Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why are there so many bricks under my bathtub?

So I did end up finding a plumber for a reasonable amount of money and he did all the rough plumbing right before Thanksgiving, though not without a huge spraying leak in the basement that turned it into a mud puddle. But I digress.

Plumbing in kitchen. Water pressure before was more like a drool.

Before the plumber came, I decided to take a peak through the access door to the bathtub plumbing, mainly because I didn't remember ever looking too hard.

I was probably blocking this out of my memory, so as to avoid pain and angst:

Marginally better after vacuuming: 
 And the removing of the bricks. 4 of them. There's more, just my midget arms can't reach them. 
Why are there bricks just chillin under my tub? Why?

If you look hard enough, you can see the sill plate has rotted due to 80 years of leaks at the corner of the bathtub.  Good thing I am a ninja with a mini crow bar and was able to pulverize the dry rot and replace it with wood from the pantry.  That pantry is like a treasure trove; it is so much more useful as a pile of stuff than it ever was as a room.

Toilet Before and After!

Before: Original, 80 years old, using 6 gallons per flush, 11 inches away from the bathtub. Awkward.
After: New Toto Aquia II, dual flush, rotated 90 degrees. Fabulous.

Also note the switch from beige/pink tile (gag) to dark stained oak wainscoting. Which used to be a laundry chute in the basement until I deconstructed the big wood box, removed all the nails, sanded each plank down, and stained it with the tung oil left over from the floors. Cost? Zero Dollars.  Unless we count the chiropractor's visit after said deconstruction with sledgehammer. Then it's $37.

Bathroom today: We put the sink in 5 days ago, after a month of no running water.  It was one of the best Christmas gifts ever.  Also the waterproofing system is in, as is the vanity light and fan box. We start tiling tomorrow!

Big milestone today - all the electric is done until I get a new motion light for the front of the house.

Cute schoolhouse lighting in the kitchen. 

Also I finally got the wallpaper down now that I have water, but no picture quite yet.  

Cherry butcherblock with 3 coats of dark tung oil.  
It came in the house with the help of the guys from Keystone; the 12 footer over the veranda railing!

Workout room / guest room finally got a ceiling.  No more insulation drifting down like dirty, squirrelly snow.  I'm currently ignoring the patch job the walls need.

Both apartments got new programmable thermostats to help save energy, as well as insulation blankets around the hot water heaters.

Floors with one coat of oil. 

They got two more coats, which took a while to dry (I believe we put it on too thick? The directions on the website were not the clearest).  They are several shades darker and matt finish in real life.  Well, currently they are covered with construction paper and have been for over a month, so I have no idea what they look like, but I am positive they are dusty and will need a good scrubbing.  But most of the stains did come out or blend in pretty well, which is a small miracle considering what they looked like before.

My main job these past weeks has been janitorial in nature.  I come to the house after work, I pick up trash, break down boxes, sweep, vacuum, scrap paint.  Very light in the skilled labor department, but the guys couldn't work if I didn't.  At least that's what I tell myself.  In that vein, Mom and I took the last construction debris to the dump, mostly plaster and odds and ends.  Everything possible has been recycled, and all the wood is separated for construction use or fire pit burning later.  Usable things like the pantry door (fiberglass) and the old vanity I put out on the curb and people took them within a day.  I love that about living in the city.  There's always another life for things you don't want.

Things are moving along now and should be wrapping up in a couple of weeks, barring any disaster...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Post Halloween Bash

Last week I swear all I did was haul trash out of the house.  Bag after bag of plaster and lathe and tile and linoleum.  If you have never done this, these bags are heavy.  Really heavy.  Bonus is now I'm as strong as an ox. And my house has a weird reverse-moat of trash surrounding it.  Because, yes, I am too cheap to get a dumpster and will take all the trash to the dump myself, in the Honda Fit.  It should only take 1,000 trips.  Also I spent 3 hours romancing my ancient metal storm windows with a large can of WD40.  Most of them succumbed to my charms - only one hold out in the dining room.  Also did a survey of which windows need the most help.  The top window in the side stairway wins!  No ropes and no parting bead, so the bottom sash stays in there only through the grace of god I assume.

I also removed the kitchen cabinets last week.  
They mostly removed themselves after a slight nudge with the hammer.

Fun gross stuff under the sink!

Lonely sink with none of his cabinet friends around.

This was all in preparation for the halloween party.

And this week, in which I get the floors refinished!

Yey Floors! 

 Oh and the kitchen cabinets came early so here they are, filling up the kitchen and getting in everyone's way.  Good thing they forgot to send/make the two lazy susans; they would have never fit.  I called the company and they put them on rush order, so they should be here in a little while.  Take your time, I have nowhere to put them!  

So the plumber finally got back to me with an estimate after two weeks.  About 6,500 dollars. HAHAHAHHAHAHA.  Well we won't be doing that now will we?!  My floor guy may have someone and I just may have to learn how to plumb some things myself.  It's just pex after all, how hard can it be?  Sounds like a very impressive DIY project to me.

No one has gotten back to me about the attic.  Isn't this the Great Recession? Don't you people need work like I need the squirrels gone?  Apparently not.  This is not a DIY.  It's 2nd story soffits, and I don't do tall ladders. Hell, I don't do short ladders.  The step stool is all I can manage before getting hideous vertigo.  So someone else has to do this.  Considering trying to find monkeys to go up there to fix it. They're nimble and seem good with hammers.  Also,they could probably murder the squirrels for me.  I'm over the trapping idea.  I want those little furry jerks dead as door nails.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wrapping up Demo!

So much accomplished again in the past week.  We've got the kitchen looking like there was never a pantry there, and all the flooring in the house is gone! 
Well, the ugly awful stuff that was covering up hardwood and marble tile, that is.

Emily came over last week and helped me rip up the kitchen floor.  We are two dangerous blondes when armed with shovels and utility knives.  The three layers of linoleum plus peel and stick tile were no match.  I'm going to patch the floor where the wall was with flooring that would be hidden under the cabinets anyway, and then refinish the whole lot.  

The trim we salvaged is now back on the door into the side staircase, and the wall is all patched up.

Peel and Stick in the bathroom met its demise.  Hammer and spackle knife took it up easily.  I had to Goo-Gone the marble hex tile that was underneath to remove the ridiculously sticky residue.  Like stick your jeans to the floor ridiculous.  Why they covered the marble tile, I will never know.  It's in great shape.  It and the bathtub will be the only original things in here when we're all done.

One of my personal favorites has been this plumbing wall.  1/4inch plywood is not actually appropriate backer board as it ROTS.  And the vent only vents into the wall of the closet, not to the outside, as it is supposed to.  
That smells niiiice.

Kitchen ceiling.  Wall?  What wall?

Stealing space from a funky nook in a bedroom closet gives me the space I need for a linen cabinet in the bathroom.

Started to rip apart a bedroom window.  Because I don't have enough other projects going on right now.  Eventually I have to restore all of them.  I vacuumed off the lock on this one.  Whoops.

So the rest of the bathroom demo and the cabinets in the kitchen should be all gone by the end of this week.  I'm leaving in the vanity in the bathroom until I get to the Ikea in Boston in 3 weeks to get a new sink.  So that I have a functional bathroom for the Halloween party I'm throwing.  I don't even have to decorate to get the haunted look! It's so perfect...

Ordered the kitchen cabinets, countertops, and new washer and dryer this week.  Where I'm going to put it all until I get the floors refinished, I don't know.  I could put it in the attic if the dang squirrel removal people would ever call me back!!! Argh.  

Monday, October 4, 2010

First Demo Milestones Passed

We got tons accomplished this past week.  

Mom and I focused on rug/pad/staple removal (I think my hand is going to be permanently shaped into a little staple pulling claw). But it's all done! almost all done.  Realized this morning I forgot to do the coat closet. Damn-it-to-hell!

Then we took out our frustrations on the pantry walls.  We finished totally taking them down today.  This included having to chip out and even off the header for the long wall, which was a half inch lower than the ceiling height. I feared for my life after that was discovered.  But we powered through it and hasn't killed me yet.  It's a win-win, both for me I think.

Also discovered we have the original hard wood floor under all that linoleum in the kitchen.  Not sure of the condition, but if it's salvageable, I'll refinish it too.  Hopefully saving money on not needing to tile the floor!

We've saved all the molding and the lumber from these walls to use to frame out the larger opening to the dining room.  The ironing board cabinet was also removed intact to be converted to a large medicine cabinet for the bathroom.  Why buy new stuff when you can save money by reusing things you already have in your house?

Floor refinishing is scheduled for early November with my real estate agent Heather's husband's family business.  He's third generation, so he definitely knows what he's doing.  I'm confident the floors are going to look amazing.  Can't wait!

Ordered most of the lighting this weekend.  It's all Murray Feiss Parker Place Collection in Dark Bronze.

New dining room sconces

Have my eyes on Woodcraft cabinets from www.unfinished-kitchen-cabinets.net .  As the name implies, they come unfinished, so I can paint or stain them myself.  This way I can postpone that decision without holding anything up! Brilliant. They're made in Pennsylvania, so they're local-ish.  Still looking for capital district cabinet makers too.

Have estimates coming for the squirrel removal out of my attic and new wood storm windows so the wind doesn't blow through the house.  So much to do before winter comes!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Renovation Begins!

Have owned the house for 7 days now, and the second floor is being torn to bits.  I love it! This project would take 100 times longer without my friends helping.  

See the album to the right for some "before" pics.

 The bathroom with old mistmatched beige/brown tile and medicine cabinet removed. Popping tile off the wall didn't take that long, seeing as they had just been glued onto the previous wall treatment.  New smaller toilet, and sink/vanity  plus beadboard paneling are being planned.  Also awful peel and stick tile covering original tile will get ripped up.  Hopefully the tile is in ok shape!

Upper kitchen cabinets gone, base cabinets will follow soon.  Have to fix all the windows and slowly replace the ropes with chains.  Mostly removing tons of old paint and re-glazing a couple windows. 

Pantry shelves gone, after a good ole fashioned smashing by bff Kyle.  Wall to the left is going to be taken down to create a bigger kitchen.  Beautiful (Ha!) vinyl flooring to be destroyed as well!

Sun porch with carpet and pad removed by my mother.  Floors will need to be refinished throughout, but will be awesome when they are done.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Passed Inspection!

So the last hurdles have been cleared in the past couple weeks - both the inspection and appraisal went well.  Apparently all that crossing of fingers actually worked, woohoo!  Loan approval documents should be on their way in a couple days.  Can't wait to sign away my life.  Closing in 3 weeks, and then, let the renovations begin! Beige carpet, your days are numbered...

Friday, August 6, 2010

And I'm Back

So it's been a couple months since the last deal fell through during which I've been traipsing around Albany looking at houses and putting in offers.  Well, one of them was finally accepted yesterday!  It's on Mercer St, around the block from the house I lost.  Everyone said things happened for a reason, blah, blah, blah - but impatient ole me was not hearing it. At all.  So it makes me almost reluctant to say that I like this house so much better.  It's twice the size and not much more money.  Big enough so now I'll have a guest room that you all can stay in.  No promises on actually having a bed in there for a while, so don't throw away the air mattress just yet.  

Inspection is next week and hopefully if all goes well (not a guarantee!) I should be closing late September.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Blogged too soon

Update: Lost the house due to a low bank appraisal. Back to looking...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Holy Moly! I'm buying a house!

Here's the set-up. 
Three weeks before the homebuyer credit ran out, I was convinced to look into buying/investing, seeing as my lease would soon be up and mortgage rates were low. What the hell, I thought.  I guess you're supposed to plan and save for this sort of thing, but flying by the seat of your pants is so much more fun! 

Fast forward through 2 hectic weeks of looking at a dozen multi-family properties with my awesome realtor, Heather Hansen of Prudential Manor Homes, and I see the listing for this property.  I viewed it a day later and I put an offer on it that afternoon. With the house under contract, I set about getting it inspected, but not before I had surgery to remove my pesky gallbladder. (Fabulous timing, as usual) Five days after surgery, I followed around my inspector as he pointed out everything wrong with the house (alot!) as my mom followed me around, furiously scribbling notes and trying to make sure I didn't pass out.  I took pictures and tried to look alert. After three more weeks and much back and forth, the sellers actually fixed all the major items noted on the inspection.  Memorial Day was the bank inspection and it seems that we are on target for a mid June closing.

The property is in the St. Rose area of Albany.  Built as a one family in 1890, it's an (almost) American Foursquare style.  Converted in the 1950s to a 3 unit, it has 2 studio apartments downstairs and a two bedroom apartment upstairs, where I intend to live.  Besides appliances, nothing has been updated since the conversion, which would scare a normal person, but makes me excited, and a bit touched in the head.  I love redesigning spaces to be the most efficient possible, all while spending as little as possible, because frankly, that's all I have!

This blog is my attempt to catalog all those efforts for my friends to laugh over.  Sketches, pictures, and stories to follow in the coming months!