Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Future Plans for the House

Well I guess I should really say 'Future Near-Term Plans for the House'.

We've decided that while I've got some extra 'free time' now that I'd apply myself to getting some projects done around the house. We have an f-ton of permits expiring starting in October so we've got to try to close as many of them out as possible or else we'll be on the hook for the fees all over again AND for any changes in the building codes since the permit was pulled.
The giant foundation-entire downstairs permit is the first to expire in the beginning of Oct. so we're hoping that we can get as much of that complete as possible. We should be able to complete everything but the drywalling (can't do the drywalling because lots of framing, plumbing is going to have to be added to the area when we redo the top two floors) by the drop dead date...that won't close the permit out but we're hoping stuff that was signed off on won't have to be re-inspected.

Job 1 is turning this room into a full bath. We'll finally have a bathroom on the ground floor so people won't have to go upstairs to potty during patio parties.

We've already got the permits to do this so its just a matter of time...
I get to learn how to hang doors during this project. I'm going to plumb this bath with PEX tubing so we'll see how that goes with the building dept.
I'll do a more in-depth post on just the bathroom with the floor plan and stuff later.

We bought the bathroom vanity a while ago...I think there was a sale or something....here's the back of it, pretty exciting huh!

We already have the toilet too! Its a super cool wall hung unit that looks like a regular toilet-not all super high-tech and inappropriate for a Victorian bathroom.

Its an elongated bowl and since its wall hung we can set it at any height we like! Hello 20" seat height! I can't wait to use this baby! Actually, it will be good for when we're elderly and can't bend our knees so well...

This is the plumbing for the shower. Notice how its above the concrete floor? Ya this is going to be interesting....we're going to have to build some sort of raised mortar bed-platform thingy to get the level of the shower floor correct.

On the back of the house we need to rebuild the back stairs (we get to cut our first stair stringers hurray!!) and make them code compliant to get the back deck amnestied.

If we're lucky we can get the stairs to land on the edge of the sunken living room. We need to get rid of that ramp its outright dangerous when its wet and or you're drunk...

Here's an up close shot of the jury-rigged stair stringer. That vertical post is just kinda wedged in there and that horizontal member is just nailed up to a deck post....not real-super secure.

Our neighbor who we share this fugly bit of fence with would really, really like to redo it. We basically can never see this fence unless we go looking for it. But because it shares a border and its currently built on our side of the property line I'm going to get roped into , designing, spec'ing, making the lumber run and over-seeing the work being done...what fun. The neighbor who stares at this fence all day long, wants a fancy fence with an arbor top....which is fine, but much more expensive than what we want, which is just a basic well built fence that will last a long while and contain her dogs....hopefully we can come up with some sort of equitable compromise.

Now, what Irene really wants is to replace this section of fence which we stare at all day long with something that's not falling down and attractive looking. Unfortunately this is with a different neighbor who doesn't seem to care about it so we might be footing the bill to redo this section of fence ourselves.

On the left at the bottom of the fence, do you see how rotted the bottom of the fence boards are? That's because they were literally underground by that much from all the accumulated debris that the previous owner had spread around the backyard....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ghetto Baby-Gate Fix

This is a little late to help our friends the Harveys who screwed into their woodwork to support their gates....
We had to contain the babies in the 'baby-safe' area which of course means baby gates. The big pocket doorway represented a particular problem for us. Its very wide so a standard compression gate won't work and we wanted a doorway for easy access when you have a baby in one hand. Annnnd we really, really, really didn't want to tear up the original moldings around the doorway with a bunch of screws.

Here's what I came up with. I cut two 2by3's to just fit inside the doorway. Then I tapped shims into the top of the 2by3's locking them in place.

Check out the tuning fork in the middle of the doorway. Its to keep out 'bad vibrations.'

Ya its ugly and ghetto-tastic for sure. How ya like that big ole crack on the wall?

If I REALLY cared I'd cut the shims even with the wood and paint the whole thing white. I think you'd barely even notice it then.

Just in case people don't know what the heck I'm talking about here's a picture of the shims.

One funny thing that happened was that as the wood dried out it shrank pretty significantly in length and I had to tap the wedges in a lot more.

Now its so tight that I can not even get the 2by3's to budge. I think it'll stand up to the kids pretty well.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Never Use Willson Bailey Construction!!

A Crook Is A Crook Is A Crook!!

As a public service I feel I need to point out a foundation contractor that everyone should stay away from.

The contractors name is Willson Bailey Construction 2879 Humphrey Avenue Richmond, CA 94804 - (510) 236-7796

The kids down the street at Casa Decrepit have chronicled their huge foundation fiasco as it happened.

They recently settled out of court with the crook and as part of their settlement they are not allowed to mention his name on their blog or go after his contractors license!

But, their settlement does not stop me from saying things like, 'After reading the saga on the Casa website I firmly believe that Scott Bailey of Willson Bailey Construction is a total honorless crook!!!'.

Since the settlement the Casa kids have been meticulously dissecting the fraud, if you have not already you should read those posts here, here and here.

Just so you know how full of crap the BBB is check out their rating of Willson Bailey Construction. Can you believe these guys got an A+!?!??!



Friday, April 23, 2010

Take Off Yer Shoes Damn It!

We have this rule in the house about not wearing shoes inside past the doorway. Ya I know it seems a little silly with the house being only 1/3rd habitable but really its the only way to keep the place reasonably clean....you know, since we are not the clean-freak types and we can not afford maid service. Besides, think about all the places the bottom of your shoes go. You use a dirty nasty public bathroom then you're going to go walk thru your house on the same floors your baby crawls on? Yuck!

We had a small shelf by the door but it didn't look really good and could not hold enough 'stuff'.

So, in secret for our 11yr anniversary I commissioned a local artist-fine furniture maker by the name of Paul M. to make us something a bit more classy to store our shoes. I think what he came up with is perfect and fits our needs exactly. You won't get him to compete with IKEA on prices but if you want something truly custom and high quality don't hesitate to contact him. He got the job done on time and on budget and I would not hesitate to recommend him.


Check out the finished product installed in our entryway.

The two big cubbies on the bottom corners are sized to fit the ginormous boots Irene wears everyday. There's even six spots left over for guests shoes! That's a huge improvement over what we had before where our little shoe rack was full of our shoes and guests had to throw their shoes on the floor where people would trip over them.

The big drawer is separated into thirds with a spots for my mail, Irene's mail and a power strip to charge our cell phones and camera batteries and what not. The two smaller drawers are full of gloves and sunglasses and assorted brick-a-brac.

Here's a shot of the cabinet coming together in the shop. Paul forgot to take a lot of 'making of' shots so these will have to do.
He used solid cherry and birds-eye maple plywood.

I like this pre-staining shot. You can see the different woods.

Here's a shot after staining.

Complete and in the shop awaiting the low VOC clear finish to cure.

Here it is in our entry way with our cool hall chair where people can sit and take off their shoes in style. You can also check out your outfit in the mirror.

They make a pretty good pair don't they?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Garden Report for April 22nd

Oh wait, I forgot, we don't have a garden.....I must be thinking of the peeps at Casa Decrepit...

Happy Earth Day Everybody!!!

But check out our shared fence with our wonderful neighbors. That's their Jasmine and Nasterstions (i have no idea how to spell that word) on the fence. Nasterstion flowers are quite tasty and add a peppery zing to salads.

Our little pomegranate that we put in the ground recently seems to be doing well. Its not exactly taking off like a rocket but it looks pretty good after I cut away the dead wood and suckers.

Our supercool neighbors Denise, Robin and their dog Jiggy gave us some black bamboo that they divided.

Its been in the ground like a month and has already grown like a foot. We hope it will spread and hide our neighbors fugly falling apart garage that's built right on the property line...

In honor of Earth Day I drove all over heck and back buying tomato plants.

The little tiny tomato plants in these big giant pots look kinda funny but here's hoping we get a bumper crop.

We choose unusual varieties that you can't get in the store. This one is a sun sugar yellow cherry tomato. We hope it goes nuts and we can train it down the handrail on the steps.

this little tiny guy is a green zebra. When ripe they are green and yellow striped like a zebra. The pots are on stands right now with the idea that as the plants get taller we'll lower the stands until the pots are sitting on the deck and we can drape the tomatoes over the railings and hopefully have them cascade down. It'll be a multi-color tomato waterfall (maybe).

this guy in the corner of the deck is a pineapple tomato. They are yellow and pink when ripe. The picture looks more like a grapefruit to me but who would want a 'grapefruit' tomato?

this pot has basil and two types of hot peppers so we can make salsa with our fresh tomatoes!

Here's an overview shot of our 'garden' taken from the third floor.

One thing that I've still got to figure out is how in the heck we're going to keep these things watered... We don't have a hose bib anywhere on the back of the house!
Since our neighbors wonderful tree fell down we have a lot of southern exposure which should just roast these plants. Which is good for tomatoes and peppers right? As long as you keep them watered. I just discovered that we have a bunch of drip irrigation stuff left over from the old house maybe we can rig something up? We'll get Noel from Casa Decrepit to rig us up an Internet enabled watering timer!

We also decided to join one of those hippy organic farm co-ops. Where you give them money and they deliver to your door a box of organic goodness. We're going for one box a month to start with of mixed fruit-veggies.

This is the bottom layer of the box. Looks good no? The strawberries and the apples and tangelos are super tasty.

This is the top layer of the box...Anybody know what to do with a big bunch of chard? We also got a giant bunch of celery....guess we're going to have to figure out what to do with that also....

That's it for now I know y'all are going to look forward to in-progress pics of the tomatoes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bugs in Our Foam?

Oh My!!

I've been meaning to write about this for a while. I noticed a while back what looks like neat little ant hills formed in the foam that is insulating our radiant slab.

You can just see in the center of this pic the hole and the neatly chewed foam. The hole is big enough to stick my pinkie in and it curves sharply to the left.

Where there is another hole!

I've been watching these holes for a while now and I've never seen anything come in or out and the amount of chewed up foam has not appeared to change.

It looks like some kind of bug/bugs chewed their way into the foam and out again? I've heard that in places where there are termites and carpenter ants that they love to tunnel and make nests/hives/ whatevers in the foam. I really hope that this is not what is happening here. If the bugs chewed down through this foam and where able to chew through the water proofing layer they would be able to make a ginormous nest in the 2" thick foam that is under our slab...

But, like I said I haven't seen any indication that this is an active nest for whatever?? I'd guess termites maybe? Just to make sure I'm going to flood the hole with a borate treatment to make sure the little buggers are gone.