Saturday, 27 November 2010

The headhouse windows are framed

Our carpenters have finalized the last of headhouse framing...a couple of the window and door sizes needed to be tweaked last-minute but here's what it looks like now.

If you look carefully in the photo above, you can see the line of brick that ends about halfway up the headhouse's back wall.  That's as far as our mason got last weekend but he's back again this weekend to try to finish the job.   Then we can dismantle and return the rented metal staging.  We're thinking he'll come back in the late winter or early spring to lay the brick face on the headhouse's other walls and do some smaller odd masonry jobs.

 The windows for the headhouse have been ordered and the countdown begins until they (and the skylight) arrive.  Seeing them (maybe even in place!) would be an awesome Christmas or New Year's present.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

New art from the MFA School Sale

 One of my favorite places to buy art in Boston is at the annual MFA School Sale.  It's a good venue to find a nice cross-section of reasonably-priced work and you can feel good about spending because proceeds go towards the school.  Also, because I bought my first ever original artwork there, it has a particularly warm in my heart.  I always mark the date of the sale on my calendar a couple of months in advance and then eagerly look forward to going and seeing what they've got.   I do find that you have to get there as soon as the event opens on the first day of the sale, though, because stuff tends to sell fast.  It's a bit chaotic, with everyone milling around the flip have to be both patient and assertive in order to make sure you get your turn.

I bought a large (22 x 30 inch) chalk pastel drawing called "Into the Clouds".  Please forgive the lousy photos: I didn't want to take the shrink wrap off before I take it to the framers and the shiny plastic made it hard to get a good shot.

New roof waterproofing and concrete block walls

Here's the fruit of last weekend's labor.  We had my boyfriend's nephew out to Boston again to build the back wall of our headhouse, repair damages to the top of the back wall of the third story and build up/even off the rear parapet wall.  In order to keep him working as fast as he could, my boyfriend and I did all the unskilled labor parts of the project.  Carrying concrete blocks, buckets of water and 50-100lb bags of sand, lime and cement up four flights of stairs, mixing seemingly endless buckets of mud and grout, cleaning old bricks for reuse, filling the holes in some of the blocks with grout so they are solid enough to be drilled into, and repointing block and brick.  We were utterly exhausted and incredibly sore by Sunday night.  Luckily it didn't rain and on Saturday we even had beautiful sunny weather in the low 60s, so it was actually really pleasant to be working outside on the roof.  

While we worked inside the headhouse, the roofing guys applied the waterproof barrier.  This is the crucial layer that will keep all the rain, melting snow, and run-off from the garden sprinkler system from seeping through the rafters and into the house.  (Notice the tidy level plywood cap that our general contractor had his crew build quickly so that when the roofers come back to apply the black aluminum cap to the top of the parapet wall, it will have a smooth underlayment.)

Also while we worked, our neighbor's crew rebuilt his 6 foot high wall with concrete block, obliterating the harbor view we've had for the past 8 months from our bedroom level.  Now that they're done we are left with a lovely view of cinder blocks from our upstairs hallway and bathroom.  Thanks, guy.

Monday, 8 November 2010

The fire escape is up

The ironworkers put in their last day on Saturday, wrapping up two full weeks of work on site.  Two guys were there every day during that period which really surprised me.  I'd figured that the whole fire escape would have pretty much been built in their workshop, trucked to the RBB and hung up in a couple of days.  Nope, they actually put most of it together at the building and seemed to be working pretty hard, with slow going.  Watching the process gives me more respect for how much effort is involved.

Our fire escape isn't beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, but given the technical complexities, space limitations and requirements of the fire code, they did a great job.

The same company is doing our balcony and roof garden railing, so they should be starting on those jobs next.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The best mason in the entire world

My boyfriend's nephew, the master mason who lives in Wisconsin, came to Boston again for the weekend to help us with our brickwork.  It's amazing how much he got done over the course of two (very, very) full days.  He re-pointed all the bricks on the top of the back side of our building, which our neighbor is about to cover when he rebuilds the 6 foot tall wall that used to be on the top of his building.  I wish I had some before photos, but just picture a really snaggly wall with loose bricks, missing mortar, white gluey deposits, etc.  Now it's all purty:

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Outline of the headhouse

The outlines of our new head house have been sketched, so to speak. There are a few 2x4s up to indicate its dimensions and a plank to show the height of the structure's roof.

It's hard to get photos because the staircase going up to the roof is incomplete and rickety. Also because about a half-dozen guys are at work during daylight hours.

Roof decking installed

The roof decking has been installed, so now when it rains the entire inside of the building doesn't get soaked. Here's what it looks like, painted with the first coat of the waterproofing material.