Monday, June 23, 2014

Concrete Jungle

Well Chickens, I am back!  A little vacation does a girl a world of good, and also allows for there to be some progress in the house.

So this happened!

First there was a thin layer of plastic that went over the dirt floor.

Then a little blankie.

Yes, that is the technical term.

Once the dirt was all tucked in, a wire grid went down.

And attached to that grid?  Plastic tubing that someday will fill with hot water and keep our feet toasty in the basement!  I cannot stress enough that if you are doing a basement remodel, especially in a cold weather zone like Chicago, go for the in-floor radiant heat.  Even if you aren't pouring a new concrete pad the way we were, you can do electric pad system that can go under a variety of flooring.

Look at all this cool tubing!  And the hairy arm of a contractor.  And lets be clear, great contractors are a little furry.  Those smooth skinned waxed and tweezed pretty boys on HGTV are not real.

This is Patrick.  He is one of our favorite people in the whole world, and we thank the universe every day that we are lucky enough to have him building our dream house.  (It doesn't hurt that his lovely wife is a great cook and sends him with all sorts of treats!)

This is the new copper water line, since the original line was determined to be not big enough.

Once everything that needed to be under the concrete was installed, then this was the scene in our alley!

And here is the concrete going in.  They covered our newly cleaned and tuckpointed stone walls with plastic to keep them pretty.

And TAAA DAAA!!!!!  Our new floor.  It is still curing, but once it is all completely hardened, they will bring in a polisher and make it smooth and give it a sheen, and it will be a beautiful and nearly indestructible floor for the rest of our natural lives!  

The other floor update is that they did some test removal of the horrific 1978 linoleum that currently graces our kitchen.  They pulled it up in the butler's pantry, and much to our delight the original oak is intact underneath and is in great shape, so it can be refinished when we do the rest of the floors on this level.  They also pulled it up in a section of the kitchen and while it too is the original oak, there is sadly a lot of dry rot so we will have to put a new floor in that space.  We were anticipating that this might be the case, so it wasn't a huge disappointment.

All in all, we are thrilled with the progress, especially since it is very gratifying to not be living over a dirt pit anymore!  Stay tuned as things really begin to take shape.

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hello Summer


I am writing to you from the lovely 70 degree humid-free environment that is now my home.

Let me be clear about this.  This is in the top five greatest things that has happened to me, following my own birth, my sister's birth, meeting my Charming Suitor, and becoming a published author.  And I am not exaggerating.  Air conditioning?  CENTRAL air conditioning?  Is a total lifechanger.

Luckily for us, since we had done the heating system this past winter, all of the ductwork etc. was in place, so we just had to install the compressors outside.

They are huge.  I went out when they were putting in the first one, which is about a three foot cube, and I thought "Damn. That is a honking AC unit."  And then they put in the BIG one!  We call them Lenny and George.  And I am madly in love with them.  They are Trane, same as our furnaces, run practically silent (we can hear it in the room where the big chase is, but that is the kitchen library, so we don't care).  The old window units sounded like small jet engines on constant idle.  This?  is so much better.

It is hot and muggy outside, and every inch of the inside is cool and comfy.  I swear when we came home Sunday after a couple of days away and walked inside to the embrace of the air?  I teared up a bit.

This means that the biggest infrastructure job is officially complete, and for anyone who has ever had to convert a 100+ year old house from steam radiators and no AC to a complete forced air system knows what a big deal this is!  The next big thing that is happening is we are finally getting ready to pour the concrete floor in the basement.

Have you any idea how annoying it is to live over a huge dirt pit?  Not fun.  As much work as has gone on in the past eight months, it just doesn't quite feel as real without a floor.  In general, it isn't ideal to pour concrete in Chicago until you are fairly certain of the weather, so now that the polar vortex has left us, we are good to go!  They are just gearing up to install the tubing for the radiant heat floor, and then it will be concrete time.  And this concrete is important.  Because we have decided to polish it and leave it exposed for the flooring in all but two of the rooms downstairs.

Since we are going for something of a 1907 industrial feel downstairs, leaving the stone and brick foundation and walls exposed, sandblasting and clear coating the steel beams, it was a natural fit to do polished concrete floors.  We will be having some sort of carpet tile in the exercise room for cushion and the media room for sound absorption, but since we are rug people anyway, it seemed silly to install flooring over the concrete pad just to lay rugs down.

In other news, I am going to take a two week social media cleanse, just to refocus energy and reinvigorate my brain and live in the moment with my Charming Suitor, so everyone have a great couple of weeks and when I get back online, I will have lots of house updates with pics!

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath