Time Thief

Sunday, August 21, 2005

tick, tick, tick

A whole lot of painfully slow progress going on at the time thief (which translates to no exciting pictures). It's mainly due to my unnecessary, nightmarish foray into paint stripping. Tangent - I just googled 'nightmarish' to make sure there wasn't an 'e' in there and the third hit led me here. Eeeeek! This brings a whole new dimension to my "problem" with seeing animals "in transit" on the highway.

Anyway, back to the house-stuff. The stripping nightmare is a self-inflicted, unnecessary side-trip because:
1) I'm painting the mess in the end as I know it was painted to begin with. I just wanted to clean up some of the gloppies. Did you know hardboard and MDF were around in the late 40's? Yep, they were because the center of the cabinet doors on my living room built-ins are made out of hardboard and one side of one built-in is MDF. (? why just one side is beyond my comprehension) I was betting on just cheap pine, but I guess they were super modern around here.

2) I stupidly tried to use CitrusStrip because I hadn't the patience to wait for Peel Away, which I know will work. I ordered PeelAway last Wednesday after my initial defeat and am anxiously awaiting its arrival in the hopes that it will save me. Based on a recent post over at This Decrepit Victorian House, I may be in luck.

While the mantle/fireplace surround are currently a scraggly mess, the built-ins are nearly ready for paint and the brick portion of the fireplace surround is about 2/3 of the way there. I've considered tiling the brick portion, but wanted to give stripping a shot just to see what it looked like. After two applications of CitrusStrip and lots of steel wool, I have been able to strip most of the bricks. They're left with a bit of a white haze when I'm done which I actually like better than the true clean brick, so I'm leaving it at that. If I happen to find the "perfect" vintage tiles sometime in the future, I may go that route. This has worked because the bricks only had 2 - 3 coats of paint versus the 8-or-so coats on the mantle and built-ins. How does such a young house get so many layers of paint on its trim?! I know the last time it was painted was in 1979, so it only took about 30 years to get most of the 8 layers. Lots of trendy residents, I guess, as opposed to my original theory that it lived at least part of its life as a rental.

It appears the ugly "fake brick" hearth is original. I have suspicions that it may be one big slab of fakeness. Don't even want to deal with that right now, so I think I will paint it and maybe give it a faux finish. So much for installing some nice tile! Complaining about stripping some brick and in the same post discussing painting different "brick"? Yeah, I'm crazy like that. They don't even come close to matching nor harmonizing, and trust me, the hearth is tres ugly.

Two separate companies are coming over tomorrow to look at the floors for refinishing. One well-known outfit and another that I think is just one guy and his wife who runs the phones out of their home. A third company gave me a price over the phone last week of $3/sq. ft. Just curious - how does that compare in your neighborhoods?

Oh! A final tangent - ordered PeelAway from VanDyke's. The order confirmation informed me that they are somehow in cahoots with Cabela's. This led me to the realization that there is also a Van Dyke's Taxidermy company. Okay, I'm not cool with that. But where else am I gonna get my Peel Away fix??!! And now everyone knows what an animal-loving freak I am, if you didn't already.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Oh, my aching neck!!

Today I did touch-up sanding in the LR and DR, wiped down both ceilings plus (nasty) walls in the LR, then primed and painted both ceilings. Ugh! I hate ceilings. Rather, my neck and shoulders hate ceilings. Also managed to shower off all the paint splatters and make a supplies run. I'm hoping to get primer and one coat of paint on the LR walls tomorrow.

I'm having trouble picking a paint color because this room is practically a blank slate. I don't have a "vision" for what I want yet, and I have no furniture to start from. The upholstery on the couch and chair that will go back in the room are in bad enough shape that I will probably slipcover them. Most everything else, I gave to freecycle a couple of weeks ago.

So, the cats have been trying to help me out

Meda made a selection, but it was little to neon for me.

I picked up a gallon of color tonight. That should get me through one coat, and if I don't like it, it'll just be an expensive coat of tinted primer.

Now it's time for a muscle-relaxing beverage.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

happy dance

Alright gang, it _can_ be done. I've had a positive experience with a contractor! Can you believe it?! The drywall work is finished.

- Started on Tuesday, worked from 8 - 3:30 with no lunch break. Finished the first two coats, despite having a run-in with the "octopus of death" that is my circuit panel.
- Returned at 8 am Wednesday for the final coat which took approximately 2 hours. He had been double-booked that day, so he had to skedaddle in the middle of it, but he came back as promised.
- When I returned from my 7am (ugh!) meeting this morning, the sanding was finished and he was vacuuming the carpet, even though I told him not to worry about it since it's getting chucked soon.

The final sale for time and materials was at the top end of the "office estimate", but below his "field estimate". That included the "extra" work he did. You see, I wanted the unfinished walls done, but all the other walls had various holes from moving electrical outlets, etc. that I was going to take care of. As he said it, "I'm here. It needs to be done. I've got a pan of mud that's going to go in the trash because I need to re-mix. I may as well throw it on the wall." He even ventured off into the hallway to work on a "person falling through ceiling" patch. He wasn't as thorough on those spots, but he got me more than half-way there.

Check out how much tapering he did on the butt joints! This should look pretty dang good after paint.

There are a couple of minor flaws I noticed after he left. I could call him back in to fix, but they're small enough that I'll probably just do them myself. I wasn't surprised to find a few things. Heck, I could spend days on end doing "final touch-ups". In the sea of dust, it's easy to miss a few things.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

be careful out there, people

Roof Collapse Injures 4 Construction Workers

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

quick contractor update

To all the people who posted warnings on my last post: I hear ya. Been there, done that. That's why I've been so anxious about bringing someone in to do this work. The three things I've outsourced prior to now have ranged from sub-par to absolute nightmare. DIY isn't totally about saving money - it's about getting things done well. And, I too, have not been so impressed with Angie's List. Seems like a whole lotta hype to me.

I would've loved to just call someone in who was recommended, but it seems there is no such thing for drywall. A friend and I have both been working our networks because we both need work done. Between the two of us, we're still searching.

Anyway -- the Case Handyman guy pulled up outside around 7:50 this morning. I think he just sat in his van for 10 minutes because he knows I'm not a morning person. :) As soon as Good Morning America started to go to their 8:00 commercial, the doorbell rang. He's already on his second sheet of 1/4" in the dining room. I won't do the happy dance just yet, but I do have some good feelings.

Monday, August 08, 2005

guest room: check

For the watchers out there, the guest room is "completed". (Alli - I put the rug there for your benefit. :)

Okay, well, except for the closet doors. And the door itself. When I get to the hallway, I will do all the doors, assembly-line style.

And another shot simply because I love these dang daisies I get at Whole Foods.

All of the living room furniture has been temporarily moved into the guest room while transformation happens in there. The couch had to go in through the window. Not fun. One caladium was smooshed in the process. The cats are totally confused and upset about lack of carpet-lounging. And this (though blurry) is the most awesome vacuum ever. It has an attachment with a comb on it that totally attacks cat hair like nothing else.

I inherited it via my step-dad (I think) and once gave it back because I was going to be cool and get a fancy schmancy new vacuum. I begged to have this thing back and will never give it up.

contractor jitters

It's kind of like first-date jitters...what's he going to say? What's he going to do? Will I like him? Let us hope that this turns out better than most first dates.

I'm outsourcing mudding of the living room ceiling, dining room ceiling, and one wall in the dining room. The living room ceiling had been completely removed and replaced with new wallboard following my failure to win the battle of the gold glitter due to the fact that the ceiling was wallpapered, then glittered. (Congrats if you read that entire sentence and didn't get dizzy.)

The dining room ceiling was de-glittered, but it is very rough and stained from water damage. It will get a layer of 1/4" drywall first, then tape and mud.

The wall in the dining room was previously torn out to jack up the ceiling. It went up about 3/4 of an inch. It didn't entirely fix the sag, but it's better, I guess.

The effort I've gone through just to get someone to say they'll do the job is unimagineable, unless of course, you're a houseblogger who's gone through the same thing.

- I started with Angie's List. Found a big name there that I recognized and gave them a call. The nice lady that answered informed me that they specialize in new construction, but she would pass along my info in case one of the guys wanted the work on the side. No one called, of course.

- Overall, I'd feel better about going with a little guy, but worry about doing that without a personal reference. But, that's what Angie's List is for, right? The first match on the list was an independent guy who lives in the neighborhood. I also thought it was cool because he has a functioning website where you can submit requests. So, I did. We spoke the next day and he seemed ambitious. He came over and looked at the place, while talking my ear off about anything and everything. He said he would have a bid to me later that week. The bid never appeared. During our talk, I figured out exactly where he lives. He's on my less-traveled walk route, but I made a point to take the route that week. I'm now feeling okay that he won't be doing the work. (Oooohhhhh, that house.) In addition, I had passed his info on to a friend before I dealt with him. She actually did get a quote and it was astronomical.

- So, time for the phone book. I called up my local "Drywall Doctor" and a woman with a lovely British accent took all my information, then said she would call back with an estimate. How cool is that?! You can estimate the job over the phone? N.e.a.t.o. She promptly called back and gave me an estimate that was about twice what I had guessed it should be. I asked the question anyway -- and found out their lead time is usually 3 - 4 weeks. ick.

- Next stop - Service Magic. I didn't have any luck there when I was trying to find someone to tape/mud upstairs, so I didn't hold out hope. I immediately got a call from one company who qualifies as a "little guy". Their quick response gave me hope and a little bit of fear at the same time. How desperate can they be? We set up an appt for them to come out and check it out at 4pm the next day. 4pm came and went and they weren't here. I had to leave around 5. When I was driving back towards the house around 6pm, I managed to see a truck pulling out of my driveway. Five minutes later, they called and left a message on my machine stating "We tried to come take a look at the job, but you weren't available." Oh, really? Hmmm...maybe that's because you were TWO HOURS LATE!! You must not want the job.

- The same day that I had talked to the company above, another "little guy" called and said he was just finishing up a job, but he would contact me later in the week to setup a time to take a look. I never heard from him again.

If I have nothing on which to base my opinion of your quality of work, what do I do? I have to base it on your level of professionalism when you deal with me. If you can't even get that right, I certainly don't think you'd be able to perform to the level I expect. I am, of sorts, an independent consultant in the computer software biz. Would I expect to get any clients if I behaved this way?! Absolutely not.

Finally, the last match on my Service Magic request was Case Handyman Services. I'm hesitant about these kinds of outfits, because I figure they can't give you the kind of customized service that a little guy could. Well, I didn't really have an option at this point. And, hey, if they're good enough for Oprah, then maybe they're good enough for me.

A lady from Case had called me, but I sat on it for a few days. When I did call her back, she already had the estimate worked up (about half of the other phone estimate I got) and told me she could have someone here later that week!! Wowsa! I told her I would call her back because I wasn't sure my schedule would be ready for it that quickly. I called back the next day and left a voicemail. She didn't return my call and I started to get a little nervous. "There's no turning back now", I thought and gave her another call. She was expecting me and told me she hadn't called back yet because she was waiting to see if she could line up a particular guy for the job. She said she'd call back by 1 with the exact dates. She called back at 11:30 with the name of the guy and said he'd be here Tuesday(tomorrow) and Wednesday. Prompt is a word these people understand.

The guy scheduled to do the work called today and asked if he could stop by and check out the dining room ceiling so he'd know what supplies he would need in the morning. Is it just me or is everyone getting good feelings? He came over as promised and we talked for a while. He wasn't at all bothered by Meda wrapping her tail around his legs and seems very professional. He explained all the details of what he would do and when as he could have some scheduling conflicts Wednesday, but promised it will be done by the end of the week regardless. He also explained that there's a 2-year warranty on all the work he does. If, when I go to paint it, I find any flaws I can't live with, I give them a call and they come out and fix it with no questions asked.

Am I dreaming? Stay tuned to find out if my dreamboat has arrived.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Frankenstein's step-Granddaughter, perhaps?

While not nearly as impressive as the Frankenstein Hutch, I've been working on a furniture project of my own.

I have an "old" (old in the sense of broke-down and tired, not in years of life) particle board armoire-type cabinet that I had been using in the first floor bedroom. It didn't make the cut to be moved upstairs to the new bedroom. I figured I would just leave it in the guest room to store blankets, sewing supplies, etc. Of course I knew that would mean giving it a coat of paint. I believe it has changed colors at every new home. My odd little brain assumed I would just paint it white. It is shabby, so why not shoot for shabby-chic, no?

At the same time, I've started to have a hankering for a piece of black furniture. It does seem to be the latest trend and the marketers have been dangling black case goods in my face at every chance. It's all over the Pottery Barn and HDC catalogs. I've even seen a lot of it popping up at antique malls where the dealers have taken an insignificant piece, given it a nice black finish, and voila -- instant class. It's just too much for an ex-goth-wannabe to resist. I think the tipping point was when I went over to a co-worker's house for a meeting a few weeks back. I had to sit right next to a big 'ole black sideboard. It taunted me the entire time.

I finally put 2 and 2 together and realized I should paint this cabinet black. So, a couple weeks ago while in the HD, I picked up some black paint. I've been wavering a lot between HD and Sherwin Williams. Neither one has my loyalty. I used SW on the exterior, HD upstairs, SW on the guest room walls, HD on the rest of the guest room...... Given my desire to cut HD out of my life as much as possible, I haven't figured out why I keep going back there for paint. It must be the convenience factor.

Anyway, I normally head straight for the Behr chips. Glidden seems cheap to me and Ralph Lauren paint? Don't get me started -- I think the idea is absurd. However, I entered into this color selection with an open mind because I wanted to get the shade just right. I scanned all the chips for the one I thought was closest to the pieces I've drooled over the most. And wouldn't ya know -- it was a Ralph Lauren chip! Reluctantly, I had the RL paint mixed, and I'm glad I did. After this painting experience, I think I'll start with RL paint from now on! I love the finished sheen and it smoothes out really well.

The black turned out exactly as I envisioned. A few new glass knobs (on sale...didn't have the patience to wait for a salvage find) and hinges make it (almost) complete. There used to be a piece of wood inside that braced it for strength and filled in the gap between the doors and the top drawer. It broke in two long ago and I finally removed the pieces. I think I need to replace it so you can't see the inside when the doors are closed.

The inside of the cabinet has always been very dark. I considered painting it white, then realized I should take the opportunity to use up some "reject" paint. I used 'Celery Ice' for the first coat, but it was a little too neon. Next I tried 'Honeysuckle White' and am happy with that. The bottom drawer was so plain (and still is) so I changed the single, center pull to two pulls.

If I'd have known I would like the end result so much, I would've taken "before" shots. Got re-use out of some junk and fulfilled my desire to spend money on something I'll probably hate in 5 years. Not a bad project.