Saturday, June 29, 2013

In which we take a good long look at our surroundings.

How do we fit in?  
We are considering other color choices for our building and are taking a good hard look at the downtown that surrounds us to better understand how to fit in.  

 I've come to the conclusion that it is kind of a mishmash of styles, colors and textures.  

I love this pretty blue.

So, I am trying to understand what the spirit of the downtown really is so that we can make a more informed choice.  This is a difficult one.  From the front windows of the building I can make out a rainbow of colors.  Yellow at the upper left, followed by orange and red, red and dark gray, yellow on yellow and sea foam green on black,  

I don't want to have that cheesy faux Victorian look that you get in some towns.  So, we'll sleep on it and see.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

In which there is an educational video on fire prevention...with actual fire!

We met with the State Fire Marshall's office this past Tuesday.  Every building project in Maine must go through this office, so we took our plans to Augusta and sat down with one of the three people who review plans for the state.  What a great meeting!  We learned some valuable information and were convinced to put a sprinkler system throughout the building, which will save us time and money when we actually do the interior finish walls and ceilings.  
We ended up shooting the shit with two of the guys in the office and were told to go home and watch the below video which documents controlled burns in identical fire for the sprinkler system in one building.  

I always though that all the sprinkler heads went off when a fire was detected.  The Fire Marshalls laughed and told us that the movies were really setting their cause back because of that very detail.  Only the head of the sprinkler nearest the fire will go off and extinguish the blaze.  

Fascinating watching!

In which we passed with flying colors!

We met with the Design Review Committee in Belfast yesterday.  Every project downtown needs to go in front of this committee for any changes to the exterior of a building.,  Their pronouncements are now mandatory.  

Greg has put a lot of man hours into the plans for Slum and Blight.  He went above and beyond with his renderings for this In-town Design Review Committee, commonly known as "the pretty police" here in these parts.  Last week, we submitted something like 13 pages of information for the board to review, though they didn't get the materials until they walked into the meeting yesterday.  
Needless to say, we were nervous going into the meeting.  
Greg gave an excellent presentation of his renderings, which was deemed by one board member as 100 times better than anything they had seen thus far.  
We thought that they would call into question the dormer size and shape on the upper floors, or the basement space that we plan to build out.  I thought they would hate the fact that we are planning to use cement fiber clapboards and a metal roof. 
None of that got more than a passing reference.  
What did cause our meeting to go for almost an hour was the fact that one board member was offended by the color we chose.  Several others agreed in principle that they thought the colors, an elegant and tasteful, in my opinion,  and simple choice of yellow and white, wouldn't fit the character of downtown Belfast.  It was suggested to us that the building should blend in more into the downtown area, which is full of brick and granite row buildings.  Our color scheme was deemed too residential, which was compounded by the rendering of the doors on the second floor and the basement level, which look like residential doors and not mercantile doors. 

It was explained to us that we didn't understand the feeling and character of downtown Belfast.

Instead of taking all this as a good sign that they didn't object to the big stuff, I got my back up a bit and tried to make the point that the building was not like other buildings downtown and was actually built as a hotel and not as a mercantile building.  I tried to stress the uniqueness of it's cottage-style architecture, but was told repeatedly that Belfast was not Bayside and that the building should be painted to blend in.  People expected the building to be darker.
I tried to make the point that since we wanted to draw people to our building, we wanted it to stand out rather than blend in.  I mistakenly used the term that I wanted the building to be a beacon for lower main street.  I think that made everyone nervous.  

We probably could have ended the meeting had I just kept my mouth shut.  I am actually quite open to exploring different color schemes, but I didn't want to roll over so easily and kept trying to make some points or get some concessions.  But when the one board member told me that they couldn't be swayed in their opinion, no matter what point I made, I decided to shut my trap and let the meeting go forward, at which point the facilitator told the board that they couldn't tell us to change the color....but could only vote  for us to consider other color schemes that would fit more with the downtown vibe.  

In the end it was voted that we are required to consider other color schemes.  And new doors!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

In which we are legally married in the eyes of the Federal Government

DOMA was struck down today.

This means that since Greg and I are legally married in our home state of Maine, we are now legally married in the eyes of the Federal Government, which conveys over 1,000 Federal marriage benefits, including the right to transfer property without penalty, inheritance rights, and Social Security benefits.  Needless to say, we are elated!!  

Thank you SCOTUS, it is a great day to be a married United States Citizen!!

I write this with tears in my eyes.

An American Family!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

In which Mean People Suck...apparently

Greg and I went down to Slum and Blight on Sunday morning to rake up the property and get the debris out of the way.   I was there on Saturday night and the below phrase had not yet been painted on our fence.  Seriously? Removing the blighted building must have made someone miss that portion of Slum and Blight, because they apparently wanted to re-blightify #2 Cross Street.  
I mean, someone took the time to PAINT these words on the fence in front of our building.  At least tell us how mean people suck...something original would be great to read.  At least the vandals spelled all the words right...but let them try a compound sentence instead of a declaration and let's see where that gets them!   You know what else sucks?  Vandals painting stupid shit on someone else's private property. 

All I have to say is...if this is how you want your town to look, fine by me.  If I paint over it, the sneaky bastard will be back in the middle of the night...I doubt she or he sleeps all too far away. and I will have to repaint again!   Greg and I have decided to leave it alone for now.   
 Would love to chat with the vandal and learn their motivation.  Keep your eyes open!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

In which we have plans, plans, and more plans...but you only get to see two.

My talented man has used his considerable drafting abilities to make some great ideas come to life. Here is our concept for the front elevation of Slum and Blight.  The addition on the right is at the rear of the building and serves as the stair and elevator core for the main building, and will someday act as the connector to an as yet undeveloped building next door.  The dormers on the third floor will enable us to have a good amount of usable space up there for a few bedrooms and a bath or two.     

I am particularly fond of the windows on the third floor and in the basement.

The plan fits in with a couple of downtown venues that are essentially the same type of building. Though our dormers are set back on the roofline instead of coming out flush with the side wall (forgive my lack of proper terminology) We are going for the same effect as these buildings a few blocks away.  Lucky  for us, our favorite contractor was the one who built out the first building.  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

In which there was heavy metal and huffing...and puffing....

We got a bit of a late start this morning as we were paying bills and doing other things at home.  We got to Slum and Blight around 12:30 and worked for a good 10 minutes before a mustachioed man in a luxury sedan pulled in and took us to lunch.  We love days like this.....even more so when we get back to work afterwards.

One Furnace Gone...a ha ha....

Though we disconnected the furnaces last month, we had not attempted to move them, that is until today when we got the bright idea to go down to the building and have a metal day.  There are two furnaces in the basement at Slum and Blight...well, one now.  This one below was just a hulking shell and when I disconnected it from the heat exchanger above, the sucker toppled right over on its side.  The ducts to the heat exchanger were sealed together with, what else, Duct tape, and basically, the tape is what kept the furnace standing upright all this time. Even as a hulking shell, this thing weighs a lot...Greg and I took a lot of it apart and essentially rolled the rest of it out of the space before packing it in for the day.  

I think I mentioned that we had the demo team separate the metal from the barn into a scrap pile.  Scrap metal sells for somewhere around 90 bucks a ton, so even though it is not feasible for us to haul this pile away, our pal Lester will gladly do it..and make himself a few hundred bucks in the deal.  With the furnaces, he'll add some more $$ to the pot 

  Lester, an old time scrap man, makes regular stops at Slum and Blight to pick out the goodies we leave him.  He stopped by the day the barn came down and nearly wet himself with delight over the scrap metal bonanza.  He has been diligently working on the pile all week.  The place looks like a war zone, but the pile gets smaller each day.  Poor Lester is operating on his own these days with simply a Jeep and a trailer.  He borrowed someone's saws-all and is cutting the pieces so that he can fit them in the back of his truck.  

Here is a nice photo of Lester with his pile of scrap.
 We left Lester there in favor of showers and feeding Miss Mae.  Armed with the padlock combo, Lester promised to work until dark, to store his trailer and tools in the "garage" and be back tomorrow.  He also vows to have the job done by mid-week, and regrade the drive before he leaves. Through a mouth half empty of teeth, he calls us his clients and tells us he'll treat us right.
I love Maine.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In which there are videos

My video skills are sorely lacking.  Here are a few of the "home movies" I shot during Monday's barn razing!  

Kind of fun to watch the destruction.  I can't believe all this was carted away by mid afternoon.  Now the property is just one big mud puddle after the two days of rain we have had. 

This one is funny, I thought the video would miraculously turn with my angle change.  I also say a bad word at the end so...NSFW.

And there is another video here from a spectator.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

In which the barn comes down

Well, the barn came down yesterday and it has me a bit overwhelmed.  There is no turning back now, and our batcave is no longer, so we cannot just go in and hide in the barn...we now have to really get this place up and running.....a daunting task.  I simply need to take a few deep breaths and stop thinking about it so much.  

We had lots of visitors yesterday, all of whom said "great job, glad it's not me!"   What was nice is that we didn't seem to have any detractors.  Every person thought it is great, what we are, gimme a few weeks more to think about it.  :-)

But you all came here to see the photos, right?  I took a bunch of video and will post those as soon as I figure it out.  Suffice it to say that Faulkingham's, the company that did the work, did a superior job.  Such grace with the large back hoe, battering ram and ballerina all in one.  The removal was an elegant job and the clean up was excellent.  The barn was down and gone before most people got up for work!

All the gear was off-loaded and ready to go when I got there at 6:45.   I figured I would get there early, but our favorite contractor had done so much, it looked like he was there at 5:45!

CMP arrived to cut the power at 7 or so.

One monster machine was there pretty much as a support, so the building wouldn't fall over onto the street!

Mr. Faulkingham gently removed the roof and set the metal aside for scrap sale.  Art, I tell you...absolute art!  I wish I had a video of the whole thing set to Swan Lake

 After peeling off the roof and the side of the building, the machine goes for the first kill, and the second floor comes crashing down inside!  Quite thrilling, really.  It was at this point that I realized there was no going back.

Slowly, the old girl was brought to her knees.  But amazingly, the two buildings remained attached until the final bite.  And the demo firm was amazing at keeping the two roofs together until there wasn't a lot of weight on the barn side anymore....there was some damage, but we will manage.

The roof comes down in almost one piece...which was set aside for the scrap sale.

This photo shows the two holes in the roof where the barn was attached.  The original molding on the roof eaves survives and that might be nice to put back on the rest of the building.
This photo was taken about 2pm...the building had already been hauled away and all the debris raked up.  Bravo to the Faulkingham Company and to our favorite contractor, Larry Jones.  
 I know, scary, huh?  Just wait til the next photo

Larry and Greg tarping the building, and a shot of the building from Main Street Belfast, ME.  It looks a bit lonely and sad....but we'll help the old girl to look her best.

Monday, June 3, 2013

In which there is a lot of glass...and some tires, and some nice mahogany

I am preparing the barn for destruction next week, so with that in mind, we cleaned the second  floor out of all the detritus.  We found lots of useable windows and doors and so left them on the outside of the dumpster for free.  I will place a free sign there later.  Someone must have broken a lot of windows in the joint, or the previous owner was just a window collector.  Most of the doors are shorter than I am, which was the criteria for keeping or chucking....6'5" out ya go!

We were able to get the old mahogany handrails from the interior staircase down from the rafters.  11 feet long each and curved at both ends.  I might try to sell them.  Architectural salvage is big these days!

Anyway, if you are local and are looking for some neat windows or old doors for your own barn, load up the wife and the kids in the van and come on down, the more people you bring means the more"pieces" you can carry away.

Some really nice glass has already been snagged.