Saturday, July 7, 2012

Back on the Blogspot

It's been over a month since I posted an update on the blog - have we been out of town, taking a long vacation?  Did we take a break from laboring on 62nd Street?  Has the whole project just fallen off the map?

Not hardly.

We've been working on the houses pretty consistently, and progress is being made.  But Tom and I have been facing a tough reality lately: we just aren't as young as we used to be.  We used to happily spend our weekends working on houses, then we'd take the dogs for long walks in the hills, make dinner, do some projects in the evening, and stay up late, before starting it again.

Lately, we've been working on the houses, and the dogs have not been neglected - but other than that, we've been pretty out of it.  Last night, for example, we went over to Jane and Dave's house for dinner, which was totally lovely.  We got home by about 9:30, and pretty promptly passed out.  One of the projects I've been wanting to get done is making curtains for the Cheney Cottage.  I have the fabric to make the 18 curtains needed for the front room, but I haven't even begun to cut it to size.  It just seems daunting after working our jobs and working on 62nd Street.  We really don't do much else these days.

So enough whining. I'm back on the blog, and have updates to give:

At the Cheney Cottage, much has happened.  The most exciting news is we passed our electrical inspection, and so are now working with PG&E to move the power from the temporary power pole in the front yard to the actual main panel on the house.  In addition to not having to pay for the temporary pole, the house will actually have power in the outlets, the lights will work, etc.

We've begun the plumbing, and overcame the biggest hurdle: getting hot and cold water to the second floor bathroom and WC (without having to demolish walls on the first floor).  We're running Pex for supply, which has two advantages: it's easier to work with, and it's unlikely that someone would break in to steal it (unlike copper).

The kitchen cabinets are all in place, and we hope to soon have a counter installer come in to start making up the new counters in the kitchen.

The heating system has not been installed, but that is next.  We're putting radiators on the second floor, but having a radiant floor on the first floor.

We've taken out the old broken up hearth, and installed a new subfloor to support the new hearth, which will be in front of the restored fireplace mantle.  We hope to install a gas fireplace as well, as an additional source of heat (and charm) in the living room.

The paint scraping is mostly done, except for the upstairs hall.  So we hope to have the plasterers in during the first week of August, and then have Tom Pedemonte come in to do the finish work on the beautiful redwood trim, wainscoting and doors. We have a floor company lined up to repair and refinish the floors, and the house should be largely done.  Dale and her crew will also be back in August to finish the exterior painting (we still have the siding to put on some of the crawlspace walls, and have to build the back stairs).

Hilary should be at 62nd Street next week with his bobcat to dig the trenches - we need to dig out a trench for the sewers, a trench to bring the water to both houses, and two in the back (one to bring the gas services from the Cheney Cottage to the Delaney House, and one to bring the electrical service).  At the same time, Hilary will also grade the entire property, and dig out for the driveway.  Tom and I will be framing the walkways, getting them ready for concrete.

In the Delaney House, the windows have arrived, and they've been sitting in the Cheney Cottage living room for the last month.  Finally, we're prepping them for installation, and we're going to be installing them, starting next weekend.

We also have the front and back doors for the Delaney House.  We bought them all at Urban Ore, which is a building materials recycling center here in Berkeley.  Urban Ore can be a real crapshoot - the place is infested with feral cats, and so the whole place has a not-so-faint stink of cat urine.  A lot of what they have there is not that interesting to us, and we often go there and come away empty-handed.

But Urban Ore's focus really is on recycling, and so when you do find what you want, it's generally pretty inexpensive. The front doors of the Delaney House are the perfect example: we needed double doors for the house, and double doors are expensive.  After looking for quite some time, we finally found a pair of nice wooden doors at Urban Ore - they are 8 feet high and each door is 3 feet wide.  They're really beautiful (although needed repair), and when we saw them, we knew they were the doors for the house.

Most items at Urban Ore are not marked, so you have to ask the guys who work there for prices, and Tom and I had agreed that we'd go as high as $300 for them.  We asked one of the guys to give us a price, and he looked at them and said "How about forty bucks?"  I have to admit that my inner bargain hunter was tempted to say "How about thirty?" but I resisted the temptation, and we bought these nice wood doors for $40.  We hope to install them in the next week or two as well, along with the metal clad double back doors (another Urban Ore find).

The house has become a haven for pigeons, and so yesterday we spent some time covering all the rough openings for windows and doors, getting the house pigeon-free.  Today one of the tasks on the project list is to clean up all the pigeon poop in the house (yes, the fun never stops for Tom and Dmitri!)

With the birds out of the house, we're ready for our first 62nd Street party.  On Sunday, we're having a potluck for people who were involved in the Building Education Center (formerly the Owner Builder Center).  The BEC offered classes and workshops for owner-builders, and Tom and I took several classes there back in the day.  In fact, we met Andus, the architect who designed the layout of the 62nd Street property and the plans for the Delaney House, by taking his workshop on "Attic Conversions".  Andus was the person who designed the third floor addition we put on the Fulton Street house, and we've worked with him on a couple project since then.

The BEC went moribund in 2010, and Andus and I, along with a group of interested former instructors, are getting the BEC back on its feet.  We hope to begin offering classes and workshops again this Fall, and the potluck is for people who are interested in being involved (let me know if anyone reading this wants to attend).

So the $64,000 question is, when will this project be done?  Our hope is to finish the Cheney Cottage in August (yes, next month!) and then finish the Delaney House in the Fall.

And then what?  Well, I'll save future plans for another post.  But there are other irons in the fire.  We may be old and tired, but we're not stopping yet.

1 comment:

  1. A third advantage to using Pex Tubing for water supply: Fewer connections that can spring a leak - many fewer.
    The fittings are what make copper plumbing so expensive - the fittings themselves plus the time to assemble them properly.
    For me, this means assembling most of them at least twice - the first time to find the leaks and the second or third time around to finally have a leak-free system!