Archive | March, 2013

Dirty pretty things

30 Mar

With our gas inspection and DOB drama behind us (until the next filing), some of the more attractive details are starting to appear in the house. Let us start with the floors.

Early on in the material selection process, we fell in love with character grade walnut floors. While softer than other types of woods, we loved the color and the variation of the wood. With kids we knew any floors will get banged up over time so wanted something where ‘kid-made imperfections’ would just blend in with the other imperfections.

When the wood arrived we were a little concerned that the character grade was a little too character. In fact, our contractor expressed concern that there may not be enough good wood to complete all the floors.


While we shared this concern as well, we felt that if we sort the wood and put the best stuff in high trafficked areas, the lessor pieces under beds and other furniture and the worst pieces under cabinets that we would be enough.

We began the process by marking up our floor plan to show where we would like the different grades of wood to go.


Instructions for the installers

Next, we spent about six hours sorting through the wood. Creating a green pile for the best wood, a yellow pile for under furniture wood and red for discard or under cabinets.


A yellow pile

With the last of the floors being laid yesterday, we are very happy with the result. Even before we do any of the floor finishing work they are looking great.


Master bedroom floor. The yellow wood went where the bed will go. Green in the walkways.

We will be finishing with 100% tung oil. To better absorb, it needs to be mixed with some kind of thinner. Most are man-made chemicals but we found a natural solvent made from citrus with no VOC (ordered from Real Milk Paint).

Passing the gas inspection also meant that we could finally close up the bathroom walls and start tiling the three bathrooms (the powder room on the parlor floor will have no tile).


Kids Tile


Master bath ready for tiling

We started by meeting with our GC and the architect to go over tile placement. While we have had the general tile placement plan for some time, it was important to go over tile placement to decide how the edges would finish, where the tile would center relative to the niches and fixtures and how high tiles would go.

Speaking of bathrooms, the concrete sink for the garden bathroom arrived and looked even more stunning than we had hoped. This certainly wasn’t the cheapest option but seeing it in person has us considering whether we could use it in our master bathroom instead (ordered from Trueform Concrete).


The painters also spent a couple of days at the house this week preparing the walls for painting. While we haven’t decided the final paint colors, we ordered about 20 samples which we plan to try out before making out final selection.

Next week our new stairs are due to arrive along with the final window in the kitchen. The brickwork in the back should also wrap up allowing us to get started on removing the concrete in the back which we need to do before we can start work on the new deck.

Excited to think about moving in in terms on weeks not months!

On the road again…the nightmare has ended!

19 Mar

Is there a blog about renovating that doesn’t have at least one “the DOB is ruining my life” post? Our “adventure” began January 30 when we failed our gas inspection and took a long, meandering, drunken path to today.  The good news is that we finally passed our gas and remaining plumbing inspection and can at long last start closing up and finishing the house. The bad news is, I’ve easily got 10% more gray hair and an ulcer as part of the bargain.

A super-costly and interminable PAA (post approval amendment), a delayed plumbing inspection, our current landlord wanting us to show the rental while we still have dozens of boxes of lighting yet to be installed, a constantly overflowing toilet in our rental, a toddler with a never-ending cough AND the birth of our second child in the mix and well, our outlook was not good (except for said child #2, who is healthy and completely awesome). Somehow that madness has all seemed to wash away, now that we’re actually able to see the finish line in sight.

So, we’ll resume glamor shots of the house in our next blog post…back to the fun!

Some like it hot

3 Mar

Things have slowed down at the house over the last month while we wait for our updated plans to be approved by the city. At the end of January we failed our gas inspection because what we did for heating (gas powered furnaces, one for each floor) differed from our approved plans (radiator heating). Until the updated plans are approved we can’t close up the bathrooms which means tiling cannot start. We have a meeting scheduled with the DOB on Tuesday so hopefully things will get back on track.

In the meantime, here are some updates to share.

Firstly, all but one of the windows arrived this week and have been installed. These include the door in the kitchen that will lead out to the deck (still to be built) and the skylights in the master bath, kids bath, and top floor hallway. With both bathrooms on the top floor in the middle of the house, it was important for us to get light from somewhere and the roof provided the only option.

Kitchen doors

Kitchen doors

Kids skylight

Kids’ skylight

Master Skylight

Master skylight

Our master bath is close to the neighbor’s wall so during construction we decided to move it off the wall a little. Unfortunately you still get a good view on the graffiti some kids left as a house warming gift just before we closed (another thing to take care of before they finish up the work).

The HVAC guys also turned on the heat this week in preparation for our new floors arriving on Tuesday. The flooring will stay in the house for a week or so while it acclimatizes to the house.

Next week taping will being since most of the sheet rocking is complete. That will mean we will start having to make paint color decisions. Of the hundreds of decisions we’ve had to make over the six months, these are the kind we dislike the most. When you have an unlimited number of options, it’s always hard to make the final decision.*

Last week the architect, contractor and engineer met to discuss placement of the condensers (needed for air conditioning). Since we are placing them on the roof, there have been a number of things to consider (sitting on steel beams vs. bolted to roof, placement around the neighbors chimney and back). This decision delayed finishing up our bedroom (if we had selected bolting to the roof, it would have been over our bedroom, and would have required many additional roof penetrations; one of the reasons we decided to go with the steel beams). Now, that the decision has been made and approved by all interested parties, work has continued on our master.

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

One ‘special feature’ of our master bedroom will be the kitchen venting running straight up through the closet. The kitchen is below our bedroom and we have to vent our 1400CFM hood (also arriving on Tuesday) out to the roof. The venting is big and will be eating into Brownstonegirl’s closet, but it’s a small price to pay to have a super-efficient but quiet venting solution.

Hood venting from the roof

Hood venting from the roof

Finally, we’ve made the last of our lighting purchases. In all, there were about 20 lights to purchase. Brownstonegirl gets all the credit for our selections (another one of those unlimited option decisions x 20). We’ll share pictures once they are installed.

* Speaking of unlimited choices, we appreciate everyone’s feedback on our granite dilemma. In the end we went back out to Jersey to confirm our super white selection and put down a deposit so it would be ready when our kitchen cabinets are done (eta end of March). It’s interesting how varied their supply can be from month to month. Had they had the super white when we first went out there a few months ago, we likely wouldn’t have searched further, but they’d only had remnants at that time. We were lucky that when it finally came to decision time, they’d just gotten in a large, high quality shipment.  Thanks again for the feedback!