Morningside Renovation

Our Journey Through The Renovation Process Of Our Future "Forever Home" In Morningside (Atlanta,GA)


Choosing Insulation was NOT an Easy Decision

Several weeks back I had a post on insulation which was basically just me thinking out loud, or finding a way to justify the expense, as we tried to decide on whether to go with spray foam , cellulose, or rolled.

As mentioned in the prior post, I undoubtedly have a pretty big affection for spray foam and all of its benefits.  I’m usually not one to buy into a product’s media hype but I bit, chewed and swallowed this stuff and the shows on DIY & HGTV have done nothing to help.  But the cost, the cost is crazy high when compared to other options so what is one to do?

So after a ton of further research and consciously trying to remain armed with an unbiased opinion I decided to get quotes from several different insulation companies.  Part of my thinking was, If I can’t reasonably accept the fact that this stuff is too expensive then maybe having it repeated to me 5-7 times by complete strangers will to it.  Plus, if I’m lucky maybe I’ll be able to tap into their knowledge a little and come up with a solution, they are the experts.

From each of them I asked for a quote on spraying the entire house as well as their opinion on whether to use open or closed cell.  I also requested a quote for their most economical as well as cost-effective solution and last I asked for a quote on a hybrid solution which would require some creativity.

I limited the companies to only those that had great reviews or that were referred to me by others but as I found out the difference in experience and knowledge was vast. It also became quickly apparent that quite a few of the companies invested a substantial amount more money  into training their representatives “how to sell and use all of the right jargon and lingo as well as the various tax incentives” versus educating them on the actual product – product knowledge.  Unfortunately and regardless of pricing this eliminated a few of the companies pretty quickly, I’ve read too much about how improper installation of spray foam is potentially the blame for a lot of the negativity associated with it and if the guy selling it is clueless then I simply don’t have confidence in the applicators.

In the end it came down to two companies, both great & highly referred and their pricing was very competitive however we ended up going with Spray Foam Services.  Their representative, John Hartsfield not only knew his product but it was his creativity that sold us.  Basically after thoroughly evaluating our house, not the simple walk in the door and look around, John came up with a hybrid approach that seemed to make the most sense and also helped to lower the expense. misc 42013 037

We ended up using open cell on the entire interior of the roofline, batts in the walls as well as in the ceiling of the new basement and in a couple of weeks he’ll be back to finish spraying closed cell spray foam on the exterior walls of the original basement.

misc 12212012 076And yes,  the end cost was slightly higher than a more economical approach of using cellulose in the attic and batts in the floor & walls but…well, we’ve been able to save a little money in other areas and I’m “hoping” (gambling) that in the long run we’ve made a wise decision – time will tell.misc 42013 052

I’ve really tried to stay away from needlessly promoting all of the various subs and vendors along the way, however I have no problem doing so when someone exceeds our expectations. John’s crew showed up on a Saturday morning and worked until after dark spraying the roofline, putting up the batts as well as sealing all of the doors & windows and then came back Monday morning to finish it up.misc 12212012 072

Cleanup?  Never would have known they were there, spotless.  Seriously, these guys knew what they were doing and went about it in a professional manner which somewhat helped to justify the added expense of the spray foam.misc 42013 040misc 42013 038


Resurfacing an ole Cast Iron Sink

So I’m pretty pumped to tell you about what I received over the weekend. When we bought the house and started this renovation process over 16 months ago there was an old, heavy and very filthy sink in the basement that obviously was originally installed when the house was built back in 1927.

Almost everybody along the way said to throw it out; both GC’s, wife, you name it but I just couldn’t.  And so once it was detached from the floor it was moved to a far corner of the basement where it sat while I was asked no less than 20 times about what I was planning on doing with this old neglected sink – actually it was mostly referred to as junk.  Well I didn’t know but I felt I would eventually find a home for it, something under all of that filth made it too cool to throw away.

Well as we were trying to decide on the layout for our laundry room and the placement of a sink it came to me – what a perfect place for this nasty ole sink.  But first I had to convince my wife that it would look good which I knew wouldn’t be easy in its present state.  Now under all of the grime, rust, dirt, funk, etc…was a cast iron utility/laundry sink with a porcelain overlay but I had no idea how to even begin to clean this thing and being that it was pretty heavy it wasn’t as if I could easily move it or even put it in my trunk to take somewhere.

Well fortunately I was referred to a company in Atlanta, Quality Resurfacing, that restores and resurfaces old tubs and sinks so I decided to give them a call. The owner, Archer, came to pick it up that day and this past Saturday he called to tell me it was ready.  I couldn’t wait, but at the same time I was a little nervous.  My wife trusted me that the “finished product” would look good and it didn’t help that when the subject was brought up over the last few days, as my sink was getting prettied up, that I was potentially only digging my hole deeper by saying “trust me, it will look great, I know you’re going to love it”.

So the moment arrives, Archer (owner) pulls up, I walk to his van to see the results and I was shocked.  Gorgeous, looks brand new and the uniqueness of it makes it even cooler.  But as we’re carrying it inside the true test awaits, wife’s approval.  Loved it!!  She now thinks it was one of our best decorating decision yet.  So happy that we both had that foresight so many months ago.

A few things to note; while cleaning it Archer was able to uncover the manufacturing date – August 9, 1927, also he was somehow able to clean up the original pins which now look brand new.

Never thought a laundry room sink would get me so excited.

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A Little Common Courtesy Please

It’s Wednesday, our framing package was supposed to be delivered on Monday and framing was to start on Tuesday.  Nothing, still no framing package which means no framing – nothing has been done.  Julie and I, as well as our Structural Engineer, have been trying to reach our GC by phone, email and text but for whatever reason he won’t respond.  What is going on?  This is crazy.  I don’t even know what to think and why won’t he at least have the decency to call us back?


The rest of the basement slab was poured however for whatever reason our GC decided not to pour the carport slab.  Almost funny that even the guys laying the concrete, laborers, were telling us that it wasn’t smart not pouring it all at one time and that it was going to cost us more money.  Maybe they should manage the financials for our GC.  Speaking of, he still won’t return calls or email from us or our Structural Engineer.  It would be great if he was a little more responsive but this has always been the case.

It rained a fair amount this week and we have discovered that the ceiling is collapsing in the kitchen and the ceiling and floor in one of our boy’s bedroom has been damaged beyond repair due to him continuing not to properly install a tarp even though we have told him about this issue numerous times.  GC still hasn’t been in our house, ridiculous. 

Also, our Structural Engineer informed us that as a result of the new foundation slab having to be cut to dig and pour footers (since the grade beams which were on the plans weren’t properly installed) she noticed that the slab is actually 2 1/2″ – 3 1/2″ thick in places instead of 4″ as the plans required.  She also discovered that the guys pouring the concrete didn’t lift the wire mesh resulting in it being on the bottom of the slab. Thankfully she insisted on the footings to carry the weight of the structure or we would have one hell of a mess in a few years since basically the main floor would collapse into the basement area. 

Last she also noticed that another grade beam, which was noted on the plans, was also not poured.  This means another area will need to be sawn out, excavated and poured properly.  I guess we won’t be able to go with a finished concrete floor since our slab is going to look like a checker board – a look we were leaning towards.

Good news is that our GC said that the framing material will be arriving on Monday and framing will begin on Tuesday. Yes!!!  Let’s go forward  – finally!!!

My constant question to myself – should we keep it or not?  This is driving Julie and I crazy and we’re questioning what we could have done differently. We thought we did our due diligence on the GC but he has continued to not only drop the ball but create further issues.  A lot is his lack of supervision and I believe knowledge of general construction along with not wanting to properly right a wrong, but I guess the question we keep asking is “are we just snakebit”? We’re going to talk to a few experts to see if we’re able to financially afford to keep going and honestly if it makes sense – I’m already scared about their answer.  Julie’s “forever home” has turned into a nightmare and I just don’t know if now we’ll ever be able to make it right as well as remove the tarnish.I feel crushed and basically beaten down.

Some Progress

So today the footings and rest of the walls connecting the existing structure with the new were poured. New Wall and Footings to Connect

It’s a hot one today but I’m so thankful that I’ve had so much wood to split and dirt to move – great way to take out my frustrations and feel as if I’m somehow moving things forward.

We Need You to Speed it up a Little GC

Due to both slabs being poured incorrectly we have had to get our Structural Engineer to design a new framing as well as roofing plan, versus “figuring it out in the field (extra cost to us).  It looks good but it’s going to require the GC to cut, excavate and pour new footings.  We have asked and are trying to get our GC to have this accomplished before the end of the week since our Structural Engineer is going out-of-town for several days.

Why Oh Why am I Not Surprised? Seriously Though?

Well, they drilled the foundation slab today to check for grade beams and guess what?  Yep, no grade beams!!  It mustn’t matter that they were in the construction plans and highly important, they just didn’t pour them.  Okay, now we’re getting past serious, he’s basically building a structure that could put my family and/or our friends in danger.  Forget for a moment the fact that 5-10 years down the road we would have all sorts of issues with a foundation that’s crumbling and walls collapsing, this mistake could seriously put my family at risk of injury or worse.  These were designed to support the family room above the kids play room, family room with a FIREPLACE.  Apologies for ranting but how do you miss these?  And you want more?  He wants to charge us for it – said that for him to change anything it would be considered a “change order“.  All of this is because he wouldn’t remove his original mistake. QUESTION, is there a word for someone who is beyond incompetent?

It only gets worse, the carport foundation (supposed to be retaining) wall which has already been poured twice isn’t deep enough, meaning that we will need to adjust the slab in the carport as well as the framing plan for the deck and outdoor room.  We asked the GC if he would remove it and pour a new one at the correct depth and as a retaining wall and of course he said no. 

And, we also found out on our own today that we will need a new water-line as well as sewer line due to roots. 

Our Structural Engineer is still trying to reach our GC to discuss the framing options but once again he said that he would have time to meet with her and every time she brings it up when they’re meeting about other items he always says that he has to go.  She’s basically doing this by herself, I guess he meant it the other day when responding to one of his subs he said ” I don’t know, she’s the one in charge”, referring to our Structural Engineer. 

And of course our GC and architect didn’t respond to my email asking for them to work with our Structural Engineer to design a framing plan to utilize all of the mis-ordered lumber that is sitting on our property  and basically going to waste.  I would just hate for all of this to be taken to a landfill.  As for our architect, I was a huge fan but that is starting to fade, I’m not sure what’s going on but from what I’ve been gathering there is absolutely no coordination or communication between him and our GC. 

Absolute last statement, it has always bugged me why our GC would work 2-3 days on our project and then move to another.  After talking with a few people in the industry it was their opinion that he is basically banking one job on another.  Working on a job and collecting a check once a certain phase is completed and then using that money to pay for the next job – similar to kiting a check.  Not sure if this is the case but it sure would make sense.

Enough for today, I’m done, worn out mentally and emotionally.

Let’s put our Heads Together

Since our GC didn’t dig the basement deep enough we have had to go with an alternative for our joist system/floor system to get us closer to the originally planned ceiling height throughout the basement.  Being such there is a lot of nice joist material sitting on our property which we’ve been told will be trashed.  I hate that, seems like such a waste.  So, I asked our GC, Architect and Structural Engineer to see if they can find a way to utilize that material somewhere.  I’m hoping that they’ll find a way to use them, seems as if it would be a win – win for everyone.  We’ll see.