Pre-listing

Sari Pearce at Realty Austin is adding Sea Eagle to the MLS service, for sale. She’s got three showings scheduled already. May the Force be with us. So say us all.

prelisting.fw

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Cleanout resurrectus

We woke to a gray morning, overcast, preoccupied. Was the attack of the Blob ended? Would the showers and toilets drain or plug and overflow?

Events started well — with first-ever showers for Jacquela and Steven in the just-and-finally completed master shower. Yay.

Noah arrived in a Custom Plumbing van about 830 am, with Blake, new to this gig at Emerald Hill. Tim pulled up seconds later in his truck. And they set to work resurrecting the whole-house cleanout that was, for some reason, never searched for, never identified, during seven months of construction.

It’s there, about three feet in front of the house, between the library and Steven’s office, about two feet to the right of the front porch. Found yesterday with a plumber’s camera transmitting signal and a wand to locate the signal.

Today’s assignment — raise the buried cleanout about two feet, into the air, cap it, make it usable, easily findable.

Noah attempts to cut away corrosion from the metal pipe that was buried for some part of nearly 50 years using a cordless reciprocating saw and blade. Tim prepares the new PVC that will be inserted into the buried pipe.
Noah attempts to cut away corrosion from the metal pipe that was buried for some part of nearly 50 years using a cordless reciprocating saw and blade. Tim prepares the new PVC that will be inserted into the buried pipe.
Tim, left, Blake, right, and Noah, hidden, force the new PVC into the old pipe junction. After this, they shoveled dirt back into the excavation, then gravel on top of the dirt, capped the new PVC, and cleaned up everything.
Tim, left, Blake, right, and Noah, hidden, force the new PVC into the old pipe junction. After this, they shoveled dirt back into the excavation, then gravel on top of the dirt, capped the new PVC, and cleaned up everything.
The newly resurrected whole-house cleanout, risen.
The newly resurrected whole-house cleanout, risen.

Later, Barry sent the bill from Custom Plumbing. Four figures. This one hurts. But the toilets flush. The showers and sinks drain.

 

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The blob

There’s a classic science fiction movie, The Blob.

Emerald Hill is not Downington, but the alien blob did attack — and we don’t know yet whether the attack is over.

Eight to 12 feet of gelatinous, clear, mystery gunk lodged in the main drain line under the house, extending from under the pantry to under Steven’s office, toward the street. It plugged the line. The toilet and shower in the mudroom bath blocked up. There was a flood.

At 1030 pm Tuesday night, Steven texted Barry for help. Jacquela and Steven mopped up everything they could, wiped down the floor with bleach, switched on the exhaust fan, left it running overnight.

At 8 am Wednesday morning, Terry from Custom Plumbing dispatched Tim and Noah, who helped to build the plumbing system at Emerald Hill.

Tim, at rear, snakes the mudroom cleanout as Noah monitors the camera for obstructions. This is where Noah and Tim started the morning -- looking for a blockage in the drain line in the slab under the mudroom.
Tim, at rear, snakes the mudroom cleanout as Noah monitors the camera for obstructions. This is where Noah and Tim started the morning — looking for a blockage in the drain line in the slab under the mudroom.

The snake stopped about 20 feet down the drain line, and would not clear the line.

So we went looking for the whole-house cleanout.

Missing.

It’s not on the side of the house outside the kitchen.

They checked the drain line where it meets the city service main drain at the street, running a camera 75 feet inside the line, back toward the house Nothing. At least the pipe was not crushed or blocked, which would have required digging up the driveway and lawn to trench for a new line.

We put in calls to Barry at Custom Plumbing and Mark at Ranserve. Mark dispatched Mauricio from Gilsa Construction, which poured the paver slabs outside the kitchen. Barry slid his small pickup on the rain-wet street into a parking spot in front of Emerald Hill. Everyone shoveled gravel and dug, looking for a buried cleanout.

Nothing.

Barry opted to rent a snake with a camera and a locator wand. Noah and Tim drove off to pick it up. When they got back, Tim drove the snake through the mudroom cleanout and Noah walked through the house, with the wand pitching tones high and low.

We found the head of the snake lodged in the drain line under the pantry.

Then they reversed, driving the snake from the street toward the house.

That’s how they found the whole-house cleanout, buried almost two feet down in front of the house, in what used to be planting bed of bushes and weedy ground cover.

The whole-house cleanout. Found. About three feet in front of the house. About two feet to the right of the front porch.
The whole-house cleanout. Found. About three feet in front of the house. About two feet to the right of the front porch.

Barry, Tim and Noah snaked the camera through the cleanout into the pipe. That yielded our first real look at the blob. They poked. They probed. They put a cutter blade on the snake. Stick the roto-rooter in and spin away, and the blob just re-formed.

Tim, snaking.
Tim, snaking. Noah with a run of blue pex that they used to spear the blob, taking away small bites.

Two hours into the counterattack, the blob suddenly gave way as Barry flushed the toilet in the mudroom.

What was it? We don’t know. Barry, Tim and Noah agree they have never seen anything like it.

The blob, in the pipe, on the plumbing camera.
The blob, in the pipe, on the plumbing camera.

It’s not normal household waste — feces, toilet paper, rice, vegetable materials, etc. All that stuff was backed up behind the blob. It appears “brain like,” folding back on itself and pulsing.

Steven believes it is some kind of construction material dumped into the line. But, what?

Barry will be back Friday to run the camera back into the pipe for a second look. Just in case.

 

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Two steps forward

Julian and Samuel today completed work on the new floor in the master shower. Tomorrow, we scrub-a-dub for the first time without walking down the hall to bath 3 — if the plumbing is not blocked.

Kyle and Andrew from Cowart arrived mid-morning to tweak the garage doors. The checked the sensors — looking for what triggers an intermittent error message on the door to the new garage bay. Nothing. So they opted to install a new wall control — in part because one of the paddle switches was broken.

After that, Kyle and Andrew drove to Sea Eagle to inspect and adjust one of the garage doors that would not operate — the sensors were out of alignment.

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It’s snowing oak pollen

It doesn’t photograph. Steven watches from his office window as the oak trees at Emerald Hill “snow” pollen. Jacquela’s allergies are working overtime.

We’ve started to assemble Jadin’s closets using Pax from Ikea. Still have to purchase hanging rails and standards.

Stacy K from near Mopac picked up a ton of moving boxes and packing paper, significantly reducing the cartons stacked up outside the kitchen.

After school, Jadin and Jacquela hit a volleyball back and forth at each other in the back yard at Emerald Hill.

Progress.

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Mosaic remediation

Jacquela objected to the mis-alignment of grout lines in the master shower. Jacquela and Steven debated what to do with Ron Dahlke and Mark Rehberg.

Today, Julian begins remediation.

Above, Julian mortars 12×12-inch sheets of 2×2 black mosaic tile, using the 12×18 black tile as the underlayment. This requires acrylic mortar to help prevent the growth of mold between the two layers of tile.

Julian returns tomorrow to grout the tile.

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Tangled up in blue

It’s time to clean the one carpet at Sea Eagle, in the bedroom we called the “toy room.”

Meet Sam from SC Proservices, above, tangled up in blue (with apologies to Bob Dylan) — about to haul the vacuum hose into the house and upstairs.

Sam at work on the carpet. He said it would take 45 minutes. And the carpet cleaned up well.
Sam at work on the carpet. He said it would take 45 minutes. And the carpet cleaned up well.
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Floor waxing

Late yesterday, Trey from DeAtley Tile & Stone cleaned and degreased the stained concrete flooring on the first floor of Sea Eagle. Today, he’s back to wax and polish the floor — above.

A second shot of Trey at work, waxing and polishing the stained concrete for showing to potential buyers.
A second shot of Trey at work, waxing and polishing the stained concrete for showing to potential buyers.
Before finishing for the day, Trey talks with Cloral, the painter, about how to protect the new finish on the concrete. Cloral is going to refinish the maple cabinets at the island. Trey instructs: "put down cardboard to protect the floor, and do not tape the cardboard to the floor."
Before finishing for the day, Trey talks with Cloral, the painter, about how to protect the new finish on the concrete. Cloral is going to refinish the maple cabinets at the island. Trey instructs: “put down cardboard to protect the floor, and do not tape the cardboard to the floor.”
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This was, part 2

This was Jacquela’s craft room — left at the top of the stairs, painted a “spring green” that she selected with help from Hannah, daughter of a neighbor — light and nearly not there. Now, above, Cloral, in the corner, and Freddie, blue shirt, are painting it Aged Parchment to match everything else in the house — neutralizing Sea Eagle for showing to potential buyers.

This was the accent wall in the stairwell -- a darker shade of neutral tan. Now it is aged parchment. The camera makes this paint color look yellow. It's actually the color of old paper -- aka "aged parchment."
This was the accent wall in the stairwell — a darker shade of neutral tan. Now it is aged parchment. The camera makes this paint color look yellow. It’s actually the color of old paper — aka “aged parchment.”
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