Sunday, February 27, 2011

Industrious Weekend

We had an extremely productive weekend to be proud of. We spent hardly any time sitting around in front of Netflix; just an hour or so to wind down before bed.
  • The dining room is basically packed; we just need to wrap the furniture and move it out and do some general cleaning.
  • The library is about 75% packed. We just have another couple of shelves and the closet to empty. We'll also be moving out three of the six bookcases.
  • The living room is about 85% packed. We mostly stopped packing because the pile of boxes was getting too big and was filling up too much of the walking space. We're going to have to empty the living room because after the woodwork stripping and staining, we'll be having the floors refinished.
We have a 10'x30' storage space reserved for Friday and we'll hopefully have weather decent enough to start moving in over the weekend. We've lined up a moving helper (the same guy who helped us move in who we originally found on craigslist) and we'll hopefully be good to go.

Sharon has—out of necessity—decided to relax her standards for school. There's just so many hours in the day and we have too many other demands on our time this quarter. She's still working hard, but there just isn't time to spend all day on single assignments.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Beautiful Morning

We woke up to a nice layer of snow on the ground and it is beautiful! Jeff was lucky—his class was cancelled this morning.

Update at 3PM: It's snowing again!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kitchen Design

Sharon found a picture recently of the approximate color scheme of our new kitchen. She grabbed the photo from this set of Flickr pictures, which claims to be a circa 1915 kitchen. The colors are real similar, but we'll have a non-shiny countertop because we'll be using soapstone. And we're also getting a matching soapstone sink made.
Sharon's given up on having stone tiles installed on the backsplash; it's just too modern. Our current plan is to use reproduction subway tile on the backsplash and also in the adjoining half-bath. It will look more period, which is a feature.
Finally, our floors are going to be oak, to match the rest of the main floor.
The floor plan and earlier elevations were posted here back in December and there haven't been many changes, but a few minor ones. Sharon's meeting with our kitchen designer on Friday to finalize the cabinetry selections. She believes Craftsman Design is having a local custom cabinetry maker make them out of FSC-certified douglas fir for us.
Sharon really thought it would be cool to salvage the wood from the existing kitchen to go into building the new cabinets, but it actually doubled the price! Since the price of this kitchen is already astonishing, we had to pass. Instead, we'll hold onto the cabinetry doors and hopefully be able to build in some nice DIY cabinets in the basement at a later time. We also may be able to use some of the wood to repair the broken drawer fronts in the dining room.

Attic Cleaned!

Due to an equipment failure yesterday, the finish of the vermiculite removal job was delayed a couple hours so they actually finished up this morning.
The removal team said the attic was actually filled up with a thick layer of sawdust, followed by a layer of 1940s newspapers, then the vermiculite on top. I'm bummed it wasn't possible to check out the old newspapers—that would have been fun to read the prices and see what was considered news at that time.
The attic is all clean now and ready for electrical rewiring and for running plumbing repairs. Later in the job, we'll also be reinsulating this space with modern—and hopefully safer—materials. We think this will be a good space for paper record storage once the remodel is finished.

Packing is slowly continuing. I got a bit behind in school, so I've had to focus my energy on catching up this week. Though, I'm hoping to have the dining room all packed up by Sunday because we're planning to have company for lunch. It would be nice to get that room sort of cleaned up. =)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Asbestos Removal

A team of four guys showed up right on time this morning. Hopefully they'll finish this project today, but it may take two days. It's sort of exciting to get started, though maybe I should have had them remove the vermiculite next week—we have snow in the forecast later in the week. I actually turned off the furnace earlier, so I get to bundle while I work on my schoolwork.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Asbestos Removal Starts Tomorrow

Got a call back from the asbestos removal company, Asbestos Control Group, this afternoon and we went ahead and scheduled the start of this project — for tomorrow. Their schedule must be slow.

Jeff worked this weekend at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show at the Portland Convention Center. He had a weekend gig with a company that sells Earth Pots. He got to give away pots with plants in them. It sounded like it was a pretty good gig, but his feet and back are tired from standing for three solid days.

This afternoon, I started packing up the library upstairs. The task was made much easier by reusing boxes from the move in; most of the boxes are already labelled. I managed to empty one bookcase — only 7 to go!

This weekend, I also spent several hours catching up on schoolwork; I read 9 chapters plus finished up some assignments. Long weekend.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Preparing for the Remodel

Today I shopped around for storage and found a reasonably priced drive-up space in Gresham, OR (about 15 miles from us). I'm thinking we're going to go with a 10'x30' space because we'll be putting in an awful lot of furniture; even that may not be enough, but we'll see how efficiently we can pack it.

I'm trying to make plans for what goes and what stays here in the house. If we move most of the stuff out, we should actually have half the basement, plus 2 bedrooms and the bathroom upstairs as living space. Not so bad, if we manage not to cram them full with stuff we don't want to move out. I'm still debating about how much of my sewing room stays; I really don't want to move out my fabric shelves that I finally got resorted.

Our biggest struggle the last time we remodeled a house was the lack of kitchen. We ate out way too much. And this time it's going to be even more convenient to eat out because there are so many restaurants in short walking distance. We need to plan how to eat decently without eating out constantly. I never did lose the weight I gained last time and I can't afford to put more on; I think I see a lot of Lean Cuisine's in my future. =)

I've also been working on lining up the contractors we're hiring directly. I'm hoping to get the asbestos removal hired as soon as possible, and I'd like to get the paint stripping figured out by the end of next week. I still need to call around to a few roofers to get quotes on the roof, but that can wait until after the asbestos is gone. Then I won't feel bad about having them crawl up into the attic to see if the structure is strong enough for a heavier roofing material.

My grades in school this quarter are definitely going to suffer because of all the time I'm not spending on schoolwork and studying; I may just blow my 4.0 paralegal GPA. Oh well. Since I only have two classes left after this quarter, I probably should have taken one less class this time around.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I was surprised to look out the window this morning and see snow! The forecast was for rain this week; I guess they were wrong.I will not be disappointed if it "sticks" because that would mean my class would be cancelled tonight. Since I got a bit burned out last quarter, I have not been doing my best work this quarter. Oh well, there's just 4 weeks left (including finals week); almost there.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


As expected, the remodel quote was very high; nearly double our original la-la land budget. We kept trying to figure out what we could eliminate from the job or postpone easily, but we just weren't coming up with anything. So, in the end, we decided to raise the budget and do as much as we could now, then hopefully we won't have to live through the inconvenience of another major remodel ever!

Although it's definitely going to put a strain on our finances if I don't find a job this year, we took the leap of faith that this will turn out OK and we signed the contract. (Though, I did first very carefully read the contract and actually asked them to make some changes, which they agreed to.)

I feel pretty good about us being able to work with Craftsman Design & Renovation.

It's a pretty big project and should touch most areas of the house. That's going to be pretty unpleasant, because we are currently planning to live here in the house during the work, though I am in the market for a short term rental that isn't too far away.

In general, our project is going to include:
  • Total gut, chimney & wall removal, and install of the kitchen and adjacent ½ bath.
  • Paint stripping of all of the main floor woodwork and staining to match new doug fir kitchen cabinets.
  • Replacing windows on the second story of the house; restoration and new wood storm windows on the main floor.
  • Converting the sleeping porch attached to the master bedroom into a closet.
  • Adding washer & dryer hookups in the second upstairs sleeping porch.
  • Reworking the doors down in the basement (and adding door to backyard), adding an egress window (so we can legally have a bedroom down there), and redoing the basement bathroom.
  • Replacing the furnace with a new super-high efficient furnace and heat pump unit.
  • Replacing all the old electrical and plumbing located in the exterior walls (and as much as we can access when the house is opened up).
  • Insulating the walls and attic.
  • Re-siding the house.
  • Re-roofing the house.
Plus tons of little fixes. The house will be fabulous when the project is done.

In the end, we decided to take out the master bathroom addition and we're instead going to turn that sleeping porch space into a closet. So, once this job is done, we'll probably quickly remodel the bathroom up there. But not now—we need at least one operational bathroom during this project.

We ended up taking the paint stripping out of this contractor's job; we'll go ahead and hire it out directly so we can avoid the markup. We also are going to hire out the roofing directly. But, for the most part, we decided to just let them come in and make it beautiful. We've never been very good at DIY house repair projects unfortunately.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Asbestos Removal Time

Spring is quickly approaching and I guess it's time to start thinking about having the vermiculite/asbestos removed from our attic. I called three different asbestos abatement firms from the DEQ list and lined up quotes during the coming week. It sounds like it's going to be roughly $5,000 to have the asbestos removed from approx. 1000 sq. ft. of attic space.

I hope this will mostly take care of the problem and we won't have to deal with more later. But we really won't know until we open up some of these walls and floors for the remodel.

Tomorrow we have an appt with Craftsman Design & Renovation for our final quote. I'm trying to prepare myself for the presumably massive number they're going to give us. Then we're going to have to figure out what parts of the job to cut out, which is going to be difficult.

Update on Monday morning:
Woo hoo! I'm pretty excited to get a quote from a firm in Tualatin, Asbestos Control Group, that will remove the vermiculite for $1,700! Yeah—we'll have an extra $3,300 for pretty hardware on the main floor.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Craftsman Exterior Research

I have found some awesome resources online for researching the exterior appearance of our home and I thought I should share them. Of course, there is Robert Schweitzer's Bungalow Colors: Exteriors, which is a good place to start, but I always want more! And I found it this week.

The Arts & Crafts Society has an absolutely amazing archive of old home kit catalog images online:
Kit Home Information
I have spent hours meandering through all their links.

There is a second amazing resource at the Antique Homes website:
Vintage House Plans
Though, less focused exclusively on Craftsman homes, it also has an extensive collection of old catalog images. I found my so-far favorite color scheme here. (And Fenner was a local-to-us company!)

Fenner Hickory

Finally, I found the mostly complete collection of Aladdin House Kit catalogs at the Clarke Historical Library.
Aladdin Company Annual Sales Catalogs

Sears' website has a select listing of their homes, but it's not complete. But here is the link:
Images of Sears Homes

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Soapstone's Arrived!

Got an email today—and the soapstone has arrived! I love the green color and the veining. Our new kitchen counters are going to look awesome!

Now we just have to get it from Sacramento to Portland without damage. Hopefully it will all work out.

Generally, this is what we have in mind for the sink area in the kitchen. (I'm not actually sure where I got this picture—I lifted it from somebody's website somewhere. I wasn't always so good at keeping track last year.)
Update a week later:
The soapstone has been ordered and is on it's way to Portland!! And we're getting the soapstone sink made too. Possibly a foolish extravagance, but we're pretty excited.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Craftsman Exterior Decision

I've been thinking about the color scheme for the exterior of our house once we're done with the interior remodel. We'll be needing to do quite a bit of siding repair (as we add/remove windows) and we've been thinking about our options. We've been thinking about whether we should just make the necessary repairs and leave the old siding in place, or whether we just replace all the siding. Normally we would save the old siding and just make repairs, but presumably the siding in place is already almost 100 years old. I don't really have a good idea of the lifespan for old growth cedar shingle siding.

Anyway, thinking we would be repainting the house, I had originally chosen this color scheme.

But if we end up re-siding the house, we have the opportunity to use stained shingles, which will definitely expand our choices. I have been enjoying cruising around the Historic Media Old House Colors website. They show a pallet of stained shingles dating from 1912 (coincidentally, the year our house was built).

I'd like to go with the dark green shingles, but I can't find any good pictures of houses with that color. And I'm not brave enough to just wing it. Though, I found these pictures in burgundy/red that look pretty nice (also lifted from the Old House Colors website).
Update a bit later:
Finally found one! Dug it out of my Bungalow Colors: Exteriors book by Robert Schweitzer (pg 57). We may just have to audition this color scheme for the new exterior of this house!