Sunday, September 30, 2007

Me: 2, Dingy, Yellowed Off White: 0

Friday was a very, very productive day.

Since I completed the sanding in my bedroom, as soon as I got back from class I set to work priming the walls and ceiling. While the primer dried, I did a quick paint job in the bathroom downstairs. (more to come in a bit!) By the time I was done with the first coat in the bathroom the bedroom was dry and ready for its paint. I used a slate blue by Behr which, except for a couple places, covered in one coat. Gotta love that! All I need to do now is get the baseboards back up (I primed them Friday too) and repaint the trim and ceiling white. Here's the progression:

So, it's not quite the color I planned on but it's still ok. It looked perfect on the little swatch, but on the walls it's about a shade and a half too dark. The room's not that big to begin with, so the last thing I need to do is make it too dark. I'm sure it will be close enough once I get my stuff in the room, and the new light fixture should make everything brighter.

Like I said before, the bathroom got a coat of paint too. I know I won't be able to do any significant changes to the bathroom anytime soon, so I figured that in the meantime I would try to make it look less ugly with some qick fixes. I bought some new $4 blinds, new towel bars/t.p. holder, and some cheap Walmart paint. I should have known better with the cheap-o paint! I had to use two coats, three in some areas, and I would honestly rather pay the extra ten bucks for one coat coverage. Seriously, I'm a busy guy and my time's worth the cost of the better paint. I haven't gotten to the trim or the ceiling yet, but here's the change so far:
Pretty good for one night's work. Once I get my trim and ceiling painted in my room I'll be able to move in and get organized there. Once all of my stuff is upstairs I can finally start pulling the first floor together. That will definatelly be a good deal!

Friday, September 28, 2007

So Much White Powder, It's Like Kate Moss Moved In

Long title, large hurdle jumped.

I finished sanding the walls in my bedroom today! HOO-rah! Tomorrow I'll prime, then paint, and hopefully move in sometime at the beginning of next week! I'm so excited! You can't see it, but check out how smooth the walls are:In the process of making these walls look so good, I did this. I've got some cleaning up ahead.

I'd imagine Kate Moss's place to look about the same! I shouldn't say anything, I blew my nose after working on the walls tonight and out came white clumps... joint compound, not coke. Ha.

Check out this old guy working on the walls. Wait, that's me. That's my hair in 25 years, if I have any left!

I just can't wait to get the primer up tomorrow. It's all coming together!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bust Out the Checkbook

I made my first mortgage payment today. I feel like an adult! I'm sure that won't last long though, ha ha!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This Shouldn't Happen, Ever.

My friend Sara came up from Minneapolis this weekend and used my bathroom to get ready before going out. The next day I noticed she had left a straightening iron in the bathroom. I happened to be able to call her before she left Fargo so she could come pick it up before she left. I thought I'd bring it out to the living room so it was nearby when she came.

I reached out to unplug it


WHAT!?! That is NOT cool! It won't be too hard of a fix, but seriously, who just nails an outlet box to plaster? I did get a really good laugh out of it though. I'll just add this to my ever-growing list of things to do.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Get a 'Handle' on that Rain!

Ok, sorry for the pun. This post is mainly about a doorknob, but first things first. Last night at about 3am there was a pretty big thundersorm and I caught some footage of my living room water feature. Enjoy.

Yeah, sucks huh?

I contacted the roofer who "repaired" the flashing around the chimney and he's coming out to take a look on Saturday.

Well back to the doorknob. I've been in my house for over a month now, so I figured it was about time to put a doorknob on the front door. Nope, didn't have one. All it had was a deadbolt and a couple of window sash pulls, one inside and one out. I'm really hoping that my roommates are surprised. Hooray for small accomplishments!

Here's what it looked like to start with:

Starting to cut the holes back in (they were filled in with plaster):
Holes completed:Doorknob! Success!

I also started sanding down the walls in my room so I can get them primed and painted. I'm really anxious to get that space done and my furniture moved in so I can have some sort of sanctuary from my own house!

My Other Homes

Besides the house you're already acquainted with, I spend most of my hours in two amazing downtown buildings I feel compelled to share with you.

The first one is the NDSU Downtown building where my Architecture studio is.

The building was constructed in 1903 as a warehouse for the Robb-Lawerence company. Sometime in it's history it became the Northern School Supply which it was until the late 1990's when somehow the business closed and the building was condemned. It was purchased by local entrepeneur Doug Burgum who started Great Plains Software (now bought out by Microsoft) and donated to NDSU for $1. He actually purchased the building days before it was to be demolished! The focus of the renovation was to make efficient studio space for Art, Architecture, and Landscape Architecture students as well as offices and a few lecture rooms. The architect left the beams and original brickwork exposed throughout most of the building and the whole building is open and full of light. The ideal studio! The building is also LEED certified for it's environmental friendliness. I love this building.

Here's the exterior

The lobby
Just a cool hallway on the 4th floor where my studio is
Third year studio! My desk is the messy one out front. If you didn't know that I'm messy when I work, you need to check in on the blog more!
My other 'home' is the Hotel Donaldson, just 2 blocks from the NDSU downtown building.

The building was built in 1894 after most of the downtown burned in 1893. The building was originally the meeting place of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization. In the 1920's it was purchased and renovated into the Donaldson Hotel. It fell into disrepair in a big way, and became an 'extended residency hotel' as they like me to phrase it at work. It was a disgusting slum full of unsavory peoples. This building was also viewing a wrecking ball in it's not so distant future. Our owner, Karen Burgum was in on Great Plains Software the whole way, and wanted to give back to the community that had made her a success, so she decided to create a place that would celebrate our community's visual, performing, culinary and literary arts. Thus, the Hotel Donaldson was born!

The hotel has 17 guest suites, each one featuring a different local artist's work. Frette linens, down bedding, Bose radio, robes & slippers, heated tile floors, rainfall showers, aveda bath products, turndown service, etc. etc. These rooms are amazing and I dare you to find better anywhere!

The lounge has an extensive martini list, which is kind of what we're known for, but we also have at least 175 wines on our wine list at any point. Take note of the curvature of the bar, that's the shape of the Red River as it goes through downtown!
The HoDo Restaraunt, where I host on weekdays (I'm at the desk in the hotel on weekends) features locally grown and organically grown foods whenever possible. The food is some of the best I've ever had, and I wish I was more of a foodie so I could rave about how amazing it is. We feature live music quite frequently in the lounge and restaurant with jazz nights every Friday.

I couldn't find a picture anywhere online, but the rooftop features a garden lanscaped with plants indiginous to our part of the state. There is a bar there with tables and umbrellas for evening drinks on the rooftop, and even a stainless steel hot tub sunk into the patio. I've been in the tub on a chilly December evening. Believe me, sitting in a hot tub on the roof of a 3 storey building looking out onto downtown Fargo all lit up while little snowflakes fly around is the coolest thing ever.

The best part about this place though is the amazing staff/friends I get to work with. It's by far the best job I've ever had... probably why I've been there for 3 years and am still having fun. Where else do you get that? If you'd like to learn more, check out for more info. You can stay there when you come to Fargo and help me with my house! Good plan?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

...And I Didn't Even Zap Myself Once!

Today between my first and second class (a span of about five hours - great schudule, huh?) I wired in the outlets in my bedroom. It wasn't really too difficult, but I'm still a beginner here so I'm pretty pumped about it. Yes, they even work. I tested 'em out.

This was after Dad left on Saturday:

and this is after I finished today:

I realized I didn't add any pictures of the new washer and dryer, so here they are.

First, The old pair - anybody want 'em? I wouldn't set my clothes basket on top of them, let alone put clothes in those rust-buckets.

The new pair! Thanks Dad & Mom!Here's a quick photo of the door to my room I finally got up on it's hinges. So it doesn't close all the way yet... baby steps here, baby steps.
And, finally, I took some video of a quick walk-through of the first floor. I really should have taken video during my final walk-through before closing. What was I thinking? Just dumb.

I hope you enjoyed the video clip. I havn't been able to keep the house clean this week, and as you can probably see the dining room is completely used for storage now. I just thought the video might help you visualize in your own mind what the house looks like. I'll have to do the upstairs too sometime.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wires and Laundry

Today Dad came up to Fargo to bring up and install a washer and dryer. I'm super excited to get all of my clothes cleaned and organized. Installation went better than I thought it would, and we were done really quickly. Dad took one of the fridges from the porch back to Wahpeton with him, so I'm down to one extra appliance.

The ovens were taken away this week, and it's a pretty good story. So, the PO was working on the building nextdoor he owns this week. He had evicted a tenant and had a dumpster dropped off to throw out all of his furniture and stuff he left behind. As it turned out he had more stuff than fit in the dumpster, so some was sitting out in the lawn. Because my driveway is so close to the other house people sometimes think it is that house's driveway. Luckily for me the city garbage people made that same mistake when they dumped the dumpster next door. They must have assumed that my dumpster was part of that project because they dumped mine too! Better yet, they took away the two old ovens! That was a freebie!

Anyhow, back to today.

After the appliance business was taken care of Dad and I made a Depot run and wired up three outlets in my bedroom. By we, I mainly mean Dad. I'm pretty good at fishing into walls because I have skinny fingers, so I had my place in this project! We picked up new outlet boxes and some electrical cable and set to work bustin' up plaster. We cut holes for the three boxes and knocked out some of the plaster from down under the baseboard so we could fish the cable through. I haven't installed the outlets yet, but the wiring and boxes were the hard part anyways. I have to do a little patching too, but I'm nowhere near done with the wall texture. I don't think I'll be able to prime and paint by the end of the weekend, but next weekend I should be all done and moved in.

Oh, and I hung the door to my room today too. It needs to be planed down a little bit in a couple spots so it closes... but at least it's up now.

We're pushing forward, one Depot run at a time!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sand and Water: no, not the Beach.

Mom and my twin sisters came to Fargo Friday to help get the NW bedroom ready to be occupied. Mom primed the new walls and painted the ceiling. We mixed texture sand into the primer to replicate the look of the plaster walls in the room.

I tried with the textured primer just long enough to realize that it wasn't easy to work with, then left for work. Mom did a great job working with it and when I came home from work the walls were done and ready for paint. I know I'm not going to get off the hook that easy for all of my texturing. Thanks Mom!

So there was the sand... but where's the water?

Coming in from the living room ceiling. Thats where.

It rained pretty steadily Saturday and water was coming into the house from the bad flashing around the chimney. I woke up that morning to the sound of water dripping from the ceiling about a foot in front of the fireplace. Perfect way to start off your day. I threw a bucket under the drip and took a look at the wall above the fireplace. Water had collected into pockets behind the pain and had started leaking down onto the mantle.
I grabbed a 3in. scraper from the coffee table (one's always within reach at my place) and used it to drain the water from these pockets behind the paint. That lead to pulling out a piece of drenched drywall tape, then to just scraping off all of the wet joint compound and crumbling plaster. This photo just about illustrates how easily it all fell off; that's the 3in scraper under there!

This is what I'm left with:

Just about turns your stomach, huh? I wish you could smell it. Imagine old, deteriorating plaster and joint compound soaked again and again with rainwater. It smells similar to a very damp basement. But in this case the basement smell is coming from the living room where I sleep. I'll be calling the roofing company tomorrow.

It's funny this never came up in the house inspection. Maybe I'll give him a call too.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Trashmobile, Take Thy Leave.

Today I was walking out to my vehicle when outside my front door I spied a beautiful moment in need of photographic documentation. The trashmobile was being towed away! Yes! YESS!!!

Enjoy this photo for a moment, will you. Imagine this was in front of your home for a week and a half. Feel the freedom of open parking in front of your house and views past your own lawn. Feel how amazing it is to not see poopy-brown and orange stripes in your dreams.

Goodbye Trashmobile, I hope to never see you again!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Go Away Trashmobile!

We've had this terrible RV parked in front of the house for about a week, and my roommate had enough! He called this morning and reported it to the city so it could be ticketed/towed/whatever they do with these things. I recognized it as the same RV that was parked in front of the house to the East the week of closing and I could recall seeing an orange tow notice on the windshield. It seems it went away for a couple weeks and now its back. Great. It wouldn't be so bad if the thing didn't look like this:

And now that it's parked in front of my house it's blocking the view of oncoming traffic when we try to back our vehicles out of the driveway. I'm kind of disappointed that you can't tell that the stripes are bright orange and poopy brown in the photo.
So, much to my amusement, I glanced out the front door's window and noticed a police van parked behind the aweful thing! I whipped out my camera and snagged a couple shots as they slapped the good 'ole orange tow notice on the front. Yes! Hopefully whoever owns that junker will get the message this time that nobody wants it on our street.

I did joke that it was my guest house, but I'll sacrifice it for the cause. My guests can sleep in the living room with my roommate and me!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Puttin' the Labor in Labor Day

Thanks for the title Jayne!

Today I hit a huge paint sale at Home Depot and picked up a 5 gallon pail of ceiling paint, three gallons of beige for the living/dining/stairwell, and a gallon of slate blue for my bedroom. Of course, these walls aren't getting painted until I fix the texture problems from walls taken out.

Speaking of texture problems, I continued scraping the loose paint from the NE bedroom. I started leveling out the difference between where the paint remains and where it was chipped out. If I just painted it as is you would see every height difference and the walls would look terrible. Here's a photo of how it looks once the filler matches the paint:

I also worked a little bit on the joint compound in the other bedroom. I was kinda hoping that I'd be able to get the rooms primed and textured (texture sand in the primer) by the end of this weekend so I could paint this week, but I guess I'll just have to push that back a couple days. I'm still counting on getting my roommate moved into his room by next weekend. We'll see how driven I am this week!

I ran the cable from the little nub in the basement into the living room today. Yes, a real estate show from HGTV's on right now! I bought a long drill bit and drilled up into the wall from the basement, and into the wall from the living room. My roommate Alex and I did a little fishing in the wall to run the cord through. I nailed up the cord to the beams under the floor, even the 6+ feet of extra cable (oops!). I guess I'm not a good judge of how much cable to buy.

All in all, a fairly productive day. We should have 3 day weekends all the time!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Adios Kitchen, Hola Plumbing

Labor Day weekend day 1, and so much to report. First of all, Dad and Nolan came over bright an early (earlier than I was ready for) and got right to work. Today's focus was the Northeast bedroom/kitchen. After cutting power to the room we removed the outlets that were at counter-top level and the giant plug for the oven. They had to be removed first because their electric cords were intertwined with the cabinetry. Genius, I know. Also, when the PO put in the counter, he just notched out the trim. Thanks, jerk.

Once the cabinets were all out they met the dumpster and a trip to 'the Depot' was in order.

The pipes that run hot and cold water up to the sink had to be capped off in the basement, but nobody was comfortable with the idea of weilding a torch next to exposed insulation. We found these great caps that kind of snap on and create such a good seal that no soldering was needed. Score! The extra pipes were capped off and the extra length of copper was cut up and is awaiting a trip to be recycled. Dad says about $3/lb, so I'll have to run over and see what I can get for 'em. The PVC pipe that vents out the air from the (real) kitchen sink pops up through the floor of the bedroom and, until today, didn't enter the wall until about two to three feet up. Dad and Nolan cut some new PVC to reroute the pipe into the wall as soon as it comes through the floor. Yeah, not really the ideal end result, but it's the best we could think of. I had to go to work, but while I was gone they patched up the holes in the wall from the outlets that were removed and the big hole from the PVC fiasco. It's so great to have so much help!

The electrical wires were traced down to the breaker and removed. Grandpa, who has much more experience, came and made sure we didn't zap ourselves. One of the power lines was left to place some outlets around the room, but that'll have to wait a little bit.

So here's what the room looks like now. Disregard the walls; I've been pulling off loose chunks of paint for a while. If you look into the cabinet you can get an idea of what the plumbing looked like before we ripped it out.

While Dad and Nolan were taking out the extra copper pipes, I decided to replace the faulty valves on the upstairs bathroom sink. The faucet was in need of a trip to meet its maker too. Because I plan to replace the sink at some point I just picked up a clearance $30 faucet that looks good enough. Big mistake. The faucet didn't work when I installed it, needed to be pulled apart, poked at for a while, and reassembled. Next I notice that the valves are leaking, and I thought to myself, 'I just can't catch a break with this sink!' The sink stands, incomplete, until I can make another trip to 'the Depot' to get some supplies. I'll have to run out after work tomorrow morning. I hate the sink. I have little cuts all over my hand from something, then I got the dirt and muck from the sink in them. The worst part about doing stuff like this is when the water's off to the whole house, you can't wash your hands midway through the project.

Thats all for today.

Oh, and now the 1st floor shower leaks into the basement. This house is trying to kill me.