Monthly Archives: July 2010

Baby, baby, sweet, baby…

Day 10 went by so fast, it’s almost a blur in my mind. In fact, it almost seems like it’s still happening. Ok, well, it is. We’re on day 10-B now, as the plumbers are working part of today to make up for the time they lost when they had to (last minute, and unexpectedly) postpone their start day earlier in the week. (What professionalism! Dedication! We have such a good crew!) But, man, oh, man, did everyone get tons done Friday. Framing of the closet? Check. Framing of the pantry? Check. Framing for powder room door? Check. Recess built for radiator? Check. Lights hung and awaiting our approval? Check. Bathroom fan hung and vented? Check. Preliminary venting done for range hood? Check. Plumbing – ok, I don’t know what any of the plumbing is called, and the plumbers are such hard workers that I daren’t stop them to ask- but, plumbing stuff? Check!

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I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it…

Day 9! Wow, what a day! We had some rain early on in the day – ideal weather for ripping windows out of houses, right? – which luckily rolled through speedily enough to usher in an absolutely beautiful day (perfect for window work). The guys came in (nail) guns blazing today, and managed to remove and replace FOUR windows in one day! The change to the feeling of the space is unbelievable. The rooms are starting to look like rooms, and feel like rooms. I can’t quite explain it. The volumes of space are starting to become defined, both by the lighting placement, and now by the windows, and the personalities of the spaces are starting to emerge. Views to the outdoors have been framed in lovely, chunky classic details with Marvin windows that were a worthy splurge.

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It really is darkest before the dawn…

Day 8, Wednesday, contained an unexpected mini-pause in the schedule. The plumbers couldn’t come as the crew had hoped (they’re coming Friday), but the windows arrived earlier than the original order had predicted (score!). That meant some construction (fixed the hole-y subfloor in the kitchen and finished framing the ceiling in the area where the tiny pitch change will be) but mainly more planning for the guys, and more electrical work for Brad (previously identified as The Electrician). With the carpentry crew off on tasks unknown to me (I had to leave earlier than they arrived, and returned after they left), Brad had the opportunity to continue rescuing the house from its 1920’s past, eradicating more knob and tube from the belly of the basement. He pulled wires from here to there, snaked things through hidden pockets of space, transforming the workings of the previously convoluted wiring schematic in the laundry room. Most of what he did was completely un-photographable (but believe me, NOT unnoticed).

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Hallelujah, and sparks flew up to heaven…

Day 7 was as busy as ever – we heard the nail gun (and compressor), sawing, some shouting (mainly because the tools are so loud), many a trip up and down the attic stairs and even some laughter. The weather was hotter, but still lovely, and not so humid as to turn everyone grouchy toward one another (though I can’t speak for Brad, the electrician, who spent a fair amount of time in the still hideously uncomfortable attic). With everything buzzing away, I could focus on some other projects that I’ve been trying to find time for – mowing the lawn, refreshing the front planters, and printing out/working on Jeff’s sister’s wedding invites.

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Goin’ down (out?) in a blaze of glory…

Day 6, week 2, and the work is steadily progressing. We got a mini-fridge set up for the crew, and music was wafting through the house as I calmly set out on a leisurely trip around the area to run errands. Fields of corn bent in the wind, the sun baking sweet goodness into every kernel. Trees sang in the constant changing breeze, as the leaves scuffed against one another, dangling gently from bowed limbs. Ahhh, it was spectacular today.

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What’s happening all over? I’ll tell you what’s happening all over…

Day 5 started off with a complex question: do we want to preserve the ceiling height in the original part of the kitchen (8′-6”) or lower the ceiling (8′) to maintain a smooth continuous ceiling throughout the space? Budget issues prevented the best possible solution (i.e., rip off the roof of the addition and raise the outer wall to the proper and consistent height of the entire first floor), so we were left with two viable solutions. This was a complex decision because choosing either way created a whole slew of work and issues to solve (that had to happen before work could continue in any significant way), as well as compromises to the finished look of the space. Did we prefer the volume to the unity of a flat ceiling? Did we want to vault the ceiling and create a new architectural story? Could we find a light to address an angled ceiling in time for the electrician to move forward? Did they order enough/the right materials? Ultimately we all concluded that with either choice we had to give something up.

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The calm amid the storm…

Day 3 and 4 have been much less dramatic, and therefore less photogenic.  Much of what’s happening is either more of the same (demo) or planning, and you can’t really photograph that. The crew is placing orders for lumber, and expects to be framing as early as Friday. Although, the mini-drama has been that a week’s worth of not enough sleep, not being able to cook, and having nothing left to wear (we skipped our weekend laundry because we were too busy prepping the floors to protect them from the trampling they are getting daily) caught up with me, and I had my first tearful moment. Much like the thunderstorm that was building for days, humidity rising causing irritability and discomfort, I too just needed to let out some water to let the beautiful weather shine through.  And it’s beautiful today! I also fell asleep while watching TV, sitting up on the sofa, about 20 minutes into a show I picked (Top Chef). A clear sign that I was overtired, and just needed a good night’s sleep.

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Busy, busy, busy…

Day two demolition finished with only a little bit of blood spilled (culprits: nail and lathe in walls, wily little buggers), and plenty of sweat.  All in all, despite mild injuries (I was assured they were “merely flesh wounds” and was “just a scratch”) it was a great day. Plumbing that was tangled and twisted and altogether not quite cutting it anymore was completely removed like a tumor. Walls that existed have been reduced to a single post; floors have been removed and have vanished from the house, just like that. Ceilings came down, raining plaster on the crew – they even had to take mini-showers in the yard with the hose.  When I asked if they needed towels, I was told, “Nah, I’ll just drip dry in the yard.” Adorable! Hard work like that deserves a reward that a “thank you” just doesn’t seem to provide.  I’ll think of something…

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Welcome to the jungle…

Ok, where, oh, where to begin?

8am-ish: Contractors and electrician arrived
810am: Jeff and I started bickering
820am: First hammer swing, subsequent dust bowl began
830am: Dumpster arrived
831am: Jeff yelled at me (“Once is enough!”)
832am: I decided not to help Jeff anymore
840am: Jeff and I apologized
845am: We both wished we could  have a nap

The rest of the day was a mix of noises – shoveling, hammering, banging, prying, sawz-all-ing, classic rocking, chatting, barking, panting. We both spent much of the day fighting sleepiness and soreness, and tried to keep the dog as chilled out as possible. Much was accomplished in one tiny day, yet much more is yet to be done.  Mostly, some of the underlying structure of the house was uncovered for the first time in (probably) 90-ish years, exposing the home’s flaws as well as its unique story.

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One more time, for the cheap seats!

Ok, so it’s about 12 hours before mayhem begins. Dumpster scheduled for delivery in the morning, dudes will be showing up (quantity?) starting around 8am, and the prep work here isn’t done yet. Nearly, but not yet. Whew, it’s gonna be a long summer.


Things we’ve learned thus far:

1.) It’s not easy to cook in the living room when you only have a sink either upstairs or down. Water is ESSENTIAL to making a kitchen work.

2.) Everything we think that will take 10 minutes takes a half hour, and those half hours add up. We’re behind, and we haven’t even begun yet.

3.) Extreme heat and humidity, combined with the extreme nature of the renovation process does not make for a bicker-free household. Luckily, we rebound well from tiffs.

With a sore back, a mini-sunburn (from yard work both here and at Dad’s place on the lake) and a sweatified-grumpy attitude I await the coming days with a sense of dread and excitement. I’m certain that this process won’t be easy. And I’m also certain that this process will be incredibly rewarding. I’m grateful beyond words for the opportunity to partake in such an endeavor, and I’m looking forward to every bit of it, even the hard stuff.

Until next time, kick back with your favorite beverage, enjoy a cool shower, the ability to wash your hands as often as you like while cooking, and the privacy that comes with not having to share your entire house with at least a handful of contractors.

Do it for me.

xoxo
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