Monday, August 31, 2009

Jig Saw Puzzle ...

Gunk Haus is like a 1000 piece jig saw puzzle, you put the right piece into its spot and it makes its surroundings more complete. That's how I feel anyway. Today's piece was the window in the dish station, replace the sashes, scrape off old paint, repaint, add window trim, you know what I'm talking about.

E! was working on the door for between the wait station and the beer hall. Soon this piece of the puzzle will be put in its place as well.

We had Joe, our security meister, here today. He had already wired the first floor and basement for smoke detectors, pull stations and such, but we needed to add a smoke / carbon monoxide detector on the second and third floors as well, because we live there and because it's not a bad thing.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sound Proofing ...

It was a rainy day, which never helps. Those days usually are slow. I was tired of doing electrical work, so I focused on something that had been on my radar for a while (never mind that my radar actually looks like Times Square on a Saturday at 10:21pm, bright and crowded).

The ADA bathroom shares a wall with the beer hall. This in itself shouldn't be a major problem, but in that wall we also installed the hand dryer, and they can be a little bit noisy. So I stuffed some sound insulation into the wall cavities, and used some spray foam around the hand dryer. I actually had to remove a piece of drywall, which we had already installed.

While I had the wall open, I fixed the electrical box for a wall sconce in the bathroom (I know, I said I was a little tired of electrical work, but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do).


Friday, August 28, 2009

Here We Go Again ...

What better way to start the day than with a little bit of retaining wall run-over. Fortunately, it was after breakfast, but the whole thing threw me off so much, I had to have another (French) mug of coffee.

Not even close!!!

And the damage is piling up. The irony is, that I had meant to fix the wall this weekend, especially because we received the check from the previous incident in the mail today.

Now some of you may think "great, you get more insurance money coming in", to which I have a few words. Screw the money!!! The agony of having to deal with things like that cannot be compensated by the few bucks we may get from the insurance. Not only do I have to spend time and energy to deal with the insurance, I have to spend time and energy to actually fix the damage. I have neither time, nor energy, but I feel compelled to fix the retaining wall anyway, because it is an eye sore otherwise.

So why don't I let it slide? Because I can't and I shouldn't. Although the retaining wall isn't in the best of shape, and will need some fixing anyway at some point in time, it is still standing, and it serves the purpose of holding back the soil, and this function needs to be maintained.

The first driver I caught running over the retaining wall (he actually didn't break it, but merely dented it) I would have let go without anything, if, IF he had pulled over and handled it in a professional manner (accidents happen, but we need to take responsibility for them anyways). Instead he quickly glanced at the carnage and continued his journey. I had to chase him down to his final destination, an apple farm two minutes away. He accused me of only doing it for the money. I told you, I could care less about the money. So instead of letting him go for free, I felt compelled to charge him $75 (an outrageous amount of money) to fix the little damage he did.

What do we learn from this? Take responsibility for your actions, you will be better off.

Subsequently, this day was over at 10am for me. In case you don't know, this project costs an enormous amount of energy (yes, I worry a lot, and I have sleepless nights, at least once or twice a week), and my battery has been in the red for quite a while, therefore anything unforeseen that requires even the smallest amount of energy throws me off completely.

I put my German immigrant laborers to work today, schlepping bricks and chimney flutes, which I had stacked behind the house. They have to make room for the septic tank. It was a showcase of the German traits of efficiency and precision.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Quelle Surprise ...

In case you didn't read the blog for the last two or so days, it says that we are painting and doing electrical work. Guess what we did today, painting and electrical work.

We did meet with the contractor, whom we selected to do the septic work, to talk specifics. We talked about our concerns, where we see problems, how and in what order to do things (we still need to use the bathroom, while they pull the potty out from underneath us, so to speak), it was very productive. In addition, our contractor met with our trusty engineer to stop by the manufacturer of our new septic tank and pump chamber.

I am not sure whether I ever told you about the design of our septic system, it is BIG. One thousand feet of laterals (for those of you in the unknown, that's pipes with holes through which the liquid slowly dissipates into the soil), a 4500 gallon septic tank (you can drown a Sherman Tank in there), and a 4000 gallon pump chamber (you can drown a German tank in there). You don't buy these tanks at your local hardware store, they are being built to order, delivered in sections, and assembled on site.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Tuesday At Gunk Haus ...

I know you're not going to like it, but today was pretty much like yesterday: Paint, wire, paint, wire, work as usual, as yesterday.

We did, however, decide on a contractor for the septic system, coincidentally the lowest bid (don't think for a second, that we would always go for the lowest bid, it just happened to be so). He will be by tomorrow to talk shop (and I'm certain, money, too).

And before I forget it, the insurance company called today and asked whom to make the check out to (in case you don't remember, we had a little incident with our retaining wall). That's nice, though I still need to fix the wall.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Respect ...

The blog has been quiet for the last two days, and I feel bad about that. I really try to update it every day, but sometimes it doesn't work out, be it because nothing worth telling happened (I don't want to bore you), or simply that I am too tired and just want to curl up and sleep.

I was busy the last two days doing electrical work for the final electrical inspection, which I told you about. It isn't difficult work, twisting wires together, installing switches and outlets, but it requires concentration and care. Electricity is one of the things you really want to have respect for, water is another (and often underestimated is fast rotating machinery), each can mess up your life in an instant. I want to get this work done before the end of the week, because Mike, our trusty electrician, will be back Thursday or Friday.

E! was busy with painting and touch-up painting, doors, windows, and trim. I know this sounds boring, but it needs to be done.

We had another contractor over today to look at the septic plans and the site. He was recommended to us from two sides, and after the surprising spread in the last three bids we were open to admit another bid. Hopefully we'll get his bid within the next two days.

There was more news today, but I want to hold off until tomorrow, because we requested a clarification, which I feel we should have before I stir the pot.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Thank God It's Friday ...

As I mentioned yesterday, we have to prepare for the final electrical inspection. So I started installing outlets and lights today. Granted, we don't have to put up all the lights, but there shouldn't be any loose wires, and all the boxes should be covered. If that sounds stupid to you, well, welcome to our world ... ;-)

Oh, and then there was the, what seems to be now, daily spectacle of watching an 18-wheeler trying to make the turn around our retaining wall. This one actually made it, and he didn't seem to be deterred by a lot of people watching and taking pictures, although it took him two attempts. And the journey continues ... ;-)


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Marching Orders ...

The day started with a low point, very low in fact. Our favorite excavator dropped off his bid for the septic system. When I saw the number on the paper, I felt like calling on my friends Jack and Jim. The spread between the three bids we had received was tremendous, which made us wonder whether the lowest bid was just low to get the foot in the door.

The day brightened up with a call from Mike, our favorite electrician, announcing he would be by in 45 minutes. He stayed until after 8pm, punching down the panel. He also had some bad news: The company, which was doing the electrical inspection of Mike's handy work is going belly-up, and so we have to prepare for a final inspection, if we don't want to hire another company, and of course pay more money. We don't! Therefore we'll have some work cut out for tomorrow.

Mike gave us a recommendation for another septic guy. We called him right away, and he may be by tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Espresso Anyone? ...

The Gunk Haus blog has been quiet the last few days, that's because I have my brother and his oldest son visit right now, and obviously we wanted to take them around a little bit. Taking around is a little far fetched, because my nephew is a skateboard fanatic, and so we took him to get a board, and to a skate park nearby.

But today they ventured to the city, New York City that is, so we had no more excuse to procrastinate. So our day was filled with painting, installing lights, caulking, etc. Nothing exciting, but the little things also need attention.

The highlight of the day was the arrival of our latest, and pretty much last, major piece of equipment, a pour-over espresso machine. E! had been lusting for one for I don't know how long. Espresso anyone? Cappuccino? Macchiato?


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Touch And Go ...

We live in apple country. We are surrounded by apple trees, and the farmers who tend to them. Two larger farms are just a down the road from us. All year long there is a steady stream of trucks going there, picking up apples from the cold storage. Unfortunately some of them rely too much on their GPS systems, which sends them past Gunk Haus, and forces them into a 110 degrees tight turn.

This turn was not made for 18 wheelers. Yet, some drivers don't seem to accept that and make the turn anyway. That was the situation this morning (before breakfast and coffee, mind), and here is what happened as a result:

The rear of the trailer had hit and broken the retaining wall to our biergarten. What happened next was rather stunning, the driver backed up and took off, while we were clearly taking pictures, and observing the situation.

Knowing where the truck would go, I decided (after a while) to drive after the truck, and talk to the driver. Unfortunately I didn't find the truck anymore, and returned home, where, surprise, the truck was parked outside. He had taken a different turn, which took him back to Gunk Haus, and the driver was already talking to E!. We got the license and insurance information, and will file a claim next week.

Having digested the incident, only two hours later we were stunned to watch another truck making the turn, this time in the opposite direction, which is somewhat easier, but still requires plowing through the grassy patch on the parking lot side of our property. Some days life can be a five letter word.

On to the important things, the door frame between the wait station and the beer hall is in ...

... and the dish station is all painted. At long last we hooked up the sink in the dish station again. You have no idea how much I enjoyed doing dishes this afternoon.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Detailing ...

The devil is in the detail. We love detail. So I spent maybe three hours today harvesting, cleaning, and reinstalling door hardware for one of the bathrooms. One of the nice things about Gunk Haus is that it is chock-full of old doors, door handles, and door hardware, but judge for yourself:

I am not a painter, which is why E! does most of the painting around the house. But E! is busy with the dish station right now (which should be fully painted by tomorrow), and I was eager to install the door frame between the wait station and the beer hall today.

So I started the day with painting the door frame in the very traditional yellow (gold, mustard, whichever you want to call it) we had chosen for trim, doors and windows. After lunch I slapped on a second coat, and it looked good, and after an hour it had mostly dried already. That's when E! looked at it and noticed that it was rather flat, when it should be semi-gloss. Well, I had accidentally grabbed the exterior paint, which is the same color. So tomorrow I'll have to put on a coat of the semi-gloss paint, before I can install it.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Primavera ...

It was prime time today. After the final touches on the spackling and sanding, the dish station received its first coat of paint (in form of a primer).

At long last, I had built the frame for the door between wait station and beer hall. Once it was test seated, I whipped out the primer and, you guessed it, primed it.

Tomorrow will be dedicated to painting, the dish station and the door frame. You'll see ... :-)


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meet Elizabeth Spackle ...

It was another day of spackling and sanding for E!, and I just assume you don't believe a thing I'm saying, so here is living proof. Watch the mistress at work.

Every spot is carefully inspected.

And the result is steckeltacular!

Not all of the joint compound makes onto the walls, though.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Thinking Of Winter ...

Fortunately we had the hottest day of the year so far yesterday. That is fortunate, because the hottest day of the year so far was in April, and it would have been pathetic to not have had at least one hot day this summer.

And what better to do on a hot day than add more heat to your home, at least to the wait station. As in any home construction or renovation you have to think ahead, and things need to be installed in sequence. So today I installed the radiator in the wait station. This was largely to get the piping into the wall so that we can close it off, and move on to other exciting adventures.

Did I mention that E! was spackling and sanding in the dish station today?! She deserves a medal!!!


Monday, August 10, 2009

Same Work, Different Room ...

After having finished the wait station, E! moved to the dish station today. We had moved everything out, except for the sink, for now, but it will have to make room at some point, most likely tomorrow.

I was still finishing up some drywalling in the dish station this morning, but now it's all done, and E! is happily (maybe not so happy) spackling away. Tomorrow is spackling and sanding on the menu (sanding in 90 degree and humid weather is not fun at all).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday, Busy Sunday ...

I feel like we got a lot accomplished today, it's a good feeling. This may largely be due to the fact that we worked on a lot of small projects (which also need to be completed, and often take more time than a big project).

Yesterday we had installed cove molding in the wait station, on the south and west wall ...

... and today we moved the freezer and dining table back into the wait station to clear out the dish station (actually we moved everything but the sink out of the dish station).

With the dish station almost empty we started finishing the drywall job (to be completed tomorrow), so that E! can start spackling, priming, and painting (you know the drill).

Today was all about little details, installing a shelf above the pass, hooking up outlets, patching holes in the wood floor. Little details, which all require attention and time.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Julie And Julia ...

It is our anniversary today, so we cut the day short, and only installed the remaining cabinets in the wait station.

In the afternoon we went to see Julie And Julia. We loved it. Half the movie is about Julia Child, the other about Julie Powell, who attempts to cook all recipes in Julia Child's book on French cooking within one year and write about it in a blog.

Some scenes reminded me of my own struggles of what and how much to write, especially about personal things. I decided early on that this blog will be more matter of fact than an excursion into the depths of my psyche, because it is supposed to chronicle our renovation efforts of Gunk Haus, although I occasionally vent and rant, which is good, after all we are human, and this project has its effects on E! and me.

I try to keep the blog somewhat humorous and entertaining, but may not always succeed at that, or I'm simply too tired to come up with something clever. I hope you, my dear readers, enjoy reading it regardless.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wait Station Outfitters ...

What can I say, things are moving forward in the wait station. The floor had dried long enough to make it walkable, nevertheless we put building paper down to protect it from the dust and dirt we carry around on our boots (and paws).

After installing cove molding along the north and east wall it was time to bring in some furniture. Right after we had bought Gunk Haus we had renovated the cottage (remember the cottage?) and put in all new kitchen cabinets, which we then removed again when we took the cottage down to make space for a new septic field. These cabinets are now filling the wait station.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hallway And Coats ...

I am almost done plastering the hallway. I could have finished today, and it's really just that little area above the door frame I need to plaster, but experience shows that plastering adjacent walls on the same day is more trouble than it's worth. So there'll be a little bit more plastering tomorrow.

Completely unrelated, and independent of Gunk Haus and its renovation efforts, here is a picture (which I largely post for a young lady, let's call her Britt, in a country far, far away) of our trusty watch dog / door bell / butt warmer / floor mob and her companion of Little Dog Orchards.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Pretty In Pink ...

We received the pigment for the plaster in the mail today, and subsequently I started plastering the hallway to the bathrooms. First I taped the drywall seams. I tried something new this time: Instead of using joint compound to adhere the tape to the drywall, I glued them on with plasterweld (the pink stuff in the picture below), which I would have had to use anyway to make the plaster stick to the tape. That seems to work pretty good, and it saves a lot of time.

Here is the ceiling all plastered.

E! sealed the wait station floor today, hopefully by tomorrow we can walk on it again.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Open The Flood Gates ...

After having lived in a swimming pool for one night (you did read yesterday's article, didn't you), it was time to clean the house, er, well. I drained the water from the well for about two hours, dumping roughly 200 gallons (although we are on a well, we do have a water meter, because we have to have one, as I explained to you a while back, and therefore I know exactly how much water runs through our system). There is still some chlorine noticeable in the water, but it is more subtle and should disappear within a few days.

The wait station is moving along, even if it may feel slow to you. E! was cleaning the floor yesterday and today to remove the gum of decades. Tomorrow the floor should have dried out enough to reseal it.

E! had also been busy painting the trim for the bathroom hallway, so today I installed it. Hopefully we'll receive the color pigment in the mail tomorrow so that I can start plastering.

It was a rainy day, again, and after having installed the trim and baseboard in the bathroom hallway, I didn't feel like (physical) work anymore, so I did some book-keeping, which I am completely behind on (remember, we don't do this for fun - alone - this is a business, and there are people watching over what we spend our money on, like, say , the tax man - or woman).


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Shock And Awe ...

As I mentioned to you yesterday, the water tests for our new well revealed a few issues. One of them was the presence of iron bacteria.

Iron bacteria don't pose a health risk, but they are a nuisance. They oxidize iron dissolved in water, which in turn can make the water smell unpleasant. The produced iron oxide can clog filters, and cause discoloration of the water.

So I went to war today, armed with bleach, a bucket, and a garden hose. The process is called shocking your well, and for those of you who are not familiar with it, here is how it works:

You pour a lot of chlorine down your well, connect the garden hose to your water pressure tank, and stick it down the well. Then you let the water run from the pressure tank back into the well for about two hours, which ensures that the chlorine penetrates the entire water column in the well. After about 24 hours you drain a lot of water out of the system to get rid of the chlorine.

Our water smells like a swimming pool right now, and taking a shower means you really get clean.