exception
of the one where we'll bring the drywall in. I cleared the brush where
Detroit Edison is going to dig a trench, so once I remove the short fence
between the garage and the back fence they'll have a clear path. Gary and
I discussed a few more fixture options and the issue of medicine cabinets
for the bathroom. I visited Home Depot later but didn't see anything at
all decent looking, so it's off to Herald Wholesale where they have the
expensive stuff. I also need a pair of wall sconces for the bathroom.
I took a close look at the workmanship of the guy who did the drywall
next door. Corners were sloppy and you could see the outline of all the
drywall tape. I don't think we'll be using him.
That night it rained pretty heavily, with a number of thunderstorms
passing overhead, but no rain got in. Well, no significant rain. The living
room ceiling is starting to peel, but that was on the schedule for repainting
Looks like all the upstairs framing has been completed, including the nailers
for the drywallers. The plumbers were by and completed their work upstairs
as well. As soon as the electrician finishes we'll be ready for drywall.
Gary and I talked a bit about the bathroom. I had thought of trying to
do the tiling, but that's a critical area- especially the shower pan- and
I don't think it's a good place to learn, especially as we're working to
get the floor closed off for the cold weather that's coming. I'll learn
to tile downstairs in the mud room and foyer. I'm thinking slate.
I thought a bit about making my own medicine cabinets. It should be
pretty easy to do what I want- a simple box of 1x3 oak with an oak veneer
back, one or two shelves, doors and trim. Might make the shelves from tempered
glass. I could have the crew frame the studs for the box and have
the drywallers leave a hole, and build the box and pop it in later. I'll
talk with Gary about this if I can't find something decent.
The plumbers have to run the bathroom vent through the bedroom where
we planned the overhead cabinets, but I should still be able to fit something
useful in there. John suggest I just leave the vent running though the
I picked up the latest set of photos which I'll scan this week if I
have time. I may buy a cheap digital camera for web work- the Agfa Smile
can be had for under $110.
Gary will be off working on a handicapped access ramp tomorrow, but
John and the electrician will be here.
Went down to the mid-40s that night and I turned on the heater, even
though much of the heat just runs upstairs and out the walls.
I ordered the digital camera, so photo updates should be quicker starting
next week. Gary phoned while I was out biking after work and told me the
window crew was coming the next day, so I headed home to get all the downstairs
trim removed and phoned my boss to tell him I'd be working on my house
Friday.. I also bought 5 gallons of prime and 3 gallons of exterior paint
for the trim.
One of the busiest days yet, with a total of ten crew on site at one time
or another- Gary (who spent the morning off site), John, Zack, the window
crew and their boss (who left after setting them up), the electrician,
two plumbers and myself. I spent some time making sure the window crew
could get at the windows from the inside as well as cleaning up around
them. I also helped John cut a new window opening in the dining room and
finished up the day nailing foam board to the sheathing.
John kept busy with at least three tasks at once, the plumbers laid
the PVC waterproofing pan in the shower and laundry, and Gary worked with
the electrician on the final layout. Zack made a major dent in the priming
and finish painting of the trim.
One small problem- the bathroom window is 4" too tall. Oops. But there's
an easy fix- we'll use it in the mud room, where we've been debating what
to put in the East wall. Problem solved. Gary's ordered a new window for
the bathroom which will be here in two weeks.
I was going to put up more foam, but it rained all day so I spent some
time at Home Depot and a high-end distributor's showroom looking for shower
fixtures and bathroom wall cabinets. I couldn't find any cabinets that
weren't either cheap garbage or way too expensive. I may make my own cabinets,
and just ask Gary and John to frame the openings for now. Shower heads
were also either cheap home improvement center garbage or $600 custom showroom
stuff, but I found some good Kohler fixtures in a catalog. I'll check some
I removed the fence and gate behind the garage and started digging out
the post. Fence went in the dumpster and the gate is leaning up against
it, as it's in fine shape. Someone should be able to use it. I'm beginning
to store enough salvage material to start my own yard.
I'm taking a rest.
More foam up, the soffits completed, the French doors installed, ex-bathroom
window installed in the mud room and a wall framed to finish out
the basement stairs. We still have to fill the foundation where the old
doorstep was. I scavenged through my collection of cinderblock, but the
ones I had were too big. Gary says pouring concrete would be more trouble
than it was worth. Probably just face it with concrete board and
mortar. Fine by me. After work I pulled the unused TV cable (we're rerouting
it) and took another crack at digging out the fence post.
The digital camera arrived and I did a few test shots. Should have something
up by tomorrow evening.
Gary called me at the office with a couple of questions and some rough
estimates for shower tiling. I decided that a shower was too critical an
area for me to learn tiling in; I'll use the mud room and foyer for my
practice area. I still may do an epoxy floor in the laundry. Or concrete
with a garage floor paint finish. I mean, it's a laundry, after all.
I ordered a Grohe adjustable shower fixture- $142 plus $11 UPS versus
a list price of $220. After work we reviewed the bathroom details. There'll
be a mirror over the pedestal sink, an open shelf to the right of the sink,
and cabinets on the opposite wall. I should be able to do all these
in oak or pine very quickly.
Zack put up more foam while waiting for it to get warm enough to paint.
Gary and John ragged him for putting it up with the lumberyard's name showing.
Of course, I did the same in the back, but I'm signing the checks.
Here's what it looks like today. Quite a difference from the original
Gary called me at about 8:30am to review our decisions on wiring the front
porch lights. Looks like the clear weather will stay through Thursday.
And it occurs to me that I was going to finish digging out that fence post
last night. More foam went up, and Zack has just about finished painting
trim. I went to Home Depot that night to get some freeze-proof external
water faucets and transparent latex stain. They didn't have the stain-
none of the stores did- and I realized I hadn't measured for the length
of the faucet assemblies.
I called my pal Peter in Ann Arbor to ask him about the great looking
tile he used in a recent bathroom project. He bought it from Virginia Tile
for about $5/ft^2.
Gary had asked me to hang around until he arrived at 7:30am as the siding
was supposed to arrive between 7:00 and 7:30. I was out of the house and
had the cars moved by 6:45, so of course by the time Gary arrived at 7:30
the truck still hadn't shown up. We reviewed some issues, he advised me
of a discount tile place to check out (on John R across from where the
old HQ store was), and I headed downtown. I phoned a few paint stores
and discovered none of the local Benjamin Moore dealers carry their brand
of semi-transparent acrylic latex stain, but the Sherwin Williams dealer
less than a mile from me has their "Woodscapes" semi-transparent polyurethane
stain on a 30% off sale.
At lunch, my friend Rick Uchartz loaned me, unasked, his 3/4 HP
paint spraying rig. What a nice guy. He says the pattern is very controllable,
and no brushing out should be needed. I bought 6 gallons of the Sherwin
Williams stain for about $100 and although it looked too dark in the can,
a sample shingle dipped and air dried matched the well-weathered cedar
Gary and I met with a prospective tile contractor who quoted $3,000
for the combined bathroom job and a mud job in the laundry. I'll be off
to three tile shops this weekend to look at samples.
After dinner I went to Home Depot with the intent of buying the freeze-proof
hose bibs, but the quality looked crummy so I decided to go with a standard
setup after all. I did buy the Velux extension rod for operating the skylights
A short workday. I think more foam sheathing went up, and some interior
details. We're waiting on the electrician to finish the second floor so
we can close the walls. I finally got that fence post out by standing over
the hole I'd dug, grasping the pole securely and lifting it straight up.
Then I dragged it over next to the dumpster, where it lays. Later it was
over to Home Depot again for a tray and some painting pads to stain the
I hit a few tile distributors and learned I'll really have to go back early
one weekday. Maybe next Friday? I went up to Ann Arbor and looked again
at Peter & Julie's shower; I like the tile they used, which also comes
in some very nice blues. I'll get samples from Virginia tile.
It was too cold and wet much of the weekend to paint the shingle panels.
If it's warm enough this week after work I may just use the pad to paint
a few pieces every evening and stack them up to dry. Otherwise I'll try
to spray them all this coming weekend, or take a day or two off during
the week. If the weather gets really bad I'll have to paint in the garage.
The electrician has gone missing so Gary's bringing another guy on site
to finish what we can't do. This is the main thing holding up the insulation
and drywall. Gary and John put in a short day nailing up more foam sheathing.
I went to HD again and bought a dozen 6" ICT recessed light cans (about
$15 each, discounted a bit in 6-unit boxes), 250' of 14-2 (14 gauge 2 conductor
wire, with ground), 250' of 12-2, two fan boxes and some wire nuts and
staples. The ICT cans are for use in direct contact with insulation and
are air-tight as well, which cuts air leakage tremendously when you have
a dozen of them. The difference in cost over a dozen IC cans of similar
quality is only about $60, so that's a good investment, I'd say.
I priced stainless steel siding nails as well- no 5# boxes, and the
1# boxes were about $6 or so. There are about 180 per pound in 8d, and
we need 1,000, so that's 6 pounds.
[Something I learned the other day: Take the length of a nail, subtract
1/2, multiply by four and that's the size. So a 2-1/2" nail becomes (2-1/2
- 1/2) = 2; 2x4 = 8. You need an 8d (8 penny) nail. The
comes from denir, the Latin word for penny.]
Coming home I found tucked away in the basement 2-100' rolls of 14-2
wire that my father had bought for a project many years ago. I imagine
14 year old wire is good; after all, my house is wired with 60 year old
I found a few suppliers of nails on line who can ship immediately. I ordered
10# of 316 alloy stainless 10d ring-shanked siding nails from an outfit
in Maine who assure me the nails will be here Friday. That's 1200 nails,
which should be enough; leftovers can be used on the rear deck. Gary and
John pre-cut all the window trim and Zack primed and painted it. The electrician
showed up and stayed until sundown. Zack is coming Saturday and he and
I will paint all the siding, weather permitting. Rick doesn't need the
sprayer back until Monday so we're okay.
The shower fixture arrived UPS. It's better than the cheesy Moen
unit I looked at, but for $140 it's still cheesy. Too much plastic. But
to get better still costs over twice as much..
Our electrician showed up early so Gary went to HD to buy a bathroom fan/light
to take advantage of this and get everything upstairs wired. A major thunderstorm
with small hail passed over around noon and it stayed wet through the night.
NOAA says it'll be clear though Saturday so things look good for staining
Gary and I discussed room fan placement that evening and I agreed that
his decisions were good ones. He got a call on a family matter and
had to run off, so I met the potential drywall contractors later and led
them around. Watching these guys measure for their estimate is impressive.
They walk around the house with a tape and a pad, one calling off sheet
sizes and the other writing them down. "two eights...a fourteen...another
one..." Very fast and efficient. When I told them the job was only in its
11th week they were impressed with the progress.
After they left I went off to HD to buy some dimmers- $80 worth! That's
four one-way and one three-way; I'll need another three-way to cover an
upstairs area that I forgot was on a three-way circuit.
I spent twenty minutes looking at different units, comparing cost and
design. You can buy cheesy dimmers with wobbly knobs on aluminum shafts
for $6, or you can buy commercial 1200 watt units for $35. I decided on
units that had a traditional toggle switch with a small slider tucked in
next to the switch for $15.97.. This will fit standard switch plates, which
is important as I'll be using wood plates, and they're not fussy to use.
Once you set the desired level you just flip them on and off like regular
I'm about 64% of the way through the estimate in cash outlay, and we're
still fairly close to original estimates, including various modifications
to the original plan. We did some mods that lowered costs, like deleting
a few windows and simplifying some details, but the biggest changes have
been the laundry (roughly $1,000 plus the machine), burying the utilities
(again, around $1,000), the chimney (more like $1500, probably). There
have probably been a few thousand dollars worth of small changes that came
in increments of a few hundred dollars or less.
Major cash outlays remaining include paying for the siding ($6600),
the oak floor (maybe $4000-5000 installed), drywall ($5000-5500), the bathroom
($3500), the rear deck, labor and painting. I still have some savings possible
in trim and
John's truck broke down, so he's out for a day. The nails arrived via UPS
today. I whacked one into a 2x4 scrap just to see if the 316 alloy was
soft. It's not. They're about a nickle each, but that's less than 0.5%
of the siding materials and labor cost. They last pretty much forever,
too. Even hot-dipped galvanized nails can corrode over time.
I looked at some three-toggle switches at HD for the bathroom fan- fan,
light, night light. All the three-toggle switches use push-in terminals,
though, so I think it may be better to wire with double toggles and leave
the night light wired on.
I started off the day visiting tile places and getting more samples. After
visiting a few places I went home and went to work with Zack staining the
siding. Using Rick's sprayer and back brushing we got through a lot of
the siding and all the corners in about 4-5 hours. Gary dropped by as we
were getting near the end of our stain supply, so he ran out and got another
10 gallons in 5 gallon buckets for another $200. We figured we were getting
about 100 ft^2/gallon, so the full 1700 square feet should take close to
17 gallons. Or so we thought.
The electrician finished the upstairs today, and the good news is that
we passed the electrical inspection. The bad news is that he misunderstood
how the Cat5 wire was supposed to be run. He daisy-chained everything,
which means I have to rip everything out and re-run it as a home run from
every box to the basement panel. Gary and I discussed how we're redo the
wiring later that night. He's going to try to run some more conduit down
to the basement.
Zack and I finished staining all but 20 panels- Gary suggested
we leave 10-20% clear in case we had too many. We also restacked the siding
to make a clear path for the power/phone/cable ditch. All in all it took
us about 3-1/2 hours. We finished one 5 gallon bucket with only three panels
left, so we used the last two one-gallon cans to finish, leaving us with
a full 5 gallon bucket. After Zack left I spent some time covering everything
with tarps and cleaning the sprayer and other painting gear.
I went to the local HQ where they're slowly closing out all the merchandise
and bought a shop vac extension wand ($8) and another 3-way
dimmer. I looked at fans (nothing I liked) and fan switches, which
I should go back and buy, as they were 25% off. That afternoon I
spent an hour cleaning up the site and feeding the dumpster.
Returned the paint sprayer to Rick at 7:15 am with my gratitude. Gary and
John built a fixture for trimming the siding panels and started nailing
them up, beginning in the Northeast corner. It looks pretty good. Gary
and I went over the options for routing the data and phone cables again
and decided not to run a new chase, but just to use the existing two pieces
of conduit on the North wall. There should be enough room for eight cables
and a couple pieces of coax.
It does occur to me that I could tie the phone bus together at one upstairs
closet and run only one phone cable downstairs, saving some wire. I'll
try to figure out how I could do this.
More siding panels went up, and one window was fully trimmed. It looks
great; very old-style and classic. Gary and John came up with a drip cap
made from two pieces of stock trim that is both attractive and functional.
I decided to go with both cable chases after all. The one near the north
wall can handle the data and RF, and the one by the corner post can handle
phone and video. (Before the floor went on we suddenly realized that we'd
missed an opportunity to put in rigid conduit in the existing joists before
putting in the new TJIs. But it occurs to me now that I could have run
flexible conduit. That goes in the next house.)
Yet another visit to HD, where I bought two three-way switches, two
dual toggle switches for the bathroom, a doorbell button, and a GFI outlet
More wiring, more panels up. Gary expects the siding will be done by the
end of next week. The drywall looks like it'll be more like $7500, assuming
we can get someone in soon. The insulation contractor is ready to start
next week once the inspector signs off, which is good, as it's getting
down into the 30s every night.
Another trip to HD to look at lights for the porch and bathroom (nothing
I liked) and buy a 6-pack of toggle switches.
More siding and trim up; looks great. Gary and Zack also moved the Maytag
washer from the garage to the basement so it'll be ready when the plumbers
come to relocate the sink on Monday (or perhaps Saturday). Gary's off starting
an elevator job tomorrow so no work. I'll be doing wiring on the weekend
and clearing the closet again for another wire conduit.
I did some checking and all 8 pieces of Cat5 (and more) will easily
fit down one conduit, so that leaves another for coax and two more spares
for later. I can probably fit two pieces of RG-8 and two of RG-58 down
one piece. I think I'll run a piece of RG-6 to each room as well.
Everyone was off on other projects. I was at the dentist. I did go over
to HD and drop $135 on a Leviton cable box that will make wiring neater
and quicker. All the phone, data and cable will go to one steel box with
a video splitter and pre-wired boards with 110 connectors and RJ-45 jacks.
This should be a lot neater than rows of 50 pair 110 or 66 blocks.
A semi-productive day. I thought I'd get all the cable done in a few hours,
the plumber would finish the laundry and the electrician would hang the
new breaker box.
The plumber forgot the outdoor hose spigot, ran the taps for the washing
machine in a clumsy way and did a shortcut in running the laundry tub drain
(he didn't keep the drain next to the wall), so we have to get on him about
that. We didn't have a piece of plywood on site big enough to hang the
new breaker box and other utilities on, and Gary had family duties, so
that was put off until Monday. (Gary came by later with a piece of wood)
But all the upstairs wiring is finished, I'll run the last two data and
phone lines tomorrow, and we should be ready for the new service by Wednesday
and insulation any time after Monday's inspection.
I finished wiring the last box and ran all the cable down to the basement.
Tomorrow Gary should have the mounting board up and the electrician should
have the breaker panel up, so at that point I should be able to pick a
spot for the network box. I'll order the additional board for the data
side (non-bridged with RJ45- $79) tomorrow.
I also figured out how to handle the RF side. I'll mount a single or
double box with a plate drilled to take a couple of feed-through SO-239
connector, and run RG-58 or RG-8 cable inside. I'm ordering some cables
with attached PL-259s from AES on Monday.
Two 52 ohm cables and one 72 ohm should take care of any reasonable
needs; I can always put a remote switch downstairs if need be. I'm thinking
of running more cable upstairs while I have the walls open- perhaps a speaker
Not too much done today; Gary spent a lot of time carefully fitting the
panels around the trim and dealing with the bay. The labor savings promised
with the panels look to be a wash in the long run. John's off this week
on another job but Zack's been helping. Gary has a couple of guys coming
later to do the second floor. Gary spoke with the plumber about fixing
the basement laundry problems, too.
I ordered some RG-58 and RG-8/U from AES (with silver PL-259s attached)
and the other module for the Leviton box from Home Automation.com.
More slow fitting of siding. Gary says there are as many pieces on the
bay as there are on the rest of the house. This would be funnier at lower
Still, a lot was accomplished today, including the mounting and wiring
of the new breaker box and the new meter box. I'll wire the data and phone
cables after the power is brought over from the old box, and I'll bridge
the new and old phone wiring, so when Ameritech switches over to the new
underground wire and NDI box I'll still be connected.
Gary called at about 7:30 to tell me we could get insulated Thursday,
inspected Friday and drywalled over the weekend. Great! And a darned good
reason to take a trip to Ann Arbor. The cable I'd ordered arrived today
as well so went I got home I was able to run the RG-58, RG-8 and RG-6 before
sundown. Later it occurred to me that I should photograph all the wiring
but I couldn't find the little Leica auto 35. I thought about setting up
flash or lights to use one of the Nikons, but it was getting late and I
was getting sleepy.
Gary called to ask where the camera was, and I remembered I had film in
the Polaroid so I directed him to where I had it stored...and in the case
he found the Leica, so he shot all the wiring. Later he called to see if
I had any Kilz primer (all I have is an aerosol can) as Zack is starting
to paint the side porch.
The drywall was delivered, so Gary put the last window in, sealing up
the house. The insulation contractor did his usual fine work, and
that night the heater hardly ran at all. It's pretty quiet upstairs, too.
It looks like we're just about ready for the drywall.
Busy day. I spent most of it working at home (although I admit to taking
a two-hour mid day bicycle break). Zack did more priming and patching on
the porch (say that ten times fast) and Gary made sure everything was ready
for the drywallers tomorrow. There were nails to be pulled, nailers to
be put in, studs for the bathroom, remount the shower plumbing, add the
outlets the electrician forgot and pull the switches he put in too soon,
add a small piece of missing insulation, put in extra insulation, and my
specialty, demolition. I spent a lot of time spitting out plaster dust
and slicing my hands open on metal lath.
More photography was done with both the Leica and Polaroid to make sure
we had a record of where everything was hiding under the drywall in the
bathroom. Gary stayed until 8:30pm and I spent another hour after that
sweeping up, vacuuming, mopping and sealing off the living room with plastic.
The drywallers will be here by 7:30am so I'll have to be up well before
that to unlock the door, run power upstairs and plug in the light. I'll
also do some dumpster diving to get some more insulation scraps.
The drywallers came and spent 14 hours, with only a short lunch break,
and completely finished hanging all the drywall with only a few slip-ups.
One was our fault, forgetting to staple up the wire for the track lighting,
but that was easily fixed. The other was boarding over the carefully trimmed
out spot for the bathroom cabinet, but that too can be solved in a few
minutes with my handy Roto-Zip tool. Bzzt! I did spend a few hours working
on more last minute tasks. One was removing the hall light fixture and
taping the leads so we didn't electrocute any workers while they were repairing
the ceiling. The other was getting some extra insulation in between the
basement stairs and the foundation, which Gary recommended. After that
I just tried to stay out of the way.
The tapers showed up at 7:30am and by 1:30pm had the entire job taped and
edged and the first coat of mud on. Pretty impressive. They'll be showing
up sporadically during the week to put on the next two coats, and
probably will be sanding next weekend. A friend who I'd like to hire to
do some faux paint finishes in a few places came by around 6pm to look
at the job and express amazement that I was living amidst all the chaos.
[Hi, Maureen. How's the page look?]
This being Halloween it occurred to me that I probably shouldn't have
hoards of little kids climbing through construction debris and stepping
on nails, so I drove some tall stakes around the front yard and ran red
"DANGER - DO NOT ENTER" tape around the yard and across the porch. I would
have preferred the yellow "WARNING - CONSTRUCTION" tape, but the
HD was out of it. They did however have a sale on sweeping compound in
50lb boxes, so I bought one as there will be a lot of dust during the next
week. I also succumbed to gadget impulse and bought a shop vac muffler
which doesn't work as well as I'd hoped it might. I should buy a fine particle
filter to make the drywall cleanup easier.
The tapers came in and put down the second coat. Gary did some more tricky
foam sheathing and shingle panel fitting, working about a half day. Looks
like the HVAC sub came in and put a duct in the downstairs bedroom. I ran
a roll of film to the lab and made an evening run for more packing tape
and 2 lbs of 1-3/4" roofing nails. We estimated it would take about 20
gallons of paint per coat for three coats- 60 gallons at $20 per or $1200.
Might be able to get that down to $18/gal or less in quantity.
Gary and I discussed meeting to design the upstairs and prioritize remaining
tasks. I'd really like to have the rear deck and roof on by winter, but
that may not happen- we may get snow tomorrow night!
Gary's off working on an elevator install, but the tapers came in and put
another coat of mud on. Looks good. I ordered a new circular saw for myself
(Porter cable w/brake) and a rip guide. I ran into my friend Tony, an excellent
finish carpenter, and we spoke a bit about possibly his doing some finish
work depending on availability and sequencing. He stated a preference for
trimming out before painting, given the choice.
Gary will be finishing up his elevator job, so another quiet day on site.
We did talk a bit about the sequencing of paint and trim, and about some
decorative pieces for under the gables. Gary left a catalog at my house
from a maker of various trims.
The HVAC contractor showed up and installed the outdoor A/C unit. More
importantly, the humidifier is up and running.
I'm still developing drawings for the upstairs trim and paint. I've
considered doing all the trim in painted MDF for more of an old farmhouse
style, but I think I may just go pine after all, despite the cost. It's
one of those things where the extra money is probably worth it in
the long run.
Rick also expressed a preference for painting before the floor and trim
go in, since he will be able to work faster even if we have to touch up
after. That means I'd better select some tints for the top coat soon.
Gary put up some more sheathing and panels and ran the second wire/cable
chase from the big upstairs closet to the basement.
The tapers put the last coat of drywall mud on.
The tapers came early and sanded. I spent an hour sweeping and vacuuming,
but there's still plenty of cleanup to do. There are a lot of gobs of mud
to be cleaned up, some wall openings to be trimmed and a couple of large
dings to be repaired. Zack will do more cleanup tomorrow and he and Rick
can begin painting this week. I'll pick up some primer tonight; I'll need
probably at least 15, and maybe 20 gallons. I think I'll start by buying
10. We're scheduled to have the floor go in at the end of the month,
which is just three weeks away.
This week Gary's supposed to have a small crew to help finish off the
sheathing and siding on the second floor. Hopefully this will be
done with a few days and we can get on to the back porch and the inside.
We've got some great warm weather and this would be a good time to set
the posts for the porch.
More panels up. Gary and I discussed rehanging the side porch door. I bought
10 gallons of Sherwin Williams best primer. ($130). Good news is that the
flooring contractors will lay the floor Friday and Saturday and sand it
later. We met with a couple of tile installers from Berkley that seem like
they'd be a good choice to work with.
A gorgeous day to take off from work, so that's what I did. I spent
the morning working a bit. I trimmed drywall around the windows with the
Roto-Zip, removed some more trim, did a foam/tape/lunch run and sharpened
some chisels. About 1pm I took off on my bike for a 3 hour ride. Gary and
John put up more panels, solved the problem of fitting the panels under
the gable trim (thinner foam) and ripped some drip edge to fit under the
rake. Zack primed half the upstairs. I should shoot some digital photos
to show the progress.
Gary thinks we'll need another square of siding panels- maybe two. That's
$600 to $1200 more unexpected costs. We're 90% of the way through the budget
but still have to account for this month's labor, the extra panels, the
rear porch/deck, the tile, the trim, the entire downstairs and of course
Gary's profit. I'll try to build as much of the porch as possible
by myself, with some supervision and design help from Gary. I also have
a friend who has promised to help me one day with some of the bits requiring
more than one person.
Budget wise it looks like the project is at least 10% over our estimate-
and maybe as much as 20%. Everyone says "Oh, but you'll make it all back
when you sell", which is true, but I do intend to stay here for a few years!
Short day, but more siding went up and the glass block contractors dropped
off the upstairs window unit and replaced all the basement windows. No
more draft from the basement up the stairs. The tilers called with their
estimate of $1700, which is a little more than half of the high estimate.
At that price I might tile more area and perhaps use the more expensive
tile. I repaired some of the rosin paper protecting the oak stairs
and floor; I'll finish Thursday. I also went to my storage locker to get
my winter coat and boots and a suit I need for this weekend.
Gary put up more panels and Zack finished priming the upstairs and the
stairway. I started digging a hole under the new electric meter for the
conduit- should be done tomorrow. I noticed that all the new wiring has
already been tied to the new panel, so we're very close to having the new
service connected. I put in some more rosin paper while there was still
Pulling the old minivan out of the drive this morning I realized I had
a flat tire. Not a great way to start the day. I parked the van and took
the wagon to work. I'll have to get that tire fixed Saturday, and the day
is already booked up. I feel like I've got the flu or perhaps food poisoning
The electrician came and bridged the two panels, so we're ready to switch
over. We noticed there's this crack in the foundation by the old service
entrance. I spent a lot of the day indisposed.
Felt better and went to see a big project Gary and John did last year.
Turns out I knew the couple in question. We decided to go with birch trim
and birch plywood for the shelves and bathroom counter.
Gary's in Ann Arbor putting in an elevator. I managed to attach the dryer
vent to the outside wall.
Zack finished the prime coat, and will start the finish coat tomorrow.
After a lot of agonizing on colors I decided to go with a simple plain
white- 2 coats of Sherwin-Williams ProMar 200. Gary figured out the trim
detail for the top of the stairs and spent some time on R&D making
some prototype gable ornaments. The tile contractors came by and we discussed
some details. They'll start mudding on Tuesday. We talked about the closet
shelves and Gary recommended the prefinsihed melamine for shelves when
the closet's already painted. I remembered a recent Fine Homebuilding article
about closets so I dug it out and studied it.
Gary got the side living room door working right for the first time in
12 years. It was always tight, and the weight of the second story really
made it jam up.
We talked a bit about the glass wall for the shower (I have to visit
a showroom this weekend) and I considered using sliding glass doors
as perhaps the best compromise solution overall. Gary convinced me to use
pegs rather than rabbets to hold the glass shelves in the little cabinet
I'm building- I'll pick some up at Rockler. We also decided to check out
using a one piece stainless steel sink instead of the wood. Gary will price
that. Zack should be finished painting today so I'll put in the recessed
lighting trim this weekend. With light up there I can start working upstairs
when I get home in the evening. Having the painting completed also means
we can get the floor contractors back in to sand and finish.
The glass block over the staircase went in, as did the shower window. The
glass block really looks great- Gary notes that it's one of the cheapest
details in the house, costing only $80 (plus installation, of course).
We should have used more.
Gary dropped off 10 new siding panels- he'd ordered and paid for 14 (two
squares) but 4 are back ordered. I built the medicine chest in an overly
complicated way to play with a pocket hole jig I bought.
On today's HD run I picked up track for the lighting and a few more
trims for the recessed lights. I've decided to do the bedroow with fixed
reflective trims rather than the eyeball trims. I'm not particularly fond
of the eyeball trims, and I think 4 standard (A-type) 40 watt bulbs in
the reflectors will give enough light for the bedroom. Consider that the
old bedroom used 120 watts in an inefficient fixture to light just over
100 square feet; that's 1.2 watts ft^2. In the new bedroom I'll have 160
watts illuminating about 150 square feet, or about 1.3 watts/ft^2, and
the fixtures are probably 50% more efficient. I've kept the eyeball
trims for now- they can always be returned- and I can add other lighting
if necessary. The closets, which are the only place where higher intensity
lighting is needed, will have their own fixtures.
I put two coats of oil/polyurethane on the medicine cabinet, stained 7
of the panels and Dan Eklund dropped off a cool old library card catalog
case that I plan to use for storing fly tying materials. Thanks, Dan. I
gave him a compressor that's been sitting around for two years that's in
great shape but needs a motor. Now he can get into pneumatic tools.
It rained overnight, but cleared up by morning. It's humid, and supposed
to hit over 60 degrees, so it's a good day for outdoors work. Gary finished
putting siding on the front gable.
Tuesday and Wednesday
More siding and exterior trim
Thanksgiving Holiday. But I did shoot some Polaroids of the house
as it stands:
That last photo is part of the large room upstairs. You're looking at
the area above the French doors shown in the previous picture.
Another holiday day. Gary and I had a brief morning meeting to finalize
decisions on trim (birch) and doors (flush) and a few other details, as
well as deferring others.
A run to HD for some door lock sets and closet lights (18" fluorescent
fixtures with pull chains). Oh, and I got some corner clamps really cheap
at the used tool store.
Gary's off this week doing a deck while we wait on the last 4 siding panels
to be delivered. Edison should arrive Monday or Tuesday to install the
new power drop. Once this is done and the electrician finishes downstairs
I can install my phone and data cabling hardware. This evening I'll
be running rosin paper upstairs. Over the week I'll be cleaning up, terminating
the data and phone jacks and maybe getting a start on finishing the closets.
The usual Home Depot run. I went looking for 1" sprinkler pipe, suggested
by Gary as a good underground conduit, but it's a seasonal item at HD.
They may have it at a sprinkler supply place at 9 Mile Road and Telegraph.
I bought a different pair of door sets of doorknobs as the knobs on the
ones I bought previously looked too industrial.
Gary called me that evening with an estimate of the full project cost,
including the as-yet unbegun rear deck; it comes to 27% over the original
estimate. To this I could add another 5+% for materials I've purchased
that don't show up on Gary's accounts. (For instance, I think I've
purchased at least $500 worth of paint and stain and $700 for lighting
But most of the overrun comes from the choice of the shingle panels,
as we originally budgeted for vinyl. There's another one or two thousand
for the laundry, and a number of other details. And of course this doesn't
include all the downstairs work I have yet to do, including all the trim
I returned the extra door lock sets and picked up another roll of rosin
paper. At Gary's suggestion I'm papering over the major traffic patterns
upstairs. I also ordered an 84"x48" birch bookcase (for the bedroom) at
Naked Furniture. The price quoted was a bit higher than I was originally
told, but I discovered they're very willing to cut discounts (I got 13%
off list) to make a sale. The order will go in on 12/11 and it should be
here by 12/30. I was going to get more shelves from them for the other
room, but what I'm sketching suggests I should really just make these up
on-site. I suspect I could get some 3/4" birch veneer plywood ripped to
12", 18" and 24" at the lumberyard and make these pretty quickly with biscuits
or the inexpensive pocket jig I picked up.
Still no Edison crew. I'm not worried...yet. If they don't show by Friday
I'll have to reschedule Ameritech. I spent the evening paying bills and
taking care of some insurance matters. Gary came by earlier to measure
for the trim.
We decided on trim specs- 1x3 window trim, no sills, 5/4x4 baseboard and
headers (with reveal), all birch.
Gary priced the birch out at about $1,500. That's a bit of cash, but it's
over $1,000 less than the first yard he checked with. If it arrives
by Christmas I can spend a chunk of my holiday running baseboard and window
trim and leave the more difficult stuff (hanging doors, for example) to
Gary and John. I should have the shelf unit I ordered for the bedroom in
by then as well. The bathroom is a question- I built the medicine chest
in oak. I can redo it in birch, or we can trim the inside of the bathroom
in oak, or we can just wing it.
Gary found himself with open time today so he put in the track lighting
and the closet lighting and delivered the last of the siding panels. Zack
did some major basement cleanup, and I did some mopping. I also made a
trip to HD for a steel column to repair some of the plumbers' work- they
turned some of the 2x10s under the Northwest corner of the living room
Gary and Zack are off installing an elevator today. I've got my homework
set for the weekend: Stain the siding panels, buy another gallon of interior
primer, a dryer vent for the upstairs laundry, and some good 1/2" parting
stop for the windows- about 120 feet. With luck I can get a lot of it installed,
too. And perhaps I can do some more basement mopping as well.
Bought the parting stop (125 feet @ $0.25/foot) and paint, and did some
Summary: End of Week 18
In the last 9 months most of the exterior work was completed with the exception
of a few siding panels, the new porch columns and the new back porch. Most
of the work from this point on will be interior until spring when we'll
start on the porch.
Wiring is almost complete, and I'll start on interconnecting the phone
and data wiring soon.
Indoors, the upstairs painting is complete, the light fixtures are all
in (save the hanging fixture over the stairs) and the floor is in. The
wood will be ordered in the coming week, and hopefully the tile will go
to part 1
On to part