Sept/06 - Scrambled to get some major tasks done before we move in. Had to get the laundry room area cleaned up and ready for our own appliances. That meant removing the old washer and dryer, and busting up the concrete double sink. We did this Labor Day weekend. We had to make 5 trips to a dumpster to get rid of the concrete. Once we cleared the old stuff, then it was a matter of shifting the gas line and water supply lines towards the new area where we were going to place our appliances. I wanted to shift everything to the right about 60 inches. Glad to say everything went smoothly, especially the natural gas line. House hasn't blown up! I also built a platform for the washer/dryer to sit on and started laying new tile over the old. Looks a lot brighter in there.

We moved in on 9./17. Moved only the necessary items such as bed, dresser, clothes since there's too much to pack and move. We'll slowly move over the rest of the junk at night and on the weekends as time permits.

Got our cable TV and Internet re-established on 9/25. DirecTV will come by 9/29 to install a new dish. I finished running some cable and putting in the connections so that all the audio/video equipment is not right by the TV. Works really well. A lot less clutter around the TV itself. Also, no annoying LED/LCD displays to distract you from watching the movie.

The Chicago Bungalow association held a fair at Merchandise Mart at the end of the month. Free attendance so we went down for the one day event. They had workshops, seminars and assorted vendors. Membership in the association entitles you to benefits such as loans and grants. However, membership is only open to those who have a bungalow in Chicago. Suburbs are excluded. We stopped at various booths and signed up for mailings and information. One of them was Home Depot. I vaguely remember them saying they had some prizes to give away, but thought nothing of it. Got a call from Ken at Home Depot 2 days later. Thought it would be a sales call. Imagine my surprise when he said I had won my choice of either a Stinger Shop Vac or a Stanley Rolling Tool chest. I kept waiting for the catch, but there was none other than having to drive down to Northlake and having my picture taken. Too bad we didn't win the new Trane furnace...

June/July 2006 - Tony and Abel came by to install the new vinyl windows we ordered for the kitchen and bathroom. They also repaired the roof over the porch leading off our bedroom. It had been leaking rain. Tony discovered there was a hole in the roof about the size of a basketball. He said it probably happened when the last roof went on, a worker stepped through the roof and didn't tell the homeowner. Once they got all the rotted wood and shingles off, they had to patch it with about a 4 foot square piece of wood. Good thing too, since we've had some heavy rains since then. While they were repairing the roof, Nan and I took out all the old insulation that was stapled to the beadboard in the porch. Since it had gotten wet, there was mold and mildew and that was causing a smell like something had died back there. Glad to say that there's no more smell!

06/07/06 - Since the granite is getting installed this Saturday, I had to scramble to get the plumbing for the kitchen sink and dishwasher completed. The hot water stub was too short and needed to be extended into the sink base by about 6 inches. Holes through the cabinets needed to be drilled for the dishwasher supply and drain. At the last minute I called Chuck and he was able to stop by that evening. He ran copper tubing into the sink base and put on shut off valves for me. So we're good to go for this weekend.

06/04/06 - Nan continued stripping the bathroom door. One side of it had the same thick white paint that was on the kitchen back door. Took her all afternoon to do that one side and she still has a small portion to finish. I finished up in the bathroom. Had to reattach the vanity drawer fronts and caulk around the toilet, counter top and tub. Still need to caulk in the shower area.

06/03/06 - Tony came by to help install the bathroom vanity, medicine cabinet, toilet and toilet topper. Took most of the day but we finished it all. Everything looks good... except for one minor problem. The bathroom door won't close since the bathroom counter sticks out too far. Doh! He suggested we get the same guys who are installing the granite to clip the corner and polish it. They're coming in to install the granite next Saturday so we'll ask them at that time if they can do it. Just a tiny corner needs to come off. Hey, it looks good though!

05/30/06 - Nan called the homeowner warranty company and they gave us a reference to a company in Glenview. Nan called them and left a message. We were to give them until 5:00 Wednesday before calling the warranty company. Guess what? Never heard from them either. Also, when Nan called the number, she got the recorded message that the line was covered by privacy manager! How's that for a business? Could be they went out of business and the number got recycled. Nan ran a BBB report on the company and it came back with an unsatisfactory rating. Gee, I wonder why.

05/28/06 - Nan was at the house doing some work. We found out the night before that the central air does not work. This was also the first Memorial Day weekend I can remember where the temp was 90 and muggy, Usually it's cold, cloudy and raining. Felt more like August.

05/27/06 - Nan went to visit her mom and dad in Ottawa. I, however, had to work at the office. The new office that is. Our headquarters moved it's downtown Chicago location. I was there Friday till 10. Saturday till 7. Sunday till 6. And Monday till 3. With the exception of Friday, I was there at 8 in the morning. Some way to spend Memorial Day weekend and my birthday (5/29/06).

05/24/06 - We got to the showroom and the sales rep told us the prices for what we picked. They didn't carry Golden Lightning, which was what we picked from Lester, but they could get it at $90 a sq foot. The other alternative was what he recommended, Tropical Green. Think of algae with cheetah spots. Didn't grab us. That was $55 a sq foot. Then we saw Butterfly Green. A darker green, with gold flecks here and there. Pattern looked like rough fish scales. That one we liked better and was priced at $53 a sq foot. Total for Butterfly Green for us was $2000. So we went to pick a slab. After we picked it out, I brought up the subject of the kitchen sink. We had already picked one out and it's not stainless steel. It's a granite composite and the color of sand. It blends with the cabinets... and the wall... and the ceiling... I brought it up because we have to live with the choice for the next 20 or 30 years.... So we picked out a stainless steel sink that they offered. Another $250. Not bad. I'll re-use the granite sink for our laundry room.

05/22/06 - Well Nan got tired of playing phone tag with Lester, our granite guy. He had called and left a message a week ago finally giving us a price of $2800 - $2900 to install the granite countertop. Problem is, we gave him 3 different stone types. He wasn't clear on what the price was for. So we called him back. Again. Haven't heard from him since. So Nan opened the phone book and started picking granite companies in our immediate area. One made an appointment for that evening. The other company wanted a dimensional drawing so they could provide a quote from that. What?!?!? Like I hired a professional architect to layout the kitchen! So we met with the one company that night and made an appointment for Wednesday to see the showroom. Nan faxed the "drawing" to the other company the next day. Never heard from them.

05/20/06 & 05/21/06 - Concentrated on sanding more trim so Nan and Company could keep applying stain and poly. Dad worked on the hall closet some more. Patching and sanding the walls. Put up more wood trim that we finished. Still trying to match up the wood trim that I didn't mark as I took it off the walls. Silly me, I must've been thinking with my head on backwards.

05/14/06 - I finally remembered to get some wood shims so I can finish the pantry door. Using the shims to push the door frame inward so the door can hit the strike. Nan put another coat of paint in the sun porch, while Denise sanded and put another coat of mud in the hall closet. I started staining the closet trim and other wood trim still in the basement. Short day today since it's Mother's day. Didn't get any pictures of the last dining piece. There's also another issue I have with pictures. Comcast only allows 25mb of web space. I'm pretty much at that limit. I need to either move a bunch of stuff to a different web address or delete the pages from the site. Still haven't decided what to do...

05/13/06 - Got a call earlier in the week from Wickes. The last piece of our dining room set is being delivered today. When it arrived, one of the drawers looked like someone kicked it around the back of the truck. So we'll have to call customer service and get it exchanged for a new one. The weather has been cold and raining since Wednesday. Today's no different. Not much we can do outside, so it's back to the basement to sand the wood trim again. Denise came over to help with the front hall closet. I pulled the trim and she applied some mud to fix the cracks in the plaster. She did a good job too. Not bad for the first time. Nan painted the sun porch Eddie Bauer Vanilla Bean. Same color as in the bedrooms. Looks a more yellower than the bedrooms. Probably because of more natural light coming in there than in the bedrooms. The trim I pulled out of the hall closet I started to strip and sand.

05/07/06 - Went down to Ottawa yesterday for an early Mother's day with Nan's mom. Everyone's doing well. Let's see, what did we do today... Nan pulled the three rose bushes out of the front yard. Lawn was getting long again so I cut it again and spent some time weeding. Cars were overdue for an oil change so I worked on that. All in all, I didn't get much done with the house. Nan worked on putting primer on the sun porch that's off the bedroom. That will be the last of the pink color in the house!

04/30/06 - Needed to get some more of the trim sanded and poly'd so I spent most of the morning sanding some base and trim for Nan and Denise to poly. They also touched up some of the door frames in the bedroom and closet areas that were missed. After lunch I put up the pantry, attic and basement doors in the kitchen. Again, some of the strikes weren't lining up. Also had to pry the pantry frame inward so that the door would even hit the strike area. Didn't have any shims so I didn't finish nailing the jamb in on that side. Took some pictures but didn't have time to post yet.

04/29/06 - Nan worked on cleaning the bathroom floor for one last time we hope. Paint spatters, grout, joint compound and the last traces of vinyl flooring glue were scrubbed out. Nan used the Goof Off solvent. That stuff is powerful in terms of fumes. Make sure you use it in a well ventilated space or you're going to kill a lot of brain cells! We picked up a closet organizer from Target. It's made by California Closets and comes in different base and top styles. Put that together and stuck it in the closet. I then decided to start putting up the wood trim around the doors and re-hang the doors. Don't know why I didn't notice it before but most of the doors weren't lining up witth the strike, so they wouldn't latch properly. Yes, I made sure I had the right doors. So I had to re-cut the mortises slightly. Got the bedroom doors and a couple of closet doors back up. After we move in, we'll start stripping and refinishing the doors so they'll match the other refinished wood.

04/23/06 - Okay, let's see what we did today... Did some more weeding and cleanup in the front yard. Noticed the lawn getting tall as compared to the neighbors next door on either side, so I went out and bought a lawn mower. After I mowed the lawn I went back and prepped the areas that were bare of grass and threw down some grass seed. Nan was busy staining the materials for her bookshelf and putting on poly on the door frames in the kitchen. I put up another ceiling fan in one of the bedrooms. The other bedroom will also get a ceiling fan as well. The electrician also finished the can lights in the sun porch off the main bedroom.

04/22/06 - Got here early after an early morning rain. Garden was getting overgrown with weeds, so rather than wait until it was late in the season, we decided to clean it up. Took out all the weeds and old timber and junk. Looks a lot better. Left the rhubarb, peonies, and a tulip in for now. Taking a break right now (11:20am)...

04/20/06 - Stopped off at the house after work. Tony, our carpenter was already there and was starting to install the microrange. I stayed to lend a hand. After we got it installed, Tony measured the family room for baseboard, trim casing and the two doors. We all went to Menards to pick up that material and the material for Nan's bookcase in the living room. After unloading everything into the garage we finally got home to eat dinner at 9:30! The electrician also came by to finish some things up. He says he's done and wants me to check everything. So once I give the ok, I'll be getting the bill for the rest of the work. Still haven't decided on the granite choice. Tony looked at our samples and he agreed with two of our choices. I still have no clue. I'll get some new pictures uploaded this weekend... I promise...04/16/06 - We continued working on the door frames in the kitchen. Stripping, cleaning it up and starting to seal it. Trying real to be real careful so that we don't drip any of the striper on the newly refinished floors too! Talk about stress!

04/15/06 - Sanded a bunch of wood trim so that we could get going on putting them back up. Nan primed the porch off the bedroom. Last remaining trace of the pink paint is in that room.

04/12/06 - Went to the granite warehouse. If we thought we couldn't make up our minds before, our heads are spinning now. Took home some 4" square samples. At least we'll have some granite coasters now. So far, we have some pinkish with black veins (Giallo Vincent), to green with gold veining (Golden Lightning). Under the lighting (natural and cabinet), the Golden Lightning looks the best.

04/09/06 - Didn't do any major work, just continued refinishing the doors and such.

04/08/06 - Chuck came by to finish grouting the bathroom. We talked about the plumbing work that needs to be done for the bathroom and kitchen. I'll have Chuck do it rather than the plumbing company. Finished putting up the dining room light just in time. The dining room set arrived shortly after. About an hour later the appliances arrived. They were able to get the fridge through the kitchen back door by taking off the fridge doors. Even so, it was a tight squeeze. Installed the ceiling fan in the living room as well. Took down all the old metal blinds from the living room. Most weren't working anyway. Created the page for April, so check out the new pictures. It's starting to look like a house!

04/07/06 - Danny, the HVAC person, came by and installed the new range vent, dryer vent and diffusers in the basement. Nan finished painting the living room ceiling.

04/01/06 - Chuck came by to continue work on the tile in the bathroom. He completed all of the tile. Now he just needs to apply grout. I put up the other pendant light in the kitchen and continued refinishing the doors and such. Denise and Nan applied primer on the living room ceiling. I already had applied a skim coat and sanded it. For the most part the ceiling is ok but I saw quite a few areas where I needed to do another skim coat.

04/04/06 - Met with the HVAC person. He's going to put in a new range vent for the kitchen and a new dryer vent in the basement. Both are "ok", but thought for the price he's asking ($125), might as well do it now than later.

04/02/06 - I put on another skim coat on the living room ceiling and we continued working on the wood trim and doors. We also met with the person who's giving us an estimate on granite countertops for the kitchen. We didn't see anything from the samples he showed us so he gave us the number for one of the warehouses he deals with. He suggested to go there and look at the full slabs in natural light. So now we have to try and get there to take a look at full slabs.

03/31/06 - Stopped off at the house after work and discovered that the electrician finally made it in. They installed under-cabinet lighting and wired the kitchen with the new outlets. Yesterday we stopped at Abt electronics and picked out our appliances. They're scheduled to arrive on 4/8 as well. With our luck, both deliveries will arrive at the same time! Update on the bird we thought we correctly identified... We first thought we saw a Sharp Shinned Hawk (see entry for 2/18/06), but after attending the open house for members at the Field Museum, we're pretty sure it was a Northern Goshawk. The Field had displays of both adult male hawks. The Sharp Shinned Hawk is only about the size of a squirrel. Much smaller than the one we saw in our yard. The Northern Goshawk on display had the same size and coloring as the one we saw in our yard. Both are of the Accipiter genus.

03/27/06 - We went to Wickes after dinner and looked at the dining room set we first saw in November. Still liked it, but decided to walk around and look at other sets. Came across another set that was Arts and Crafts styled down to the drawer pulls and handles. What sold me on it was the optional pantry piece. So we bought this set instead. Almost had delivery for 4/1, but after she put in the order, someone else had already taken the slot. So it's being delivered on 4/8. The pantry piece is out of stock and will be delivered later. As it gets closer to 4/8, I'll install the dining room light. You can view the dining room set on the Wickes Furniture site. Click on the following link. If it asks for a zip code, put in 60077.

03/26/06 - Chuck, the person I hired to do our tile work in the bathroom, started today. He got pretty far today. About 85% of the tile has been put up. Nan and I worked on stripping the kitchen back door. The interior side cleaned up pretty quickly. The exterior side was a different story. Previous owners must have used a really good oil based paint. And it probably contains lead too! We spent most of the day, actually Nan did, on that one side and it's a little over half done. It's taking over 5 applications of stripper to clean off the paint. I worked on sanding the attic door and pantry baseboards. I took pictures of the bathroom, so check them out!

03/25/06 - Carpenter and his helper arrived at 8:30. There was no way Nan or I was going to try and help hang cabinets. We want them to go up right! By about 2:30 they were done. There was a slight hitch with the diagonal sink base. They actually had to dismantle about 40% of it to get it through the front door of the house. Almost an uh-oh. Nan is real happy... now she can go pick out appliances. Tony, our carpenter, was going to get in touch with a guy he works with that does granite counter tops. Tony also recommended we pick out the sink and faucet beforehand. We started stripping the attic door as well. Getting late and we decided to go to Home Depot and Lowe's to look at sinks, faucets, drawer pulls, cabinet pulls, bathroom vanities, etc. Found that Lowe's had a much better selection and everything we saw we liked. I guess also having a 10% discount coupon doesn't hurt either.

03/24/06 - Stopped at the house after work... again... Touched the floor and it was dry. Tested a few other places. So we decided to walk in after taking off our shoes. Took some pictures... it'd be an understatement if I said the floors look great. Took some pictures before we put down the rosin paper and cardboard all over the floor.

03/23/06 - Went to the house after work. They finished putting the stain down. Looks real nice. Didn't walk on the floors. They said they'd be done around 2:00 on Friday after putting down 3 coats of poly.

03/21/06 - Stopped at the house after work to see what the refinishers had done. They sanded most of the two bedrooms, the hallway, the living room and front entry area. They replaced the missing wood for the original floor register locations in the living room, dining room and hallway area. They also put down three different stains in the dining room to let us pick. They're using MinWax brand stain and one of them we were already using on the wood trim. Colonial Maple. On the dining room floor, it gave the wood a nice warm color. Not too brown or dark. See the pictures in the March section.

Soon after taking the picture of our neighbor's car across the street, he somehow managed to move it back into his driveway. Don't know if he pushed it or it actually ran. He left a really big stain on the street though. Most likely an oil leak.

03/19/06 - Nan and I continued painting in the living room. Then Denise showed up and she took over for me. I cleaned up the pantry door hardware by buffing them. Started sanding the pantry door after I filled all the screw holes on the back side. Previous owner had installed K-Mart blue light special shelving on the door. I help put the final coat of Marigold paint on the dining room ceiling. Nan and Denise finished the living room. We made the decision of leaving the mirror over the fireplace. We realized that if we took it down, 1) it probably wouldn't come down in one piece, 2) there would probably be a ton of adhesive on the back and 3) we'd probably end up damaging and fixing the wall behind it. So it's staying.

03/18/06 - I got to the house really early this morning to skim coat the dining room and living room ceilings. It went pretty fast. By the time Nan showed up I had already started sanding the dining room ceiling. All of the pits and seams disappeared. By noon Nan was priming the ceiling. Denise came over and helped prime the living room walls. After lunch they went to get more paint for the dining room and living room. We stayed pretty late and just kept painting. Met with the floor refinisher earlier to go through any last minute details and too give him a key. As Nan and Denise were painting, I started pulling the doors off the hinges. On a lark, I took the pantry door down to the basement and started cleaning up the residual paint my dad and earlier took off. I also took the hinges, door latch, plate and all and stripped the paint off those items.

03/12/06 - Helped Nan put the second coat of paint in the south bedroom. North bedroom was finished so I started pulling the masking tape off and spent some time cleaning up some of the bleed through under the tape.

03/11/06 - Our carpenter showed up to finish the basement hallway. I assisted him in hanging the drywall then started the mudding. Nan discussed her bookcase design with him and I discussed completing the framing off of the furnace room. Cabinets were delivered Saturday afternoon. Good thing the weather in Chicago was sunny and over 65! Had them drop them off by the garage. After they left we started the job of carefully unpacking them and inspecting them for any damage. We have 3 days to look them over and report any damage. As we finished inspecting each cabinet, we re-packed them and moved them down to the basement. The only one we couldn't move was the huge sink base. That we left in the garage. Happy to report that no damage was found.

I had called the flooring refinisher earlier in the week and we scheduled him to start the job on the 21st. So now we're trying to get as much messy work done on the first floor before they show up. I know we won't be able to finish the dining room and living room ceiling in time. Just too much to do in the way of skim coating, sanding, masking, priming and painting.

03/05/06 - Worked on priming the inner basement stairwell while Nan and Denise continued on the bedrooms and hallway.

03/04/06 - Installed two of the new hall lights. See the March updates for pictures. Nan and Denise worked on painting the two bedrooms. Had talked to the electrician about the old existing kitchen electrical box for the light. If we put the cabinets up where our carpenter put the backer board, it would overlap the old electrical box. So they came in last night and cut, and I mean CUT, out a 1 foot by 1 foot section of the NEW drywall to relocate the box. So I had that to fix as well!

03/03/06 - Stopped at Vogue Lighting in Skokie to purchase some lights for the hallways and dining room. Didn't intend on buying 3 lights, but when I inquired about a discount, they offered a 20% discount on 3 lights.

03/02/06 - Well it's Thursday and no sign of the electrician since Saturday. Did get a call from him tonight. Said that we didn't leave the front storm door open for him. Had to explain to him that the storm door is very difficult to open since the door sweep at the bottom is very tight to the threshold. Oh well. Maybe that will help deter people trying to break in, if the lock doesn't stop them. Also got an email from Menards that our cabinets are ready for pick up. Guess we'll have to get them and store them in the garage for the time being. The floor refinisher stopped by yesterday and met with Nan. They gave us a quote for $2,200 to do the entire first floor. He said he'd need a two week lead time to schedule us in. We also stopped at a tile store after work. They had the tile we've been looking for. So after going back to the house and re-measuring the bathroom, we came back with the square footage needs. We're going with a 6x6 white tile all around, with a 3x6 blue tile near the floor as a border accent, and with a 2x6 blue cap tile at the top. A little under $600 in materials and that included 10lbs of un-sanded grout and mastic.

02/26/06 - Another day at, where else? Worked on priming the bedrooms walls again. Pink is still showing through two coats of primer. Either I bought terrible primer or that pink is just plain stubborn. Helped Nan prime the ceiling of one of the bedrooms. Then I worked on the drywall in the basement again. Finally got one wall of the basement bathroom ready for priming. Electrician's coming again tomorrow to finish installing the outlets in the basement. Now I'll have adequate power down there without having to run extension cords.

02/25/06 - Got to the house (again) early (again). Started cleaning up some of the larger items that we tore out and had on the back porch. Things like the dining room rug, old kitchen lights, old wood, old medicine cabinet, mirrors and other junk. I had already put out the old stove, a large wood cabinet, the old toilet and some other debris. That was Thursday evening. By Friday it was all gone. No doubt some of it was taken by the village, it being collection day, but the bigger stuff was probably picked up by the junk scavengers. The electrician showed up just before 8 and got started on installing the can lights in the computer area. Once done there, he moved onto the family room. He then worked on running a new connection for a wall sconce in the basement stairwell area. Wasn't something I had thought about at first. So it's good they can run the electrical with little difficulty. I had also bought two Lutron dimmer switches. One of them came with an infrared remote control. I had the electricians install that one in the family room. The other went to the computer room. It's really nice. Standing about where the sofa will be, I can control the light switch from an ideal position. I won't have to get out of the barcolounger to dim the lights when we're watching the tube now. I guess we can't call it a tube anymore. So what do we call these plasma or LCD tv's? The flat?

02/22/06 - Our carpenter came by after his other job and started on framing the ductwork running down the center of the basement hallway. We thought we could get away with putting ceiling tile along one side of the hallway, but since the air conditioner line running back to the furnace area is not straight, he had to go the full width of the hallway.

02/20/06 - Continued putting joint compound on the drywall in the basement and sanding previous areas. Nan worked on the living room ceiling again and put more primer on other walls. Our carpenter came by. We talked about what to do in the basement hallway where the main heating duct runs the length of the hallway. From the floor to the bottom of the duct, it's a little over 6 feet and a few inches. Don't have many options, so I'm going to do something that wouldn't be my first choice. We're going to put frame the ducts and drywall it. Hope nothing happens where I need to get to it in the next 30 years... Electrician stopped by and we discussed a few things about the basement lighting. They're scheduled to come Saturday to finish the basement. First floor will wait until we're done painting up there.

02/19/06 - The guys putting in the ceiling beat me to the house this morning. Let them in and got started on the rest of the drywall myself. Nan alternated between priming the bedroom walls and working on the living room ceiling. Dad and Denise showed up and they helped prime the walls as well. The guys finished the ceiling grid around 3. They'll come back after the electrician's installed the can lights. So I called our electrician to get them back to finish the job.

02/18/06 - Got a call late last night from the contractor who's putting in the suspended ceiling. He had to postpone the start of the job until Sunday. That was fine with me. Gives me another day to work on the drywall around the basement bathroom. Put up one sheet of drywall after I installed the computer wiring and boxes for them. So I took out my rotozip to cut out the drywall around the gang boxes. I had three boxes to do that for on the one sheet. I managed to break 2 drywall bits before I finished the third box. I must be doing something wrong. We left around 11 to run some errands. When we came back after 12, as we pulled into the backyard, Nan noticed a large, and I mean large, bird sitting below one of our bird feeders. We sat in the car for a few minutes watching it. This bird sat about as tall as our cat. Over 10 inches high it looked. Now, here in the Chicago area, you do hear about falcons in the downtown area, but out in the burbs, the largest bird we see, that we can identify, are crows. My camera was back in the house, so I started to open the car door. Oops. It took off. Once I got out of the car, a bunch of sparrows took off from the evergreen bush by the bird feeder. I'll bet they were scared to come out while less than 4 feet away a predator was there. Nan did some research and we think it was a Sharp Shinned Hawk. You can go to these links to see what they look like.

We got back to work and my mom and dad showed up a little later. Dad helped me put up the drywall while mom cleaned up more of the wood trim we've taken off. Nan finished putting on a second coat of Carmel in the kitchen and one coat on the ceiling. She'll finish that tomorrow with Denise. She also put on more primer in the bedrooms and hallway. It's taking a lot of primer to cover that nasty pink color. I imagine the next owners of the house will be cursing us when they try to go over the Marigold and Carmel. Heh heh heh. Well, back to the apt for a late dinner, a shower and bed. Supposed to meet the ceiling guy at 8 am, but I think I'll be getting there early to continue on the drywall in the basement. A good thing we have Monday off (President's Day).

02/17/06 - We took the day off today to go down to the Field Museum to visit the Pompeii exhibit. My mom and sister came along as well. The exhibit was very interesting. They had casts of the some of the victims on display along with recovered jewelry and frescoes. Can't wait until the Tut exhibit comes to the Field. We got home in the early afternoon and did some work at the house. Denise came by and she and Nan painted the kitchen Carmel. I got the quote for the suspended ceiling and the guy is supposed to start tomorrow at 7 am, so I got to work on the area by the basement bathroom and the computer area. I started taking down the drywall around the bathroom and around the window in the future office area. I had to use a big crowbar to take out the old window frame. I was real careful because of the new glass block windows we put in. Didn't want to break one of the blocks.

02/15/06 - Went over to the house after work. We started pulling the last remaining fake wood paneling from around the basement bathroom. This is in preparation for the suspended ceiling that's going in. We had done the same a few months ago in the area that's to be our office area. A few areas of the drywall have to be replaced since the former owner used a combination of nails and construction adhesive to put up the paneling. So when we initially took off the paneling, it tore the paper on the drywall. He also used a ton of nails to put up the drywall. No surprise there. Then he spray painted the drywall with brown paint where the paneling seams met. I guess this was to hide the seams from showing. After pulling the paneling, it looks like I'll be replacing more of the drywall than I first expected.

02/14/06 - Stopped at the house after work to meet with the guy who's going to do our suspended ceiling. He was referred to us by our carpenter. He said he'd give us a quote by the next day.

02/13/06 - Happy Birthday to you Abraham Lincoln! I'm so glad to work for an organization that has 13 observed holidays a year! Next Monday is President's Day. Guess where I'll be! Continued working on the hallway and one of the bedrooms. Also focused on one of the hallway closets. Had to patch nail holes and the corners where the plaster cracked over time. Cleaned out the kitchen pantry as well. We hadn't touched it since we bought the house. Still had the original shlock shelving and such. Plus it had some of the old kitchen vinyl flooring in there. Took all of it out so I could start patching the holes in there. Pulled the base board for stripping as well. Floor in the pantry also is hardwood, but was covered in the mastic that was used to glue down the vinyl flooring. Started to use the heat gun on the glue to scrape it off. Heating the glue produced some kind of smell and fume that started to make my throat sore. OK, maybe not a good idea. Finally got a call later from the guy who does the suspended ceiling. We're meeting him after work tomorrow so he can give us an estimate. Hopefully he can work on it this weekend.

02/12/06 -  Nan alternated between working on the picture molding in the south bedroom and cleaning up the living room ceiling again. I primed some of the walls in the bathroom and continued on the hallway. I had contacted our carpenter on Friday to ask about installing a suspended ceiling in the basement. He was going to have his friend call me. Haven't heard back from him yet. I just know the electrician's going to be calling me soon. Pretty much finished our second 5 gallon bucket of primer. Off to Home Depot again.

02/11/06- Started the day early today. Took off the masking tape in the dining room. Did some touching up in some areas. We stopped at Menards to look for some kind of solvent to clean up the glue residue on the bathroom tile. Got a small can of Goof-Off. As soon as Nan put covered a small area, the glue started to dissolve. She was able to wipe it off with a paper towel. Went back and got a gallon container of the stuff. Had to open the windows to vent the bathroom though. Smelled like someone opened the caps of 1,000 magic markers. At least it didn't smell like pee again. Check the picture in the February gallery for what the bathroom floor looks like now. Big difference! I started on the bedroom hallway area. Skim coated the ceiling, Masked the picture molding and started priming the walls. Dad started priming the kitchen walls as well.

02/06/06 -
Talked to the electrical contractor earlier in the day and he said he tried to stop at the house to get some wire he left there and discovered the locks had changed. They didn't really change. It's just that the new security doors we installed, he doesn't have the key for. Nor will he ever get one. Sneaky of him to go there on a Sunday evening. He's been pestering us as to when we'll have the suspended ceiling in so that they can come back and finish the job. I guess he's hurting for the remaining 8 grand we'll owe him. Tough. Went back to the house after dinner tonight. Nan continued cleaning the bathroom floor of the remaining glue. Didn't smell that bad tonight. I finished painting the dining room walls. With the exception of the ceiling, the dining room is done.

02/05/06 - Went to Menards first to order kitchen cabinets. Nan's happy now! Four weeks before they arrive. Now we're really under the gun to get the painting and floors refinished before they are delivered. After we finalized the order, we got a CAD printout of the cabinet plan, and two elevation views with all the appliances in place. I'll scan the printouts and post them as well. Got back to the house and Denise came over again. Finished more of the dining room. I also put one of the switch plates on the dining room wall. We picked up several of these switch plates from Greenfield Village in Michigan.  The color of the wall and the switch plate really look good. The paint is called Marigold and is a good deep orange color. Started priming the two bedrooms and hallway. Got a call from the electrical contractor later in the evening. Didn't talk to him right away.

02/04/06 - Denise came over to help paint. She loves painting. Don't know why... but we'll take her help anyway. We finished half the dining room, not including the ceiling. Check the pictures. Nan alternated between cleaning up the bathroom floor and the living room ceiling. The smell from the bathroom got progressively worse. Don't know how she could take it. Every time I caught a whiff of it, my head hurt and it reminded me of the Howard 'El stop on a really warm and humid day. For those of you not familiar with Chicago's transit system, think of a train stop where people have used the train platform as a public restroom. Gack! Nan actually went back to the apartment and got some incense. We burned about 6 cones to try and cover the smell. Score: Pee 1, Incense 0.

01/29/06 - Early morning today. Got to the house at 8. Heating guy arrived a short time later and got started on the ductwork. His partners showed up a little later and started on the gas meter. I started priming the walls of the dining room and kitchen. Also started on the dining room ceiling. Amazing how all the defects show up now. No way I'll be able to prime the ceiling and paint it and hope the defects will disappear. I'll have to skim coat the ceiling and sand before priming and painting. And I'll probably have to do the same in the living room. Nan worked on removing the vinyl flooring glue in the bathroom. Then we used mineral spirits to clean it up. See the pictures in the January section to see what it some of it looks like now.

01/28/06 - Got to the house around 9. Spent the day cleaning and moving stuff out of the way in the basement in preparation for the heating guy to come in and run some additional ductwork and move the gas meter 6 feet. I've hit my head against the meter at least 3 times. Not only is it annoying, but it's painful. I know I'm hard headed, but eventually it's going to knock me out. Met with the guy I first talked to on 10/29 about the bathroom tile work. Came back in to measure and make sure no surprises would come up since we took down the original walls. Now we get to go to pick out tile. Nan started on removing the vinyl flooring in the bathroom using a heat gun. At one point, a really bad smell started wafting through the house. It was made worse by the heat gun. I'll let your imagination think about that one. After moving things out of the way in the basement, I hung a cabinet in the laundry room area.

01/22/06 - Woke up at 5:00am thanks to Samson. He woke up and wanted food. Couldn't sleep anyway so I got up too. We got to the house around 9:00. Denise showed up as well. Got her started on putting primer on the drywall in the basement. Mom and dad showed up and helped out. Managed to paint about 80% of the basement. It's really starting to look like a family room now. The electrician had stopped by on 01/20, and of course, he was asking about the suspended ceiling. Good grief! I guess he has no sense of what should be done first before you put up the ceiling. Our carpenter took a mini-vacation down to New Orleans for the weekend so the earliest he'd be able to put up the ceiling would be this coming weekend. That's assuming we're done with priming and painting the drywall. All of the drywall. 

01/21/06 - Got up at 5:30am to check how much snow we got. Didn't look like much from the second floor. I estimated about 4 inches since I could still see the "border" of grass along the sidewalk. Went out at 6:00 to start shoveling around our apartment building. Though the snow wasn't deep, it was wet and heavy. Took me an hour to clear the snow and salt the walks at the apartment building. Ate breakfast and went to the house to deal with the driveway and walk areas. Used the snowthrower on the driveway. Taper showed up at 8:10, then after about 10 minutes, had to leave to get something from Menards. Nan arrived to keep an eye on the taper and I went to my parents to deal with the snow at their house. Came back around 10 and since he was still sanding, we decided to go to Vogue Lighting to look at lights. We have to shop for the dining room, kitchen, hallway entry, bedroom hallway and bathroom. We found a nice one for the entry hallway, a possible one for the dining room and have settled on three possibilities for the kitchen. When we finally purchase them, I'll post pictures of them before we install them. Spent most of the day cleaning up the mess left by the workers this week. What a mess. You couldn't tell we have hard wood floors in the kitchen. Dust and drywall mud were all over the floor. Had to sweep, vacuum and scrape the hardened puddles of mud off. That's all we did today. Clean, clean and clean.

01/20/06 - Nan stopped by the house after work and saw the taper. He said he would finish up tomorrow with the sanding and be finally done. Told us that 8:00am was fine. Got colder and was raining in the afternoon. Turned to snow around 8:00pm. Weathermen were predicting 2-6 inches of snow by Saturday morning. Great. Just what I needed.

01/19/06 - Went to the house after work again. There was no evidence that the taper spent a significant amount of time at the house. Didn't sand or put more mud up. Some things had moved around so we know someone was there. Same person left the halogen lights on in the kitchen. Probably to help dry the mud. We went back after dinner to clean up some. Tossed out a rug remnant, a bag of the ceiling "wallpaper" and a couple more bags of plaster and drywall bits. I suspect the taper will be back tomorrow to start sanding. If it's still not dry, then it'll be Saturday I guess. Took some more pictures so check them out.

01/18/06 - Stopped by again after work. More taping was done. Haven't heard from the taper as to when he'll be done for sure. Talking to him before he started the job, he estimated three days. That would put it at Thursday for completion. It might be Friday. Mud still needs to be sanded, but all joints and seams have been taped and mud applied. Even the repaired sections of wall around the outlets. Still think we're on schedule for Saturday to start priming the drywall... after we clean up the mess...

01/17/06 - It was rough getting up this morning. We went to the house at 7:00 to unlock the doors for the workers. The drywall guys finished up fixing around the outlets around 10:00. The taper was there till 3:00. We stopped by the house after we got off work. Discovered the catch basin filled to the rim with water. Don't know if the workers did that on purpose to soak the tools (the catch basin was filled with all kinds of tools) or if it was clogged with joint compound. We left it alone. Majority of the taping was done, screw holes and a few other seams left.

01/16/06 - Got to the house at 7:00. The drywall guys showed up soon after. They got to work finishing the basement. By 10:00 they were working on the kitchen. Guy who's doing the taping of the seams came by. We went to Menards to pick up more material. He's going to start tomorrow at 7:00. The guys finished putting up the drywall in the kitchen and the bathroom. They'll be back to finish patching the areas around the outlets. Taping will take three days to complete. So if all goes well, by Saturday, we can start more painting!  More pictures uploaded.

01/15/06 - Got to the house at 8:00. Got the call from the delivery guy from Menards at 8:15 that he was leaving and would be at the house in 5 minutes. Our carpenter shows up at the same time as well. He was there to finish up a few things before the drywall guys showed up. Drywall guys showed up around 10. I helped them move the drywall into the house. All three of us got a work out. After a brief break, they got started on the basement. They finished the family room area and have the computer room/laundry room area to finish in addition to the kitchen and bathroom. Hopefully they'll be done tomorrow. They want me to meet them at the house at 7:00am. There goes my day off. Nan worked on the picture molding in the hallway and one of the bedrooms. She conditioned the wood and stained it. One thing I forgot to mention yesterday... I thought the dining room ceiling was the only place that had wallpaper (or ceiling paper). I was wrong. I discovered the same crappy stuff in the living room!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tore down most of it. Small area was tough to take down. My dad was able to scrape it off using a heat gun. Tedious work. Updated the pictures for January with the security doors and drywall of the family room. Take a look!

01/14/06 - Got there early today. I got in touch with a drywall guy yesterday and agreed to meet with him this morning at 8:00. Went through the house and showed him where I wanted drywall, greenboard, and durock. He told me the quantities and sizes I needed. If I got the material, he and his partner would hang each sheet for $10 a piece. So, after $500 in materials (63 sheets of drywall and 4 sheets of durock) being delivered sometime tomorrow morning, he's coming to hang drywall. His nephew will do the taping after he's done. Progress! We had to finish taking down the rest of the plaster/lath on the one wall in the kitchen before they hang the drywall there. My dad showed up and helped take down the plaster. He then went out to the living room and asked about the fireplace. We were going to take it down and put in a bookcase for Nan, but not for a few weeks... Guess my dad needed to vent some frustration. He took out the fireplace! Took some pics of the now gone fireplace area and the one kitchen wall. If all goes well tomorrow with the delivery and drywall, I'll even have more pictures of the progress! We're getting close! We can see light at the end of the tunnel! Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehah!

01/08/06 - Did some light work today. I cleaned/straightened up the garage. Had all the old appliances in there so I moved them out to the alley for the scrap collectors. I managed to clean it up to the point that I was able to get the car in there for the first time! Nan put another coat of paint in the hallway entry area and we pulled the tape and paper off the trim. Looks really good. Just need to do some cleanup where some paint bleed under the tape. Check out the pictures of the hallway area in the January section. You may not be able too really see the paint color, but it's there.

01/07/06 - Earlier in the week, we stopped off at the house after work and ran into the electricians. They walked us through what they had done so far and what future circuits would be installed. Again, we went round and round with them about their assumption we were going to drywall the ceiling in the basement. For the umpteenth time I told them no. So they said they wouldn't come back until after we had the drywall installed in the kitchen, bathroom and basement. They also told us we could repair the wall areas by the outlets they had either replaced or installed. So I left a message with our carpenter. He's got a contact that he claims will have all the drywall up in a day, then another day for taping and such. I haven't talked to the guy yet.

8:00am. Got to the house and 15 minutes later, the door guys showed up. They started on the garage service door, then worked on the three security storm doors. Everything looks great. Didn't get any new pics of the doors, so I'll do that shortly. Our good friend Abdiel stopped by so we gave him the tour and talked about work and other things. He had some good stories about working for the Chicago Housing Authority and the new software they recently went live on, Yardi. Glad I don't work there anymore. Denise showed up and she painted the hallway entry area in the color that Nan picked. In the sunlight it looked like Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard. Nan worked on more of the picture molding in the bedroom hallway area and I ran more computer and telephone cable in the basement.

01/03/06 - Last day off before going back to work. Didn't go to the house to do any work but only to drop off the paint we bought. Eddie Bauer Home, Craftsman Bungalow Amber Yellow. Hope the color works, cause at $25.00 per gallon, it's going to be a costly "uh-oh." I did suggest Dutch Boy Ultra Brite White in the 5 gallon bucket... didn't fly. Electrician was there so I went over the newly framed areas with him.

01/02/06 - Went over and sanded more trim while Nan put more primer in the front hallway entry area. Dad showed up and continued on stripping the paint off the doors in the kitchen. The people I ordered the glass block and doors from will be here this Saturday to install the three security doors and the garage service door. Another 8:00am appointment. Front hallway will be ready for Denise to paint this weekend. Just have to get the paint that Nan picked out.

01/01/06 - Happy New Year! Didn't go over to the house today. Nan's still recovering from the gum surgery and I wiped myself out yesterday. I'm also recovering from a cold that started earlier in the week.

12/31/05 - Nan stayed home to recover from gum surgery. I went to the house to meet the carpenter. 8:00am. Got there and soon got a call from him. He wouldn't be able to meet with me until noon. OK, went to work on other stuff. Cleaned up a bit. Threw out some garbage. Got a call from my mom. She asked if I had anything for her to do... Sure do! (whoops, better find something for them to do). So I started sanding more trim. Outdoors. Even though the temp outside was around 40, it got too frellin' cold after a while. I did manage to do about 10 pieces. Carpenter showed up and we went over the final details for the fish tank area, audio/visual area, refrigerator area and other door area to frame. So he set to work.

12/27/05 - Supposed to meet the carpenter today to finish the last items for framing. Due to some crossed communications, we didn't meet up. We rescheduled for Saturday at 8:00am.

12/26/05 - Official holiday for Christmas, but we didn't go over to the house.

12/25/05 - Went to Ottawa for the day to see Nan's parents and spend Christmas with them. Merry Christmas!

12/24/05 - Couldn't do much today. Christmas dinner with my family is at my sister's tonight, so we need to quit early. Besides, a lot of the lights are not working since the electrician hasn't wired any temp lights for us and not all the outlets are working. So Nan worked on the door frames in the hallway, poly'ing them with a couple of coats, while I worked on the patch panel. We stopped around 2:00. The electricians arrived around noon. Funny, they didn't have anything to say to me about a faulty thermostat. However, it was working fine the entire time we were there. Go figure.

12/23/05 - When I talked to the electrician about cranking the heat, he promised to tell his guy not to touch the heat. This morning I had a dentist appointment, so I didn't get to the house until after 1:00pm. As soon as I got there, Nan pulls me aside to tell me of her encounter with them. Seems the electrician denied touching the thermostat and that it must be due to a faulty thermostat. He even suggested we put a lock on the thermostat. So, besides implying that Nan's lying, he's a freaking jerk. They had already left by the time I got there, otherwise... Anyway, worked on more wood trim.

12/21/05 - Nan stopped at the house after work. Called me at work when she discovered that the electrician was there and found they had cranked the heat to 66 and didn't bother to lower it before leaving. I had put in a programmable thermostat about 3 weeks ago. Programmed it to keep it at a steady 60 degrees. So I called the electrician and told them they could crank the heat as high as they wanted to as long as they paid the gas bill. Our gas bill for the period 11/16 - 12/19 was $328.60. The previous period of 10/20 - 11/16 was $115.58. A closer look at the two billing periods show that the cost per therm actually dropped from 1.1811 to 1.1573, currently. What killed it was the therm usage. 82.82 therms previously versus 249.71 therms currently! I catch them cranking the heat again I'll beat them bloody. And to top it off, they took out the hallway entry light, living room ceiling fan (no light there originally), and one bedroom ceiling fan/light. So we don't have light in two areas. That's in addition to the kitchen, back porch and half the basement.

12/18/05 - Back over at the house again. Just the two of us. I concentrated on the rear bedroom in repairing the closet (patching cracks and wall anchor holes) and sanding the door frame. Moved on to the hallway and patched the walls there and sanded more door trim. Nan poly'd the treated wood from yesterday and put wood conditioner on the picture molding in the rear bedroom. Carpenter is coming over sometime during the week to finish framing the basement.

12/17/05 - Electricians were already there when we showed up at 9:30. They had already pulled the kitchen light out and were working up in the attic on bringing down new wiring. They pulled some of the older wiring out and showed it to me. Cloth covered and breaking away in some places. So, at the end of the day, they quoted me an extra $2,500 to re-wire the entire house. We agreed to it. So now we're back up to a total of $11,000 in total, and that still doesn't include re-wiring the garage, which is worse than the house. Mom and dad showed up. Had mom put wood conditioner on the trim pieces I sanded. Dad finished putting on foam insulation on all the new copper pipes. Nan worked on the picture molding in the other bedroom. I sanded more trim and managed to finally remove the lower window sash in the rear bedroom. Started using a heat gun to remove the paint on the window frame and it wasn't coming off easily. Gooey and sticky. Kind of looks like toasting a marshmallow. Same consistency. Tried using Bix. Didn't even budge. Bad part is, it probably is lead based paint as well.

12/11/05 - Just the two of us today. Nan started cleaning the picture molding in the bedroom now. I started on removing the trim in the hallway so I could start sanding it.

12/10/05 - Quite a busy week with all the contractors. Although they were pretty neat and managed to clean up after themselves, for the most part, we still needed to properly bag and dispose of all the plaster and lath. So we spent most of the morning doing that. Mom, dad and sis showed up. Had mom work on the kitchen walls to remove the adhesive from the fake wood paneling wainscoting. Denise wanted to paint so badly so we set her loose on the foyer. She spent most of the day masking the crown molding and base board. I helped out later with the closet door and framing. She did manage to do cutting in the corners and such. We'll finish the rest and let her paint the color for the foyer. Electricians showed up to drop off more conduit and wire. We went over last minute details for the kitchen and then went on to the basement to show them where I wanted outlets and lights. Of course, they said they needed the carpenters to finish framing. Nan was working on cleaning up the picture molding in the hallway using Bix to clean it up. Looks real good now. I started sanding more of the trim in the hallway.

12/09/05 - Stopped by after work again. Plumber finished all the copper piping and moved the meter. Water service was restored. Electrician put in the conduit and junction boxes for the kitchen area.

12/08/05 - Plumbers were here to start work. They're going to replace all the galvanized pipe with copper and move the meter. Stopped by in the evening after work to see the electrician about a few minor things. Discovered we didn't have any water service since the plumbers didn't finish yet. Got our first major snowfall this evening. By 9:00pm we had over 6" of snow on the ground. Shoveled the apartment building walk ways and then took the snowblower to the house to do the driveway. All 8' by 175' of it. We didn't get done until 10:30pm. I hate snow.

12/07/05 - Pretty cold this morning. About the 7th straight day of below freezing temps here. Our carpenter called and asked if he could get into the house so he and his partner could start framing the basement. Nan was able to stop by and let them in. They got about 80% of it done. Now they're waiting on the plumbers to finish moving the water meter and a few other things.

12/06/05 - Went to the house after dinner. The electricians were there wrapping things up. Didn't expect them to be there that late. Spent a good 30 minutes yakking with them about which base molding to remove. They started out by saying they couldn't do certain areas until we removed the molding. No kidding! It's not like we're retired or taking time off from our real jobs! So I managed to remove the rest of the dining room carpet and the two areas of base molding they wanted taken out. So what happens? They don't show up until Thursday!

12/04/05 - Quiet day today. Spent most of it cleaning up and other little things. Tried to get to removing more of the base molding, but didn't have time. We'll come back either Monday or Tuesday evening.

12/03/05 - Met with the carpenter to go over our choices for kitchen cabinets. For the most part we were on the money for the cabinet sizes. We did make one adjustment. We increased the size of the diagonal sink base from 36" to the 42" model. We weren't sure a good size double bowl sink would work in the 36" base. Going to the 42" base also eliminates the need for excessive filler strips between the stove and dishwasher. Then we went to the basement to discuss the plans for the laundry room, family room, and bar with built in 30 gallon aquarium. After that, Nan worked some more on the dining room ceiling and I worked on putting in the Cat5 patch panel and punch down block for the phone lines. Electrician didn't show up today, but we saw where he was doing some work in the rooms as far as putting in new outlet boxes and conduit. He did have to remove some of the plaster and lath to get to the sill. We'll need to have the drywall people repair those areas as well.

12/02/05 - Got a call from the plumber who's going to do the re-piping. Says they'll be there 12/8 and 12/9 to do the work.

11/30/05 - Talked to the electrician tonight. The electrical inspector was there to approve the 200A panel and outside work. Now they're going to start on the interior outlets.

11/27/05 - Electrician was back cleaning up the BX cable in preparation for the electrical inspector coming by on Wednesday to inspect the 200A service panel. We also started on tearing down the plaster and lath on the one kitchen wall where the old sink was located. This will give the electricians room to pull all that BX cable out of there and clean it up. One thing I noticed about the light switches... flipping it up, is off and down is on. Not only did a do-it-yourselfer didn't know what they were doing, they did it backwards! End result of most of the BX cabling cleaned out is that there are some areas without power now. Namely the living room and most of the basement. Also spent most of the day with the leaf blower getting up the leaves in the back and front. For a house with no tree on the property, I managed to fill 5 large landscaping bags.

11/26/05 - Electricians were here early. Getting ready to install the 200A service. So we tried to get as much done while we had power. They cut the power around 11 and we didn't get it back until after 5. Pulled the carpet from the other bedroom so I could pull the remaining baseboard. Denise and Nan worked on removing the wallpaper glue from the dining room ceiling.

11/24/05 - Went over for a little while. Just cleaned up and moved all the wood trim that we poly'd, out of the way so the electricians don't have to watch where they're stepping.

11/20/05 - Just went over to move the wood trim out of the way. Electricians are due to come in either Monday or Tuesday. They'll start on bringing in the 200 amp service and then start on cleaning up the greenfield and bx cable. Debating whether we want to go over on turkey day to do some work.

11/19/05 - Didn't do any major tasks today. Worked on wood trim and running Cat5e cable in the basement. Settled on the electrician who's going to rewire the house. It's the same one that gave the $7,000 estimate on the spot. Had him come back earlier in the week and did an entire walk-through and gave specific items for each room. He came back with a written estimate for about $8,700. Still doesn't include the garage, but he says he'll only charge me about $1,800 when I eventually have it done. Got one of the written estimates for the plumber. The first one gave a verbal of $4,100 plus an extra $600 for the double vanity plumbing. This one came in at about $2,700 for the same tasks. Guess which one we're going with? Glass block installers were here as well. Did all the windows and bricked up the one basement window.

11/13/05 - Took the day off from the house. Made that command decision as we were leaving Saturday. Didn't get any disagreement from anyone. So we decided to use that time off to go to Abt Electronics and shop for the kitchen. Found a deal on a Maytag oven and fridge that will give us up to $400 credit on a Maytag dishwasher. Also found a Maytag microhood (microwave and range hood combo). Then wandered over to the flat panel TV's... Didn't buy anything. Then went to Menards to look at cabinets. While waiting to talk to someone, we discovered the same model oven and fridge for about $100 less. Each. And the $400 credit is good there as well. So we'll try to wheel and deal with Abt to see how much they can beat Menards by. Didn't get to talk to a cabinet rep. They said the wait was over an hour. So we left. But we sat down at home to measure out what cabinets we like and what will fit. Since the original sink was more in the corner, we're thinking of putting the sink back there in a diagonal sink base. That will give us 6.5 feet of counter space between the oven and sink. Went over to the house and laid out the cabinet outlines on the kitchen floor using masking tape. In theory, it looks good. We'll talk to our carpenter to see if he has any opinion, good or bad, about the layout. He's been really helpful in giving us tips.

11/12/05 - Late update... Saturday we did the trim mostly. I started taking down the ugly yellow and white tile in the corner of the basement. Took down the area by the electrical panel and back window. I also took down more of the previous wood "walls" the owner had up for a workshop area. Now the basement is really open.

11/11/05 - Okay, playing catch up here. Was over at the house again on 11/8/05. Finished tearing out the plaster and lath in the bathroom. All that's left is the ceiling. I'll leave it alone and just put drywall over it. We're not putting in a vent or ceiling light so that won't matter.

Met with another electrician and plumber today. Getting more estimates on the work that needs to be done to straighten the problems out. Had one electrician give me a quote on the spot. Asked for $7,000.00 to rewire the house, garage not included. Asked when he could start, and he said "Tomorrow." Sound desperate? Possibly. Obviously, I didn't commit. Our carpenter came by early today to frame out the kitchen wall. Did an excellent job. Mom, dad and sis were over as well to help out. Started on the wood trim again. This time finish sanding and applying 2 coats of poly. Finished up around 6 and called it a night. Of course we'll be back tomorrow! And finally, we just want to say thanks to all of the veterans. Thank you for serving our country. And for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, we will never forget you.

11/7/05 - Went over for a couple of hours tonight. Took the tank off the toilet. No problem. Took one t-bolt off, then tried the other. No luck. the t-bolt kept turning with the nut. And I didn't have a hacksaw or sawzall with me. OK, so we busted off the rest of the tile and cleaned up. I'll get that commode out of there tomorrow night. Went on to clear coat the wood trim for the bedroom door. It's looking pretty good. Cleaned up and called it a night. I did take a picture of the bathroom floor. You can see what the original tile looks like now. Called a couple of electricians and plumbers. Have appointments with them later this week to look at the problems and give me quotes.

11/6/05 - Okay, we're beyond wiped now. Nan and I gutted the bathroom. Pulled down most of the tile, plaster and wood lath. Didn't find any uh-oh's so far. Did uncover a portion of, what we think is, the original tile. I just now realize I didn't get any close up pictures of the tile. I'll do that tomorrow. There is one picture that shows the tile, but not very good. It's a blue and white, square and rectangle pattern. The vinyl tile was laid over that with tile adhesive. While we can take the vinyl off with a heat gun, the glue residue is a bit more of a challenge. The heat gun will soften it and allow us to scrape it off, but there's still residue in the "grout" lines. Can't think of anything that will take it off more easily. Does anyone out there have any suggestions? After taking out the 36" vanity, we measured the space and we find that we do have room for a 48" vanity. And that means maybe a double sink too. We'll have to do something about the plumbing and a heating vent. Waste line is about 9 inches right of center for a 48" vanity. Once we take down the remaining plaster and lath on that wall, we can see just how difficult it'll be to put in the larger vanity. We'll go back tomorrow night to take out the toilet and some more plaster. The dumpster is pretty much filled now. It's kind of above the top sill of the dumpster so I don't know if Groot's going to pitch a hissy fit about it... Oh well, I'll deal with that later. Going to start calling the electricians and plumbers to give us quotes now. I may have heart failure so if you don't see any updates for a few days, you'll know why.

11/5/05 - Big day. We're both wiped. Kitchen has been gutted! After tearing out the cabinets, soffit, stove, dishwasher and floor, we uncover some surprises. Both good and bad, of course. The good news? Hardwood floors in the kitchen! The bad news? Someone used a ton of 1 1/2" ring shank nails to severely secure the underlayment to the hardwood. I guess they didn't want the floor to come loose during a hurricane. To me, it looked the rivet pattern on the side of a B-24 Liberator. The carpenter and I spent a lot of time pulling each nail. We're going to try and use the floors as is. Maybe the floor refinisher can pull other, less damaged boards from other areas that won't be seen. Plus there's an outline, of what used to be a butler's pantry by the kitchen door. We also revealed where the original sink was located. Take a look at the first pictures of November. Tomorrow, I start on gutting the bathroom and Nan starts on finishing some of the molding for the second bedroom.

11/2/05 - Groot dropped off a 20 yard dumpster today. So we started on Mt. Trashmore in the yard and put it all in the dumpster. Threw out some tools from the garage. A shovel, rake, brooms, pitch fork, and other old junk. The guy came out today to measure the windows for the glass block. He took the opportunity to go dumpster diving. He ended up taking the old tools! Our neighbors to the west, Bob and Judy H., invited us inside their home. Their house, which they've lived in since 1967, is laid out exactly as ours. The only two major differences is that they pushed the stairway, leading to the attic, further out so it wouldn't be too steep. In doing that, they did away with their pantry. The other change was in the bedroom towards the rear of the house. They put in a bay window, almost floor to ceiling, that looks out towards the backyard. So the plan for the weekend is to gut the kitchen and first floor bathroom.

10/31/05 - Our realtor, Theresa P., wanted to see the house and what we've done so far, so we met her at the house at 6:30pm. Now Skokie was allowing trick or treaters to go house to house from 3 to 7pm only. We had no kids show up at the apartment building at all and I've only been buying 1 or 2 bags of candy for Halloween for the past years. Theresa had been waiting for us for 45 minutes and in that time she watched parents and kids walking up and down our block. We brought 1 bag of candy. Bad idea. In less than 30 minutes, we had one Reese's left. We had to leave before we disappointed some kids. No telling what they would have done to me if I didn't have enough candy to give out! Theresa also brought her 3 month old standard size red poodle, named T.J. He's a beautiful looking dog, well behaved too!

10/30/05 - Working on trying to complete one of the rooms, to get it ready for painting. Anything to try to get a sense of real accomplishment. Checked on the holes I patched. Touched up where it needed it. Then started to fix the ceiling in the dining room. Thought it might need some minor patching due to some cracks... Started picking at them and what the heck did I uncover??? Wallpaper... no, ceiling paper!!! Tore it all down. Take a look at the picture (October 30 update). The "brown" is a mix of the glue and actual paint. Used the Dif to get the glue off, but the mustard brown is still there. I suspect that the living room has the same stuff. More work... Updated some of the pictures.

10/29/05 - Got to the house early. Met up with someone who moonlights doing woodworking and tile work. I'm going to have him re-tile the first floor bathroom. We took a closer look at the tile in the shower area and it's tile over the plaster lath. No green board or cement board. The plaster lath is falling apart behind the tile as well. If we leave it up, it'd be only a matter of time that we'd have to replace/repair it anyway. Also, upon reflection, the tile is just gaudy. So it's coming down and we're going to replace it with plain white tile. Same with the flooring.  Carpenter came by and we tore out the basement. Took out the paneling, drywall, and framing. We managed to uncover just how bad the electrical is. It's truly amazing he never had a fire. There's one junction box where there are three wires just hanging out. We traced one of them back to another exposed junction box and it's wire nutted to another wire! There's another junction box that looks like an octopus. There's so much bx cable coming out of it that it resembles Doc Oc from Spiderman. Met with the Windows and Door guy (from Windows, Doors and More!) and showed him what we needed done. So for one garage service door, 3 security storm doors, 6 glass block windows and 1 bricked in window, it's a little more than $3,000. Holy cow. I'm afraid of what the electrical might cost us.

10/26/05 - Went over tonight for about an hour. Took down the mirror in the dining room. There were 4 clips/bulldogs holding that sucker up. There were also a couple of "mistakes" where I suppose they tried to initially hang it, but messed it up somehow. Patched the holes there and went back into the bedroom and hallway to check on previous patching. Have an appointment with a window and door company this Saturday to give an estimate on security doors, glass block for the basement windows, and new service door for the garage. I've updated some of the other pages with more pictures. Check them out.

10/25/05 - First day back on our real jobs. Didn't go over to the house after dinner to do any work, but we did go to Home Depot and Lowes to look at porch lights, bathroom vanities and more paint. I'm going to take the safe road by letting my better half choose the paint. We'll go over tomorrow night and do a little work. I'll try to get more pictures posted tomorrow.

10/24/05 - Pulled the tile that was in the entryway area. Was nice using a sledgehammer on the tile. Hardwood floors under that as well. Started patching the walls with joint compound. Getting ready to prime and paint the walls in the bedroom and hallway area. SBC came to install two phone lines. Only installed up to the demarc. Technician did me a favor and pulled a line into the house. Capable of six pairs. Since my punchdown block hasn't arrived from eBay yet, I had to splice it temporarily. I can't wait until I get to the point where I can wire the house for Internet and internal computer networking. That's the geek in me.

10/23/05 - Pulled more of the molding in the second bedroom. Nan picked a paint color for the bedrooms. Eddie Bauer Vanilla Bean. Off white to me... Dad's been helping out, stripping the trim in the hallway.  We'll be done with the hallway before the bedroom. Didn't take any pictures today, sorry. We also picked up a new ceiling fan for the living room. Both of us are wiped. One more day off from our jobs, then it's back to the daily grind.

10/22/05 - Concentrated on second bedroom. Took out more of the baseboard, window molding and carpet. Stripping the paint is a mix of Bix, heat gun and orbital sanding. Sanding is by far the quickest, but throws up a lot of dust. Still need to pull the wood from the wall to get the nooks and crannies. Threw all the brass hardware (hinges, screws and pulls) into Bix. Final step will be to polish it on the buffing wheel. Floors are in better condition than the living room, believe it or not. Will still refinish the floors though. Closet light is a jury rigged extension cord plugged into the outlet, punched through the drywall, then wired to a porcelain socket. What version of the electrical code was that? Didn't think so. Managed to trip the circuit breakers several times using two heat guns. Having the electrical redone is going to be painful for the pocketbook. Met more of the neighbors today and yesterday. Everyone is very friendly!

10/21/05 - Didn't rip out any more carpet. Nan took down about 80% of the wallpaper in the dining room and all the painted over wallpaper in the hallway, while I started taking out the 8" high baseboard in one of the bedrooms. My mom stopped by to help and she helped strip more of the paint off the wood trim in the hallway. Thanks Mom! We're going to concentrate on the rear bedroom and try to get all the wood trim stripped of that nasty pink paint. Met with a carpenter who's going to help me with the basement tear-out and kitchen cabinets. We decided to get a dumpster for this upcoming demolition. With all the work done today, I never got any pictures! Doh! I also managed to break the cordless drill. Dropped it from the top of the stepladder. Broke the drill head clean off. Now I get to buy a Dewalt! 

10/20/05 - Well, it's over! We were done with the closing by 11:00. Would've been done sooner, but supposedly a UPS delivery of some of our financial papers was "lost". So we had to wait while those were faxed. Other than some minor details like misspelled names and such, it went pretty smoothly.

Ripped out all the carpeting in the living room and removed the tack strips. Took down the curtains and hardware. Started on the wallpaper in the dining room and wood trim in one of the bedrooms. All of the bedrooms and hallway are painted a light pink. Uggh. Pretty wiped out from the day. Got home around 10 pm and spent some time updating the site.

10/19/05 - Did the walk through. It's amazing what appears after all the furniture is out. Saw just how bad the electrical really is. Will post pictures tomorrow night. As we were finishing up the walk through, the owner's attorney shows up! This is the same guy that tried to cancel the contract. Our realtor introduced herself to him and he responded by being rude! Unbelievable. To top it off, we're pretty sure he lives at the end of the block. Wonderful.

10/18/05 - Final walk through tomorrow at 3:00 before our scheduled close on 10/20/05 (also our wedding anniversary. I better not forget this date!).