Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rainy weekend

Almost nothing better than sleeping in on a weekend morning late in October and waking up to rain. Much needed rain. Kind of a bummer that the Giants are a game behind in the World Series but the good news is Kevin's sister and brother-in-law, Molly and Scott, will be at the game tonight so the Giants have to win.

So back to Steinback Mountain. Friday morning we woke up to another incredible sunrise to greet the Tombleson crew and the painters. Dave, Corey and Justo immediately got to work on the fence and the painters finished touching up the ceiling in the BBQ room. The painters also started (and mostly finished) painting the exterior of the guest house. Note the color of the primer they used, it's very close to the grey we plan on repainting the three buildings after the renovation is complete. The prior homeowner had a painting business and did a very good job of painting the place shortly before we bought so we're in no need or rush to repaint.

We got home late Friday afternoon after all the workers had left for the weekend to find the sheetrock had all been taped and the fencing addition to the chicken coop completed as well as the part to the right of the gate. We've been going back and forth debating what to do with the new gate and our three options: 1) Keep a two-panel gate, 2) Have a single panel gate requiring a wheel, or 3) a single barn door-like panel that would slide behind the fencing on the left. Option 2 isn't ideal because the concrete slab in front of the gate slopes down so the wheel would rise above it when completely opened. Option 3 requires cutting a track into the slab and adding more concrete behind the left fencing. Option 1 will work as is, so that's the direction we'll be going.

Between the deck railing and all the new fencing, there's a lot of horizontal line action that, for a brief few moments, had us wondering if it was too much. We're thinking that when the redwood starts to weather a bit and loses its intensity, the overall look will be just fine.  We're also thinking that we're going to need to spend some time (and money) redoing the vegetable garden area so that it looks as nice as the fence that surrounds it. We're probably going to build redwood frames around the existing black tubs we currently use for the tomatoes and veggies, although we've toyed with the idea of framing them in Corten steel which we've seen used in a lot of MCM landscapes. The Corten would look really good with the pea gravel we'll most likely be using on the ground.

We also really like the concrete block wall as garden idea we found on the gardenista blog:

Not quite sure how we'd attach the new bricks to the existing retaining walls down below and outside the guest house but we love this look too much not to give it a try.

We're a week away from starting the fifth month of the renovation. Here are four videos to recap some of the progress so far:

September 10th to October 2nd

First Week of October

Second Week of October

Third Week of October

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What a weekend!

Had kind of a scary weekend. Friday morning Kevin got stung by a yellow jacket just below his right eye and because there wasn't any immediate swelling he chose to go to school and not worry about it. Well, Saturday morning around 3 he woke up to find his right eye almost completely closed and the entire right side of his face about an inch thicker than his left side. Because he wasn't having difficulty breathing, we didn't get too worried but immediately started popping Benadryls every four hours. Kevin did take his first ever "selfies" which he texted to his brother, the retired fire chief, who monitored his recovery and encouraged more ice packing over the 36 hours it took for the swelling to go away. Monday morning Kevin's face no longer looked like he was the loser of a prize fight so he headed off to campus.

Monday evening we returned home to find the fence mostly done and, like the deck railing, it looks awesome. The painters were also busy applying the first coat of sealer to the guest house ceiling and prepping the BBQ room for its beam staining and ceiling painting.

The painters are now the first to arrive every morning, showing up around 6:40 am, which is at least twenty minutes before the sun rises. The first set of today's photos were taken around 7:15 when the morning light was working its magic on Steinback Mountain.

Although we hadn't originally planned on doing anything to the BBQ room's ceiling, once we saw the quality of the Costa Painters' work in the guest house it was an easy decision to have them work their magic in BBQ room. Today they finished cleaning up the beams and put on a second coat of the "frost" white paint on the ceiling boards. They also put a second coat of the sealer on the guest house ceiling.

The Tombleson crew spent most of the day prepping the new fence/railing that will connect the deck area to the main house. They're mounting 4x6" posts directly to the (slightly bowed) cinder block retaining wall and meticulously carving out a half inch or so for each post so that they perfectly align. Again, as we've stated before, the attention to detail that Dave, Corey and Justo apply to their work is very impressive.

Look closely above the shorter ladder to see where they've carved into the concrete before mounting the posts. Sure not going to miss the not-very-safe grape stake fence….

Now that all of the sheetrock is in place, the taping should start tomorrow. Time to call it a day and start  watching the World Series. Go Giants!

Friday, October 17, 2014


Lots of progress this week. Thursday our new painters arrived and started prepping the guest house ceiling. Spent almost an hour getting to know the owner, Chris Costa, who is a really nice guy and (we think) went to high school with Chip. He's having his "#1 guy," Robert, work on the project and Dave, who has known him for a dozen years, says we're not going to find anyone better. Robert started by sanding the beams and then filling in the cracks with wood putty. He then sanded them again.

The Tombleson crew continued finishing hanging the sheetrock as well as removing all of the transom plywood panels, numbering each one so that John Laughton can make exact replicas of them in the plyboo material he's using for the cabinetry. John also stopped by to bring a mock-up of the hardware he wants to use to replace the existing hinges. The gas-filled pneumatic hinges are really nice but we're not going to go with them because they provide only one option: open all the way, and we like our old hardware style that allowed us to open the panels a few inches, a little bit more, or all the way depending on how much air we wanted. So John is now looking for more options.

The window for the shower also arrived on Thursday and the Tombleson guys quickly installed it. However, Dave was not happy with the product for a number of reasons. He thought we'd be unhappy with its exposed black screws (he was right) and the fact that both the inside and outside left and right frames were not symmetrical. He said he's installed thousands of windows and never seen one like the one we now have. After sharing his frustration with us at the end of the day Thursday, he decided to have Mike come by first thing Friday to have a look. He did, and later in the day Dirk from Monterey Glass came by and, at the end of the day, Dave informed us we're getting a new window. Thanks, Dave!

So we came home to some good news but even better than that, we have railings around the deck! Happy dance, happy dance! It looks amazing and makes our MCM hearts very happy. Can't wait to see the fence done, too.

The painters also finished staining the beams in the guest house. And, again, Dave was right. Robert did an amazing job. There is so much "movement" in the grain that it's hard not to stare at them. Robert said he stained them with a first coat, sanded them, and then applied the second coat. He said they're going to look even better when they apply the sealer to the entire ceiling. More happy dancing ahead!

Note the third picture above. That's the beam in the guest house bath that we hadn't planned for but later decided to keep exposed and run LED rope lighting behind it as an homage to MCM soffit lighting commonly found in 50s bathrooms and kitchens. We're going to tell everyone we planned it all along. The photo below that one is a detail of the (soon to be former) shower window and its exposed screws. And the last photo above is a detail of the deck railing. It's so cool the neighbors stopped by to check it out. Based on how much noise they were making it seems they really love it, too.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Everyone on deck!

It seemed like almost everyone involved in the renovation was on site today. First the Tombleson crew showed up. Then the two electricians. Then the two plumbers. And then another guy who we've never seen before who stayed for a few hours and then left (not sure why he was here, but we're sure Dave knows). Speaking of Dave, we're really loving his attention to detail. He wasn't happy with a phone conversation he had yesterday with the tile guy, something about two different opinions on how to handle the sub-flooring, so he called Mark and insisted he stop by this morning to go over the guest house in person. When he was here, he and Dave quickly got "on the same page." Mark also said that all of the tile for the guest house and BBQ room has arrived as well as the under-floor heating material so that's good news.

Dave also convinced us to put up some extra supports behind the sheetrock in the guest bath where we may eventually want to install ADA hand rails in the shower and towel bars on the wall opposite the vanity. Good call, Dave.

And Mike was also here today, along with a third potential subcontractor, getting another quote on re-installing the pipes from the three buildings down to the main water line at the bottom of the property.

We need to have a 2-inch pipe installed specifically for the fire sprinklers in the ceilings in order to pass code and Mike said one of the quotes was around $11,000. He's confident he can get it done for a lot less. For the past few weeks Mike has also been going back and forth with CalWater over the hook-ups and today he said they finally came around with a compromise that is not going to be outrageously expensive. It looks like they may now do their part of the installation for free (that wasn't the case two weeks ago) with our only expense going towards a replacement meter (and an additional ten bucks a month on our bill). Thank you, Mike.

The electricians spent most of the day digging up and replacing the conduits for the wiring that runs from behind the BBQ room and through the retaining wall that leads over to the guest house. Not sure how we're going to repair the few cement blocks they had to break in order to get the job done, but that's not an immediate problem.

The Tombleson crew installed the door for the guest house and are close to finishing the installation of all of the sheetrock in both the guest house and the BBQ room. We're kind of glad that Corey opted for the bright orange Tombleson t-shirt this morning as it was a great (photo-op and) complement to the purple sheetrock in the guest house bath.

We also checked in with Angus at Plyboo to find out the status of the panelling for the guest house. Turns out it is scheduled to "arrive into port 11/1 and be available 2-3 days after that."

According to Dave and Mike, the next step is to bring in the guys to do the taping for the sheetrock. And then, or even at the same time, bring in the painters to stain the beams in the guest house and then seal the entire ceiling. Then the walls in both buildings get painted. After that, the cabinets and lighting get installed. And then the tile guys get to finish up. Somewhere in that timeline, the shower exterior window should arrive. We're all hoping that happens in the next few days.

We're probably not going to make the Thanksgiving deadline but we're okay with that. Pretty sure Mr. Tombleson would like the progress so far. We sure do!