Saturday, September 30, 2006

Construction has begun!

I've been remiss on posting, but it's been so busy at work I've had no energy. You can find a bunch of pictures from September 23, September 25 and September 28 on my website.

In the last week construction finally began. We had to write our first big check (gulp) to our contractor on Wednesday. As of today, the house is completely dismantled except for the stairs and the roof. They're leaving the stairs in as long as possible so they have an easy way to work on the first (top) floor of the house. The deck has been cut back for the foundation, and the concrete slab on the bottom floor has been cut for the piers. The new bathroom plumbing has been installed (the line to the sewer, etc.).

Because the downstairs plans were initially drawn from the plans that were used to build the house, once they exposed all the walls it was apparent that some of the measurements were not quite right. The concrete pillar that supports the fireplace upstairs is in the way, so the bathroom gets a little bit shorter. (But I figure, it saves us a little money because we'll have to use less tile! Perhaps the guests won't stay quite as long as they did before.)

They removed the cabinets and hood and the backsplash in the kitchen in preparation for exposing the kitchen wall. I sure wish we had the money to redo the cabinets, as they are looking a little bit dated. They moved the stove into the garage and put all the drawers on the counters. This weekend we have to go move all the stuff in the drawers to our new house so it won't get super dusty during the remodel. That being said, they have covered everything with plastic and continue to do an excellent job of keeping the construction site clean.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Where are those darned pictures?

You're probably wondering why no pix in the past week or so? I just returned from a short (work) trip to Stockholm. Kurt's been taking pictures, but I have had no time to blog.

The house is now almost completely dismantled. All but the plate glass windows are now gone. The fireplace has been destroyed (hurrah!), and most of the drywall and insulation is completely gone. Basically we are left with a shell of a house.

The contracting crew is doing a great job of keeping everything neat. They pile all the stuff up on the driveway according to type of material (wood, metal, insulation, etc.), and then cart it all off when they have enough to get rid of. Fortunately, they also carted off all the crap we took out of our house, saving us a dump run or two.

We are awaiting the arrival of the post hole digger (or whatever the heck you call it) to start digging the piers for the foundation. I think actual construction should start this week.

Some newish pics can be found on my website.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Finally all moved out of the old house (sorta)

We went to the house this evening and moved all the remaining stuff out of the rooms that are going away. We still have to clean off the counters in the kitchen, but that will need to wait until another day. Getting rid of stuff and moving is really exhausting work!

Although they're still ripping off stucco from the outside, we noticed that today they have ripped out drywall from the downstairs ceiling. So I think major destruction is about to begin!

Tomorrow they are going to rip the windows off the house and barricade the bedroom wing with plywood (so no one can get in while the walls are off.

In the meantime, I leave for Sweden on Thursday, but don't have the right clothing at the scraper. Tomorrow we have to go to the house so I can get some clothes to take with me. And maybe a suitcase to put them in. Fortunately, we have an alternate front door in the bedroom to use during the remodel. Our own private apartment with no electricity or gas.

I will post pictures tomorrow, once I'm all packed and ready to go on my trip!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Peeling off the walls

The stucco destruction continues. They made much more progress today. I suspect as soon as they've done everything they're going to do to the upstairs outside, they'll then rip up the deck. As I mentioned in my last post, my theory is that they're doing a lot of work to the outside work now while they have the deck in place, because it will be easier to work from the deck than to work from scaffolding. Once they've done that they'll take the deck off and will start the foundation.

Which brings me to... building permit. We have our demolition permit, but we don't yet have our building permit. I think we're supposed to have it today or Tuesday, but to be honest, I'm not really sure! They can continue to take structures down, but they can't actually start to put anything up until they get the building permit. We've already paid money to the city school districts based on the amount of space we're adding. We now have to pay I-don't-know-how-much based on the value of the construction. Everything seems to be based on an increment over whatever else you're already paying, so as your construction costs go up (because of regulations that the city puts in place), so do your costs for the building permits. It seems like there's a bit of a conflict of interest at work here, doesn't it? All I know is that at certain points it feels like everyone's got their hand in your pocket.

Tonight I walked from the old house to the scraper. I walked down our really steep hill, and up the adjacent very steep hill to get over to the cross street to our temporary abode. It was quite a pleasant evening and quite a pleasant walk indeed! A lot longer by foot than by car, but still very pleasant. The dogs enjoyed the walk too. Maybe we'll walk over to the house from the scraper tomorrow morning, and then walk from there to downtown.

Breaking up is hard to do (apparently)

The big news on the remodeling site yesterday was the arrival of the portapotty! You know you've arrived when you have a portapotty in your front yard. We have ARRIVED!

If you were going to tear down your house completely, it would be easy. You'd just bring in a big wrecking ball or the claw of death and start hacking away at the structure. Heck, you could probably even dynamite it. A few hours or maybe a day and the house is gone!

Remodeling is a different story. Slow going because you want to preserve the basic structure of the house. Plus, you want to shield parts of the house from the elements, those parts which are not being remodeled. So the demolition goes a bit slowly as they peel the stucco from the parts of the house that are being remodeled.

I think what's happening is that they want to get all the stucco off the being-remodeled parts of the house now, while the 2nd-floor deck is still there. It will be a lot easier to do that from the deck than from scaffolding. Because they're not yet ready to expose the insides of the house, once the stucco is gone they board it back up (for protection). At least that's what I'm surmising. (I suppose I could just ask Mike... but it wouldn't be as much fun as guessing.) It's a very interesting process to watch!

Yesterday they made good progress, but there is still more stucco to go. Looking at the house from this angle and without the kiwi vine I'm struck at how incredibly ugly the stucco (and even the house) is. I think we're going to have to figure out how to put a siding on that doesn't look quite so ... dated ... without costing us a lot of extra money.