Tuesday, May 31, 2011

memorial day weekend

NYC started out the summer with a mini-heat wave this past weekend. Temperatures in the upper 80s, and slightly more humid than normal.

The non-tenants finally got the keys to their new place, and are in the process of moving out. This is great for all. really great.

The chimney guys are scheduled in for this Friday, June 3, 2011. I have some concerns about them accessing the roof over the cornice in front.

cornice--damageable with a ladder leaning against it?
this week's duties include:

  • contact the DEP--billing; secondary water meter Done--We are named on the bill; DEP does not sub-meter; Updated 6-5-2011
  • contact Verizon--getting the wires re-routed or the pole moved all together Called--Wires pending.  Ticket re-opened; 6/7/2011 booked for tech visit.  We'll see...Updated 6/5/2011
  • contact plumbers for quotes--revise basement plumbing diagram (Polly) and finalize parts list--Done. working
  • contact electricians for quotes--Done Update 6/5/2011
  • input to g-docs payment schedules and cards--meaning how we are creatively financing this renovation through savings, 0% interest credit card offers, and a lot of sweat equity...already around $20K into the process and we've not built anything yet!  Done a lot of taking down, however...
  • look to finalize contract with contractor Salem of BLUE GREEN RED , LLC--Working Update 6/5/2011
  • check in on Scott Schnell, P.E. re: the building plan approval-Working Update 6/5/2011
  • utility bills on-line

Thursday, May 26, 2011

non-tenant signs lease; chimney guy has words of caution

The folks living in our first floor have finally, after nearly 60 days, secured their new home. All went according to plan, and they signed a lease on Tuesday evening. I am happy for them. Their new place is better suited to their needs at the moment, and they can begin anew, as it were.

Yesterday (5-25-2011) I met with a chimney company, B&P Chimney and Joey, the estimator and installer/fixer/sweep gave me some interesting news.

Seems our chimneys are in poor shape--rather the one working chimney is in poor shape. The house has three chimneys, however the other two are capped off at the parapet height on the roof.

Joey informed me that in order to replace the clay tile lining of the working chimney, it would require breaking into the chimney at various places along its vertical run, and removing the lining by hand, as a mechanical tile breaker would not fit into the two 4"x7" chimney flues.

Below are examples of the tile breakers which are attached to a long rod which when inserted into a hi-torque drill, can effectively smash the lining from the inside of the chimney, allowing gravity to carry the pieces of broken flue tile to the fireplace floor or chimney clean-out at the base.  But not in our case, sadly.

So, fortunately, we are renovating!  and breaking walls is our speciality at the moment...

Joey and his partner Sergio, will replace the tile lining with this nifty heavy-duty stainless-steel flue, repair the chimney cap, and top off the flue with the appropriate water-proof vent housing.  He will need to "ovalize" it as the chimney is narrow.  I want to see this.  The tube is really heavy-duty (20 year guarantee against rust out or structural failure).

Joey had a sample in the truck--pictured right.  I was able to stand on it without it bending or flexing much; I can imagine what it will take to make this round cylinder into an oval one.

The tube is inserted the length of the chimney and connections are added in the basement for the exhaust flues of the gas furnace and hot water heaters we want to install.

kitchen chimney post-demo note the flue hole
Here comes the words of caution--  We discovered that the chimney in the rear of the house, the one which runs up the north wall where we were hoping to vent our kitchen hoods into, is capped.  OK, so no big deal with the kitchen hoods, we'll just drill through the existing chimney walls and vent outside onto the north wall.

kitchen pre-demo...where is the hot H2O gas going?

The BAD issue (and it has been an issue for at least since the roof was re-done in 10/2009 but probably WAY before), is the current hot water heater vents into this capped chimney.  Yup.  Venting CO2 and other gasses right back into the house, as the second floor kitchen chimney has a flue hole in it which was never closed off properly, and cabinets were installed over it...yummy.

Good to find all this out now, huh?  The inspector missed this, as did I.  We did not actually climb up onto the roof and poke around.  good thing too, in some ways, as the roofers left a couple of surprises which we could have stumbled upon. literally...

there are two of these square holes cut into the roof, through the new sheeting, the old tin, and old tongue-and-grove decking.  as you can notice, the roofers cut the holes, and then proceeded to lay the tar paper over them, but never installed the vents!

Monday, May 23, 2011

non-tenant finds an apartment

We have been stressing about the squatter we have living in the first floor apartment. The sellers had duly served their tenants with a 30-day notice to vacate, which expired on May 3, 2011. The individuals were looking to find something close by, on the first floor (as they have three little boys all under the age of 6), and in a two-bedroom or larger. A tall order to accomplish in 30 days.

So, feeling as I (Chris) owed them the best chance of getting out without too much hassle, I agreed to allow them to stay, rent-free (as we did not want to become "landlords") in order to find a place. Also, as my suggestion, hired a Crifasi Real Estate broker to help them look, agreeing to pay the broker's fee (one month's rent) to to facilitate their departure in a timely manner.

Long story short, the "non-tenants" have found a place (right across the street, actually) and are signing the lease on Tuesday. More on the details and outcome of the process as a postmortem.

meetings with contractors moving smartly along

On Saturday, we met with two contractors, each with very different takes on what their roles were in the rehab process.

The first, Major Homes, a northern Queens 4th generation family run "soup to nuts" operation, and blue, green, red, llc, an independent contractor.

Richard, the sales person from Major Homes was prompt, professional, and knew the General Contracting (GC) business. His job was to assess the needs and scope of the project, run the estimates, schedule the trades (Major employs the various trades under its roof), and supervise the renovation. As we want to do a bulk of the finishing work ourselves, he was dubious as to whether or not Major would be able to help us with the reno job.

The second individual, Salem, was much more our style and speed. She had a trade carpentry background before becoming a GC. She has a set of trades-people she works with (as sub-contractors a.k.a. "subs") on the various jobs. She was into creative problem-solving and practical long-term solutions for the reno. Much more in-tune with what we are looking for.

So at this point, we are still getting bids from the electrical and plumbing subs, as well as a mason/chimney company, as we have to repair some interior damage and certainly re-line the chimneys with metal flues for the kitchen exhausts as well as the hot water heater(s) and the boiler.

Lastly, Salem has recommended a utilitarian architect who is "old-school, no nonsense practical, one-sheet blueprint kind of guy who can create the design for the Alt 2 permit we have decided to get from the DOB. This is an added expense, and according to many of the contractors and trades we spoke with, not really necessary as we are homeowners doing the renovation ourselves. But, it is worth the couple of thousand it will cost to have the plans professionally drawn up and certified. it will make pulling the subs permits easier, and give us a guideline when talking to the sub-trades, should we go the GC route ourselves.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

hot water heater blows a thermal-coupler; Nick again with the assist

We find out this afternoon that the hot water heater is not coming back on.  I gave Nick DeMola a call--as I thought the gas was shut off to it by mistake.  Nick takes a look, and the gas is on, but the pilot light will not come on.  I call Kew Forest--the plumbing company we had out to do the disconnect on Monday, and they hopped over to look.  Seems the thermal-coupler for the heater had blown.  Kew Forest replaced it, and the hot H2O was flowing again. 

Nick let the people in the first floor know it was fixed and called me later on in the afternoon to give a status report.   I was very grateful for his assistance.  ;]

DiMola Bros on the job; Nick helps with plumbing contractor

We are finished day one of the demolition, and all has gone smoothly--images by Polly coming later. 

We contracted DiMola Bros to do the demo.  Nick DiMola and I had several conversations last week prior to the demo, and he visited the house twice before the destruction began.  Super nice guy--knows his stuff.  

On the walk-through on Monday am, Nick put me in contact with an electrician, as we need that trade in there next.  I also found Kew Forest Plumbing through Nick--they were a good find as well.  It pays to ask; good people only recommend good people, it seems! 

bathroom disconnected...
radiators disconnected...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

asbestos abated; demolition contractor chosen; demo to begin next week

asbestos removed on Monday 5/9/2011.  air report came back clean--no particles.  $3300 for the job.  abatement certification filed. 

will add the finished version of the pics in the next post.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

met with architect Jake Alspector...

..on Friday.   He was quite helpful--no sugar coating the cost or effort needed for this reno.  It gave us some things to think about.

So here is where what we are thinking at the moment.  We will keep the place as a one-family for the foreseeable future.  We have discovered that this room edition we want to add to the first floor rear of the house will take much longer in the planning and design permission stage than it will to build it.  Community board, zoning abatements, Queens planning commission approval...all equals back-burnering this phase until well down the road.  We'll call this phase three.

Phase one has started: We had the two giant 60' Fir and Spruce trees cut down and the stumps cleared by Ted Clump of Bear Tree Service.  Totally professional and a nice guy to boot.  Ted has 42+ years in the tree business.  Came with a crew of two, and they did a ultra-clean ultra-pro job...even deftly felling a rotten clothes pole through a couple of sloppily hung Verizon wires.  (Those criss-cross wires are another post all together)
Ted Clump
stump grinding above; finished yard below

Monday, May 2, 2011

massive ivy removal

note the massive amount of ivy on the side of the house.  
this was Friday afternoon...

beginning the attack...

separating the ivy form the trunk...

trunk tangle.  note the original fence which was in the front of the house...

some 13 garbage bags later...  clean and clear.  ;]
this bush was eliminated.  the grass was trimmed, and the dead fallen branches from the two massive 60' pine trees at the back of the property were cut up and bundled for trash night. 

Polly at her first gardening gig...EVER.  she did well!

done deal.

We closed on Friday, as planned. No big dramas; two hours of signing away.

There was some confusion at the bank, however. there were multiple closings on that day, and like a funeral parlor, there were separate rooms all over the joint taking care of "clients." but unlike a funeral or wedding reception, there were no signs on the doors as to who was closing where...so, our seller's attorney wound up in the wrong place, and was late to the closing as a result; and, we were interrupted twice by other parties looking for their closing...

all seem good with taking possession of the property. the tenant was properly served with a notice to vacate from the seller, all legal and official like. we will give them a couple of weeks to complete their apartment search--seems the seller only told them of the sale when the sign went up in the front yard...

We spent part of our weekend "gardening."