We went out to the bungalow this afternoon to meet with a couple of subcontractors, and to give Mark a gigantor check for $25,000. (Seriously, it took me five years to pay my car off, and it was just under 25 grand, and now I just fork over a check? Argh.) (Oh, and for anyone who thinks I just have 25k sitting around in my bank account, it was a HELOC check , which means it's just more debt, as opposed to less assets.) ANYHOW, we went to meet with the guys who think they're going to do our kitchen cabinetry (I'll explain), and the HVAC guy. Meetings were successful, and we got to see progress on the retaining wall, which looks great. Whereas for the past couple months you could look down through the holes in the front porch into an abyss, today we saw the tops of baseball caps sticking up out of them, since the wall and the surrounding foundation is getting closer and closer to completion. The kids were also a little better behaved than normal (for the bungalow...) because Abby had the idea to bring watercolor paints with us; they sat for a long while painting away in front of the fireplace-- very idyllic. Lola offered most of her artwork to the contractors, which was pretty cute.
Anyhow, the HVAC guy came first. He seemed really honest and straightforward, and I liked him right off the bat. The meeting was to set up exactly where the inside air-conditioning unit would be situated, as well as where all the ductwork will be. We didn't have to deal much with this in our current house, since we've got a flat roof and the unit's up there; plus, with the flexible ducts, we didn't have to worry about any unsightly bulkheads. Unfortunately, it looks like we'll have a couple in the bungalow, and we're trying to figure out how to make them as unintrusive as possible. For those of you who are familiar with the layout, it looks like the unit's going to go right above the upstairs bathroom's jut into the great room; the ductwork will then run behind the rail around the top of the room, feeding first into the bathroom, then our bedroom, then the kitchen, and finally out near the huge window. A duct will run straight down from the unit to the first floor, where it'll make the same counterclockwise arch around the floor. Unfortunately, there's a possibility we may have to run a bulkhead directly in front of the very top of the pediment for the fireplace, which would really suck; we would much rather have him run the ducts through the kids' rooms and around, and he said he'd plan his stuff out with that detour in mind.
|The interior HVAC unit will go right on top of the new wood at center,|
and ductwork will go behind the rail at center heading left.
All in all, he said with the draftiness we're likely to face with our rehabbed windows, we're going to need a 4-ton unit. I imagine that's pretty big, but I really have nothing to compare it to, so I just said I'm okay with whatever works, as long as it's energy-efficient and cost-efficient in the long run. The condenser, which is the giant fan unit that sits outside, will likely be placed in the "front" of the house next to the downstairs bathroom window. (I say "front" because, although it's technically on the same side as the front door, it's down one story and blocked off from nearly everything by the retaining wall holding up DeWitt Circle. Basically it'll be nearly hidden, which is good.)
|Another old picture (pre-paint-job) showing the area at far right|
where we'll position (and hopefully hide) the AC condenser.
Next came the kitchen cabinetry. Now, we've planned these things out over and over again, and these are the second contractors we've had come out to measure and give us quotes-- the first Mark knows about, and the ones he recommended. But their quote is pretty astronomical. They're likely going to ask for about $18,000 for the job, and we're just not thinking about spending that kind of money on kitchen cabinets. Abby and the kids stopped by Home Depot today to see about getting quotes on their cabinetry, since that's where we bought them for our current house back in '04, and we have had good luck with our cabinets ever since we actually bought them. (Remember the 7-hour debacle at the Rhode Island Avenue Home Depot? Our our red car, Commie, getting stolen in the parking lot? Yeah, that was our kitchen cabinet-buying experience last time around...) She got a very-ballpark estimate of about $10,000 plus labor, which is a lot better than 18, so we set up an appointment for them to come out and do some measurements as well. Hoping to get them to come out before we leave for Buffalo on Saturday. Regardless, I'd love to have this stuff ready to go in during the month of July.
As for the cabinets themselves, it looks like both Abby and I are going to lose out on things we've been pretty dead-set on for this entire process. I've always been jealous of my parents' enormous pantry, and said from the start that I wanted a floor-to-ceiling pantry with pull-out shelving. Well, we just don't have the space for it. We have the actual footage for it, but with the way the windows take up half the wall space, and the third wall is half doorway and half back-of-the-fireplace, we're pretty constrained in what we can put where-- the fridge is pretty much locked in one place, for instance. Putting a pantry in is possible, but leaves us with a really awkward corner space between it and the range. I just said to make the whole corner a floor-to-ceiling cabinet, but apparently that would make the whole corner very claustrophobic, so it looks like I'm gonna lose out. As a consolation, I may get a narrow pantry on the doorway side of the fridge, and I also think I succeeded in deepening our wall cabinets on the other side of the fridge from 12" to 18". (Baby steps...) I'm just really concerned about storage space; I know we pretty much fill out our cabinetry right now, where we're making use of ever square millimeter of possible cabinet-holding wall area, and having anything but maximum use in the bungalow will leave me worried come time when we have two teenagers in the house...
As for Abby, it looks like she's going to lose out on her open ceiling. Yeah, you say, she lost out on that a long time ago. Yeah, but I think she's been holding out hope for a solution. You see, Abby has always wanted to poke out the beadboard ceiling in the kitchen (and our bedroom) and open it up to the gorgeous exposed rafters of the great room. The MHT folks basically said No Way Jose because of the "historical significance of the kitchen as the former porch," since porches were an integral part of bungalows. Since the porch had already been enclosed as part of the house, they weren't going to make us turn it back into a porch, but if you remember the debacle with the width of the opening into the kitchen from the great room, you'll remember that they wanted to keep its look as being separate from the main part of the house. Well, any dreams of circumventing that requirement were dashed by the HVAC guy, who said we needed to have ductwork both for the HVAC system and for the range-hood exhaust spanning the area between the kitchen ceiling and the exposed-only-momentarily hidden beams. Abby has been a bit dejected since this afternoon on this topic, but I'm sure she'll pull through eventually. (As an aside, I'm not that upset by the decision, since I was worried how an open ceiling would work in our bedroom one room over, considering doing anything like putting plexiglas over the openings would just make the great room look cheesy.
|This is an old pic of the area Abby was hoping to bust out the|
kitchen ceiling, opening it up into the great room.
Now, not only will we not have that, but it looks like we'll
have to close it back up to hide ductwork.
Anyhow, that was our afternoon. Paying lots of money for the retaining wall, hopefully saving lots of money on cabinets, and compromising on kitchen cabinetry. The next week looks to be a busy one, with the wall being finished an inspected, followed by a flurry of activity for everything that can be built up on the wall, including plumbing. (Can't wait!) We'll go back to the house at least two more times over the next three days for meetings, but I'm hoping a big change'll await us when we get back from our week up north. And hopefully, Abby won't feel as dejected about something I came to accept, oh, a good eight months ago.