Name: Dan Bailey
Type of Project: Kitchen remodel
Location: East Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
Type of building: 2nd Floor Condo in a Greek-Revival Row House
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Progress remained incremental this week. My plumber came back to install the gas line, and ended up reevaluating his original plan. At first, he thought he could run the gas line next to the waste line, which is contained in a chase that runs from the kitchen down three floors to the cellar where the gas meter is located. But after he got a closer look inside the chase, he discovered that running the gas line in this location, while not impossible, would be substantially more difficult than he had expected. And when you're dealing with plumbing, "more difficult" means "more expensive."
So instead, he suggested running the gas line up the back wall of the building's common stairwell. There's already an electrical conduit running up this wall, so what's one more exposed pipe? With this ironclad reasoning, I got the go-ahead from my neighbors to place the gas line in the stairwell, and the plumber got started on the installation. Eventually, when we get around to painting and/or otherwise renovating the common stairwell, I'll paint the gas line to match the wall. I think it’ll end up being pretty inconspicuous.
While things inched along in the kitchen, I turned my attention to the dining room. Last week Gregg, my contractor, installed some new molding around the panels that flank the fireplace. This week, after patching the nail holes and caulking the new moulding, I painted the paneling and the rest of the dining room trim a bright white – Benjamin Moore's "Super White" in pearl finish to be exact. The trim was really dull and grimy, so I wanted to paint it a sharp, clean white. And true to its name, super white is a really bright, true white. It nicely highlights the dining room's woodwork and looks great against the pale gray color (BM moonshine) that I chose for the walls.
With the floors refinished and most of the walls and trim painted, the dining room is starting to come together. The only remaining project is the fireplace. The buildout around the fireplace is covered in an ugly textured plaster treatment that appears to have been applied with a butter knife, probably sometime in the 1960s. In any case, the textured plaster is definitely not in keeping with the condo’s original Greek-Revival style. So I’m planning to skim coat the entire buildout with joint compound to give it a smooth finish.
There’s another, potentially more serious problem with the fireplace: a crack running all the way across one of the marble side panels. The crack probably opened up as the building settled. It isn’t actually that noticeable, since it blends in with the veining in the marble. But when you get up close it looks pretty precarious. I don’t know how long the crack has been there, but at some point, for reasons I will never fully understand, someone covered it with a piece of packing tape. I’m hoping that this half-inch-thick piece of marble covered in tape isn’t actually supporting the entire mantel shelf above it, but in case it is, I’m going to have a mason look at it.
The renovation is pretty severely behind the original schedule at this point. I underestimated the complexity of the renovation and the time it would require. The logistics involved in scheduling multiple contractors, each of whom is working multiple jobs simultaneously, has also led to delays. I could have hired a general contractor with a crew of workers to tackle the renovation, which certainly would have sped up the timeline, but instead I chose to use individual contractors that I know and trust. Not only is this more cost-effective, but I also personally know everyone who is working on the kitchen. I’m ok with the renovation taking longer than I had originally planned, because I think it will be worth it in the end. With all of this in mind, I talked to my contractor, Gregg, this week about a revised schedule, and we decided that an additional 6 weeks would be a reasonable addition to the timeline to complete the remaining work.
Estimated time for project: 18 weeks, but almost certainly more
Time remaining: 8 weeks
(Images and diary text: Dan Bailey)