11:50 a.m. Friday, October 1,
We had been wanting to remove the forsythia on both sides of our backyard for quite some time now. So the other day, Ryan got to chopping. Who needs straggly, blooms-for-one-week-if-you're-lucky forsythia when your neighbor's perfectly manicured bushes are waiting in the background? So that means...
Yup. Another trailer load to take to the dump.
Some time around dusk, I notice Ryan wandering around...a very rare occurrence for focused, task-oriented Ryan. Naturally, I ask him what he's doing. Turns out his Jeep key fell out of his pocket at some point during the forsythia removal.
So both of us stop what we're doing to poke around the yard for his lost key and remote, the only two things on a single key ring. I looked through the piles I had raked while Ryan retraced his steps. Eventually, he ends up in the trailer, sorting through the huge stack of forsythia just cut down and loaded in. After throwing every branch out of the trailer and onto the driveway, we realize the key ring is not loose in the trailer and could be caught on any one of those branches. So one by one, with much mumbling, we carefully inspect every single forsythia branch before throwing it back into the trailer.
It's growing dark. Our neighbors are stopping by to see what's going on. I take a picture that my weary husband warns should never be posted on this Web site, because, well, this situation is NOT funny and NOT something we want to remember, by golly.
Finally, just when I could inspect no more, he remembered that after moving the Jeep, he moved the trailer. He retraced his steps once more and lo and behold, in the mulch right next to the crazy tomato plants, hides Ryan's lost key ring.
And suddenly all is right with the world again. And I'm given permission
to post whatever pictures I want. And, well, I guess this monumental
waste of time might have been kind of funny after all.
9:44 p.m. Saturday, October 2,
Just when we were beginning to feel that the addition would NEVER happen, yesterday we got a call from the township telling us to come pick up our permits! Of course, they called us at 3:55 and the cashier's office closed at 4, so we didn't actually have a chance to GET those permits, but all that matters is that they're there for the taking.
So that means this weekend is PACK UP THE HOUSE weekend. And today, our bedroom went from this:
Yeah, sleeping bags and Aerobed! Camping out really makes what's coming seem more like a reality. We were happy that Mom and Dad came up today to help us pack up...and take some of our stuff to their house for a little vacation.
Here's how we're hoping things go this week: We pick up our permits, our mason calls the town to have our sewer, gas, and water lines marked, and then he gets ready to come start our repairs and new footings. Meanwhile, our contractor comes to start demolition. That's why the house has to be empty — we don't want anything in the way.
The kitchen is really the only room left to tackle. Hopefully, we can
get that done tomorrow. It looks like it's going to be a big week at
Raise the Ranch...
11:01 p.m. Sunday, October 3,
We have never seen our house this empty. The day we bought our house, the movers were still moving the PO's stuff out while we were moving our stuff in, so we never realized how big and bright each room felt when completely empty or how loudly the house echoes when I sneeze.
Today was our second big house-packing day. I'm very happy to report that there is only one drawer and one cabinet left to pack in the kitchen and a couple random things scattered about the living room left to take care of (like the product guides from our contractor, our tree/plant thing, and our wedding fish...I still don't know where those last two will end up). The office is completely empty, and the only things left in the bedroom and the bathroom are things that will come with us wherever we end up going.
As for the basement...we've been busy down there, as well. One of the issues we had to address recently was discovering the depth of the footings under our basement lally columns to determine whether or not they could support a second floor. This meant drilling holes in our poured concrete floor at the base of the lally columns. My dad was quick to come help us with this project...but I think it may have had something to do with his excitement to rent and use a hammer drill. ;)
At about 3" deep, we discovered a small, wet gap just below the concrete slab that had us a little worried, making us think there was no footing those few inches away from the column. So we dug another hole around the other side, a little closer to the column, and this time when we hit that gap, we just kept digging. To our relief, the drill began to turn up wet concrete (the concrete bits had mixed with water from the gap while coming up out of the hole) instead of just dirt, so we knew we had finally hit what we were looking for — and we knew we just had not drilled down far enough in the first hole.
Just to be sure, we dug another hole at another column on the other side of the basement, and were happy to find the exact same results: 2"-3" slab, small gap with water and dirt, and finally the concrete footing. This time, we drilled down as far as the hammer drill could go to determine the depth of the footing:
Although we could only get the ruler about 15" down the hole, we measured the length of the hammer drill to be about 16" or 17". We were not able to break through the bottom of the footing before we could drill no further, and I think both my dad and Ryan were a little disappointed to come away without a conclusive footing depth.
We reported these findings back to the architect that Rob occasionally works with, who took our word for what we found without wanting to see the handy dandy photos I had all ready to send him. After doing the calculations, he determined that our footings were indeed deep enough and wide enough to support the new loads we'll be adding. Woohoo! Potentially expensive problem avoided!
The next weekend, Opa was still losing sleep over the fact that we
had not yet re-filled the holes we made, as it was very obvious that
water was closely lurking under the floor. So he took it upon himself
to come up and fill those holes for us. We were very happy to have the
family expert in all things concrete (he built his own brick and cinder
block house, after all) come up to lend a hand. Unfortunately, he's
so quick at his work that I missed the whole hole-filling process altogether
and have no photos to share of the experience. I'll have to look around
for a funny old picture of him to share instead. ;)
2:33 p.m. Tuesday, October 5,
First off, just a little update: We DID pick up our permits yesterday, as hoped — woohoo! After speaking with our mason and our contractor, we got word that this week is prep week. They'll be bringing over equipment and supplies in preparation for starting digging/demolition next week (woohoo!), after the utility company comes over and sprays and says we're good to dig. Ryan is excited for the backhoe to arrive, but unfortunately I don't think they'll leave him the keys. ;)
In other news, I just about finished priming the fence — my slow-going summer project. The only sections left are behind bushes and plants that I'll have to wait to get at until they die back a bit. This includes behind the crazy tomato plants...
You can see how huge some of the tomatoes got, above, when you compare them to the average-sized cherry tomatoes. I also found a few random tomato plants unexplainably scattered throughout the yard...not sure how they got there.
I found the first one, above, in the front yard in the Big Dig hole. None of these ever turned red before they died. The second was found in the back yard next to the Bilco doors and produced many red cherry tomatoes. But the confusion came when I noticed these cherry tomatoes were bigger and shaped differently than any I had planted. That dashed my idea that maybe some birds or little critters transplanted these random plants somehow. And I've never heard of tomatoes being perennial...
Any one have ideas to help me figure this one out?? If so, post them
6:59 p.m. Tuesday, October 20,
We've gotten a little tired of waiting for work to start on our house, so we've decided to start some of the demolition ourselves...
=) How often do you get to sit around with your friends and put holes in the walls just for fun? There are definitely pluses to this home renovation stuff.
So two weeks ago was "Call Before You Dig" week, and now our front yard is littered with little blue and yellow flags, marking the water and gas lines, respectively. The utility companies also spraypainted arrows and random numbers on the street in colors coordinating with the flags. It's fun to think that we'll have evidence of our little project for a long time after our new "old" house is complete.
Ryan was so excited to finally get our permits that he put the yellow permit sign in the window for the whole world to see. As if all the neighbors didn't already know. One neighbor insisted we put the motorcycle in her carport, and the other day we got drinks and chocolate from another neighbor who knew we had nothing to eat or drink while rewiring the electrical in the basement. All the neighbors are so excited for us "kids" and we're very grateful for their continual support and encouragement.
This is all that's left of my garden. The peppers and the rhubarb hung on a little longer than the crazy tomatoes. Deer ate off the top of my pepper plants and I gave Ryan's mom the rest of my peppers and rhubarb, so there's really nothing left now.
Everything from the front of the house now sits in the side yard by the fence. (Except the bench; that's in the backyard.) And yes, that's the old rusty mailbox Ryan nailed the fence. We're having trouble getting the various mailmen who deliver to our house to actually put the mail in the mailbox, but hopefully we'll get that all straightened out soon.
Earlier today, the mason said he'd be up to start either this afternoon
or first thing tomorrow morning. Seeing as he didn't come today, we're
expecting him tomorrow.
8:14 p.m. Sunday, October 24,
Imagine our surprise when we come home from work Thursday night to discover that WORK HAD STARTED. Of course, Ryan had heard this news during the day and had sent me an e-mail telling me as much, but we quickly realized there's nothing like seeing a small backhoe and GIGANTIC HOLE in the backyard for ourselves.
By Friday night, the footings for the addition had been framed in and made ready for inspection, which is scheduled for first thing Monday morning. If the inspection goes well, the mason will call up the cement truck and the new foundation will be poured.
But digging wasn't the only thing that began Thursday. When we walked into the house, we noticed the upper kitchen cabinets had been taken down and scattered throughout the kitchen. "Cool," we thought, "the contractor's been here, too."
We walked in a little further and then...
Oh...Wow...Oh...JUMP UP AND DOWN...gasp...jump up and down some more.
The walls separating the two bedrooms and three closets had been removed, and all that remained was framing. We could see from one end of the house to the other. There was drywall and insulation and dust everywhere — it was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen.
Now we could see how big our living room was really going to be, and how open the first floor would feel once all the walls were relocated. Ryan and I ran from one room to another through the studs, yelling, "Look! I'm in the dining room!" and "Look! I'm going up the 'stairs'!" and "Look! I'm in the new living room!"
The next day, the dumpster arrived in our front yard and the contractor cleaned out the long-awaited mess he made the day before. Even the presence of the dumpster got us excited. Now the whole world can see that something big is about to happen.
We now have conversations like this: "Hey, look over there. See that
dumpster? Our dumpster is SO much better than theirs..."
11:08 p.m. Tuesday, October 26,
Work on the 6' x 12' basement bump-out is moving right along. We passed our footing inspection yesterday morning with flying colors — our mason Frank said the township inspector was very nice and very interested in our project, which is good to know. Hopefully, we'll have the same inspector (Chris) for other stages of this project.
After passing inspection, Frank was able to schedule the cement truck, and by the end of the day, our footings were poured. Today, Frank and his crew came back to build the new concrete block wall on top of the footings.
It's amazing how quickly the footings solidified to support so much weight. Now, the wall is ready for the windows to be popped in and to be skim coated.
In other exciting news, Frank and his crew have fixed the crack in
our foundation! Now, all of Ryan's digging and root removal is a thing
of the past. Once the new block has been coated with a layer of concrete
on the outside, that corner can be filled back in and we'll be done
with that eyesore forever. I'm sure our neighbor, Joe, will be happy
for the visual improvement.
10:10 p.m. Thursday, October 28,
So much happens now in one day that sometimes it's hard to post every night, but I'll try my best to keep up. The photo above was taken EOD yesterday. This morning, we passed our foundation inspection — woohoo! — so Frank and his crew were able to backfill around the new basement bump out they built and regrade our back and side yards.
They also filled in Ryan's "Big Dig" area where the stump and foundation crack once were:
How nice to finally have that all taken care of! And who would have thought we would have been so happy to come home and find our rusty Bilco doors torn off and strewn about the lawn...?
Now that we have a hole into the basement from the new bump-out, that meant the old leaky "hatchway" could finally get blocked in.
They tore out the old concrete steps going down into the basement. Then they blocked it up, coated it, and filled the whole area back in with dirt.
Ta-da! They also started our new front stoop. Yesterday, Frank went and got the bricks we picked out, and today, he started putting them in.
We're very happy with the variation in the brick and are enjoying how dark they are, especially in contrast to the old ones (you can see the old stoop clearer if you click on the left photo, above). It will be exciting to see the end product next week.
The inside of our house has never looked better:
For the first time, our basement seems accessible from the INSIDE of our house (where the basement stairs will be). What a concept! Only took us a year to get here... ;)
8:50 p.m. Sunday, October 31,
Right now, we're at Lori and Jay's watching the last 10 minutes of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. We saw a single mother from Queens with two adopted sons get a Disney cruise to a private island in the Bahamas while the show's "design team" and crew completely renovated their house...in seven days.
I love the premise of this show — how they pick the most deserving families who have endured so much — but I'm always left with a few questions. Like, how do THEY get permits so quickly? Why don't THEY have to wait for inspectors? Why do THEY get to pick through the props department of Broadway's "The Lion King" to use in decorating a room?
Sigh. I have to start meeting the right people.
And my other question is if they can get so much done in just seven days, that means our project can be completed that quickly, too, right? Right?
We shall see. =)
Well tonight, on our one-year house anniversary, I thought I'd post a picture of just how far we've come:
Aahh, isn't it beautiful? Yes, one year later, we spent Halloween tearing off shingles on the front of our house in an attempt to treat and get rid of the carpenter ants discovered there this past week during the front stoop recreation. And yes, it was exactly one year ago today that our house was being treated for termites while we were moving in.
I wonder what the picture this time next year will look like...
Happy anniversary, House. Here's to many bug-free years to come.