Finally. And Happy New Year

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Happy New Year, everyone.

I thought I’d post an end of year report on our home and where we are. I’m going to clear out the negative right off the bat so we can begin the year very positively.

No two ways about it, but living in your trailer in your own driveway for 5 1/2 months is tough. Summer wasn’t bad, but once the weather turned it was hard, dirty and claustrophobic. We need a bigger trailer – like a 27 foot Eddie Bauer for us and our big ole dog. But we did it – and we’re still together (that’s a major plus).

I’ve learned way more than I ever wanted to learn about project managing the construction process of remodeling a house. Alas, we hired Broadmore Builders to do that, and our project manager was the worst manager of anything I’ve ever come across enabled by the business’ owner who made all kinds of excuses for him. The project manager was inept, full of lies, talked bad about his workers and clients in front of other people, a hothead, and accusatory. All bad traits in a human being. We are glad to be done with Broadmore Builders for that. On the plus side, their workers, Juan, Ivan and Leo were fun to be around and we miss them – they did all the work. I just wish they were treated more fairly and better. They are immigrants and they receive no healthcare even though we were told they did.

The initial company we hired, Batt + Lear, who took us to the cleaners for a fair amount of money for nothing we could ever use, apparently does the same thing to other people. We’ve heard from other couples who’ve had the same, if not worse, experience with them – which tells us we weren’t crazy. I hope that this year, they will learn that their business model – that of screwing their customers – will force them to close.

Unfortunately, our experiences with these two companies put a real damper on the excitement and joy of creating a new space.

Now on to the positive to ring in 2015.

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We are living in a wonderful new home that our neighbors and friends are loving being in as much as we are. We’ve hosted family and friends for Thanksgiving and Christmas and everything has gone great. John loves the new kitchen and being able to cook and create in it. I’m loving it for being able to work and still talk to people and engage with our guests. It’s fantastic. A big shout-out to Joy Dolling at Abodian Cabinets here in the Rainier Valley for their fine work and good humor.

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The glass backsplash is finally complete and the kitchen now looks sleek and contemporary. We love it.

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The bathrooms are extremely well done thanks to our wonderful tiler, Steve Branca, who has been meticulous. We still have the upper shower to go, but that should be done soon.

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The finish work is nearly finished – we are waiting on framing for our deconstructed looking fireplace, but we’ve already picked out the tile we want to use and it will be great. Christopher Olson was the finish carpenter and did a great job on installing our cabinets, doing the window sills, baseboards and door casings.

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The trim painting, though initially we were really bummed to be kicked back out to the trailer for a week, was done by DK Professional Painting. Julio, the foreman, did a great job with his team in making all of the trim look evenly painted and beautiful. They also stained and lacquered the window sills throughout the house.

The floors are amazing. Working with four totally different floor materials, adding in new material and fixing bad stains throughout, Eurocraft floors had their hands full. But they did amazing work, and blended all of them together beautifully.

John and myself painted all of the colored walls, lacquered the doors and have installed a lot of hardware. We’re continuing to work on putting things together and we are just now having the cabinetry installed in the laundry/mud room.

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My favorite room is the bedroom. It is such a beautiful and restful space where the light and views are amazing, and it’s cozy and warm to read and sleep in. It just feels fantastic and we both love to hang out there.

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We are just now starting to enjoy the home – the stress of building it is wearing off for me, and the people coming over and staying with us are making it feel like a home. We still have much to do in the yard, basement and then, ultimately, the DADU (Backyard Cottage), but we can wait on that for a bit.

We have to give another shout out to our architect and friend, Katie Wells-Driscoll, who really helped us visualize the entirety of our property that, when complete, will be extraordinary and help us live here for many years to come. If you’d like her contact info, please give us a call.

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Today, the view is spectacular with snow on the mountains and hardly a cloud in the sky. It’s a bit brisk to sit outside, but we stand on the deck and just admire all we can see, and wonder at all we’ve accomplished in 2014.

There is much to look forward to in 2015 with a brand new grandchild named Carson who arrived on the 28th, our wedding in July and visits from all kinds of friends and family. In February, we are headed to Florida to see the grandchildren and John’s family and friends. My hope is to have a new job I love while John continues teaching music to K-4th graders in the Bellevue School District.

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We also hope to reconnect with our fellow ‘streamers in Oregon and elsewhere. Margaret is in the shop getting repairs done before our warranty wears off and then we’re off to places unknown. In the meantime, we’ve put her up on Airbnb.com if you or anyone wish to stay. Check out the link here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4461706

Our best to all of our friends and family, the readers of this blog, and anyone working on their homes in the coming year. May 2015 be one of the best years ever.

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.

Two Weeks Down

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The tear down is nearly complete. We are down to the studs and the fireplace was completely removed yesterday. The next step is fixing a good amount of dry rot that was under the stucco.

We were also able to get up on our future roof deck for the first time (with a summer cocktail, of course) and take in the amazing view we have of Lake Washington, the Cascades and the very top of Mt. Rainier. It is truly spectacular.

The Airstream is performing well. For the very first time since we’ve owned Margaret, we’ve turned on the TV with a cable hook-up, and although we don’t have our cable box, we are able to get a few regular stations digitally (CBS, ION and TeleMundo!) but are able to watch Netflix and Hulu Plus and HBOGo with Apple TV, which helps during the days of bad weather. Otherwise, we are out of the Airstream most of the time, greeting curious neighbors and giving tours of the carnage. Now we are in rebuild mode and it feels really good. We are working with some very good people in Broadmore Builders, though they think I’m a bit of a nudge and budget bully (which I am given the expense of the project). It is so good to be working with good people after a disastrous relationship with Batt + Lear who led us down some very bad paths and cost us a fortune for it.

John is getting along great and we had occasion to use the Airstream’s microwave for the first time to reheat his amazing Saucy Shrimp. He’s off to Florida to help his mom and see his kids and grandchild next week. I know he’ll enjoy being away from the chaos for a bit.

We do love being on site and seeing all the changes first-hand, and helping out where we can. I’m particularly enjoying helping out with demo as it reveals the bones of a very well built home, and offers opportunity to find things out about the house. There are many daily decisions to make.