Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Update: Owners Kitchen Design

So let me bring you up to speed on the other kitchen.  In the Owner's Unit, we opened up the wall between the new dining room and the kitchen, creating a great new space.  And that gave us the opportunity to set the kitchen up a little differently than the unit next door.

Check it out, it's changed a bit since the last time I shared it with you!  With the new header installed and the wall to the dining room removed, it has a whole different look and feel.
We had to remove the wall between the two kitchens to accommodate new plumbing and electrical, so this photo looks a bit odd.  But once the electrical, plumbing and drywall are done, this will be a wall of cabinets and appliances.  An extra feature we'll be installing -  soundproofing material between the two units, to keep the tenants from driving each other crazy.
Kitchen Starting Point

As a reminder, here's the before picture!

And here's the birds eye view of the design plan:

The appliances are all on one wall, which creates an efficient layout.

And we created this 'hutch' style cabinet to provide extra storage.  The glass cabinet will be lighted.  And we'll include a USB connector as well as an outlet above the counter space.
Like the unit next door, we'll also use Martha Stewart Purestyle Cabinets in 'Heavy Cream' and quartz countertops.  But to change it up a bit, we have a glass and marble backsplash that we'll mix with white subway tile.  
And last, but not least, we'll include an industrial style faucet for the new double, stainless steel sink!

Of course the space still looks a bit rough, but once we finish up the infrastructure, it will be time to install the cabinets!

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kitchen Design - Tenant's Unit

With demo behind us, we're off and running to put the house back together again!  And the kitchen will be a real centrepiece of the design.  So I thought it would be fun to review the plans - starting with the Tenant's Unit.

We started with a tired old kitchen that was badly in need of updating.

A key to the new design is to open up the space between the kitchen and the dining room, by removing some walls and moving the china cabinet a few feet to the right.

But as luck would have it, they were structural walls, so the guys had to put in some new engineered beams (LVLs) to distribute the weight from above.  They started with a temporary wall, to handle the load while they installed the beams.

Then they lifted the new beams into place.  They're big and heavy, so it was quite a production.  After that, the temp wall came down.

And now that they're in place, look how open the space is!!!
From the kitchen, you can see all the way out the front window!  And that really sets the stage for the new design.

And as a reference, here's what it looked like 'before', looking towards the front of the house..

We knew from the start that this would be a galley style kitchen, but we still wanted to create a space for a couple of stools, so the chef can chat with the family!  We also wanted lots of storage and some open shelving.  After a couple of passes, we came up with this design.

It leaves the sink near the windows, so there is a lot of natural light.  And we have a cooking centre on the opposite wall.  Best of all, there is lots and lots of storage space!

Quartz - Solar Canyon
We're using Martha Stewart cabinets in 'Heavy Cream', which is a warm off-white.  The countertops are a beautiful quartz called Solar Canyon.
For the backsplash, we're using white subway and a smaller subway in gold toned marble - which is the perfect shade to connect with the beautiful gold tones in the stained glass window in the front of the house.
Backsplash Tile Design

I'm excited about the pendant over the sink - it is a very cool chicken wire and glass fixture from Nicola's Home.   And we're trying something new this time.   Next to the windows, we will install open shelving.

Last, but not least, we'll refinish the original birch floors.

I can't wait to see this kitchen turn into reality - but of course we're a long way from that day!!!

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dealing with Challenges - Asbestos Removal

When we first looked at this house, I wondered if the white wrapping on the heat pipes could be asbestos.  So I guess I wasn't surprised when Steve Broadhead from Northeast Test Consultants came out and confirmed my suspicions.  They think it's a Johns Manville product that was widely used up until the early 1970's to insulate pipes.  We also discovered that our furnace was wrapped in an asbestos blanket and it too needed removal.  Why is asbestos a concern?  When it's disturbed, the tiny particles become 'friable' or airborne.  If they get in your lungs, they stay there for a long time and can cause major diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Add that to the fact that this is the single biggest budget item on our project, it certainly has our attention!  I'd heard some horror stories of asbestos removal, so wanted to make sure we were doing it right.  Steve walked me through the process and I started to get an appreciation of how big a task this is.

So here's the rundown:

1)  Notify the State of Maine of the upcoming asbestos removal.

2)  Prep the property for asbestos removal.  This requires multiple steps.  First thing, build a custom decontamination unit to allow the workers to get in and out of the work area.  The unit has 3 distinct areas:  A clean room (used to change out of street clothes into personal protective equipment), a shower (which has to have hot and cold running water) and a dirty room for changing out of the contaminated suits.
Triple Layer of Plastic Draping

Next, all openings to other areas of the house have to be sealed off.  Each of the doorways  sealed with plastic and notification signs.  The hole from the old drain in the first floor bathroom?  Yep - sealed off.  And the the basement door egress - sealed with 3 layers of plastic and signs notifying people of asbestos removal.

What about the actual removal steps?   They used a 'wrap and cut' method, which involves wetting the coating, wrapping it in plastic and then using a 'glove bag' to cut the pipes and remove them with the wrapping still intact.  They all wear the proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment - suits, ventilators, etc) through the job.  And they continuously monitor the air to ensure there is no contamination.  Of course I'm not certified to do the removal, so I wasn't able to take any 'in process' photos.

Air Sampler
Glove Bag Kit - so the asbestos is constantly wrapped in plastic and can't become friable
Finally, after removal, the pipes and asbestos covering are carefully wrapped up, labeled and disposed of in a state approved landfill.  The set up took a full day and then on day 2, they did the actual removal.  About mid-way through the project the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) showed up for a surprise inspection.  But it wasn't an issue, because we were following all their guidelines.

The last step was getting the old furnace out of the house.  They wanted to take it out in one piece, so none of the asbestos would get disturbed.  It gets wrapped and sealed in plastic first,  Then the approach was to rent a fancy dolly that's rated for 1200 pounds and can go up and down steps.  Good idea - but it didn't work.  That is one huge, heavy furnace!  What did they do?  They brought in an excavator to pull it out.  With that kind of equipment, they made quick work of it.  And kudos to the team for doing what it takes to get the job done in a safe manner!

Finally, I'll get a final report with all the details of the project, including plans, air sampling data, DEP  logs, etc.  This is great for a future homeowner to understand that we used all the appropriate precautions.

We're glad to have behind us!  Now we can get ready to install the new furnace and all new PEX tubing, to replace the old heating pipes.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Demo's Done - The Tenant's Unit

Like the owner's unit, the Tenant's Unit saw a lot of demolition as well.  But we configured this unit differently, to provide a large first floor bedroom as well as an open floor plan from front to back.

Here is the dining room before - a nice space, but really closed off from the kitchen.

Phase 1 starts to open up the space.  But we'll need to put in some structural beams, before we can open it up any further.

The kitchen was gutted, but we got an unfortunate surprise.  The common wall between the two kitchens is only 2 1/4' wide - not wide enough for modern plumbing code.  It's also pitched at an awkward angle, which will prevent us from hanging the cabinets level.  So, after much discussion, we realize the entire wall needs to come down and be replaced with new, level studs.  And remember the popcorn ceiling with the big hole in it?  Well it's history!

Like the bathroom next door, this one needed to have all the old fixtures removed.  And after pulling everything out, we realized we need to gut even more, to clean up the space.  We'll also remove the window that was hidden behind the shower wall.  
And remember the two tiny first floor bedrooms?  Well we removed the closet in between them and now we have a giant bedroom!  And we're building new closets on either side of the window, to provide lots of clothes storage.

But the space that I'm most excited about?  The 2nd floor.  We took down all the old walls on the knee wall side and suddenly we've recovered lots of useful space.  This is where we'll add a new bathroom, expanded closet and a big bedroom space.
2nd floor before
2nd floor after gutting walls

Master Bedroom Before
Next steps?  Starting to put it all back together again!  

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Demo Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.....well you get the idea.....

Now that the planning is complete, we're ready to go!  The guys arrived bright and early with pry bars, sledge hammers and lots of sawz all blades!  Summer time is really busy for the crew, so they are squeezing us in when they have some availability.  So we'll be doing this in stages.

I started by marking all the walls throughout both units.  With a crew of 5 guys with sledgehammers working at once - it's important to have everything clearly marked!

Living Room & Dining Room Before
So here are the pictures of the Owners Unit - hopefully you'll start to see the floor plan turn into reality, as we start eliminating walls.

Now the living room is a big space, with half a dozen windows flooding the room with light.  Can you believe how big it is???  And we were able to keep the original china cabinet!

The new dining room was created as we removed the walls from the old bedroom.  Once the new LVL beams are installed for structural support, we will be able to remove the rest of the wall (on the left) to the kitchen.
After lots of thought, we decided to completely redo this kitchen.   The old cabinets couldn't be easily configured to accommodate a dishwasher and still have a logical set of upper cabinets in place.  So we decided to start from scratch and create a beautiful new kitchen.  That means this room will get a total gut job.  And of course it will use a big chunk of our budget.  But in the long run, we think this is a good place to spend the money (remember the old adage - kitchens and bathrooms sell houses)

And good news - that's original hardwood flooring (we think red birch) under all that linoleum!!!

The bathroom needed a significant upgrade, so we pulled out all the old fixtures.  I can't wait to get rid of that dark green paint.  With no windows, this bathroom feels like a cave.

And while the master bedroom didn't see a lot of changes, the master bath seems so much larger, now that we've removed the extra wall.  Once we install the new larger skylight, it will be lighter and brighter as well.   
In the master bedroom, now that the old carpet has been removed, the musty smell is gone and the space seems much fresher!

Next up - The Tenant's Unit!

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