2:05 p.m. — Tuesday, August 1, 2006
First things first: WE PASSED OUR FINAL ELECTRICAL INSPECTION!!!
We did not, however, pass our Final Fire inspection for the following reasons:
1. The inspector did not think the placement and the height of the smoke detector on the vaulted master bedroom ceiling was close enough to the peak of the ceiling or far enough away from the bathroom shower. He will be calling Ryan with the exact specs once he gets back to the office and looks them up. I thought that was very generous of him.
2. We did not have the manuals for the new hot water heater or the new furnace out for the inspector to reference, so he could not check the manufacturer specs on the following:
- The required diameter for our furnace pvc piping (2" vs 3")
I tried calling Ryan, who put the manuals in a "safe place" (again, so safe I couldn't find them), but he was in a meeting and couldn't answer the phone. So we'll reschedule and have another go at it. We'd have to reschedule anyway, after moving the smoke detector in question, so it's not a huge deal.
It's strange, but it doesn't feel like we "failed" (after all, there was no red sticker); rather, it feels like a nice representative from the township came over to have a chat and let us know what needed to be done and what he needed to see in order for us to pass our Final Fire inspection. Not often do we leave an inspection feeling that way.
Each inspector called me on my cell 15 minutes prior to showing up at the house (a stipulation I requested and — amazingly — the township granted), so twice today I had to jump up from my desk at work and rush to my car in this crazy heat. I got there in under 10 minutes each time...aaaah the beauty of working close to home. I told each inspector when he called that I would meet them there and if they got there before me, to just go on in the side door that we left open for them. Well, I beat the fire inspector home, and I THOUGHT I had arrived just after the electrical inspector, because he was still sitting in his truck in our driveway with the engine running.
But when I walked over, he opened his door and said, "I already went in. Everything's fine."
I guess my startled expression necessitated an explanation. "I got here 5 minutes ago and already went in and looked around. Everything looks good."
A trifle less dumbfounded, I managed, "Oh! That's great. Do we get a sticker or something?"
Ah, yes. So eloquent was taken aback.
"I put it on your kitchen table."
I rushed inside, squeezed the [confused] kitty with delight, and immediately called Ryan. This time I was a tad more expressive: "IT'S WHITE IT'S WHITE IT'S WHITE!!"
It's beautiful how certain ramblings amongst husband and wife require no explanation. Of course he knew what I meant. All our hard work wiring the house had paid off. We don't have to tear open any walls or run any more wires.
And most importantly, we actually have a sticker in our window with the word FINAL on it.
4:31 p.m. — Thursday, August 3, 2006
It's funny when I think about how different our lives are from "normal" people...
- Rolls of duct tape sitting on the nightstand
Our lives have been like this for so long, it's going to be strange living in a "normal" house when we're done...
"You mean clothes go in DRAWERS? In a DRESSER?"
10:32 a.m. — Friday, August 4, 2006
Ryan and I have a week of vacation coming up at the end of August, and one of the popular destinations on our list is HOME. Yes, it would make a lot of sense to spend a week at home finishing up (finally!) everything that needs to be done on the house. Along that vein, I thought it would be a good idea to post a list of what needs to be done.
Yellow & Red Bedrooms
Wow, this looks like a lot more than it felt like before I wrote it down ;) I think I'll add the list of stuff to do outside another time. Everything on this list does not have to be done before we get our C.O., obviously — like trimming the basement stairs or carpeting the upstairs, for instance — but it is a comprehensive list of everything remaining. It feels good to get it all written down in once place.
If we DO decide to take off the last week in August to work on the house, we will be letting EVERYONE know that it will be a WORK WEEK, and one & all will be invited to donate their time and company to the cause (it's amazing how motivating someone's company can be).
And with a list this long, we can use all the help we can get!
Note to self, 2 hours later:
- Clean junk from driveway/side of house
Good stuff, good stuff.
P.S. Click here to check out updates to the list as we make them.
10:41 a.m. — Monday, August 7, 2006
I've had a lot of fun planning my half of our future master closet using IKEA's PAX Closet Planner tool. Though we don't intend to use an actual IKEA closet system, it's still a really great tool for positioning closet rods, shelves, drawers, and SHOES. Can't forget the shoes.
Here are a couple options I came up with (click either picture to enlarge):
I'm leaning towards the second option because it puts the things I'll use more often (like SHOES) closer to the bedroom on the left, and it puts things I won't use as often (like shelves for storage and the long closet rod for dresses and coats) farther away. Just like in a kitchen, less walking is always good.
I was going to design Ryan's closet, too, but I ran out of time. Or maybe it was because I didn't want everyone to see how I would include things like more room for my shoes and a spot for our hampers and a place for luggage and shelves for my winter sweaters. Yeah, that could have been why.
6:15 p.m. — Thursday, August 10, 2006
Apparently, the third time's NOT the charm. At least not when it comes to choosing a Master Bedroom paint color. After three tries, we've had no luck finding a brown we like. In this order, here's what we've tried so far...
This is Behr Cardamom, Behr Cup of Cocoa, and Behr Indulgent Mocha.
So we've gone from wrong to really boring. To BEIGE. We are not beige people, people!
At least not with our paint colors ;)
Now the latest idea is to just go gray. Perhaps with the same intensity as Cup of Cocoa, above. I think this would look lovely and traditional next to the bright white trim.
And it would look nothing like what may or may not come out of a baby's bottom. Really. We've looked at these first two paint colors on the wall and that's all we see.
4:17 p.m. — Friday, August 11, 2006
Our Final Fire inspection was rescheduled for today, and — just like last time — we did not pass. Based on the inspector's original comments from August 1st, we moved the smoke detector in the Master Bedroom to the proper location (less than 2 feet from the peak of the ceiling and farther away from the shower), and we had the hot water heater and furnace manuals out & ready for his perusal. He verified via the manuals that, yes, our furnace's PVC piping was the correct diameter and, yes, the hot water heater's vent angle was just as it should be — pitched down slightly.
The sticking point, however, was the distance of the furnace intake from the hot water heater exhaust.
(This photo's from last spring. Sorry it's difficult to tell distances in this photo.)
According to the manual, they have to be three feet apart. Seems we originally thought it was 12 inches. Depending on how you measure it, our intake and exhaust are 1.5' to 2' apart. But instead of making us run new piping from the furnace to the outside of the house (and cutting a new hole through the foundation and the siding), he said all we have to do is add a foot-long piece of pvc pipe to the end of the intake pipe already outside the house and point it away from the exhaust. Voila.
So we're pretty happy that the solution turned out to be so simple. I've already rescheduled the next inspection (the earliest date was Tuesday, August 22nd), and hopefully, I'll come home from work that day to find a shiny white sticker left in the mailbox letting us know that, at last, we have passed our Final Fire Inspection.
And on a final note: I would like to say a special thank you to Terry from the building department for being so nice every time you come to our house. Thank you for going the extra mile and calling us with the information we needed regarding proper smoke detector placement on our vaulted ceiling (I still can't get over it — a helpful inspector! who follows through with what he says! in New Jersey!), for not making these two little homeowners jump through hoops with imaginary and unnecessary guidelines, for not keeping your sacred township fire codes a secret and making us guess how to pass, and for restoring our faith in our "tax dollars at work."
So basically, Terry, thank you for doing your job. We appreciate it.
11:59 p.m. — Thursday, August 17, 2006
Tired of bees nesting under this flimsy, hollow condenser base...
...Ryan decided to take action by swapping out that plastic nonsense with something much more substantial: pavers.
When he asked me to hold up one end ("It's not all that heavy..."), I suggested he prop it up with a rock instead. I may not be strong in build, but every once in a while, I'm strong in brain power ;) Plus, I had to have my hands free to take pictures. Yeah.
Bees, I'd like to SEE you TRY to nest under these heavy suckers.
12:50 p.m. — Friday, August 18, 2006
Last night, we grouted the tile border around the window in the guest bath using trafficMASTER Stainproof grout in Bone from Home Depot. We give this product two thumbs way up. Not only was it easy to work with (pre-mixed, people! in a resealable tub!), but the "stainproof" part means that it has sealer mixed in, so there's no sealing the grout lines after everything dries. Anything that saves us a couple steps — mixing, sealing — is OK in my book.
Plus, the really great part about it is that there's no rush to get the grout down before it dries in the bucket, because it's always moist and you just shut the lid when you want to take a break...similar to why we loved the pre-mixed tile cement we used in the master bath. Sure the price is a little higher than the regular bags of powdered grout, but ease of application and lack of HOURS OF TILE SCRAPING definitely make it worth it.
So, making a surprise showing online, here's me, gooping on the grout with one of my favorite tools: a thin, plastic spackle spatula.
I use this for everything...spackling small holes in the wall, wood-filling holes in the trim, and now, grouting tile. Plus, it was the absolute perfect size to fit between the curved trim. At one point, Ryan tried to work alongside me with a wooden paint stirrer stick, but that didn't work quite as well (too narrow and too stiff), so eventually, he resigned himself to clean-up duty — sponging off the excess grout.
After he went over everything a couple times with CLEAN water and a CLEAN sponge — it helped having the tub right there — I followed behind with a pen with a rounded end, which fit perfectly in the curve of the wood trim, scraping the excess grout out of the curve. Thank you, local Baptist church, for your kind donation of a pen to our house project.
One more coat of glossy white on the trim will clean up that corner (above) nicely.
We were a little surprised that we did not have to deal with the dreaded grout haze. After a couple rounds of sponging down the tile to remove any excess grout, we stood back and waited for the grout to dry and the haze to appear. After a few minutes, nothing. After a few hours, nothing. We told ourselves we'd check it again in the morning, and certainly, the haze would be there.
I don't know if it was Ryan's thorough cleaning or the relatively small size of the project or the wonderful pre-mixed grout that did it, but in any case, we were thrilled that the haze never appeared and that this project was so easy.
Here's the finished product:
11:59 p.m. — Sunday, August 20, 2006
Since we apparently have no skill choosing brown paint, we put our heads together and decided to go gray instead. Here are Brown Failures #1 and #2:
No pics of Brown Failure #3 — just think LIGHT BEIGE and you'll understand.
And here is the paint color we have at last chosen for our master bedroom...Behr Cool Granite, from their Porch & Floor catalog.
Every time we walk into this room — regardless of lighting, time of day, or objects in the room — we love this color. I did not expect gray to be so calming. In fact, the word that comes to mind whenever I enter is "peaceful," and I can't think of a better emotion that a bedroom should evoke.
We're looking forward to the day we get to use this room as an actual bedroom and not a workroom, because really, "peaceful" is not a word I would choose to equate with power tools, tile scraps, and the rush rush rush to get stuff done.
Noon — Monday, August 21, 2006
Here's how it went down:
One of us was really working in this photo; the other was just pretending. I'll let you guess which is which ;)
And — ta-da! The finished product:
Oooooh I like... Maybe I'll remember to take out the spacers for the next photo.
12:21 p.m. — Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Bring it on.
6:01 p.m. — Thursday, August 24, 2006
Still reeling from our kitchen tile grouting fiasco (and not completely convinced by our recent haze-less experience — that was too good to be true), I decided to take a proactive approach in grouting the tile on the master bath floor. This is the SAME tile as in the kitchen, so I knew how bad the situation could get. You know what they say: An ounce of prevention...
Yes, that's right...I TAPED OVER each and every tile on the floor. It's not that big of a surface area — you could probably count the 12" tiles and figure it out, but I'm not that motivated — so it only took me an hour or two to completely cover the tiles.
And let me tell you, taping pages from the Behr paint sample books to the floor (we did NOT pick them up for this purpose — we really had that many sitting around) is infinately better than scraping off dried grout with dental picks.
Yes, dental picks.
Ryan didn't get home to witness my crazy plan in action until I had three squares left to tape. He only shook his head. Yup, that looks like something Leah would do.
But let me tell you...the cleanup? Was EXCELLENT. All that preparation was 100% worth it. Because after we grouted the floor, wiped the excess off the seams, and removed the taped papers, we had grout left only IN THE ACTUAL GROUT LINES. No grout stuck to the surface of the tiles. No gritty mess. We still had to spend some time smoothing the lines with a sponge and with our fingertips, but that was nothing compared to emptying out a million buckets of murky water and sponging off the floor 'til our golden years.
That's pre-mixed trafficMASTER Light Smoke grout. And might I say, it came out quite niiiiice...
11:59 p.m. — Sunday, August 27, 2006
In preparation for widening the driveway, Ryan recently moved the front wall of the right planting bed over towards the house about four feet. You can see below (sort of) where the wall used to end on the right:
Here's the wall in its new location with just a few blocks left to be added on top:
See how it no longer extends past the foundation of the house?
Ryan is breaking cement chunks off some of the pieces that used to sit in the concrete base:
And ta-DA. The finished product. Ryan's looking forward to the 2-car driveway we will have once we re-pave the driveway all the way to the edge of the house. Someday.
Shortening the wall meant the bench got pushed to the left. I still have to move the four slate pavers over to match the new location.
And in case you were wondering how dirty this project was, take a look for yourself:
Noon — Monday, August 28, 2006
It's official: Our final two inspections (Final Plumbing and Final Building) have been scheduled. That means that by next Thursday, all of our plumbing has to be completed and inspectable, and by next Friday, all of our Final Building requirements have to be met.
Yes, we have scheduled inspections for which we are not yet ready. BUT we have a big work week next week and lots of great help scheduled, and we are confident we can get it all done by then. Here's what we have left to complete for Final Plumbing:
- Install tub apron in master bath
Phew. That looks like a lot listed out that way! But Ryan is off today and busy working on some of these things as we speak, and he's not even sure that the tub apron and humidifier have to be done before inspections, even though it would be nice if they were.
And beyond the plumbing requirements, all we think is really pending before our Final Building inspection is the kitchen countertops. Ryan is busy at work on the corner countertop (the piece under the sink has been in for quite a while), and the island countertop will probably not be done by then, but we're not sure that's a big deal since there are no utilities in the island — no sink, no cooktop, etc. — though it would be nice to have it done by next Friday, nonetheless. I'm kinda getting tired of maintaining the quality of my cardboard countertops.
It would also be nice to have the stairs and railing finished by next Friday, but I want to be as far away from that smell as possible while that's happening, and considering the process takes a couple days (staining and a few coats of polyurethane), we're not really sure when we can get that scheduled in.
Here's the list with the latest items completed crossed off. We got a lot done this weekend — more on that later!