Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 8-28-16

Not a whole lot to report this week, but a few interesting developments.

252 N. Bayview Street

To pick up where I left off last week, I did go around back and confirm that the siding continues there. In this photo, the window on the left is the new one in the “bonus room” previously designated for attic storage. The one on the right (behind the foliage) is in the shower stall of the master bath. The space between is the two walk-in closets.

The photo above was taken from the carport, which is up several steps from the house, giving a better vantage point. Inside the carport is this intriguing collection of signs. (This is not new—just the first time I’ve photographed it.)

As I walked around back, I was struck by this bizarre arrangement of wires, pipes, and cables—presumably temporary!

The deck on the north side of the house is still in place and presumably will be retained in some form, but no effort is being made to prevent damage to the existing railing.

Inside, drywall work continues with taping of the seams in walls and ceiling, as shown here in the “bonus room” and master bedroom.

Downstairs, several of the recycled cabinets have been moved into the laundry room and side entry area.

The room at the back, currently being used for storage, still houses a large collection of cabinets. Presumably these will be reused in the kitchen.

352 N. Summit Street

Plumbing has been installed and moisture barrier laid preparatory to pouring the slab.

351 N. Summit Street

No actual paving yet, but another test pattern has appeared.

The porticos have been roofed with copper.

Gaps in the fence have been filled, and the top has been capped with a metal strip.

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 8-21-16

Today we say goodbye to one of our houses, but there are still three under consideration (and all of them actually in the Bluff Neighborhood).

252 N. Bayview Street

Last week I wrote that siding had been applied to the upstairs front of the house. Later it occurred to me to wonder whether the siding had been more extensive than that. Because I’ve been primarily focused on the interior, and also because thick vegetation and the proximity of neighboring houses make it difficult to actually see the sides of the house, I just hadn’t thought to look, but today I did, and, sure enough, there are clapboards on both north and south sides of the house (and quite possibly in the back as well, though even this time I didn’t think to check on that). I am assuming that the brick veneer will be extended to cover the rest of the first floor.

Just as a reminder, here’s what the house currently looks like from the street.

Inside, things are definitely shaping up. With the installation of drywall, we can get a better feel for the layout of the front rooms—living room, dining area, and kitchen.

In the northeast back bedroom, a closet has been created.

The southeast back bedroom has plenty of natural light with windows in two walls, but, with four doors (hall, bath, and two closets) in the other two walls, it will be a challenge to decide where to put a bed, so perhaps this will be a sitting room instead.

At the top of the stairs, a big surprise: the formerly windowless room designated as attic storage has now acquired windows (obviously the destination of that mystery window unit noted last week).

In the master bedroom, the bed might go between these two windows. The corridor to the closets and bath is at right.

The alcove at right (just inside the French doors opening onto the screened porch) will probably contain some kind of built-in unit. The door farther along the wall leads to the upstairs sitting room, and the short corridor in the background leads to the closets and bath.

The master bath also takes on definition, shown in photos taken from the hall door and from the shower area (which is to the right of the tub).

352 N. Summit Street

The foundation has been filled with dirt in preparation for pouring a slab.

351 N. Summit Street

No progress on paving, but, as expected, another portico has been added.

These hollow bricks are new, their purpose yet to be seen.

160 Fels Avenue

On Monday, there were two PODS containers on the lawn, and later in the week there was further move-in activity, so we can assume the family is now settled (just in time for the first day of school tomorrow). A farewell view of the finished house.

Even though the sod damage has not been repaired.

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 8-14-16

After three days of rain (5¼″ in our gauge from Wednesday through Friday), it wasn’t surprising that all four of the construction sites I’m currently monitoring had workers present yesterday, so most of the photos below are from today. I did, however, luck out at one house, as detailed below.

252 N. Bayview Street

Yesterday when I passed, someone I took to be the builder was talking with a couple I took to be the owners about their preferences for the front door, though that still seems a long way off (the front porch is still just joists and a sheet of plywood). But the installation of insulation (blown foam in the outside walls and fiberglass batts in the interior partitions, as reported last week) had been completed.

It’s not clear where this window unit will be installed, since there are no missing windows.

Upstairs, siding has been applied to the front of the house and porch walls.

This collection of new-looking doors and cabinets is being stored in the back room.

352 N. Summit Street

The building permit sign (with the correct address) shows that the builder of this house (and garage), Craig Homes, Inc., is the same as that for 252 N. Bayview. It will be interesting to contrast the progress of a scratch-built house with that of the renovation.

Workers yesterday were building this concrete block foundation.

351 N. Summit Street

Brick masons were at work yesterday, so I expected to see brick paving on the front walk this morning. What I found instead was further edging—of the screened porch and in the breezeway.

The curious arch in this border between parking space and front walk suggests that the paving will be “crowned” like a street to promote drainage.

In addition, this overhang has been added, presumably to be duplicated over the other patio entrance.

160 Fels Avenue

As I approached the house yesterday, my view was blocked by a concrete mixer.

Today I was able to see the result, a new slab poured at 162 Fels, and also get a better shot of 160 Fels.

As can be seen, although landscaping is not complete, sod has been laid.

By today, some of the new sod had already been disturbed.

A table and stools have been added to the back porch.

The owner/builder, Bob Evans, was onsite dealing with last-minute details and supervising the installation of a refrigerator. He proudly demonstrated some of the features of the house and invited me to “look around,” so I did. This wide shot of the living room and kitchen was taken through the French doors, before I tried the door and let myself in. The fridge can be seen at left, and note that the flooring has been exposed.

In this closer shot, note that the microwave oven is on a pull-out shelf. Bob said there would also be an overhead pull-down door to conceal it.

Here are the powder room, with its dramatic wallpaper, and the storage room under the stairs.

The office has built-in cabinets. I told Bob I really liked the light fixture; he said it put out a lot of heat—not great when you’re already slaving over a hot computer!

The finished “mud room” closets (inside the side entrance), with pantry behind.

This shot shows the wallpaper in the living room, with the entrance to the master suite. As can be seen, some electrical work remains to be done, and there was an electrician onsite.

This is the wallpaper in the master bedroom, with the entrance to the bath area at right.

The tub has now been installed. I think I would have been inclined to put the faucet and handles at the back, but I guess this saves bending over to draw the water.

Here’s the vanity seen with the light on (for some reason it didn’t occur to me to turn on lights when I was photographing two weeks ago). I’m guessing there will be a mate to this mirror—one over each sink.

The closet is of course well fitted out with built-ins. The designer even included a tie rack. I mentioned this to Bob, who laughed and said, “Yeah, for the one or two times a year when I dress up enough to put on a tie.”

The stacked Whirlpool washer and dryer are on the right side of the closet, with a pull-up folding table.

The finished bottom stair landing.

Upstairs, the window seat in the front northwest bedroom has been papered and a light fixture added.

Presumably a bed will be placed between the light fixtures in the back northwest bedroom.

As can be seen from the photo above, as well as these of a bedroom closet and the carport, move-in has already begun, with tubs of belongings in many of the rooms and closets in the house.

The clearest signal that the house is nearing completion is that the portolet has been placed on the sidewalk, ready for pickup.

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 8-7-16

Just a few interesting developments this week.

252 N. Bayview Street

My first impression was that, once again, there was no change from last week, but from the back of the house and upstairs, it became apparent that this week’s work has been in insulation—blown foam in the outside walls and fiberglass batts in the interior partitions.

The floor of the upstairs porches (previously plywood) has been covered with something that looks like cement. It is surely too rough to be the finished surface, but time will tell.

Since no tile work is being done anywhere in the house, this cement board may be related.

356 N. Summit Street

Footings have been poured for what promises to be a sizable structure.

351 N. Summit Street

The fence has been (more or less) finished.

More pallets of bricks have been delivered.

A brick border now surrounds the front walk and patio.

120 Kiefer Avenue

It appears that this project is now dormant (as evidence, both dumpster and portolet have been removed).

Although a doormat has been added, there is no sign of habitation at present.

160 Fels Avenue

As forecast, the driveway on the east side is a split one.

So is the one on the west side, though a new apron and section of sidewalk have been poured.

The fences connecting the surrounding fence to the house have been built, and the one on the west side has been finished with a gate.

Entrance porches have been added at the front and side doors.

The temporary locksets on both doors have been replaced with hardware using the same square knobs used throughout the interior.

The back yard, cleared of all vegetation, was more noticeably muddy this morning after last night’s hard rain, but these water meter covers, used as stepping stones, and concrete patio squares had been added.

On the back porch I found a cabinetmaker from TK Woodworks putting the finishing touches on the outdoor kitchen. He demonstrated a pull-out spice rack to the right of the range area.

He confirmed that his company had made all the cabinetry throughout the house and that the area in front of the pantry (at the side entrance) was designated as a “mud room,” making it likely that that space, now finished with shelves, doors, drawers, and bins, is for storage of outdoor items. He added that the house was the builder’s personal residence. That builder is Bob Evans (Bob Evans Homes), about whom/which I can find almost nothing. Incidentally, the residential designer is William Coleman Mills or WMCM Studio, whose own personal residence can be seen here.

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 7-31-16

A lot of photos today, so prepare to scroll!

252 N. Bayview Street

I could not see any change from last week, but I offer this photo showing all of the partitions that have been added to delineate the “living room,” “dining room,” and “kitchen” areas of the large open space inside the front door.

351 N. Summit Street

Once again I was fortunate to find the builder onsite, watering newly planted palm trees. He explained that they are “rescue trees,” salvaged from another construction site.

Another rescued item is the large dish (which to me looks like a giant mortar) seen in many previous photos. I asked the builder about it, and he said it was jetsam he’d retrieved from the side of the road and plans to use as part of a fountain.

He showed me the landscape plan on his phone, explaining that, since the house has no back yard, the area in front of the breakfast room porch (which will be screened) will serve as a “back yard.” There will be a privacy hedge near the street; between this and the house there will be planted beds separated by gravel paths, with the fountain in the center.

Construction has begun on a privacy fence on the west side and around the back. The builder said it will later be evened off at some reasonable height. It will stretch across the back all the way to the previously constructed brick wall.

356 Magnolia Avenue

Sure enough, this week there are further indications of imminent construction: a dumpster and a portolet.

Inside the property, lumber, rebar, and other framing materials have been staged. (Props to anyone who knows what a “rod chair” is. I had to look it up!)

160 Fels Avenue

Construction of the fence has been completed, the previously jagged edge now neatly capped. Apparently it will be enclosed with short sections connecting to the house.

Unfortunately, the fence now prevents observation of progress at 162 Fels.

The existing driveway, including the “apron” at the street, has been demolished, presumably to be replaced.

In addition, a split driveway appears to be planned on the east side of the property, leading not to the back yard as previously conjectured but just to a parking space in front of the fence.

This type of driveway—just two strips of concrete for vehicle wheels—is an old-fashioned style rarely seen these days. As automobile wheelbases have changed, many homeowners have opted to fill in the gaps to create a solid surface.

As construction nears completion, these signs have appeared around the yard; by next week perhaps landscaping will have begun.

Carriage lamps have been added beside the front door and these unusual fluted sconces at the side entrance.

As to the interior, I hit the jackpot there. A paperhanger was preparing to hang this dramatic wallpaper in the powder room, and he let me in.

The light fixtures in the living room are typical of the modern, geometric style seen throughout the house, extending even to the square doorknobs (these are on the coat closet in the entry).

The square-shaded ceiling fixture in the master bedroom and rectangular sinks and light fixture in the master bath continue the motif (though at least the tub has some curves).

Furnishings in the small northwest room continue to confirm my surmise that it will be an office.

The pantry offers ample storage both inside and out (perhaps the exterior portion will be a broom closet or storage for outdoor apparel).

The kitchen is virtually complete, awaiting only appliances, drawer and cabinet pulls (square?), and more light fixtures over the sink (presumably the existing one will be adjusted as well).

The entry leads directly to the staircase, now with a permanent (but as yet unpainted) railing. Stair treads have been installed and the risers painted.

This practical gray carpet (shown here at the top of the stairs) is used throughout the second floor. The downstairs floor—presumably hardwood or laminate flooring—is protected throughout with cardboard.

This impressive wall storage unit has been added to the sitting room/family room/game room at the top of the stairs. (The door in the background leads to the northeast front bedroom.)

The window seat in the northwest front bedroom looks inviting.

This unique light fixture distinguishes the northeast bedroom.

The sink and light fixture in the northeast bedroom’s adjoining bath are duplicated in the other upstairs bathrooms.

The upstairs laundry room has barn doors.

Barring another happy accident, this will be our last chance to see the interior of this house; if the builder’s expectations are fulfilled, it will be completed within the next two weeks.

Other Neighborhood Improvements

This fountain at 306 N. Bayview is a relatively recent addition.

This house at 111 Fels Avenue, which recently changed hands, has been spiffed up with fresh paint (presumably by the new owners). Photos below show its appearance in April 2011 (from Google Street View) and today. The change in appearance of the picket fence is especially dramatic.

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 7-24-16

Moderate progress this week, with some interesting developments.

252 N. Bayview Street

As it was last week, the focus this week was on “the porch.” As seen below from the steps, from the living room, and from the ground, a new framework has been built for the covered entrance porch.

Inside, a partition has been added between the living room and the kitchen, with all the complicated wiring to be expected in such an area.

351 N. Summit Street

The house exterior is largely unchanged from last week. When I passed the house yesterday, there was the sound of machinery from the porch in front of the breakfast area. From the street, it appeared that a masonry saw as being used to cut bricks. When I showed up today, I found these pallets of bricks.

The saw was gone, leaving only these broken bricks.

If I had not seen this revised paving layout, I might not have realized that all the bricks on the pallets had been sliced in half to create brick pavers.

356 N. Summit Street

Back in November I reported that the house at 356 N. Summit (shown here as it appeared when Google Street View photographed it in April 2011) had disappeared.

For a time the cleared lot had been offered in its entirety, but, as so often happens in this neighborhood, it had to be subdivided to find a purchaser.

Grading activity on the portion that has been sold promises that there will be something here to watch in the future.

160 Fels Avenue

We’re definitely counting down on this one. I ran into the builder at the site yesterday, and he projected that, if all goes well, it will be complete in three weeks. Assuming that the owners of a five-bedroom house have school-aged children, I would imagine they are hoping for a move-in date before school starts on August 22.

As can be seen from these previously published photos, while the fence on the east side of the property had already been taken down to facilitate construction at 162 Fels, there were fences in place in the back and on the west side.

For whatever reason, these have been taken down, and a new fence is being constructed all the way around.

This trailer in the back yard is further proof that the space between the house and the property line on the east side is sufficient for a driveway.

The carport has been painted.

On the back porch, wooden trim has been added to the columns, and a countertop and cabinet doors have been added to the outdoor kitchen.

The inside kitchen is also nearing completion. While it may not be clear in this photo, the sink has a faucet, and cabinets and countertops are in place (two of three lighting fixtures over the sink are still missing, however. The long boxes in the foreground appear to contain flooring.

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 7-17-16

There were actually some pretty interesting developments this week, so this edition will include a “work in progress” progress report on one house and Before and After photos for another.

252 N. Bayview Street

Because they are not on my driving route from home to my usual destinations, I ordinarily don’t see the houses currently under surveillance except on weekends, but developments at 351 N. Summit were so rapid and intriguing that I ended up cruising past several times during the week. As a result, I also passed this house several times, and every time there were workers present—carrying in lumber, carrying debris out to the dumpster—so I expected to see some signs of progress when I visited Saturday. In fact, what I saw was that the tub in the master bath had finally been drained (there were miscellaneous parts and installation instructions, all seemingly irrelevant, in a box on the floor in front of the tub), there was a lot of sawdust on the floor in the kitchen…

…and a fireplace had been installed in the living room.

I was upstairs when I saw vehicles parking out front and heard workers entering downstairs. They were surprised to see me, of course, but I greeted them and said I’d been trying to figure out what had been done during the week. One of them replied, “We’ve been mostly concentrating on the porch.” Well, except for upstairs (which was not where he was gesturing), there isn’t really a porch any more, but I took this to mean the area that used to be a porch. To refresh your memory, this is how it looked on February 28 before the demolition began.

This April 17 photo shows an intermediate view in which the new façade has been constructed and the floor is still intact.

By April 23, the floor in the entrance area had collapsed. I suspect this may not have been intended.

On June 18, additional boards had been added to bridge the gap.

In all this time, the collapsed floor, as shown above, had remained in place. This week demolition had begun; this is what was left of it yesterday.

351 N. Summit Street

Last week I reported on the “painting” (?) of the brick fences. As this week wore on, the scene was different every time I passed the house. Early in the week, the brick of the fences was increasingly showing through. The house, itself, on the other hand, was another story. Here’s how it looked on Thursday: completely white; I made it a point to take photos, suspecting it would look different on Saturday.

Sure enough, by Saturday, much of the paint was gone (note that the retaining wall has also been treated).

Just driving by, it was difficult to tell exactly what was being done. Was the paint being washed off? Was it whitewash rather than paint? I googled “whitewashed brick” and found that this is a popular fad, mostly for interior brick (especially fireplace surrounds). In such cases, what is used is not actually whitewash but actually paint diluted with water. This solution soaks into the brick, leaving just a whitish cast. So was that what was being done, or was this actual whitewash, as described at this site? Traditionally, true whitewash (lime wash) is primarily used on fruit trees to prevent sun scald, in dairy barns for appearance and sanitation, and as an inexpensive substitute for paint, but apparently now it has become a popular finish for exterior brick.

Today when I drove to the house, I found the builder/owner and his wife onsite and was able to get the straight skinny. What is being used is true whitewash, he told me, and it is being partially removed by power washing. He was not satisfied with the spotty appearance that had resulted from the first application and consequently was touching it up. The owners admitted that the whitewash is an experiment. They are happy with the appearance of some of the brick fences but noted that the brick is not all the same. It is used brick, and some of it came from Spring Hill College and the rest from other sources; the whitewash is an attempt at a more consistent appearance.

The builder’s wife also confirmed that nothing has been done inside “for months,” though that’s a slight exaggeration. The owner, as has been noted before, is a well-known builder of commercial and industrial facilities, with, perhaps, less experience in residential contracting, with the result that the house is suffering from a “cobbler’s children” effect. But he clearly knows what he wants and is willing to be patient to achieve it. At any rate, both owners urged me to stress that the whitewash is a work in progress.

160 Fels Avenue

A new mailbox and the copper roof on the front porch were all I could spot yesterday, with workers present.

Today I was able to go around back and see how the shutters are being used. Since both here and on the front (see above), they are not actually covering windows, I suppose it would be more accurate to describe them as “louvered panels.”

The door has been added to the screen porch, and a countertop has been added to the “outdoor kitchen.”

Inside, a desklike structure (low counter with shallow drawers) has been added to the small corner room, causing me to return to my original theory that this will be an office.

Next door, at 162 Fels, additional areas have been marked out for construction.

Posted in Construction | Leave a comment