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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Things we have learned

Here is a list of thing we would have done differently, had we known better. This list could also be titled, "I have never done this before. What do you expect?" 
  1. Don't buy the cheapest tools or materials. There is a reason that foam paintbrush is 99 cents. It's because you will have to throw it away after you use it. If you are doing it yourself, you're hiring VERY unskilled labor. So do yourself a favor and spend an extra $4 on the caulk gun.
  2. For God's sake, put down a drop cloth. Cleaning up a project is worse than doing a project. It takes 5 minutes and saves you hours of scrubbing or scrapping. See also- taping the edges.
  3. The guys at the hardware store have a lot of opinions and know quite a bit. In that order. Take their suggestions with a grain of salt. Then blame them when the project goes awry. Which it will.
  4.  Keep your receipts. You will return a good 20% of what you buy, which adds up. Your husband will not believe this. But it's true. Or at least a comforting idea.
  5. If you have a non-traditional idea and three contractors laugh at you or look at you like you're high, find a fourth contractor. Your idea is worth it.
  6. The scrap yard and recycling center are the greatest places on Earth. But what you save in materials you will almost certainly spend trying to make the cool thing that you bought actually fit where you want it to in your building. That's OK. Just know that from the beginning.
  7.  Listening to the entire Tribe Called Quest discography, from "Bonita Applebaum" to "The Love Movement," is the only way to survive a day of tiling.
  8. The most important decision you will make throughout this entire project is selecting your DIY partner. Pick someone who works differently than you, has different ideas, and different talents. Pick someone who, despite these differences, respects your perspective and sometimes lets you have your way. If possible, marry this person. The rest will figure itself out.

Before and After: front and back

Our building used to be ugly and sad. Our goal was to create "curb appeal." Our building is now happy.

The sign is a recreation of the original building sign, when the storefront was used as a men's tailor. The beams are reclaimed cedar, the door handle is scrap redwood, and the flower pot is an old wine barrel. We repaired and stained the concrete and built a wood panel with new street numbers. The photos are of NCAC clients.

We reinforced the back porch, welded salvaged steel gates, removed some ugly plumbing, and installed a new door and energy star windowsred. The windows are now framed in redwood. We painted the whole building and trim, and cleaned out and mulched the "yard." We continue to beat back the ivy, which seems to multiply like Tribbles.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Finishing Phase I

So, we finished Phase I of our project! Amy and I got married, went on an amazing honeymoon, then we spent two weeks working on the property almost every night and two full weekends.  We are tired and so stoked!  Here we go...

Mulch, $12 for a truck full, nice!  This is for the side of our property next to all the electrical meters.

Our loft apartment is laid-out and ready for our renters

Our bathroom was about 8-10 days of soothing, then detailed-oriented, then angry work.  At the end the scope of work is extremely satisfying.  Note the Kohler heads, exposed copper piping, copper curtain rod to match piping, subway-like tile, dark grout, plexiglass on the ceiling to expose the studs, and an industrial drop cloth as a shower curtain. 

Hanging towel and a local potted grass

White seems the theme

We added Redwood baseboards and stylized hooks

We are really happy with how the bathroom came out 

The aluminum siding, the tub, and bamboo really go well together 

 Our entranceway, laundry room, kitchen, and storage

And the Stairs

 Look forward to our updated business plan and completed Phase II plan soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tiling Sucks

So I think we've clearly establishing our blogging roles+responsibilities at this point; Jon takes and uploads the photos. I talk about my feelings. With that in mind, here's the deal:

Tiling is the worst thing ever. It takes forever, it's hard, and even if you work for a solid week on it, it still doesn't come out that great. Tiling makes me cry. Those pictures you seem below of me smiling and looking cute are really just me putting on a brave face for the paparazzi, like Jennifer Aniston.

I thought I would wait to write this blog post until the tiling project was over, when I would have a sense of completion and satisfaction and perspective. However, it is now clear to me that the tiling will NEVER END.

The project began about 4 months ago, when we gutted the gross bathroom- pulling out a busted metal shower stall and concrete shower pan, ripping out drywall and linoleum.

Three months ago we refinished the floor and repaired the plumbing so the shower would actually work.

Two months ago we installed a shower pan and I bought some cool white tiles in the bargain basement of the carpet shop down the street and we thought we'd make quick work of tiling the shower. Then we got married and had a honeymoon.

That part was awesome.

When returned home last week, we buckled down and started prepping the bathroom for the tile work. We covered the walls in plastic sheathing and Durarock and mortar. We then laid and cut tiles for 10 years. Or whatever.

On the bright side, I learned to use a new tool- the tile saw. Tile saws are the greatest. They make a cool noise and clean cuts and re immensely satisfying to use. The problem with the tile saw is that to use it correctly, you have to measure tiles and the spaces in which the tiles need to fit. And ya'll know how I feel about the measuring.

So suffice to say I miscut a lot of tiles. Not by a lot, but by the tiniest fraction of a cut, which it turns out matters just as much.

Last night we spread the mortar, and tonight we will clean and patch up the mortar and hopefully seal it in the next day or two. And then, maybe this project will end. But don't count on it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ok, we've been busy - here we go:

We got married

Went on a Honeymoon in Maui

Got back and started landscaping

The rooftop deck has more green now

Amy and the tile cutter

2 full days and 3 nights of bathroom tileing

 I think there are tools for this but hands work well too

We are working our butts off because we booked our first AirBnB client for a week