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Varmint's New Kitchen


Varmint
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The first week of construction is history, and it's been a great experience. I'm very glad I took the time to do this project the right way. There truly have been no suprises. The one time where I thought there might have been a problem with load bearing walls, we came up with an extremely elegant and simple solution. The I-beam that goes across the eating bar now continues across the length of the kitchen, tying into the doorway by the SubZeros. We ended up with what I expected, a single 4x6 beam supporting the ceiling, and it has been done precisely as I planned. My house is already transformed, as the kitchen is now completely opened up to the living and dining areas. This is a bit silly, but when I saw today how open it all is, I almost cried. It's better than I could have imagined.

We have agreed to take on some additional expense, but only because it's necessary. We're having a second breaker box completely re-wired, but that's a safety issue. Plus, it probably wouldn't have passed inspection. The electrician arrived at 6 this morning and will be working over the weekend to get all of this done. He's quite impressive.

I've increased the number of recessed lighting fixtures in the kitchen to 10 in the main part and 2 in the baking area, plus a smaller recessed fixture over the main sink. I just ordered some very cool glass trim for these fixtures: Italian cobalt blue glass! This trim matches the glass shades on the low-voltage lighting over the eating bar.

Next week brings more adventures. We'll be installing the new window, laying the "mud" for the floor, doing the preliminary HVAC and plumbing work, and some more carpentry. The cabinets arrive 2 weeks from this coming Monday. If anything, we're ahead of schedule.

We'll be moving back into the house on Sunday. It was a good decision to clear out during the demolition phase, but it's time for everyone to get back to their own beds.

I'll see if I can't get some more pictures posted this weekend. Full steam ahead!!!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Varmint,

I've been trying to play "catch-up" and read from the beginning, but more keeps getting posted before I can get through the whole thread! My husband and I will also be doing our kitchen, so I wanted to pick up on as many pointers as I can...but I just had to tell you, that our house was built in 1957, and we have almost the EXACT same tiles in our front entrance; the color, the size and very similar design. And, since the first thing we did when we moved in was to remove the 47 yar old carpet, we now have visible the same "mortar" where the tile adjoins the stairs going down into the kitchen/living room. :shock: (Similar to you, although we didn't purchase my in-laws house, we purchased the house 2 doors away from them this past December)

I'm anxious to keep up with your project, as we have a contractor coming in on Monday to take a look at our space. Since I am a little behind, can you point me to where I can find your finalized budget in the thread?

I'm excited for you and hope your project continues to go as smoothly as can be expected...can't wait to see more pics of your progress! And I thought our kitchen was bad until I saw the pictures of your maze! At least you were able to cook in it, though...our ovens don't really work, and the stove, well, ever try to bring a pot of water to boil, and watch as it starts to boil...then stops, then takes another 20 minutes to get back to almost boiling.... :sad:

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I'm not sure if I truly have a finalized budget. Right now, the $50,000 figure appears to be right -- maybe $55,000. The appliance cost was about 9 grand, the sink and fixtures was $1,500, lighting was about $1,200, tiles for floor and counter was $1,400, cabinets were $14,300. HVAC costs are $1,400. Plumbing is about the same. Electrician will be about $3,500, which exceeded my budget by about $1,000, but that was for a safety issue. Carpentry fills out the rest (except for $260 in permitting fees).

It was great to sleep in my own bed. I've been fighting this awful cold (and losing), and sleeping on an air mattress wasn't helpful. It beat sleeping in a dust-filled environment, of course.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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The first headache arrived yesterday in the form of the HVAC technicians. If I learned one thing from this process it's that when you hire someone, hire a small, one or two man shop. Our electrician, for example, is a solo operator and has done an amazing job in a very speedy fashion. He worked on Saturday to make sure we had power to allow us to return home on Sunday. He was back at it yesterday morning, trying to get as much done as he could.

My carpentry crew of 3 is another great example of dedication. They may not put in the long hours, but when they're here, they're working their asses off and taking pride in their work. The wood subfloor has been totally secured with screws, the framing of the new closet and pantry doors has begun, and we'll begin pouring the floor "mud" in a couple of days.

The HVAC company, on the other hand, has been terrible. First, after I got them committed to do the work and put them on the building permit, I had trouble with their representative returning my phone calls. Finally, I called the home office, asking what the heck was the matter. Well, one of the big cheeses was very apologetic and came out last Friday to take all the measurements himself. On top of that, he assured me that he'd have his crew here on Monday (yesterday), and they certainly were.

Well, when I swung by the house at lunch-time, I realized they had put 2 of the 3 under-cabinet vents in the wrong location. They were about to install the gas line in the wrong place. The two of them tracked red-clay mud all over our backstairs carpet. And the guy doing the main work looked and acted like the worst charicature of a rube from the Andy Griffith Show one could ever imagine. I told him precisely where everything needed to go. I told him the gas line had to be 20 inches from the left wall and 4 inches from the ground, but it must be coming from the wall. Well, when I got home last night, there's the gas line, coming up from the floor. When the mud gets poured, it'll cover up the cut-off valve. My gosh, people!!!!

Now, before y'all go and point fingers at my "foreman" carpenter, recognize that he was out all day yesterday, doing other things I had asked of him. He was ordering a window, purchasing a door, etc. He and I both relied on the HVAC guys to do their jobs properly. Well, we won't make that mistake again, that's for sure.

Anyhow, we'll get this all cleared up. I did cook Mrs. Varmint our first meal in the mini-kitchen: grilled triggerfish, grilled yellow squash, and toaster-oven-baked potatoes. Not exciting, but not bad. And today's our 13th anniversary (and our oldest son's 11th birthday), so we're taking him and the extended family to a Japanese steakhouse.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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My gosh, people!!!!

Dean!! The language! :shock::wink:

He and I both relied on the HVAC guys to do their jobs properly.  Well, we won't make that mistake again, that's for sure.

I agree completely with your remark about using smaller one-two person operations. You still have to be careful with them ... sometimes they spread themselves too thin. But my experience is that the smaller outfits tend to take more responsibility for their work (or "pride" as Varmint put it), and for somebody like me who uses a given trade several times over a year, it makes it easier to establish a working relationship (i.e. they understand how I like things done).

Anyhow, we'll get this all cleared up.  I did cook Mrs. Varmint our first meal in the mini-kitchen: grilled triggerfish, grilled yellow squash, and toaster-oven-baked potatoes.  Not exciting, but not bad.  And today's our 13th anniversary (and our oldest son's 11th birthday), so we're taking him and the extended family to a Japanese steakhouse.

Happy Anniversary!! And Happy Birthday to the eldest Little Varmint. My youngest just turned 11 ... come to think of it, we took him to a steak house as well? (Umm Dean ... are we spoiling these kids?? :laugh: )

A.

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The HVAC crew will be coming back out tomorrow. I hope they bring a carpet cleaner with them, but red clay doesn't come out of anything. I also failed to mention that the ductwork for my hood was off by 3 inches. Dagnabbit.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Gomer and Goober are back today to fix their HVAC screw-ups. I'll swing by at lunchtime to see what they accomplished. If there is going to be a "Dumb and Dumber 3", I nominate these guys to be the leads.

On a positive note, their reconfiguration of the ductwork has improved the air flow of the house.

The electrician has nearly finished all his wiring, and it was a LOT of wiring.

I haven't added any new pictures because the progress right now is not very noticeable. Lots of repair work is being done.

The kids are doing great, as is Mrs. V. The second kitchen is a godsend.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Draw on the walls where the piping should be.

You know, that is a great idea. When "the house" finally gets in construction, it wouldn't be a bad idea to go in with a magic marker and mark where I want the power strips, cable connections, etc. I know. It is on the plans. But who reads those things, right? :laugh:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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The carpet is cleaned, the ductwork for the hood is positioned properly, and the gas line is almost where it needs to be. It should be fine, but it's still not exactly right, despite my drawing per Rachel's suggestion. Un-effing-believable!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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It's been sort of a slow week. It's not that folks aren't working hard -- they are -- but it's just that much of the work focuses on the infrastructure. The wiring, replacing the subfloor, patching and replacing sheetrock, building frames for new walls and a window. We decided it was more cost-effective to replace much of the old wood subflooring, as it was in horrible shape due to some water damage. No big deal, but we had hoped to pour the underlayment this week, but that's been postponed until Monday. We'll then get the inspectors here for the first round of approvals.

I talked with my cabinet maker today, and we're very close to schedule. We were optimistically hoping they'd be delivered a week from this Monday, which would have represented a 6-week turn-around time, but the current worst-case projection is two weeks from Monday, or a 7-week process. That's still pretty darned fast.

Appliances are ready for delivery, and I'll schedule them to arrive on the Wednesday after the cabinets get here. Of course, I leave for a 9-day spring break trip to New Orleans that Friday, so I'll be missing a lot while I'm gone. Bummer.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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The cement subfloor was poured yesterday. Perhaps for the first time in this house's history, we have a level, flat kitchen floor. This is a fast working cement that we can walk on today. It fully cures in a couple of days, but I think the workers will be doing some more sheet rock work, sanding stuff down.

I received the cobalt blue glass trim for my recessed lights, and they look very cool. It'll be fun to get them up.

First round of inspections starts tomorrow, I believe. Hopefully, the work is OK to them!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Oooooo . . . The arrival of the inspectors. Be careful, inspectors are really tricky to work with. They sometimes let their powers go to their heads. We have an expression that we use at work: "Never argue with an inspector. It is sort of like wrestling with a hog in a mud wallow. You never win and the pig actually enjoys it."

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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We have an expression that we use at work: "Never argue with an inspector. It is sort of like wrestling with a hog in a mud wallow. You never win and the pig actually enjoys it."

:laugh::laugh: Thanks fifi! Best laugh I've had in a while!

A.

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Plumbing and HVAC passed the first round of inspections. Of course, the one inspection that we needed to get done today, electrical, didn't happen. The inspector just didn't show. We need him to come, as a lot of the walls are exposed to allow him to see the wiring. Damn inspectors!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Dean, it's time for a photo(s). Show us what has happened. For some of us, there is appreciation for the stuff that doesn't look like much. Wiring can be exciting (but then again, I'm the person that drools at my local hardware stores, and wants power tools for gifts).

How are you and the family holding up? What have you been eating at home in your mini-kitchen? You and the wife still getting along? Kids not killing you or the parents?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Susan, the renovation has not been a hardship at all. The mini-kitchen has been a godsend, and because the carpenters and electrician are great guys, this has actually been very entertaining. The kids are actually loving it. The lead guy is a former snowboard instructor who actually has a college degree in parapsychology. The second guy is from the Czech Republic who drinks San Pelligrino and loves all kinds of weird music. The youngest guy is Canadian, and we all know that's entertainment in and of itself. This younger guy used to be a chef, so I try and chat him up as much as I can. We'll definitely cook for these guys when the kitchen is done.

We've been making pasta and grilling up in the mini-kitchen. Last night I made a red clam sauce, and for the first time in ages, we remembered that we can still drink wine -- so we split a bottle of Rioja. I also grilled some bread, rubbed them with garlic, and drizzled with EVOO. It was a very nice meal.

Hate me if you want, but we're having a great time. We'll be excited when it's done, of course, but we can live without our kitchen for another month. Of course, I reserve all rights to change my mind in a few weeks!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Oh yes, we Canadians are extremely entertaining. :biggrin:

It's going very well by the sounds of it. I told you in the beginning, that not all kitchen renovations have to be a nightmare. Mine certainly wasn't, and so far yours isn't either, not withstanding the earlier glitch.

I'm so looking forward to seeing what you've done!

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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The electrical inspector is being a pain in the ass.  He said he probably can't make it today or tomorrow, and he isn't quite sure when he'll come.  Meanwhile, we wait.

Maybe let him know you have a Canadian on the job site. Electrical inspectors love entertainment ... or the occaisional $50 slipped under the table :wink:

A.

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OK, maybe I just don't get it. I just got a call from the carpenters that the electrical inspector came (even though he said he wouldn't), spent 2 minutes looking at the new breaker boxes, and passed us on the rough-in. Very, very bizarre. That allows the carpenters to get back to work on the drywall, closing up lots of open areas that they thought the inspector would want to see. We only have one more rough-in inspection to go, that being the general inspector. There shouldn't be any issues there, I'd think.

I don't understand the government, and I think I shouldn't begin to try.

To ensure that this thread is food oriented, I intend to cook a meal for my crew when the kitchen is done. As I mentioned above, one of the guys is from the Czech Republic and is a little homesick. So, anyone have any good Czech recipes?

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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