Tag Archives: punchlist

The Small Project Roundup

Okay, taking on a challenge to do a job a day (on average) should mean a month of doing small, easy projects. As you know, I had a large, relatively skilled job that I was hell bent on finishing and ended up calling it like 6 of my 30 projects. But I decided to finish off the month with actual small jobs.

To start, I was anxious to get the car cleaned after spilling cement in it. After all, I should TRY to keep my brand new car looking decent, right? (This is why without my family’s influences I would have driven beaters forever.)

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So, I rounded up all the unused Home Depot stuff that was lying around and returned it (Project 18) including more cement. Then I cleaned my car (Project 19).

Then my parents came over to help rescue the living room from the project aftermath (Project 20). There was a happy hour in the neighborhood that night with free food and free wine. Somehow, we started at 8 after that and managed to get a lot done. I’ll call that a win. Sorry, I usually like to show you what tools, materials, and apathy do to my living room at the end of a big project but forgot to take a photo this time.

Then I took down all the upper cabinet doors that weren’t acceptably painted on the back sides and finished that job (Project 21).

Then since I had started going through drawers and stuff in my bedroom when I was cleaning out the closet, I finished that job and decluttered the room (Project 22). This means that the whole house is relatively tidy! Except the basement.

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Not that I’ve eliminated all weirdness. Like, my grandmother held onto certain things just because they’re old, and now I have an entire drawer of antique straight razors next to my bed. This is extremely creepy but I’m not sure what to do about it.

Then, it’s rude to talk about money but I’m going to anyway. I rolled all my loose change (Project 23). It came to about $60! And more exciting still, remember how I was hiring the Irishman all the time to get my finish carpentry done 2 years ago? Well, I’ve been carrying a credit card balance ever since. I’ve managed to move it around to keep it interest free but last week I did one better and finally paid it off (Project 24)!

And this brings us to Saturday, and I wanted to see if I could come up with 6 more projects to finish in one day. Unfortunately, my dad got caught up in other work and wasn’t able to come. Without solid wall anchors or caulking skills, I substituted in even smaller jobs.

And I’ve been improvising places to hang my bath towel (the bar in the bathroom holds towels that aren’t rags that I don’t use) and meanwhile had 3 robe hooks in my basement hoard. So now this has been rectified and both closets have a place to hang a towel (Project 25).

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The power has been off out back and I’ve missed having a working light. Now that I’m finished my 5 days of curing the stucco by spraying it with a hose twice a day, I was anxious to get the outlet back up (Project 26). Shockingly (or maybe predictably), I had to replace the screws that came with the box extension because they weren’t long enough, but luckily I have a 370-pack of assorted electrician’s machine screws. I assume the electrician left it behind and I didn’t say a word.

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I stumbled upon a mini-hoard of non-sexy, non-vintage hardware in the basement and now my bathroom has a door stop. Yes, Project 27 took like 1 minute. Womp.

Along with the straight razors I found pieces of my bedroom furniture that had broken off.

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Now it’s all glued back together and the fancy topper is screwed down to the mirror (Project 28). Note that it’s still not intact, but what’s missing now has been gone for about 50 years.

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Aaaaaaand that leaves me 2 projects short. I was gonna finish the challenge off on Sunday, but my mom asked me to help with yard work again and the jobs were things that I already gave myself credit for finishing last week. So… I laundered the shower curtain and cleaned the bathroom, including the tile, which had a lot of scale on it since I’ve only cleaned the tub as long as I can remember. Basic maintenance? Nah, I’ll call it Project 29. My roommate had a cockatiel and I think washing the shower curtain took care of the last of the bird shit, so that’s a permanent-ish thing. And yeah, I said I had to mist the stucco 10 times while it was curing? That’s Project 30.

 

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30 Projects in 30 Days?

I’ve never thought it worked for me to participate in blogger things like the One Room Challenge. Starting a room and finishing it in the same year? That’s not how things work in the Crooked House. And even my parents, who raised me with more normal DIY remodeling, leave rooms unfinished until they redo them for the second time 20 years later. But 30 little things in 30 days? Stacy came up with this idea because like me, she’s made major headway on fixing up an old house but left little bits undone everywhere. I’m not excited to do these small projects, so I like the chance to cheer on and commiserate with other people doing the same thing. But on the other hand, September is the return of weather I like, and I’m not sure I want to be bound to give the house all of my time. Especially when some of these jobs can happen when it’s miserable again in January.

But My mom says do it! So here’s my list, leaving some bigger things for later months and breaking every item into the smallest thing I could possibly call a stand-alone job. I’m still not sure if I can manage 30, and I might come up with extra things to sub in for some of these. But this is a good start.

  1. Finish getting the lath attached? Yes, I am rewarding myself for missing my goal by putting it on this list. There’s almost nothing left to do from this.
  2. Stucco, scratch coat
  3. Stucco, brown coat
  4. Stucco, finish coat. 3 coats, 3 jobs is not a cop out because I said so.
  5. Wire brush and paint the stub of a cast iron pipe the gutter connects to.
  6. Weed my flower pots. I haven’t done a lick of gardening all year and now they’re kind of ridiculous.
  7. Finish painting the kitchen cabinets.
  8. Install kitchen cabinet knobs
  9. Have glass fitted in the china cabinet doors.
  10. Organize/clean the basement and retrieve some materials from the lumber hoard.
  11. Fill nail holes in woodwork throughout the house.
  12. (Have my dad) caulk seams in woodwork throughout the house. Because remember, I suck at caulking.
  13. Make small drywall repairs and patches throughout the house.
  14. Touch-up paint walls throughout the house.
  15. Install vintage brass switch and outlet plates throughout the house. (They are smaller than the new ones, thus most of the wall repairs.)
  16. Bring my twin bed back from my parents’ attic and furnish and set up the guest room. Yes, I have a guest room! I’ve arrived!
  17. Finish my closet. This means one more closet bar and baseboards, hopefully made of scrap wood. It also probably means random crap in the guest room closet.
  18. Finish the linen closet. This means paint the shelves and add baseboards.
  19. Paint woodwork in the upstairs hall
  20. Paint paneling under the stairs
  21. Paint and reinstall the basement stairway door
  22. Install a bulletin board on the back of the basement stairway door. Part for function, part to hide damage.
  23. Paint woodwork in the kitchen and the big archway between the kitchen and living room
  24. Paint vestibule door.
  25. Get the hardware back on the vestibule door and find a skeleton key. Because I’ll be locking the house with an old-fashioned skeleton key when I take the front door off to refinish it.
  26. Repaint kitchen walls as needed.
  27. Tape and mud basement stairway walls (there’s not much and they don’t need to be done well)
  28. Paint basement stairwell.
  29. My sister bought me a really nice mailbox for my birthday in March. Let’s get it up.
  30. I promised my sister I’d season her vintage cast iron at the same time that I do mine… a year later, she’s asking where it is. And since she’s visiting home this month, it’s time.

A triumphant end to Phase 1

I always imagined that the stove would be just about the last thing I’d do in Phase 1. The house wouldn’t be perfect but it would be livable and I’d make pasta and it would be triumphant. Well, I’ve been making pasta and a triumph it is not. Even easy meals are kind of tedious in a chronically messy kitchen. And elsewhere in the house, the march toward civility is moving backwards.

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Now the plan was always to slow down a bit and get my life back for a little while after Phase 1. So when would that come? It was looking like at some point or another I’d just anticlimactically say that’s enough.

But now there’s big news – I have a triumphant end to Phase 1 once again. Because a good friend of mine wants to be my roommate! That means great things for my bank account. And it also means more stuff to do now. She’s pretty easy going, but she said in no uncertain terms that the doors need to be back up on her room and the bathroom before she can move in. And there’s at least one solid weekend’s worth of work left to turn the living room and kitchen right side up again. I’m hoping for a little more help from the Irishman; without him, it could easily be 2 weekends.

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And the new end of Phase 1 (I think) is the washer and dryer. But first, there’s all this painting that feels like it will never end. But there are bright spots. I’m done most of the prep now and at the very least, the messiest painting should be done this weekend. I hope. And the back bedroom closet doors look oddly new with the mildew bleached off and painted over. Of course new wasn’t what I wanted, but I’m happy enough to have it here.

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And there’s quarter round in the living room! That’s not just a big step forward (and a prerequisite for the bookcases) but also one more thing out of the basement. 5000 to go before the washer and dryer come! Just kidding. But not really.

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So, it looks like I need to put a third coat of paint onto most of the walls. Hopefully that’s done this weekend and I can really put the house together next. Then here’s what’s left:

  • Finish Phase 1 trim painting, which means all upstairs woodwork. Re-hang upstairs doors.
  • Clear out the back bedroom. There is stuff in the furniture. I’ll have to put it in boxes.
  • Procure and install curtains or blinds for the back bedroom.
  • Move the bookcases I have back to the long wall where they were and anchor them. Add a 4th narrow unit and height extensions. (Bringing over books and other things that go on them can go beyond Phase 1.)
  • Hang the 2 downstairs interior doors and slider screen door that are currently stored in the living room.
  • Bring over one more piece of furniture for the brick wall by the stairs.
  • Add 6 more drawers (for a total of 7) to the kitchen. Make plywood drawer fronts. Paint them? Rearrange kitchen things and bring in china.

The list is getting shorter and less scary, right?

 

Let’s update that punchlist

Big news yesterday! I got a new plumber in for the last really important thing! And that means I’m past due to update this punchlist.

Range

Building Systems

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  • Connect radiators, fill system, fire up the boiler. Done!
  • Wire thermostats and activate zone valves. I used to have a temporary thermostat in the basement. I’ve moved backwards and now it runs on a toggle switch..

Kitchen

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  • Finish installing laminate countertops. Done. But some of the pieces I glued on are peeling off. So now I need to repair them.
  • Install sink. Procure and install faucet and drain.
  • Procure and install 30 inch gas range. Done! Yayyy!
  • Procure refrigerator, install hinges on the left side (Most come with right side hinges but are reversible. Done!
  • Build remaining countertop out of leftover oak. (Requires dowel or biscuit joints)
  • (Optional) Install drawers in lower cabinets. Update: I really want to get all of these and have good storage and less clutter right away.
  • (Optional) Procure and install dishwasher, garbage disposal, and over-the-range microwave. I actually got a disposal from a friend who’s redoing his house. It’s 2 years old. And Philadelphia requires these for major remodels so this is actually important.

Front Bedroom

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  • Finish painting closet shelving. Add clothes bars. (2 clothes bars in, one to go.)
  • Finish painting temporary particle board around windows. Install temporary blinds.
  • Install door strike, stop molding, and door knob at entrance to room. The door strikes I have don’t fit this lock.
  • Pre-paint and temporarily install trim around closet doors.

Back Bedroom Note: This list is low priority unless I find someone to rent the room. And then I’ll be scrambling to do it.)

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  • Sort all tools in closet and move to basement. (Half done)
  • Install closet door strikes and stop moldings on both doors.
  • Paint closet doors, closet shelving and trim on door wall. (Up next.)
  • Install permanent blinds, shades, and/or curtains. (This actually may wait until someone is renting the room)

Living room and General Clutter

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  • Count and sort kitchen items. Re-box items for yard sale and return them to parents. Done! Now I have to help them sort stuff though.
  • Collect all unused building materials. Shamelessly return everything for store credit. Done! And I’m about $250 richer.
  • Install 2 remaining interior doors. Remove cardboard at entryway. (But let’s add in the screen door for the slider, which is in the way too.)
  • Paint temporary particle board around front windows and install temporary blinds.
  • Install panel sticking on stairway wall.
  • Repair and refinish banister.

Upstairs hall

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  • Empty both closets. Paint closet shelving. (One closet ready to go)
  • Install roller catch and stop moldings on linen closet door. This door is thinner than standard and has a dummy knob. (I bought the catch in 2013 and have no idea where it is)
  • Install threshold and permanent stop moldings on bathroom door.
  • Paint all door jambs, casings, and remaining baseboards. (2 of 5 are ready to paint)

Bathroom

  • Procure and install towel bars, toilet paper holder, etc.

Basement

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  • Remove lathe and borrowed tools. Clean floor and walls.
  • Discard duplicate paint cans. Consolidate paint to one can of each color.
  • Add additional shelving as needed. (I got some and don’t urgently need more.)
  • Finish drywall at top of stairwell. Discard remaining stored drywall scraps.
  • (Optional unless I get a roommate) Procure washer and dryer. Consider 24 inch appliances or local appliance dealer that will dismantle full size appliances and reassemble in basement.

So I think we can call this serious progress. I now have all the basic functions of a home!

Almoster and Almoster

I may be going in circles with the heat, but some things are getting better in a big way. Last week, I borrowed the Suburban again and may have finished everything I’ll ever need to do with it. So what’s new and better now?

I have a real refrigerator! We dented the side getting it in. Oof. But it’s not that obvious, and it was a Craigslist bargain so I don’t feel like I threw too much money away. And my over-the-range microwave is in! The vent ducting isn’t all hooked up just yet and there needs to be an outlet in the cabinet above it, but baby steps.

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I have bookcases! I used to want something a little airier looking than these basic IKEA Billys, and I wanted something that would hold stereo equipment as well as books. But everything I really liked would cost thousands of dollars and these were free when my grandmother moved into a smaller room. The proportions are a little off right now. I want to add one more narrow unit to the right, and make it 16 inches taller with height extensions. My TV, Victorian clock and (reproduction) Brancusi bust will fit, of course along with books, but stereo equipment is not happening.

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The big fancy mirror in my bedroom is finally mounted on the dresser. Now I have room for the matching wash stand. There are a few pieces of fancy missing; I’m wondering if it’s feasible to have them remade.

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And last but not least, I’ve gotten rid of a lot of trash, household items to sell or donate, and wood to burn. Up until now, I’ve always had at least one room plus the basement and the back yard that were pretty jammed with it. The basement is empty enough that I can paint things down here.

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The back yard hasn’t looked this good since 2013. My office building is having an e-waste collection on March 1st, so the microwave is sticking around a bit longer.

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And the dining room table is still pretty crapped up, but this is progress, too. It’s reached steady state conditions. I clear stuff off the table and then gather stuff from the rest of the house and put it here. This should be the only messy spot in the house by Saturday. Unfortunately, I’ll also have all the low hanging fruit cleared out by then and the rest will take actual work. But hey, the floor is clear!

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So what’s left to do? The 3 year house-anniversary is less than 2 weeks away and I’m hoping somehow Phase 1 can wrap up before then. If I want that to happen, I’ll need to:

  • Install the rest of the door strikes and stops. One strike plate doesn’t fit so I’ll also need to go back to the salvage yard.
  • Hang 2 interior doors and the screen to the patio door downstairs.
  • Paint the shelves and door jambs in 3 more closets.
  • Get somebody in to hook up the stove. My DIY confidence is pretty high but it stops somewhere short of gas plumbing.

Heating up

Yep, my radiators are finally working! (Item 1 on the Punchlist.) But this wasn’t quite as easy as 1, 2, 3. First I had to hook up all the radiators. I bought a spud wrench to do this in case the fittings were loose. And it’s a good thing I did because the plumber (or more likely his idiot helper) had one of them cross threaded and it wouldn’t go on. My dad said “I hope it’s the radiator fitting and not the pipe.” And horrible images of re-soldering things flashed before me. Luckily, it was the fitting and he had left an extra one behind.

Then I had to reconnect 4 PEX pipes that the chimney people had cut. And so I joined the West Philly Tool Library and was able to borrow the tools I needed to do the job! This is amazing and I highly recommend the place to anyone in the area.

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Then we pressurized the system. But the water seemed to keep flowing in and gurgling up longer than it should have. Turns out one of the radiators wasn’t tight and the water was running down inside a wall. Thankfully, it wasn’t a repeat of Chad’s Tears Falls, but it meant a little bit of screaming, depressurizing the system, and very anxiously refilling it. And tightening up several radiators throughout the house. Big sigh. My bathtub still has a pile of wet blankets in it.

And then we got it on but the radiators weren’t heating up evenly. We decided to flush out the system so we opened the valves to fill the system and just let water flow through. And then I caught 2 valves that hadn’t been opened and finally learned how the control valve works. When it opened like a mini hot water fire hydrant all over my groin. I screamed. But actually the water wasn’t all the way hot yet. Anyways, it’s done!

Then there were some other important things that happened. My dad made this nice cardboard cutout for me.

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What’s it for? The sink! We got this hole cut last week. I still need a faucet and I guess a drain, though sometime soon I’m getting a free garbage disposal. Note: this is an undermount sink, so we have to rig it to make it work with a laminate countertop. But they’re temporary anyway.

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Speaking of which, remember how they needed to be shimmed up, braced together, and screwed down?

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It’s nice to have scrap wood.

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And I glued the leftover edge pieces on. So now I think I have the best $50 countertops I could have possibly gotten. They still need almond caulk to hide those seams.

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And while I had the Pex tools I took care of some other plumbing things. The terrifying pipe that could have destroyed my kitchen is now gone. And the capped lines for the kitchen sink have shut off valves on them. I’m all set until I decide to live high and get laundry appliances.

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All those pipe fittings were in my basement from who knows when. I’m going to use whichever ones work for my sink, and then you see those bar codes? I’m gonna wash them off and just see if I can return them for store credit. Would I call this honest? No. But there might be 15 dollars for me in there!

New for 2016: An Actual Punchlist!

I’ve (mis)used the word before and gave you a list of basically building the whole house, but the things on this list actually seem like finishing touches to me. Even all the kitchen appliances. I’m trying to keep this list to things it really makes sense to finish, but I may call Phase 1 complete without actually finishing the whole list. I really just want to get the basic functions and then cut back on the work a lot.

So here’s the new list.

Building Systems

zone valves 1

  • Connect radiators, fill system, fire up the boiler. No explanation needed.
  • Wire thermostats and activate zone valves. Until I do this, the heat will be controlled inaccurately from a thermostat in the basement. After, I’ll have separate thermostats in the living room and both bedrooms. The bathroom will be on whenever the heat is on anywhere else.

Kitchen

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  • Finish installing laminate countertops.
  • Install sink. Procure and install faucet and drain.
  • Procure and install 30 inch gas range.
  • Procure refrigerator, install hinges on the left side (Most come with right side hinges but are reversible. Refrigerator must be 28 inches wide to fit through the front door, which is the smallest full size refrigerator available in the US.) Because the mini-fridge with the missing hinge pin isn’t cutting it.20160101_144555
  • Build remaining countertop out of leftover oak. (Requires dowel or biscuit joints)
  • (Optional) Install drawers in lower cabinets.
  • (Optional) Procure and install dishwasher, garbage disposal, and over-the-range microwave.

Front Bedroom

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  • Finish painting closet shelving. Add clothes bars.
  • Finish painting temporary particle board around windows. Install temporary blinds.
  • Install door strike, stop molding, and door knob at entrance to room.
  • Pre-paint and temporarily install trim around closet doors.

Back Bedroom Note: This list is low priority unless I find someone to rent the room. And then I’ll be scrambling to do it.)

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  • Sort all tools in closet and move to basement.
  • Install closet door strikes and stop moldings on both doors.
  • Paint closet doors, closet shelving and trim on door wall.
  • Install permanent blinds, shades, and/or curtains.

 

Living room and General Clutter

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  • Count and sort kitchen items. Re-box items for yard sale and return them to parents.
  • Collect all unused building materials. Shamelessly return everything for store credit.
  • Install 2 remaining interior doors. Remove cardboard at entryway.
  • Paint temporary particle board around front windows and install temporary blinds.
  • Install panel sticking on stairway wall.
  • Repair and refinish banister.

Upstairs hall

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  • Empty both closets. Paint closet shelving.
  • Install roller catch and stop moldings on linen closet door. This door is thinner than standard and has a dummy knob.
  • Install threshold and permanent stop moldings on bathroom door.
  • Paint all door jambs, casings, and remaining baseboards.

Bathroom

  • Procure and install towel bars, toilet paper holder, etc.

Basement

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  • Remove lathe and borrowed tools. Clean floor and walls.
  • Discard duplicate paint cans. Consolidate paint to one can of each color.
  • Add additional shelving as needed.
  • Finish drywall at top of stairwell. Discard remaining stored drywall scraps.
  • (Optional unless I get a roommate) Procure washer and dryer. Consider 24 inch appliances or local appliance dealer that will dismantle full size appliances and reassemble in basement.