Starry Wisdom

Entropic Words from Neilathotep

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Kitchen Renovation, And Then…

Well as mentioned, the tile was installed in the past couple of weeks:


And the counter top templates were finished, but due to some FURTHER miscommunication, there was a delay before the fabrication could begin of another week and a half. The good news is that we have an install date for the counter tops now, of 11/10, and after that the backsplash tiling, and appliance hookup can happen. There are still a few other details to be done too, but the counters are really the long pole here.

posted by neil at 5:29 pm
under home ownership,kitchen renovation  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kithen Renovation – One month, and then some.

It’s been a busy time the past couple of weeks. I spent all of the week before last in Portland for work, leaving Mackenzie to manage the project herself. In that week our fridge was finally delivered, and is now parked in the living room, since the dining room was still filled with cabinet boxes when it arrived:

New fridge - in living room...

Anyway, I came home to most of the cabinets installed, but the apron sink not yet set into the counter… there was some miscommunication about what was necessary before counter top templating, and this caused an additional one week delay in that (it was supposed to be done on 10/8 but instead wasn’t finalized until 10/15. There is about a 10 day manufacturing time on the counter tops… but hey at least all the cabinets are in, the hood is installed, and the walls and ceiling are painted:

Trip added to cabinets, tile underlayment, and hood!

Feature wall

Next week the floor tile will go in, as well as some more detail work, and then, well I don’t know. I think there are still a few more weeks left of the project, but hey, there aren’t as many boxes taking up space all over the house, at least…

Note – full album of the project pics available here

posted by neil at 5:00 pm
under home ownership,kitchen renovation  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Kitchen Renovation – Small Progress

At the end of the third week, the progress is:

Rough inspections passed, hose bib attached on the deck (this was an add-on job Mackenzie requested which the contractor kindly provided gratis, and drywall taped and mudded:


I was hoping to have had some cabinet installation done this week, because the cabinets in their boxes are taking up a tremendous amount of space in the house, but alas, that hasn’t started yet. Now there is a race to get that done so this week we can get the counter tops templates, and the new fridge delivered. I am a bit concerned about either/both of those items happening on schedule, especially since I am going to be out of town all week long for work. Oh well, Mackenzie runs projects bigger than this for a living, I’m sure she can manage to hold down the fort.

posted by neil at 10:27 am
under home ownership,kitchen renovation  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Kitchen Renovation – 2 weeks in

Well, after two weeks and 1 day of work (a team came in yesterday, Saturday 9/27/2014 to put in drywall), we have drywall up, and most of the plumbing and electrical done. Most, because the inspectors found some minor issues and need to come back, and also some of our minor added work needs to be done. This means at least some of the drywall will have to come down (as you can see it’s not mudded and taped yet) for access and to show the inspectors.

Southeast corner, drywall in - Day '11'

It’s a good thing it’s not done yet too, because there are still rolls of R-30 fiberglass insulation sitting in the attic:

Hey look, rolled up batting I'm the attic

Getting up there is sort of a pain, but as part of a “clean up the pantry of expired canned goods” task it made sense to take a peak up there and get that photo!

Anyway, I’m really note sure what the schedule is right now, but I believe that cabinets can start going in at some point this week – so they might all be up by the end of the week, or it might be early next week. Once this happens, we can get the counter top people in to template, and that ten day or so period begins, while tiling and other detail work can begin. In other words there are at least three weeks left of this project. I’ll be happy when the cabinets start going up, because the whole house is filled them them i their shipping boxes. It’s getting a bit claustrophobic in here!

posted by neil at 12:39 pm
under home ownership,kitchen renovation  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Kitchen Renovation, Part 2

As always, you can see the full set of pictures here:

Day 2 - It looks like a barn

First of all, we went to the “kitchen warming” party of Mackenzie’s college friend today – they had their kitchen done over the summer and it looks great, so I am looking forward and hopeful for our final results!
However, not too much has happened since the last post, although there has been some plumbing work done. We’re moving the dishwashing sink from the south wall to the west wall – which means a new waste water stack:

New waste stack

As well as some rerouting of the supply lines, which are now going through the attic:

External supply lines - up and over the old, boarded in window on the East wall

Supply lines through the attic

We found out that there is going to be at least a half week delay in getting inspections for the rough plumbing and electrical, which are not going to happen until Friday 9/26. Assuming that all goes well, drywalling will start Saturday 9/27 – so hopefully the cabinets will be hung by the end of that week, and then counters can be templates and the rest of the finishing work begun.

posted by neil at 9:43 pm
under home ownership,kitchen renovation  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Kitchen Renovation

Hey do I have any readers left? I wouldn’t be surprised if I lost my 2-3 fans after my 9 month hiatus. Well, serves me right.

Since I moved in to this flat in 2010 I’ve wanted to renovate the kitchen, which was about the only room in this now 105 year old apartment that had not been renovated recently. After much planning, mostly on the part of Mackenzie, we finally came up with a basic design that we liked, which required the fridge to be in the corner, on an angle. This is somewhat unorthodox, but we’ve lived like this since some time in 2011, so clearly we approve.

Well, we started shopping for cabinets in probably March, and it took us until the end of June to really confirm what we want and order cabinets. Based on a delivery late this week – 9/18, we hired the contractor to start demolition on 9/15. Well, the delivery date of the cabinets got moved up a day to 9/17 – but more on that later. Here is a shot of the kitchen from before the work started, after clearing all our stuff out:


Dig that sweet 1980 styling!

After the first day was over the cabinets and walls were down, but the ceiling was still up and the lovely vinyl flooring was still there. It was pretty cool to see the bones of the house, however:

By the end of day 2 the vinyl flooring was up (although there were a couple of layers under it, above the plank subfloor that weren’t ripped up!) and the ceiling had come down. This is a good shot of the ceiling, showing the attic and the roof boards. It sort of looks like a barn:

Day 2 - It looks like a barn

Day three (today, 9/17) was sort of a bit underwhelming – they started the rough electrical and installed the recessed lighting which was a late edition to the project after we realized that since we ripped out the ceiling, we would be foolish to not include them.

Day 3 - Recessed Lighting

There is also some 3/8 inch plywood over the plank flooring.

Day 3 - thin plywood subfloor over the planks

There is some more lumber outside to help reframe some “issues” from previous work. The most egregious of which is this knocking out of the base of one of the studs:

Day 3 - look at that notching

Well, the house has been up a long time with that, so I’m not too worried :).

Anyway, so that’s the current status and I will post more, but there are some adjacent stories worth telling, about delivery of some important parts of the new kitchen.

1) We bought a new fridge, which Mackenzie fell in love with, and met my ideals of french door top, freezer below. We ordered it the friday before labor day and it was supposed to be delivered on 9/11 – but after the delivery truck came about 50 minutes late, we could not accept delivery because the power cord to the brand new fridge was cut almost all the way through. We have delivery rescheduled to next thursday, 9/26. Hopefully that will do down without a hitch… we’ll se.

2) So the cabinets were supposed to be scheduled today, 9/17. This was going to make our lives tricky since the house isn’t all that big and we would have had to store all the boxes until they were ready to be installed. Clearly the room isn’t ready for them, there is plenty of work to do before the sheetrock can go up – its going to be at least Monday before cabinet installation can begin. And we would have to spend the rest of this week and the weekend squeezed out of our house. Well, luck shown on us with this delivery snafu – for some reason they decided to use a full semi truck to bring them to our house, on a small side street in the middle of the City. The driver decided it was not worth risking pulling the trick down the street, due to overhead power lines, after arriving half an hour after the delivery window (terrible traffic today). They’re going to come back Monday morning, in a smaller truck, That should be much better.

posted by neil at 8:35 pm
under home ownership  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Condo Conversion: It’s a Wrap

I’m a bit slacky in my once a week posting, I swear I’ll try to get better, but stuff has been busy lately. One of the things which has been keeping me busy the past month (or really since the end of August) was the condo conversion refinance, which would complete the process of turning from TIC to Condo – something I’ve posted about before, and I swear I will make a definitive post on in 2013 (please, my meagre readership, hold me to this!).

Anyway, I posted back in September that my condo conversion was done with the city, but that there was still the refinance bit to go. Well it took until the week before last for that to finally finish. We closed the refi on 1/15/2013, and that puts an end to the TIC and brings into full on Condominium territory. Hurray!

posted by neil at 9:39 pm
under home ownership  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

More on Condo Conversion

Months ago I posted some about my condo conversions, and the inspections. Well, suffice it to say that after that last post the final but of the inspections went through without a hitch. After that we had to wait for the city to approve our application, which went fairly smoothly (there was some confusion over the title report, but that got cleared up pretty quickly.

At this point there are only a few tasks left to do:

  1. Pay all of this year’s property taxes – there can’t be any liens on the property when the seperation into two seperate deeds take place. Since the tax lien is from January 1, even though we don’t get bills until September, we need to pay this before we can proceed. I recently contacted the tax assessor and got our estimated property taxes for this year – up somewhat more than I expected from last year, but still not too bad. We plan to pay this off in the next couple of weeks.
  2. Record the condo map – this is actually expensive, but already paid for when we sent in our application. The surveyor will send in a mylar copy of our condo map to the city, and when it is recorded we are officially two separate properties, at least as far as the city is concerned.
  3. And then, the final step to true separation is to refinance into two seperate loans and record the CC&Rs. Hopefully this won’t be too bad to do – property values look like they are still pretty good around here, so I doubt the house has devalued, which would be the biggest snag to a refi. But we’ll have to see – at least we have pretty much forever to do this step (although rates are sure good now).

In other news, we bought a grill for our shared back area, so BBQ season can commence!

posted by neil at 10:32 am
under home ownership  

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I should post a real post about this sometime, with some specific information, since there isn’t a lot of information about this stuff around, but I’m currently in the midst of converting my place to condominium. I purchased the top floor of an Edwardian two-story in 2010, along with another person. We are currently co-owners (Tenants in Common – TIC) of the house with “exclusive” use of various parts of the property. San Francisco has some peculiar laws around converting this shared-deed property to a multiple-deed condominium – basically there is a lottery in which TICs of up to 6 units can enter when they meet certain owner-occupancy thresholds, and a small number of units win every year. There are two other ways to convert to condo. The first is so big companies can do it whenever they want, which is 50% or more improvement (which includes, of course, new construction). The second is a, lucky for me, exception for two unit TICs with a clean (eviction-free) rental history. After one year of both units being owner occupied, the TIC is eligible to begin the condo-conversion process.

Anyway, that’s the background, and like I said, sometime in the next couple of months I will write more about this and my particular experience, but one of the big steps towards conversion is to get a ‘code and safety’ inspection by the City. This inspection costs something like $2500 for a two unit building (it scales up, but the biggest per-owner burden is at two units). Building, electrical and plumbing inspectors come out and point out all the violations which then must be corrected within the next six months, whether or not the condo-conversion goes forward. A signed job-card verifying the completion of this work is needed to continue on with the process. We had our inspection November, and we got our report back at the end of 2011, and it really didn’t seem too bad. Only one ‘building’ issue was called out, a fairly minor issue with one of the back patio stairs, and there were a few small electrical issues, and a few more plumbing and mechanical issues. I don’t have the final bill for the contractor work on this, but it’s going to be around $5000 of work, shared between the two of us. Actually when I went in to the Department of Building Inspection to get the permit for the work, the inspector who looked over my report and my permit application said “wow, this really is not very much work, usually it’s a lot more”. Well, thats a lucky break for us – it’s probably a good thing that the former owners of this place replaced most of the electrical and redid the bathrooms and the downstairs kitchen, ALL WITH PERMIT in the past five years.

Ok, now to get to the point of this. We aren’t done with inspections yet, the building inspector has to come out Friday and look at the stairs and close the job cards, but the electrical and plumbing inspectors came out yesterday and both passed us. So hopefully when the building inspector comes out Tuesday he’ll just sign off on the small back staircase, and we will be free to proceed to the next steps.

posted by neil at 9:57 am
under home ownership  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cold Shower

I thought I was going to have to take a cold shower today, because the water was ice cold even after running for a minute or two. Contractors were over yesterday to do the minor code work that needs to be done for the condo conversion – more about this in a later post, I think – and one of the things they did is replace the first bit of pipe coming off my gas meter, before it splits out to upstairs and the basement (water heater and furnace). Well, I was worried they busted something for a moment, then I decided to see if they had just turned the water heater off. And they had. Thankfully it’s a tankless heater, so a very short time later I was able to take a shower.

posted by neil at 9:21 am
under daily tribulations,home ownership  
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