Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shower Pan

And you thought a nailing inspection was exciting! Before you can tile the base of a shower, you have to build a shower pan with includes a protective membrane to prevent any leakage. The inspector has to come out and make sure that it's not leaky. The tile guys came out and installed this shower pan in a couple hours and then were on their way. So efficient. I love it!

T is doing more mud and tape downstairs. He estimates that we won't be ready to paint for yet another week. I am confused as to why.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Take Stock of Things You'd Like to Fix

I thought this was funny. I am 24 weeks pregnant now, so I just checked BabyCenter for the 24th week and this is what they have listed as this week's activity:

"Tackle your home improvement projects. Sit down with your partner and take stock of the things you'd like to fix around the house before your little one arrives. Then let your partner handle them. (You shouldn't be exposing yourself to chemicals or getting up on ladders.) Some things for the list:

• Install or check smoke detectors, get a fire extinguisher for each floor of your house, and plan a fire escape route.
• Fix or remove any broken furniture or fixtures.
• Paint the nursery, hang curtain rods, assemble new furniture."

I suppose they didn't really mean vacate the premises, demolish all walls, install new electrical, plumbing, bathrooms, kitchen and flooring when they said "take stock of the things you'd like to fix around the house".

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Operation Cupcake

The boys had a busy Saturday fixing the car and moving our washer/dryer over to our friends' house. The new plan upstairs only allows for a stackable, so we sadly had to part with this set that we bought a few years ago. T managed to puddy and tape the bathroom and kitchen on Saturday. He puddied and taped one more wall on Monday. He did the ceiling today. I really need him to be done with the sanding by this weekend. It will have been a month since he started sheetrocking downstairs on Friday.

I'm not worrying about it because I now have Operation Cupcake in full effect. We are now scheduled to demolish the upstairs the weekend of May 8th. I decided that we can't wait to finish the downstairs in order to tackle the upstairs. So, we will be sofa-hopping until then and staying close by so that we can regularly be here and check on everything. I have a tight itinerary from now until the beginning of August and my teams in place. I really am determined to finish the whole house by then and I really think it's possible. No more snail's pace for this operation!

Friday, April 24, 2009

What Would You Choose?

People always ask, "If you had to choose, would you lose an arm or a leg, an eye or a ...". Well, today's question is what major household convenience can you live without? It's been surprising for me to learn which things are most challenging or not so challenging at all.

No hot water in the kitchen or no washer/dryer?
No functioning stove or no light in the kitchen?
No light in the kitchen or no light in the bathroom?
No water or no electricity?
No electricity or no heat?

None of the above is not an option. The pic above shows the only remaining functioning appliances in the kitchen. We disconnected the gas line running to the stove this weekend, so we are now stoveless. We have no microwave, so it's all about the toaster oven and the coffee pot. Our life has become one big salad after another which isn't such a bad thing.

As I stepped into the shower this morning and turned on the water, the knob came off in my hand.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nailing Inspection

We passed our sheetrock nailing inspection yesterday! In case you're wondering, the green walls are greenboard which is what you put in areas like a shower or laundry area. The boys have taken the last two days off and are coming in tomorrow to start the puddy and taping. The tiler comes on Monday to build the shower pan. Giddyup.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Metal Panels for a Kitchen Backsplash?

I have always loved these old metal panels. In my dreams, we'd do the whole entry hallway up to the railing with this. I'd love to do the kitchen and dining room ceilings with this stuff. It is impossible for us to justify the cost for a ceiling that can just be painted though. We do, however, need to get a backsplash for the upstairs kitchen. By my estimates these new panels from Armstrong could actually be cheaper than the white subway tile that I was planning on. I think it's also a lot more interesting. They make all sorts of different styles, but I like this one this best. It comes in this white version which is paintable. Hello, excitement. The tile is also 60% recycled. Has anyone ever seen these used for a kitchen backsplash?

Non-VOC Paints and Varnishes

We are debating yet again about whether to paint the walls and varnish the floors before moving down into the studio. My hesitation is that it will take several more weeks and also that I will want to delay things even longer because of any potential fumes. I have heard good things about Yolo Colorhouse for paints and safecoat for varnish. I'm looking for products that are the safest (especially for a pregnant lady), will minimize the time we have to wait to move in and offer the nicest selection of colors. Does anyone have any good resources for this? Also, how long does a pregnant lady have to wait before moving into a freshly painted room with non-VOC paint?

Reno Update: After opting not to show on Friday, T made some good progress Saturday on the sheetrock and is at work again today. He has almost everything done except for the bathroom. J is busy moving the ceiling fan in the bathroom. We will be disconnecting the gas line to the stove today. I need to look for a microwave that will fit downstairs and hook up the camping stove. No joke.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Saying "No" to Blowtorching at 1AM

The sheetrocking is comin' along. The boys have made good progress on the ceiling. We are calling today to see if we can schedule the nailing inspection for Tuesday. My fantasy is to have it taped and sanded by the end of next week.

In order to completely finish the sheetrocking, two pipes need to be capped off and the gas line currently feeding the upstairs dryer needs to be capped off. It currently is also feeding the upstairs stove. I can live without a washer and dryer, but I need a stove. So, my superman, J, finally agreed to call the plumber and have him come out for a few hours this week to take care of these things. He's quite capable of doing these things himself, but challenging because he has been getting home from work at midnight. So, this would mean that he would be downstairs blowtorching past midnight. Me no likey. Our lovely plumber has promised to come out by tomorrow at the latest to take care of it for us. Thank God. It was a big deal for my superman to agree to this. I'm very proud of him.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Slow and Steady

A little bit of progress was made on the sheetrock today. I found myself frustrated by the rate of progress this morning so I tried to stay away from the house so as not to vent my frustration. Let's just say I have my teams ready for every last step of this operation as soon as this sheetrock is taped, sanded and smoothed. I am a little fearful about how long that part of the process is going to take. It's a tiny little studio. It really shouldn't take more than a few days. We shall see, won't we?

The slow progress downstairs has already made me decide that we will move down there without painting, doing the floors or any of the other finishing work. We'll just finish the bathroom and kitchen and move down. We have to make the main house a priority. When we move back upstairs, we can finish the downstairs.

And yes, it is totally bizarre that they come and inspect the nailed sheetrock before you tape and sand it. I think it's all about making sure it's done properly for fire-proofing reasons.

On a brighter note, I went back to Young's Custom Cabinets today and made more progress. We discussed all of the cabinetry in greater detail today. She was still unable to come up with prices on the spot, so I decided to make a list for her and see what she would come up with on her own. I remain hopeful. I am also unclear as to how they possibly sell enough cabinets to stay in business. As I entered Young's today, the smell reminded me of the fabric cutting warehouse that I used to use when I did Kept. It must be the rice cooker. I was not able to verify this assumption, but why else would a cabinet factory and a fabric cutter's warehouse smell the same?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dangling Roofers

Our neighbors decided to redo their roof yesterday. The trickiest part is that decorative bit at the very front. The crazy thing is that one of those guys that you see up there had hopped over to the front where he had about 2 feet to squeeze his body in order to grab at the roof. It was crazy to watch. Kind of of one of those trainwreck moments. No harness. No nothing. Nothing but certain death if you fell. Anyhoo, all went well and the new roof is coming along swimmingly.

Some progress on the sheetrock yesterday. He estimates that it will be done by Wednesday and then we can schedule the nailing inspection. We are afraid to schedule the inspection before he's done because his timing is usually a little off (read: slow). Our tile guy is lined up and ready for action as soon as the rock is. Then we will really see this place start to come to life!

Josh added another electrical outlet to the area where the dryer will be that we didn't realize we'd need because we were hoping for a gas dryer. But Bosch doesn't make the Axxis series in gas anymore for some reason.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mini Stackables

I've been stalking Craigslist for this Bosch Axxis stackable washer and dryer set. I finally threw in the towel this morning and we ordered them from Lowe's. It was going to further delay things downstairs not to be able to install them, so we had to bite the bullet and move ahead. Currently, the washer and dryer for upstairs have a gas line and water pipe that are running through the studio that we have to disconnect in order to finish down there. This is the only model that will fit in the closet downstairs at only 24" wide and 24" deep. They're pretty sexy. I hope our future tenant appreciates them!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Adventures in Cabinetry

While the boys have been somewhat busy sheetrocking the downstairs, I've been on a new quest to get every last inch of the upstairs mapped out. I don't want any delays once we move the demo up there. Yesterday, I spent a good amount of time with a nice fellow at Home Depot planning out our kitchen for the upstairs. It's much easier to plan for a larger space than for that little studio, so it was a pretty straightforward process. The Depot is having a 20% deal off custom cabinets until the beginning of May which I'm pretty excited about. I don't love buying things at the The Depot, but they are a necessary evil in our lives right now. And we do need to find the cheapest cutest options we can. Ikea would fit the bill, but I want a nice white cabinet for upstairs and the Ikea ones look cheap in white. I think they're really cute in darker hues.

Today I ventured over to Young's Custom Cabinets which is where our pals, J & G, recently bought new cabinets from for their snazzy new kitchen. J warned me that it was a weird place and it was indeed. First of all, it is so far South in San Francisco that I really think it's San Carlos. Next, there is absolutely no indication from the outside that they have any sort of showroom or are the slightest bit interested in random people like me stopping by. J also warned me about this. I hollered out to one of the guys operating a large piece of machinery inside who let me in. He directed me up the winding staircase where there was one little room with a wall of cabinet doors. Again, J also warned me about this but I didn't believe it until I saw it.

I was greeted by the one man that seemed to occupy the space. He seemed to surprised to see me. I explained that I already had a plan and I could tell him exactly what we needed. He didn't want me to stay or to discuss options. He wasn't able to tell me if the cabinets were all wood or not. His first language was, in fact, English so that wasn't the problem. He made a copy of my plan and told me he would contact me in 2-3 days with the price. 2-3 days?? They didn't exactly seem booming with business, so I didn't feel badly urging him to do it sooner rather than later. After approximately 2.5 minutes in their showroom, I was shown the door and told that they'd be in touch.

Several hours later I received an email from them with a price that is 50% less than The Depot cabinets-- even with their discount. Now that is exciting! I have not confirmed yet whether or not they can do pull-out rolling shelves or other built-ins that would be nice. My fear is that he only costed out one of the sheets than I gave him instead of both, thereby accidentally giving me a quote for half our kitchen. The only real piece of information that I was able to get from him while I was there was that they import the doors from China and then build the boxes here. That would explain the cheapness, but the quality really seems as nice as Kraftmaid. I am a little fearful of the imported from China items at the moment after learning about all the drama with the Chinese sheetrock. Who knows what kind of toxins are in the finish. Sorry if I sound like a grade A jerk, but I think it's true.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


We are making slow but steady progress on the sheetrock. There has been so much in the news about that horrible Chinese sheetrock that was giving everyone respiratory problems and destroying their plumbing and electrical. Of course, this is something that we don't want to experience -- especially with the bambina cooking in my belly. I've had a really difficult time finding out which brands of sheetrock are OK. In the end, we're going with USG which is supposedly all made in the US. It's great that the news likes to report on all this stuff, but how about a little more information on what's safe?!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Insulate This

We passed both our insulation inspection and our HVAC/heating inspection yesterday. This means we are green-lighted to start sheetrocking. Woo hoo! I thought this day would never come. The studio is about to become completely transformed, my sweets. Our general inspector also informed us yesterday that he'd been layed off. Too bad. We'll see what this means in terms of turn-around time for future inspections.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Craigslist Bonanza - Stokke Mini Bassinet

For the .001% of you who don't know me, I am 5 months pregnant. Doesn't that make this whole thing that much more fun and exciting? Now that I'm at the halfway mark, I'm finally allowing myself to start thinking about baby gear and supplies. Since it is becoming more and more clear that we may be living downstairs in the studio when the bambina arrives, I have been strategizing with the ever-fabulous Rachel Siegel from Spruce on how to live in a 500 square foot studio with a newborn and a 75 pound dog without losing our minds.

There clearly won't be enough room for a real crib, so I became obsessed with the Stokke bassinet. It is tiny and cute and wheels beautifully from room to room which will be essential while living down there. We snapped up one of these bassinets that normally retails for a hefty amount for just pennies on Craigslist. I am determined to stalk Craigslist to acquire the things we need. I am beyond thrilled that we can accomplish style and function and affordability all at once. Wooooo!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


OK, so I swear I'm back on the blogging bandwagon. This last week we have made good progress. I have several things to report on.

1) We spent a good portion of Saturday looking for the right drill for Josh to enable him to do the low voltage wiring (cable, internet, phone) downstairs. Since he's doing it himself, that is the perfect opportunity for a new tool acquisition, wouldn't you say? So, after a bazillion phone calls, he finally located the biggest right angle drill you could possibly find. It's intended for drilling holes through wood so that you can feed the cables through. We found it at this awesome tool shop in San Bruno called K119 tools of San Francisco that looked more like a liquor shop from the outside than a tool shop. My favorite part was that it was across the street from the West Coast Taxidermy shop specializing in wildlife artistry. The drill looked like a jackhammer. After much deliberation, Josh decided that it was perhaps more than what he could really justify for the the job at hand. So, back to Home Depot we went to pick up the smaller drill.

2) We spent most of Sunday downstairs doing the drilling and wiring. Lucy and I were in our supervisory role as usual and at the ready to hand over various bits and pieces as needed. Needless to say, you will likely now be able to get online from the toilet and the kitchen sink. Talk about wired.

3) Tommy started the insulation on Monday. He still has a bit to finish today. As soon as he's done, we can schedule the insulation inspection.

4) Our HVac/heating inspection is scheduled for Tuesday.

5) Uncle Paul created the most amazing piece of stained glass to go over our front door. It arrived yesterday in perfect condition. I can't wait to install it. It's really going to snazz up the front of the house. I'll post pics of it soon.