Monday, October 22, 2012

Tiny Morsels of Progress

Still waiting on the inspections, which are supposedly scheduled for the second half of this week.  I'll believe that when I see the green stickers on my window.

Our new electric transformer box, behind the house in the parking area.
BUT, there has been some progress at the house, seen by my very own eyes this weekend.  Pulling into our parking space, we couldn't help but look right at our very own, dark green, brand-new electric transformer!  Okay, so there's a caveat: it's not there because we asked it to be there, but rather because the contractor working with the Windmill next door got it put in.  But either way, it's there, sitting on the existing cement pad on the part of the lawn that's common area.  The transformer will serve our two houses as well as the Colonial (the yellow house that hasn't been sold yet), and can be hooked up to actual gosh-darn electricity as soon as bollards are installed.  (For those of you outside the DC area, who may not be familiar with the term, bollards are those cement poles that guard things like electric transformers or sidewalks or the White House from being damaged by runaway cars or trucks or terrorists.  We're intimately familiar with them here in the capital, and me even more so with my line of work.)  Anyhow, I got an email late last night from Lee, the contractor working with the Windmill, asking me in the nicest way if I might consider possibly talking to him about the potential for me to possibly hopefully be okay to maybe help them with some of part of the cost of installing the bollards, since we were sharing the transformer.  Really, he asked in the nicest, most polite, nearly Canadian manner possible.  It was actually very nice of him, because it very much is something that's my responsibility to pay for; it's just nice to be asked!  I emailed him back this morning with a very short note letting him know of course I'd be happy to pay a third of the cost (along with the owners of the Colonial and the Windmill).  Based on his reply back to me, I'd guess he's also not finding willingness to help a plentiful commodity during his work, because he was definitely appreciative.  Hey, in my estimation, I'm all about being as friendly and accommodating to my neighbors as I can, because in the end, once all the contractors leave, it's they who are going to be staring into my windows all day long...

So after the transformer, we headed inside to take a look at "the boxes."  "The boxes" are two, well, boxes that our contractors said they had to build on either side of the fireplace.  They told Abby about them late last week after we had discussed what kind of fireplace we wanted.  Although we have a real, working fireplace in the house, it has been impressed upon me by my parents that what we want is a gas-insert fireplace to put inside of that, so we don't have to haul wood around or worry about flue issues or have crazy losses of heat any more than we already will, what with 49 windows and cathedral ceilings and all...  I'm all about actually using the fireplace, and I was totally sold on my parents' gas fireplace they had installed in Grand Island; a flip of the switch and you're good to go.  So after installing the gas line, the contractors told us that code requires the hose to be completely closed in by some sort of housing.  They built a small box around it, just to the left of the fireplace.  It's a pretty low box, less than a foot off the ground and about a foot long.  But to make it even, they built a faux box on the right side to mirror it.  Looking at the fireplace with the two boxes in place, they don't seem to get in the way much.  The only problem, though, is what we'll be able to do with that space now.  It's hard enough to think about what kind of furniture's going to go in there, but now we've got to deal with these weird little boxes.  Plus, the wall to the right of the fireplace was going to have our handy-dandy, futuristic, tv-pops-out-of-it console that we are going to buy ourselves for our birthdays or anniversary or Arbor Day or something.  Abby says that box on the right has to be there for purposes of symmetry, but I'm betting it won't stay long.  In the meantime, hopefully I'll be sitting all warm in front of a nice gas fire while she debates the longevity of the right-side box.
The fireplace flanked by the two new boxes.
But since the boxes are uneven, my guess is one won't be staying long...

The left (functional) gas box up close and personal.
Next up: the downstairs bathroom.  As I mentioned last week, this is the most vexing of our issues with the house right now, apart from the inspection issue.  We want the bathroom to be split into two rooms-- one with sinks and storage, and one with the toilet and shower-- so that two kids getting ready in the morning can use it at the same time.  Right now, because of an ill-placed toilet pipe, that's impossible.  But my brilliant mind came up with a brilliant answer that hopefully won't be shot down by the evil needs of the inspector, who I think from now on I might call "Javert," since he's not exactly been nice to our cause as of late.  Anyhow, the idea is to move the door to the left, and be okay with a little jog in a dividing wall.  (Looking at the picture will help here.)  So right now, the doorway's a few feet from the left end along the wall between the bathroom and the mudroom, and opens straight into the toilet, which presumably would face directly out the door.  My super-brilliant plan is to have the door moved all the way to the left (towards the sink & storage section), to turn the toilet 90 degrees counterclockwise (so it faces the tub), and to create a zig-zag wall that runs behind the toilet, then to the right of the toilet, then back to the wall with the mudroom, so the two parts of the bathroom fit together like puzzle pieces, rather than just two rectangles.  (Listen: the reason I use the word "brilliant" here is because, for the amount of time Abby spends thinking about this, for me to look at something and have an idea she didn't think of yet?  Well, that's just brilliant.  Or crazy.  I'll take either one, as long as it works.)
The downstairs bathroom, as seen from the mudroom.
The doorway should be moved left, to accommodate that white toilet stub.
Looking back on this, it is kind of amazing that I view this as "progress," although I did preface that word with the modifier "morsel," so I think it's acceptable.  Or maybe I'm still not in the acceptance stage of this renovation.  Regardless, I'll leave you with one more set of pictures to show you more of the ceiling that was finished last week.  This time, it's a view up at the Great Room Balcony, which will serve as our home office once we move in.  The before-and-after will give you only a little taste of the difference in the house as a whole, since the balcony area didn't actually suffer too much at either the hands of the Army or time.  Still, though, it's a cool comparison.
Balcony after ceiling
and windows painted
Balcony pre-renovation

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