T – Minus 1 Week Until Move In

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The posts stopped because, quite simply, I’ve been running around like a proverbial headless chicken trying to get everything done, and get some consulting business going so we have a little extra cash to play with. A LOT has happened. We are close to being in the house with a nearly finished kitchen, one finished bathroom, all trim in (but not painted), and hot water.

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I am officially exhausted, mentally and physically. And I can’t wait until there are no more workers, no more appointments with contractors, city inspectors, or waiting on deliveries. I think John is ready to move in as well as Buster, who got a new bed to hang out on in the house while we finish our work.

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The kitchen has turned out particularly nice. John did a great design with the help of Joy Dolling of Abodian. After all, the choice of Alder wood instead of the melamine was a great choice. It is warmer, more elegant and will stand the test of time. All of the appliances are in, the bar is ready to go, and I’m sure John will be pouring Scotch soon.

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I finished the front entryway this week. After a great assist on the framing of it from our buddy, Malcolm Smith, who knows his way around a circular saw and is a great photographer, I installed the IPE decking this week just in time for the onslaught of rain.

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Our finish carpenter, Chris Olson, was great, and cased the doors, trimmed the baseboards and finished out some shelving in no time. It was pretty astonishing. He worked a little too fast sometimes, but he was a pleasure to work with, mildly OCD, which is good in a finish carpenter, and very eager.

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He also finished up the Sky Deck and dining deck off the kitchen today. There was a double rainbow off the dining deck right after he left, so I think that’s a great sign. Now we are just waiting on the railing so that we can call the inspector for our occupancy ok.

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Then a final polish of the floors and top coat. Here I’ll add that the flooring company, Eurocraft, did an astonishing job on the floors weaving together the old and new. It was truly amazing to see how they did it considering we have three entirely different types of floors in the house.

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Our former neighbor, Steve Branca (Branca Tile), did an amazing job on our guest bathroom, and is now headed upstairs for the main bath. That is going to be beautiful soon, as well. He made the guest bath a nice haven while we wait for the upstairs, and it’s a pleasure to be able to shower again in a real bathroom.

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The whole process has been very challenging given the disruption in our lives, the constant decisions, and all of the people involved in creating a house. I don’t think I could ever watch another HGTV show and not laugh at the budgets, the time frames and how simple they make everything look. I’m convinced now that those shows are simply adverts for big box stores and unsuspecting DIYers like we envisioned ourselves to be.

I will say, however, that there is a great sense of accomplishment I feel. It’s a beautiful home; we’ve learned so much about this process, and through careful decisions, have come up with a house that feels warm and welcoming – two things I desperately wanted. And John and I made it through after so many people had told us how hard it is on relationships and such. I think we’re stronger for it. We made many key decisions quickly and efficiently particularly when it came to tile and color. And now we’ve been through the worst, and are looking forward to carrying on our lives in a comfortable home. It seems that there is nothing we can’t get through now.

We finally said adieu to the contractor, which took a lot of weight off our shoulders and allowed me to sleep a little better. While I wish Broadmore Builders well, I couldn’t recommend them at all if their project manager continues to be a part of them. I won’t go into all the details, but the one thing that infuriates me is that he belittles his own crew, who did great work despite him, in front of his clients, and to them. It’s sad to see Broadmore’s largely hispanic team so disabused by him in so many ways, not least of which is care for their safety.

We do miss Juan and Ivan and Leo – all from various parts of Mexico – all of them left family and loved ones to make a better life here in the US.

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The sunrises and sunsets continue to be beautiful. And the rains that have come, I’m not so worried about given our new sewer lines, roof and gutters. Though our Airstream has performed remarkably well over the stress of two guys and a big dog, we are ready for the creature comforts of home. A bigger bed, warmth, quiet, and the space to breath and to read. I miss reading soooooo much and have lots of books to catch up on.

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Happy Halloween… next post will be after we’ve moved in!

T

3 Months and Counting

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We are now five weeks behind the schedule given to us by our contractor. It’s a bit depressing given that fall is approaching and both John and myself are back to work. It’s a little challenging for John to get ready, and I still have a lot to do to get things done so that our finish contractors will be able to do their job and write creative ideas for a project I’m working on.

But, we do love the comfort of our Airstream and are now talking about taking off in a few years and traveling around the United States and Canada for however long it takes. We will rent out both the house and backyard cottage and upgrade to a larger model and go. It is nice to have air -conditioning in the Airstream once again as we continue to have very hot days (for the NW, anyway). The 2015 Airstream models feature ducted air so the unit is now completely outside and it is very quiet inside. We are waiting for sales on those models. :)

One of the things we’ve really missed is traveling around in it this summer, but since we are living full time and staying on property, it’s more difficult to put everything away and make things travel safe. When we aren’t living in it, we keep it ready to travel except for the addition of food and drink, which is a lot less to contend with. We’ve mostly missed our fellow Airstreamers and are looking forward to connecting again with them.

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We escaped to San Juan Island last week to take a break from the noise and frustrations.

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It was really beautiful and the cottage we rented was perfect for us and Buster who made a new friend in Mondo. Kit, our host shared John’s famous sangria with us and we learned a lot about the island.

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Highlights included a walk around Garrison Bay,

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A hike at the American Camp, which was gorgeous, and I showed John the treacherous Cattle Pass,

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Lime Kiln Lighthouse,

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and a beautiful sunset at the County Park.

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In the last couple of weeks, the house’s exterior has been worked on so that the Hardie Panel and shingles are really looking great. Ivan and Juan are doing a terrific job.

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Insulation is giving rooms their shape and it’s being installed, as I type, under the house. In the next couple of days drywalling will begin.

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One of the things I really wanted to do was put clear cedar planking under the eave of the main deck to give it a more elegant and finished look rather than Hardie Panel. Juan did a great job of integrating it and now it will look beautiful once the house is painted.

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We did make a mistake on the double doors and got framing that was too small – 2×4 versus 2×6 opening. Ivan and Juan came up with a great solution and now it looks fine. We both have learned so much over the past year, and I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet on what to do when, and the things to think about.

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As the house takes shape, We’ve been hosting people on the Sky Deck most evenings and have been enjoying sharing the view. It really is quite something to be able to sit up there and look out over the lake as alpenglow hits the mountains and the top of Mt. Rainier. It’s pretty stunning. Fall will be truly amazing.

10 Weeks Down – Project Fatigue Edition

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After ten full weeks of building and living in the Airstream, by this Saturday, we both were feeling very stressed with project fatigue. The dust, the mess, the process, and constantly wondering where things are finally got the best of us. Even Buster seemed a little out of sorts.

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Luckily, our great friend, Perry, invited us out onto a boat in Andrew’s Bay near Seward Park, which could not have been a more perfect tonic to lift our spirits. Lots of laughs, cocktails, food and floating around in the water really helped. Thanks, Perry.

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Sunday, we spent in the mountains and visited Franklin Falls where John and I had our first date three years ago. We also tried bushwhacking our way to Source Lake and found it nearly impossible, but it was nice to hang by the river and let Buster enjoy some downtime, too.

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Meanwhile, back at the house this week, the siding began going up with the textured Hardie plank and shingles. Starting in the rear of the house, the planks and shingles are really making the house feel like a house again, so it’s good to see.

The electric rough-in continued. We really like the electrician: nice, very competent and has great suggestions. The plumbing inspection never happened during the week. Something which was supposed to happen.

Several things to think about this week as the heat rises again today: cabinets, railings, decks and finish work. Lots and lots to do.

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We are roughly three weeks over the planned schedule. Part of our frustration lies in the fact we were told by our builder they would be done with their work by August 8th and there is still so much left to do under their contract: siding, insulation, drywall, mudding, exterior and interior paint, not to mention all of the little things to fix. It will be interesting to see how long it really is going to take. We hope to be in by mid-September when we can still do some of the finish work, but also enjoy the house.

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We saw this beauty at Airstream Adventures Northwest while we waited for our Dometic air conditioner to be replaced. Again, a wonderful service experience. The dealership as a whole seems to have really upped their game service and knowledge-wise. We came away quite impressed with how they are working to make the experience there so much better.

Nine Weeks Down – SeaFair Edition

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Well, the deck got a workout this past weekend from SeaFair viewing. Lots of neighbors came by and we even made a new friend, Jill, who was standing on the street looking kinda lonely so I invited her up to watch the Blue Angels on Saturday. She was very nice and so appreciative she ended up offering us free massages whenever she was back in town. She is a massage therapist from Pullman, WA who was here for some long-term clients she had.

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The neighbor kids raked in the bucks with their lemonade stand and we were amazed at how many people were standing on the street watching for the planes.

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John overcame his fear of clowns on Saturday when the SeaFair clowns dropped by at our neighbor’s every year for amazing ribs and pulled pork. By Sunday, however, we were exhausted from the noise, the people, the constant running up and down the stairs and especially the heat, which rose steadily throughout SeaFair Weekend.

We had a great view of the entire show, and then Saturday night, the fireworks were right below us and spectacular. John made a very tasty Sangria and a gin/Byhr drink we share with our neighbors.

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Backing up, the big event for this week was getting windows installed and the plumbing roughed in. This made a huge difference as now we can see how the light is in the rooms. We also ordered a beautiful front door, French doors for the main deck and a single door off the kitchen. We brought home a basement door and back door for the house as well.

The guys at Frank Lumber: The Door Store in Shoreline are terrific at customer service. Can’t say enough nice things about them as they helped us out with many selections.

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Railpro’s in Southcenter are proving to be a great find, as well as Oregon Tile and Marble who were as helpful and lovely as any place could be. We are looking forward to the tile we selected that will be installed by our former neighbor, Steve Branca, who is a master tiler and has already been quite helpful.

Quite a lot was done.

Once more, we got into a contentious battle with our builders. Here, I’m going to say that we love the workers they employ (Ivan, Juan and Leo), just not their project manager who continues to be belligerent, untrustworthy and combative with us. His client skills are simply the worst. He calls meetings where we are all supposed to be and then doesn’t show up, or doesn’t tell us about them until his sub arrives. This time they were going to up-charge us $1654.00 for smooth Hardi Plank over textured, which we didn’t want. We first checked online at Home Depot and Lowe’s to see if there was a price difference between the two and found that there wasn’t. Then we called their supplier specifically and they told us there was no cost difference, and we also asked if it was readily available and they told us it was within a day when we were told it was “Special Order” and would take a week or two to get it delivered. John has lost all confidence in him, and I told the project manager that I was right on the edge with him yesterday.

The budget they prepared wasn’t detailed and every time we think something should be included in the contract cost, it isn’t, so frustration sets in and I’m feeling deflated and defeated by a builder who simply won’t be square with us. Doing a project such as this is very stressful without the added stress we get from the builder. We wish that Juan would be the project manager as he is not only helpful, instructive, but he listens to our needs as much as he can.

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Last Friday, we spent the day out at Airstream Adventures Northwest and came away very impressed with their service department, which has seen a seismic shift in their helpfulness and ease of working with people. Daniel, the service manager, was all kinds of great, and helped us get a lot of things fixed and replaced. We do have to take Margaret in this Friday for a new Dometic Air/Heat Pump as it has gone completely south. All is good, however, as we do enjoy looking at the new Airstreams and dream of upgrading to the 25 or 27 foot Eddie Bauer edition someday when we decided to head out on the road for awhile. We are missing being a part of the rallies and going up to the mountains this summer, but we both need to be here for all the details and watch our builder closely.

Next up is selecting the cabinets. We have many quotes, we just now need to pull the trigger. It’s not easy since it involves thousands of dollars and is critical to the success of the house’s aesthetic. John is working diligently through all the different vendors and we are close to a selection.

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This week, the siding is going up now that all the windows are installed and the framing inspection was passed.

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We continue to enjoy the beautiful skies, sunrises and sunsets, and now are glad of the railings, which make us feel more secure.

Seven/Eight Weeks Down – More Heat, More Rain, More House

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Wow, did we start the seventh week out super hot, which continued through that Thursday. This whole house thing is becoming a blur, thus the late weekly report. Finishing up the top floor was a priority as roofing was to begin on Friday.

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So up went the rest of the walls, the new dormers were done and the facia installed all around the house’s perimeter.

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Very time consuming work, but worth it as small details like diamonds at the points finished off the look. Our crew, Ivan, Juan and Leo, continue to work very hard. We think they are great.

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We found this tiny toy in the walls with a little wooden car, so he hung from a nail throughout the week as inspiration.

Sadly, the last couple of weeks got away from me to do the updates, but suffice it to say, we were super busy trying to get all the details in place so that we can get into the house sometime after Labor Day as John has been offered a new job with Bellevue School District as a music teacher.

We lost our bathroom finally and completely. It’s a challenge, but we have wonderful neighbors in the Bush’s and others who’ve offered so we’re using their place to shower and wash clothes.

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Keeping the Airstream clean is a challenge with all the dust, and now we have a list running of eight different things that need to be looked at. We have an appointment this coming Friday to deal with all of the issues: a broken air conditioner, two leaks, missing rivets, etc. We’re wondering if our model is up to snuff and lust after the Eddie Bauer model, which seems tougher.

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The main floor got more support from additional beams installed in the basement and the main floor. Most of the framing is complete now.

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Upstairs, our five foot sliding door became an eight foot slider. A happy mistake as the look will be cleaner and the windows very large. Speaking of windows, they get installed this week.

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In the eighth week, there was rain. Lots of it. Biblical, in fact. As our weather patterns change, and the world copes with more severe storms, we only hope that our house will be strong enough to endure. With all of the nails and wood that have gone in to the framing, we think it will. And we were lucky that the roof was completed the day before the storm.

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Last Thursday, the decks got torched down by the roofers and now their work is complete. We are continuing to research rail systems and are banking on cable railing, which, of course, is the more expensive, but less intrusive on the view. We will most likely choose them.

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Sunrises and sunsets continue to inspire. SeaFair is next up on the agenda. Our neighborhood becomes party central, particularly next door when the clowns arrive. We are not going to promote a party this year as we don’t have railings, a bathroom, nor a kitchen. Low key is where it’s at for us. Luckily, we’ve been invited to several neighborhood parties.

At the end of the eighth week, we are getting weary, or at least I am. John is continuing to be diligent on details and measurements, working out kitchen cabinetry and the mud/laundry room.

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Buster is being the amazing dog that he is, greeting and escorting neighbors up and down the property, meeting lots of new dogs, and generally just living through all the chaos like a champ.

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I’m feeling a bit stressed from project managing, but the trip to Portland last weekend really made me feel wonderful as I got to see many former students and get caught up on their successful lives. Caitlin got married to Mark, and hosted a garden reception to celebrate. They have a wonderful place in Northeast Portland. It reminded me of how important those years were to my life and how I wish I could teach again. They are all such wonderfully talented people.

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Yesterday, a neighbor came by with her son to see the house. She is dealing with the same issues from Rheumatoid Arthritis that my mom did for many, many years. One of the conditions is wafer thin skin that can break and bleed at any tiny bump to it. She had bumped it in the morning and it opened up in our house. Suddenly, I was back years ago to the year before my mom passed when she was in such pain, and the daily trips to see her in hospital. This woman is brave, as was my mom, but it gave me the chance to see the house in a new light – we may move, change our lives completely, but memories are indelible, and they will continue to color our lives in unexpected ways. The rest of the day I spent sitting on the sky deck remembering – and hoping that my neighbor feels no embarrassment, and that her life will be long and blessed.

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And now, pre-windows, our house looks like this. I’m sure I will perk up considerably this week knowing that we are on the home stretch to moving in.

The First Rain

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Well, the rain finally came to Seattle, and seemingly all at once. We’ve had quite the storm today, which brought torrential downpours upon our new roof and our Airstream, which needed a bath anyway, but not the canopy being jostled around.

Luckily, the new roof worked well, except for the flat roofs, which are still needing a torch-down. Unfortunately, the East room is under that deck and got drenched. It’s drying out now. For now, we are happy that 90% of the roof was completed yesterday. Note the ginormous tarp over the East, the wind stretching it and making the house seem like it’s about to set sail.

Six Weeks Down – Heatstroke Edition

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This week saw the increase in the heat index begin to rise quite a bit. We are trying to stay cool in the Airstream, but do not have enough power and the breaker keeps shutting down. We will be installing a 30 amp when the electrician comes to do the rough in beginning in a couple of weeks. Later in the week, however, John discovered that if we ran the water heater and refrigerator on propane, then we can run the air conditioner without it shutting off all the time. It’s changed our lives.

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Buster is worn out in the heat and sleeps a lot. Today, Sunday, we are taking him out to the Sound where he can play in the cool water.

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Monday, there was a beautiful sunrise throughout the newly framed upstairs. The master suite is far bigger than I had imagined it – even after looking at drawings of it for months. My spacial to actual measurement skills are not as good as our architect or John’s.

Here I should say a word about our architect, Katie Wells-Driscoll. Katie came to us by way of her brother, Justin, whom I worked with on a project at Tutta Bella. She stepped into a pile of poo that Batt + Lear had given us, and worked with John to come up with an amazing space. She also was the only architect out of ten or so that we interviewed who came up with a great solution on using the entire lot. She specializes in DADUs (Detached Accessory Dwelling Units) and has already designed a terrific one for us that we plan to build soon. We’ve enjoyed working with Katie immensely who brings a sense of calm to the chaos, and does a great job listening to our wants, and counseling us on our can’t haves. We’d recommend her whole-heartedly.

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The upstairs continued apace with more walls being framed, which allowed the interior space to become more visible. It was incredibly exciting. We do have to give a nod to our builders who said that it was possible to go up on both sides of the structure to create a larger top level by putting in a foundation wall.

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One of the highlights was the entryway into the master bedroom. We made pony walls that allows light to flood the stairwell during the day, and the room to open up for John’s office. Once finished, it will be an elegant preface to the master bedroom’s soaring ceiling.

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Wednesday morning found us quickly moving the Airstream out of the way for the delivery of our trusses. The crane hoisted up ten scissor trusses that the guys quickly began moving into place. It was amazing how fast the truck was in and out of here, and how, now that the trusses were up, they gave visual shape to the entire house.

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We do continue having issues with the project manager, this time over windows. We’ve made several changes, most due to seeing how the house is looking, and changing sliders to casements. It seems a hardship for the project manager, but not the actual window company who, when asked, said they go through this all the time. It’s part of the process of building a brand new home out of an old home and trying to weave the two together.

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The guys who are doing the framing are doing great work still, asking us about changes, and showing us how to do things better. One of which are the dormers to the west that will now shed water better and provide more space and light in their respective rooms.

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Remodeling is not like you see on HGTV. Nowhere near it. There is great frustration, many, many decisions that can be overwhelming, mountains of dirt and dust and debris, and the constant shifting of priorities. However, the highlight of our days continue to be evenings on the Sky Deck. This week, the Super Moon fulfilled its journey last night coming up over the Cascades big and beautiful.