Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Last of the Plastic Cabinets

Now that our wall has been demolished and build back up we can continue the transformation by adding cabinets. We had a lot of contractors who came in and said by taking down the wall we will lose cabinet space – I think we broke even maybe added a little – so there.  Not to mention will have more counter space, a dishwasher and a more modern feel.
Of course I had not yet decided what cabinets I wanted and there was the whole unexpected demo of an entire wall of cabinets so I thought I could take my time in choosing cabinets but, as in everything else, we sucked it up and went cabinet shopping and decided we should choose/buy cabinets as soon as we could. We literally had about 48 inches of counter space and one cabinet after the demo project was finished – time was of the essence.
Here is a sneak peak of the cabinets we chose and we are now just awaiting their installation!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Fire

We live near a firehouse so it is not strange for us to hear the sirens at all times of the day. Yesterday while we were relaxing after working on some small projects around the house I felt like the sirens were unusually loud and I said to RC – “Are they on our street or something?!?” and then they stopped. That’s when I knew that Arlington's Finest were In. Front. Of. My. House. Before I knew it there were firefighters running into our next door neighbor’s home.
I have never been so close to a house on fire that I literally think I stopped breathing for a second. This was the view out my front door and even while typing this – it gives me the chills.
More fire trucks kept responding and in the end we had six engines, one ambulance and two police cars blocking entrance to our street. RC and I just stood on our front lawn watching all the action and I just could not believe what was happening. Watching a house that looks exactly like yours spewing smoke is not comforting at all. Then all of a sudden the firefighters busted out the window with the water from the fire hose. That’s when I knew how serious it was. I will never forget that sound.
While we didn’t see any flames protruding from the roof like you might see in pictures or on TV, but it was so surreal just standing there watching it. Once firefighters began taking their gear off I knew the fire was out and I was not worried about fire spreading to our home. The fire actually started on a mattress so interpret that however you want…
The whole ordeal unfolded in about an hour and the last truck left about 30 minutes after that. The fire actually started on a mattress so interpret that however you want… Nobody was injured in the fire and they were able to put the fire out quickly so the damage did not extend throughout the entire house but it will probably take a while to repair all the damage. Heartbreaking.
The whole neighborhood came out to see what all the commotion was– so we ended up meeting some of our neighbors that we had not yet met which was great. We live in a neighborhood of some really nice people, some which commented that they were happy it wasn’t our house on fire since they had noticed all the hard work we were putting into it – a nice compliment!
A house fire is probably one of my biggest fears. We have smoke/CO2 alarms on every floor and a fire extinguisher in the kitchen but of course the one thing I didn’t think about was a rescue ladder for the second story rooms. In fact, one of the firefighters mentioned that in our neighbor’s house he saw a rescue ladder still in the box – probably should take that out and have it ready to go. I honestly had never even thought to get one of these but I’m getting one today. I also found some good information on the ACFD website regarding Fire Safety and encourage you to do the same. They will even come out to your home and do a Free Fire Safety Check.
Thanks to the ACFD for their hard work and professionalism!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Substantial Completion

Here is where we stand with the kitchen. The wall has been taken down, re-supported with a beam, rebuilt and painted. If you think I am trying to trick you and this is in fact a different house I don’t blame you. It looks like a different house and looks nothing like the 1940s built home we started with when we bought it.
Here is what you see when you walk in the front door.
You really notice the windows now and there is so much more light than before. This picture obviously taken at night and it doesn't feel like a cave anymore.  I absolutely LOVE the color we chose for the walls which I was wavering on up until I went to the store to pick it up. I always find myself picking a color and then second guessing myself and trying to find a better color but I almost always go back to the first color I choose. RC helped me get over my fear when he assured me that Harvest Brown was the best one. I’m not going to lie… even when they were mixing it and I saw it for the first time in paint form I was a little freaked out. With the trim painted bright white the windows really pop against the walls and it feels much more modern than before.
Our GC was awesome to work with. This is the first time we have done a serious construction project and hired someone to complete it; I don’t regret it. We obviously are not structural engineers and could not even tell you what is required to support a load bearing wall so we needed to hire someone for this. They worked quickly too which was great - substantially complete after six days.
We are at the substantial completion phase which means that we are not 100% complete as there are a few very minor things left to complete. We are able to live in the space now and start using it as much as we can; we have moved all the furniture back into place and RC even cooked lunch on Sunday using the stove. He cooked chicken noodle soup for me since I was under the weather (Husband of the Year).
Now that the wall is up we begin the next phase of adding new cabinets. The old ones were just hideous. Until the cabinets arrive and we find a day to install them (we are installing them ourselves) we are just going to have to work with the limited counterspace we have. I can’t wait to have a fully functional kitchen again.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Wall Demo: Day Three

Here is a shot RC took of the kitchen end of day 3/beginning of day 4. Not a whole lot different than the prior day but again came home to a clean house.
Today when we got home we found out that they have in fact evened out the drywall in the ceiling. Apparently the previous project had drywall installed over the original plaster which left uneven surfaces all throughout the kitchen. Very happy that they have now evened out the ceiling.
We also determined that the ceiling will look seamless once finished. The beam is not hanging down below the ceiling line. They added the drywall tape and finished mudding (a true art form) and now we wait for it to dry before the painting begins. RC and I headed to HD to pick up the paint and some light fixtures we have picked out for the space.
We chose Behr's Harvest Brown for the wall color and will have the trim bright white. The rest of the trim in the house is beige – this only motivates me more to paint the rest of the trim. I HATE beige trim.
This is actually the first time we have ever let someone else paint. We usually do it ourselves but it is included in the cost of the wall construction so I am fine with having someone else do it. Just this once though – I really hate paying people to do something I know I can do myself.
We also grabbed a couple of light fixtures to replace the fluorescent light and the cigar bar light that we currently have in the kitchen. I think these light fixtures will be just the right amount of botox needed for our kitchen. The crew said they would even install them since they have to take the old ones off to paint the ceiling – so again I’m letting them do it.

We did make a last minute decision to take out the remaining cabinets today and repair the drywall – minor meltdown from scrambling to find a place for the things that were in the cabinets but it only lasted about 3 hours so I would say today wasn’t too terrible.
Living through a construction site is not for the faint of heart – or people who cook meals at home every night of the week…
Here’s to Day 3.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wall Demo: Day Two

We got a photo of the beam during the day and everything appears to be according to plan. There was discussion at the beginning of the project regarding the beam and if there would be a dropdown from the ceiling from the beam. At this point we still don’t know but will know once they put up the drywall and close up all the holes.
I don’t mind if there is a slight bump-out in the ceiling due to the beam. It might help trick the eye into separating the two spaces.  I'm 50/50 at this point.

The beam has gone in per the instructions of the structural engineer. I love getting the photo of the day from the crew.
Coming home on day two I wasn't sure what I would see when I walked in the door. When I walked in and saw this:

I seriously almost passed out. It looks just as I imagined.

At the end of day two we have a wall built up and a new floorplan for our house. RC is measuring the wall where the refrigerator will go (spoiler alert: it fits). This is the new view from the front door. As you can see, we were able to keep outlets on either side of the wall and the air vents as well.

The next phase is moving the back door over to allow for more counterspace. There is room to move the current doorway to the left a little to allow space for the coveted dishwasher.

So many tools and work being done! I'm so used to coming in here and seeing only our small little tool bucket.  
Can't wait to see what it looks like when we get home tonight! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Wall Demo: Day One

We have moved everything out of the kitchen and it is now ready for the guys to come in and take out the cabinets and walls.
They warned us of dust so we decided to move as much out of the dust area as we could. They put up some plastic that is supposed to help us keep the dust at bay but I’m not holding my breath – things are going to get dusty in here and I am going to need to invest in a good Swiffer or something.
The crew showed up in the morning and within an hour everything was taped up furniture and all objects moved out the way and the cabinets just started coming out. I thought I would just stay upstairs and out of everyone’s way but the noises had me really concerned so of course I decided to be in the middle of it all asking questions.
I apparently made friends because they asked me if I wanted to take the first swing at the wall they were taking down. I was SO excited that they let me take the first swing. Like a dream come true. It has been difficult for me to accept this house with all its flaws and taking a swing at the wall was quite therapeutic for me.

I took down a good portion of the wall and then decided that it was a good time to leave and let them get to work.
Upon our return at the end of the day they had made quite some progress! They had the temporary wall up and were ready to install the beam that would be going in soon.
Over the next 2 hours they made room for the beam so we headed out again to stay out of everyone’s way – plus they told us it would be pretty loud.
When we returned home that evening I was beyond shocked when I walked in the door. They had cleaned up all the dust that I had seen all day and had even pulled out our microwave so we could heat up dinner. Attention contractors out there: cleaning up after your projects goes a LONG way with your clients. I didn’t feel like I was totally in a construction zone even though we didn’t have a wall up and plastic everywhere.
The only surprise of the day was lighting. Our lighting is dated and we decided we were okay with living with our fixtures until we decided what we wanted. The crew highly suggested that we have them install recessed lighting in while they had the walls and ceilings open. The hefty price tag and surprise didn’t sit well with me so we decided not to add on the lighting at this time. I hope we made the right decision.