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.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 5-15-16

Sunday, May 15, 2016,

I took a lot of photos today, but mostly for reference, so I won’t be including many of them here.

252 N. Bayview Street

Shingles have been staged for application during the coming week.

Inside, added to the discarded plumbing fixtures, a section of cast-iron pipe. No telling where it came from or what its ultimate destiny is.

I was excited to find house plans today. They reveal, among other things, that the upstairs room that I’ve been calling a “sitting room” (it is the anteroom to the master bedroom) is actually a “den,” and the “patio” beside the house on the south side (leading to the side entrance) is a “breezeway.” They also indicate that the rear portion of the “great room” will be the kitchen; the front is divided between “living room” (the fireplace end) and “dining room” (the south end, near the entrance). From the plans it appears that there will be at least a partial partition separating the kitchen and the LR/DR. And of course the kitchen will have the de rigueur island in the center. Of the two upstairs porches, the one opening from the master bedroom will be screened. Oh, and the windowless room upstairs is in fact an “attic.” There will be ceiling fans everywhere, including the porches and even the master bath. It appears the existing front steps will be retained, along with the brick “planter” (brick-bordered flowerbed) in front of the house.

The plans were draped over this mysterious object.

From the other end, it is revealed to be a corner cabinet with carousel shelves. Why it has been introduced so far in advance of any other cabinetry is yet another mystery.

Looking at the framing here, I am trying to decide whether it is intended to enlarge this bathroom on the north side (adjacent to the northeast downstairs bedroom).

This shot in the southeast downstairs bedroom shows the ensuite bathroom (left) and trapezoidal closet (right). In the center (outlined in red) is a closet accessed from the corridor on the other side. There is an identical closet directly above it upstairs. Although the wiring plans show them as separate closets, both with surface-mounted fluorescent fixtures, it seems likely that this space is being reserved for possible installation of an elevator sometime in the future (since the master suite is not on the ground floor).

351 N. Summit Street

Landscaping—in the most literal sense (grading)—has begun, with the surface of the courtyard filled flush with the level of the patio.

This trench, with concrete footing, seems to promise another wall at the front of the courtyard.

Three more pallets of bricks have been delivered, probably to be used in said wall, but I also suspect that the front walk and patio will be paved, though possibly not with bricks.

In the utility room, a better view of this shelf/platform shows an intriguing variety of ductwork above.

160 Fels Avenue

Inside, drywall installation is mostly completed, making it easier to visualize the layout of the rooms. For example, this is the northeast front bedroom.

Outside, we have to commend the work ethic of the brick masons from Robertsdale’s Diamond Masonry, who were working today to complete the brick veneer.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 5-8-16

Sunday, May 8, 2016,

Not much to report today, thanks to slow progress on one property and ongoing work on another.

252 N. Bayview Street

It was hard to see much change in the past week here. Soffit and fascia have been added at the front, and more of the second floor has been wrapped in Tyvek (shown here from both inside and out).

160 Fels Avenue

When I passed the house yesterday, brick masons were hard at work. Today work on the outside was suspended, but workers were busy inside. I made a circuit of the exterior and then brazened my way inside for a couple of quick shots downstairs but was unable to inspect the entire house.

An attractive front door has been added.

The photos below show that brick veneer has been completed on the back of the house and most of the west side but it still under way on the east side.

Inside, most of the blown foam insulation (a much neater job than at 351 N. Summit) has already been covered by wallboard, and a worker was at work taping the seams.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 5-1-16

Sunday, May 1, 2016,

A mixed bag today.

252 N. Bayview Street

One of the railings (with mailbox) has been removed from the front steps.

The roof over the patio/entrance has been covered. There are some perplexingly complex rooflines here.

Inside, it is now apparent that pocket doors will be used extensively. The door on the north side opens into this small foyer, with a pocket door on the right opening to the great room and one on the left opening to the laundry room. The water connection suggests this might be a “mud room,” or perhaps the alcove will be a wet bar.

Here is the same area viewed from the great room.

This shows the entrance to the laundry room (and basement stairs) on the left and the entrance to the back of the house on the right.

Upstairs, the “sitting room” and “master bedroom” are connected by a pocket door.

This photo, along with the one above, shows that windows have been installed in the “sitting room.”

A few more photos of the mysterious outbuilding. I say “mysterious” because all the windows are firmly obscured by blinds, so I cannot get any idea of the interior, but outside there are two separate entry doors, suggesting two discrete spaces inside.

351 N. Summit Street

I did peek in the windows today but couldn’t see much. It’s impossible to get good photos in any case, but it appears that a portion of the walls in the dining room have been covered with what looks like wood paneling rather than wallboard.

In the utility room at the back of the garage, this elegant shelf has been constructed, though its purpose is unclear. I guess time will tell.

120 N. Summit Street

This door is not new but has not been shown here before (it had been partially covered with plywood).

Inside, the guesthouse is a single large room (smelling of fresh paint), with water and power connections for a kitchenette at the back, plus a tiny bathroom with a shower stall.

160 Fels Avenue

This trailer in the driveway suggests the next week’s activity.

It appears that the trailer will not be going anywhere else for a while anyway.

This stack of joint compound promises application of wallboard after the installation of insulation is complete.

Looking at the shape of the façade, I was having second thoughts about my assumption of brick veneer below the clapboard siding, thinking that perhaps stucco would be more appropriate for the mission-style design, but no…

Also Noted

I suspect that Fence World might wish that its advertising plate would fall off entirely rather than continue to plug its association with this dilapidated fence at a house on Morphy Avenue at Summit.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 4-24-16

Sunday, April 24, 2016,

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this post contains more than 21,000 words, so settle in!

252 N. Bayview Street

Once again, the façade of this house has been altered drastically. I don’t know what to think about the demolition shown below, but apparently it portends a change in entry—perhaps from the side, where the “patio” (?) is now covered?

Inside, nothing has changed, but the view from the master suite “sitting room” shows that a railing has been added to the porch.

The porch opening off the “bedroom” has a solid wall.

Today I noticed for this first time this additional closet outside the entrance to the two walk-in closets. Perhaps a walk-in linen closet?

In the master bath, I now see that there is space for a tub (not shown in last week’s photos) between one of lavatories on the left and the shower room on the right.

Coming down the stairs, I was struck by this view across the top of one of the first-floor bathrooms, which shows clearly that the ceiling height of the first floor has been raised.

Once noticed, this is also evident in the other rooms, such as the great room, shown here.

I have mentioned that there is a one-story addition at the back that is being left intact. Here it is seen from the outside.

Behind it are a carport and an outbuilding of some kind.

This is the view of the carport and outbuilding from the back alley.

This attractive iron gate opens to steps and a path to the right of the outbuilding.

351 N. Summit Street

Nothing to report.

160 Fels Avenue

The news is pretty much all on the outside this week. Siding has been added to the front and west side.

The outbuilding as also been clapboarded, and three windows have been added.

From the inside, however, there is no trace of the two side windows.

As predicted, the solid double doors were intended for the outbuilding.

The patio doors have also been installed.

This shot through the attic access hatch shows that power and light have been provided in this space even if it is not intended for storage but only for access to HVAC, wiring, etc.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 4-17-16

Sunday, April 17, 2016,

Buckle up—it’s going to be a long ride today!

252 N. Bayview Street

I’ll start with a couple of “before” photos that were among several (including interiors) that I found on the builder’s Facebook page, as a contrast to the current appearance.

I’ll start by saying that I was obviously wrong about the front part of the house not being enclosed.

In fact, the original porch is being combined with most of the rest of the public rooms to create a Great Room (living room, dining area, and kitchen combined) downstairs.

This will be a little tricky since the porch was obviously added on, and the gap in the floor will have to be filled.

The room will have a fireplace.

It’s hard to tell what the new entrance will look like. Right now it’s just a big open space.

When I passed the house yesterday, this slab was being smoothed. Today it was dry.

Presumably it will be some sort of patio; in any case, this side door will open onto it.

At the back of the Great Room, to the left of the enclosure for the basement stairs, is a laundry room.

At the back of the downstairs, behind the laundry room on the left and staircase on the right, are two small bedrooms, each with a bathroom en suite. The toilet and lavatory removed from one of these are now in the Great Room.

Between these bedrooms, a corridor leads to the intact bedroom/bath addition at the rear of the house, now closed with a new door with a lock (and no knob).

Upstairs, windows have been installed, making the floor plan clearer. To the left at the top of the stairs (back of the house, southeast corner) is a large (for now, at least) windowless room. Perhaps it is just for storage.

To the right from the stairs (front of the house) is a sumptuous master suite. As I imagine it, the first room will be a sitting room, opening onto the upstairs porch.

Next to it is the master bedroom, also opening on the porch.

From the back of the bedroom, a passageway leads to a pocket door opening onto two vast walk-in closets.

To the left from this corridor is another short passageway leading to the master bath. On its left, behind a pocket door, is the separate toilet room.

In the main bathroom, there are connections for two lavatories (or perhaps a lavatory and tub), plus a separate shower enclosure.

308 N. Bayview

The yard here is looking fabulous, and a new sign has been added. Those who have followed this property from the beginning will recall that “Mayhem” was the name of the previous house on this property, on the bones of which this one was built.

(The editor in me protests that this should be “Myricks’ Mayhem.”)

351 N. Summit Street

I’m afraid it’s the end of the line for this property, now that it’s locked up—at least until something dramatic is done outside, or until the sliding doors front and side are added, permitting a better view of the interior. This is a disappointment, of course, because I’m sure the inside finishing will be very beautiful.

111 Magnolia Avenue

A couple of parting shots. This is a peek at the outdoor fireplace from the front (from Magnolia Avenue).

And this is the best I could manage of the wall at the lot line in back (north side). You’ll have to take my word for it that it is more brick lattice that fills in between the brick posts.

160 Fels Avenue

Noticeable progress on the outside this week. Both house and outbuilding have been shingled.

And siding has been added to parts of the second story. (Brick veneer will probably fill the space below.)

On the back porch, mystery timbers.

The only opening these doors seem likely to fit is in the outbuilding (shop, utility building, shed, whatever).

The frame for a pocket door has been installed at the entrance to the master suite.

Another pocket door will permit closing off the utility area leading to the side door.

To the left of the passageway shown in the photo above is an area I’m tentatively calling a pantry. To the right is this larger room that I’m guessing will be a small office.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 4-10-16

Sunday, April 10, 2016,

A motley assortment of photos today.

252 N. Bayview Street

After a spell of glorious sunny weather, the tarp has been removed, along with even more of the original front of the house.

It appears that the formerly enclosed (bricked and glassed-in) front porch will be restored as an open porch.

351 N. Summit Street

Pallets of bricks promise further masonry work.

These openings in the brick corners (see photos in last week’s post) suggest that a fence of horizontal railings may be planned, but the distance between the corners is too long for a single railing, and there is no indication of provision for fence posts in the middle. More likely an iron fence will fill the space, attached in some way in these openings.

Unfortunately (though not surprisingly), the house is now securely locked up, so this shot through the back window of the great room, looking toward the foyer and dining room, is the best I could do. The alcove at right was a surprise—something I’d somehow never previously noticed.

This view along the back of the house shows the entrance to the brick-walled courtyard. (The window at right is the one through which I took the previous photo.)

111 Magnolia Avenue

The parking area has finally been cleared of building materials…

…and the result is this latticework brick wall. A similar (but much shorter) one extends from the other side of the garage to the brick wall/fence at the north lot line.

160 Fels Avenue

Although there were no obvious changes in appearance today, I suspect that the past week has been devoted to installation of HVAC ductwork. These two square openings will provide access to ductwork as needed. The attic is too shallow to be usable for storage, hence no pull-down stair.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

A couple of properties on my walking route have relatively new fences. This one is at 162 Fels Avenue, next door to the above building site.

This one at 113 Atkinson Lane looks almost as handsome on the reverse side as on the front.

Neighborhood Improvements?

Something mysterious is going on at 162 Fels Avenue. Just new siding?

A few weeks ago, several large shrubs on this property at 154 S. Summit Street were cut down to the ground and later dug up. Apparently one of the trees was removed as well.

The reason became evident last week: their removal made it possible to fill the yard up with concrete in the form of a (semi)circular driveway.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 4-3-16

Sunday, April 3, 2016,

Not a lot to report this week, but there has been a variety of progress.

252 N. Bayview Street

After 5″ of rain on Friday, it was no surprise that this house was even more swathed with tarp yesterday—looking as if it were scheduled to be fumigated.

Inside, there were no drastic changes. I did venture down into the basement, albeit without flashlight. As I descended into the Stygian depths, I found the steps very soft. I assumed they were coated with insulation and other debris, and that was true, but they were also carpeted.

As my eyes adjusted, I saw that there were windows (open) high in the walls, providing enough light for me to navigate without hazard. I did use the flash on my camera to take a few photos (which I won’t bore you with) and also to ascertain that the basement is fully finished (unlike our unfinished cellar) and currently being used to store construction supplies.

351 N. Summit Street

Brick masons were at work yesterday on this handsome wall/fence. I had hoped to find the house deserted today, but workers were doing something inside, so I just took these photos and moved on.

111 Magnolia Avenue

Here, too, a wall/fence is under construction. It’s hard to tell in this telephoto shot, but the uprights are brick “fenceposts.”

160 Fels Avenue

Plumbing work continues, revealing that the house will have laundry rooms upstairs and down. This one is in an alcove in the walk-in closet of the master bedroom. The master suite has the de rigueur ginormous bathroom, with twin sinks, separate shower and whirlpool tub, and enclosed toilet room, but the closet (accessible only through the bathroom—in my opinion a less-than-optimal layout for several reasons) seems proportionately less generous than expected.

The upstairs laundry room is on the corridor leading to the two “back” bedrooms (one of which actually faces front). Tubs (which have plumbing for showers) have been installed in all three upstairs bathrooms; the one visible in this photo is in the bathroom adjacent to the northwest front bedroom.

I was mistaken about this door: not the front door but the side door, which opens on the west side of the house, accessing what used to be a driveway leading to a demolished outbuilding (the main driveway will presumably be on the east side of the house).

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 3-27-16

Sunday, March 27, 2016,

Not a lot to report today. Although the sun has come out now, it was pouring rain all morning when I would have gone out. Fortunately, I took a few photos yesterday.

252 N. Bayview Street

I didn’t go inside, but I suspect the roof (covered with Tyvek but not shingles) was the main change. Interestingly, just along my walking route, three houses (not counting those under construction) have just gotten or are in the process of getting new roofs. The amount of rain we’ve had in the past couple of weeks can’t have made this easy, especially if the roof was already leaking!

351 N. Summit Street

Outside, the house now has a mailbox again.

Inside, most of the progress is in the drywall finishing. From this photo it is clear that I misspoke two weeks ago when I referred to “metal corner bead.”

The ladder leading to the “loft” upstairs has been (temporarily) relocated and this shelf/extension, with ornamental brackets, added.

This new addition in the utility room at the back of the garage indicates that the house will have geothermal heating/cooling. The equipment is a Grundfos Geolink ground loop pump, Model No. FCV2-GL.

111 Magnolia Avenue

The outdoor fireplace has been completed.

160 Fels Avenue

I see that none of my previous photos have clearly shown this front wall extension. It appears that the house will have a Mission-style appearance.

Inside, it appears that the past week has been devoted to plumbing. If the installation highlighted here is any indication, the kitchen will be at the front of the house, and the window over the sink will look out on the street.

Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 3-20-16

Sunday, March 20, 2016,

A massive report today, with new developments all over the map.

252 N. Bayview Street

Progress on this renovation has been astounding. This week saw completion of the framing of the second floor. As can be seen in these photos, there are two gables, one at the front of the second story proper, the other above the second-floor porch. The wind was 16 mph when I was taking these photos, accounting for the billowing of the tarp. (I hastened into the relative shelter of the inside.)

The staircase is in, too, providing access to the upper floor.

Its floor plan is as puzzling as that of the first floor. There are two large rooms at the front of the house, both opening onto the porch.

At the back is a warren of small spaces, all of them accessible only by going through the front two rooms. This one on the north side (beyond the studs in the photo) has doorways at both ends.

This view from the front (west) doorway suggests that the porch may be wrapped around the north side of the house, in which case this door will open onto it. The doorway at the rear may provide access (or emergency exit) via an outside stair. Time will tell.

Downstairs, I’m still puzzled by the semi-preservation of the twin full baths, one on each side of the house. Although they have been gutted, there has been no apparent attempt to protect them from the effects of the demolition elsewhere.

351 N. Summit Street

This was the view that greeted me coming off the street. Your guess is as good as mine; there was no indication that work (beyond the two tubs already in place) on any of the bathrooms was in progress.

Inside, work on the drywall continues but is subtle and mostly unremarkable. Outside, however, the door openings have been covered more securely (the plastic has been buffeted and damaged by wind for months).

In addition, sometime when I wasn’t paying attention, this extension of the patio has been poured.

120 Kiefer Avenue

Although the portolet remains (suggesting that further work is planned)…

…the dumpster has been removed, permitting closer inspection of the guest cottage.

This trench indicates that plumbing work has been done.

111 Magnolia Avenue

Masonry work continues. This long telephoto shot shows the barbecue pit being constructed at the northeast corner of the back yard.

The stacks of materials indicate that significant further work on the parking area is planned.

Twin urns grace the sides of the garage.

Outdoor dining is now possible. I can relate to that: when we moved, with children aged 3 and 6, to a house with no eating area except a carpeted dining room, we took every opportunity to eat out on our concrete-floored screened porch, where spills were not an issue!

160 Fels Avenue

Approaching from the front, I thought that installation of windows was the big news this week, and indeed they do make a dramatic difference.

But the big surprise, in fact, was the “overnight” construction of this structure on the pad in the back yard. Clearly too small for even a single garage, it is probably planned as a storage shed or workshop (or both) with either double doors or a roll-up door.

On the back porch, doors stand ready to fill the opening at left.

This will probably be the front door.

Another outside door is inside. To the left is the powder room under the stairs (to its left is a closet under the stairs).

A railing has been added to the stair landing.

This is a view from the large landing area at the top of the stairs toward the back of the house. The windows overlook the back yard and porch roof. To the left is the entrance from the stairs. Behind the photographer are the two large front bedrooms. The opening on the right leads to two more bedrooms, one at the back (southwest corner) and one in the recessed area in front (northwest corner). Those two rooms share a Jack-and-Jill bath and also a walk-in (or “walk-through”) closet. The two front bedrooms have separate baths and closets.

This is the northeast bedroom with windows installed.


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