Sunday, October 18, 2009

No Rest for the Weary

Fall Break was Thursday and Friday of last week, providing a welcome period of rest and relaxation for the students. But with most students home for the long weekend - eating mom's food and catching up on laundry (and hopefully studying a little, too) - Fall Break was a great time to get some of the last big construction projects around the house done with as little interruption to the students' lives as possible.

The guys from Meyer Najem and their subcontractors clocked some serious hours to complete the last major work. Over the past few days, the kitchen floor was replaced, the parking lot paved and striped, the south addition was final cleaned, the back stairwell repainted, the new flooring waxed, and the temporary walls originally built to separate the construction areas from the existing house were removed. So much for a fall break!

I'm happy to say the work went smoothly and things are looking good for the students to occupy the south addition by the end of the month!

Shiny new kitchen floor.

The newly installed shutters will be painted in the next few days (too rainy last week).

The new dumpster gate will also be painted. Classiest trash on the block. :)

Newly paved and striped parking lot.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Home Stretch

Well, we're entering the final leg of this crazy construction journey. It has been a long road, but an interesting and exciting one as well. In the last few weeks, the student rooms in the south addition have been coming together quite nicely. The carpet was installed at the end of last week and final painting is in progress. The students are all really looking forward to moving into the rooms. Right now, we're shooting for full occupancy on October 31, making for a truly happy Halloween!

Eight person student room on floor two. The carpet, blue accent wall, wood trim, and closet door hardware is all new since the last pictures I posted.

Three person room in the basement.

The basement rooms are surprisingly bright and cheerful, thanks to large windows and window wells.

New "back" entrance to the house on the west side.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Rewind Through Time

I'm proud to report that Delta Gamma won Homecoming 2009! WHOO HOO!

Homecoming is a really big deal at Butler. Really, really big. Last year I was completely caught off guard by all of the activity leading up to the homecoming game. During homecoming week, fraternities and sororities are paired together to participate in a full week of events. The different activities are judged by a committee and points are awarded based on execution, use of theme, and participation. A winner is announced at halftime of the football game.

When I started this job, I had no idea how involved homecoming week was... and how much was at stake, as DG has won homecoming for 11 of the last 12 years. Thankfully, I was a little more prepared this year. The theme was "Rewind Through Time: Homecoming 2009." DG, who was paired with Phi Kappa Psi, won all three of the big events: lawn decorations, the parade float, and the cheer competition (Yell like Hell). An enormous amount of work went into the planning, construction, and execution of all three, so I was proud of the students for giving it their all and doing an amazing job. What a fun week!

The giant homecoming banner - weighed down by greatness, perhaps? :)

We were so happy to welcome alumni back to the house on Saturday morning before the game. I suspect many alumni made a point to stop by the house specifically to see the summer renovations and check out the progress of the expansion. For those of you that weren't able to make it for homecoming, I hope these latest pictures of the construction will bring a little of the homecoming fun to you!

Renovated & redecorated foyer.

Installed student closet doors in the south addition.

The closet doors & frames come as a single unit for quick installation.

The caps on the sundeck railings have been installed and painted.

View of the south addition from 44th Street and the parking lots.

Complete brick on the south addition, with view of dining room addition. You can see some pieces of the homecoming float decorations in the parking lot.

South addition from the southeast corner of the property. The three-sided square in the front center of the picture is the dumpster enclosure.

New "back" entrance on the west side of the house. It's hard to tell in the picture, but there's a glass door on the first floor between the old house and addition. The door leads into the old back stairwell that runs between all the floors. The french doors lead into the new chapter room.

I tried to get a picture of the house from end-to-end (showing the whole west side), but I can't get back far enough to fit it all in the photo. I was standing in Tri Delt's lawn when I took this. The house is just THAT big now!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Third Little Pig

Following the installation of limestone pieces that surround the new windows, a whole lot of brick was laid on the south addition in the last week. It is astounding how much brick was added, especially when you consider that each brick is placed individually. I didn't count exactly, but I think it took about 6 workdays for about 5 guys to complete the work. I'll take some more pictures as soon as it stops raining, but I wanted to share the first picture I got of the house looking so much more complete!

View of the southeast corner of the south addition.

Limestone and brick surrounding the windows of the existing house.

New limestone and brick surrounding a new window on the south addition. As you can see, it was designed to match the style of the original structure.

And these pictures have nothing to do with brick...

The dining room set for our first formal dinner. It was awesome to have space for everyone in attendance to sit and enjoy dinner in the same space!

Look what the students got me! Sooooo sweet!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A New Chapter

There's almost too much going on here to find the time to blog, but I did manage to snap some pictures in the south addition while the construction workers were out to lunch! Good news: there is a first coat of paint on every floor, flooring already going down in the third floor, and wood trim/crown molding in several rooms. Also, the room and closet doors are being delivered on Friday, which are the last big items to arrive on site to keep the schedule moving along.

The first two pictures are of the new chapter room, a meeting room that stretches the width of the south addition. It's a nice long room with a few windows, french doors that lead to the back patio, and a storage closet for secret sorority stuff. :)

View towards the west end of the chapter room. Notice the ceiling trim, which conceals rope lighting. The black squares in the first bulkhead (top center of the picture) contain electrical wiring that will allow for a projector to be mounted on the ceiling.

View of the opposite end of the chapter room, currently piled with construction tools and supplies.

Mechanical room in the south addition. Five new A/C units and furnaces bring the total number of each in the house to 10!

I probably haven't posted pictures of this area yet. This is the new ADA-compliant bathroom on the first floor, just outside the kitchenette. The bathroom provides an accessible restroom for our guests with disabilities and any future residents who may require this accommodation.

Just another view of the same.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sunny Side Up

With the railings installed and only a little painting to be done, the new Sundeck is finally open! Thankfully we are still experiencing sunny and warm weather this fall so that the students (and their sunshine-addicted house mother) can enjoy the new space.

The Sundeck (also known to the construction workers as the Party Deck) was constructed over the "flat" roof above the new dining room. Actually, the roof has a very gentle slope to facilitate the runoff of water that would collect on a truly level surface. Study the picture below and you can see how the beige horizontal beam just above the top row of siding (and just under the gutters) is much taller by the brick than it is at the outer corner of the addition. It's cleverly disguised - but now you're in the know!

The deck area itself is level and made of a pre-treated, water-resistant lumber that will prevent warping and water damage without the hassle of yearly or bi-yearly staining/waterproofing. It's a very low maintenance product and it looks great. It's practical for this setting - but definitely not cheap at around $50/board.

One of the most common questions I get is "Why is only half of the roof surface a usable deck?" In the picture below, you can see that the deck is divided into two parts by a railing. One side is covered by the deck lumber and the other side is just the exposed rubber roof. Building and fire safety codes stipulate that, if there is only one point of egress, the maximum capacity for this type of space is 50 people. At one square foot per person, and with only one way to exit the space (the entry/exit door in the second floor hallway), the maximum area that can be occupied on DG's Sundeck is 50 square feet - plenty of space for sunning, relaxing, and escaping the everyday pressures of student life.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Grand Entrance

You may remember me mentioning in the last post that the foyer was set to receive a bit of a remodel over Labor Day weekend. I sifted through my old pictures from the very end of the school year and managed to dig up a "before" photo of the foyer. It's not very good (and apparently I was getting ready to haul out some trash before taking this?), but you get the idea of what the foyer used to look like - white tile floor, white wallpaper, gold chandelier (with black mini-shades, though you can't see them in the pic).

Foyer - before

Here you can see what a dramatic change just flooring and a new fixture can make in the look of a room.

Foyer - 09/01/09

The problem with the partial remodel, though, was that then the wallpaper started to look a little shabby next to the shiny new flooring and a new chandelier. It seemed like every little tear or scratch or scuff in the paper was a giant blemish on the new entryway. And so, it had to come down:

Tearing down wallpaper is a messy process.

The end result is a much more modern look that more closely matches the newly remodeled house in style.

A rich gold color adds warmth to the space.

...And the rich red in the doorway adds a little drama.

More pics when the decor gets back on the walls.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Calm After the Storm

Now that school has been in session for about a week, things have begun to calm down. As the house settles into a routine, work has continued at a steady, though less frantic, pace on the south addition. Some projects are yet to be complete in the existing house, but the disruption is less and less each day as that work winds down.

There have been some surprises this week, like the discovery that the infrared sensor in the new smoke detector outside the second floor bathroom can misread steam as smoke and set the entire system into alarm mode if enough hot showers are running at once. !!!!! But these are the things that keep a house mom on her toes... and test her creativity. Example: toss a pen and paper out the front door at the evacuated girls and, boom, there's your record of a fire drill to hand to the Fire Marshal when she arrives for her scheduled visit an hour later. If you have to evacuate the building, may as well make it count.

It was a gorgeous day out yesterday, so I spent some time taking pictures of the exterior. I've also posted a few from inside.

The house looking unusually serene.

The rock & anchor welcome you.

The foyer, which is about to undergo a bit of a renovation over Labor Day weekend. I'm looking forward to the removal of old wallpaper and some new paint.

New brick on the east side of the south addition. We are awaiting the limestone pieces that go under the windows (to match the original structure) before the rest can be bricked.

New pantry - so spacious, so bright, so functional!

Dining room addition. The railings are up on the sundeck, with only a little painting to be completed.

View of the west side of the house facing south. Existing house (left) and dining addition (center).

Renovated house mother's apartment - the original hardwoods under the old carpet were stripped and refinished. Thanks, House Corp! Lookin' classy.

New washer/dryer and kitchenette in the house mother's apartment. I don't want to brag, but I'm pretty sure I have the best House Director apartment on campus. Score!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

These Are the Guys That Build a House

I've learned a lot of new things this summer. I've learned about foundations and framing and finishes and flooring and fire risers... and the list goes on. For those of you that have been following along, hopefully you've been learning, too.

Since I was hanging around the house all summer, and since they were working around the house all summer, I've also learned a thing or two about construction workers. They are undeniably their own... special... breed. Sometimes a bit rough around the edges, they are also friendly, posses good senses of humor, and know a lot about the work they do and why they do it. They don't get too worked up about the unexpected and tend to take surprises silently in stride. They can be a bit territorial about their workspaces and are prone to exaggerating about how soon things will be done. They get great satisfaction out of standing back and surveying the final result of their work. They like being left alone to do their jobs (i.e. don't like to be bothered by house moms with questions!), will focus solely on the task at hand until it's finished, and really like to eat.

But the most interesting thing I've learned about construction workers is that they really don't like having their pictures taken. I've always wanted to do this blog post because so many hours of these guys' hard work went into building the house. What a tragedy it would be to document the process, but not hands that did the work! I mean, the house didn't build itself, and as everyone knows, the most important asset to an organization is the people that make it up.

Let me tell you, dear readers, these pictures were hard won. It was a battle to get them, because construction workers can be surprisingly shy. I swear that the minute I appeared with my trusty camera, the guys scattered like dust in the wind. It was almost comical to watch even the biggest, burliest, bawdiest man turn red-faced, silent, and shy the minute I asked "Can I take your picture for the blog?" Ha! I never saw it coming. So even though they are few, here are the pictures I managed to snag of the guys that built DG.

The drywallers from Berline Construction doing what they do best - taking a break. (Ha! Just kidding... we like to give each other a hard time.)

Tony, our superintendent from Meyer Najem. You've read about him on this blog. He's the one who patiently explains everything to me and the guy who makes sure the work gets done... correctly.

Jeremy, Meyer Najem Project Manager, does what it takes to get the job done... even if it means mopping floors. Thanks, Jeremy!

Bill, from Meyer Najem Interiors, looking mean and incredibly irritated about the camera. But really he's super nice.

Chris on the right is from White River Mechanical, Inc. (plumbing).
You already know Tony (in his usual "Blackberry checking" stance).

Warren from Fredericks Contractors. He installs cabinets, trim, and shelving.

Austin from Maxwell Electrical, striking his best "construction worker" pose (clearly not one of the shy ones).