Phase 7: The Wrath of Details

Posted by Steve on Fri, 09/08/2006 - 11:36am

Today officially begins the scheduled start of the next major phase of the renovation at Brooklyn Row House: the rebuilding of the master bedroom and upstairs hallway. It started like most of my scheduled projects. In other words, it didn't.

Dykes Lumber, which was given instructions to call me before delivery, arrived yesterday when I must have been out walking the grovelers. Granted, it's a contractor size order but, sheesh, even GC crews take lunch breaks, guys. They didn't call to confirm that they were even delivering yesterday so I could at least hang a note. For that matter, I still don't know what the charge is, although I'm figuring in the $2500 range.

The delivery was rescheduled for Monday which isn't much of a setback because my weekend is shot anyway.

Speak of the devil, the flooring just arrived from Hosking Hardwood: thirteen cartons of Mannington engineered flooring and accessories.

I used Mannington flooring in my office and guest room renovations and the jury's still out with it. I'm already seeing some scratch marks from the dogs' claws. I probably won't be ready to lay the floor until around Thanksgiving at this rate. Before then I have to make some serious progress on building a new referral management system for Children's Health Fund. At least the flooring will be well acclimated to the house by then.

Referring back to an article I wrote last week, Last Lap Crash, I guess I was successful at psyching myself up for this next phase of the renovation. For the past three days I've been running around the house taking care of unfinished business. Yesterday I bought a bunch of drawer and cabinet pulls from The Great Indoors and finally finished off the kitchen, five years after I started it.

Also just arrived: the Insteon devices to replace the four X10 modules that must have been fried when my stove's computer blew out last week. X10 hardware is notoriously sensitive to anomalies like spikes in the household powerline. I wrote a series of articles about the good and bad of X10 in a home automation with X10 Drupal book here.

Anyway, as the legacy X10 devices blow out I'm gradually upgrading the house to Insteon, which seem to be better quality than the Leviton X10 stuff. It also works primarily wirelessly so it's less susceptible to powerline issues.

2PM Update: Dykes called and said they're sending the order over now. Next order: two small cast iron radiators and plumbing to get rid of the current eyesore and to move the heat into the soon-to-be-built cabinets under the windows. Following demolition early next week, that's the first job.

4PM Update:: My shop is now so full of hardwood and hardwood ply that I'm first gonna have to figure out where to put it all before I can can start building the cabinets.

I also got the final bill: $2737. I was pretty close.


I am eager to hear how the reliability of the Insteon stuff compares to the (blown) X10 components. I'm close to doing some similar upgrades. Did you ever figure out what caused the power problem? It might have been a line surge. Is there evidence that the Insteon units survive power surges better?

Posted by Steve on

I'm not an EE so I can only guess. I've had experience with things like cheap candelabra bulbs blowing out and frying the X10 device they're on (twice). And I know those dead X10 devices worked fine the night before the computer on my stove blew out. Two more datapoints: there was a sconce light in the kitchen extension that randomly turned on about a week before the stove's computer went dead and the living room X10 transmitter could no longer reach one of the X10 receivers. The computer was replaced yesterday and these problems didn't happen last night.

My tyro guess is that that computer was generating some serious noise on the powerline before it eventually failed completely. When it did fail, it might have sent a spike that fried those devices. I'm ordering an X10 powerline filter for the stove just in case, and one more for the microwave (which is also Frigidaire).

I have no idea if Insteon devices are any less vulnerable than garden variety X10. Maybe it's just wishful thinking but the Insteon devices seem to be more substantially constructed overall. I'm hoping that carries through to their circuitry.