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

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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.

Five Weeks Down – Fireworks Edition

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While a short week, this was an eventful one in which we saw the raising of the top floor so we could see how the master bedroom, our offices and the bathroom will take shape.

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Monday, the rest of the main floor exterior walls were finished, and the beginning of work on the upstairs. John returned home to a lot of changes and was amazed at the work that had been done in the week he’d been gone. It was fun to see the excitement he had for the house.

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Our framers, Ivan and Leo, worked in the blazing sun on Tuesday, our hottest day yet here in Seattle, and built two walls that were raised first thing Wednesday morning. It’s interesting to see how they are melding the very old frame with the new, and making the house very strong to withstand a new roof that is being built.

Working with the contractor proved stressful this week, particularly for John. As project management goes, there has been very little of it to be seen given we are on the property almost all the time. Luckily, Ivan, the lead framer, is very detailed, asks questions of us, and works diligently to make sure that things are done right.

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We spent a lot of time looking at cabinets and picking out countertops only to read incredibly negative reviews of the cabinet companies we’ve visited so far. It’s kind of a bummer. So we’re back at square one on that front.

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We also found some tile we like and are excited that our neighbor, Steve Branca, has agreed to do it. He’s a master craftsman and was my direct neighbor for 10 years.

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For me, I’m totally clueless about some things and was happy for John’s return to figure out the leak we had in the Airstream within five minutes. We also rolled out the awning so the Airstream would stay cooler for Buster when we were out scouting cabinets and such. It’s worked beautifully and has added a lot of shade to our camp/home site.

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Today, the Fourth, we woke to have coffee on the Sky Deck with Buster. We’ve set up some makeshift barriers so that we felt better about Buster’s curiosity. We also spent a few hours cleaning the house’s floors with the shop vac to mitigate the dust and debris. We were disheartened to hear from our neighbor just down the hill that the company she hired for their remodel cleaned up every single day after work. That’s not the case here.

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I’m constantly amazed at how many people tell us that doing a remodel greatly tests a relationship. John and I have been at this for nearly a year now and are stronger for it, even much closer. We work through our choices and disagreements easily and with care, oftentimes coming to quick agreements on almost everything. So we wonder every time we hear this statement if maybe other people’s relationships need a little nourishment from a remodel.

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We are both very excited to be seeing our home take shape. Happy 4th of July everyone!

Four Weeks Down

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I’m sitting on the bed in the Airstream writing this recap of our remodeling project. Buster has taken over the dinette for his bed and it’s too much work to undo it every day, so we leave it down for him. Of course, he’s laying on our bed while I write.

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Week four was particularly eventful. The roof was removed along with the east room. The East Room will be rebuilt pretty much from the ground up given that it is now supporting a walkable roof we call The Sky Deck. Which brings up last weekend when we inaugurated the deck with two evenings of cocktails, friends and neighbors.

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The weather was truly amazing, and then our brand new neighbor, Grant, brought over a Steelhead Salmon fillet cooked on a cedar plank. It was extremely thoughtful and brought good karma to what, we think, will be a well-used deck.

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Wednesday night, the sky was extraordinary. Amazing colors, clear air and light delineated the mountains and lake.

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As the week progressed, the East Room took shape and the foundation wall was made and the plumbing restored from the basement. Ivan and Leo continue to do great work on the framing, and it’s great to watch their progress.

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Buster has proven to be a great site dog, curious about all things, but when he gets tired he takes himself to the Airstream for a nap. I think he misses John as I do. He likes having us both around so he can alternately entertain himself with either of us. John has been in Florida where the heat has been oppressive, but he’s enjoying the humidity, he said. We started the week finding out that a new grand baby is on the way in January 2015. We are both excited for his son and daughter-in-law, and baby Connor as well. 2015 will turn out to be a great year.

Thursday night brought rain for the first time to the open ceilings and concern for the floors kept me awake. Indeed, pools of water formed where the roof leaked since the covering had been removed. The sky opened up again throughout the day today, but now it’s sunny and bright, wind whipping the tarp around and roughing up the lake.

I’m missing my friends in Bennington this weekend where they are celebrating 20 years of the MFA Writing Program. I graduated in 2002 and it is still in top form.

This weekend might see us out on deck again depending on the weather. It’s supposed to rain, but it might be nice to just sit out there with a glass of wine and a good book thinking about the future.