Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Schedule (Revision 2)

As of August 24, the schedule is as follows:

August 8-11: Demolition, drywall work - completed on the 12th
August 14-18: Flooring installation - completed on the 23rd
August 19: Move furniture back in - REVISED to the 26th (with special thanks to Dan and Rico)
August 20-25: Receive appliances, kitchen cabinets - appliances are still on schedule... the cabinets on the other hand - REVISED to September 26th!! (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!)
August 28-September 1: Install barn door, paint accent walls (I am still skeptical about this timeframe...)
September 26-27: Install kitchen cabinets

Current Status: 26 days behind schedule (and counting)!

Got word from Julia last night--the kitchen cabinets were ordered during the first week of July and were supposed to be delivered within 6 weeks (mid-August), but the delivery is pushed back until the end of September... Julia said that it's because the cabinets are being shipped overseas from China, so the cabinet manufacturer had to delay the shipment until they could fill a whole shipping container. Sheesh.

Oh well. I never have groceries or anything anyway, so as long as I can plug in my toaster and use the refrigerator to house my diet Pepsi, I'll be OK.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Schedule (Revision 1)

As of August 21, the schedule is as follows:

August 8-11: Demolition, drywall work - completed on the 12th
August 14-18: Flooring installation - REVISED to the 23rd
August 19: Move furniture back in - REVISED to the 26th (with special thanks to Dan and Rico)
August 20-25: Receive appliances, kitchen cabinets - ON SCHEDULE... but my refrigerator seems to be missing in transit!! Sigh.....
August 28-September 1: Install kitchen cabinets, barn door, paint accent walls
(I am somewhat skeptical about this timeframe...)

Current Status: On Schedule (yeah, right!)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Floor

I've always wanted stained concrete floors. I probably have a dozen books about lofts and loft design and my favorite lofts are always the ones with concrete floors. So I'm SUPER excited about my new flooring. Almost everyone else HATES the idea... with a few exceptions among my STYLISH gay friends. Whenever I tell people that this is what I'm doing, they look at me like I'm an idiot. (In particular, there's one woman at work who goes around telling people, "She's tearing out her hardwood parquet and putting in concrete," while raising her eyebrows to show her disapproval. Of course, this is a woman who buys fake "Burberrys" and "Arnnani" baseball caps.) But I don't care. I love the way they look. In addition, concrete floors are really practical since they won't soak up Sidney's accidents (like carpet) and when he runs around I don't have to worry about scratches (like hardwoods). Plus they'll be easy to maintain (water + mop = clean). But mainly I like the way they look.

The whole process for getting the concrete floors approved by the HOA was a pain too. Everyone on the board was cool with it, but one person who sent the following email a few months back.

I am less concerned about noise transmission (as long as permission to install a hard floor has been granted by the owner of the unit below) than I am about potential structural impact of such flooring - i.e. does the concrete overlay weigh enough to make differential settling of the building a concern, seeing as at least some of the building's structural columns rest on pilasters atop incompetent fill. I have no idea how much a concrete overlay weighs compared to, e.g., a hardwood floor.If the concrete overlay weighs much (say 25%) more than a 1/r2" thick solid wood (say oak) floor with 3/8" underlayment, I'd like the contractors to either attest to the safety of installing such a floor in this unit or to provide all relevant specifications to a structural engineer who can do so. I can't vote to approve this renovation without assurance that it won't cost the building additional monies in structural remediation down the road.

Seriously, I would like to know how he arrived at his 25% threshold. Anyways, after this whole ordeal of me trying to find out the weight differential between wood and concrete polymer, The condo building manager sent a smackdown email in reply saying that her father is a structural engineer and he verified that the concrete weighs very little because they only apply like 1/8 of an inch. (Most of the other board members approved the project even before hearing this. The anal board member never approved the project.)

So here are pictures from the floor installation.

Kenji used three coats applied in varying strengths throughout to give a burnished/distressed look. This shows the first two coats of color...

This is with the third coat...

And this is the final product! This was the only shot that didn't turn out all blurry--I can't walk on it yet, so I had to take the picture standing on my left leg while simultaneously holding the door open with my right leg. Anyway, it's a little hard to see, but it looks like a dark brown leather.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Destruction

So I've fallen behind on my posting... Here are some photos from the demolition process.

The kitchen... Even in this state, it's an improvement over what was there since the appliances were barely even functional.

And here's where they've taken out a piece of drywall to "open" up the space. Unfortunately, we also hit our first cost overrun: we didn't know about those two conduits (I guess that's what those wire things are called anyway), so now I need to call an electrician. OOPS!

So here is a picture of the demolition of the parquet flooring... It turned out to be a bitch and a half to tear out because of whatever crap material they put under the parquet. It took 2 days longer to remove than the contractors planned. Plus they had to rent a special machine to get it all out.

"It's a simple project, so there shouldn't be any surprises..." No surprises, MY ASS!

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Neighbors

So my condo building's property manager sent the following email today...

I received the note below and am concerned about the extent of the damage. Wendy are you still on site to keep track of this stuff? I am just back from vacation so have not had a chance to investigate. this sounds pretty serious.

I am not sure what the protocol is for remodeling, but I feel that a unit is not being very considerate. I am not sure what the unit # is, it is directly off of the elevator on the 3rd floor, it has a door mat in front of the door. The reason I am emailing is that all week there has been a considerable mess from Post Alley, in the elevators, to the unit. Who ever is doing the remodel has left debris, quite a large amount, all the way up. They have broke a light bulb in the elevator, they are not using the pads, so they have damaged the elevators, especially #1, pretty extensively. One of the panels is coming off of the wall as well as a huge chunk of the finish is torn off, they have scratched the ceiling, walls, etc.. . I normally would not complain but this is pretty extreme. The cleaning company was here the one day, they had just completed cleaning the elevators, vacuuming, and within 30 minutes the place was filthy again. I as a home owner do not want to pay for the damage they are doing and I feel they could at least vacuum and clean up after themselves in the public areas.

I don't know what it is with my neighbors. If someone is remodeling, there will be some dust and debris tracked into the hallway. Last week I went over one evening and saw that there was a few scraps of debris and I picked them up and threw them away. When I went back over the weekend, the hallway was pretty clean. I went into the garage and elevators and things looked OK to me as of this morning, so I was floored to get this email.

Well, when I went to the building and things looked mostly OK to me. I agree that there is some damage to one of the panels in the elevator, and I'm following up on the issue with my contractor. But for the love of GOD (!!) there's no other apparent damage. Oh, except that I forgot: one light bulb is burned out of the elevator... Um, hello!! The friggin' lightbulbs are burning out all the time even when there isn't any work being done in the building!! So I seriously doubt that my contractors caused that. And many of the scratches were already there (as documented in an email I sent to Kathleen last week) before the crew started work. I called the property manager and she had me talk to her husband Thor, who had already been over to check things out. Thor said that all he observed were some scratches in the elevator that looked like they could be buffed out... his overall impression was that there wasn't anything to be too concerned about.


I appreciate being concerned about the condition of the building, but they have to be reasonable. Anyways, after talking with the condo manager over the phone, I sent the following to Kathleen and the board to document everything...

Hello Kathleen, et. al.:

FYI, I have called my contractors to inquire about the damage to Elevator #1. I did see the loosened panel when I went to the building this afternoon and will check with the contractor to see if he can/will confirm that his crew caused the damage. I will reiterate the need to keep things clean, but as I confirmed with Thor over the phone this evening, there did not appear to be any damage other than to the elevator.

I also located the elevator pads, but I left them in the janitorial closet since my understanding is that someone is moving in tomorrow and will need to use them. I will also call the contractors and make sure they know where the pads are in case the pads aren't up and they need to move anything in or out of the unit using the elevators.

Please also feel free to call me if there is a noticeable amount of debris/dust in the hallways or other concerns. I am not on site, so I don't know how things are on a daily basis, but I am of course willing to come down a few times a week to vacuum the hallway in the evenings.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Tyrant

Hotel Dan & Rico is about to get scary! LOL. This is the email my "landlord" Rico sent me after I sent an earlier email saying that we might have to wait until next week to go to trivia might...

From: Federico M****** <********>
To: Wendy Soo Hoo <***********>
Date: Aug 9, 2006 3:04 PM
Subject: Re: so whats the plan for tonight?

heart = broken
eyes = tearful

Boooohooo! , boooohooo, and more boooohoooo!

J/k next week is fine. And Wendy, you need to be better about updating your friends with this kind of important information. You need to really evaluate what you did missy, tonight you will be sleeping with the cats in the garage; around 8 I'll throw in there some stale bread and water, so stay awake!, you don't want the cats to eat it.

Love, Rico

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Schedule

As of August 7, the schedule is as follows:

August 8-11: Demolition, drywall work
August 14-18: Flooring installation
August 19: Move furniture back in
August 20-25: Receive appliances, kitchen cabinets
August 28-September 1: Install kitchen cabinets, barn door, paint

Current Status: On Schedule

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Hotel

My friends Dan and Rico are putting me up for two weeks while my condo is being worked on... Here are pictures of my "suite" at the Hotel of Dan and Rico. Actually, it's so nice I might never leave...

The Move

It's been kind of a hellish week.

First, I got back from Prague last Saturday night... Then after recovering for one day, I spent the week easing back into work, grading exams, and thinking about packing my place up in preparation for the remodel. I'd gotten a good start on packing before I left for Prague, but there was still a lot to be done upon my return... And with some relatives in from out of town, I wasn't real motivated to get much packing done during the week.

So today was my big packing and moving day. I was up at 5 a.m., anxious to get my move on. So I worked for about 3 hours straight and got a lot of crap packed into my bathroom--the only part of my condo that won't be touched by the remodeling process.

Here is a picture from the packing process (six miniature bottles of Becharovka, the Czech national liquor, and a bottle of Romanian wine on the desk in the foreground--souvenirs for my friends that I had to smuggle into the country)...

Here's my bathroom (which I hope to remodel in about 5 years) about a quarter of the way packed. My camera keeps crapping out on me, so none of the fully packed bathroom pictures came out... But imagine the boxes on the counter going all the way to the ceiling and more boxes from the floor to the ceiling on the right side of the toilet... The construction guys will have a path to the toilet and that's about it. If I'd crammed any more into the bathroom, they would have to pee on my boxes and I wouldn't have appreciated it.

After moving all this crap into my bathroom, I moved a bunch of my furniture down into the basement so the moving process would be as efficient as possible when my friends arrived...

So around 10 I caught a bus to Tia, Jerrod, and Aaron's and we went to pick up the truck. They gave us this behemoth truck for some reason that I made Aaron drive. We scared a few pedestrians, but no major incidents... The actual move went smoothly -- we got back to the condo around noon (Rico met us there) and were finished moving everything into Dan and Rico's garage by around one. Afterwards, we went to Red Mill for burgers. :-) Everyone was in good spirits and agreed that of all of our recent moves, my move was the easiest one so far. Unfortunately, I have to move twice, so I don't know how people will be feeling after we move everything back into my place...

The "Before"

Here are some "before" pictures... Let me say first that I love the building I live in. The Colonial Grand Pacific has an interesting history. It is actually comprised of two separate buildings that were originally constructed in 1899 and 1901. The two buildings were renovated and conjoined in the 1980s. (This was after a period of disrepute--from about the 1920s until the 1980s, the two buildings were vacant... except for the transients, crackheads, and hookers.) And the building is really cool because each of the units has been completely remodeled and renovated since then and they all have their own distinct character. Some owners really embraced the period detailing and kept to a Victorian style, while other owners have turned their units into more classic-contemporary condos. A couple of people have gone really eclectic.

When I bought my unit, it was described to me as a "blank slate." And it's true--pretty much nothing has been done to it since the last renovation in the 1980s. It is kind of sad that I have the only crappy unit in the building, but it was kind of cool to buy something knowing that I was going to take it apart and build it back up again the way that I want it...

First, my favorite feature... The restored arched window is really the focal point of the living room. I don't have much of a view, so at least the window itself is nice to look at.

The current kitchen... Ugly white laminate cabinets. WHO ever thought these looked good?!! CLEARLY, someone the style gods didn't smile upon!!

The entry way--I HATE this closet door. So hideous!

And in this picture you get a closet up of two features I despise. The carpet (carpet = gross!), wood trim (with Sidney's special treatment).

Unfortunately, my pictures of the crappy ass parquet flooring didn't come out. I think they literally broke my camera... (You can kinda see the parquet in the first picture of the kitchen. But I wouldn't strain myself trying to get a look-see. Trust me when I say it's hideous.)

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Concept

My dream ever since I was a kid was to own a cool loft in a cool city. Any city, really. I mainly wanted the loft.

So now I have a condo in the Colonial Grand Pacific, which is right in the heart of downtown Seattle; it's about 8 blocks from work, 4 blocks from my gym, 3 blocks from the Pike Place Market, 1 block from the Art Museum and the waterfront, and right above some of the coolest boutiques in town (Ped, Riveted, Maison Luxe). It's only about a quarter of the size of my ultimate dream loft, but I can deal: my dog and I don't require a whole lot of space.

The only major downside to my condo is that it is totally out of date. It's a 1980s disaster with cheap materials: oak parquet flooring in the living room, carpet in the hallway and bedroom, wood trim along the walls, and white laminate kitchen and bathroom cabinets. All I can say is 1980s home design was whack, yo!!!

So that is why I am embarking on a major renovation.

The concept for the renovation is to turn it into the hip, urban loft of my dreams (well, 1/4 of the loft of my dreams). I selected Musa Design to come up with the plan. I've walked by their studio and admired its funky and industrial feel. When I visited their website, I knew they were the designers I wanted! I'm sure I'm not the easiest client to work with. I'm sure in some ways I'm a good client (I have a good sense of what I want and can articulate it or show them pictures to illustrate), but in other ways I'm sure I'm a disaster. Everything they suggest, my first question is: "How much will it cost?"

(The second question is: "Can it be any cheaper?")

Anyways, I think Julia and Polina mostly work with people with far grander budgets than mine, but they are super patient and very understanding. They didn't seem at all put off by my initial phone call, which went something like this:

"Hi, I'm calling because I'm interested in remodeling my condo and wanted to inquire about your design services....... Well, I'm interested in changing the flooring to maybe bamboo or hardwood, changing the kitchen cabinets and somehow increasing the storage capacity, opening up my entryway, and increasing my bedroom closet space........................ My budget? Well, it's maybe around $25,000. Does that seem reasonable?................... Huh... I see..................... By 'creative,' do you mean 'cheap'? Because if you do, then I'm open to being really creative."

Anyways, they did agree to work with me. I like to think they enjoy the challenge that my budget restrictions pose. They've done a brilliant job at designing to meet my aesthetic and to meet my budget. Even though we'll have to do the work in two phases, they've been great at identifying where I can save and where I should spend.

Here are the conceptual designs they put together...
The kitchen/living room...

And the bedroom...

Given my relatively meager budget, in the initial phase I'll just be installing the new flooring (a concrete overlay!) and kitchen cabinets/appliances, as well as a sliding barn door that will act as a partition for the bedroom area (currently open). For a second phase: clothing storage units (bedroom); side cabinets and rolling table (kitchen/living area).

It's been a long process (wish I'd started blogging earlier) to nail down what will be in the first phase scope and what will have to be done in a second phase.

Next up: Demolition starts on Tuesday!!