Inspections, payments, and piles

Jon was right–it’s starting to feel like things are moving fast now. I was in North Carolina all last week for work, so I’ve gotten behind again. A lot has happened:

  • All the odds and ends to get ready for rough inspection.
  • Rough inspection. Jon was worried about some of the plumbing changes for the widened opening, and the inspector did make some noise about it but ultimately approved it. That plumbing work, by the way, was a $600 change order to me.
  • What Jon didn’t expect was that code requirements for the location of the subpanel (the circuit breaker box) have changed, and since he did work in the subpanel, that meant he had to bring its location up to code. So Jon and Russell worked furiously the whole next day moving the subpanel from the hallway closet to the new wall where the pocket door used to be. $700 change order.
  • Jon bought the kitchen and bar faucets. Both are single-handle European design and non-shiny silver (one is stainless steel, the other is “satin,” and there is a visible difference that I hope goes away when they’re fifteen feet apart. The key, as far as I’m concerned, is that my kitchen has all stainless and nonshiny details, not chrome. $100 change order for the finish pushing the faucets beyond the allowance.
  • (Speaking of change orders, there was another $300 one for three extra ceiling lights that we realized would be needed over the bar.)
  • We passed rough inspection–yay! I owed Jon another gazillion dollars–not so yay!
  • Sheetrock has been installed everywhere except where the subpanel was moved, so that was available for reinspection.
  • Bruce’s laborers delivered the cabinets from finishing. They’re gorgeous! I didn’t remember the look of the alder wook very accurately; it’s more pinkish than I remembered, with an even prettier grain. It looks like it’s about halfway to cherry from maple in both color and grain. As I wrote, they’re gorgeous, and they’re all over the place. The old dining room is now one massive stack of cabinets, the kitchen has a tarped-over stack of bases (the jobbers that lift them off the floor), the back-of-peninsula wall is behind my sofa, the refrigerator cabinet is down in my carport hoping we don’t have severe weather in the next week or so, the various trim bits are leaned up in the corner at the end of the hallway. Sinks and faucets have been displaced to my front deck, where they’re keeping my campstove company.
  • Jon has primed the old walls where wallpaper once lurked so that it will accept the mud that Eddie’s sheetrock-taping-and-mudding gang will be hurling the rest of this week.
  • Sheetrock inspection passed, and subpanel reinspection passed–yay! I owe Jon another half gazillion dollars–not so yay!
  • Jon has brought in the underlayment and thinset latex additive for the floor that will be tiled.
  • We’ve decided the boundaries for the areas to be tiled (foyer to first stair, into closet, hallway to wall; kitchen to peninsula/bar entry, diagonal transition to hardwood).
  • I’ve chosen black for the puck lights on the cabinets over the sink and bar.

The rest of this week is all about sheetrock: taping, mudding, sanding, skip-troweling, and all that. No doubt the cats, David, and I will all have white lung disease by Monday. Next Monday Jon wants to start installing the cabinets and then get the granite guy out to measure for the countertops, and then he’ll start working on the tiles and hardwood while we’re waiting for granite fabrication.

I still need to pick the exact slate and granite choices. Jon’s leaning toward Brazilian slate, especially because it’s gauged really well, which means tiny grout seams and really level surfaces. I’m leaning toward Indian peacock slate, which I’ve already got in both upstairs bathrooms. It’s got a much rougher-hewn surface, so it needs wider grout seams and won’t look as even, but I like the colors and the river-bed look, which seem to bring the forest into the house. I think I need to see the choices together with the wood and the granite before I can decide for sure. We’ll probably take a cabinet shelf or something to the stone shops on Thursday after work. Use that comments link to weigh in before it’s too late!

I also need to decide how to lay out the tile. I like plain square-on, which is what I did upstairs, and diagonal is nice, too. Jon’s suggesting running-bond, which is the pattern a brick wall usually takes. For the backsplashes he’s suggesting doing third- or half-tiles in running bond. I’m mulling. You know what to do with the Comments link!

More change orders under consideration:

  • Run speaker cabling from living room to dining room and music room (through the crawlspace and holes in the floor). $who knows?
  • Replace the back door with something with a window and less ugly. $200ish plus labor.

That Comments link is sitting right there!

It turns out I know the inspector already! He was the same guy who inspected my water heater replacement a few years ago. That’s a long nightmare of a story all in itself, which some of you may have had the misfortune to hear in excruciating detail, but I remember thinking he was nice. I was pretty relieved when he signed off on the conversion from electric to gas, which I had to have done under the table for an extra $300 cash, a burrito, two Cokes, some tequila, and more undesired attention than I care to remember. I’d been worried that if he screwed anything up, it was going to be another whole nightmare getting it resolved. Anyway, the inspector (Joe) is a friendly guy, and he seems to like Jon and his work–yay.

I just noticed in my contract that the final payment milestone is after final inspection. The catch is that final inspection happens before all the work is finished. Jon said he didn’t plan to charge me before the work is done, and I’m not worried about him being a jerk about it (after all, we both know I could sic his wife on him), but I did think it was odd it was phrased that way.

The pot rack (just one long bar in hammered steel) arrived a few weeks ago, and the ceiling hooks for mounting it are so long that pots would be banging into my head while I cook, so I’m playing phone tag with the restaurant supply store from whom I ordered it to switch those hooks out for a mystery part (“UCP set and pins”) and smaller hooks (“C hooks”). These parts are so obscure that Enclume doesn’t even show on their website or price sheets, so it’s not too surprising that the store and I didn’t know to order them, but I’m bracing myself for a fight all the same. Curiously, the 18 pot hooks at $86 ended up costing more than the rack, which was only $46. Shipping and so on brings the total pot rack cost to $208. It never stops! Cheaper than a cabinet and way cheaper than adding square footage, right?

Meanwhile, the lot next door seems like it may have been sold finally. Surveyors have been tromping around, and there’s bits of orange spray paint here and there now. I’ve got a call in to the real estate agent to find out what’s up. My fear is that someone’s going to be building a big ugly house there and making lots of noise at ungodly hours for years. My uphill neighbors bought the lot uphill from them as a preemptive maneuver and have encouraged me to try to do the same thing. I doubt that the lot is anywhere close to something I could afford to buy myself, but I’ll ask.