7 min read

"It won't be long now."

Water would be nice.
"It won't be long now."
Invitation to a show at East Lansing High School from 1932 found at 615 Sunset Lane. The high school at the time was what is now the Hannah Community Center, two blocks away.

As I write, there's no water at 615 and none at my house, either.

The gas company's contractors have been on our street for the last few days replacing the gas mains. This morning, they were working on the gas line right in front of our home:

I felt like I was conducting a circus as a consequence. It's garbage day, so the garbage cans had to be moved to where the big garbage trucks could get to them around the gas company's trucks. Then the HVAC guys for 615 showed up with two big vehicles. Then the electrical inspector with his own truck. And then came the framer who needed to park in my driveway...

And in the middle of all this, the gas contractor hit the water main under what had been the sidewalk of our own home. The space the gas contractors had dug this morning quickly filled up with water.

This hole isn't supposed to be full of water.

Now the city's Department of Public Works crew is here repairing the water main. The hole they've dug just keeps getting larger.

Once I realized what had happened, I went over to 615 to tell the guys working there that there is no water and they should keep that in mind while using the one working bathroom at 615, the one in the basement.

"If it's yellow, let it mellow...." the framer muttered.

"Should I bring over some hand sanitizer?" I asked, trying to be polite.

"Do these look like the kinds of guys that use hand sanitizer when working a dirty job?" the framer asked me with a chuckle.

"Well," I answered, " yesterday when I was in the garage picking up old sections of the busted-out sewer pipe from the old first floor bathroom, the electricians freaked out that I was touching the sewer pipe – even though I had gloves on and the pipe probably hadn't had anything in it in years."

"Oh, well, electricians," said the framer, rolling his eyes.

Electricians do leave droppings, but they come in the form of orange foam. I discovered this because, on Monday, the electricians were over doing the last bits of code-required seal-ins on new electrical plugs.

A new plug for the back bedroom/office.

I am guessing the orange foam discourages creatures from climbing through the holes in the floors made by the electricians.

In their haste the electricians left some droppings on the kitchen floor.

Now, if I am out in the woods, I will know by the droppings if I am tracking electricians. (I do feel like I spend a lot of my days tracking electricians.)

Progress on electrical isn't just about new wires. The electricians have now installed the new ceiling fans in the living room and sunroom.

The sunroom has a new ceiling fan (and is currently a storage room for work materials).

Meanwhile, the vermiculite remediation went as planned on Monday and Tuesday. All of the material was carefully removed from above the second-floor bathroom (into which it had rained down on the electricians a couple of weeks ago) and the attic area above that.

At the end of the process yesterday afternoon, a third-party inspector showed up and tested the air to make sure there was no sign of asbestos. There may never have been any to begin with – vermiculite doesn't necessarily contain asbestos – but now there's definitely none in this space.

The remediation team put in fresh fiberglass insulation to replace the insulation they removed in the process.

I sent this photo to the head electrician this morning and he called this photo "beautiful." I had to laugh at that, but I get what he means – beautifully safe.

It's a good thing the gas company didn't hit the water line on Monday or Tuesday when the remediators needed water for their job! That would have put us behind for who knows how long.

And by the way, like every other contractor, when the remediators saw the attic, their reaction was "wow." It's a wonderfully tall space with a huge footprint. It would make an amazing living space. You could put dormers on the back of the attic roof (the front already has a dormer), maybe add skylights, put in a mini-split HVAC unit, and have just a great open living space. Personally, I'd turn it into a master bedroom suite like we have at our house.

But we won't be taking that on.

Right now, the HVAC guys are installing the new vent fans over the second-floor tub and the first-floor bathroom shower. They're also creating two new HVAC duct runs for the first-floor bathroom, one to heat and cool the bathroom (in addition to the planned heated floor) and another to heat the "chamber" we're creating in the garage to protect the plumbing from freezing.

The chamber will have a trap door so contractors can easily access it for future repairs if need be.

We thought the HVAC team would need to create another duct line to heat the first-floor bedroom/office because we thought the two floor vents in that room were dead. But today, a little clearing out of this and that got one of the floor vents working, and there's heat pouring out now!

That's a big win. If that hadn't been the case, more of the garage ceiling would have had to come down, and that's not simple given the blown-in insulation.

Now for the big news...

The electrical inspector finally made it out this morning and officially gave us the all-clear on the new first floor electrical!

The first-floor rough-in plumbing approval (above) and electrical approval (below). Never mind that the second sticker says "Meridian Charter Township" – the township contracts inspectors out of East Lansing's building department, so it's all the same.

You know what this means? Drywall can go in now in the kitchen and back bedroom/office! And once the vent fan is installed and approved for the first-floor bathroom, drywall can go in there, too!

Drywall is the dividing line between the innards and the outwards. Moving to drywall means finally moving past infrastructure work to the finishing materials like flooring, tile, faucets, light fixtures, and cabinetry.

Speaking of which, our special orders of cabinetry for the first-floor bathroom, kitchen upper cabinet extensions, and new broom closet (for the vestibule) have been arriving at Menards and we've been carting the boxes home in our Honda Fit.

From Menards, we are still awaiting the vanity countertops/sinks for the two bathrooms. (Those are due in late April.) From Ikea, we await the new cabinetry for the "dead space" in the kitchen (April 12). And from Floor & Decor, we await the tile for the bathrooms (no delivery date provided yet).

I created a Google spreadsheet to keep track of all those parts, just to make sure I'm not missing something when it's time to put all this stuff together.

Finally, a consultation with the HVAC guys today convinced me we will need to do something about the stove vent.

Note the old stove venting above the cabinetry.

The current stove has a downdraft vent (a vent between the burners that pulls air down). That is attached to a vent that goes into the wall, goes up through the wall, and pops out above the upper cabinets, as shown above.

The HVAC guys confirmed my suspicion that this is not only not up to code, it's potentially causing grease to collect near the back of the stove. That could become a fire hazard.

They recommended removing all that (the parts that are exposed) and putting in a new circulating fan above the stove. That's what we'll most likely do, along with a new stove. Once the pointless venting is removed above the upper cabinets, the new second-deck of cabinetry up there will not have to be built around that old ductwork. So it'll be an improvement in several ways – safety, practicality, aesthetics.

As it turns out, we need a new stove at our house, so I think I can get a good deal from an appliance company if we buy a new stove for each house and have them delivered and installed on the same days. I talked to Lisa the Design Genius about all this this morning, and it turns out she has an unused new circulating fan in her storage that she can donate to the job at 615.

Time for me to go remind the HVAC guys that I'll be wanting an inspection asap for the first-floor shower vent so the drywaller can get in there soon. The drywaller has let me know he plans on material delivery Monday, and he intends to be doing installation next week. Squee!

"It won't be long now."