Thursday, September 24, 2009


Apologies for the delay in posting. We pulled two very long days last weekend and I never got a chance to post on Sunday. We are trying to get the walls all prepped and ready for drywall and skim coating of plaster. We'll be back at it this weekend as the plaster/drywall guy starts on Monday. That will make a HUGE difference.

The stucco work was started and completed last week.

Monday they delivered materials.

Tuesday they pulled down all the old plaster and nailed up a metal mesh.

Wednesday they skimmed on a first layer of concrete

Thursday they did another layer.

Friday they did the texture and packed up all their stuff and went home.

Insulation update: Our wonderful contractor, Tommy, found someone to come blow the insulation in and take the huge green machine back to Lowes. What a relief that was. Penny spent much of Saturday insulating the soon to be master bath using the blue fluffy stuff.

We spent the weekend trying to get the last of the wallpaper down in the stairwell and get the walls cleaned.

We will spend this weekend washing walls and getting all the little bits of wallpaper off. The plaster/drywall guy thinks he can do most all of it in a week. That may or may not include skim coating the ceilings. I hope we can get at least the downstairs ceilings done. With walls in and skimmed, I can start priming. Once primer is on, the floors can be done and then we can move in! Oh, I'm so hoping we can make the November 1 date. I am so ready to have something of a "real" home. Well, as much as we can get for now.

We got the quote on tiling the master bath and that is going to simply have to wait until we get the tax check in February. We should be able to get the downstairs bath in however. That will give us a bath and a half, most importantly, it will give us two toilets.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Defeated by Insulation

I can't say that Penny and I are expert DIYers, by any stretch, but we'll tackle almost anything. This weekend, we tackled insulation. We did our research. We priced out the job. We reconnoitered Lowes to see what materials we needed and how much material we would need. As we did sell the Rav4 on Thursday, we had to figure out how to get all that material and the machine to the house as well. We spent most of Saturday doing all the prep work. We drilled perfectly round holes in our plaster walls upstairs. We stapled plastic to the outside walls where we had pulled down the plaster. We even went and purchased the lay-in insulation for the areas where we had removed the lath. We decided since we needed such a small amount, we splurged on the green stuff (which is actually blue) which can be installed without layers and layers of protection. The pink lay-in stuff is fiberglass and is a very messy and unpleasant job. We were thrilled with the way the green (blue) stuff went in. Of course, the first time we purchased it, we purchased insulation for 2x6 walls. We had to turn around and exchange them for the stuff that fits in 2x4 walls. Easy to cut. Easy to install. Skin friendly. This gave us confidence that the blow in insulation was going to be a snap as well.

So, this morning, armed with all our measurements, we trundled off to Lowes. As we only have a Yaris (Japanese for "very little car"), we rented the Lowes Truck. They were kind enough to load 20 bags of blow in cellulose insulation and the 500 lb green machine. We climbed in and drove the now filled truck the two miles toward home. We (meaning Penny) did a brilliant job of driving that sucker into the alley where we then unloaded all twenty bags of insulation. Then came the big green machine. We did manage to get it off the truck without breaking 1. ourselves or 2. the machine. I dragged the hundred foot hose up the stairs while Penny took the truck back (you only get it for 75 minutes). Upon her return, we started up that sucker. I was downstairs outside filling the machine and Penny was upstairs with the hose, filling the walls. We flipped the switch and waited for blow. It blew, but it didn't blow insulation. We couldn't figure it out until I decided to read the directions. It seems you have to open the hopper for the stuff to flow into the hose! With that figured out, we took our respective places again and flipped the switch. The problem was that Penny was upstairs inside and I was outside with a loud machine. I couldn't hear her yell to stop. This was the result:

At this point, covered in insulation, Penny declared "I ain't doing this shit any more. I'll stand outside and YOU blow this crap!" She was not amused. She was even less amused that I insisted on taking pictures.

So, we tried it again. We got some of it in and made some progress, but our plastic stapling job left something to be desired, and mostly what we ended up with was a mess. After about three hours of wrangling with the hose, cellulose, staples, plastic, etc, we threw in the towel and called our contractor and begged him for help. He's sending help tomorrow. I get to go to school. Penny's off and she will have to be helper. So, should you be so bold as to think you can blow in insulation into your walls, my advice is DON'T!

Add that to the live termites found, it hasn't been a great weak at the Domus Aurea, this week. Yes, the electrician found some live termites and so we will have to have the house sprayed again. Thankfully it is under warranty and won't cost us anything. He's coming Tuesday. The neighbors did get quite irate with the Grand Canyon trench between the houses. It was quite the show from what I heard. Penny had to deal with it, not me. She had to make a quick call to Tommy who rushed over and quickly mollified the neighbors (who in turn hired him to do a job for them!). Then, what we suspect was a drunk driver, plowed into our wall at the back of the yard. Luckily, I don't think anyone was hurt, but he sure did a number on the wall. We assume he must have blown through the stop sign and going pretty fast to have done so much damage.

We did pass a whole bunch of inspections. The trench finally passes inspection and that is now filled in (much to our neighbor's relief). The show pan passes inspection. The HVAC system passed inspection as well. The framing is to be inspected tomorrow afternoon and hopefully that will go well.
All in all, not a good week at the Domus.

Also tomorrow, the stucco work is to start. James River Exteriors will be doing that work. Once that is done, new downspouts can happen. I think somewhere in there, part of the house has to be jacked up and reinforced, but I'm kind of hiding my head from that job right now. It's more than I want to hear or can bear to hear. I think we have figured out who will be doing the drywall and plaster work and that should start once the framing work has been inspected, so likely later on in the week.

Since we sold the car, Penny is now living here. She'll be biking to work. It takes her 9 minutes to get to work. I will be in Highland Springs, taking care of animals. Hopefully, this will only be until early November, when we hope to move in. This is her new home:

Other random pictures:

Glass Block

New Terrace Surface

Monday, September 7, 2009

Not much to post

Not much progress to post this week. Mostly a continuation of previous projects.

Outside Work
The dig to China (replacing the lead water supply from the street) has continued and is at a standstill, much to my poor neighbors' regret. The trench is deeper, but we still haven't found the supply line yet. The city has to come out and do the next step by digging up the sidewalk and replacing the line under the street.

The roofers have been here the past two weekends. Last weekend they fixed the gutters. This weekend they are replacing the terrace roof. The last thing they need to do is replace the downspouts. That will lead to the start of stucco work.

Inside Work
Penny took down the plaster in what will be the master bathroom. Tom (my wonderful contractor) and the tile guy were in there last week discussing tile options. Penny was off so she was in there as my proxy. They were asking too many questions and I ended up talking them through my desires via cell phone. Oy. I think we are going with a basket weave tile inside the shower floor, a 2 inch white hex tile with black buttons on the floor, white subway on the walls with a black pencil line just below the top of the wainscot. These are the lights we've picked out. This is my bathroom inspiration. Lovely, isn't it? I think the plumbers are coming to put the shower pan in and there has to be an inspection of that this week as well.

Glass block is in and it looks beautiful! I will post pictures a bit later, promise.

Electrical continues. We did pass the rough in inspection.

We put the Rav4 up for sale. It's a lovely car and I do hate to part with it. It is probably the nicest car I'll ever own and it breaks my heart, but having two cars in the city just doesn't make sense. You can see the ad over at the AutoTrader. There's also a listing on Craigslist - Richmond as well, but I can't link to it from work. Someone, please buy it!