Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 8-30-15

Sunday, August 30, 2015,

Noticeable changes large and small.

308 N. Bayview

The most dramatic change this week is that the old shed has been demolished.

Inside, the new cabinetry in the kitchen has been painted, and the glued-up island countertop (not butcher block as previously stated) has been completed and stained.

I’m curious about this item. Perhaps it is a pot lid rack or tray holder or something that goes vertically in one of the narrow cabinet slots?

The counter and desktop in the laundry room have been added.

Here’s a current view of the storage unit between the master bedroom and sitting room.

We now focus on closets. Here’s the master bedroom walk-in closet.

I was intrigued by the set-back top shelf on one side of this closet. I’d like to know its purpose.

Here are the two closets in Bedroom #3 (the left one is awaiting a clothes rod). Most of the closets in the house (with the exception of the master bedroom walk-in) have lights that come on automatically when the door is opened (there’s a button in the door frame that works like the light switch in a refrigerator or car door).

And here is the closet in Bedroom #2. I was about to think I’d imagined a pull-down attic stair, but in fact, it is in the ceiling of this closet.

351 N. Summit

Work this week seems to have focused on adding these rafter extensions.

As can be seen from this shot from below the breezeway, they are simulated. In fact, they are more substantial than the actual rafters, giving a false impression of sturdiness.

These and other arrays inside indicate that all the rafters will receive similar treatment.

This patio is certainly not new (it shows up in photos back to late June), but it was not part of the original slab pour, and it has been obscured by piles of construction material.

111 Magnolia Avenue

In the living room, the fireplace has been lined with brick in a herringbone pattern.

Stained wood has been added to the cased openings between living room and dining room, dining room and kitchen, and a coffered ceiling has been created. Can lighting has been used throughout the house, and most of the rooms have cove molding.

I tripped over one of these mystery items. They’re currently filled with sawdust and dirt, so their purpose is unknown, but they seem to be made of hard rubber. I wondered if they might be placeholders or temporary covers for floor electrical outlets or perhaps pillars, but their placement (almost directly in front of the front door) was problematic.

A tub has been installed in the Jack-and-Jill bath, and both upstairs bathrooms have been prepared for tiling.

As can be seen from last week’s exterior photo, there are three entrances to the rear of the “garage” outbuilding. One, on the side next to the house, leads directly to the stairs to the second floor. On the back, the one on the left opens to this powder room—very handy when you’re working in the yard and don’t want to take your dirty self inside. I will betray my age by saying that this would once have been designated the “maid’s bathroom.”

The door on the left opens to an entryway (which also connects to the stairs) containing these two storage areas under the stairs.

The one above is a low one under the stair landing.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 8-23-15

Sunday, August 23, 2015,

I was out of town last weekend, so this weekend I was expecting to see dramatic and significant changes in the three sites I’m currently following. Bottom line: two out of three ain’t bad! But buckle up because I took lots of photos of those two (of which these are just a sample), so it’s going to be a long ride.

308 N. Bayview

The front walk has been bricked, and these graceful Craftsman-style brackets now support the porch overhang.

Venturing onto the front porch for the first time in several months, I found that in fact the floor has been completed and painted, but it is still almost entirely covered with plywood for protection from the carpentry equipment situated there.

In addition, ceiling fans have been hung on the front porch, the ceiling of which has been stained at some point.

Inside, painting continues. The central hall is looking very bright. In the background, you can see the Craftsman-style screen door frames for the porch, shown below in a regrettably out-of-focus close-up.

Finishing touches are noticeable everywhere, including cover plates for most of the electrical outlets and switches.

The stack of boxes in Bedroom 3 has been greatly reduced by the installation of ceiling fans in all the bedrooms (and elsewhere). Toilet bowls and tanks remain, along with some light fixtures, faucets, and an InSinkErator disposer.

Although no bathroom fixtures (except tubs) have yet been installed, this vanity and linen closet have been installed in the hall bathroom. In the powder room, a metal vanity awaits a lavatory.

In the master suite, this dressing table fills the space at the end of the hall between the bathroom and walk-in closet, and the tile floor of the shower has also been tiled (wall tile had already been in place).

The “sitting room” is looking nearly complete, though it is still serving as a repository for a collection of unfinished drawers and the putative master bathroom vanity.

In the master bedroom, a ceiling fan and can lights can be seen above. The arched door frames were a puzzle to me until I looked at my photos of the kitchen (no clue about the ladder-like frame next to them).

In the kitchen, the “serving bar” is now revealed (duh!) as the de rigueur “island,” with a butcher block countertop. The ornate “chimney” contains a state-of-the-art range hood, and the arched cupboard opening will presumably receive the arched door frames now leaning against the wall in the master bedroom.

In the laundry room/pantry, the washer and dryer connections indicate that they will be stacked, and the breaker box, in mysteriously random order, suggests the complexity of the electrical system (including three “fridges”).

351 N. Summit

I could not tell that any progress has been made in the past several weeks. Although this lift seems prepared to convey building materials to the second floor (or shingles to the roof), it does not seem to have done so.

In the living room, leftover lengths of massive beam stock await reassignment, and the purpose of this curved bracket is yet to be revealed.

I may have to rethink my statement about the second-floor “bridge” between house and garage, since it does not appear that there is any opening on either side, much less a floor, but there is still no opening to the attic storage from the garage itself.

111 Magnolia Avenue

This house is really beginning to shape up now. In my absence, most of the window and door framing had been completed. Here’s a sample, in the breakfast area, which also boasts an interesting ceiling treatment.

This is the first-floor master bath, with windows facing on Magnolia Avenue. The shower stall will apparently have two shower heads.

Risers (but not treads) have been added to the bottom half of the stairs, and the photo below shows the view from the top of the stairs now that the window has been framed.

The door casings and ceilings of both upstairs porches have been stained.

Outside, brickwork has progressed, with only a few details (as shown below) yet to be completed.

Much of the recent progress has been in the “garage” building, here shown in two exterior views. I hadn’t previously realized that the garage will be a single one despite being (I think) wide enough for two cars.

Inside, a combination of white and purple wallboard gives an interesting appearance.

The upstairs apartment is taking shape. This is the sitting area at the top of the stairs (which are behind the wall to the right). I still haven’t figured out why it needs two doors opening onto the balcony.

Two views of the bedroom, showing windows facing Boise Lane and two small closets.

Between the sitting room and bedroom are a utility closet and a bathroom opening into both the bedroom and the hall.

A view of the house as seen from the sitting room.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 8-9-15

Sunday, August 9, 2015,

204 N. Bayview

Still a few more developments here. The rear courtyard has been set up as an outdoor dining area.

And in the carport, as expected, the concrete block construction has become an outdoor kitchen with grills from Big Green Egg and Bull Outdoor Products.

308 N. Bayview

No interior photos today because a carpenter was at work on the porch, where the entry has been slightly reconfigured, with new (unpainted) half-wall sections added. I’m curious about the curved plywood addition(s).

351 N. Summit

A second-floor bridge has been added to the breezeway.

Since there is no opening in the ceiling of the garage, it appears that the bridge will provide the only access to the bonus room over the garage.

111 Magnolia Avenue

The addition of paint (or at least primer) has made all the rooms look much closer to completion (if I’d realized how dramatic the difference was, I’d have taken more photos). Here for example, are a couple of shots of the master bathroom. As you can see, the corner from which I photographed the bathroom last week was not, in fact, the toilet room as I stated but part of an elaborate shower area (the toilet area is to its right).

To the left of the shower, facing the street, the bathroom has several windows. I assume a spa tub will be under them.

This shot shows, through the door, the sunny laundry/utility room. Plumbing for a laundry tub (?) can be seen in the mud room (?) in the foreground. This is just inside the rear entry from the garage (via the breezeway).

These decorative brackets will presumably go somewhere outside.

Here’s a view of the “garage” from the rear upstairs porch. Brick veneer had been applied to the far wall last week (you can see the edges of the bricks sticking out), and apparently the brick masons have not returned to finish the job.

I have finally figured out the mysterious “empty” area on the second floor. As can be seen from this artist’s rendering, the original plan was to have a chimney, which would have been routed through that space. But the fireplace in the living room has no outlet (it is plumbed for gas logs), so the chimney is not required. It’s a shame, though, that this space (about 16″ × 80″ judging from the placement of studs, which can be seen in the photo in my February 1, 2015, post) was not reworked for bookshelves, a linen cupboard, or the like.

Other Developments

In the eight days since last week’s photograph, siding has been slapped onto this house at 301 Fels Avenue. A worker was present; if work is being done seven days a week, it’s no surprise that it is getting done quickly.

Returning home I took the opportunity to catch up on progress on the Theater Building downtown and the “townhomes” being built at 52 N. Church Street, which look very attractive.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 8-2-15

Monday, August 3, 2015,

Although this is being written and posted on Monday, the photos were taken on Saturday and Sunday as usual. I just ran out of time Sunday.

204 N. Bayview

Additions to this site continue. Planters have been added in front of the steps.

And this concrete block construction on the north side of the carport/driveway, photographed on Sunday, was being built when I passed on Saturday. The fence behind it, along with a matching one on the south side of the property, is also new, built at the same time as the fence in back, reported on July 4.

308 N. Bayview

Work on the French drains continues (not shown). Siding of the carport has been completed.

Here’s a new view of the back of the carport, taken from the alley.

Inside, the kitchen sink is in place, and the fireplace surround and mantel have been completed and painted (along with an assortment of shelves prepared for various locations).

This storage unit has been placed in the hall bathroom but not completely installed.

In the back bedroom, one of the boxes has been opened: a Hunter fan has been installed.

351 N. Summit

Wrapping of the house has progressed a little.

111 Magnolia Avenue

This house is finally showing some great leaps forward. Outside, painting and brickwork are almost complete, and the decorative railings have been installed on both balconies.

The roof of the “garage” has been shingled, and the breezeway has been roofed with standing-seam metal roofing. Brick facing is being added to the garage.

Inside, the house is really beginning to take shape with the installation of gypsum board for walls and ceilings. This shot from the front door shows the east end of the living room, with fireplace, back porch entry, and stairs to the second floor. Between the fireplace and porch entry is the passage to the master suite.

This view from the kitchen shows the west (Boise Lane) entrance to what is likely a breakfast area facing south (toward Magnolia Avenue).

Attempts to photograph the master suite were frustrating because of its size (I need a wider-angle lens), but this is the bedroom, with windows on the east and north (back) sides.

This photo, taken from the southwest corner, shows less than half of the master bath, which is at the front of the house. Behind me was the separate toilet room.

Between the bath and bedroom are two enormous rooms assumed to be a walk-in closet and a closet/dressing room (with window).

Other Developments

Work on the addition at 59 N. Summit has been halted, and repairs to the storm damage have not begun (presumably waiting for insurance estimates); the roof is still covered by a blue tarp.

Although it is outside the scope of “Bluff Neighborhood Construction” and a block away from my beaten (walking) path, I was surprised to see that this little cottage at 301 Fels Avenue (shown here as it appeared to Google Street View in April 2011)…

…has been demolished and replaced by this new construction, which is well under way.

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.


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