April 23, 2010

Murals in DC

I've been noticing a lot of amazing graffiti and paint murals in DC lately. Here's a BBCNews piece about how and why these are springing up everywhere: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8635639.stm

Sigh, I love DC.

April 16, 2010

Major Whoopsie!

When looking for a house all of last year, I had only three items that were definite no-nos on my list:

- Termites (I had to leave some wicker furniture behind in Congo as it had termites - I am still now terrified of them)
- Bad pipes (I remember my parents spending thousands of dollars on a bathroom leak into the living room that never got fixed quite right)
- Bad roof (forget it, I can't afford it)

When I bought this house, I made sure the inspector looked carefully at the roof. The problem was that the old owner would patch up a leak by putting more layers up on the ceiling. An inspector, by law, is not allow to damage a house when doing his/her inspection. So the inspector went on the roof, jump around on the (very sloped) roof to see if it felt weak, but was unable to see the original ceiling in the rooms, or find the roof access from the den (which had been completely covered up).

When I asked the contractors to remove the drop ceiling from the second, small bedroom, here's what they found underneath (there was a drop ceiling covering chicken wire and plaster, covering insulation on old wooden slates):

Dropped Ceiling (March 7, 2010)

Chicken wire, plaster, insulation, wooden slats... (March 17, 2010)

And rotted joists/beams (March 17, 2010). Crap, crap, crap.

All patched up (April 15, 2010) (there is an intermediary picture with the new joists, that I will post as soon as I get it)

But Some Parts Improve...

Remember the old skylight? The owner thought he was being particularly thrifty and inventive by sealing up the skylight, added a fluorescent light across it, and covering it with a plastic cover:

Skylight upon purchase (March 7, 2010)

Beauty is only skin deep... (March 16, 2010)

And then there was LIGHT! (April 11, 2010)

Alright, contain your enthusiasm, the bathroom is still ugly (April 11, 2010)

Could it Possible Get Worse?

On April 11, 2010, I discover that it is possible for the kitchen to look worse than when it started off:

Should I keep the quaint pink paper with drawings of olive oil and other cooking ingredients? I think that's what they call a house with "character"

The lovely sink area.

At least the electricity is upgraded (note that yellow coil between two wooden beams).

The Three-Layer Dip

By March 16, 2010, they attempted to find the wood underneath the vinyl kitchen floor, and find several confounding factors:

First layer: vinyl with old design containing orange circles

Second layer: cardboard flooring

Third layer (on the very bottom): vinyl with old brown pattern

Fourth layer: who knows? It's a mystery within an enigma!

Is this going to be super fun like the 7-layer party dip?

April 12, 2010

Second Round of Pictures from my Palace

Those first pictures were taken on March 7, 2010. By March 16, 2010, this is what the house looked like, once the contractors started working on it. This is the point when I mentally started ventilating and started to think that I made the biggest mistake in my life. But it has potential right?

They knocked down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room to consolidate the cooking appliances in one room and give it an open, airy feeling. The cords and black box are the electric wiring and old light switch.

Hallway into the Kitchen
They selectively removed some of the old plaster from the walls that were really damaged and patched the holes up with drywall. The thin slates of wood and plaster in the interweaving grooves date from 1923 (or 1928), when the house was first built.

Hallway Leading to the Upstairs
Argh! No comment. So much work to do here.

Guest Bedroom
Without the granny curtains and the vinyl patch up on the floor, this room is almost palatable.

Upstairs Den
Can you please put the wood paneling back? I think I'd rather live with wood walls than this.

Aaaahh! What the eff is this room? Turns out it's my bathroom. Weirdly, it looks tiny without the tub, sink and toilet. Yes, there is a hole that goes straight threw the living room. I can't even bare to look at the wall and the plumbing.