Monday, June 26, 2006

It's Raining, It's Pouring, Believe me, I wish I was Snoring!

It's raining, again!!! I swear. I can't believe this weather here.

Check out this article from the Washington Post!

This morning it took me 25 minutes to drive to my Metro Stop -- typically a 10 minute exercise. Then, it took me over a hour on the Metro -- typically a 35 minute ride. I am so not looking forward to going home.

I had friends with 1 hour commutes turned into 2.5. People were shoving on the streets, trying to rock the bus, trying to force the bus drivers to change their routes. It was chaotic. They stopped running Metro trains past L'Enfant Plaza, so those of us from Virginia had it pretty easy. Many people walked from Capital Gallery or further away - at least 15 minutes - some 25 minute walks. Chaos -- And it's just a little water!

It hasn't rained for weeks and then starting last week it's been pouring.

Just when construction was supposed to be starting - wouldn't you know it?

I'll let you know when progress is made on that project.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Quick Quiz on Love

How You Are In Love

You take a while to fall in love with someone. Trust takes time.

You tend to take more than give in relationships.

You tend to get very attached when you're with someone. You want to see your love all the time.

You love your partner unconditionally and don't try to make them change.

You stay in love for a long time, even if you aren't loved back. When you fall, you fall hard.

How Are You In Love?

Thought this was interesting. And probably a bit true.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Dealing with Contractors -- Some Advice to Heed

Well, I have my contract from the construction company. Since I work in a field that deals with contracts some times, I asked a colleague to look at the contract and offer some guidance. Remember the contractor writes the contract to protect themselves, but not the owner. You have to protect yourself. And we added the following clauses:

1. Contractor shall furnish client with a copy of all permits and regulatory approvals obtained for this project. The original contract just said they would obtain them -- but I wanted proof of them being obtained.

2. Owner harmless for the payment of same or any such claims against Owner. Contractor shall provide client copies of proof of all insurance. The original just said that the company had insurance - but I wanted wanted proof for my own sake.

3. LICENSES. Contractor is licenesde and bonded to perform all work in this contract in Fairfax County in the Commonwealth of Virgiania. License # ________________ expires _____________. No license information was even provided in the original.

12. WORK SCHEDULE. Contract agrees that time is of the essence and shall begin work no later than ________ and finish work no later than ________. If contractor is unable to perform work specificed in this contract within the time frame agreed to in this contract, then, client shall have the right to have all unfinished work performed by another contractor and shall forward all charges to complete work to this contractor for full payment within less than ninety days after submission of charges.
No schedule information was even provided in the original.

We also are going back and forth over the spec sheet to attach. I want to be sure that I know exactly what is being included in the contract and what is not. This should minimize surprises down the road.

Tomorrow, I plan to finalize both the kitchen contract and the contractor contract. So, it looks like I will be writing checks in excess of $20,000. OH MY GOODNESS! That is a pretty scary amount of money. Keep your fingers crossed for me -- this is going to be one tight squeeze for me to pay for it all.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Renovation Starting Soon!

As many of you know, I started this home renovation project awhile ago. I clipped photos from magazines, read books on renovation and looked and looked at items. But, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Here are my original plans - with the dream kitchen, dream porch and deck. The dashed line indicate where the old house wall was. The old kitchen is where the bathroom/pantry back of kitchen is. Really more of what I originally wanted. Note the built-in bookshelves around the window. I was very excited about it. I originally budgeted $40,000 for all of this.That was until my contractor said it would $92,000 plus cabinets to build it. So, I began to whittle it down. Here's what the outside would have looked like with that design. Of course, this would be more true with less mature trees and the other house attached on the left (my house is a duplex). As you can see it would have been great.

That was the plan, but after months of whittling it down, I sent this to my architect to get the final product. I also negotiated with the contract on details that you can't see below.

I will post the final construction plans if I can get them in the right format. But, this is close. The architect cost me about $2,000, but was well worth it. He really helped with the contractor and was able to provide them and I with what we needed.

I am now installing my own flooring. My sister and I are going to put in the bathroom -- they are just roughing in the room and the plumbing. I'm doing all the painting and am providing all the lighting fixtures, outlets, electrical switches, faucets, and other plumbing extras, like the disposal. The deck had to be shrunk due to county regulations anyway, so it worked out.

Two weeks ago, I met with my kitchen designer and my contractor. They are both great and I like working with them.

As of the kitchen guy, I finally picked my cabinets - Shiloh brand Oxford style in Ivory with Pewter glaze. Here is what they look like exactly. Counters will be Corian Maui. See below. I really love it. They are exactly what I envisioned. The price is about what I expected - under $15,000 including countertops. My appliances are white, but I think they will look good with the cabinets and countertop.

I have a tentative schedule from the contractors and think we've worked out most of the details. My contract should arrive this week. I have gotten it down to about $55,000. I have over $150,000 in home equity available to me, but I don't want to get into it all. The schedule will tentatively be:

Week 1 - 4 /5/6 Demolition -- I need to be out of the house during that time as they will be breaking through the wall. I have to get everything off the first floor, including packing up the kitchen.

Then - Inspection Close-in They will create a "room" that I can be in near the front door, with the fridge and microwave there. NOW I can move back in. So, I will be grilling out and nuking my food for the remaining 8 to 12 weeks.

During next 7 to 10 days- All Drywall will be hung

Next 2-4 days, I need to install the flooring.

During next week, cabinets need to be installed

Then, it's trim installed

Then, it's Paint -- I need to try to complete it in one weekend. My contractor recommended only doing the first coat and using flat paint to minimize scuffing.

Then Light Fixtures. I haven't decided what I am doing with that yet. I know I want recessed light and undermount cabinet lights in the kitchen.

Then Finish work -- 2 to 3 weeks of it.

Then appliances.

And then I should my house back.

If they start within the next two weeks, I am looking at a final date of October 2. I am excited, but a bit terrified at the mess and cost of it all. What if it looks bad? What if I put myself in debt and the market plummets? But, I am not happy with it now. And it's my place. So, we'll see.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Chick Flicks -- What do you Think?

So on MSN today, they had a 16 year old list the great chick flicks of all time, which was not quite on the money if you ask me.

I definitely agree with what she had to say about "Love Actually," "Bridget Jones' Diary," "Dirty Dancing" and "Say Anything." I wouldn't include "Romeo + Juliet," "Chasing Liberty," "First Daughter" or "Cinderella Story." None of those are worthy. The others would be debatable. However, she was missing a few...

Practical Magic
A great movie about sisters, relationships, and being true to yourself. It's funny -- Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are great -- exact opposites in many ways. And Stockard Channing and Diane West are perfect as the old aunts. The witchcraft is interesting, more respectful than what you typically see in most movies. And hello -- eye candy by the name of Aidan Quinn.

The perfect friend movie -- one for everyone to relate to a character. You also get Robert Russler - a hot, but accessible guy. And you have to love lines like "If I am not married by the time I'm 20, I'm gonna kill myself." And where the maid pronounces "Ya'll are about the horniest bunch of white folk I ever seen." And each character has a bit of depth to her -- no just sticking to their stereotypes -- each is able to find happiness in their own way. I appreciate that.

Thelma & Louis
Great girlfriend movie -- and a young Brad Pitt to boot. A bit dirtier/grittier than the other movies. It brings out all kinds of emotions.

and the last, but not least....

Steel Magnolias
If you don't have anything nice to say come sit by me. This is the ultimate in quotable movies. Tons of great lines - amazing actresses. Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Olympia Dukasis, and Shirley MacLaine. This movie is all about women bonding. It takes you through every emotion - joy to despair. And laughter through tears - as Dolly would say "one of my favorite emotions." And a bit of eye candy by the name of Dylan McDermott.

If those had been added to the MSN list, it would have felt a bit more complete. But, that is my personal opinion.