Monday prep for Tuesday

Ron and Kevin from Ranserve spent today at Emerald Hill cleaning up, moving lumber and cabinets out of the way ahead of what is scheduled for tomorrow — the team from Landers Flooring takes over the house to rip up what is left of the oak planks and then install the new hickory floors and stairs.

Above, Enrique is caulking the train room upstairs, preparing it to be painted after Landers is done.

Ron's moved some of the plumbing fixtures into the pantry off the kitchen, getting them out of the garage.
Ron’s moved some of the plumbing fixtures into the pantry off the kitchen, getting them out of the garage.

 

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This is the bicycle helmet that saved my life

One year ago today. I’m biking through the traffic circle at Bee Cave Galleria. Car coming in from 71 runs the Yield sign. Doesn’t slow. Doesn’t stop. I brake. Hard. Back tire hits a wet patch of asphalt. Bike twitches out from under me. The helmet cracked when I hit the ground. I blacked out. There was a woman in another car yelling at me when I came to — “he didn’t stop,” she said. And she drove off. I got to my feet. It took a while. I rolled the bike over a curb into the Chile’s parking lot. Pulled the phone out of the back pocket of the jersey. Called Jacquela for help. Apparently I called her twice. I have no memory of that. I do remember wondering why no one was running over to help from the 24-hour emergency care mini-hospital across the street. I do remember being not sure which way was home.

Jacquela arrived. She took me to the emergency room. X-rays confirmed the concussion. No one examined me for other injuries. That would come four days later, after a plane ride to NY for Thanksgiving, when I could not get out of bed and Ellen, my sister in law, and Andy, her brother, both nurses, diagnosed at least one broken rib. Back in Texas, the doctors discovered four.

There was a lot of pain.

It hurt to breathe.

I lived.

Three weeks later I got the bike repaired. Took a short ride. Kept my balance. Parked it. Two days later, pedaled for a mile and back.

There are days, now, when I’m tired of fighting against the wind at mile 10 or 12. Last week, I did a 20-mile ride — two laps around the Galleria, through that traffic circle, past the church, and around again.

I’m aiming at 30 miles for my birthday. I’ll be 61.

I’m not done yet.

Thank you, helmet.

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Consider the stone

Saturday. Jacquela and Steven visit Emerald Hill to consider the quartz island by daylight.

Above, a close-up without flash of the fine gray veins inside the fairy white quartz of the island countertop. It’s going to take brilliant lighting to properly photograph the subtle threads that emerge from inside the stone — coming as soon as we power up the electric grid and kitchen LEDs.

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Unexpected Saturday

The painters are working in the house Saturday morning, sanding and prepping the casing and trim for painting. Above, they take a break in the upstairs loft to eat lunch.

Out back, the foundation team is checking the forms for the new garage bay. Everything is protected with plastic sheeting, because there's rain in the forecast.
Out back, the foundation team is checking the forms for the new garage bay. Everything is protected with plastic sheeting, because there’s rain in the forecast.
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Consequential countertops

Here are lines from Little Gidding by TS Eliot that Steven asked to be read when Jacquela and Steven married 20 years ago:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

We come today to where this remodel began. The kitchen. We know it for the first time.

It takes minutes to install a countertop on This Old House and other home improvement shows. Today’s adventure at Emerald Hill debunks those happy breaks between commercials where installers go from demo to granite in before and after shots. In contrast, we began at 9 am and ended about 3 pm — but these six hours are some of the most consequential since ripping down the drywall. We have kitchen counters.

The material is quartz — shadow gray at the kitchen sink and cooktop, fairy white at the island. These are selections that Jacquela and Steven approved 16 July 2015 — four months ago. One of the first decisions we made.

With the cabinets mostly installed, with the countertops installed today, the idea around which the kitchen is organized, the idea that Steven first proposed in September 2014, 14 months ago, drawing sketch after sketch of how to get the kitchen we wanted into this house, that idea is finally made physical. We knew when we bought the house that it needed a new kitchen. We wanted to take out the wall between the existing kitchen and the existing family room. Putting in the new kitchen required that we put in new copper wiring. Several architects and builders advised that the City would require us to rip out all the original aluminum wiring. So … what was supposed to be a new kitchen remodel became gutting the house down to the studs. Which gave Steven the ability to turn the kitchen 90 degrees — from the original east-west axis to, instead, north-south, taking out the wall, uniting the kitchen with the family room — and also creating a walk-in pantry.

Before -- the existing kitchen as it was inspected, just before Jacquela and Steven bought it. The wall to the left of the photo divides the kitchen from the family room. Behind the red wall is a small vertical closet used as a pantry, a water closet with toilet, and the utility room. To the right is the four-burner electric cooktop, with a downdraft exhaust fan that is duct-taped to a vent through the exterior brick. Saltillo tile on the floor. A four-tube fluorescent fixture that was installed as part of a remodel -- we guess sometime during the 70s or 80s.
Before — the existing kitchen as it was inspected, just before Jacquela and Steven bought it. The wall to the left of the photo divides the kitchen from the family room. Behind the red wall is a small vertical closet used as a pantry, a water closet with toilet, and the utility room. To the right is the four-burner electric cooktop, with a downdraft exhaust fan that is duct-taped to a vent through the exterior brick. Saltillo tile on the floor. A four-tube fluorescent fixture that was installed as part of a remodel — we guess sometime during the 70s or 80s.

Everyone who has worked on this house has worked to make this day possible. Thank you.

Let’s begin the photo tour.

Delivery

Sink slab

First problem

The counter on this wall runs more than 12 feet long. It requires two slabs of quartz. Where the two slabs meet, they are both flush against the wall when placed into position, but the front edges do not align. Efrem proposes to Steven and Ron that he slice open the drywall in order to be able to slide the longer right-side slab into the drywall, insetting it, until the front edges of both slabs meet evenly. Steven and Ron approve.
The counter on this wall runs more than 12 feet long. It requires two slabs of quartz. Where the two slabs meet, they are both flush against the wall when placed into position, but the front edges do not align. Efrem proposes to Steven and Ron that he slice open the drywall in order to be able to slide the longer right-side slab into the drywall, insetting it, until the front edges of both slabs meet evenly. Steven and Ron approve.

First solution

This is how Marcello makes shims -- slicing out wedges from a 2x4, by hand, by knife.
This is how Marcello makes shims — slicing out wedges from a 2×4, by hand, by knife.

Mind the gap

Efrem and team use Acetone to wipe clean the quartz countertops, each step of the install process.
Efrem and team use Acetone to wipe clean the quartz countertops, each step of the install process.
It's clean enough that Efrem sets down his apple for lunch. He's earned the first meal to be served from the new counters.
It’s clean enough that Efrem sets down his apple for lunch. He’s earned the first meal to be served from the new counters.

Seamless

Silicon 1

Sink cutouts

Cooktop cutout

Backsplash

The island

It took more than five hours to install the cooktop/sink countertop — meticulous and careful work. By contrast, the 5-foot-by-10-foot slab of quartz for the island goes in in less than 30 minutes — no cuts required. This beast weighs more than 400 pounds. Efrem, Marcello and Hazil moved deliberately, rehearsing each step.

Efrem wipes down the island slab with acetone.
Efrem wipes down the island slab with acetone.
To finish for the day, Efram installed and cleaned the first slab of quartz carried into the house -- positioning it inside the cabinet to go under the toaster oven.
To finish for the day, Efrem installed and cleaned the first slab of quartz carried into the house — positioning it inside the cabinet to go under the toaster oven.
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Week ending 20 Nov. 2015

Ron Dahlke files this week’s summary:

This week:

  • Finished install of all interior doors, shelves and window trim
  • Installed kitchen countertops
  • Started paint prep on trim
  • Delivered flooring material
  • Delivered plumbing fixtures
  • Set forms for garage slab
  • Ordered backsplash tile

Next week

  • Continue on paint prep
  • Start floor install
  • Call in for layout inspection for garage slab
  • Start installing rebar in garage slab
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Notes, 20 Nov. 2015

Steven ordered from Amazon last night the Schlage deadbolts, door handles and levers, irrigation controller and other items that will soon be needed by Ron Dahlke and team. Buying the Schlage hardware at Amazon saves 30 percent over the same product at Lowe’s or Home Depot.

We're puzzling out how to properly install the bathroom vanities. There's a lower shelf that Cris and Ron carefully removed from this unit. Cris cut a template for the shelf out of MDF. When placed against the wall in the bathrooms, the shelf obstructs the plumbing cleanouts -- or the cleanouts are located inside the cabinet, which would force us to carve up the cabinet boxes. But ... the schematics for the vanities clearly identify how high to locate the cleanout on the wall behind the vanity -- instructions that were not followed. Which may force us to open up the walls, again, to have the plumbers relocate the cleanouts. Stay tuned.
We’re puzzling out how to properly install the bathroom vanities. There’s a lower shelf that Cris and Ron carefully removed from this unit. Cris cut a template for the shelf out of MDF. When placed against the wall in the bathrooms, the shelf obstructs the plumbing cleanouts — or the cleanouts are located inside the cabinet, which would force us to carve up the cabinet boxes. But … the schematics for the vanities clearly identify how high to locate the cleanout on the wall behind the vanity — instructions that were not followed. Which may force us to open up the walls, again, to have the plumbers relocate the cleanouts. Stay tuned.
Enrique continues sealing nail holes with wood putty.
Enrique continues sealing nail holes with wood putty.
Out back, the garage foundation team continues packing sandbags and compacting the road base.
Out back, the garage foundation team continues packing sandbags and compacting the road base.
After bringing the road base up to the proper height, they begin shifting the form to square out the back of the garage foundation.
After bringing the road base up to the proper height, they begin shifting the form to square out the back of the garage foundation.

After discussion with Ron, Steven approved the quote for 26 square feet of red glass tile that will be used for the backsplash behind the cooktop.

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Ticktock

From the Oxford Dictionary: “A piece of journalism that presents a chronological account of an event or series of events.”

Steven visited Emerald Hill three times today while also working from his desk computer and by phone — at 10 am after dropping off Jadin at school, at 2 pm to meet with Ron and before meeting with Renee at ProSource to select tile for the kitchen backsplash and master shower floor, and again at 4 pm after leaving ProSource and before Jadin “walked home from school.” Here are photos from the evolving day.

During the 10 am visit, Julian is hammering out a concrete tile at the entry that was damaged during construction -- to be replaced.
During the 10 am visit, Julian is hammering out a concrete tile at the entry that was damaged during construction — to be replaced.
Testifying to the quality of work done by the tilesetters, it took an electric jackhammer to chip out the tile.
Testifying to the quality of work done by the tilesetters, it took an electric jackhammer to chip out the tile.
At 3 pm, the tile has been replaced -- and is cemented into place, along with the two tiles closest to the front door.
At 2 pm, the tilesetters are gone and the tile has been replaced — and is cemented into place, along with the two tiles closest to the front door.

In between the 10 am and 2 pm trips to Emerald Hill, Steven received the first quote for the two-bay garage door from Cowart Door Systems.

At 10 am, Cezar Ernesto, left, and Ernesto Jovini are packing sandbags with roadbase for the middle island of the new garage foundation.
At 10 am, Cezar Ernesto, left, and Ernesto Jovini are packing sandbags with roadbase for the middle island of the new garage foundation.
At 3 pm, after compacting the roadbase in the center of the island, they are checking for loose fill and filling gaps.
At 2 pm, after compacting the roadbase in the center of the island, they are checking for loose fill and filling gaps.
At 330, they are compacting again.
At 230, they are compacting again.
At 4 pm, the middle island is finished. Cezar and Ernesto have begun to form the third island with sandbags and use the Bobcat to deliver more roadbase.
At 4 pm, the middle island is finished. Cezar and Ernesto have begun to form the third island with sandbags and use the Bobcat to deliver more roadbase.
At 230, Aaron arrives from the cabinet shop to test fit the horizontal storage bench that will be installed in the front entry. Ron helped Aaron pivot the bench into position while Steven stood back to use his hands to take this photo.
At 230, Aaron arrives from the cabinet shop to test fit the horizontal storage bench that will be installed in the front entry. Ron helped Aaron pivot the bench into position while Steven stood back to use his hands to take this photo.
At 4 pm, Enrique on the painting team is using wood putty to file all the nail holes in the trim installed by Shane and Peter, the carpenters. This photo was shot with Steven's cameraphone, which opted to almost focus on the ladder in the foreground.
At 4 pm, Enrique on the painting team is using wood putty to file all the nail holes in the trim installed by Shane and Peter, the carpenters. This photo was shot with Steven’s cameraphone, which opted to almost focus on the ladder in the foreground.

At 4 pm, Kathleen reported by email that Ranserve had received the wire transfer payment of Draw #5 from SouthStar Bank.

At 530, by email, Ron Dahlke reports that ATS inspected and passed the wallboard installation.
At 530, by email, Ron Dahlke reported that ATS inspected and passed the wallboard installation.
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Notes, 18 Nov. 2015

Brandon Pettit from Thomas McCarthy Inspections inspected Emerald Hill today for SouthStar Bank, as part of authorizing payment of Draw #5.

Rain cleared out. Above, the construction team is back to compact the road base for the foundation of the new garage bay.

Julian and his team of tilers installed the last two tiles at the front door -- the two tiles closest to the door.
Julian and his team of tilers installed the last two tiles at the front door — the two tiles closest to the door.
And the kitchen floor is now grouted.
And the kitchen floor is now grouted.
Shane and Peter, the carpenters, have vacated the loft they were using yesterday as the wood shop. In fact, they are done with Phase 1, expected back in December.
Shane and Peter, the carpenters, have vacated the loft they were using yesterday as the wood shop. In fact, they are done with Phase 1, expected back in December.
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Welcome to the plumbing fixture warehouse

Ferguson today delivered the toilets, faucets and other plumbing fixtures, stacking them in the garage.

A huge step forward to completing the house.

Ron will have to shift them into the house, out of the garage, before we start taking apart the back wall of the garage. He will also schedule installation with Barry from Custom Plumbing.

 

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