Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 7-24-16

Sunday, July 24, 2016,

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.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 7-17-16

Sunday, July 17, 2016,

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.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 7-10-16

Sunday, July 10, 2016,

I was afraid I’d have only teasers this week since there were workers present at two of the houses yesterday, and I didn’t plan to walk today, but I drove to the two houses for photos (still came home dripping), so I have a somewhat more complete report.

252 N. Bayview Street

Since the fill flash on my camera is useless for backlit scenes, here are some shots of the new doors and windows from the outside. Note that the “sitting room” porch is already being used.

Inside, progress is subtle and largely not photogenic, but apparently it has required ripping out the ceiling in the back room. As a reminder, here’s what that room looked like before it was locked up and segregated from renovation (photo taken on March 13, 2016):

And here’s how it looked yesterday:

The adjacent bathroom and closet have similarly been trashed. I took the photo below to show (as I think I have not previously done) the flooring in the main part of the house, which reflects the original position of the walls. I find myself constantly tripping over the gaps.

351 N. Summit Street

When I passed yesterday, I could hardly believe my eyes. I thought painting the brick at 160 Fels was crazy, but this is really idiotic.

Sure enough, though, when I went back today, the entire “fence” had been painted—at least a first coat (some brick color is still showing through). It remains to be seen whether the brick veneer of the house itself will also be painted.

160 Fels Avenue

This was the scene when I passed yesterday.

The result is not so much a carport as a “car arbor.” I had had second thoughts about whether the space might accommodate two cars, but looking at it again today, I was again sure it is intended for only a single vehicle.

On the other hand, the space between the left (east) side of the house and the property line is just barely wide enough for a driveway, so perhaps some parking in the back is planned.

The front porch has been gussied up with brackets to (sort of) match those under the bay window.

In the back yard, freshly painted shutters were strewn around.

And on the back porch, we see the beginnings of an “outdoor kitchen.”

The opposite wall of the porch has been paneled with distressed wood. Even in this blurry photo, you can see that the newly installed ceiling fans were turning briskly.

Inside, as seen through the glass porch doors, the forest of doors has been harvested, revealing the kitchen cabinetry.

The newly installed light fixture in the small room off the kitchen makes me doubt my original assumption that this will be a small office. Perhaps a tiny media room?

Are these excess doors that have been discarded?

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 7-3-16

Sunday, July 3, 2016,

I took a slew of photos this week, but mostly for archival purposes, not for this blog. As a result, there’s really not a lot to report.

252 N. Bayview Street

The old bits of HVAC have been thrown in the dumpster out front, the tub in the master bath is still filled with water, and the only noticeable change is the installation of doors and windows in the master suite. The bedroom now sports new doors and windows.

The sitting room had windows but now also has doors.

351 N. Summit Street

I was excited to see that the masking had been removed from inside the windows, so I hoped for a peek inside. Better still, though, I found that the front door was unlocked, so I was able to tour the entire interior. Disappointingly, however, I found no changes worth reporting. Drywall finishing has been completed, and walls have been primed but not painted. The next big leap will probably be flooring. These two photos show the dining room. Here is the wood-paneled bay at the front.

And this view from the dining room into the living room shows an area between the two that will be interesting to watch. The shallow alcoves on either side may be built-in china closets.

Outside, this test pattern seems to confirm suspicions that the front walk will be paved with brick.

This arrangement in the parking area is a little more puzzling.

160 Fels Avenue

The house was locked up again this week, so I had to content myself with peering through windows. This shot through the French doors from the back screened porch show a forest of doors freshly painted and awaiting installation.

Between the doors, it can be seen that cabinetry has been installed in the kitchen.

This shot through the front window shows the kitchen cabinetry in the foreground and doors in the background.

Outside, the purpose of the bricks and concrete blocks delivered last week is now evident: the brick wall jutting from the house has been extended to surround what is assumed to be a parking place. It seems unlikely that a five-bedroom, 4½-bath house will have off-street parking for only one car, but so far this is it.

This shot from the back demonstrates that it is now much more difficult (though not entirely impossible) to make a full circuit of the house.

Next door at 162, construction progress continues.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 6-26-16

Sunday, June 26, 2016,

This week there is plenty to report—at least lots of photos (I took 61, but I won’t be including all of them!).

252 N. Bayview Street

I’m sure something must have been done this past week, but the only evidence I could see of this activity was this drainpipe in the kitchen, which indicates there will be a sink in the “island.”

308 N. Bayview Street

A couple of shots from the alley behind the house to show the finished landscaping in the back.

351 N. Summit Street

This long shot shows the retaining wall at the back of the property (north side), some of it still not faced with brick.

As can be seen from the photo above, the purpose of the concrete slab is now evident. I figured it wouldn’t be for an air conditioning compressor since the house is using geothtermal heating/cooling; in fact, it turns out to be an Eaton backup generator, a practical necessity in hurricane country.

In the utility room at the back of the garage, the geothermal system has been further hooked up and appeared to be in operation.

Additional pallets of bricks have been delivered.

120 Kiefer Avenue

Construction of more permanent steps has begun, permitting an easier view into the interior.

Although I cleaned the outside of the window as best I could, it was dirty on the inside as well, so this is not a great photo, but it does show that a couch has been added—probably a sofa bed.

160 Fels Avenue

I really hit the jackpot here, finding the back door unlocked, so I had free access to the interior. Here’s a shot of the façade now that the masking has been removed.

Pallets of bricks and concrete blocks have been delivered, their purpose as yet unknown, but both front and side entrances require steps.

Outside, the AC compressor has been installed and hooked up, so it was a pleasant 72° inside (very welcome since the heat index outside was 93°).

No sign of a generator here (yet), but the house is well designed for survival without AC, with high ceilings and good cross-ventilation in every room. I especially love this back (southwest) bedroom, with its expansive views of both the back yard and the next-door neighbor’s back yard.

A window seat now fills the bay in the northwest front bedroom, giving a view of the street.

The side windows overlook the neighbor’s front yard.

The northeast front bedroom overlooks the street and the neighbors at 162, a good vantage point for watching construction there.

This is the view over the roof toward the northwest front bedroom from the other northwest bedroom, which is slightly recessed.

Tiling has begun in all three upstairs bathroom, using the same tile seen in the master bath.

This linen closet is next to the upstairs laundry room, in the corridor leading to the two “back” bedrooms (one of which faces the front).

Downstairs, the temporary railing has been removed from the stair landing, and it can be seen much of the entrance and kitchen area has been paneled with beadboard.

The pocket door opening to the side corridor (which leads to the side entrance) has been installed.

To the right of the corridor (front of the house), this small room (which I’m still designating a home office) has been painted dark gray.

To the left of the corridor, the area I had guessed would be a pantry seems to be confirming that guess.

Next door at 162 Fels, construction continues apace (and was under way when I visited).

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 6-19-16

Sunday, June 19, 2016,

Really scraping the bottom of the barrel today—almost nothing to report.

252 N. Bayview Street

The only change I could see inside was that the tub in the master bath had been filled with water. My husband suggested this might be to test the strength of the floor. Whether it was that or to test the drain stopper, the tub seems to have passed the test.

Outside, a couple more boards have been added to span the gap where the front porch collapsed.

351 N. Summit Street

I forgot to mention last week that progress (if any) in the interior is even more unknowable than before because all the windows have been covered inside with what looked like black plastic garbage bags. This week some of the windows were open slightly, so the covering material could be examined more closely and appeared to be some kind of tarp (plasticized woven material). Outside, I couldn’t see any change, though closer inspection of the retaining wall on the west side shows further footings suggesting that the brick facing will be extended to the corner.

160 Fels Avenue

Okay, so I was wrong. The brick has in fact received another coat of paint, but it is still white. When I passed yesterday, workers on a rented articulating boom lift were doing something with masking (I thought perhaps removing it, but today’s photos show it still in place, so perhaps they were just adjusting it).

Today someone was working upstairs, and all the doors were open, so I was able to sneak in and grab a few shots. This zoom shot through the open front door shows that the space beside the staircase has been covered with what I took (at that distance) to be clapboards; closer inspection reveals it to be beadboard, as used on the ceiling.

Beadboard is also used on the other side of the cased opening between the kitchen and the living area, as shown in this shot I took primarily to show the doors waiting to be hung.

This long shot taken from the back entrance (from the porch) shows the kitchen in the background and living area in the foreground. My first impression was that the door leaning against the opening from the foyer was slated to be installed there (that is, that there would be a door from the foyer into the house), but on closer examination I’m not sure. I wish I had spent a bit more time looking more closely at everything, but I could hear someone walking around upstairs, which made me nervous, since I had no legitimate business inside.

I did sneak into the master suite (downstairs). Since all the windows were still covered with brown paper, the bathroom was enveloped in Stygian darkness, but when my eyes adjusted enough to tell that the shower stall had been tiled, I used the flash to shoot blindly in the right direction and capture this photo. Looking at the left edge, it appears that there may be tile elsewhere as well, but it was too dark to see.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 6-12-16

Sunday, June 12, 2016,

A few exciting developments this week.

252 N. Bayview Street

Progress is subtle and mostly seems to involve HVAC. These relics may have been exhumed from the basement.

And these antiques outside will doubtless be replaced.

In one of the downstairs bedrooms, floor registers have been taken up (red rectangles), and duct tubing hangs outside the window (yellow rectangle).

The front panel from the “air handler” downstairs, an American Standard/Trane model TEM4. According to a Trane brochure, this model provides “Trane durability at an affordable price,” so again (as in the case of the upstairs air handler) the builder is not splashing out for (possibly unneeded) “premium” features.

The tub in the master bath looks surprisingly old-fashioned—not a spa/whirlpool type—but that’s in keeping with the apparently economy-minded renovation.

351 N. Summit Street

This was a surprise. Not only has the courtyard wall been finished (with a gateway as predicted)…

…but the front parking area has also been walled and gated. Here are a view from the street and another from the front porch.

More pallets of bricks have been delivered.

In walking to the west of the lot to photograph them, I discovered part of the reason: brick facing on this retaining wall. It’s not clear whether it will be completed to the corner or not.

It’s also unknown whether the retaining wall at the back (north) side of the lot will receive the same treatment. I wasn’t able to get a good shot of it from the north (it’s also just concrete block), but the brick border at the top (also shown last week) can be seen in the photo of the back of the house.

Inside the garage, the apparatus for which the elaborate shelf was intended is now in place—the base of a Water-Furnace Versatec geothermal heating/cooling installation.

120 Kiefer Avenue

No discernible change to the guest house (much less to the main residence), but the fence posts have been finished off with beveled caps.

160 Fels Avenue

Painting of the siding has been completed. Judging from the overspray on the brick, I’m beginning to believe (as I first suspected) that the white coat on the brick is just primer, and the brick will eventually be painted the same color as the rest, which will look better, but it still seems to me completely unwarranted.

The outbuilding has also been painted. The side door of the house and the doors onto the back porch are also white. The front door currently appears to be a pale aqua, but that may change (though a bluish gray was one of the swatches shown a couple of weeks ago).

Next door at 162 Fels, the foundation of the addition is taking shape.


Several months ago, some new neighbors on North Summit, having finished raking and sweeping and generally clearing up, declared that they had prepared their yard for “whatever we may get around to doing with it.”

This weekend, the new landscaping was in place, and very attractive it is. I especially like the metal bird in the middle of the greenery.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 6-5-16

Sunday, June 5, 2016,

Not a lot to report this week, and the news is more discouraging than exciting, I’m afraid.

252 N. Bayview Street

Although there was evidence of some activity (supplies delivered), I couldn’t detect any significant changes.

351 N. Summit Street

Absolutely no progress here, I think. Comparing this week’s brick wall photos to last week’s seems to show no change at all (just some new angles).

Somewhere in this vicinity there will surely be some sort of gate or opening, I think.

This brick border along the back property line may not be new this week, but I hadn’t previously discovered it.

Little is left of the three pallets of bricks in front, but the mountain of sand is still untouched.

120 Kiefer Avenue

Okay, so I was wrong about the fence (not lattice).

I’m guessing this fence will also be replaced or at least refurbished.

Thanks to the addition of a second (temporary, I hope) step, I was able to take a photo through the glass in the door, providing a better angle on the interior.

160 Fels Avenue

Since the house was securely locked up this week, we may be coming to the end of the road on this one, but the biggest change was outside, anyway. As can be seen, this week’s activity was painting, which really stunned me. It always seems to me self-defeating to paint brick (setting yourself up for having to repaint it periodically) unless the brick is really ugly, which this brick definitely wasn’t.

In the back, the siding has been painted grey. It would have looked great with the natural brick.

Screen framing has been added to the back porch.

The outbuilding has also been painted.

162 Fels Avenue

There’s activity next door as well. This house had previously been completely renovated, so I was surprised to see the architect and builder signs go back up. After I saw the activity in the back yard, I took a harder look at the architect’s drawing and realized that a rear addition is being built.

108 Cliff Drive

Like the houses on Fels Avenue, this doesn’t qualify as “Bluff Neighborhood”—and it’s not even “construction”—but I’ve been both puzzled and amused by the portable landscaping in this yard. Will the plants eventually be removed from their pots and planted in the ground?

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 5-29-16

Sunday, May 29, 2016,

Quite a lot going on this week.

252 N. Bayview Street

Although it’s difficult to tell from the street, it appears that the roofing is essentially complete.

The Tyvek wrap in front of the master bedroom has been pierced but not yet pinned back for window installation.

Inside, this week has been devoted to wiring, seen here in the wall between the attic (foreground) and walk-in closets.

A written notation and a water line (for the icemaker) indicate the location of the refrigerator against the back wall of the kitchen.

Installation of the HVAC system has also continued with this unit downstairs. As can be seen, it takes up about half the interior of what was previously identified as a walk-in closet in the southeast bedroom. The front panel of the upstairs unit identifies it as American Standard Model No. TEM4A0B24S21SAA. From the American Standard website and a brochure about this model, we learn that it is an “air handler” capable of serving an area of 24,000 square feet, and that it is an economy model, the “Silver” line as compared to Gold and Platinum. A handwritten notation on the panel identifies it as “10 KW” and “2 Ton,” with the date 5/18/16.

351 N. Summit Street

Work on the latticework brick wall has progressed.

Although the pile of sand outside the courtyard is almost exhausted, a mountain of sand in front of the house implies more masonry to come.

120 Kiefer Avenue

The boards on concrete blocks (first photo, taken March 19) have been removed from the perimeter of the guest cottage, leaving only the makeshift wooden stoop. Trenches in the yard have been closed and the area smoothed over (previous plantings a casualty); the lumber is probably intended for the new fence (see below).

A lockset (locked) has been added to the door, but a blind shot taken through the window (above my head) shows that the kitchen area has been furnished with a sink, range, and fridge, and shelves have been built in the bathroom, which has a sliding “barn door.”

Behind the house there is an outdoor shower in addition to the hydrant.

This new fence will perhaps be completed with lattice similar to the one it replaces (bottom photo, taken February 14).

160 Fels Avenue

Outside, a small porch overhang has been added above the front door.

Test swatches indicate that some shade of grey is contemplated.

Inside, door and window framing continues. Photos below show the window in the back of the sitting area at the top of the stairs and the southwest bedroom overlooking the back yard.

The reason for the previously bare ceiling in the kitchen is now evident: it will be beadboard instead of drywall.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 5-22-16

Sunday, May 22, 2016,

I’ll start with this photo of a bush in a neighbor’s yard just because it’s pretty. (Does anyone know what it is?)

Certainly a nicer sight than this heap of debris from a cedar tree down the street that must have met its fate (perhaps struck by lightning) during the thunderstorm that cut our power for a couple of the small hours of Friday morning.

252 N. Bayview Street

Not a lot of noticeable progress this week, with work apparently concentrated on HVAC installation. Here we see ductwork above the ceiling and the HVAC unit in the “attic” room.

The basement stairs present an odd appearance, with surrounding walls dismantled but the door and ceiling (with original light fixture) still in place.

This confirms my suspicion about the expansion of the downstairs bath on the north side (at the foot of the stairs).

This plumbing (in the wall between the northeast bedroom and the bath shown above) is probably not new, but it presents an interesting contrast with the old, existing pipes.

351 N. Summit Street

The crew from Diamond Masonry, having completed its work at 160 Fels, was here yesterday working on this lattice brick wall, not quite completed though it had made substantial inroads on the pallets of bricks seen last week.

111 Magnolia Avenue

Gates have been added in the walls on either side of the garage.

160 Fels Avenue

As noted, brick installation is now complete.

Inside, this week’s work has included hanging doors and installing trim (baseboards, cove molding, door frames). These two doors lead to the powder room (right) and a closet under the stairs.

The closet under the stairs not only has a window but also provides access to further storage under the lower portion of the staircase.

This is the master bedroom, showing the door opening from the center of the house (right) and the door leading to the master bath.

These cased openings (apparently not to have doors) lead from the sitting area at the top of the stairs to the bedrooms on the west side of the house. The opening on the right between them is to the upstairs laundry room.

This is the southwest bedroom, overlooking the back yard.

Although drywall has been installed throughout most of the house, for some reason the ceiling in the kitchen area (as well as the wall next to the lower part of the stairway) remains uncovered.

Here’s a view from inside the front door. The small foyer has a window on the left (west side) and a coat closet on the right.


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