My Construction Diary
Part 2

Michael Edelman

Photo Credits:
Tom Ciemiega
Michael Edelman
Gary Zirulnik

Week 9:

Sunday

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.

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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 anyway.

Wednesday

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 cabinet.

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.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

Saturday

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 other suppliers.

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.

Week 10:

Sunday

I'm taking a rest.

Monday

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.

Tuesday.

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 little cottage.

 

Wednesday

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.

Thursday

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 deck perfectly.

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 for $28.

Friday

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 siding.

Saturday

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.

Week 11:

Monday

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 d 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 wire...

Tuesday

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..

Wednesday

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 the siding.

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 switches.

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
painting.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

Saturday

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.

Week 12:

Sunday

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.

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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

Wednesday

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.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

Saturday

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.

Week 13:

Sunday

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 wire bus?

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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 hourly rates.

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.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

Saturday

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.

Week 14:

Sunday

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.

Monday

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!

Tuesday

Rain.

Wednesday

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.

Thursday

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.

Friday

Gary put up some more sheathing and panels and ran the second wire/cable chase from the big upstairs closet to the basement.

Saturday

The tapers put the last coat of drywall mud on.

Week 15:

Sunday

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.

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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!

Wednesday

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.

Thursday

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 enough daylight.

Friday

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 coming on...

Saturday

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.

Week 16:

Sunday

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.

Monday

Gary's in Ann Arbor putting in an elevator. I managed to attach the dryer vent to the outside wall.

Tuesday

See Monday.

Wednesday

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.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

Saturday

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.

Week 17:

Sunday

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.

Monday

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

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

Saturday

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.

Week 18:

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.

Sunday

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 and electrical)

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 and paint.

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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.

Wednesday

We decided on trim specs- 1x3 window trim, no sills, 5/4x4 baseboard and headers (with reveal), all birch.

Thursday

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 into 2x5s.

Friday

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.

Saturday

Bought the parting stop (125 feet @ $0.25/foot) and paint, and did some more cleanup.
 

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 in soon.

Back to part 1                         On to part 3!