Monday, June 02, 2008

The Home-Improvement Chronicles: Construction Rewind

as you might have guessed, i’ve spent the past few weeks slaving away at home, lately in more temperate weather, with the house starting to look somewhat presentable. i’ve actually had some folks over to see it, including my perpetually critical parents, who kindly pointed out everything that still needed to be done while also throwing in some compliments. they also brought me about a year’s supply of toilet paper, paper towels and aluminum foil, with my ma saying that i could use a microderm.

it’s very close to being complete, getting closer by the day, and once i buy closet doors for the bedroom and hallway, install window treatments and the ceiling fan in the bedroom, hang the big mirror as well as the art and dry-erase board, finish the cabinetry in the kitchen and redo the house’s exterior plus the deck, i’ll be ready for the big housewarming party. at this rate i’m only three years away.

in the meantime, i thought i’d post additional photos, some of which were taken by my contractor during construction, sent to me only a week ago.

kitchen rewind: behind that maroon wall is the house’s kitchen. correction: was the house’s kitchen. Mo spent a good chunk of time there, notebook and tape measure in hand, sketching the new and improved kitchen.

more ugly: besides the obvious ugly of the cabinetry, in typical Chuy fashion, the kitchen’s layout made no sense. the countertops consisted of granite scraps glued together haphazardly with no backsplash. also note how the kitchen’s only window is obscured by an overhead cabinet.

sink wall: perhaps the sink should have been facing the window instead, because in its old location it was impossible to wash dishes without hitting your forehead on the wine cabinet above. but maybe the former owners were all circus midgets who didn’t have that problem.

square one: nothing was worth salvaging from the kitchen, so we tore everything out to start from scratch. we also demolished about half of the maroon wall to open up the space and join the kitchen area with the living room. also note the multitude of electrical outlets in the kitchen, positioned in the most random places. my theory is that Chuy wanted to hone his outlet-wiring skills so he practiced in the kitchen by wiring eight different outlets on two separate walls. i can’t say he was very good at it, considering the fact that the fridge blew an outlet one week after it was plugged in, spoiling the groceries i had filled it with a day earlier.

indisposed: ok, so one thing from the kitchen was saved — the garbage disposal. sink was scrapped.

back to the floors: this shows the condition of the wood that “supported” the subflooring in the living room. these are the boards my contractor was able to rip apart with his bare hands, the boards that prompted me to call Terminix to schedule the termite holocaust.

82 years? the theory is that these were the original floors from when the house was built in 1926, but something tells me they can’t possibly be THAT old, can they?

floored again: the day the contractors tore out the old subflooring, i arrived to the house after work to see the yellow CAUTION tape cops put around crime scenes taped to my front door. the crew told me not to enter, but i couldn’t resist so i opened the front door only to peek in and saw that there really weren’t any floors in the living room, just openings that provided a view into the crawlspace underneath the house. this reminded me of the one time i dissected a frog in biology class and saw its exposed organs.

plywood to the rescue: i went home that day and told Mo the architect about the floorless house and he assured me that the house was heavily anesthetized and not feeling any pain. he also assured me that the frog i dissected in high school was dead long before i tore it open with my knife.

to the next 82: i hope my mythical grandchildren don’t have as hard a time with these floors as i did. i also hope those ungrateful little shits appreciate the new door added to the kitchen and the new window for the sink that will allow them to gaze lovingly into the valley below while they’re washing my dentures.

more floors: the bamboo needed to sit in the house for a couple days before installation so it could acclimate to the house’s natural humidity. a small plank also lived in my purse for a few weeks, visiting stores with me to make sure that any product i bought for the house matched the floors.

click and groove: i went with espresso-colored bamboo by Teragren. great company, LEED-certified, harvests only mature bamboo to produce super-hard floors that can take a beating.

i need to throw my contractor, Platon, a plug here, with my most aggressive suggestion that anyone undergoing a home-improvement project call him. he was beyond fantastic to work with, so fantastic that he’ll be the first and only person i’ll call when more improvements need to be made to my house. he was always responsive, totally genuine, faultlessly polite, and his quote — like the work itself — was unparalleled. great in every way. i couldn’t be more satisfied.

he gave me permission to post his number here, so here it is: 818.279.3118. his full name is Platon Markarian, company is Da Vinci Group. call him immediately.

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