Wednesday, August 21, 2013

And that's a Wrap!

Why is it that the final phase of the project seems to drag on forever? It just does.

I think it's because the end is in sight and you just want it to be done. It's easy to feel that it should be finished as of yesterday but there are still several loose ends to tie up. As Joe was telling me, you've got to keep the intensity level up at this stage and not let down.

It's been busy around here since my last update. Joe installed some hardwood flooring in the area leading into the sun-porch and had Above All Hardwood Floors come in and do the final sanding and sealing of the floor. There was no way it was going to match because of the fading in the flooring that takes place. It will take time but eventually the surfaces will look much more similar than they do now. First world problem.

Joe also installed the gate for the deck so we can now leave the pups out there to bark their little heads off and upset the neighbors., I actually plan to buy two shock collars if necessary; Toby won't need one. We'll see how it goes.

Marvin Windows came through as they said they would and brought us our replacement door frame with attached transom window last Thursday. I was so happy to see it arrive. Joe took some time to make certain this one didn't leak before installing it.

When we had our driveway replaced 5 years ago I redid some of the landscaping in front and replaced all of our low voltage landscape lights. I bought about a dozen extra knowing that I would at some future point be adding a sun-porch and deck off the back of the house and wouldn't it be nice to have some matching lights? But I didn't get enough. Fortunately I was able to find the same lights online packaged under a different name and ordered enough to do the job. I spent some time this past week putting them to use. They add a nice touch.

Eric was here yesterday working on gutters for the project. He's got them engineered so all of the water coming off the roof is being directed away from the foundation either off to the side of the house or in front. Nothing gets dumped out in back and allowed to flow back toward the foundation the way it used to.

There are still a few small things that need to be done but the city inspector came through this afternoon and did his final inspection. He said Joe did a "super job!" We couldn't agree more! I never would've imagined a year ago that we'd be blessed with an addition such as this.

We can't say enough good things about Joe. We'd hire him to do our addition again in an instant if we had it to do all over again. We do have several other projects around our home that will need attention in the next few months and I've already told Joe that he's our guy. I have no intention of bidding them out.

If you're in the metro area and are looking for a carpenter please consider giving Joe a shot at your project. I can guarantee you that you won't regret it.

Joe can be reached at 612-597-3606

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cabinetry and Brickwork

A lot was accomplished this week inside the sun-porch. Keith was here Tuesday morning and began the installation of his shelving and cabinets. I was a little concerned when I first saw the finished cabinets inside his shop a few weeks ago. The yellowish-beige color of the back of the cabinets was more yellow than I remembered it from the sample we used but I decided not to get too concerned because I knew that all of the colors we'd chosen worked well together and I had to trust in that. But still my curiosity got the best of me so I took off from work a couple hours early on Tuesday to go and have a look for myself.

I was relieved to see that in the light of the room the color is perfect! It was just the color I was hoping for and not too yellow at all.

Keith also made the mantel for the fireplace and he could not have done a better job. I had given him a photo of a mantel I'd found online and he did a great job of duplicating it with just the right amount of distressing. It's a simple design with just enough 'rustic' thrown in. We couldn't be happier!

Joe came by the next day to see Keith's work and I could tell that he was impressed. He figured that Keith must have made the crown molding in the shop and fit it into place once he got it here because it was so well done. I told him that he constructed it all on site.

Dan and Scott arrived Thursday morning to hook up the ceiling fan, the outdoor lights and the rest of the electrical.

I got a call from Dean at Condor Fireplace Thursday morning to see if it would be alright if he sent a guy out on Friday to do the brickwork for our fireplace. That would work perfectly I told him. So much was falling into place now and both Tammy and I were feeling relieved about the progress considering the delays we've had to deal with because of Marvin Windows. I'm sure Joe was feeling it too.

A driver from Condor Fireplace dropped off the stone for our project Thursday afternoon. He said that Paul would be doing the work for us and that he was the best. That was so nice to hear.

Paul arrived early Friday morning and got set up. I asked if he would mind if I set up my video camera on a tripod to film his work for a time-lapse video that I'd like to do. He didn't mind at all.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Week 14 and We Shall See

Monday morning found me in a not so happy mood. It had been at least 10 days since I was told by a woman at Marvin Windows that I'd be contacted in the next day or two by Gabe who would be making arrangements with me to come out and look at our leaking door. Gabe nor anyone else at Marvin Windows had contacted me since that call 10 days earlier and I was beginning to wonder if they ever would. I left a message for Joe to tell him of my frustration and then followed that up with a call to Marvin Windows where I eventually reached Gabe's voicemail. I left a not so kind message for him detailing my frustration in having two defective products delivered to our home on the same day with little to no follow up to rectify the most recent problem.

Joe returned my message as soon as he got it and shared in my frustration. He was on the road returning from Florida but was going to do what he could to elevate the issue to someone at Marvin Windows headquarters.

His efforts paid off.

I got a call within an hour from a Marvin Windows rep who was working in Burnsville and said he could be by in the next couple hours to look at the door. It was perfect timing because Joe would be arriving in town in time to meet with him.

It turns out that the problem with the door is a cracked sill which is preventing the drains within the base of the door from working as they should. The rep told Joe that we'd hear from him within 48 hours about when we might expect delivery of a new door.

48 hours later and we'd heard nothing. I asked Joe to give them a call once more. I haven't been this frustrated with piss-poor customer service since dealing with BestBuy a few years ago. I no longer do business with them.

Joe was told that our door will ship out of their Warroad, Minnesota factory on the 12th and that we should receive it later in the week. We shall see.

That wasn't the only glitch this past week. I called Perry at Condor Fireplace to see about when we might expect to have the brickwork done for our fireplace. Perry was on vacation so Ryan took my call. They knew nothing of me. I wasn't on their horizon or radar for installation even though I'd sent Perry our credit-card information two months earlier. Ryan said he'd do what he could to get us scheduled as soon as possible. Again...we shall see.

Last week wasn't all bad though. Bryan was here steadily working away on the tile floor. It looks really nice! The idea of covering most of it with a large rug doesn't really appeal to either Tammy or me but it's what we'll probably do because of how echoey it is in the house now. We'll need to do something to dampen the sound. Echoey actually is a word by the way...I looked it up.

We're expecting Bryan to come by tomorrow and apply grout sealer to his work. Keith is planning to install the cabinets and shelving on Tuesday. I hope I'm here to get some video of the install but that may not work out because I work a day shift. Y'all don't want Tammy me.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Marvin Windows is Causing us Disappointment

Marvin Windows, the manufacturer of our windows and door for our project has been somewhat of a letdown for us. Joe said that it's rare to have any sort of problems with their products but we've encountered two issues that have added considerably to the completion time of our addition. The first being the dent in the window framing that I'd written about earlier and the most recent being a defective sill along the bottom of the door leading to the deck. The sill is supposed to void rainwater out some vent holes in the base of the door's framing but it's not working and when it rains the water backs up and leaks onto the floor inside the porch. Joe said the Marvin Window representative told him he's only heard of this happening one other time.

With the tile floor next to go in inside the sun-porch, the leaking door threatened to put a halt to any further work in there. We couldn't afford to risk having more rainwater seep in and cause any sort of damage to the tile work that was about to be done. Joe came up with a temporary fix that allowed us to press on. A heavy downpour of 3/10 of an inch of rain in less than 15 minutes Sunday morning proved to be a good test. The temporary waterproof fix for the door did the job!

Joe asked the Marvin Windows rep to resolve the defective door for us expeditiously but I hold out little hope that they will. They were supposed to have rushed a replacement window to us to rectify their first 'mess-up' and that took over a month. So, this is where the blog comes in handy as I voice my dissatisfaction with Marvin Windows and their lack of quality control and upload my experience to the net for others to read about. Are you listening Marvin Windows?

Bryan set up shop in our garage earlier in the week and began readying the floor in the porch for tile. The process is much more involved than I would ever have imagined. His crew arrived at 9:00 sharp Thursday morning and after going over their individual roles one last time they got busy laying down the self-leveling floor compound.

It's a time-critical process that allows so little room for error because the compound begins to set up after just 4 minutes. Bryan had spent easily two days prepping the floor and laying out the thin, low-voltage wires across the entire floor that will provide heat for the room. One of his biggest concerns during the cement pour Thursday morning was that the wires not be ripped out by a dragged foot from their anchored positions. He had a glue-gun at the ready in case a fix needed to be made on the fly. He also had another drill waiting in the wings in case the one being used for mixing the compound went belly-up. He was leaving nothing to chance.

I was off from work this past week and made a point of finishing the remaining landscaping around the deck. It's a job I'm really glad to have behind me.

The focus for the coming week will continue to be the tile floor in the sun-porch and possibly finishing up work on the deck. We're waiting for the gates to arrive which will be placed at the top of the stairs and will allow us to let the pups while away their day out there when it's not too hot.

And we'll also continue to wait on Marvin...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 11 of Our Project

The majority of Joe's time last week was spent building the pergola. It was no easy job but all of his efforts payed off because it looks great and we're all very happy with it. I know he enjoyed building it but I think he's glad to have the job behind him.

Joe had fun asking people looking at his handiwork, "how many rafter tails do you think there are?"  I guessed way low and so did Jeff. Joe counted 116 of them. Keith came by and Joe posed the question to him. Little did Joe know that Jeff was behind him giving Keith the exact number with his fingers. Keith looked up, surveyed the structure and shot back, "hmmm...115?" Joe couldn't believe it! "That's pretty good!" Haha...too funny!

I mentioned in my last post about the window Joe needed to move along the back of the house to make for a better transition for the railing to tie into the side of the house. We'd hoped to have the window moved a full 12 inches but because of some unforeseen vent-ducting in the way Joe was limited to only 6.25 inches. He cut some new cedar siding that Jeff painted before installing a pseudo post which appears to be embedded into the side of the house that the railing will tie into. It's going to look and function just fine and we're pleased with how it turned out even if it wasn't ideal.

Jeff finished painting the interior and exterior of the porch in addition to caulking all of the joints in the pergola and painting it. It really looks nice.

The project continues to make steady progress toward completion but because of some scheduling conflicts with Joe's tile installer work will come to a standstill for a couple days during midweek this week but not before Joe finishes the deck and railing which he began putting down a couple days ago.

The pups have been eyeing their new deck. One key thing we'll need for them out there is a new water bowl. That will be the crowning touch!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I say "Purgulah", you say "Pergola"

Week 10 and lots of stuff is beginning to come together now.

Jeff will be done with the interior painting of the porch today freeing up the space for Bryan to come in and do his tile work although I don't think he'll be able to begin work until Thursday due to his schedule and other work commitments. So many contractors in the area have had their schedules pushed back at least a week or two because of the wet spring we've experienced.

We had one 'oops' moment this week when it came time to erect the pergola. The Azek composite deck material we'll be using comes in lengths of 12, 16 and 20 feet. We'll be using 20 foot lengths but that length results in the far right vertical beams of the pergola falling in line with the outside edge of one of our family room windows. It's something we could live with but ideally we'd like to have a setback of maybe 12-18 inches so the post isn't so visible from inside our family room looking out. Keep in mind, in the photo to the left there will be one more shorter post situated between the one closest to the house and the window which will be used for the railing. It's that post which was troubling us most.

What to do?

We mentioned our concern to Joe, somewhat worried that maybe he'd think we were being too picky. He didn't think so. He agreed that it would look better to not have the pergola post imposing on the window the way it is. Joe came up with really the only option available to us and that's to move the window over in the direction of the other window; something neither Tammy nor I had considered.  This solution works really well for us all and I can sleep better once again.

The pergola is quite labor intensive requiring calking of all the seems before it gets painted. It's also labor intensive because of all of the calculations Joe has to make to get it to assemble correctly. It's not a kit. I believe the plan is to have it fully built in the next few days so Joe can begin work on the decking.

We're coming into the homestretch now and that's nice to know but there will still be a lot that remains to be done with respect to furnishings and such.

Video from the past week...

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Working in Miniature

Joe has been doing some serious thinking about the pergola he's about to build for us. There are many considerations to factor in, some known and some unknown. To be able to foresee all of those considerations better Joe decided to build a mock-up to scale and construct a miniature pergola using proportional pieces of wood for the pergola. He noticed a couple of issues during its assembly and after calling Karen over to have a look we believe we've got the solutions figured out.

Antonio's work on the retaining wall was held up at times by continued wet weather but he was able to place his last brick Thursday night with an hour of daylight remaining leaving me the next couple days to work on landscaping around it.

I'm Steady Eddie when it comes to this sort of work but still I spent most of my Friday and Saturday with just a few minor interruptions working on landscaping around the retaining wall. I could have done without the half inch of rain we got Friday night. All that's missing are two or three additional shrubs and the accent lights.

The replacement window for the damaged bank of windows on the east side of the porch will be delivered and installed tomorrow and that will allow work on the inside of the porch to resume. Everything pretty much came to a full stop while we waited for the replacement window to arrive. Once the window is installed Joe can finish applying the cedar siding and Jeff can come back and finish both the interior and exterior painting of the porch.

I think Joe's main focus this week will be the construction of the pergola. I'm not sure that I've fully grasped just how large it will be even with Joe's miniature mock-up. It should be exciting to watch it being built.