Sunday, May 31, 2009

Getting near the end of Phase 1; woot!

We're getting there. Can you feel it? The excitement? I sure can.

It's been a mix of getting things done quickly and starting things slowly; we're a bit behind schedule, a bit overbudget (neither of those are surprising), but it's satisfying to see our initial list of changes starting to come to a close. Sure I've still got some outlets to change and little paint touch up here and there, but that's minor in the grand scheme of things.

We're now all finished with painting the living room (no more ceiling painting for a while!) and we've started to put the laminate in. That photo there, by the way, shows the small portion of the flooring that we've finished (yay photo angle trickery) not the whole room.

Putting the floor in hasn't been that bad; we cleaned the concrete underneath, left a little note commemorating our little adventure here, put down the underlayment, and started cutting and laying down the laminate. It goes in pretty easily but still requires some tapping with a special block and a mallet to get all of the wood to fit together (it's a tongue-and-groove joint). We also ended up cutting some of the starting pieces into 2/3 - 1/3 parts (i.e. 1 row full, 1 row 2/3 length, 1 row 1/3 length, rinse, repeat) using my new miter saw to do the job. I won't bore with the gory details, for now, but it comes together well enough and we're to the point where the next move involves...the circular saw! Duh duh duh!

Anyway, with the painting done and the floor coming along it's really starting to look nice, and we can't wait to get the rest of the work done and have as many of you over here as we can. Goodnight!

PS: make certain to watch the slideshow to look at my witty comments.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Plans for this weekend

We've taken a couple of days off this week from (ahem) hardcore painting to simpler things like setting up the office and not painting. It's been nice to take a break but we're back at it, finishing up the painting in the living room and prepping for the floor installation. Jeff and Lauren came by today to bring us food (In and Awesome Out) and take a look at the progress of the house (thanks again guys).

So as to work, Christina went about putting finishing touches and a second coat on the wall/ceiling intersection while I removed the old baseboard, cleaned up, and went to Lowe's (which isn't very convenient anymore since it's in Ventura). I also finished up the remainder of the ceiling, to which I say thank God. Painting large ceilings was bulking up my shoulders to the point I can hardly lift my arms over my head without my shoulder bumping my ear, but I digress.

We're looking at another hour of paint touchup and then flooring cleaning, prep, and a Costco run for 19 boxes of Brazillian cherrywood. Tomorrow should be interesting; we'll keep you posted.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Carpet!

We finally had the carpet installed yesterday after two weeks of it being on back order. No more icky old blue stuff with who knows what on it. We can actually walk bare foot in the bedrooms without cringing, yes! We are currently unpacking and getting settled in the bedroom and office. We have a curtain over the sliding door in the bedroom and our Ikea desks are all set up - they are nice and big. This weekend: finishing painting the living room and starting on the hardwood laminate, and then we can finally relax a bit (aka save money before we move onto lighting fixtures and the bathrooms).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The floggings shall continue until moral improves!

This past Memorial Day weekend was, as some might say, action packed. We got to see our friends Sean and Chayna get married (and Christina was a bridesmaid), I got to hang out with Billy and Justin, and we got some painting and Ikea'ing done.

Billy helped me finish painting the ceiling in the kitchen (finally done) and then he and Justin and I did the normal thing we do when we're together: Walker Texas Ranger and Commando (greatest Arnold movie ever). All the while Christina was getting her bridesmaid on and helping Chayna prepare for her wedding (which was a lot of fun).

Sunday after the wedding Billy, Christina, and I went to Ikea in sunny Carson, CA and spent the better part of 3 hours shopping and packing cars, eventually leading to the realization that the Fit is not as big inside as I thought. We ended up strapping some desktops to the roof of my car and slowly made it back to Camarillo. But enough about my weekend.

Billy and I threw together the new kitchen island and shelf and called it a day. The next day Billy said farewell, headed back up to Woodland, and Christina and I continued working; her sanding the walls of the living room and I repairing a couple of sprinkler heads in the backyard (tenatively repaired...pending further testing). We have since painted the bulk of the living room walls and ceiling. Now it's filling in the wall/ceiling borders and applying second coats as needed.

On a final note, the carpet is coming in tomorrow! Finally we can walk on something a) not blue and b) with a pad not composed of what feels like newspaper and sawdust. We'll keep you all posted.

Oh yah, we also got our washer/dryer and oven.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kitchen work and the last half week

Whew. I don't know what else to say to describe the work that we've been doing the past several days. My mom (Hi Mom!) came down on Sunday after surviving the withering heat of Merced and seeing the First Lady give the UC Merced graduating class (439 strong) their commencement speech, and started helping us figure out a color scheme and general plan of attack for tackling the kitchen.

The weekend consisted of hours of scraping 2 coats of paint off of un-sanded and un-primed laminate cabinets (then sanded and primed), selecting some paint colors (Oatlands Subtle Taupe, Asiago, and Knight's Armor), many trips to Lowe's and Home Depot, Costco, and Von's, and just a lot of general work.

We spent a lot of prep time getting the kitchen ready for new paint; we took Monday off of work to make certain we could get it all done. To be honest the days and nights are starting to meld into each other and I'm not quite sure what happened when.

But the end result is we got a ton of work done; my mom weeded and pruned rosebushes, cleaned off cabinet door hardware and prepped the cabinet doors themselves for transformation (forthcoming) and Christina and I scraped, sanded, and painted our way into a new kitchen.

Tuesday saw the installation of the sink, disposal, and accessories and grinding down of the front entrywat by Christina's dad Nick (thanks Nick!) as well as the Verizon Fios installation (finally some fast internet), and the completion of the first coat of paint on the kitchen ceiling and walls. Take a look at some of the photos from this past weekend.

And finally, while we still have a little more work to do in the kitchen, take a look at the before and after shots:

So I want to thank my mom Catherine, Christina's dad Nick (and his workers Tito and Roberto), and of course Christina. Good night! I need to get up and have the energy to do this tomorrow.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

All Moved In

We're finally out of the apartment! Yesterday, Sam and Travis (thank you both) helped us with the dreaded move. We rented a U-haul and survived the long day of walking up, and down, the apartment stairs with our heavy boxes and furniture. By the time we were finished, the truck was packed to the brim. We formed a caravan with Travis in Ted's car, Sam in hers, and us in the truck, and made it over to Camarillo. Unloading was much easier; we basically tossed everything in the garage for the time being until the carpet and flooring is finished.

Today we chose paint colors for the living room and kitchen. Ted's mom is visiting, helping us make wise choices and with all of our little projects going on right now. We sanded down the kitchen cabinets and will hopefully paint them tomorrow. Short post but we are currently "borrowing" internet and are beyond exhausted. Goodnight!

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Countertops!

We're getting prepared for the move tomorrow and starting to see everything slip into place; new carpet and Fios next week, oven and washer/dryer the week after, fridge getting moved tomorrow and now we've got our new countertop installed 2 days early! Some moving in, some painting, and eventually me trying out the miter saw and laying down some flooring.

I'm excited.

As you can see it's a pretty big improvement over what was there. It's laminate, so faux-granite (faux-graminate?), but I'm still extremely happy with it. Thanks Mom and Dad for making this post possible.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wedsnesday, aka 2 more days of work before we move

Another day of work, painting to be exact, and another day closer to move-in. Today I bought a fridge from Costco. It's sitting in the garage until we can get the kitchen painted and another guy strong enough to help me move it (Travis I'm looking at you).

Painting is coming along well; we've completed the bulk of both bedrooms (save for minor trim and doors). We're starting in on the kitchen and are looking to have a semi-complete house sometime mid next week. New countertops, sink, faucet, appliances, should be good.

This weekend we'll be having Sam and Travis help us move and my mom (Hi Mom) will be coming down after to help with painting and all the other things that we're already over our head in. Should be fun!

Another day...painting, countertops, and more!

Today after work we finished painting the office (except for the ceiling). Elizabeth and I tackled the baseboards and moldings. The off-white color we picked is, well, whiter than we expected. We'll have to add color with draperies and such. We bought a 5 gallon bucket of paint so there's no going back now! We also worked on painting the master bedroom. It isn't perfect yet - there are still blue remnants we need to go over with another coat.

Ted worked on removing a kitchen cabinet so our refrigerator will fit in its provided space, and he put primer on the backsplash tile. We also picked out a laminate countertop pattern - blackstar granite. The little specs of peach in the coloring will match the peachy/tuscan floor. A big thanks to Catherine and George for the countertop! That will be going in next week. My dad will be putting in our new faucet and sink after the countertop is installed (another thanks to him for helping us!).

The big moving day is this Saturday. Unfortunately our carpet isn't ready yet, so we will have to live with the old blue stuff for a few days when we are moved in. We will have concrete floors in the living room for a little bit too, until we have the energy to tackle the flooring installation project. We're getting there... little by little.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day off of work

Photo by San Diego Shooter
We're both tired. This past weekend was long and exhausting so we decided to take the night off of working at the house and spend some time picking up paint (a 5-gallon jug of interior paint, Cool Gray color), supplies, and a cordless drill. No Diet Mountain Dews though. Beyond that we actually made some dinner, instead of just heating something in the microwave, and packed up odds and ends for the upcoming move this weekend.

Tomorrow will see us return to work; hopefully completing the bedroom painting and getting a good start on the kitchen area. New countertops in the near future too. Less than a week before we're slated to move in and still so much to do.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Weekend work: Goodbye carpet, wallpaper, and stage

We had a pretty busy weekend. From after work Friday until about 6 PM on Sunday we removed wallpaper, carpet, the stage in the living room, had some wall texturing applied, and began painting. We also purchased some appliances from Lowe's and I managed to finance some Diet Mountain Dew. I don't have to pay for that soda for 12 months now.

So we finally got the wallpaper off of the office wall; I'm estimating that between the two of us we've spent something along the lines of 15 man-hours getting everything removed and cleaned up. The big problem that we had with this terror-wallpaper (the great wallpaper fiasco of ought-nine) was that it was glossy. I'm guessing, and this may be due to the exorcism required, that this gloss was the spit of Beelzebub, the devil himself. Once we got the glossy part off and we applied water and an iron we eventually pealed off the backing and the paper itself.

The other bedroom, on the other hand, came off like a dream. Here's a short video of the relative ease:

Wallpaper being done was a huge relief (we finished Saturday evening). Before that we spent Saturday morning tearing up carpet and that heavy duty stage (thanks Jeff and Roberto) in the living room. The carpet came out easily while the stage, well the stage was rough. A couple of hammers, a giant prybar, a circular and reciprocal saw and a few hours of rough labor and the living room was clear.

After that Tom, our ceiling texture guy, put new texture onto the ceilings we de-popcorned and some of the drywall that was un-texturized. It took Tom about half a day to finish up but the results were great. After he finished the texturizing I was set up to seal the ceilings and drywall with some Oil based primer, specifically Kilz. Kilz is used to seal up drywall and texture (itself basically spackle) so that any water based paint won't pull out a stain or color in the drywall. Basically we need to do it or all our pretty paint will end up discolored.

Finally with the help of Christina's sisters Elizabeth and Veroncia we got a real good start into painting, completing the office (save for the ceiling).

So that pretty much sums it up; we're looking to handle odds and ends this weekend, start seriously packing, and getting a new frige. Hopefully this upcoming week is a lot slower and easier on the joints than the last.

Take a look at some of our photos here:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

C+T: 2 / House: 1

Hey, it's been a crazy couple of days here, finishing up the popcorn in the second bedroom and starting what I am hoping is one of the worse tasks: removing wallpaper. Haven't had much time to post so I want to get caught up on the past couple of days and then plan for the future.

The second day of removing popcorn went better than the first, and we were done with it very quickly (relatively speaking). Do not underestimate the power of a good wall sheeting job.

The wallpaper on the other hand was/is terrible. The anti-glue that we got (Dif) worked well enough on the wallpaper that wanted to come off but was completely useless on the tough stuff. We've resorted to water, a sponge, and an iron to help get the wallpaper off, but with each little section coming off in 1/2" chunks, it's slow going. A big thanks goes out to Jeff for helpking us out with the wallpaper on Thursday. As it stands we've each put in at least 6 hours into wallpaper removal so far and we'll have some more to go. Next time we're going to rent a steamer.

We've got Nick (Christina's Dad) and his workers tearing out ducting and junk in the garage, reinstalling the water heater and prepping for the installation of the new FAU (Forced Air Unit). Today, being early Saturday morning, we're heading off to Home Depot for supplies and countertop options then to the house for some painting, wallpaper removal, and possibly carpet removal and floor demo. Hopefully I'll get some more photos online and a couple of how-to's on wallpaper and popcorn. I will say this though: if you see a house you like with wallpaper, consider buying something else.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Removing Popcorn Ceiling, Part 1

So the house is ours, which is cool, and the first order of business was to remove the popcorn from the "office" bedroom. As you can see, it was quite the production.

It was also pretty tiring.

One more bedroom to do and then we move on to demolition (I think).

Escrow Closed!

We have officially closed escrow!!! A special thanks to my mom for all of her help. She truly is a miracle worker! Now that all the paperwork is over, we can start making it our own. Let the demolition, painting, carpeting, etc. etc. etc. begin! We move in a week and a half so we're trying to do as much of the messy stuff we can before we are living there.

Tonight's agenda: scraping the popcorn ceilings.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

LA Times: House Hunting?...

From this Sunday's LA times, an article about much of the current state of home-buying:
Real estate

Stefano Paltera / For The Times
Potential buyers visit a home in Eagle Rock. In desirable areas, bidding wars are common. “The biggest problem,” says real estate agent Phyllis Harb, “is that people are overreacting to housing statistics, thinking they can come in and make an offer 20% below price.”
The median price in Southern California may have plummeted, but in more desirable neighborhoods, home buyers are still engaging in bidding wars.

Choice Quote:

* Be cautious of self-serving terms like "buyer's market," because in truth there isn't one real estate market in a given metropolis; there are as many as there are neighborhoods, with unique flavors. As one agent said, "Any generalization about real estate is not true somewhere."

We've seen this in full effect; everything from gluts of property in Oxnard to sought-after duplexes in Camarillo. Definitely a good read.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The First Task

After we close escrow on the house this Tuesday, our first task will be to tackle scraping the popcorn acoustic off the ceilings in the bedrooms. We've watched some videos online and have gotten some advise on how to do it ourselves. Luckily, there is no asbestos to worry about (we got that tested during our inspections). Today we went to Home Depot to pick up a few supplies for this fun task: a ladder, scrapers, a 1-gallon watering tank to wet the ceiling with, blue painter's tape, and lots of plastic sheeting to cover the floor and walls with. We barely fit the 6-foot ladder in Ted's little Honda. After we scrape the popcorn off, we know a guy that specializes in drywall, and he is going to help us patch up the ceiling and apply some texture before we paint it (we didn't want to mess that part up doing it ourselves!).

We also decided on a carpet color for the bedrooms today... "puddle" by Bliss... it has new technology to resist stains, odor, and any mold from growing underneath. Plus, it feels nice on the feet :). The color is in-between a gray and a beige. We didn't want to go too light so dirt would show, but we didn't want to go too dark either. We started realizing the fine lines between light beige, medium beige, and even medium light beige! Your eyeballs start to glaze over after you've been staring at carpet colors for over an hour. But we finally settled on "puddle." If you are looking for new carpet, watch out for any pink undertones when you are picking out the color; it can sneak up on you. Unless of course, you want your carpet to look pink! We decided to pick a carpet that is a little bit more expensive than your bottom line stuff because it comes with a 10 year warranty and well, the new technology had me sold. Let's hope it works out!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hidden Costs (of trying to buy)

As I was explaining to my friend Blake, there's a fair amount of money you can spend on a house before you even make the decision that you really want to buy it. To sum it up: inspections. Expensive inspections.

Before you buy a place you want to make certain that it's not completely falling apart and full of mold or termites. That's really the big three inspections you're looking at: general, mold, and termites. A good general inspector will check out the structural stability of the foundation, the house itself, the quality of the plumbing and wiring, up to the point a specialist would need to be called in. The mold inspection is going to check for, well, mold (specifically in air ducts and around water sources). Termites are self explanatory; in our case the owner (the bank) covered the termite inspection and repair.

So how much is all of this going to cost? Roughly $750 - $1200 and it's got to come out of your pocket. This cost isn't covered by the bank or able to be rolled into your loan, and even if you spend that money there is no guarantee that the house will end up yours. So the decision that you've got to make is whether or not you like the place enough to throw down the cash (we decided yes).

So, what other hidden costs can you guys think of?