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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Things are progressing in fits and starts:
We have rafters, temporary front steps, and plywood sheathing. Lots, and lots, and lots of plywood.  The whole house is covered in it. It reminds me of the Malvina Reynolds song "Little Boxes". Though ours won't look 'just the same' as everyone else's. At least we hope not. Certainly the antennas will make it stand out a bit.

Temporary stairs.
The steel that will support the
stairs to the entryway, the deck and part of the roof has been delayed. Until that is installed, the exterior work (and the solar panels, and antenna mounts) is on hold. Some things are moving ahead. Most of the windows have been ordered, and the plumbers have made a first pass at the pipes. Some of the interior framing has been done.
It's starting to look more like a house and less like a FEMA site (complete with blue tarps).

Preparations are in process for the radiant underfloor heating.  But there’s another snag. The bamboo floor that we wanted to salvage was so thoroughly nailed in, that the nails were driven all the way through the subfloor to stick out the underside. From the experience of one of our London neighbors, we know nails anywhere near radiant heating is a very, very, very bad idea.  In his case, several tubes punctured and water cascaded down the stairs. He was not amused.

Unplanned indoor water features are generally not a good thing.

We tossed a few ideas back and forth with the contractors:
A) Another layer of sub flooring (this would reduce the efficiency of the heating system).
B) A couple days worth of carpenters grinding off the ends of each and every nail (mind bogglingly dull, repetitive work, and it only takes one missed point to wreak havoc).
C) Rip it all up and replace it.
The safest option is C), so the floor has to go, and we'll replace it with cork.
Cork flooring = happy feet!
At last! Cork flooring, something I learned to love while working at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.  Quiet, warm to the touch and every so slightly springy, not to mention, it has a beautiful look. Cork flooring will cost a bit more than salvaging the bamboo floor, but we have become resigned to the extra costs that pop up at every turn. The thing about redoing old houses, you never know what you will find when you open it up.  Speaking of which, there is one small space in a bedroom that will not have underfloor heating.  It was part of the original front porch, and  there’s no space to install it. Apologies in advance you you stay in this room over the winter, the consolation prize is it has a stunning view (and extra blankets).

We've had a modest pear harvest, and I can see (but not reach) a half dozen quinces.  Perhaps with pruning and some TLC it will do better next year. The patch of lawn in back looks well and truly dead now that it’s had lumber and debris piled on top of it for months. Killing it off was the first step in planting something else there besides grass.
My poor beleaguered creeping rosemary is thriving, despite the concrete blocks the builders keep piling on top of. The shrubs are all wildly overgrown, the front looks like setting for a horror film. I've been dreaming of a mini-orchard of dwarf fruit trees in the parking strip, surrounded by strawberry plants culled from friends' gardens. Don't ask me where the time will come to tend this little Eden. We were hard pressed to salvage the basil plants before the roofers working on the condo demolished them. We now have a bag full of pesto pucks.