Thursday, June 07, 2007

Now Aren't You Sorry You Asked for a House Update?

OK, we are trying to get as much done as possible this week while Nutmeg is at my parents' cabin in Wisconsin, so listen up. This will be brief and possibly misspelled.

1. I may have already mentioned this, but there was still some remaining asbestos tile found in the house during the walkthrough. It has been removed.

2. Our windows are ordered. They are supposed to come in Monday but I'm not holding my breath. Then again, we have had several pleasant surprises in this process so far so here's hoping. We found a lead-certified guy to put them in, an affable Pole who goes by Ralph, and the bill for him and the windows he ordered was actually quite a bit lower than the regular, non-lead-certified window companies I contacted. After speaking with a friend whose building is getting new windows, I realized one thing in our favor: it's a lot easier to avoid contaminating a house than it is a high-floor condo, because with a house, you can just use a ladder to remove the old windows through the outside. With a condo, you need scaffolding.

Ralph's protections will include taping down a polypro tarp, wetting anything that needs to be sanded, removing debris through outside, keeping the door shut*, and vacuuming with a HEPA vac afterwards. I plan to follow up by mopping with Leaddissolve and doing some dust tests.

* Technically you should tape the doors shut, but this approach seems ok to me. After all, as Ralph points out, lead is pretty heavy, and doesn't tend to float through the air in the fashion of asbestos fibers.

3. Yesterday the very nice young man who lives in the basement apartment of our apartment building came out with another guy and built us a new gate to the alley and a new railing for our outside basement steps. These were very big issues to me since I now feel like Nutmeg can play safely in the yard. I just thought of hiring Reuben a week ago and I am SO GLAD I did because he only charged $300. This was a full day's work for him and one other guy, and the results are beautiful. I was able to cancel a handyman company that charged $700 a day, PER worker.

The drawback is that Reuben, while an adorably sweet guy, has not been stellar at getting back to us about the other estimates we asked for, or about getting back to us at all. We'd love to have him repair our upstairs wood floors and fix a faulty basement step before move-in day.

4. My uncle is coming Saturday morning at about 6 a.m. to fix the plumbing. He predicts a cost of approximately 1/3 of what we originally feared we would pay, so we are quite happy.

5. An electrician is coming Friday to do some rewiring and add some light boxes, outlets, and convert a lot of outlets to GFIs. This bill, sadly, is going to be significantly more than we had hoped, although we didn't really have any educated guesses. I thought that most of the wiring in the house was new because there are only a few cloth wires in the circuit box, but the electrician says you really have no idea how many old cloth wires there are until you check out the electric boxes throughout the house. And of course he recommends doing that right now because he wants the money. But, upon reflection, we know it makes sense -- any opening up of walls should be done now, before furniture is in the house and those walls have been painted.

6. Epu ran Ethernet from the basement, where the DSL will live, up to the kitchen (so a wireless antenna can facilitate deck-based laptop surfing) and to the future computer corner of the living room. He also wants to run it upstairs but has been a bit intimidated about how to get it up there. Anyone who knows how to do this kind of thing, PLEASE come help him.

7. I stripped wallpaper off the downstairs 1/2 bath and noticed that there is a good 2 feet of wall above the ugly false ceiling. The paint on this wall looks ancient and probably as leady as it comes. We have asked Reuben to remove the false ceiling and the yucky paint. I'm not sure what we'll do then, since the walls are partially tiled up to the false ceiling. The walls are also covered with rusted, popped nails. I'm now starting to see how little projects can cascade into bigger projects -- all I wanted to do at first was get rid of some ugly old wallpaper, and now I'm wondering if we should retile the whole bathroom.

8. We chose Benjamin Moore's Yellow Raincoat and Firefly for the kitchen. I washed and taped the walls, and primed more than half of them, but stopped when I realized that the electrician Friday will be ripping into a wall or two. For the living room, we are trying out some colors that Martha Stewart says go together for a color glaze brushed effect. I love the Martha Stewart line's suggestions for paint combinations, it's like GrAnimals for your house!

Everything else is still in the planning stage right now. Today I think I will stay in Chicago most of the day and pack, since any more painting I do at the new house might just be messed up by the electrician Friday. Anyway, Filbertine is being very selfish and insisting that I play with her, hold her, change her diaper and breastfeed her, which it turns out takes up a good chunk of my day. Only, since I usually do these things while chasing Nutmeg around the house or trying to get her dressed and into the car, I barely noticed I was doing these things before.

Next time: pictures.

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