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Friday, April 25, 2014

They're Heeeeeeeeere!

Telltale tracks of construction workers' boots

Sign sprouted in the garden
It’s been about six months since we bought the place.  No wonder folks keep asking if we’ve moved yet.  But Rome wasn’t built in a day and the ‘tendoory house’ wasn’t rebuilt in one either.  Things have to be planned, plans have to be revised, permits applied for, revisions submitted, etc. Gone are the days when you could invite a few dozen folks over and have a barn raising. Therefore, it was with great excitement that D. and I bounded (well, crawled) out of bed Monday morning, bright and early to greet the contractors at the house, and hand over the keys and a large check. We met the crew, shook hands and left them to it.
On our way out of the alley we passed a truck with a dumpster and wondered where they were going to put it. Turns out that wasn’t our dumpster.  There’s a lot of construction going on in the area.  Later in the week D. sent me an excited e-mail with a photo of a dumpster.  He's installed a web camera in the neighbor's garage with full view of the back of the house to record the progress. You can't see much because it's all happening inside right now.

Where have all the walls gone?
Thursday evening we snuck back to the house after the builders had left to see their handiwork. We were astonished at their progress. Entire walls are gone,; the ground floor is completely gutted!  You can see the skeleton of the house, where the addition was attached, the layers of flooring materials, and some seriously funky wiring that D. thinks was part of an old security system.

Glass block in the garage
We went back this morning for a meeting, and spoke to J.  the head of the work crew - “oh yeah, this is the fun part, tearing everything out,” he said. They are putting things in various heaps - drywall and other stuff that can’t be reused goes into the dumpster.  Building materials that we’re not going to reuse go into another pile for recycling / salvage. Fragile items are stuffed into the garage, until that fills up. . .

Nice shade of blue
We’re glad our neighbour moved his boat trailer from the back of our property, because it was right where they decided to station the portable toilet, nestled in among the lavender. They are doing their best to minimize the disruption to the neighborhood, and, so far, have managed to squeeze the unsightly paraphernalia into the back of the property. Despite my protestations that we really don’t care about the lawn (translation, we don’t own a lawn mower and don’t want to have to maintain it until it gets converted into a vegetable garden) they carefully set the dumpster down in the driveway. But I have high hopes that once the siding and roofing material arrives, they'll need to pile it on the grass. That is if it hasn't gotten too deep by then.
Found the walls
 The building project is underway at last; there’s no turning back now.  Before this week the house was perfectly habitable.  There’s still electricity (for now), though I'm not sure about running water. The furnace has vanished, there are holes in the floor where the ductwork was and very few interior walls. Just wait til they take the roof, siding, and windows off. . . there won't be much left but the frame and the basement.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Looking for ideas

looking for ideas
The house plans have now been submitted for permits.  They are, by no means, final.  Much of the detail (tiles, cabinetry, counters, colours, finishes) has been deliberately left vague in the interest of expediency. It takes a while to get approval from the powers that be, and meanwhile we can start looking into the elements that will have an impact on the way the house looks, but have nothing to do with its safety, structural integrity or building codes.  Gulp.  Other than choosing the replacement carpet for the condo, and one or two sets of curtains, I’ve never had much input to what my living spaces looked like. The peripatetic lifestyle has some advantages, but you soon become used to living with someone else’s taste in furnishings.  As I tell our friends, we know where and how high the radio antenna will be, and what auxiliary antennas we will have, and how the wiring is going to travel between the tower and the radios, but we have not really thought about the bathroom floor, or the kitchen counters, or even the front door. There are so many details in a remodel of this scope; it’s rather intimidating.  I hope we can do all this picking and choosing in a somewhat organised fashion, but so far it’s been haphazard, if not accidental.  

Not gold plated, but might as well be.

For instance, when we were asked about window height in the bathroom, we realized we had to think seriously about the bathtub we wanted.  We even found one on display nearby and tested it  (well, sat in it fully clothed to check for depth and comfort). 
This is not to say we’ve chosen the rest of the bathroom fixtures.  Just the tub. Actually, we found some plumbing fixtures we really liked, but they cost more than the tub.

Beware of bargains!
That very same day, we nearly bought a second hand gas cooktop, double oven and fume hood from the Restore.  It seemed like a good price for that brand, and the oven was virtually unused!  We were just discussing delivery options when our friend M (who coincidentally owns a van and is in the midst of his own major remodelling adventure) just happened to walk by.  We showed him the appliances, and he cautioned us against buying them.  1) We should wait until the kitchen layout is done before buying appliances 2) They will sit in the garage, untested for months.  What if we install them, and they don’t work?  3) We could probably buy better equipment new for nearly the same price, with a warranty (and installation) if we shopped carefully. 

As much as we’d like to make an artistic statement in our home, to keep the costs under control
Eye catching, but all those irregular shapes were hand-cut
the finishes will have to be fairly plain. I would love to use lots of beautiful hand made Motawi tiles, but we’ll have to limit them to accents in order not to break the bank. We’ve been to several tile and stone show rooms, only to stagger out overwhelmed by the choices of even the massed produced options.

How do you even start to pull a room together when the components come from different places? One helpful woman at Green Home Solutions suggested we pick out the big things first, floors, counters, cabinets.  Then work in the smaller details.  

Cabinets??? Floors???  egads. . . . something else to decide. . . .  
I’m beginning to understand the all-white, sleek, minimal look.  It’s easy.  
Look ma, no knobs! (something else we have to decide on. . . )