April 12, 2018

April Building News

by Alan Beatts

But first . . . Slow With Email

I'm really sorry to still be saying this but, I've been having a terrible time keeping up with my email given everything that is going on (and been going on).  If you've sent me an email that deserves a reply and you haven't heard from me yet, please forgive me.  I'm trying and making some progress but the backlog is still pretty bad.  If the topic of your not-yet-replied-to email is urgent, please send it to me again.  I think I've gotten back to everyone about time-critical stuff but I could have missed something.  Thank you so much for your patience.  And now, the usual . . .

Haight Street Update

And we're off! The wave state is collapsing and things are starting to really progress visually (as opposed to progressing behind the scenes). Thanks to our amazing cadre of volunteers, the west and south walls are now closed up and if the weather would just cooperate, we'd be a lot further along on taping and mudding. Thanks to Mr. Jim Lively, we got all the seams done and a skim coat on the existing drywall, and thanks to the weather we now wait for the rest of the wall to dry completely before proceeding. And wait . . . and wait . . . and, oh, look, more rain . . . wait . . . .

(Side note: "skim coat" is a very thin layer of drywall mud spread over a large surface - in this case, filling in the dings on the existing sheetrock courtesy of 40 years of abuse and covering the truly unfortunate texture courtesy of the disastrous 1970's remodel)

The core crew of volunteers continue to refine their construction skills while learning new ones, and the drop-in folks have been a huge help as well. Everyone who has come has worked really hard, and it's been truly exciting to see people move out of their comfort zones or step into zones they don't typically have a chance to occupy.

In addition to the exciting progress on the walls, the backyard actually looks like a place you might want to sit in someday. The last of the concrete chunks will be leaving this week. The giant pile of dirt leftover from the initial cleanup has been evened out and spread over the entire footprint. We'll be starting to rebuild the fences (including the one the ivy ate) in the next week or two. And once we're done tromping power tools through it, our gardener Melinda can get started.

The next few weeks should see similar progress on all fronts. We got all the plans for the new store front and windows approved. The very nice woman from the Historic Preservation department was a treat to work with. I asked her if there were any specific things people do during a historical building review that make things hard, and her response was "not liking old things". Which, if you ask me, seems like just begging for trouble. Fortunately liking old things is not something Borderlands needs to worry about. Soon I'll enclose the front of the building and get to tear out the whole front of it.  That will eliminate almost the last vestige of the bad repair job that was done in the 70s.

I've also decided not to enclose the lightwell. There are several reasons, the two biggest being the cost (more than $500 per square foot, which is much more than it would cost to just build partway into the back yard) and the effect it would have on the layout (the supports necessary would change the place from feeling very open and continuous to being broken up into two separate-feeling spaces). Rather than enclose the lightwell, I've decided to shrink it a bit to make room for a larger, ADA-compliant bathroom.  Then we'll use the smaller light well for an indoor garden and display. Velociraptors may become involved.

Another milestone is that the major electrical work started yesterday.  One of the goals this month is to complete that while figuring out a way to get it done without inconveniencing the folks upstairs too much. Once it's done, we'll be able to move the giant pillar out of the middle of the floor and remove the spiderweb of conduit that feeds out of it. And that would be a very, very fine thing.

If you're interested in volunteering or would like to see the place, please let me know. And again, thank you so much to all the people who've volunteered. We've made so much progress already -- it would have been much slower and much, much less fun without you all.

All Best,

PS  I've been trying to have Haight Street open for visits once a month but this month, due to various events and such, there just isn't a Saturday that will work.  But, I'll do it next month.

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