Wednesday, December 10, 2008

916 and 914 are finished!!!

916 Oakwood, the first house in the row, is now finished and occupied! It has been transformed from a run-down shack into a beautiful, comfortable and energy efficient home.

914 Oakwood is also complete. The bright purple doors are a great accent to the exterior! This house has been sold.

These homes have small private yards in the rear with some really cool fences! The balconies are off of the Master Bedroom upstairs and have a view of the Raleigh skyline.

This is the Living room of 914 Oakwood. The owners chose dark flooring, which really accents the house and gives it a classy, urban look.

The kitchen in 194 turned out incredibly well. Very nice concrete counters - stained are accented by a well-coordinated glass mosaic tile backsplash.

This is the view from the upstairs loft of the Livingroom in 914.
The gas logs in the fireplace create a nice warm glow and cozy atmosphere.

Ok - enough bragging - time to get back to work on 910 Oakwood. It is sold and closes 12/29! Get busy!
This is Brett and Patrick trying to put up some track lights. Too bad the Swedes didn't make the track light - the cabinets from IKEA went in much more easily!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Certificates of Occupancy!!

The certificate of Occupancy for 916 Oakwood (the first house) was received on 11/18, and today we got the CO for the second house 914. So now, there is electricity and heat in 916. It has been rented, and the first members of the community will move in to their new home in early December. Welcome to Lisa and Marisa!
John, Patrick and Brent are hard at work building the fence's for 916 and 914.

Cool fences, huh?! Some shrubs and mulch will make the houses look great! I sure wish it were a bit warmer, but it looks like I'll be breaking through some frozen ground this weekend.

914 Oakwood is almost done as well. The power gets turned on tomorrow. All the flooring is in and looks great. Only some minor work and cleaning inside. I can't wait for the heat to be started up Friday AM! Thanks to ARS for a great job - Tim Halat, the construction manager is very responsive and has been great to work with.
The second members of the neighborhood will be moving in in mid December - Welcome to Scott & Amy!
Jeff is almost done the stairway in 910 Oakwood - we are busily working away to get this house done by mid December for the third new neighbors. Joe and Erin are really excited about their new home!
This is 908 Oakwood. Chris and his crew have jacked it up and dug new footers, which will hopefully get inspected and have concrete poured by Friday. It is amazing how construction methods have changed - these houses originally were built with very little in the way of underground foundations.

Norman is digging out to place new foundation concrete around the bottom of the chimney so it will be stable in the new house.

This is the view from inside 908. Before long, it will look quite different!

Monday, November 3, 2008

First one - almost done, closing in on # 2!

The first house (916) is almost done and is now listed on Craigslist for sale or rent. The house has passed the final HVAC and Plumbing Inspections, and will likely pass the electrical inspection tomorrow. I hope to have the Certificate of Occupancy by the end of the week, with landscaping to be done over the next two weeks.

There are a few small items to finish, and the house needs to be cleaned, but it it really looking nice.

Ready for appliances!

The second house, 914 is moving along right on schedule. It is sold, and scheduled to close at the end of November. The interior is painted, the flooring is almost all in, tile work in process, and the kitchen cabinets will be in tomorrow. The countertops will be poured Wednesday and hopefully installed by early next week.

HVAC finish work will be done this week, and so will the electrical finish work. The staircase looks great with the white paint against the dark bamboo floors the buyers selected. Very classy!

910 is moving along too. The drywall went in last week, and trim carpentry should be done shortly, then paint! The buyers are looking forward to their December finish date.
912 is waiting at this point. The trim carpentry is in, and it's ready to be painted as soon as there is a buyer ready to choose colors.

The first of the "last two" houses has been torn down to the basics and is ready to have the new foundation poured.
This house will be slightly larger than the rest. It is a more square footprint, and will get a full 2nd floor rather than the "camelback" the other houses got. The attic will also be finished. As amazing as it looks from this picture, this house will be have 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths when done!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Concrete Countertops

This has been a busy couple of weeks! I've put together and installed my IKEA cabinets in 916 Oakwood, the first house. That was much easier than I thought it would be. I then got to work on the concrete countertops - my first experience with making them.
Setting up shop in the backyard, I made the forms from Melamine so the concrete wouldn't stick or get any impressions. They had to be carefully cut, then caulked. I included a blockout for the faucet and sink. The forms had to sit exactly level.

I mixed regular concrete from Lowe's in a wheelbarrow and added some color mix (Quickrete) to get to a brown color with some color variations that I wanted. I tried to splatter some color blotches on the form so the counters would pick that up. More on that later.

The forms also had rebar for strength suspended with wire so
when the counters were poured, the rebar would not settle to the bottom - which would become the top of the counters.

After the concrete was mixed, I shoveled it into the forms then troweled it out. I was worried about too much water, and I think I ended up not using quite enough - now I know for next time!

After that, I used a concrete vibrator to vibrate the forms and get out the pockets of air. That was quite a mess. Concrete (red/brown) splattered all over me. Later that afternoon, someone who had never met me showed up at the jobsite and said "wow" - you look like you've been in a war!
I let the tops dry for 3 days, then with some help carried the very heavy forms into the kitchen and placed the counters on the top of the cabinets. Normally you would take the counters out of the forms first, but I had a very narrow place with a hole in the middle of it for the faucet and I was concerned about that spot cracking.

After removing the forms, I discovered a pretty good look. There were a few things I will do differently next time. One, I will not allow anyone to talk to me while I'm measuring or making the forms. The sink hole ended up being 3" too big. I suppose that's better than too small, because I was able to add some metal trim and it looks ok. Also, I made the forms before installing the cabinet doors/drawers. I used the 1/2" overhang recommended, but didn't take into account the width of the doors. Next time I'll use a bigger overhang.
Also, the color splashed I tried to do didn't work out too well. They ended up causing some of the smooth concrete at the surface to chip off. I had quite a bit of work to do to get that looking good and smooth, but that turned out ok in the end. Next time I'm going to try making the counters without any color dye in them and using a stain after they are sanded smooth. I'll let you know how that turns out!

After the form was removed, I had to sand the counters. What a mess - I'll never do that inside again!

Once the sanding was done, I used a sealer on the tops. They really look nice now. They aren't perfect, but they are really pretty - and I think a good job for my first time doing this myself. They will last for a long, long time, and really add a lot of character to the kitchen.

I'm probably within a couple weeks of finishing the first house. The lighting is all in (thanks John!) and the exterior grading is done (thanks Jeff!). Next week we'll install the appliances and start getting final inspections. We'll also get the fences up on the first two houses and start some landscaping. Check back for more pictures soon!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Trim, Interior Painting and Flooring done - First house

It's been a busy couple of weeks at 916 Oakwood Avenue! The interior is coming along nicely. The environmentally-friendly bamboo flooring is all in now (except for the shoe-mould), the trim is mostly done, and the interior is painted.

View from the loft towards the front door. These vaulted ceilings really make the place look big.

This is the upstairs bedroom looking towards the balcony and the bathroom. The creamy yellow color is nice and bright, but very calming.

The ceramic tile in the bathtub/shower in the upstairs bathroom came out great!

The shower in the downstairs bath looks nice too! All ready for the glass enclosure.

This upcoming week cabinets and light fixtures go in, and then I try my hand at making decorative concrete counters. I watched my friend Will Jeffers make them a couple of days ago and now I'm looking forward to doing it myself.

I'm hoping to be done the first house by the end of October.

914 Oakwood is moving along too! The trim is getting done this week, along with the exterior painting (Restful Green with a Dewberry - purple door). I can't take credit for that - the buyer's mom did it! I love it!

We started 908 Oakwood Friday - the roof is now off. Next is redoing the foundation under the whole house to support the second floor. Thanks to the truss design, we'll be able to get a couple extra rooms in the attic - it's going to be a really cool house - pictures coming soon!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


The Oakwood Cottages are coming right along. 916 Oakwood Avenue is almost totally painted on the outside.

912 Oakwood Avenue has the first coat of paint on the outside and is currently getting drywall done on the inside.

916 Oakwood now has the trim finished and it's primed inside. This week the interior will be painted and the Bamboo flooring will begin to go in!

914 Oakwood is now insulated, and drywall should go in in about a week.

Originally, I had planned to rent all 6 of the homes, but after thinking about it, I decided that it would create a better sense of community in the block to have at least half of the homes be owner-occupied. Despite the national real estate market, there is a strong demand for reasonably priced homes in Downtown Raleigh. Compared with smaller homes further away from downtown, these homes are reasonably priced at $225,000. Considering that everything is new, except a small amount of original siding and framing, that is a great price for downtown Raleigh.

A local Realtor, Van Fletcher, contacted me and has brought me a contract for 914 Oakwood and we are expecting a contract on 912 Oakwood! This community is coming together!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Some exterior paint and the sheetrock going in!

Quite a bit of progress has occurred in the last few weeks. The first house (916) has gotten the windows and skylights in, the siding finished, the roof on, and is now in the process of being painted. Saving the old siding where possible means lots of labor for preparing it to be painted so that it blends with the new siding on the new part of the house. I think it's worth it to not waste old wood - tryin' to be green here!

The view from the back of 916. I think the balcony coming out from the master bedroom is pretty cool. It will have a city skyline view once the landscaping is done right.

There has been good progress inside too! The sheetrock is hung and will be finished within a few days. This shot shows the livingroom with the exposed brick fireplace - still to be repaired. The loft is visible at the top, with the master bedroom beyond that.

This is a view from the kitchen looking back towards the livingroom. The area under the stairs gets the washer and dryer.

Here is the upstairs master bedroom - looking at the bathroom door straight ahead, with the closed door opening over to the left, then the door to the balcony.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wow - this is really exciting!

It's been a few weeks since I've posted an update. A lot's been happening despite the near 100 degree temperatures in Raleigh. Two of the houses are now framed inside & out.

Chris Kala (at left) is now back from vacation and so more progress will be made soon, I'm sure! Hi Chris!

The first house (916 Oakwood) has finished rough-in plumbing, electrical and HVAC. The windows are almost all in, the siding is going on and the roof should be on next week. Then we start painting.

Hopefully next week we'll get insulation in and maybe even start sheetrock!

This is what the inside looks like now - looking from the front doorway through the livingroom. The skylight still needs to go in the LR - that will brighten it up a lot. The exposed-brick fireplace stays - but will be opened up and sealed - used for gas logs. You can see the kitchen area behind the stairs, then the first floor BR beyond that (with it's own bath).

Upstairs is an open loft with a vaulted ceiling and skylight then the Master BR with it's own bath, a window seat, and a french door out to a private balcony which overlooks the City skyline. Very cool view!

Siding going on the outside of 916!

Check back soon for more updates.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

They are taking shape!

This week was one of those weeks where we made some real progress. The second floor is framed on the first house. This is the view from the front.

Here is the view from the side. It's really nice to see something that was in my mind become reality. Thanks to Bryant's and Chris' creativity we were able to figure out how to get the stairs in and still have room for both a loft above the living room and room for the washer and dryer cabinet in the kitchen.

Wow - this actually looks like it's going to be a real house soon! Monday morning the electrician, plumber, and HVAC guys will be at the job site, starting work on this house. Bryant has been working overtime this weekend to get the floor system rebuilt and the new stairs in.

The other houses are moving along too. I'll post more soon!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Now this is more like it!

I got back from vacation today and rushed right over to Oakwood Ave to check on the progress of the cottages. Now we're getting somewhere. Bryant Chambers, my other trusty carpenter, has made some great progress. The foundations on two of the houses are rebuilt, and the other two are underway. The framing for the first floor of two of the houses is just about done. Bryant tells me that the first house will be framed in another week, so then we can get the electrician, plumber and HVAC guys to work. Yeah!

Here is the foundation for the rear section of the house - totally rebuilt.

Framing for the floor - rear section.

The walls framed for the new first floor bedroom and bath.

Framing and foundation repairs under the original section of the houses.

Check back soon for more progress!