Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 7-26-15

Sunday, July 26, 2015,

Some interesting developments this week, and we bid goodbye to one property

204 N. Bayview

A last look at this one. I’ve been thinking, as I passed, the past few weeks, that the “final” photo I posted did not include the park bench in front of the steps, so here’s the definitive photo of the front.

In the back, a bit more landscaping has been done inside the fence, and there is furniture in the “patio.”

The AC unit suggests that this outbuilding is intended as more than a storage shed, and a peek through the door (when the owners were away) shows that the old kitchen appliances and cabinets are still in place; perhaps this will be outfitted as a guesthouse.

308 N. Bayview

The piles of bricks beside the front walk and around the house suggest that something else is planned.

The trenches have now been partially filled. As speculated, French drains are being constructed, with gratings at intervals.

As noted, although the French doors have been installed, the previous fabric and plywood seals are still in place. I’ve now realized that (duh!) this is because the doors have not yet been glazed.

Inside, the back bedroom shows further promise of goodies to come, among them plumbing and lighting fixtures and a fan.

Woodwork is being added around the fireplace.

This new unit in the kitchen will undoubtedly house the refrigerator.

This unit being constructed in the living room appears to be destined to be a serving bar, presumably to be located between the kitchen and dining room.

Units are being constructed in this space between kitchen and living room, loosely identified as a butler’s pantry (no indication it will include a wet bar).

Although this high-tech thermostat has been installed, AC is still being provided (at least partly) by window units, as shown by this shot of the large room (by the kitchen) tentatively designated a pantry and utility room.

This lighting panel in the front hall suggests that a large variety of illumination will be controlled from this spot.

351 N. Summit

The second floor has been partially wrapped and the roof covered. Still no stairs, so I won’t be exploring the second floor yet.

111 Magnolia Avenue

Brick work continues.

Columns and other woodwork on the front porches and back balcony have been completed except for the railings, the specifications of which are shown.

Inside, insulation has been added—blown foam in the outside walls (and some interior ones), fiberglass batts in the ceiling and elsewhere—and gypsum board has been staged throughout the house for installation.

Upstairs, the mystery space remains mysterious—a space about six feet wide and a foot and a half deep, with no apparent access or purpose.

This is the master bathroom, larger than most bedrooms. In addition, there are two ginormous walk-in closets. This is downstairs; upstairs there is a second “master suite,” plus three more bedrooms and a small sitting area or office opening onto the upstairs porch. And of course there’s also the “garage.”

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 7-20-15

Monday, July 20, 2015,

I was out of town (visiting relatives in Oregon, where it was blessedly cool) last weekend, but for the most part it’s hard to see two weeks’ worth of progress since my last report.

204 N. Bayview

One last (?) photo of this house, as I think these shutters (concealing blind dummy windows in the master bath/closet) are new since I last saw the house.

308 N. Bayview

The big news here is that the front and back double French doors have been installed, though the plastic sheeting and plywood doors are still in place.

Cabinetry is being installed in the room off the kitchen—I think perhaps a combination pantry and utility room.

The toilets are still in their cartons, but this dressing table has been installed between the master bath and walk-in closet, and newly delivered cartons (in one of the back bedrooms) promise elaborate lighting.

Application of siding to the garage continues.

The front walk has been poured, and a trench (purpose unknown) has been dug around the house.

351 N. Summit

The second floor has been framed and beams for the roof of the breezeway between house and garage have been added.

111 Magnolia Avenue

As expected, brick masons have been at work on the first floor.

The brick driveway has taken a lot of abuse and will need to be repaired.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 7-4-15

Saturday, July 4, 2015,

The biggest neighborhood sensation this week was not construction but destruction. On Tuesday, June 30, about 2 p.m. (while I was at the library watching Cool Hand Luke and totally unaware what was going on outside), a freak windstorm with winds reported up to 50 mph knocked down a tree at 59 N. Summit, demolishing a portion of the house (but not the new construction). As can be seen in the photos below, it was a very large tree, and the roots seemed to have rotted, making it literally a pushover.

By 3:30 p.m., when I came on the scene on my way home from the library, quite a crowd had gathered, and the owner of Chris Francis Tree Service soon arrived to assess the situation. His crew worked all the next day, entirely blocking Atkinson Avenue and making Summit Street virtually impassable, and of course there were rubberneckers for that as well. The photos below show some of the remains, as well as damage to the house.

The damaged portion of the house is now covered by a blue tarp—a not uncommon sight in these parts after hurricanes but fairly rare for the past few years.

204 N. Bayview

Put a fork in this one! As of July 3, the front landscaping had been completed, and the house appeared occupied, and on July 4, the carport and driveway were filling up with guests.

Although the back shows no landscaping, a fence has been built along the alley. You may not be able to tell from the photo, but the reason for the plywood over the door opening of the outbuilding is now revealed: the door had apparently been removed to subdue its bright yellow color with “antiquing.”

308 N. Bayview

Windows have been installed in the side rooms of the carport, and installation of siding has begun.

Brick masons have been at work, completing the paving of the veranda (except for mortar) and bricking the fireplace surround, but already their earlier work is in need of repair.

Air conditioning compressors have been installed, and the smaller one was running when I visited, even though the window units and several box fans (to help paint dry) were also still in operation.

I think the molding around these arched doorways is new; I think I would have noticed it before (in one photo I haven’t posted, parts of it were on the floor in this alcove).

Inside, the most notable progress is in painting; just imagine that almost everything that hadn’t been painted has now been at least primed. For example, the master bedroom is a gallery of painted doors.

These salvaged doors now look as good as new.

I have no explanation for the white paint smudges on the previously painted taupe walls of both back bedrooms.

The vanity has been placed in the hall bathroom.

From this delivery, it is obvious that all the bathrooms will soon be getting fixtures.

351 N. Summit

Although there has been no real change here, I did run into the builder, Vance McCown, earlier in the week, and he gave me a tour and some explanations. Although his company primarily builds large commercial and institutional buildings, I learned that he is building this house, designed by his architect son, Robert McCown, as his personal residence. He explained that construction had been delayed somewhat by his losing (or perhaps firing) his framing contractor and also by receiving structural timbers that were shorter than ordered, so that some accommodations had had to be made.

I had buttonholed him to ask him where the stairs were going to be, and he showed me. The downstairs will have three rooms, all with exposed structural beams. This is the living room.

This photo, taken from the back of the kitchen, shows the breakfast area at the front (opening onto a patio) and, on the left, the dining room.

In this photo, showing the back of the kitchen, the entrance to the stairwell is on the right, and the stairs make a right angle turn. Tucked under the stairs (in traditional fashion) is a small powder room. To the left is a walk-in pantry. At the far left, just out of the picture, is an outside entrance leading to the garage.

Upstairs, in addition to the master suite, there will be a second bedroom and (if I remember correctly) a small sitting area. We talked a lot about the site preparation. Vance emphasized that despite derision of the site as “the pyramid” (a term I hadn’t heard used), the grading was necessary (as we have seen) to bring the site level with the street. He offered as comparison the house at the corner of Fels Avenue and S. Summit Street, which has also been raised with a retaining wall, the difference being that the wall is in front of the house.

He also pointed out all the drainage improvements that have been made, in consultation with the City, and said that his neighbor to the north is actually quite pleased with the development for two reasons. Previously, storm runoff from the lot ran right into his garage; now it has been diverted to avoid his lot entirely. Moreover, once construction is complete, Vance intends to build a privacy fence at the back of his lot, allowing the neighbor to remove his fence, which is several feet inside his lot line, thereby gaining several feet of usable space beside his garage. Vance also assured me that his house will not block sunlight from his neighbor’s house.

I commented that his son’s website was somewhat minimal and said I wished all architects would post more “work in progress” photos. He said this was an issue of time and money but pointed out that a camera has been mounted on the utility pole at the corner of the lot to take time-lapse photos that will ultimately provide a video of the project from start to finish.

111 Magnolia Avenue

Progress here is entirely on the “garage.” Inside the main house, there is no perceptible change: the jacket, cooler, and other personal items have not moved for months.

The outbuilding, however, has been partially clapboarded and painted, and a breezeway has been built connecting it to the house.

Inside, stairs have been built, providing access to the second floor.

At the top of the stairs, a landing/seating area opens (via two doors) onto the upstairs porch, which faces east.

At the front, facing west, is a large room—bedroom or office—with what appear to be storage areas.

In the center, on either side of a passageway, there are a closet and what I am speculating will be a bathroom.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 6-28-15

Sunday, June 28, 2015,

Today’s report will be somewhat abbreviated because I got caught in a brief deluge and had to cut my walk short.

204 N. Bayview

The dumpster is gone, the Bobcat is back, and landscaping is in progress. No further report because there were lights on inside and two cars in the carport.

308 N. Bayview

Here’s where it’s happening this week. The general outline of the front walk has been indicated, and the framing for the porch entrance, completed a couple of weeks ago, just caught my attention today.

Brick paving of the back veranda has begun.

Inside, new glass doors awaiting installation are scattered everywhere—in the living room, the front hall, and a closet. (Old doors are still propped up around the house as well, though most have been installed.)

I tried last week, without success, to capture the paint color of the kitchen cabinets (gray). Here’s another attempt.

The walls of the two back bedrooms have been painted taupe.

I don’t think I’ve previously focused on the attractive reuse of salvaged flooring in the back hall.

Drawers have been added to the built-ins in the master suite corridor and closet.

In the master bathroom, it appears that mirrored medicine cabinets (above twin sinks) are planned.

I’m speculating that this piece of furniture(seen from the back) will be repurposed as the vanity in the master bath.

351 N. Summit

The second-story floor is nearly complete, but rain from a previous storm still covers the foundation.

111 Magnolia Avenue

I didn’t get here, but I wasn’t expecting any dramatic changes, anyway.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 6-21-15

Sunday, June 21, 2015,

This week’s progress ranges from almost none to approaching completion.

204 N. Bayview

The front walk has been completed and the front yard graded ready for landscaping.

The front porch has been screened and the house number added.

For some reason the yellow door to the outbuilding has been covered (or perhaps removed).

I had hoped to get a better photo of the serving area in the living room, but since last week window screens have been added everywhere, even on the screened front porch, which is also “furnished.”

This shot from the back door does reveal intriguing appliances of some sort in the kitchen.

Louvered shutters have been added to the windows in the master bath, but this shot from the back shows its flamboyant wallpaper.

The addition of scattered furniture items—a rug here, a buffet there, a mattress and flat-screen TV in the front upstairs bedroom—suggest that move-in may be imminent.

308 N. Bayview

The first of the new doors have arrived.

A pair of recycled doors have been installed (as stationary panels) in the opening between living room and dining room.

Salvaged doors have been used throughout the house, mostly as closet doors. Each is labeled with its size and destination.

This storage unit is being built in the passageway that leads from the master bedroom to the master bath, the walk-in closet, and the room with the window seat.

The walk-in closet in the master suite is huge and fitted with two built-in shoe racks (left foreground, right middle ground).

351 N. Summit

Aside from a nice crop of grass, it’s hard to see much change here, but the ceiling joists appear to be new, along with the bracing on the east side.

111 Magnolia Avenue

Windows and doors have been added to the back of the “garage.” No stairs yet, so I’m holding off on posting photos of the interior.

Boxed columns have been added to the back entry porch.

The front porch now has a beaded ceiling.

Painters were working on the front yesterday, though it’s not clear which is the final color.

Other Projects

A neighbor tells me that the addition at 59 N. Summit will be a (presumably screened) porch. It is not high enough to see over the trees to the bay, but it is perhaps high enough to catch some breezes.

At 120 Kiefer, the dumpster is gone, but it seems likely that a renovation is planned. These photos show that the house is currently vacant and in poor shape.

More Neighborhood Improvements

Wednesday, June 17, 2015,

The focus in this installment is on driveway upgrades.

This April 2011 Google Street View image of 58 N. Summit Street shows that the driveway was deteriorating asphalt. By 2015, when it was replaced with poured concrete, it was probably almost gone.

Next door to us at 112 Oak Avenue, a gravel driveway and landscaping, captured in this April 2011 Google Street View image, had also gone considerably downhill.

The new, wider driveway and hedge-to-be are vast improvements.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 6-14-15

Sunday, June 14, 2015,

204 N. Bayview

Greenery in the dumpster and a Bobcat in the front yard suggest that grading and landscaping may be imminent.

Painters were touching up the porches when I passed yesterday. Although you can’t tell it in this photo, the porch ceilings are painted the traditional sky-blue.

The fence surrounding the rear courtyard and separating it from the alley (shown in the Google Street View photo in my April 26 post) has been removed, and the door of the outbuilding has been painted bright yellow. The total absence of vegetation here suggests the source of the greenery in the Dumpster.

These two photos, taken from windows in the carport (on the north side of the house) show the refurbished (original) staircase separating what appear to be two parts of the kitchen (for orientation purposes, observe the position of the white brick fireplace surround and mantel). A large stainless steel refrigerator is on the left in the second photo. The windows through which these photos were shot were above eye level, so I was shooting blind.

308 N. Bayview

The structure in the cantilevered bay is now revealed as a window seat capacious enough to serve as an extra bunk if required.

Cabinetry is being installed in the kitchen.

351 N. Summit

The sum total of a week’s work on the house is that the Tyvek in the window and door openings has been cut and pinned back.

The garage, however, has acquired a ceiling sturdy enough to suggest, if not a second floor, then at least usable attic space under the roof.

120 Kiefer Avenue

The dumpster in the front yard of this house (which was recently on the market) is filled with material suggesting that the house is being gutted. Stay tuned!

112 N. Summit

A little better angle on the barbecue pit and patio, clearly still unfinished.

111 Magnolia Avenue

Absolutely no discernible change here except the installation of a (very) few windows in the “garage.”

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 6-7-15

Sunday, June 7, 2015,

Some baby steps and some giant leaps this week.

204 N. Bayview

Carriage lamps have been added on either side of the porch, and the stair landing has been poured.

The courtyard between house and outbuilding has been completed.

In addition a slab has been poured for a whole-house generator.

308 N. Bayview

No real change in the carport, but here’s a view from a different angle.

Inside, the story this week is at our feet, with new hardwood flooring laid in most of the rooms (the back bedroom is shown).

In contrast, this bathroom uses flooring salvaged from the original house.

351 N. Summit

The frame has been wrapped.

This entrance porch currently doesn’t look very welcoming.

Inside, however, we can see the door opening into the foyer.

Behind the foyer is a great room/kitchen that will apparently have huge picture windows and doors.

The master bedroom has its own porch (the larger one), again with large picture windows/sliding doors.

Although the house will almost certainly have a second floor, I didn’t see any indication of where the stairs might be located.

112 N. Summit

By trespassing briefly in a neighbor’s back yard, I was able to zoom in on the barbecue pit but wasn’t able to get the right angle to see the entire patio.

111 Magnolia Avenue

Sheathing of the “garage” continues.

Boxed columns are still awaiting placement, now joined by ornamental brackets.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 5-31-15

Sunday, May 31, 2015,

Not much to report today.

204 N. Bayview

The porch step bannisters have been completed, and a path to the driveway sketched out.

AC units on both sides of the house (one on the north, two on the south) were all chugging away.

308 N. Bayview

Exterior painting (the original dove grey) has been almost completed.

HVAC is not as advanced here. Window units and freestanding devices are scattered throughout the house. Although wiring is complete, only a few selected electrical outlets have been installed, so power for lighting, tools, and the AC units is provided via 15A extension cords (sometimes several of them) running from room to room.

351 N. Summit

We have liftoff!

112 N. Summit

I detoured via Church Street yesterday, peering between houses to get a glimpse of the back yard, and it appears that what is being constructed is a large barbecue pit. It looks like concrete but will presumably be faced with brick.

111 Magnolia Avenue

It’s hard to tell from this photo (the sun was in an inconvenient spot), but roofing felt has been applied to the “garage.”

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 5-24-15

Sunday, May 24, 2015,

Very little to report this week.

204 N. Bayview

Posts for a handrail have been added to the steps and a landing pad outlined.

This outside shower (on the south wall outside the master bathroom) even includes a foot washer (the door is the one removed from the outbuilding in back).

I’m curious about what will go in this box on south wall of the front porch.

308 N. Bayview

The beaded ceiling has been stained.

This close-up shows framing for a light switch in the front hall.

351 N. Summit

A detail I overlooked last week is the lip at the end of the parking area. Is this just a barrier to entry (to cars or rainwater runoff), or will the space behind it be filled in with bricks or other pavers?

The main slab shows areas for two porches (one will be an entry).

112 N. Summit

Maybe not “all done” after all. During the past week a truck from a “screen room” builder was in the driveway, and these piles of sand and bricks in the back yard suggest further work on the “patio.”

111 Magnolia Avenue

The roof has been raised on the “garage.”

The purpose of the “mysterious objects” reported on three weeks ago now becomes evident; they’re support columns for the front porches.


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