Saturday, January 5, 2013

Progress Report

I really do not have much to report other than some picture updates.  I've about had it, as can be read in my previous post.  I have a party for approximately 15 one year olds in 2 weeks.  My house needs to be in toddler friendly shape or else someone is going to catch my wrath.  These picture are horrible, but they show progress from right around Christmas time.  Clearly, we still have lots of work to do.

All of these pictures are of priming only, with the exception of the mater bedroom, kitchen, and powder room, and even those are first coat only.

Dining Room-no more pink trim!

Dining room facing the river - no more pink trim!

Hallway from living room to dining room and kitchen.  New ceiling and wallpaper removal.

Butler's Pantry - Buh bye drop ceiling.  Hello drywall!

Stairs from 1st floor to 2nd floor - All wallpaper removed, smoothed out cracks and primed.

Main bathroom - Gutted to studs.  Tile and bathtub installed.

Kitchen - pantry and powder room created.  Hardwood floors installed.

Kitchen-old features left for their charm like brick chimney and disconnected fuse box from 1916.

Master bathroom - you have no idea how many idiots it took to realize what I was talking about when I designed this floor.  How hard is it?  Its only THE quintessential pattern for the Victorian era mosaic.  Whatever.  I got the floor I wanted. 

Shower in master bath - and I was told we couldn't do a stand up show.  Showed them.  

So excited for purple wall sin the master bedroom.

Horribly out of focus picture, but this is the master bedroom looking in the other direction.

We are now calling this room the Study, I guess.  

Guest room.  

Living room.  Ugh.  I cringe when I look at this room.

BJ's master piece, which will never get done.  

The Neverending Story

The renovations still aren't done.  We still live with my parents.  My daughter did not celebrate her first birthday or first Christmas in her house.  I am angry.  Anger actually does not begin to cover it.

For a while now we knew that things weren't as smooth as we once thought.  There are a few reasons.  The major hiccup in this whole thing is that our contractor underbid the project AND he had never worked with this exact type of project before.  The frustration of dealing with the bank on this type of project has been so tiring.  There are two types of FHA 203(k) loans for the rehab of a house.  The first is a called a streamlined 203(k), but does not include any structural changes.  Or there is the full 203(k) loan.  This type of loan is issued when structural changes are being made, scoped to take longer than six months to complete, or when rehab costs will exceed $35,000.  We fall into all of those categories.

The way it is supposed to work is that the contractor does some work.  He then gets an inspection from a home inspector who is certified to inspect projects for the bank funding the loan.  Together they submit their paperwork to the bank with the total amount spent on the updates that have been completed thus far.  Once the bank reviews it they issue a check to us and the contractor.  We sign it over to the contractor and he is now paid for the work that has been completed.  Our project only had 3 " bank draws" built into it.  So lets say for example our loan was a $100,000 loan.  That means the draws were schedule for 1/3 way through the project ($33,000), 2/3 of the way through the project ($66,000), and at completion ($100,000).  That is a lot of cash flow to have on hand.  If that contractor is working with other subcontractors then he must front the money to pay them with the understanding that the bank will not pay until the work is inspected and submitted for a draw.  Because we were accommodating, we agreed to add a few more draws to the schedule, which took money out of our loan to pay the inspector each time, just so that our contractor was not left fronting $33,000 of his own money at a time.  Apparently we didn't add enough draws to help our contractor.  He was still left with no cash flow and that meant unpaid subcontractors, employees, and no supplies.  He started taking on side jobs to have some cash coming in to cover our work.   

There were clues about his need for additional cash flow, such as the occasional disappearing act to work on a job in Rhode Island or Virginia.  They were short jobs, and not frequent, so we didn't complain.  It all came to a head, though, when our contractor told us that the plumber had come into our house last week and taken our water meter as retaliation for our contractor not paying his final invoice.  He also threatened to break through the drywall and take all of the pipes out.   And when I say he took the water meter, I really mean, stole the water meter.  See, the water meter doesn't belong to him.  It belongs to me.  I own it.  It was put in by the water company, not him and his joke of a plumbing company.  Its in my basement and I pay the water company to service my home with water.  Every month I pay a bill to a water company, not him.  When I found out about this in an after hours meeting at the house, I immediately told BJ.  Uh oh.  Somebody just messed with the wrong attorney.

See, the funny thing is, BJ just got his groove back.  He left his job as an attorney at a firm downtown in October, and every since he has been trying to get his own practice up and running.  I am so pleased to announce that with two clients on board, Jordan Law, LLC is officially open for business.  What that also meant is that this plumber just messed with the wrong family.  BJ, Attorney at Law, sprung into action first getting on the phone with our contractor and then typing official documents outlining how this plumber would be reinstalling the water meter within 24 hours while supervised by a third party, and that he is not allowed on our property for any reason EVER AGAIN.  BJ's letter was written so much better, but that is the main theme of it.  This bumbling idiot called him and they arranged the re-installation to take place with the 24 hour window.  BJ-1, A-hole Plumber-0.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Treasure Hunt, Part 2

Here is a quick round up of some of the more interesting finds that we have had in the house.  All of these were found in the main bathroom in various spaces.  Some were in the ceiling, some were in the wall, and others were clearly specifically placed to be found by someone like us, as they were wrapped around the back of the porcelain soap dish.

This first news paper was found in the ceiling and was from 1916.  This was the year that the addition was done with the kitchen and bedrooms.   We didn't have a large piece, but we were able to date it from the obituaries.  It is a Philadelphia newspaper, though I am not sure which one.

Young man wanted for various positions.  I love the one where the job requirement is "must be sober!"

Then there was another newspaper from February 1, 1950 that was in various spots in the bathroom.  This was the New York Herald Tribune.  This first picture is my favorite section about the making of a "Super-Bomb."  Oh, boy.

There were large pieces of the theater section.  Here are a few of the shows that were playing on Broadway.

     ADAM'S RIB (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn)

 ON THE TOWN (Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller, Betty Garrett)

YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN (Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, Hoagy Carmichael)

Do more doctors really smoke Camels?

Prices for groceries in 1950

Electrical supply label from a local supplier

Lucky Strike label.  "It's Toasted"

A woman's plastic pin from the bathroom

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Walls are Closing In

Did you move back home after college?  Did you stay in your childhood bedroom for a few months until you locked up that dream job?  Then you probably moved out and got your first real place maybe with one roommate instead of the 4 you had in college.  Well, I have 4 roommates as if I am in college.  But mine don't throw wild parties, and the only person crawling into bed with me at 2 A.M. is my 10 month old.  My roommates are my parents, my husband, and Amelia.  And BJ, Amelia, and I are in my childhood bedroom. And those walls are most definitely closing in.

The good news is that the walls of our house are actually almost ready to be closed in with drywall.  We are going to have an inspection this week.  What this means is that we are putting humpty dumpty back together again.  After tearing apart this entire house we are getting so close to putting it back together.  Amelia's birthday is right after Christmas.  I told our contractor that if the house was not ready by the time of her party, that he was invited and he was going to watch all of the children that I invite by himself.  I think he heard me loud and clear.  Cabinets are being ordered, tile is being re-evaluated (cost seems to be driving this), electrical is almost done, insulation is going in, and BJ has been doing massive amounts of work at the house to get things de-wallpapered, sanded, and primed.  I see progress, and that is what I like.

The pantry and the powder room in the kitchen are totally framed and almost totally wired.  All plumbing is done.  They will be ready for the inspection shortly and then insulation and drywall can go up.

The plumbing for the bathrooms including the leaking sewage pipe have all been replaced.  What a relief to know that all plumbing is brand new in this house.  They said they could barely see through the drain pipes they took out because they were no clogged.  Ew.  

The floor have all been leveled and made so that no one falls through them.  I like that my family and loved ones can go to the bathroom without falling through the floor.  

Without going back to my previous posts I cannot remember if I mentioned that I modified the size of my closet.  Originally it was only supposed to go to the left of the small window on the side wall.  I said that wasn't going to work and asked that it be moved to the other side.  Now that is a closet fit for me!

Here is a view of the whole room.

And last but certainly not least...the mantle of the main fireplace.  BJ has been stripping the years of paint off of it to reveal the beautiful wood.  I cannot wait to see what this will eventually look like.  He has been very hard at work and I think that this will be a project that takes a lot longer then originally planned.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Electric Shock Therapy

A lot of the work that has been going on recently was a backlog of work that was held up by the electrician. One freaking guy with way too much power.  No pun intended.  Let's just say that our contractor had a Come to Jesus meeting with him over his attitude towards being paid in full before he was done the work. He also stated after he really looked at the house that the price would be increasing by about 20%.  Wrong.  It would not be increasing, and you will not be paid in full, especially since this is a project on a draw schedule rather then an invoice type project.  After that meeting he still decided it was okay to come and go as he pleased.  A final warning was issued and other electricians were called to be on standby.  I guess that was the final warning that he needed.  Work is progressing nicely now.

Here is a look at what our electrical panel looked like before.  You are looking as fuses on a 40 amp service (I am pretty sure it was only 40 amps, which is so not sufficient for a house of this size!) for a 3 story house and 2 car garage.  The white box on the right are the original breakers from when the addition was built in 1916.  We are keeping this disconnected panel because it is such a cool feature.  I will try to get a picture of the inside soon.  I think the funniest part of this is the meter location.  Notice it was located above the left most fuse panel inside the house.  It was a new smart meter hung right over top of an antiquated fuse box.  All this junk is being moved in the great electrical upgrade of 2012.

The meter box is being relocated to the exterior corner of the kitchen out of the way from anything.  We also converted our aerial electrical service to underground.  That is that big black cable coming up from the meter pan.  It wasn't hooked up in the first picture.  When the power company came out to disconnect the service they said it is an absolute miracle that our house had not burned to the ground.  Where the service entered the house, the wires were totally stripped bare.  If it had touched the inside of the metal conduit that ran down the side of the house...poof.  No more house for us.  But that is all disconnected now, so we have removed that one risk.   We also converted everything to gas so that we are not burning through 1000 gallons of heating oil each winter.  That meter will be below the electric meter pan.

Once everything gets run into the house from the meter pan, it goes under the kitchen floor, through the crawl space and into the basement to the new circuit breaker box.  Look at the timber beams in the basement.  Those are actual trees with bark from the 1600's.  How cool is that!

The panel that they put in is large enough to accommodate additional circuits in the house.  We went for a 40 circuit panel.  Oh yeah!

So now, everything that has been run out of that panel above has to weave it way through walls, floors, closets, plaster and lathe.  Right now there are spaghetti strings of wires hanging all over the place while we wait for the work to be completed.  

Notice the nonexistent floor in the kitchen.  Still no floor!  I am pretty sure we will not be in the house for Amelia's first Christmas and birthday :(

Friday, September 28, 2012

Hot and Cold

One of the must haves for the house for me was air conditioning.  I know that BJ really didn't think it was a must, but let's get real.  This summer had more 90 degree days then not.  The humidity in this part of the country is out of control.  We have a baby who sweats like her daddy, which means that I know she would have a lot of trouble sleeping because her natural core body temperature seems to hover around 200 degrees.

The other issue that we did not realize until it was pointed out by my father was that this house was heated by oil.  Now, most homes with oil heat have a 500 gallon tank out back or in the basement.  We had two.  That means that is takes 1,000 gallons of heating oil to heat this house at some point throughout the fall and winter.      Multiply that by the going rate for gas and we were in the $3,000-$5,000 range for heating our home.  We decided we also needed to go with a more affordable option.  While solar panels don't really do with the look of a traditional colonial built in the 1600's, a nice underground gas line would suit us just fine.

The logistics of these upgrades in a house made of plaster is easier said than done.  How do you run duct lines throughout an all plaster home?  Well, you don't.  The proposed system for the air conditioning would have to be able to go through these walls while still maintaining the integrity of the house.  We could go with what was called a high velocity system which is extremely costly.  It requires small tubing to be run in the walls and often a condenser is mounted somewhere in the house.  We did not have a space to really put the condenser.  As an alternative, our HVAC guy recommended a split hybrid system which would allow traditional ducting on the first floor and wall mounted units on the second and third floors.  I was not a fan of the idea of wall mounted units, but it seems that they are highly efficient due to the fact you can shut off the units when the rooms are not in use. The units also serve as the heating units for the rooms.

We settled on the Mitsubishi system that allows multiple wall units to be hooked to one outdoor unit.  I have to say that the pieces that have been put into my house scare me so far.  There are tubes running all over the place and lots of things sticking out of my walls.  There is also this crazy box of tubes in what is supposed to be my laundry closet.  Here is what I saw when I went to the house recently.

This is a revision to the original plan.  They were able to run duct work down from the third floor and into the ceiling of one part of the second floor.  This is the big silver worm growing in my eaves.

This is actually the location of a wall in the 3rd floor family room.  The wiring sticking out of the imaginary wall is where the heating/cooling unit will go.  Look at all that old knob and tube wiring that is going to be ripped out!

Another example of where a unit will be mounted in one of the bedrooms.

The ceiling in the 2nd floor hallway now has all kinds of tubing running through it.  

This pretty feature now resides where I hope my washer and dryer will also fit tucker away in a closet.

The piping as it was run outside.  Eventually this will be hooked to the outdoor portion of the system.

As for the heating portion, we got Delmarva Power to run our new gas line so that we can heat with natural gas now and avoid the gigantic oil bill this year.  At the same time then took our electric service underground and ran other conduit for phone and cable so no one else needs to tear up our yard again.  I have a whole different post for the electrical portion of this project.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Treasure Hunt, Part 1

I have not posted in a while because there is just a flurry of work going on.  For a while things were quite slow.  Then all of a sudden thing took off.  They finished up the structural work, they started the HVAC, and they finally got the electrical started.  There are lots of surprises and changes going on. But before we dive into those pieces, I thought that I would share some of the cool finds so far from the house.

First thing that we discovered was a well.  This isn't just some little wishing well where you drop and penny in and see the bottom.  This is a 30ft + deep well with water still in it.  The walls of the well are fully lined with brick.  It is quite the structural feat.  But is is really really scary for a mother of a curious nine month old.  I know that she is not strong enough to lift the steel plate that covers it over, but as a child of the 80's, visions of Baby Jessica flashed through my head when this well was discovered.  Then to make matters worse my husband brings up a reference to the movie, The Ring.  Great.

The well itself was on the architectural drawings that we got from the previous owner.  But since the above ground piece is really not there anymore we did not pay attention.  Our HVAC guy, who also digs for glass bottles as a hobby pointed it out to us.  Today the guys on site lifted the heavy metal plate so I could see inside.  Whoa momma!  Can you see the bottom?  Because I sure can't!  I am not sure what we will be doing with this find yet.

The next find wasn't so scary at all.  As I mentioned, our HVAC guy digs for bottles as a hobby.  He asked to dig on our property and look for a privy, which usually turns up the best finds.  He never found the privy, since more than likely our garage was built on top of it,  but he did find a Coca Cola bottle from the 50's or 60's in our crawl space.  The thing that makes this find cool is that it was made in the Wilmington, DE where our home is.  It is in great condition.  

I have a few more treasures that were recently discovered that I will share shortly.