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.

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.

Margaret Has a New Home

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After several weeks of building through typhoon and rain squall delays, Margaret has a new home. You might remember that we did a driveway and walls at our last house in January of this year, and when we moved, we had a larger job to complete.

The fantastic people at Wall Systems NW once again did a great job on our retaining walls and driveway so we can fit both our Flying Cloud 23FB and our tow vehicle in together. Lots of earth was moved, and rock used to build the walls.

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Paul Benedict, the owner, was once again diligent, creative and smart about how to build what we needed and make it look really good. So, once again, thanks to Paul and his crew, Chuck, Richard and Kyle, for making our new home that much nicer.

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Buster loves to perch up on the walls so he can look out over the street and take in the view. John and I spent a Saturday planting our new planter with Japanese Maples and a Red Bud tree surrounded by grasses and tulip bulbs that will pop in the spring.

If you need retaining walls of any sort, we highly recommend Paul and Wall Systems, NW. Please get in touch with me and I’ll be happy to give you their number. Plus, they are super fun to work with.

We now have Margaret set for family and friends, and most likely us to live in for a few months as we get ready to renovate the house.