Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Where are those pictures?

We have been taking pictures, but really, there's not much to show over the past month since the foundation was poured. They've reframed a couple of outside walls that weren't true, and have finished all the preparation for the steel which should arrive any day now. The moment frame and other supports are being welded in the shop, and then will be carted over to the house where it will be craned in. Hopefully, we will get the steel either Friday or Monday, and then the framing should start going a lot quicker.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Scope creep, and then some -- new kitchen!

If you recall, I was bemoaning the sorry state of our old house construction. Well, it turns out that to make the living room floor level, they will need to have a stepup from the kitchen to the LR/DR, as they cannot get the floor height of the kitchen to match, without losing so much of the cabinetry that we lose the dishwasher. Keep in mind that we've already "lost" the trash compactor, something that I don't really care about. But the dishwasher I do...

So, we bit the bullet and decided that we will replace the kitchen, so that they can get everything to fit right. We hadn't really planned to do this at this stage, because, well, we don't have any money left. But we have a home equity line o' credit, so we'll have to dip into that to be able to afford it.

Fortunately, the timing was good, as I took this whole week off. And ironically, I had decided to go up to the design center in SF to look at kitchens for when we had the money to do it. So I had a headstart on trying to figure things out -- what started as a speculative exercise turned into a for-real one.

I visited about six kitchen places in two days. Two custom cabinetry makers, and two European kitchen makers have copies of our old kitchen plans and are going to give us a rough bid as to how much new cabinets will cost. I did also look at Bulthaup and Poggenpuhl (which I preferred), but they are going to turn out to be way too expensive for us to do. So right now the choices are between custom cabinetry and Varenna, by Poliform (an Italian company). I should get the bids in a week, and then we can decide.

We weren't planning to replace most of the appliances, however, it turns out that our ovens are 24 inches, which is now a nonstandard size. So we'll get new ovens. We can keep our cooktop, and we'll keep our Subzero refrigerator (saving us quite a bundle). The dishwasher is up for grabs... if we can reface it to match the cabinetry, we'll keep it, because it's still in good working condition. Otherwise, we'll replace it. We'll have to get new sinks and fixtures, as well as new counters. We'll also have to upgrade the light fixtures. As much as I'd like to replace the kitchen windows, we'll probably leave them as they are for now to save money.

Replacing the kitchen now, although a bit stressful financially, will be good in the long run, since we can get all the major construction over with at the same time, and since we'll now have a kitchen that matches the rest of the house. If we can get the kitchen spec'd out and ordered by the end of the year, it shouldn't impact the construction schedule much.

And so, the adventure continues!

Life Without Internet

We lost our DSL for three days in the scraper and our connection to the world. It's pathetic, really, how much we depend upon a connection to the Internet! You'd think it would have been a welcome relief. However, although I took all this week off, there was some actual work I had to do at a specific time on Thanksgiving. So we packed up the laptop and drove down to our local pizzeria to sponge off of their free wireless (the pizzeria was closed, but their wireless was still open). I sat in the car for thirty minutes doing my work, while Kurt took pictures and fetched us coffee from the one open place in town -- Starbuck's! So it wasn't all that bad.

We thought the problem with the DSL was the line to the house. But we didn't really investigate very hard at first. On Friday, Kurt went down to Fry's and bought a new modem, to make sure the modem wasn't the problem (ours old modem was the first generation DSL modem... six years old, so it was amazing it still worked). Still didn't work. So we plugged the modem into the test port on the phone junction box (outside the house), and that did work. So, for the third time, we relocated the DSL, this time to the master bedroom (the opposite side of the house).

We now have both the phone and the DSL plugged into the test port on the outside of the house, and wires strung into the windows. The joys of scraper living! The inside wiring off this place is so noisy, we have given up trying to get it to work for real, and hopefully this solution will work until we have to move out. Despite the fact that it's not our house, we really hate to have our landlord put any money into a place that's destined for destruction.

We had to relocate the office into the second bedroom, which was the room we'd originally planned to set up the office in. So Kurt had to set up the desk, which has been disassembled since we moved in here. As a result, it's starting to feel more like we live here than like we're just squatting. (I'm a bit fearful that this could portend having to move out sooner than later as Murphy's Law kicks in!)

The upside of all this is that the wireless and DSL work much better than they ever have, and I have good wireless in the parts of the house that I frequent. The old setup was at the opposite extremity of the house, and didn't reach well into the bedroom.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

To scrape or not to scrape, that is the question

We are still waiting for the steel to be fabricated and delivered. This is putting us _way_ behind schedule. Apparently the hold up was the wait for the structural engineer to get the revised plans to the steel fabricators. It's interesting... we tried to cut down on the cost by taking some steel out of a place that didn't need it. However, doing so, while saving a bunch of money, has increased the delay. My guess is the delays will wind up costing us money, so the net net won't be much savings. (I think if we'd had a contractor during the all important structural engineering phase, we'd have caught this much earlier and wouldn't have incurred the delays.)

When we met with our contractor this week he pointed out all the places where our house isn't true. The walls aren't quite at right angles, the boards don't run level, etc. I think in retrospect, we might have been better just dozing the part of the house we're remodeling. They've already had to reframe one of the exterior walls (which I don't think they'd been planning to do), and they're going to have to do something about the variation in the run of the floor. I found myself getting a bit depressed at the quality of the crackerbox we live in. There's no question it will be a better house when we're done; I just hope that the poor quality of the existing house doesn't compromise the end result.

Scraper hopping

Kurt's enjoying the nomadic lifestyle. Our eviction from the house we're living in is probably four months away at this point, and Kurt's thinking we'll just take up the life of scraper hopping. Once we get booted out of this place, we'll find another scraper to occupy and will live there until they're ready to tear it down. We'd be the last people to occupy many a house, laying house after house to rest. It certainly would be a good way to experience other neighborhoods, and would force you to pare your belongings down to the bare minimum. I'm solidly against this however. Moving is just too much work!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

In the queue for steel

The foundation's poured, and there's not much to do until the steel is ready to deliver. They've installed some bolts in the foundation with which to bolt the house to the foundation. They also took the drywall off the inside of our master bedroom wall in preparation for shoring up that wall (because of the structural work in the rest of the house). So now we just have to wait. Steel is supposed to arrive this week or next, and then construction on the new part of the house will really begin!