3:23 p.m. Thursday, November 4,
Here's how our house looked two days ago:
Our contractor, Tom, had taken off all the wood shingles on the front of the house and all the asbestos shingles on the sides of the house. It was strange driving down the street towards our house and not seeing red — "We have a black house...? Hmm, never pictured that."
You'll also notice the side stoop has been removed and our new front stoop has been completed (click here for a close-up of the new stoop and walk — very nice). Good thing our mailman finally found the mailbox on the fence before the side stoop was removed, because he had been putting the mail between the side doors in the interim. Not really possible now...
Another thing to notice in the photo above is that our electric has been disconnected from the house by Sam, our electrician, and attached to a temporary beam Tom rigged up for him. Sam will reattach the electric to the house once the second floor and new siding go on, and somewhere along the way he'll upgrade our service to the house from 60 amps to 200 amps. We're looking forward to using the microwave and the toaster oven at the same time without the lights dimming.
By last night, Tom and his crew had taken off the roof off the house. It was so exciting to come home and find the house tarped and roofless! When I noticed the remains of the roof strewn about the yard, I was a little worried about the condition of the new front stoop buried beneath it (photo above left — yes, it's really hiding under there), but Ryan assured me Tom had covered it up with plywood pre-roof-removal. Hopefully it will pull through unscathed. We were also excited to see that framing over the new bump-out had begun (photo above right).
Then today when I stopped by during lunch, ta-DA! here's how it looked:
Wow! What a stage to be at! I don't really even know what to say...except, Wow! Here's another picture!
And here's another one!
Now that's a skylight if I ever saw one...
Sorry if I'm not explaining this very clearly — it's all new to me, but I'm trying! =)
We're a little worried about the rain today. It started around 1 p.m. and isn't supposed to stop until early tomorrow morning...not the best situation to be in with no roof on your house. I've heard horror stories of basements flooding without a roof or gutters in tact to direct the rain away from the house. At lunch, Tom assured me that the house will be well tarped and nailed into place once the rain starts, so I'm trying not to fret. Let's hope the sump pumps do their job...
Framing of the second floor should happen tomorrow, and then the roof will go on first thing next week, followed by the windows and siding installation shortly thereafter. The roof would have been on by tomorrow if it didn't rain today and make everyone stop early. D'oh!
Oh well, here's to next week! (And no flooding!)
11:11 p.m. Sunday, November 7,
So Thursday afternoon, the house looked like this from my neighbor's driveway:
Every time Ryan sees this picture, he says it looks like our house got hit by a tornado. Well, there was no tornado, but we WERE worried about the heavy rain. Friday morning, Tom our contractor reported to us that everything was pretty damp (including the hardwood floors on the first floor that we were trying to save), but overall, nothing looked beyond repair. We were very happy for that report.
Since Thursday's rain made construction come to a screeching, "let's get this thing tarped, quick!" halt, we figured they would start framing the upstairs Friday. When Ryan went to check out their progress during lunch that day, Tom's crew was finishing laying the sub-floor on the second floor and had just begun framing. Well imagine our surprise when we got to the house Friday night and saw THIS:
To say we were astonished is an understatement. I had never imagined that they could really frame our whole upstairs in one day — one afternoon! — even though they had told me that's what they would do. I guess seeing is believing.
Francisco was officially the first one upstairs (wow! we have an "upstairs!"), but I was not far behind:
When we came back the next morning (Saturday), we were better able to investigate in the daylight. We scrambled up the ladder and were very excited to run through each of the rooms, declaring, "Look! I'm in the Master Bedroom!" and "Look! I'm in the 2nd Bedroom Closet!" and "Look! You're in the tub!" This may sound similar to when we ran through the first floor studs when demolition began a few weeks ago, but it felt 100x better. As Jay remarked today, the downstairs (wow! we have a "downstairs"!) now feels very old in comparison. I'm looking forward to when we can actually start blending the old and the new together.
Tom's crew did an excellent job framing the whole upstairs in such a short amount of time, and we were highly impressed with both their speed and accuracy. We noticed just a couple of things that weren't quite according to plan, such as the lack of framing for the drop-down attic stairs in our hallway, and the lack of framing for a window in the front corner of our bedroom.
These little issues will get fixed before they finish the framing stage. We're just glad we caught them now before the house was sheathed and sided, because it would have been harder for them to fix later.
We were really amazed at how big the house was starting to look, especially from the back yard, which is lower than the front yard:
We could hardly wait to see how big it would look once the attic was framed and the roof was on. Well, to our surprise, Tom's crew came again today (yes, on Sunday, of all days) to frame the roof. Apparently, this project didn't take them very long, either:
We're looking forward to when they reframe the downstairs windows and doors. Lori can't wait until the front door is centered on the house — right now, it's too far to the right, especially in comparison to the window above it and the new stoop beneath it.
I thought I'd also include this fun picture of the state of the downstairs in its present condition (at right).
Today, Tom's crew tore out all the tile in the old bathroom and all the tiles on the kitchen floor, which I was a little sad to see go, as the kitchen floor was one of the best features of the original house.
But the kitchen floor has to be completely replaced, as the framing beneath it is not structurally sound, especially now that we're adding a second floor and removing the old, pointless stairs-to-nowhere in the basement under the kitchen floor. That's one of the projects remaining on the framing to-do list.
They also took down our remaining kitchen cabinets and sheet rock/insulation in the kitchen, so we can basically see through the entire downstairs now.
The picture at right was taken from our old office, through the office closet, through the bathroom, and through to the kitchen with the hole to the outside. Priceless.
We're looking forward to taking out the old termite-eaten doorframe in the foreground of the picture. That's always been pretty scary.
When we were originally drawing up the plans for our house with our draftsman, Rob, we decided to make the roof pitch pretty steep (10/12) so Ryan could stand up there if we ever decided to finish off that space. It also needed to be steep to match the roof pitch of the some-day garage. So today we were finally able to see just how high our attic really was:
Yeah, I'd say it's high enough. And I surely wasn't going to miss out on all the attic exploration:
We're really happy with how everything's gone thus far, and we're praying everyone's good, hard work continues. And that it doesn't rain any more until we're water-tight. Sorry that the posts keep getting longer, but so much happens so quickly that it's hard to keep up and I don't want anyone to miss anything! A special apology goes out to you in internet land who are still on dial-up...but I guess you're used to waiting for things to load, so this should be no exception ;)
11:43 p.m. Wednesday, November
Progress continues on the exterior of our house. The roof is sheathed, the eaves are framed (above, left), and we're ready for the roofer to come tomorrow to add the shingles. Right now, our charcoal-colored shingles are sitting in a stack on the front lawn. It seems everything that becomes part of our new house begins its life in our front yard.
Today, they started framing some of our downstairs windows and sheathing around them (above, right). We didn't realize how HUGE our windows were going to look once they were put in, and we absolutely love them. The downstairs windows are 3' x 5' and the upstairs windows are 3' x 4'8".
I especially like this view from the back of the house:
If you click on the picture above, you'll get a better idea of the great view we'll have out of our sunroom. And now that the framing above the bump-out is complete and the tarp doesn't have to go back on the house, the rear view of the house looks bigger than ever.
Looking forward to getting the roof on tomorrow!
10:08 p.m. Monday, November 15,
Sorry to Opa and Ryan's mom and Aunt Ilse and anyone else who was checking in for not updating this site as often you would have liked me to. I definitely THINK about updating the site very often, if that helps, and I'm really good at that remembering-to-take-pictures part, but I will try to be more diligent with posting the photos and sharing what's been happening than I have been ;)
This Saturday morning, they finished putting on our roof:
It was pretty cool watching these guys run around the steep roof like they were walking on level ground. I wonder how long you have to be in that business before you stop getting nervous about falling off...? So here's how the front of our house looks now:
The majority of the sheathing has been put on the house, which definitely helps its "Oh yeah, this is a house and not just lots of 2x4's" factor. They underestimated how much plywood they would need for sheathing, so work was delayed a few days waiting for more to be delivered. The two side windows and the front door missing in the photo are sitting in the house, waiting to be installed, but the window place forgot to ship the top center window. At the moment, that missing window is delaying the crew that will come to install the siding.
Today Tom, our contractor, explained to me the foolproof ordering system used by the window place..."Foolproof," he said, "unless they type a two instead of a three. Then there's not much we can do but wait."
That about sums it up.
We're loving our sunroom windows (above) and our new view into the backyard. The sunroom faces the east and we're so excited about the prospect of bright light flooding the kitchen in the early morning. Maybe that will help me, the non-morning-person, get out of bed a little easier.
Maybe if there's coffee a'brewin'.
Remember the photo of our interior through the studs from the weekend...? Well, here's another shot taken from that same spot. It's hard to stand in this big open space and picture how our fully-functioning kitchen looked just a few weeks ago. Can this really be the same spot?? It's almost easier to close my eyes and envision new stainless steel appliances and dark, solid wood cabinets dancing through my head...
The steady stream of very large vehicles continues to trickle in and out of our construction project. Today, dumpster #4 (below, left) was removed on a gigantic flatbed truck (below, right) and replaced by dumpster #5, which now lives in the driveway. That means I'll now be able to get some better shots of the front of the house.
The old "stairs to nowhere" in the basement have been removed and the floor above them repaired. The whole kitchen now has new beams running beneath it parallel to the old beams, which fixes the structural issue we had with the kitchen floor and the old stairs.
Is there anything you CAN'T do with a sawzall? I never thought I'd see the day when I'd ask Ryan for power tools for Christmas. Or for a nail gun. Or maybe just for a self-adhesive laser level. What's happening to me?!
You can see our "new" washer and dryer down in the basement getting pretty dirty, in the photo above. They represent the few unfortunate basement items we missed covering before we entered renovations a.k.a. the Land of Brown Dust. We'll be sure to give them a proper cleaning — which we never actually did when we inherited them — before moving them to their new, happy home in the bumpout.
And I think I'll end with this great photo of our new upstairs...
6:21 p.m. Tuesday, November 16,
Today, Tom removed the old heating grate from the center of our hallway — or what used to be our hallway — with a hand from Ryan. That thing was stinkin' heavy.
Earlier this fall, it took 4 adults a whole evening to figure out how to get the pilot lit on this thing (we didn't have to light it last year since we moved in after the previous owner had already turned it on). There was a lot of yelling through the grate — "I think I see where to light it!" and "No, we already tried that spot!"
It was kind of fun.
Eventually, Ryan realized we just needed to buy a long handled lighter to get up inside the grate from below, and wah-lah, pilot lit...heat commenceth.
Funny how I'm a little nostalgic to see this thing go. It may look strange and be a little old-school, but it was very cost-effective and kept us warm for a whole winter (except for that one night we slept with our door shut) and apparently kept every previous owner of our home warm since 1955.
Tomorrow, our HVAC guys are coming over to get a better look at the house as framing nears completion. They'll work with Ryan on sketching out where the new ducting for the forced hot air / central air will go, which will give him a good idea of where NOT to run wires once he starts the electrical.
Tom also took out our old exterior kitchen wall today, so now there is nothing separating the new part of the kitchen from the old. We're enjoying watching this room grow bigger and bigger every day.
11:59 p.m. Monday, November 22,
After my pledge last week to make more regular updates to the site, our digital camera disappeared.
From the house. While I was there.
This was a little unsettling. My first thought was that I must have set it down somewhere OTHER than where I thought I had, so I searched the house from top to bottom — not so hard when it's just framing. But when the search turned up empty, I began to get a little suspicious. That's such a bad feeling to get when so many people are coming in and out of the house all day, usually when Ryan and I aren't there.
Ryan's first comment after hearing of the missing camera was, "Well, we had been wanting to get a new one anyway..." True, but I was kind of hoping that would be in our own time. Hopefully, the old HP is in a nice new home where it's appreciated and getting used daily. Maybe it's happily taking pictures of something OTHER than construction...is that possible? Can it TAKE any other kinds of pictures??
So this weekend, we bit the bullet and bought a new camera...a 6.1 megapixel Olympus C60 Zoom from Costco (thanks muchly for your contribution, mom and dad). And it is SWEET. We push the button and it takes the picture right then, as we push the button. No more waiting 5 or 10 seconds until the camera decides it's ready to take the picture and the photo-worthy moment has passed. I'm also looking forward to utilizing it's high-quality print capabilities, to print out choice construction photos once construction is complete to use in decorating our new house.
Oh yes, the house. Sorry...hard to focus when fun new techie gadgets are involved.
The front portico was roughed in Wednesday.
Now, it's framed, has the roof (thanks, Tom — below) and is ready for siding:
Here's Tom, humoring me and posing with the trim that will go over our windows. What a good sport.
Saturday, Ryan and I started putting in the electrical boxes for outlets and switches on the first and second floors. Sunday, we installed the six recessed light housings in the living room. Once we install all the recessed light housings, the ceiling fan boxes, and other various overhead lighting boxes throughout, we'll just have to run wires between them all in preparation for the rough electrical inspection.
We also put insulation in the bottom of the cantilever so that when the siding guys come today or tomorrow, they can install the soffits right over top of it. We may have to show this picture to the inspector during the insulation inspection.
This was my first experience with insulation, and although it was very easy to work with, I wish I had worn goggles or some kind of eye protection, since my eyes have been itching ever since.
Lesson learned. I'll have to remember that when we start insulating our interior.
Our friend Roland, the plumber, came up yesterday to take some measurements, and hopefully he'll be able to get started soon. Little Eli arrived a few weeks sooner than expected, so Roland's attentions have understandably been focused elsewhere lately. Mine would be. Especially if Roland and Anna ever bring Eli with them while we're supposed to be working on the house. Forget any work getting done by me that day...it's going to be Shower Affection on Tiny Little Baby Day.
Today, the HVAC guys starting cutting through our new framing in preparation for running ductwork.
Ryan asked Tom, our contractor, if he had taken a look at their holes in his handiwork, but he just grinned and said he'd rather stay outside. He had worked with enough HVAC guys to know he'd rather not look.
We're looking forward to getting heat in our house almost as much as
we're looking forward to getting a working bathroom. Almost.
10:50 p.m. Tuesday, November 23,
They started installing the Natural Clay vinyl siding today. Unfortunately, I was very busy all day and don't have any pictures of it. Maybe we need to set up a web cam ;)
Ryan told me that our new a/c and heating unit was in place in the
basement, though not connected yet. Looking forward to getting some
heat! Photos to come...
8:54 p.m. Monday, November 29,
Sunday evening, we came home to a flooded basement. It's kind of ironic, if you think about it, that our basement decides to flood now...AFTER the roof gets put back on. AFTER we're lulled into a false sense of security, that all worry about flooding is over.
We haven't had power for about a week and a half now, as the electrician cut our power for the siding guys and then went on vacation. During his vacation, we learned a very important lesson:
No Electric = No Sump Pumps + Heavy Rains = Flooded Basement
We'll be remembering that equation for a long time. We didn't forget it today when our basement flooded AGAIN, as we're STILL without functioning sump pumps and can't leave the generator running all day while we're at work.
But the rest of the house is progressing just swimmingly...in a good way. Ryan and I are almost done installing the recessed lights and circuit boxes in preparation for running wires later this week. And in plumbing news, Roland and his family o' plumbers have begun their work on our house.
Here's Roland, a little surprised to have his picture taken:
Here's a little of his handiwork in the 1st floor ceiling above our 1/2 bath:
The most visible change, however, is the on the exterior of the house. Before we left for Thanksgiving, the house looked like this:
We were very excited about how it was coming along, and especially liked the front entrance and heavy trim. When we came home from Thanksgiving yesterday, we were delighted with what we had missed:
Yay! It looks like a real house! Like the house we had designed it to be before we even moved in. In fact, we were paid the ultimate compliment yesterday while trying in vain to carry our new jetted hottub (more on that another time) into the house.
A neighbor named Lou, whom we had never met before, was taking a walk past our house when he saw us struggling with the hottub ("us" being "me") and offered a hand. I am not one to refuse such an offer. While moving into prime hottub-maneuvering position, he said, "This house looks great — it looks straight out of New England."
Wow — how did he know that's what we were going for??
1:05 p.m. Tuesday, November 30,
First off, the a/c guys are moving right along with the ductwork in the basement:
And Tom has installed the steel bracing for the girder running down the center of our basement (it may look a little crummy after sitting outside in the mud, but it's sure to clean up nice with a good scrubbing and coat of spraypaint).
In other exciting news, after living in the house for over a year now, we are finally able to *drumroll, please* get to the basement via STAIRS — that are INSIDE the house!
See how happy Ryan is? I made him stop on the top step before going down so I could capture the first descent into the basement — from INSIDE the house. (I told you I was excited about this.) It looks funny with him holding a flashlight...like, "Why is that guy holding a flashlight?"
BUT this picture was actually taken in the dark, and my new camera's flash lit up the room bright as day. I was actually seeing spots afterwards, after having been in the dark for so long. Any camera that can make me see spots must be OK. New camera: 10, old camera: 0.
These are actually the old Stairs To Nowhere that have always been in the basement...they were just temporarily repositioned UNDER AN OPENING until our new stairs are installed. (This picture was also taken in the dark...rock on.)
On to the bathroom situation...
All together now..."Ooooh..."
It's a 3' x 6' American Standard Viruoso Elite hottub with 10 jets and a lifetime warranty. The faucet goes in the middle on the side, so you can sit comfortably at either end. Ryan's folks discovered this little beauty on sale at Home Depot (the floor model is in the photo above), so we had no choice but to bring it home and give it a home of its own...especially before the sale ended.
It *mostly* fit in the Jeep...nothing a few motorcycle tie-down straps couldn't handle. Thanks again to neighbor Lou for helping us haul it into the house.
The "disagreement" lately has been about the stall shower to go in our master bath. Ryan wants a one- or two-piece solid surface unit with sliding glass doors, all of which requires virtually no maintenance and NO GROUT (let me repeat: he is very serious about the NO GROUT).
I love the colors, I love the seats, I love the wide diagonal slate tiles on the walls and the matching smaller tiles on the floor and seats. I love everything about this shower — even the copper-colored door frames. Imagine showering in this shower every day for the rest of your life, with the feel of the slate on your feet and the warm, soothing colors all around you...
Who wouldn't want to wake up to that?
Finding this shower on display was actually kind of eerie, seeing as it had been the exact SHOWER OF MY DREAMS for months now. And I mean, c'mon, when you compare my shower choice to Ryan's, isn't it COMPLETELY OBVIOUS how much better mine is?
I can hear the nay-sayers now..."But he said NO GROUT."
I understand, and I hear you. I've considered this opinion. But in a situation such as this, where the SHOWER OF MY DREAMS is on the line, isn't he obliged to give in? Isn't that how it's supposed to work??
I hereby promise in front of everyone in Internet Land that I will be responsible for ALL GROUTING AND ROT PREVENTION in this shower from now until said shower is no longer a part of our lives.
(So...Do I win yet?)
I think we need some other opinions here...please Sign the Guestbook and join the debate.