Green house

The fascia is painted. The shutters are hung
The fascia is painted. The shutters are hung
Ellen feeds Spencer before leaving for Arizona
Ellen feeds Spencer before leaving for Arizona
Dave and Spencer reading a book
Dave and Spencer reading a book
No, not the kind you grow vegetables in. Not, not a super-duper LEED certified, energy efficient house (though we have made our house much more energy efficient). I am talking about a house which is the color green. More specifically, the trim is now consistently dark green (reaction is the name of the paint color). This has been a long process, and is actually still not totally complete. We started putting in new windows last spring, and put green trim around them. We knew that we wanted to get new gutters and fascia this summer, since the previous tenants had let the gutters get so clogged that the fascia was rotting. We got a couple quotes on gutters, and decided on Gutter Topper, which had a booth at the Arvada Gold Rush festival in June. They actually specialize in this gutter topper thing, which prevents leaves from getting in your gutters to begin with. It is actually more expensive than the gutters themselves though, so we did not get that. I’m young and have plenty of energy to clean the gutters a couple times per year.

We signed a contract with Graham Lutz (the salesman) of Gutter Topper in early July, and they said it would be 3-5 weeks, since they were pretty backed up. They didn’t end up starting for nearly 7 weeks, and then it took them over 2 weeks to complete the job. There were all sorts of excuses like dental emergencies, and hornet stings, as well as simple unpreparedness, and short working days. The first day that Greg (the installer) showed up, I actually got a call from Matt Roberts (the installation manager), saying that Greg wasn’t able to get the outside power outlet on our house to work. I was quite surprised, since I was at home with Spencer that day. It turns out he was at my next door neighbor’s house. Had their outdoor power outlet worked, he probably would have started ripping off their gutters. I am not sure what would have happened in that case. At any rate, I went out and talked to Greg, and we went over the project. He had all the new fascia board (I requested cedar instead of pine) with him, and asked me if I wanted the rough side or the smooth side facing out. I said the smooth side, since it would be easier to paint. He said: “Oh, I was wondering if you were going to paint it. Why don’t I let you paint it before I put it up?” This was a good idea, since it is a lot easier to paint the boards on solid ground, as opposed to on a ladder. However, he could have this great idea a month earlier. It actually stated in the contract that the owner would paint the fascia. So suddenly I had a new project to do. Fortunately I had some paint left over from the window trim, so I was able to start painting that day. It took me several days to paint all of the boards though, since I didn’t have enough room on my saw horses to paint all of them at once. This didn’t turn out to be much of a problem, since Greg worked so slowly and little.

The next hurdle was the soffit. We had already discussed the fact that some of the soffit needed to be replaced, and it was in the contract, but Greg did not have any material to replace it with him. So that delayed things even more, and ended up in more painting for me unexpectedly. In addition, some of the fascia boards had some fairly obvious imperfections. One of them had several gouges near one edge of the board. It turned out that Greg put this board right in the front of the house. Had he flipped the board upside down, the imperfections would have been covered. Or if he had put this piece somewhere where gutter would cover it, it would have been covered. Or he could have put it in the back of the house or on the side, and I probably would not have cared, but I thought it looked bad, so I had him replace it, which meant he put up a new board which I did not have time to paint first.

To top things off, on one Friday Matt Roberts (the installer manager) called me to ask if I could give them partial payment, so that Greg could have some money for the weekend. I said no, since the contract said 30% up front, and the remainder when the job was done. By this point I was not very confident that he would come back to finish if I only owed them a bit more. Had they been more on top of things, the job should have taken 2 days – 3 at most. Greg did come back on Tuesday, the day after labor day, and finished the job, and in the end, did a fairly decent job. It has rained since then, and the gutters and downspouts work well, and the fascia is hung fairly well. One thing he did not do with the fascia that he probably should have is overlap the seams of the boards. Overall, I would give them a C-. I would not recommend Gutter Topper of Colorado (or L & R enterprises, their new name).

Back to the green house. Dave and Ellen came to visit us last weekend, and while they were here, we got a bunch of work done, including painting the remaining fascia boards, and painting over the nails on the fascia that was painted. We also hung back up the old shutters in the front after painting them. Dave almost fell off his ladder while helping me do this, and dropped one shutter. It cracked, but we were able to put it back together with a little silicone caulk, and you can’t tell at all from street level that it is cracked. We were just glad that the shutter broke, and not Dave. Ellen did a bunch of work inside the house, including putting up more baseboard, and re-weatherstripping the front door. And of course we had plenty of time to play with Spencer too. Now we just need to paint the front door green to match the trim, and to replace the two windows in the front of the house.

The writing is off the wall
OR
Painting the bathroom

Goodbye orange paint!

Goodbye orange paint!

Last weekend (the 19th and 20th) we painted the bathroom. This is one of the last steps in our bathroom re-model, and one we had been very much looking forward to. I think one thing we have learned is that if we ever rent out a place, we will not let the renters paint, since they frequently do a very sloppy job. Though we are trying very hard, I sometimes wonder if we will be able to even get the house looking as good as it did the day Ellen and Dave left for Arizona. Bit by bit though, we are undoing and covering up the damage that previous renters had done, including, yes, writing on the wall.

Water stains on the ceiling

Water stains on the ceiling

On Friday night I did one final sanding of the drywall mud and washed the walls. I also took off the light switch covers (something the renters who had painted before us did not do).

Walls are ready for painting

Walls are ready for painting

Saturday morning we put a coat of Killz primer on it. We did the ceiling first, and then the walls. I did the trimming and Clare did the rolling. The ceiling is textured, so we used a nappy roller for the ceiling. We used the same roller for the walls with the primer, but then switched to different roller for the paint. We also tried out a little trick that our friend Tim told us. Instead of cleaning your brushes and rollers between coats, you can wrap them in saran wrap and put them in the refrigerator. We tried this with the nappy roller, since we were going to be using white paint on the ceiling, and the primer was also white. It worked pretty well. We didn’t use this method overnight though.

Rob trims the walls

Rob trims the walls

The primer coat took us a good 3 or so to complete. After that was done, we had some lunch, and took a little break. The primer claimed that it only needed an hour to dry, and it did dry very quickly. We probably gave it a good 2 hours or so. We used some leftover Killz ceiling white for the ceiling. I continued trimming with a 2″ brush for the ceiling, and Clare continued rolling. Once we were done with the ceiling, I switched to a 1 1/2″ angle brush for trimming, my father’s favorite. One definitely can get a lot more accurate with a slightly smaller brush. This coat went a bit quicker, maybe 2 1/2″ hours, plus some time to rinse out the brushes (in the newly re-installed laundry tub – more on that in an upcoming post).

Primer coat is complete

Primer coat is complete

We chose “ginger” for the walls, which is a beige-ish color — the same color we used in the livingroom and our bedroom. We liked it so much that we decided to use it in the bathroom too. We discussed some different colors, but we wanted to keep it fairly light, since the bathroom doesn’t get much sunlight. We also decided to go with a semi-gloss finish, as we had in the upstairs bathroom, since it is a bit more water-resistant than a satin or a flat, and is easier to clean.

No more water stains

No more water stains

Sunday morning we slept in a bit and had a leisurely breakfast, so I started trimming around 9:45 while Clare talked to her parents. I think she started rolling around 10:30, but it didn’t take long for her to catch up. After surveying the first coat, we decided not to put a second coat on the ceiling, but just to touch up a few places with a brush, after we had finished painting the walls. There were a few spots on the ceiling that were a bit thin, and also a few places where we had gotten some wall paint on the ceiling. That’s why we did it afterwards. We used drop cloths the whole time, and always had a wet rag handy in case we got some paint on the wood, tile or some other place we didn’t want paint, but there is nothing one can do about getting wall paint on the ceiling, except to cover it up later. (Again, former renters apparently did not have the forethought to wipe paint off trim with a wet rag, nor do many other people, as we have recently learned).

Walls are finished

Walls are finished

It really is amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to a room. There are still several more finishing touches to be done, but it is really coming together. Just in time for mowing season.

Mmmm. Ginger

Mmmm. Ginger

Painting — day six — departure

taking offThe three of us worked pretty hard for five days, and had a lot to show for it. It was time for Harold and Rob to head back to Michigan — Harold to his golf games and unstained doors, Rob to his dissertation revisions and mounds of e-mail. Dave is staying a whole week yet, during which time he will work a bit more on the long TODO list.

Painting — day five

Blue bathroom
Today Rob woke up right around 7:00 a.m., and started making coffee. Dave joined me just a few minutes later, and Rob woke up Harold once the coffee was done. We ate a little breakfast, discussed our plan of attack for the day, and got to work. Harold put the second coat of paint in the bathroom and on the blue room, while Dave and Rob worked on the foyer. Originally the plan was just to paint the upstairs, but we thought we had enough ginger paint leftover to paint the foyer, and thought that it would be nice to get that done. We decided to not paint the ceiling, as we didn’t think we had enough paint for that, and it didn’t look too bad. After clearing out the room and doing a little sanding, we washed the walls, then started painting. Since there was much more trimwork to be done in the foyer than was the case for upstairs, Dave and Rob spent most of the time brushing, and switched off rolling. Rob enjoyed that, because Rob had mostly been rolling, so it was a good opportunity for me to practice trimming. It is not really that hard. It just takes a steady hand, some patience, a wet rag to clean up areas where you mess up, and some experience.

Around 9:00 a.m. Lewis and Angie Fender stopped by for a few minutes to say hello and check on our progress. Angie gave us her approval of the paint colors we chose, and also invited us over for some lunch. Dave and Rob finished the walls in the foyer shortly after 11:00, and Harold finished the bathroom shortly after 11:30. We cleaned up a little bit, then headed over to the Fenders. We also decided that the ceiling in the foyer did need a fresh coat of paint, so we decided to buy a gallon of ceiling white paint after lunch.

We arrived at the Fenders right about on time, but Angie was still working on lunch, and Lewis was not to be found, so Angie told us to go find him. We looked for him in the meat shop, but it turns out he was in the wood shop, working on a rolling pin. Lewis has a real knack with woodworking, and many other crafty things. The Fenders have many hobbies! After showing us around the wood shop a bit, we headed back to the house, where Angie had prepared a great spread. After we finished lunch at the Fenders we headed to Walmart, where we found about half of the items on our list, as is usual. It was good that we had plenty of the Dutch Boy paint, because they did not carry it at all at this Walmart; they only had the cheaper ColorPlace paint. But we just needed ceiling white, so it was not a big deal.
painted foyer
When we got back to the house we went straight back to work. Dave started painting the closet shelves for the bedroom in ginger, and Rob and Harold painted the ceiling foyer white. We definitely could tell a difference in the quality of the paint, but it was good enough. We got done with the ceiling around 4:45, at which point we took a short break for a beer, then we put a second coat of ginger on the walls in the foyer, since the paint supposedly dried fully in 4 hours. By the time we were finished with that it was dinner time again, and Rob suggested going to the China Wok. Somewhat to Rob’s surprise, they had tofu there, which means that the Chinese restaurants in Trenton, Michigan are way behind the times. The food was actually very good — reasonably priced, not too greasy, and not overcooked. The only disappointing part about the China Wok is that they gave us styrofoam cups and plasticware. In the future, we will have to remember that it is better to get takeout.

Upon looking in the fridge when we got home there were 3 beers calling our names, so we decided to polish them off. While we were chatting, Rob got the great idea to see if the dishwasher worked, so we turned it on, and watched the dishwasher run. What an exciting evening! It turns out that the dishwasher works, but that it leaks a little bit, so we might have to look into buying a replacement door for it. Good to know now rather than later. We finally turned in for the night around 10:30, after yet another productive day.

Painting — day four

Harold rolls blue paintToday Harold won the contest for waking up first, around 6:15, and made some coffee. Rob and Dave got up around 6:30. After a little coffee and a bite to eat, we started work around 7:30. Harold started off with the ceiling in the bathroom, which got a coat of ginger paint, then he painted the one blue wall in the bedroom while the bathroom ceiling was drying, and then he could paint the bathroom walls blue. Meanwhile, in the living room, Dave and Rob were putting a second coat of paint on the walls. We all decided that the ceiling did not need a second coat, which saved both time and neck strain. We worked pretty much straight through until lunch.

After lunch we had a few social obligations, so we stopped by the Harrimans to say hello. Actually, we stopped by the Carpet Barn first, because Rob remembered that they close at 3 p.m. on Saturdays. We reminded them that they would need to bring new tack strip when they install the carpet, because the old tackstrip was laid right next to the drywall, instead of leaving room for the baseboards, because the baseboards were installed quite awhile after the carpeting. On our way to the carpet barn, we passed the Harrimans’ new property, and saw some people working, but we did not stop. Instead, we went to their house, and talked awhile with Kathleen, who told us that Steve and William were indeed the ones we saw at the property. So we went back there, and they had left. Oh well.

While we were out we decided to go into town and do a little grocery shopping. We got the makings for rice and beans for dinner, and some more bread for lunch the next day. Then we went back to the house, and looked for a few small things to do to round out the day. The day before we had determined that the venerable chest freezer no longer worked. So we decided to start putting things that didn’t work into the garage, for trash pickup at some point. The freezer was quite tricky to get out of its spot, since the bricks upon which the cookstove sits partially block the opening. After a bit of muscling, we got it out, then used the old dilapidated dolly to get it out the door, and finally pushed it across the lawn to the garage. Afterwards we moved the dryer as well, which was not quite as heavy. We actually did not test the dryer to see if it worked, but it didn’t seem to be in great shape, so we probably made the right choice. Clare and Rob are looking forward to getting a new, high efficiency washer and dryer.

At some point after moving heavy stuff Clare called from Europe, which was a very nice surprise. We talked a bit, and Clare gave her two cents on several decisions about the house, which was good. Meanwhile, Dave decided to do a little mowing, and Rob decided to try to plant some grass seed in the front lawn where there were some bare spots. It had been raining quite a bit for several days, so it seemed like a good time to plant grass seed, but as luck would have it, the next couple days were relatively dry! Dave must have sensed Rob’s eagerness to try out the riding lawn mower, so after a short while Dave offered Rob a turn. It was the first time for Rob using a riding lawn mower, and at first it seemed complicated, with several different levers and pedals and such, but it turns out to be rather easy. Rob mowed the rest of the front lawn, then did a bit more by the garage and down by the garden plot, which Dave and Rob covered with plastic earlier, to kill the grass.

While Dave and Rob were working outside, Harold was taking care some of the finishing touches inside, like cleaning the heating duct covers and the ceiling fans. He really got them looking like new. By this time it was starting to get to be dinner time, so Rob started cooking up the rice and beans. Almost immediately it dawned on him that he had forgotten to buy cooking oil, and that he had not brought a wooden spoon for stirring the pan. As we had learned on Thursday, the Snow Lion does not use cooking oil, so Rob decided to take their advice and sauté with just a little water. To his surprise, it worked out very well. It did take quite awhile to cook, since Rob had purchased brown rice, but it was worth the wait, and we had beer to drink while we were waiting for the food to get done.
Cheers
After dinner we were still itching to get a few things done, so we spent awhile putting the outlet cover and switch plates back on the walls, or at least as many as we could find, and on the walls which were already dry. Eventually we decided to call it a day, and have one more beer before we went to bed around 10:00 p.m.

Painting — day three

Today we all slept in a bit, waking up about 7:30 a.m. We did our normal coffee and quick bite routine, then got to work. This may have been the hardest day. Harold and Rob started out putting a second coat of paint on the bedroom, while Dave finished cleaning the walls in the livingroom. Once Dave was finished with that, he helped Harold and Rob finish the second coat in the bedroom. By this time it was almost lunchtime, so we stopped to have a little bite to eat, and were surprised to hear Kathleen Harriman come through the door. She met Harold, and then we showed her the work we had been doing. After a bit more chatting and eating, we got back to work.
dave is ingenious with duct tape

The livingroom has a slanted ceiling, which ranges from about 6 1/2 feet at its lowest to about 11 feet tall at its highest, and it also extends over the stairwell. This was certainly the biggest surface that we covered with paint. Fortunately, it was also in fairly good shape, and the previous color was very similar to the “ginger” (beige) color we were putting on, so we ended up just doing one coat. It took us about 2 hours to finish the ceiling, after which we took a short beer break before moving on to the walls. After the beer break Dave decided to fiddle around with the riding mower a little bit, and with good timing, for Vick Greenwell, the next door neighbor, stopped by just shortly thereafter. Dave had bought the riding mower from Vick, so when the mower would not go into gear, he asked Vick if he knew a trick. Indeed he did. It turned out to simply be a belt that had slipped off, but it was quite tricky to get to the belt. After they fixed the mower, Dave and Vick came inside, and Harold and Rob got the chance to meet Vick. He is quite a talker. It seems like he will be a good neighbor, and he seemed to be pleased about having new neighbors as well.

We finally finished the first coat in the livingroom around 6:15, then decided to go to the Pizza Pantry for dinner. Rob had saved up a cheese meal, and it was worth it. The pizza was nice and saucy, a bit sweet, and was not too greasy. After filling our bellies, we returned to the house for a Manhattan before retiring around 10:00 p.m.

Painting — day two

Unexpectedly, Rob was the first the one to arise, around 7:15. The first order of the day was obviously to make coffee, which Rob did, using the french press coffee maker we had left when Clare and Rob came down two weeks ago. Either the noise Rob made in the kitchen or the smell of coffee soon aroused Dave and Harold, who joined me for a brief breakfast, and then we got to work. We still had a bit of sanding to do, and then we washed all the walls in the bedroom and the livingroom. After we finished washing the walls in the bedroom, we decided to take a short coffee break, around 10:00 a.m. After the break, Harold and Rob started painting the bedroom while Dave continued washing the walls in the livingroom. Harold focused on trimming around doors and windows while Rob did the rolling. After finishing the washing of the walls, Dave helped us finish the bedroom by about 1:15, at which point we had some lunch and took showers, to get ready for our trip to Bloomington.
rob rolls paint
We were ready to leave for Bloomington a bit earlier than necessary so we decided to stop by the Duling insurance agency to say hello to Angie Fender. We only chatted for a few minutes, then headed on to Bloomington. As one would expect of the Feltys, we got there a bit early, so we drove around a bit to kill some time, and Dave showed Rob and Harold a few sights. Dave and Harold toured campus a bit while Rob met with David Pisoni, the professor for whom he is working at IU. Rob finally set a start date of July 1st, and Pisoni gave him a couple books to read. After meeting back up, Rob was surprised when Harold gave him a gift from the IU book store — a home improvement book. Surely, Clare and Rob will get lots of use out of it in their new adventure!

The next stop was the Big Red Liquor store, where we stocked up on beer and Manhattan makings. Then we went across the street to the Copper Cup, where Rob could check his e-mail, and was pleased to read that Clare had arrived safely in Europe. The next stop was the Snow Lion for some dinner. It is hard to imagine a trip to Bloomington without a stop at the Snow Lion. Rob ventured out for once, and tried the Cajun vegetables, which were very tasty. We also learned that the Snow Lion does not use cooking oil, but rather stir-frys using only water.

After filling our bellies, we headed off to Target, and then Bloomington Hardware to pick up a few things on our ever-expanding list. We were not able to find everything we wanted, but none of us like shopping, so we decided to call it a night. We headed back to Spencer, and ended the night with some stiff Manhattans that Harold mixed up.
rob rolls paint

Painting — day one

Clare and Rob went down to the house for a weekend in April, and met Dave and Ellen there. Our main goal for that weekend was to make some assessments of the state of the house, and decide on our plan of attack. From that weekend, we decided to try to finish the upstairs before we move in, then work on the downstairs a little at a time after we had moved in. We picked out some new carpet while we were there, and then decided that we should paint before the carpet arrived. Dave decided to quit his job at the end of April and go down to Spencer for two weeks in May to do some work on the house. Harold had volunteered to help paint, so Rob decided to take him up on his offer, and they scheduled May 2nd-7th for painting in Spencer.

Uncharacteristically, Harold showed up nearly 30 minutes late to the house. We packed up the car full of painting supplies, a small refrigerator, some utility shelves, a microwave, and a few other odds and ends, then set out for Spencer around 10:30. We ate in the car, and the driving was pretty good, though it did rain a little bit. We pulled up to the Spencer house around 4:30 p.m., making the trip in the approximaely six hours, as predicted. As we approached the house, Rob heard the sound of sanding.
harold is dirty with dust
Sure enough, Dave was busy sanding down spackle upstairs. First Harold was given a brief tour of the house, then it was decided that we would sand and spackle for another few hours. During this time Rob tried to convince Dave and Harold to yootle over what to have for dinner, but unfortunately Harold was not very cooperative. We ended up going to the grocery store for a few odds and ends. Harold got a microwave meal for dinner, and Dave and Rob had left-over Indian food which Clare had made before she left for Europe. We also got some beer, and enjoyed our dinner and had some nice conversation. Harold was absolutely astounded at what bad shape the house was in. Rob tried to get him to focus on the present, not on the past. We got to bed around 11:00 p.m. Originally, Rob thought that he and Harold could share a bedroom, but once he started snoring, that idea quickly faded. Rob moved his sleeping bag and pad upstairs, which he apparently did not notice until the next morning.

For more pictures, see the before shots and the during shots.