Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 3-1-15

Sunday, March 1, 2015,

This week’s photos were gathered on a sunny Saturday and a rather bleak Sunday.

204 N. Bayview

This week’s snooping included peeking into a small outbuilding at the back of the house. What I saw generated a lot of wild speculation. Plantation homes usually had the kitchen in a separate building to reduce the risk to the main house from kitchen fires, but one wouldn’t expect to see a detached kitchen in this day and age. Still, these appliances and cabinets (including a sink to the left of the door through which this photo was shot) appeared to be solidly fixed in place.

The view through a window, however, reinforces the more rational assumption that these fixtures are merely being temporarily stored here.

308 N. Bayview

I’d been curious about the projecting roof struts (seen untrimmed at the far left in the photo below) and wondered if something like a rain porch was planned. As can be seen in this photo, sure enough, the eaves are being extended.

This photo shows that the veranda has been roofed, and the window at the far right shows the style of framing that will be used.

While I was taking photos in the back of the house, the owners came in through the front, and we chatted briefly. They told me that they had hoped to preserve more of the original structure, but, as construction progressed, more and more portions were discovered that had to be replaced in order to bring the structure up to code. In the dismantling process, however, many treasures had been discovered, including the parquet flooring and beadboard ceiling in the entrance hall, as well as some of the four layers of wallpaper used there. Although new doors are being made for the front and back of this hall, they will emulate the look of the original doors, and some of the original doors have been salvaged for interior use.

351 N. Summit

A closer inspection makes it obvious that this concrete block wall cannot be a foundation—not so close to the property line. I ran into a neighbor while walking Saturday, and he shared my assumption that this will be a retaining wall. The lot slopes down from the front to the back, and it appears to be the developer’s intent to level the grade before building.

112 N. Summit

The activity this week again focused on utilities, with a backhoe in the front yard and City trucks blocking the street. From the red plastic tubing, I’m guessing that this has to do with burying the electric and other cables as part of the City’s continuing effort to move to underground service for all utilities.

111 Magnolia Avenue

Inside, this week’s progress was in electrical wiring, and the opening for a door into a small attic area has been reduced to a more reasonable size.

Outside, the area where the garage used to be has been graded and laid out for a new garage.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 2-21-15

Saturday, February 21, 2015,

Since the “gym” (the Christian Life Center of the Fairhope United Methodist Church) was closed today for “an event,” I had to walk outside instead of on a treadmill, and because my GPS watch needed charging, I decided to make a leisurely inspection tour, not worrying about time or distance. So I had ample opportunity to explore.

204 N. Bayview

The outside looks unchanged, but these photos, taken through windows, show that work is proceeding inside.

204 N. Bayview 2-21-15A

308 N. Bayview

The big change this week is the addition of a gabled roof over the entrance to the front porch.

351 N. Summit

Surprise! Work has begun on something. Since workers were present, I couldn’t really snoop, but it appears that a masonry foundation is being constructed.

112 N. Summit

All week I’d seen trucks labeled “Cabinets,” so I was really looking forward to checking out the interior today, and I was well rewarded: cabinetry has been installed in the kitchen, all three bathrooms, and a room in the master suite that will presumably be a den/study/library/office.

Clearly the opening on the left here is for a slide-in range (with hood), so I’m curious about the opening on the right, with electrical connection. Perhaps a wine cooler?

No window over the sink since it backs up on the master suite, but the freestanding counter with serving bar can now be seen.

The serving bar from the great room side. The tall opening in the cabinetry is obviously for a refrigerator. There is an outlet (not a wired-in connection) in the smaller opening to the left, suggesting the location of a microwave.

This is the master bath, with a small linen closet to the right. To the right of that is the door to a gigantic walk-in closet, which connects to the laundry room, which also opens out into the back hall opposite the door from the garage.

This is the library/study.

In this view from the loft, it can be seen that the glass-paneled doors have been moved from the kitchen to the great room. Still no clue as to where they’ll end up.

111 Magnolia Avenue

The stairs have been roughed in, so I got a chance to scope out the second floor, and it offers some mysteries. It appears to have two generous bedrooms plus what amounts to a second master suite. There doesn’t seem to be any attic storage, though the location of this door opening is intriguing.

I’m also puzzled about the enclosed space here between rooms. Unless it will be used for ductwork or perhaps built-in shelves or cabinets, I find it very mysterious.

The stairwell offers a dramatic view.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 2-15-15

Sunday, February 15, 2015,

Progress continues at an uneven pace.

204 N. Bayview

The open door and the presence of construction vehicles indicated that work was being done inside the house, so I was unable to “snoop,” but there appeared to be no external change.

308 N. Bayview

One big change this week is the installation of windows.

Grading has continued and the framework for a veranda or covered patio has been erected.

Inside, the layout exemplifies the real estate phrase “intriguing floor plan.” As yet I can’t make heads or tails of it, but it appears that a master suite will be to the left of the original central entry hall, to which end these two original doorways have been blocked off.

It appears that a pull-down stair here will provide access to the added attic space gained by raising the roofline.

351 N. Summit

No change.

112 N. Summit

The most noticeable work during the week involved excavation by City utilities in the front yard. Ordinarily, utility work would be done before construction began, but, since there had previously been a house on this lot, it may have been assumed that all utilities were in place. What appears to be newly laid sewer pipe suggests that the existing plumbing may have been discovered to be inadequate. We were in our house for decades before we finally had to have leaking and plugged-up terra cotta sewer pipe ripped out and replaced with PVC; perhaps the situation here was similar.

Inside, the news is all about ceiling fixtures. This one is in what can now be assumed to be the dining room.

The master bedroom is one of several rooms with a ceiling fan.

This is the general style of ceiling fixtures in rooms without a ceiling fan.

It now seems clear that this must be the kitchen, with a breakfast area.

I was puzzled about these suspended fixtures until I saw them from the kitchen side of the cased opening and realized that they will doubtless be above a serving bar between the kitchen and the living room.

111 Magnolia Avenue

Although the rear view (first photo below) shows that work on framing the roof is not complete, the view from the front (second photo) shows that a portion of the roof has been sheathed in plywood and covered with Tyvek.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 2-8-15

Sunday, February 8, 2015,

Thanks to unremitting rain last Sunday, I was not able to get out for a walk. Later in the week, I made a driving tour of the neighborhood but was unable to get photos till today.

204 N. Bayview

As expected, the areas covered with metal mesh have been stuccoed. When I drove by, I could see that the work had been done, but I didn’t get a chance to photograph it before it was painted.

In this photo, you can see (I hope) the texture of the stucco.

308 N. Bayview

The biggest change, visible even a week ago, is that the roof has been covered.

This shot, taken through the front porch up into the attic, shows that the old roof has been removed.

A closer look at remnants of some of the massive timbers used in the construction.

An intriguing interior shot. The lumber balanced on the sawhorses looks as if it might be used—perhaps removed from the original roof, to be reused?

Now that the house is framed, grading is being done in the back to restore the original ground level around the foundation.

Dirt that was removed from the site, waiting to be restored.

351 N. Summit

No change.

112 N. Summit

Inside, almost all the moulding is in place, and a couple of bathtubs have been installed. The glass-paneled doors are still leaning against a wall, and, although there are only a few doorways without doors, their ultimate destination is still uncertain. Outside, carriage lamps have been added to the garage, and the dormer has been finished, not with brick as expected but with board-and-batten siding.

112 N. Summit 2-15-15A


111 Magnolia Avenue

Progress continues. Today I took time to walk through the first floor (the second floor is currently accessible only by ladder, which I had sense enough not to attempt). The floor plan is somewhat unclear, but if I am reading it correctly, the master suite (at the east end of the house) includes two massive walk-in closets and a ginormous bathroom. In addition to a half-bath next to what will become the stairwell, there appears to be a full bath in the public portion at the west end of the house, which comprises a large area that will presumably be a kitchen/great room, together with numerous alcoves of uncertain nature (breakfast room, dining room, study?).

False Erudition and Muphry’s Law

Sunday, February 8, 2015,

Wikipedia’s article on Muphry’s Law states that “Muphry’s law is an adage that states: ‘If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.’ The name is a deliberate misspelling of Murphy’s law.” So I do not begin this article without trepidation. However.

One form of tacit criticism is the use of “[sic].” In her Handbook for Scholars, Mary-Claire van Leunen writes about “sic“:

In general…the expression is both condescending and hostile. To correct an error in a quotation is merely condescending; to leave it in and sic it is an attack. Be warned, and do not take up arms unknowingly. Avoid using “sic” just to show how precise and knowledgeable you are, and above all make sure that the error you point out is really wrong.

He who sics the blameless phrase
Hoping he will gather praise
Makes himself a double fool,
Wrong and pompous. Mind the rule:
Sic less, and you won’t be sorrier;
Sic more, and sic transit gloria.

If on consideration you choose to slip the gimlet “sic” in between the ribs of your enemy’s words, go to it. Serious quarrel in high style is one of the joys of the scholarly life.

Alabama Heritage is a scholarly publication. Most of its contributors have Ph.D. degrees or are in the process of acquiring one. But everyone slips from time to time, and the editors of Alabama Heritage, who should be catching these slips, have been responsible for some notable failures. For example, an article about “German POWs at Fort McClellan” reported that “In a three-month period, camp dentists extracted over 1,086 teeth, placed 102 fillings, and repaired six palettes.” Another article said that, “As a cutter, he was on the lowest wrung of the Black Belt economic ladder.” A photo cutline referred to the “frontespiece” of a book.

Still, intended erudition thrives. In the current (Winter 2015) issue, a writer quotes a December 23, 1864, letter from Malinda Taylor to her husband, Pvt. Grant Taylor, who was serving in the Confederate Army in southern Alabama:

“[A]nother Cristmas [sic] is nearly here and you are still absent. I was so in hopes you would spende [sic] this Christmas [sic] at home but it seemes [sic] that I will have to spend it again without you. I pray before another Cristmas [sic] shall role around that you may bee [sic] permitted to get home safe and sound.”

Editorial tastes may differ, but if I were quoting this letter, I would not feel the need to use a single one of these sics. Certainly siccing the first instance of “Cristmas” would suffice for all. The irony, of course, is that the author of the article, perhaps relying on the wavy underlines of her spelling checker, has not noticed that “role” is also misspelled! This lapse somewhat spoils the effect of her condescending emphasis of all the other errors.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 1-25-15

Monday, January 26, 2015,

Some interesting progress this week.

204 N. Bayview

A shape has been selected, and braces have been cut and installed.

204 N. Bayview 1-25-15

308 N. Bayview

Further work on the roof gives a better idea of the ultimate shape of the house.

308 N. Bayview 1-25-15A

308 N. Bayview 1-25-15B

351 N. Summit

No change unless you count the greenery growing on the debris pile on the Summit Street side.

351 N. Summit 1-18-15

112 N. Summit

No noticeable external change; the story this week is inside, where stained and varnished woodwork has appeared, including most door frames and baseboards and a few cove mouldings.

112 N. Summit 1-25-15A

We will look forward to seeing the ultimate placement of these lovely doors with etched glass.

112 N. Summit 1-25-15B

111 Magnolia Avenue

Work on the second floor is continuing.

111 Magnolia 1-25-15A

111 Magnolia 1-25-15B

Viewing the house from Boise Lane is easier now, as the attractive landscaping seen in this Google Street View shot has been mercilessly pruned.

111 Magnolia Before

111 Magnolia 1-25-15C

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 1-18-15

Wednesday, January 21, 2015,

Mixed progress this week.

204 N. Bayview

The mystery of why some portions of the house remained bare of siding is solved. As these photos indicate, obviously another type of covering, perhaps stucco, is planned for them.

204 N. Bayview 1-18-15A 204 N. Bayview 1-18-15B

This photo taken through the living room window shows that interior progress is mostly invisible (plumbing and wiring).

204 N. Bayview 1-18-15C

308 N. Bayview

The profile of the house approached from the south has changed dramatically.

308 N. Bayview 1-18-15A

My husband happened to be running by when workers were cutting to length the enormous 8″ ×8″ beams that frame the front porch. When he returned, they were trying to figure out how to raise them into place (he offered to do it for them, but they declined). They found the Bobcat (seen in the photo above) would not raise them high enough; ultimately they had to use the forklift from the lumber company.

308 N. Bayview 1-18-15B

As can be imagined, the long beam across the front would be very unwieldy. My husband learned that the original cottage that forms the core of the house is 110 years old, so it was probably built with equally massive timbers.

308 N. Bayview 1-18-15C

351 N. Summit

No change.

112 N. Summit

No discernible changes outside. The interior still smells of fresh paint (perhaps a second coat?), and switch plates and outlet covers have been installed in many rooms.

111 Magnolia Avenue

Work on the second story continues. Ceiling joists have been added to many sections. No photo today, so you’ll just have to imagine it!

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 1-11-15

Sunday, January 11, 2015,

A dismal day, not brightened by the sight of many brown or blackened plants that, perhaps encouraged by unseasonably warm temperatures earlier in the week, did not survive our record low of 17° on January 8. On the other hand, I saw at least eleven homes still displaying cheery holiday decorations of various sorts—wreaths, lights (some turned on), garlands, bows, even a Christmas tree. To be fair, some of the items may have been ostensibly repurposed as Mardi Gras decorations, and the snowman cutouts still seem timely, but I suspect the cold weather may have discouraged people from getting out to remove lights strung on eaves. We were glad to get all ours done on Tuesday (Epiphany), while it was still warm!

It’s possible that the weather, which, even when not actually rainy, has been cold and bleak, has also retarded construction, but some progress was observed.

204 N. Bayview

The lovely smell of fresh paint greets a visitor. Trim has been painted all around the house, even where siding has not yet been applied.

The application of siding appears to have been concentrated in the back of the house.

308 N. Bayview

A new section south of the house has been framed.

351 N. Summit

No change.

112 N. Summit

Exterior trim (soffit and fascia) has been painted here, too. Earlier in the week I saw men on a ladder in front of the dormer, and I thought perhaps they were about to complete the brickwork, but in fact I guess they were just painting the woodwork.

111 Magnolia Avenue

As expected, the second floor has been framed up.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 1-4-15

Sunday, January 4, 2015,

Modest progress this week.

204 N. Bayview

I was about to conclude that there was no change from last week until I noticed the roof, where the unshingled corner has finally been covered.

308 N. Bayview

Additional framing has been added. This photo from the rear shows the extent of the additions to the original core structure.

351 N. Summit

No change.

112 N. Summit

Trim has been added on top of the brickwork under the roof.

At some point in the past few weeks, the door to the rear sun porch was installed, and the brickwork around it has been completed. All that is left undone now is the dormer.

The major accomplishment this week is interior painting, including the garage (shown here). The entire downstairs (I didn’t check upstairs) has been painted the same color, a dark beige.

111 Magnolia Avenue

Some exterior plywood sheathing has been added, as well as floor joists for the second story.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 12-28-14

Sunday, December 28, 2014,

Construction crews seem to be taking some time off over the holidays, so there’s not much progress this week.

204 N. Bayview

The porch extension is now further buttressed with what appear to be prototypes of decorative brackets. Since they are not identical, however, they may be just scrap wood, or perhaps they are a test.

308 N. Bayview

This cantilevered bay hangs off one of a number of rather small rooms in a series from front to back of the north addition.

351 N. Summit

No change—unless you count the greenery (grasses, vines) that has gradually been covering the heap of debris on the Summit Street side.

112 N. Summit

No change.

111 Magnolia Avenue

The architect promises updates at his website, Crocker Design Group. It’s odd that this new construction is labeled “Addition & Renovation.”


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