Sunday, September 30, 2012

How Am I Going To Do This?

One of the next big things I have to do with the kitchen redo is run the code correct venting for our fabulous new hood.

I've run into a bit of a hitch (when don't I).
I have to install the exterior vent motor to the outside of the house.

My plan is to take out the 'window to no where' and install the exterior vent motor in its place....
Problem is, its 13' up off the ground...
Well, that's not really the problem, the problem is, is that I only have 46.5" of clearance between the fence and the house at this point.

I borrowed my neighbors rickety old extension ladder and put my ladder stabilizer on it.
That ladder is really not at a great angle..
Plus its kinda anti-confidence inspiring...

I can get my fat arse up there and I will probably be able to work from the ladder to remove the window. I just need to remove the parting bead and four nails it looks like...

But humping the big heavy ventilator up there and installing it...I don't think so...

The super cool kids at Casa Decrepit offered to let me borrow their scaffolding!!! Hurray!!!
Except that, their scaffold is 62" wides...not gonna fit.

Does anybody have any ideas on how I can work up there safely???

We Have An Outdoor Kitchen!!!

I've been putting all the stuff I'm taking out of the kitchen on the deck for now.

It looks like this.

One of my nosier neighbors asked me, 'Uh, what ya doing on the deck back there?'
With as straight of a face as I could muster I said, 'We putting in an outdoor kitchen!!!'

Y'all shoulda seen the look on his face.....priceless.....

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kitchen Redo Day 3

Started off with a simple fun job, installing the new lights in the breakfast bar.
Don't they look purty?
We really love them over the craptastic IKEA puck lights. We really like the quality of the light and are using them way more than we used the old lights.

Then, onto the glass block window.

Bi Bi Window!

Using my HF sawzall I cut the nails holding it to the framing.
Here's a shot of it mostly removed.
There's always one nail holding up the works.

The nail let go slightly unexpectedly and BOOM the window fell to the floor.
Missing the dolly that I had put there...
I was sure it was going to crack or crack the tile floor but both survived pretty well.
When the window hit the floor it made a very loud boom and kinda shook the house...Mrs. MadMadScientist hobbled downstairs to make sure I was still alive...I haven't put it on a scale yet but I'm pretty sure it weighs like 7000 pounds....

The glass block is fine, the wooden frame for it didn't fare so well...
 We plan on turning it into a table for the garden...with pink neon lighting of course.

And then magically the wall was done!!!
Ah, don't I wish...
Here's a shot of me putting up the blocking for the cabinets-hood and furring so that the drywall can actually be screwed to the studs!
After all that blocking and furring I'd be pretty hard to miss the wood..I hoped.

Here's a shot of me mixing up the Easy Sand 45.
This was a mistake and I knew it when I was doing it but this is all we had at the house...
I should of used Easy Sand 90 cause you get an honest 45min working time...with the 45 you really only get 20min...

Done!
Sorry, sometimes I get in these moods where I don't want to take pictures I just want to get the stuff done...I still need to go over my horrible mud job with a wet sanding sponge and through a couple of coats of primer on the wall. Luckily almost this entire area will be covered with cabinets and back splash so my sins will be hidden.

Ode To My Bucket Boss
 I always thought that they were silly till I used one.
Turns out they are super handy and I'm really enjoying using it.
Ton's of pockets for everything and they are all handy and right there.

Friday, September 28, 2012

More Water Through The Ceiling In The Dining Room

This was just exactly what I needed while desperately trying to finish the kitchen under the very, very strict code enforcement permit time lines....

Water Dripping From The Ceiling!!!!
Hurray!!!!!!

That makes it three times now....
I bet y'all know what I'm thinking...that same friggen tenant left her water running for a third time? That's two times too many...and she's away on vacation!
So, I go racing upstairs and make emergency access to both units to determine where the water is coming from.
I tear through the units and find.......
Nothing.... I tear through the most likely culprit again, ....nothing....
The water is absolutely not coming from the units...that's good, cause I was going to perform my first ever eviction if it was, I tell you what!

It wasn't a lot of water, not like last time. We don't have any access to this area of the ceiling...I was looking at cutting into the ceiling to investigate...not a happy prospect as this is still the original lathe and plaster part of the home...

But then, Mrs MadMadScientist saves the day....She says, I just noticed that the toilet on the top floor bathroom is leaking from the tank bolts. A pretty steady drip too.
We turned off the water supply to the toilet, drained the tank and stopped the drip.
The leak in the ceiling stopped also!! Hurray!!!

I have no idea what sort of bizarre circuitous route that water was taking to go down two stories and into the dining room ceiling...

But, Hurray, problem solved without having to cut into the ceiling.
 

You Have A Very Unique House.....

Here's something that I've learned you don't want your refi appraiser to keep telling you....

You Have A Very Unique House.....
He kept telling me that over, and over, and over....

Turns out when trying to get a decent appraisal having a unique house is a very, very, very bad thing....
As everybody knows our house is located in the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast, having always been an affluent neighborhood has a dearth of multi-unit buildings. I mean, probably like six in the entire 'hood.
Since only one duplex has sold recently there are essentially no comps in our neighborhood for our house.
No Comps In The Gold Coast
Plenty of single family houses have sold recently around the same total size as our house and they've all sold for over a million!
We're thinking, 'Great, we've got comps now we should have a great appraisal.'
Cept, 'it doesn't work that way.' is what the freaking appraiser told me.
Apparently they are not allowed to use the single family house recent sales?!?!?!?!
I asked him, 'Huh? Isn't there some sort of transfer function that you could use to apply these recent sales to arrive at a reasonable value for our house?'
'Nope, not allowed too.'
'Huh?!?!?' How does that make sense?

So, a house with the same size lot and same square footage in the same 'hood in the same condition can't be used because its not a multi-unit and there is no way to go between the two...does that not fly in the face of logic?

 
No Increase In Value For The Gold Coast!?!?!
The appraiser had to go outside our hood to find 2-4unit buildings that have sold recently.
Now, I'm not bagging on other neighborhoods but...it turns out that the less affluent the 'hood the more multi-unit buildings. Either because people converted to help make ends meet, or nobody cared if the old Vic's were razed and turned into apartment buildings...whatever...

The point is, the 'hoods he found comps in were not exactly comparable in anybodies mind. I'm talking far West End near the housing projects....
Then we had another interesting conversation that went like...'I understand that you have to go outside my 'hood for comps but you must understand that there has to be an up charge in value when going from a less affluent 'hood to ours.'

I mean, that makes sense right? The exact same house next to the projects is going to sell for a lot less than that same house across the street from Franklin park right?

The appraisers response was basically, 'Nope, I'm not seeing it. No increase in value.'
I immediately called a couple of Real Estate agents and their response was, 'Is he nuts!' In a scenario like that they both agreed that 20% would be the min increase in sales price...

Here's What $800 Worth Of Appraising Looks Like.
Got the appraisers report in the mail and this is what it looks like. 70 zillion pages of cr@p.

But,
But,

 
The Refi Went Through!!!!!
Woo!!!!! Friggen Hoooo!!!!!!!

Since it took so long the rates dropped and it looks like were going to be saving just slightly over $500 a month...that's $6k a year....that's probably about what its going to cost in materials to finish the basement apartment.....it couldn't of come at a better time for us, as we don't have anymore pots-o-gold to dip into to get this place finished......while trying to save up for the new roof and exterior paint job....

I know I'm not the brightest bulb in the tool shed or the sharpest tool on the tree but can somebody please explain the preceding to me?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Its Almost Halloween Time!

The surest sign that it is Halloweentime around Casa Madmadscientist is our annual delivery of goodies from The Oriental Trading Company or OTC as its commonly called.

Unlike past years where I was sweating the delivery and we almost didn't get it in time, this year I ordered extra early.

This is what ~$100 of candy from OTC looks like.
That's over 1200 individual pieces of candy!I always go for the wacky assortments and candy from my childhood. Pop rocks anyone? Lik-em-aid?

Here's a shot of some other stuff that was in the box.
We always need more rats, crows and fake barbwire (who is barb and why does she have a wire named after her?).This year OTC had these neat coffin with skeleton party invites that we had to get.
If you're a neighbor don't be surprised to find one of these on your doorstep.

Now, mama and daddy madmadscientist have already sampled the wares....so far toddler madmadscientist hasn't figured out whats in the box. 'Whats in the box man,...whats in the box!'
We'll be in trouble when she does, cause boy does that kid love dum-dums....

Hopefully there will even be some candy left to hand out on Halloween....

Let The Annual Holiday Weight Gain Begin!!!
 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kitchen Redo Day 2

Yes, I know I posted 2.5 before 2.0

This post could also be titled.
The Saga Of The Too Tall Dishwasher
or
The Freaking PO Is Screwing Me Again

Today's goal was to swap out dishwashers, add the missing code required air gap, install the fabulous new 1HP garbage disposal, install a new faucet and drill a hole in the counter top for a soap dispenser.

Switching dishwashers should be a simple thing....slide one out, disconnect it, connect up the new one and slide it in, DONE!!! In this case, not so much....

Old Dishwasher Finally Pulled Out
You see, the problem is, the PO installed the cabinets along this run onto the sub floor. Then he added 1/4" cement board and the tiles....effectively trapping the existing DW in its place...instead of tiling the entire kitchen floor first or at least adding some plywood to bring the cabinets up he did....NOTHING!

Here's some fabu shots of me trying to figure out how to get the newer DW to fit.

See that look on my face? I've had that look a lot lately...
To get the new DW to fit I had to remove part of the padding on the top and massage a metal seam with my framing hammer! You can also see the crappy chrome plated plastic faucet in this picture.

On To The Garbage Disposal

Cabinet Before

Existing Crappy Plumbing

Whoops, gotta switch out those non-GFCI outlets under the sink!

Voila New Garbage Disposal

New Plumbing
Had to make a quick trip to Pagano's Hardware cause the P-Trap ripped in two and I need a longer tail piece.

Dead Plumbing Parts
Bye Bye

Drilling The Granite Counter Top
I was pretty worried about this, thinking that it was going to be some hard horrible thing. This turned out to me one of the easiest things about this redo so far. After watching some YouTube videos I was ready to try it.

My Drilling Tool

Don't ya love the handle? Can't find ANY of em anywhere....That's a diamond grit bit that still cost me $32 at the shady Chinese granite place...

Hole Marked And Ready To Go

Instead of using water to keep the bit cool someone suggested packing it with ice as it was less messy.

Action Shot

Hole Done

Cute Little Plug
I'm hoping that the black on the bit is just burned wood from cutting all the way through the granite and plywood underlayment....I'm hoping I didn't cook the bit...
Giant Mess....

Soap Dispenser Installed

Done Shot
We can't believe how much nicer the new faucet makes the kitchen look. It took me like 2hrs to pick
out this faucet. I had to call several manf to ask them, 'What exactly is this faucet made out of?' I wanted a solid brass faucet and NONE of the manf I talked to make em anymore! At any price point! All the high end faucets where 'all metal' but the metal was some sort of amalgam and they couldn't tell me what was in it...these are faucets that retail for like $600!?!?!  I got the guy at Pfister I was talking to to tell me which older discontinued models were made that way...then I found one at Amazon! Heavily marked down cause it was a discontintued model.

This shot also shows the new SS outlet covers we bought.

Some exciting pics of more SS outlet covers.


Next Up, What to Do With The Glass Block???

Friday, September 21, 2012

Kitchen Redo Day 2.5

This post could also be titled
Electrical Schmectrical

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate the PO of this house? How many countless hours I'm spending un-F'ing this guys work?
There's even a song that goes along with it. 'Hate em, hate em, hate em, hate em all day long...Heh! hate em hate em hate em, this is the hate em song, Heh!' Its catchy, trust me, if you catch me on the street I'll even sing it for you!

So, one of the things my code enforcement officer specifically pointed out was the lights on the arch over the breakfast bar. He said that they are 12VDC lights and that he couldn't find the transformer anywhere.....I was secretly hoping that they were really 120VAC lights and he was just mistaken....not so much....

Here's what they look like with me just taking one down

Check out the look on my face when I looked up into the hole.

Cause this is what I saw.

Yanked out

This is my fav, that's safe right?

This is what I felt like after I had em all pulled out.

So here's the crazy thing (ya just one) these holes were wired for 120VAC. But instead of putting in ceiling boxes and 120VAC lights they put in the outlets and the transformers and all of this mess.....
Arrrrrrrrrrgh!

So, out go the lights, the transformers and in go the old work ceiling boxes.

Except that the arch was built too narrow on the inside dimension to fit old work boxes!!! Hurray!!
I had to break out my chisels and remove some of the wood to get each box to fit! Hurray!!!

Here's how they look all correctly installed and waiting for the new lights.

We decided to get some nice pendant lights (from Amazon, YAY free shipping, Booo on sales tax)...that don't really match anything else in the entire kitchen or entryway.....

Next up Kitchen redo day 2.0...or, 'The tale of the too tall dishwasher.....'

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Kitchen Redo Day 1

This post could also be titled....
How Do I Hate The PO Of This House
or
Miami Vice Victorian?
 
These will make sense later I swear!
 
I started off by fixing the electrical issues with the outlets.
Issues like, hey none of the outlets are GFCI's and the electrical boxes are waaaay to far buried in the wall.
Take a look at this.


The last one is my fave...they buried the mud ring for this 2-gang outlet BEHIND the backsplash.
See, what you are supposed to do is, if you are going to be applying a 3/4" thick backsplash then you set the boxes 3/4" proud of the drywall so that they will be flush with the finished surface or use adjustable freaking boxes...
A lot of these boxes were recessed over an inch from the finished surface...
Annnd here's my super-fav part....the cutouts in the granite are wrong! They are off center and too small!! Hurray!!!
I had to grind the granite out just exactly enough to get the new GFCI outlets to fit and for the cover plate screws (on GFCI's those are on the outside edges where on regular outlets they are in the center).

Here's where I was REALLY hating the PO...I thought I had to cut/grind the granite enough to get a correct 3/4" mud ring in there...THAT would of really sucked. Luckily there are these things called 'box extenders' that made it unnecessary.

Pic of box extender

Such a simple stupid thing and I had to waste a couple of hours on it....
Now though, I think all the outlets are legal! Woo!
 
Now For The Deconstruction
Here's a before pic just after I'd cleaned out the cabinets.
Look how clean the kitchen is! It was just cleaned the day before.....
 
Odd thing #1
Take a look at the pictures below of the inside of the cabinets.

 
Notice anything odd? Yep, hey there's no screws screwed through the cabinet mounting blocks!?!?!
The PO screwed through the top and bottom outside edges (where the wood is thinnest) instead of using the specifically reinforced area of the cabinet???
 
Younk! Bye bye cabinet one.
 
Younk! Bye bye cabinet two.
 
I had to pull the range out....its never been out since we've owned the place...
Look what the range was hiding!
 
Filth....
Yummy!
 
A missing wall section?
Here you can see another awesome buried junction box (that makes like 1000 so far in the house)!

They cut back the studs in this area to slightly recess the stove into the wall?!?!?
I'm guessing that this was because if the stove wasn't recessed the base cab on the left would be unusable...why they didn't just flip the stove and base cab on the right is beyond me...
Also, there is a gas line that goes up from here...I have no idea where in the heck it goes to....hope its not another one of the PO's random 'pipes to no-where'.
 
Younk! Goes the ugly base cab.
 
Cutting Granite
I wanted to save the last big section of granite on the wall to use as the counter top for the new smaller base cab. That meant that I had to cut it way from the rest of the backsplash.
 
Cutting 'Jig'
Got the granite cutting disk for my 4.5" angle grinder from one of the many, many, shady cheap Chinese granite places in Oakland...only cost $4.50...the same type of thing from Home Despot costs over $20....how do they do it?
 
The Cut.
I decided to just cut the epoxy line and live with the goofiness of the granite. I was surprised at how little dust this kicked up...until I hit the drywall underneath that is....
 
A Secret Surprise
Next I oh, so gingerly pry up the big piece of backsplash..lots of slowly wedging it farther and farther away from the wall...Hey, it came off in one piece! Hurray!
Hey, it took all the drywall with it!?!?!?
Hey, what's that under the drywall???
 
A lot of chipping away the drywall later and......
I've Got A Miami Vice Victorian!!!!!!!
Hurray!! Everybody sing the Miami Vice theme song with me.....
This wall was the original end of the house I think...at some point somebody pulled out an original window and put this monstrosity in.
Actually for a couple of minutes I was toying with the idea of making this a 'feature'.
Like back lighting it with pink neon or something...cue theme song again....
 
Actually, the window is fracking hideous and has no place in a Victorian.
Unfortunately for me its EXACTLY in the way of mounting my new range hood and the new wall hung cabinet.
This is why the PO went to the outside edges of the existing cabinets...to miss the glass block window he was too stupid/lazy to remove....
 
How do I remove this freaking glass block window!?!?!?
Its gotta weigh a ton..and smashing it out with a sledge hammer (while wearing a pastel suit, stylish loafers with no socks and perfectly be-stubbled face) would be fun...I don't really want to do that with a toddler running around.
I'm stumped..any ideas?
Could I cut around it with a sawzall and remove it as one piece? I'm going to have to reframe this part of the wall anyway...?
 
All back together
When Mrs. Madmadscientist came home from work I told her I knew that she was such a super big fan of Miami Vice that while she was away I installed a groovy glass block 'feature' for her!
Surprise!!!! Happy Birthday!!!!!
 
Of course this freaking glass block thing is going to totally screw over my simple kitchen redo time table....