My Construction Diary

Part 5: Weeks 77 - On

Michael Edelman

Photo Credits:
Tom Ciemiega
Michael Edelman
Gary Zirulnik

The Story So Far:

We're now into week 77- a year and 5 months after the project began. Structurally, mechanically and electrically everything is complete. All permits are approved and signed off. All that's left is largely cosmetic:

Sand and refinish the rest of the first floor
Touch up the paint here and there

Add the cross-braces to the back porch roof posts
Redo the upstairs bathroom vent
Touchup the trim paint in a few places
Shingle the gable end on the back porch
Make sure all partial cedar shingles are secured with staples

Clean up the reamaining yard debris
Bring in a couple yards of soil to level the yard (and finish filling the trench)

Month 17
We got a bit done. Zack finished almost all the remaining painting until he ran out of the eggshell white, and sanded the basement stairs. I put a coat of sealer on the stairs and filled the screw holes and knotholes, and here's what that looks like. I'm going to sand it out, stain it a little darker and give it the same finish as the oak floors. Haven't quite decided how to trim out the side of the steps yet. 
    Zack also finished painting and cleaning out the downstairs bathroom, and I installed the light fixtures that were originally planned for upstairs.  I still have to reinstall the shower curtain rod (or buy a new one), and clean out all the old tub caulk and redo it with Polyseamseal or perhaps some ready-made tub trim. Oh, and touch up the paint on the old towel rods. 
My pal Barry lost the lease on the bike store he opened ten years ago, so he decided to close up and do something else for a while. (see  He gave me two of his heavy duty shelving units and that really helped me organize my basement. This is part of the combined laundy/shop area. 

Month 18

Basement stair's been painted green, with risers stained clear. Looks good.  I need more pictures.

 I finished all the downstairs floors last month and have just been putting off the shoe molding. There's a stack of molding with a finish on it in the living room just waiting for me to be motivated.

Instead I've been working on the yard, getting back into pre-construction shape. First on the agenda was hauling out the rest of the trash, which was taken care of by my friend Steve Munson, who operates a hauling service. Then came the landscaping plan.

The plan calls for hauling in dirt to level the yard, putting in landscaping timbers to define the garden areas, decorative stone between the back porch and driveway, and trimming all the trees and bushes.

I hired a landscaper I knew who needed the work, had $300 worth of landscaping timbers delivered, and after a week of being scarce he showed up, put in a day's work and disappeared out of town.

The second guy didn't answer his pages for a week, and then called to say he still wanted the job. Oops, sorry, no.

The third guy showed up a day early. He's working on the yard now. Fingers crossed....

One year, Eleven Months...

The yard was done... sort of. My last landscape guy did some nice work and then showed up drunk AND stoned, and was fired that day. Sigh. I raked out the yard, repaired some damage and seeded. I've got about three-quarters of a lawn now but still could use another yard or so of topsoil.

Gary and Zack came by and finished up a number of details. Zack, who has become a whiz at trim, did the last of the baseboard molding I'd been putting off. Gary finished the cedar shingles and the back porch gable. I cleaned up the kitchen and actually had a friend over for dinner.

The items remaining on the punch list:

Flashing on rear porch roof
Re-do the upstairs bathroom vent
Gutters on rear porch roof
Paint on front porch
Get the basement back in useful shape again
Buy some new living room furniture, some more bookshelves, and a washer-dryer for upstairs.

Pictures soon.

Five Year Update

The flashing, painiting and new furniture were all taken care of. The basement was cleared out- and cluttered up again. Still working on that. Never did get a washer-drier for upstairs, though I may yet do that one day.

I've done major landscaping, and I have two projects underway now. One is rerouting the upstairs bath vent, and the other is refinishing the wooden countertop in the upstairs bath, this time with something more resistant to water staining and wear. Possibly a few coats of a urethane, or maybe even epoxy. Gotta do some tests.

Overall, I've been very happy with the outcome. Every room in the house gets plenty of use. Would I do anything different if I did this over? A few things. I might use Hardiboard instead of the shingles. I'd do the kicthen a little differently, possibly even removing a few walls downstairs. And if I had the money, rebuild the garge to match the house, making it two-story. But I'll save all that for my next home project.