One More Phase of Remodeling Finished!

For the past 5 or 6 weeks our place has been taken over by workers making some changes to our outside space and inside working on our kitchen.

Finally all is completed and Joe and I can start to clean up the dust that was left behind while they worked.

IMG_2936We had the bamboo fence added to two walls and it has turned a beautiful tan color. It was treated for bugs and then varnished.

IMG_2937Our driveway was plain concrete so we had that resurfaced and topped with granito and then varnished.

IMG_2938We also had the one section of our back yard covered in cement and they topped that with large outdoor ceramic tiles and granito to make a nice patio.IMG_2939I hated the way the top of the cistern looked so we had them put the granito on that as well.

IMG_2945The last item was the new gate with a built in door and a roof to protect it which was just completed this past Saturday.

Now everything needs a nice coat of white paint.  Well not right now, we need a break from workers.  ja ja

Finally Kitchen Cabinets

When we moved into this house we put a basic kitchen counter in the kitchen.  Several months later we added shelving underneath along with a wood work table.  It has taken me almost four years to decide what I wanted in the way of kitchen cabinets and finally a few weeks ago I placed the order.  Please first understand, if I did not have my neighbor and friend David Zambrano to assist me this would never come to pass. His contacts, artistic insight, innate ability to understand me, abilities as a maestro and supervisor, and his total acceptance of us make him and his family so special to us.  Today the cabinets have been installed and now I can finally put all my kitchen items in closed cupboards or up on a shelf and off the counters. Notice Helena, David’s wife and alter ego, in the first picture carefully watching to be sure everything is just right!

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Jorge and his crew did a beautiful job. We could not be happier at how the cabinets turned out. IMG_2895

It took both Joe and I most of Sunday to figure out where everything should go. Below is the first draft, you know I will need to make a bunch of changes before I am totally pleased with how everything is placed.

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Roof Painting, Yes You Heard Me!

While living in South Florida we knew many retirees that owned and lived in mobile homes. Each year they had to paint the roofs which we were told helped reflect the sun and helped keep the inside cooler. Living in San Clemente we really have no need for a heater, most times you really don’t need an a/c unit, forget about a fireplace or hot water we only have suicide showers and our home does not have one pane of glass in any window. All we have are screens with wooden shutters for windows.

Our first hot season the house really heated up, as soon as the sun hit the dirty almost black roofing it turned into an oven. So we talked to our neighbor David (pronounced DA VEED) and had him pick up the supplies and hire a guy to help him clean, patch and paint our roof as well as adding an extension of roof panels to the porch area and while he was doing that we had him add a wooden beam so we could hang bamboo blinds to help even more to shade our porch area.

San Clemente 1.7.2014 011 San Clemente 1.7.2014 012 What a huge difference all of these improvements have made on the interior temperature of the house. At a minimum it is making a 10 degree difference.

We also purchased two exhaust fans that will be installed one in the kitchen/salon area and one in the master bedroom up near the ceiling to help remove any hot air trapped up near the ceilings.

Starting our Shelving

Quote for the day:

“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself
from happiness.”
— Jonathan Safran Foer

Joe and I took some time off the past few months from construction work on the house to decide what was the most important items needed to make our life easier, now that we have lived in the house for a while. Since July we have dealt with concrete dust, saws spinning and hammers banging. We needed some time to live quietly in our house, get used to the rhythm of daily living, give our wallet a rest and time to recuperate –  and then decide what projects were most important.

I think the kitchen shelving under the counters is the most important item for me at this point. Having half of the kitchen items in the one spare room, stacked on a bunk bed works, but is not really that convenient for me.

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I found out that Max, our next door neighbor (actually renting the house we rented before this one was ready) is a master carpenter…so he offered to help us out. Early one Monday morning we went to the lumber yard and found what Max felt was the best hardwood to make the storage shelves under the kitchen counters. We placed our order, gave our deposit and were told it could be ready that afternoon or the next morning. Max did not want to rush these folks so he told them the next day would be fine. When we returned the next day we were told that enough wood for our needs was not available from the raw boards we had picked out, so Max started the task of looking at all the other hardwoods looking for the best for the job. He found it and they starting to plane it — I think that is the correct terminology. And then cut the pieces per Max’s dimensions. The two photos below show what we bought for $129.00.

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This will take care of under both kitchen counters and should last us our lifetime. Next he picked up these for some of the shelving we will be doing in the house.

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Max hand-picked each and every board to be sure there were straight and dried and ready for our use. This is what the undercounters look like before the shelving was installed. Not a great use of space!

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Here is what it looks like during installation, looks like tons of room right? Think again!

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Now the shelves filled!!!

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THe next days project is the shelving in our storage/laundry room.

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This is the finished product…all those shelves to fill…..what JOY!!!

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Now you can see how I have filled them up already, but getting all these items off the floor, adding a place to hang my brooms and mops was a stroke of genius.

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Week 6 – The Finishing Touches

Patricia and Freddy are excellent managers, keeping our renovation project on track with their watchful eye and so many excellent suggestions for making our home even better. Their crew of workers have been respectful of our little beach hut, diligent in their work schedules and concern for us and our renovation. If management is concerned with the little things, the workers do the same.  I just love these guys and cannot say enough about their professionalism and work ethic. Kudos!

The beginning of this week finds the workers trying to complete many things. Below is the maestro who has worked on the tile in our bathroom. He is kind of shy but did allow me to take a few pictures of him working on the security bars on our windows.

He is working also on the master bath to complete it with the installation of the sink and the completion of the tile work on the glass block as well as installing the towel bar, hooks and soap dishes. It looks pretty much complete except for the curing of some of the concrete work and the prep work, sanding and painting of the walls.

When I asked my friend Ana Zitnick from Florida for a suggestions on what to do with the bathroom shower instead of using a plastic shower curtain, she suggested glass blocks. I had Freddy find a few samples and I picked these cute ones that have a coral pattern on them.  Thanks Ana that was a great idea and as you can see they look wonderful!

The painting of the ceilings continue with the hand painting of some areas he was not able to get to with the sprayer. And the maestro painter is continuing on the interior and exterior wall prep work, sanding and then he will be ready to apply the finish coat.

The maestro roofer is here installing the extension of the wood beams to be able to apply the extra roofing sheets to the back of the house to protect the bedroom windows from rain.

Some minor trim work, plumbing and electrical work also needs to be completed and Freddy said that work should be completed this week but with the holiday on Friday we are a bit behind.

The painters are hard at work sanding down our front door, this is one item that did not turn out as expected. We will find out on Monday what needs to be done to correct this little item.

This afternoon my kitchen work table was delivered. It is absolutely stunning, I know how can a work table be stunning but come-on take a look, kind of cute, right?

It is 5′ long x 2′ deep x 3′ high.

Natural wood finish that will be used as a kitchen work table until I decide on what shelving and cabinets I want in the kitchen and then it should be workable as an island, if not it will go into the office room. This beautiful handmade table is the test for this cabinet-maker and as far as I am concerned he scored an A+ on this project.  Now to talk to him about the closet in our master bedroom…..but I really want to live in the house first before I decide on the closet for the master and the cabinetry for both the kitchen and bathrooms.

Here are the pictures I took just now showing how great the paint job is going.

The one thing I can say is it sure is white and it sure looks clean!

Week 3 and 4 of Demolition Derby – What a Great Crew

Week 3 – we finally got internet service after we cancelled with the first provider – more on that later….

Two weeks ago Joe and I had a pow wow regarding having Patricia and her crew do the balance of the demolition that we want done to the house NOW!  Not knowing how the crew worked, how timely they were, how the end result would look we were hesitant to give a huge amount of work out until we saw some results. After watching this group for the past two weeks, seeing progress at every turn each day we decided to get all the demo done now. This way the dirt, dust and noise would be over and all we would need to do is design the kitchen, finish the guest bathroom and put in a laundry closet on the porch.  All of these are low dirt and noise. Also any of them can be done in the next several months or in years, depending on how we feel about it!  What we have done so far was not for esthetics but for the overall safety of our new home.

Monday morning bright and early the crew was back, ready to remove doors, remove walls and block in walls. We are taking the bathroom nearest to our master and closing the doorway into the kitchen, removing the pantry and closing that as well and opening a doorway from the bedroom.  They are also moving the wall in the kitchen a little over a foot making the bathroom which is currently very narrow into a bit wider space.

While we wait on the house to be finished, Joe and I attempt to stay away from the workers during the day making a quick dash in after they leave for the day just to take a look at their progress. Patricia can almost read my mind on how I would like things done and Freddy will always keep us both on track with any suggestions or opinions for making things even better.

While they were making the changes to our bathroom it was discovered that the area below where the toilet sat had no ground beneath it.

Yes, you read that correctly, when you look down you see light instead of what should be compacted earth topped with a concrete pad. This will require some work to correct but things pop up while renovating a house and we both knew that they would. I guess the awkward thing would have been discovering this particular issue while sitting “atop the throne”. So I am pleased that this was discovered before a pretty darn funny accident occurred. The explanation of this seems to have been a toilet issue where corrections were made to the plumbing beneath the toilet from outside of the house. The workmen never filled the area back in when they completed the plumbing work and no one in the house inspected their work. Even if you don’t know anything about plumbing or electrical or roofing you really need to look at what work is being done common sense would have told me that leaving a huge hole under the toilet was not a good thing.

The masonry maestro has removed all the walls and has completed the brick-work and is now applying the final  finish. He is a true professional, his corners are finished with a sharp edge, the bricks were in perfect alignment with a plumb line confirming my sight and his finish coat is impeccable.

I cannot tell you just how wonderful it has been working with these professionals. I had hopped that a shelf with cubby holes would fit behind the shower wall but it could not be worked out.

Freddy suggested that the shower head and water control be moved as its current position does not leave much room to the side shower wall and the plumbing team will reposition both the sink and toilet giving more room to move around in this more spacious area. On Friday of week 3 we went into Portoviejo and picked out white tile to finish the shower walls and floor as well as a beautiful almost marble look white tile Patricia called porcelina for the kitchen counter and back-splash area. I love the old 1” thick tiles used on the floors in the rest of the house and a close match will replace the blue tiles currently on the bathroom floor.

In the kitchen a concrete counter has been built in the corner to fit my kitchen sink giving me a wonderful work area on either side with a wood work table being assembled now for under the front window.

The guest bedroom closet has been finished and the doors hung, Freddy has had the upper panel that was stationary put on hinges allowing us to open it and use that upper space for storage to the ceiling. This closet will have a clothes pole for additional hanging garments as well as a shelf above for storage.

With the one door removed from the salon area it gives me extra wall area. The front section of the house which we will use as the salon had 5 doors making it almost impossible to position furniture. With one less double door we may even be able to fit a piece of furniture in that area.

As soon as the few plumbing and electrical changes are made and my tile installed they can start on the prep work to paint the interior of the house.

Things are moving forward. Not sure if we will be in by the first of the month. But both Joe and I feel that having the additional demo done now will save us our sanity in the future. Next week the cabinet guy should deliver my kitchen work table. Depending upon what I see will determine if I contract with him for the bedroom closets or look for another wood-worker for that as well as the kitchen cabinets. I really would like to live in the house for a while before deciding where and what type of cabinetry I will have them make for the kitchen as well as some cabinets for the master bathroom. Removing those two additional doors has opened up the kitchen for many different designs and extending our master bath has given us much needed wall space.

We had a very successful trip to Portoviejo. I had decided that finding a refrigerator and stove were my first priority but if I found a washing machine that I would love to purchase that as well. We had several stops to make before finally reaching Portoviejo. Patricia was getting a bit itchy as Freddy did not mention the numerous stops he needed to make on the way. Patricia wanted an early start so as to be back in Clemente by mid-afternoon.

“The best laid plans of mice and men”.

We arrived in Portoviejo close to lunchtime and stopped to have a quick bowl of Encebollado at what Freddy described as the best restaurant for this Ecuadorian treat. He was right it was excellent steaming soup filled with albacora. We were refreshed and headed for our first shopping stop of three appliance stores. We found the special of the week was a small refrigerator with frost free freezer and small stove unit for $777. Refrigerator was too small and I did not like the quality of the stove. We got several prices which we found to be high and moved onto the next store. I was not impressed with the selection here with most units a brand named Global not very sturdy looking but yet not inexpensive. The last appliance store, Super Colchon, found me picking out not just a great Indurama refrigerator freezer but a nice Eletrolux stove unit that even has a broiler and two oven racks (not something usually found in a 4 burner oven) but also a 33 lb capacity Samsung water conserving washer all for $1,600. Freddy got the young salesperson to throw in a sandwich maker, a blender and a beautiful set of ceviche bowls as my gifts. The idea of getting a regalo when purchasing large appliances is part of the stores’ promotion of certain appliances. Some give you a free gas canister with the purchase of a stove, others give a microwave with the purchase of a certain model refrigerator. It all depends upon the stores’ current promotion.

With enough money left over from my $2,000 that I had budgeted for two appliances, to get the third appliance as well as all the bathroom tile and the beautiful tile for my kitchen counter and back-splash along with the kitchen sink faucet and grout – I was a happy camper. Next stop was the mall that has a Kiwi where I could pick up ceiling fans, outdoor light fixtures, garden tools, a bathroom medicine cabinet and many other items. The pick-up truck was packed with poor Patricia sandwiched into the back seat surrounded by my purchases and the bed of the truck filled with appliances and tile. It was the best shopping day in history by my standards. I had inadvertently misdirected Freddy from his mission while in Kiwi which was to get paint prices so I guess he will need to make another trip back to Portoviejo real soon. Sorry Freddy but I really needed your advice on many of the things I was purchasing.

Week 4

After a closer inspection of the refrigerator’s manual I discovered, to my dismay, that it was not a frost free but a cycle defrost unit. This is a strange way of saying you need to shut down the refrigerator every 15 days and allow the ice that has formed in the freezer to drip down into a pan that you position under a drain hole in the refrigerator section. ABSOLUTELY NOT…I did this every 15 days in Playas and it nearly drove me crazy I will not do it the rest of my life here. I had Patricia take a look and yes we both did not understand Cycle Defrost. She also assumed it was a Frost Free unit and until we reviewed the manual, which was not in the floor model, and read the description of this model we both made the assumption that cycle defrost was a fancy way of saying frost free. She called the appliance store and they are going to allow us to exchange this unit for a frost free.

On Tuesday afternoon we left to exchange the refrigerator and were so happy to find a good sized frost free Electrolux refrigerator/freezer for $20 less than I had already paid. I purchased a mattress cover with the difference as cash refunds are not normally given.

The house is definitely coming along. The kitchen sink has been replaced with a better quality one as both sinks had issues that would require either to be replaced sooner rather than later.  The newly built counter has been tiled with a beautiful porcelina tile that we picked out last week. Plumbing has been completed, the faucet is in place with the drain the only missing link for a usable sink.

The master bathroom shower control and head has been moved to a better position for showering and the tile work has been started. The bathroom door has been hung and the light switch repositioned. I need to take another look at the position of the light on the ceiling as I do think that will need to be repositioned also or a second light added nearer to the sink and medicine cabinet. The threshold to the bathroom has been tiled and the plumbing beneath the toilet has been replaced and the area filled and is now waiting to have a concrete pad poured.

The guest bedroom closet now has a clothes pole installed with a shelf above for storage as well as a upper cabinet installed for additional storage going to the ceiling.
The painting maestro started this week and has completed the sanding and primer coat on two bedrooms as well as some of the work in the kitchen. He has also started to scrape the outside walls in preparation for the fungus treatment and eventual primer coat and paint.

Because of all the additional work that we added we will probably not be moving into the house for another two weeks. The most current concrete work needs to cure before it can be painted and all the new bathroom tile work also added to this delay.

When some of the door frames had been removed I saw what looked to be termite damage. Patricia said this is not termites but ants. Saturday afternoon Joe went through the entire house with insecticide spraying all the wood door frames and window sills. We wanted to do this while the workers were gone and before the final coat of paint is applied.  The spraying caused a flood of large and small ants as wells as bugs that looked like water bugs trying to escape. Joe went back in on Sunday and did it all over again with nothing coming out of the frames this time. I hope they moved out for good. The workers are sealing the house as I am not interested in fighting the lizards or bats any longer. Every ceiling is being sealed with concrete and any small cracks and spaces are being filled.

And I know all about the lizards eating bugs but actually for me their poop is more annoying than having a few ants in the house so GOOD BYE lizards move in with someone else who likes and wants your company!

On Saturday morning the roofer was back to secure the roof as he told Freddy that most of the roof tiles were not secure. Freddy wants to have the roof extended out to give us more coverage from rain for the windows as well as the splash area at the bottom of the house. Joe and I will have the roof replaced in the near future but it is not in our budget for right now.