Monday, June 27, 2016

Back in full swing

Sunday was the beginning of a terrific week for us. The good plumber showed up at 8am to start sorting out our gas line so that we can get our hot water back on and he can schedule for our plumbing inspection, which will be followed by a flurry of activity to finish the 2nd floor apartment. I did happen to call him my hero and did have to hold myself back from running at him and hugging him when he arrived. He is very old school NY and I'm still getting a feel for how he'd respond to an unsicited 8am hug-tackle.

Monday started off even earlier at 7am with more plumber, and Christopher and I finished moving our lives into the basement. I have been struggling with letting go of our couch and tv setup in the livingroom but seeing as how we are scheduled to have the contractor begin framing our unit tomorrow, it was time. So now we live here:

It isn't so bad, just dark. It is clean though, which is a big step up from the rubble strewn livingroom/construction zone of yore. It has everything a girl could need, a chair, table, mini fridge, microwave, and fully stocked bar - I am a realist. 

Our new livingroom:

The new music/practice room:

We are still sleeping upstairs in our bedroom/supply-storage and I am going to attempt to hold onto that tiny bit of comfort until the bitter end. 

Hopefully at the end of the week I will have more good news to share! It was getting pretty dark around here so we have been completely overjoyed at our bits of sunshine. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Tiling Progress

It has been a while since I've posted an update. We have hit another wall and are steadily breaking our way through. (Did you see what I did there? Forever clever.) Ok. Let me start again. 

The HVAC contractors, let us call them He Who Shall Not Be Named, aka Voldemort, have once again caused us some difficulties. Our plumber had called for our plumbing inspection when amazingly (sarcasm) his Expiditor discovered our boiler hadn't been permitted by Voldemort. After a bit or research and a ridiculous email from Voldemort containing a $5,000+ price tag to permit his work. Luckily our plumber called off his inspection as any unpermitted work found by an inspector could have cost us a $5,000 fine. Ouch. 

Needless to say we are trying to find ways to get the work legalized without paying Voldemort another cent. We will be taking him to small claims court as he is a liscensed contractor and we have an identical contract to my parents' property in which he DID permit his work at no additional cost because he knew National Grid wouldn't allow the work to finish without it. Unfortunately for us, we didn't have any sort if public utility involved. It was supposed to have been simpler. But at the end of the day, Voldemort is angry at me for requiring them to pay for the basement door they deatroyed in a fit of undescribable insanity. Have I told you about the door? Here is the cliff note version. ... 

Voldemort takes a saw to the edge of our basement door cutting off a wiggly line of wood from top to bottom and the door latch bolt with it. He claims it isn't his fault as he told our contractor to fix the basement door because it won't shut to lock. Thus he decides the contractor was at fault for his fit of rage. By the way, this door has never locked, there is a security gate with a keyed lock everyone knows to use and had used for months prior to the incident. Plus, I was planning on fixing the door in question it the correct way down the line, not with a sawzall while it still was hung. I never had the chance, as when I went down to take inventory of it one day, BAM, destroyed. All the evidence still scattered about on the ground. After many conversations, he decides he only is responsible for paying half the amount my contractor is charging to replace the door. So Voldemort is now aware we are taking him to small claims court and is attempting to extort additional money from us to cover his potential $3,000 loss. 

In the meantime tiling has continued. The tiler is working around the openings left for the plumbing inspection and forging ahead so that we loose as little time as possible. 

Here is the kitchen prepared for a level base layer.

Now the tile, say hello to one of the calendar boys cutting tile. 

Here is the hall bath, oops, wrong pattern. Even the best attempts at communication can go awry. 

Thankfully I was around, priming windows as usual, and was able to get it fixed. That's better...

And now for the grout!

I admit I have agonized over all the choices and grout didn't escape the clutches of my obsessive mind. It was a little easier to make the decision (after 5 hours of internet research) knowing that the first rooms to be grouted would be in the rental. While I wanted to make aure it was nice, I had a little bit of wiggle room to experiment and discover the PERFECT for me combination of grout. Obsessive? Maybe. So the winner is Platinum for the walls and penny tile, Dalorean Gray for the hex. Sigh. Another day and another decision made without complete disaster. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Hot water and Demo

Just when I thought the simple act of showering couldn't get any worse at our home ... BAM! Hot water down for the count. To be fair, we were warned the gas may need to be shut off for a pressure test of our gas line in order to sort permitting out on our boiler (VOLDEMORT!), but it has been two weeks *edit* three weeks now. Three weeks of brisk, enlivening showers, chilling enough to make grown men scream. Seriously, two separate grown men at that. Christopher's best friend was visiting with his wife and got the full spa experience, which included lots of screeching. It wouldn't be so bad, I like to tell myself, if we didn't have to devoutly scrub and scour our bodies to clean them of demo dust and construction debris. 

I have started to concoct various methods of showering in an attempt to turn our moldy tape, ice spa into something I don't actively try to avoid. My best solution to date is the good ol' sponge bath (which sadly still leaves my ever growing and curling hair ever so stylishly coifed a la Pattinson). Other attempts have included the Prancing Backbend, it looks just like it sounds, the Stand Way Back Just The Hair method, again you get yhe picture, and the F&$@ It method which consists of deodorant. Yup. I have crossed the threshold into crazy house lady. Picture me surrounded  by piles of debris talking quietly to myself and consoling Christopher that, yes, he will be clean again.

And now, the labor. Demo! With the help of our friends we opened the wall back up between the kitchen and now living space. Back in the day, as in waaaaay back in 1912, there was a pocket door between the kitchen and what was then the diningroom. People live differently today but with the original intent in mind, we are aiming at making this space one again a space for entertainment for ourselves and guests. The original parlor was a room at the front of the house and the bedrooms were in the middle with pocket doors providing access to the light and fresh air in the public spaces. In fact, this model of row homw was specifically designed to enhance light and fresh air. Every change we are making to the structure is to further this aim. 

In our kitchen there used to be a light shaft which was slowly filled with mechanicals and plumbing through the years. I decided to use the space for the air retuen to the second floor, but after removing the plaster on the wall you can see where the original opening to the shaft was. You could wave to the opposite side of the shaft at someone taking a shower or, ahem, ... Close it up boys!

Here for instance, I opened up the space above what had been the entry to our apartment. Someone put a metal door in at one point. A lot of homes built in the same time period had transom windows above their doors. Since we are moving our front door closer to the front of the building so that our bedroom door will be INSIDE of our apartment, I'm opening it all up. Seeing how much more light comes through with just that small space opened just reinforces my desire for transoms above our new entry door. 

And in the photo above, look what I found above the closet - MORE STORAGE! This house was packed with NYC storage solutions. We'll be recapturing that space with a smart lil' cabinet door. 

Here are some other hidden nuggets: 

I love uncovering old wall coverings, paint colors and anything that gives me a glimpse into what the house was like when it's first owners moved in. Sometime the renovations are fun to see, like the little dutch girl wall paper boarder in the kitchen, but more often than not they are bad bad bad, i.e., removal of original doors, paneling, trim, etc.  

Up Next: Finishing a run of Il Trovatore with New Rochelle Opera and on the less glamorous side, more painting.