Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 11-27-16

Hardly anything to report today. I worked in the yard Friday and yesterday, and today workers, presumably making up for lost time after taking Thursday off for Thanksgiving, were working at all three of the subject sites.

252 N. Bayview Street

There actually was something new outside, but I will report on that next week (wasn’t sure that it was new or even what it was, so didn’t take a photo). Workers were present, so I didn’t even try to go inside.

352 N. Summit Street

Although a pickup truck left the site just as I was approaching, there was a boom box playing loudly inside, so I couldn’t be sure there weren’t other workers upstairs. I therefore confined my inspection to the first floor, where it appears that the next order of operation is trim work, judging from the molding piled up in the kitchen and living room–dining room.

This frame leaning against a wall in the den will probably go in the opening between den and dining room, where there are to be (according to the plans) “Barn Doors (Provided By Owner).”

Outside, there were ladders leaning against the walls, and at first I thought the house might have been painted. In fact, the first step appears to have been caulking between the trim strips (battens) and the cement board.

351 N. Summit Street

Outside, work on the front garden continues, with the pattern of beds and walkways outlined with bricks.

Despite the pickup truck in the driveway, if there was anyone working in the house, it was upstairs. Downstairs, work on the floors appears not to have progressed.

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 11-20-16

Paint and floors are the story today.

252 N. Bayview Street

Outside, fresh paint on both brick and woodwork as well as the siding upstairs. When I passed yesterday, there was a stiff breeze blowing visible clouds of dust into the paint being applied by the painters who were at work. They seemed to be almost done, however, and I suspect gave up shortly thereafter.

Inside, work on the floors has begun. Most of the kitchen area has been floored (though I walked through without noticing until I came back downstairs from seeing the new floors upstairs).

In one of the back bedrooms, the reason for removing all the doors is obvious: they’ve been stained—all except one that seems to be a test area.

Upstairs, as noted, hardwood floors have been laid throughout (including the closets), and there are more stained doors.

In the master bath, tiling has begun, both on the floor…

…and on the walls of the shower. Until seeing it tiled (and therefore looking more like a shower than a room) I hadn’t realized how huge it is, with shower connections at both ends.

These Bliss Waterfall Linear Blend Glass and Stone Mosaic tiles will no doubt fill the currently empty space in the shower to provide a decorative border and a cubby.

Downstairs, more tile, including this Highland Park Dove Gray 4″ × 12″ subway tile from MS International Inc., which will probably be used on the walls of the hall bath.

352 N. Summit Street

Outside, the siding appears complete upstairs and down and even on the garage.

In the front, the clapboards continue around the corner from the front door, with the rest of the wall covered in board-and-batten.

Inside, progress is subtle. The floors are fairly uniformly covered with fine white powder.

The same can be seen on the exposed fiberglass insulation.

My conclusion was that the drywall joints in walls and ceilings had been sanded smooth. Some of the previously installed insulation didn’t fare well in the process.

351 N. Summit Street

The landscapers have been at work, and the lot is mostly level again, though the soil is still loose. These NDS Irrigation Control Valve covers are located in various spots around the yard. They suggest that irrigation may be more sophisticated than the typical RainBird sprinklers.

Brick masons were working on the fountain basin yesterday, and today its finished appearance can be anticipated.

Flooring work continues. I took several photos through windows before discovering that the kitchen door (in the breezeway) was open, so I sneaked in and grabbed these shots of the living room…

…and dining room, where it appears that some stain testing is being done.

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 11-13-16

A fair amount to report on today.

252 N. Bayview Street

At some point when I wasn’t paying attention (probably about the same time the thermostats were installed, these compressors were installed outside. The old units shown in my June 12 post are still in place, however.

The front door has been restored.

As can be seen in the background of this photo, however, many interior doors have been removed and not yet replaced.

Obviously, the big development this week is cabinetry. The photos above and below show the kitchen.

As a reminder, there are three bathrooms downstairs (all retained from the existing structure). The first, which is off the back hall outside the left (northeast) bedroom, has a new vanity.

The private bath off the southeast bedroom also has one.

The third bath is the one in the “back room” suite, and it, too, has been equipped.

This lavatory, evidently intended for reuse in that bathroom, is currently in the original closet of the suite.

When I said last week that the whole house had been painted, I obviously misspoke. In fact, it had just been primed. The first sign of paint is the robin’s egg blue in the master bath.

352 N. Summit Street

The reason for the large quantity of narrow trim strips now becomes evident: the exterior treatment is board-and-batten.

I’m puzzled by the electrical provisions by the front door. The two wires at the top are obviously for carriage lamps. The small wire at the bottom is for the doorbell. But what is the framed electrical box between them? There is a similar framed box—surely an electrical outlet—in the center of the porch, but this seems an unlikely place for an outlet, so my best guess is perhaps an intercom.

Inside there seems to be no progress, but I do have another correction. The portions of the wall not covered with drywall are not unfinished but in fact the location of the ubiquitous “vertical shiplap.”

Although I could have sworn this area was completely covered with drywall when I visited last week.

351 N. Summit Street

Great things going on here. Obviously work on landscaping has begun, with considerable disruption to Vance’s careful grading.

The base of the fountain has been poured. Behind it can be seen the chalk outlines of the planned flower beds.

In the breezeway, a French drain of some sort has been constructed.

At the rear of the breezeway, another mysterious installation.

Behind the house, a pad has been poured for some as-yet-unknown equipment.

The purpose of this new trench is also not obvious.

A handsome carriage lamp has been installed by the front door.

Inside, as seen through windows and doors, work on the floors has begun.

Note that the sleepers in the living room (foreground) are at right angles to those in the dining room (background).

160 Fels Avenue

One last fond look at this house now that the landscaping has taken hold and the trellis in the carport has been painted.

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 11-6-16

Work in progress at two houses yesterday, so most of the photos are from today.

252 N. Bayview Street

The exterior today displays a different treatment of the space above the front windows. I guess the arrangement of layered clapboards illustrated last week was rejected.

Inside, the story this week was painting. To judge from the masking of windows, floors, and pretty much everything else in sight, I’m guessing the paint (antique white throughout) may have been sprayed. I took a lot of photos, but this one of the “back room” will suffice to give the idea.

352 N. Summit Street

The story here was walls, both inside and out.

Outside, clapboards have been applied in front.

The areas not sheltered by the porch will evidently receive different treatment, beginning with what appears to be cement board sheathing.

The piles of “lumber” in the side yard are actually fiber cement siding, specifically Plycem trim, 1″ × 6″ and 1″ × 3″.

Inside, drywall has been installed throughout most of the house, with just a few areas unfinished.

As I was exiting the house from the “sun room,” I was struck by something I hadn’t noticed before: the front porch stops abruptly at the edge of the door frame instead of extending to the corner of the house. The reason for this will doubtless become apparent, but it seems like a rather dangerous idea.

351 N. Summit Street

No discernible change outside, but inside it appears that preparations for flooring downstairs are being made. Here flooring is stacked up in the kitchen/breakfast room.

Note the thickness of the planks in the doorway between living room and dining room.

59 N. Summit Street

No discernible change outside except this trailer, which suggests further gutting inside.

I peeked through a window, and it appears that the interior is being reconfigured.

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 10-30-16

I’ll lead off with some updates and corrections. With regard to last week’s post, I have been advised that the potted plant came courtesy of another neighbor, Neacie Middleton. Thanks, Neacie!

As for the mysterious exercise equipment shown in my October 9 and October 16 posts, I have been informed by neighbors that it is used for American Ninja Warrior training, after a TV show that is very popular with the boys in the neighborhood. The mother of two of them wrote, “Yes, we have ninjas in training here on the bluff. (Thank you to Pauline for assistance in extending their training course with pool noodle hurdles and the like.) I’m certain that you all feel much safer now. J

252 N. Bayview Street

When I visited yesterday, cleaners were just completing the job of sweeping and cleaning up the mess throughout the house. They agreed with me that it had been pretty horrendous. For example, here’s one of the downstairs bedrooms as seen on September 17.

Here it is yesterday after cleaning.

Much of the junk had been moved to the bathroom (after the tub and toilet had been cleared of the debris shown in my October 9 post).

And here’s the “back room” after cleaning. By the way, the “demolition plan” I mentioned last week confirms that the kitchen sink (right) will be reused in what is now the laundry room.

Now that the back room is so cleared up, I noticed for the first time this depression or recess in the flooring.

From looking at a photo made in August (detail below) the area appears to have been the site of a raised brick hearth. The wall-mounted air conditioner (or possibly heat pump) suggests that, when this room was added on, it was not included in whatever HVAC system was used in the original part of the house. So I’m speculating that this area was a fireproof platform for a freestanding woodstove or gas heater. The wall behind it was probably covered with asbestos, metal, or some other fire-resistant material.

I have no theories at all about the gaps in the flooring in the back bedroom.

I am assuming that the next major step in construction will be flooring, but, as noted before, this is going to present a challenge. In some places where there was at least some hardwood flooring before (as shown in the first photo below, taken July 9), it has now been taken up. What remains is disintegrating plywood underlayment, which will surely have to be replaced. What flooring remains is much spotted with joint compound and will have to be sanded down.

At some point in the past month, a bead board ceiling has been added to the screened porch.

The ceiling of the open porch displays even more beautiful salvaged bead board.

I mentioned last week that the front steps were becoming dilapidated. Their deterioration was even more evident this weekend.

The brick planter is also falling apart, or perhaps being demolished, since that seems to be part of the plan.

Above the front windows, something is now finally happening. Some of the MiraTEC trim has been added in a layered fashion, tapering from top to bottom, that will be quite attractive.

352 N. Summit Street

Progress has been made both inside and out. When I passed yesterday, workers were applying a metal roof, which today appears complete, though there are still scraps of roofing lying about (in the background of the last photo, you can see 351 N. Summit across the street).

Inside, insulation has been applied upstairs.

As prescribed by the plans, blown foam is used in the outside walls and fiberglass batts in interior partitions.

Either the insulation crew cleaned up after themselves very well, or they did a much neater job than I’ve seen at any other construction site. These few crumbs of foam were the exception, as most of the floors were quite clean.

351 N. Summit Street

At a neighborhood picnic last Sunday, I buttonholed Vance McCown, the builder/owner, and asked him point-blank whether his house was at a standstill. Oh, no, he protested. Although there is no discernible change downstairs, “the floor guy” is working on tile work in the upstairs bathrooms. This crate contained scraps of the marble being used for the showers and floors.

I also commented on the staining of the front door (only), and again he corrected me: in fact, all the doors have been stained; the front door just has a darker stain. The rest have a sort of pickled appearance; here, for example, is the door from the breezeway into the kitchen.

Sometime since mid-September (I’m not sure when because I haven’t been around the back of the house in a while), the back (left, west) portion of the fence, which previously was taller (see photos in my August 7, August 28, and September 18 posts), has now been cut down to be shorter than the front (right, east) portion.

In the front yard, a circular area has been marked with red paint. That will be the location of the dish that can be seen in the background, which will be made into a fountain.

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 10-23-16

I’ll start today with a pretty picture. The flowers are from one of my neighbors (Pauline Anders), and the potted plant is (nominally, though I suspect Pauline was behind it as well) from the neighborhood. I hasten to say that they express gratitude not for this blog (which I suspect few of them read) but for my being “postmaster” for the neighborhood association. It is a sinecure, and I don’t deserve recognition; that should go instead to Pauline, who actually organizes the neighborhood events I just send out email notices about. Anyway, I do appreciate the floral tributes.

252 N. Bayview Street

Today’s photos (none of them very good, I’m afraid) will be much of a muchness, as this week’s progress is primarily in the area of closet shelves. Here’s the downstairs portion of the future elevator shaft.

There are three closets in the “back room.” This is one of the new ones, the larger one, with double doors (built-in bookcase retained on the right side).

This is the smaller new one, now fitted with a salvaged door (built-in bookcase still visible on the right side).

The third one, in the entranceway, previously had an accordion-fold door. That has now been removed, and I suspect that the double doors currently waiting in the living room are intended for this space.

Upstairs, the upper portion of the elevator shaft. For some reason, its door and the doors to the bathroom had been removed from their hinges.

Several views of the walk-in closet in the master suite.

I may be mistaken, but it appeared to me that the floor in the former porch area had been cleared up and possibly sanded down. There is so much sawdust/sanding dust/miscellaneous dust on all the floors all over the house that it’s difficult to tell.

It does seem, however, that efforts are being made toward leveling the floor. Here a strip of something has been inserted in the space between living/dining room and kitchen floors.

Progress is also being made in the HVAC department. A thermostat has been installed.

Air returns in the back hall have filters but no grills.

Cutouts in the floor await floor registers.

In the master bedroom I found rather rumpled plans for the house. These included the “Demolition Plan,” which was quite interesting. Among other revelations was that the new laundry room was the old kitchen, which explains why the cabinets are such a good fit. I was also relieved to see that the plan called for replacing the original front steps; this is reassuring since the existing steps have become more and more dilapidated. The site plan below shows how the new construction fits almost entirely within the footprint of the existing house (and the required setbacks). None of the plans say anything about plans for the basement, which remains virtually untouched.

352 N. Summit Street

Doors! That’s the big event this week. Four of them across the front.

Interestingly, the door from the “sunroom” opens outward.

Inside, French doors flank the fireplace.

The only other outside door is in the back, next to the laundry room, leading out to the garage.

Upstairs, a tub has been installed in the bathroom opening off the middle bedroom. The hall bath (which serves the other two bedrooms), according to the plans, will have only a shower.

351 N. Summit Street

No observable change, but the architect’s website offers a “fly-by” video showing the house (from every conceivable angle) and neighborhood. The video was shot several weeks ago and doesn’t reflect the most recent improvements, but it’s still interesting.

59 N. Summit Street

The view from the front seems pretty much unchanged from last week.

A side view gives an idea of work to come. The back of the house is still under a blue tarp.

Here’s a shot of the house after the tree damage last June. Note the wing on the right.

That wing has been entirely removed, but the concrete block foundation suggests a plan to restore it.

Work on the addition in back (reported on in May of last year) has been at a standstill ever since the tree damage last June.

Elsewhere in the Neighborhood

304 N. Summit was getting a new metal roof yesterday.

As I returned home, walking north on Summit, I spotted what I at first thought was a squirrel standing up. As I approached, it looked more like a miniature dragon.

When I got close enough to see it clearly, I realized it was just a fallen limb caught up in some landscaping fabric!

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 10-16-16

The plot thickens. Today the exercise installation has been augmented with items constructed (or about to be constructed) from pool noodles and plastic Folger’s coffee tubs.

252 N. Bayview Street

A shot of the façade showing the trim that has somewhat recently been added.

The material used is MiraTEC by JELD-WEN, treated exterior composite trim, diminishing piles of which have been lying around the site for weeks. This is ironic since the instructions (numerous copies of which I found on the ground with the trim) specify: “Cover when used outside. Keep MiraTEC trim off the ground and dry. Excessive moisture pickup from improper storage may affect the performance of MiraTEC trim.”

Inside, the first thing that caught my eye was this square decorative panel. I will be curious to see where it ends up.

The panel was leaning against a wall just inside the door—or perhaps I should say doorway, since for some reason the door that was installed several weeks ago has been removed.

Similarly, the door to the back room has been removed. I didn’t see much else of note, though I suppose application of trim has continued throughout the house.

352 N. Summit Street

Today’s great leap forward is windows.

Here are the same windows from inside. This is the kitchen, looking toward what I previously identified as a breakfast room. Now, from the plans (shown below) I see it is a “sunroom” (though I suspect it may still be a sunny breakfast room).

In the living room (or rather “great room”), the fireplace insert has been installed.

HVAC equipment has been installed in one end of the master suite’s walk-in closet, and ductwork (not shown) has been installed throughout the house).

Here are the plans for the first and second floors. The colors indicate various kinds of insulation.

From the upstairs plan we learn that the mystery space at the top of the stairs will evidently be a sort of kitchenette, with sink, undercounter fridge, and microwave oven (“in Overhaed [sic] Cabinet”).

Already the actual construction is diverging from the plans. As can be seen from this detail, Bedroom 3 was slated to have a window seat flanked by two closets.

In actuality, there’s no sign of either. Moreover, it has appropriated the closet originally intended for Bedroom 2.

Similarly, in Bedroom 4, only half of the planned closet has been framed.

351 N. Summit Street

Progress here has been very subtle. If I hadn’t approached the front door close enough to peer in (to see whether work on the flooring had begun), I would not have noticed (by smell alone) that the door has been stained.

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment