Sunday, February 25, 2007

Remodeling Objective #1 met: New Roof

The roofers finished putting the new roof on on Wednesday, just in time for the start of the rainy season! Wednesday morning they started shingling, and by the evening they were done. We have needed a new roof for 13 years, ever since we bought the house, but had been putting it off for this remodel. Now we finally have a new roof! This was one of Kurt's three objectives for the remodel, and the first objective to be completed. (His other two are: front door that doesn't stick, and waterproof downstairs. The front door will be the last to be completed most likely.)

Scaffolding has been erected outside the house to put in the windows. The windows should be installed this week, after which we'll have a completely watertight house.

The big gut-wrenching decision we had to make this week was: to put in motorized shades or not. Because we have steel everywhere, putting in motorized shades upstairs requires drilling holes in the steel in the upstairs moment frame for the wiring, and doing a home run from the wall where the switch would be to the moment frame (although I suppose we could do a wireless remote control). The problem is it adds several thousand dollars to the cost, so at this point, we decided to scrap it (although I wish we had the money to do it, as we could have programmed the shades to be down during the day when it's sunny). We'll get manual shades upstairs, and most likely they'll be up most of the time, except perhaps during the daytime in the summer.

I still have to finalize the faucets and sinks for the kitchen, and we have to finish designing the door to the office. I also need to approve all the electrical (now that we're putting in the Lutron GraphicEye lighting control system, some of the electrical has changed). The kitchen cabinets are scheduled to arrive mid-to-late May. I'm hoping we'll be able to move back into the house in early May.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

It'll be great ... when it's done!

Our motto for this remodel is now "It'll be great... when it's done!" I guess we don't have any patience. I have to say the excitement has worn off (maybe it did a while ago), and we're both anxious to fast forward to it being done. Remodeling stress is threefold: all the life-or-death decisions that have to be made quickly (what color should the roof shingles be? replace the gutters? fur the wall? etc.), the financial pressure related to all these decisions, and the pressure of living in a temporary residence wondering whether you're going to have to move again. I guess living in a temporary house is stressful all by itself... it's not really your home.

I know the move-in day will come sooner than we think, and we're very lucky to have found a reasonably-priced place close to our house, but I still can't wait to move back home! I think I miss our shower the most. And our kitchen. And of course, I miss the view. Kurt misses his piano the most. I miss our bed, however, Kurt does not. I miss all the storage in our master bedroom (and all the clothes and shoes I left behind). Coda really doesn't have an opinion on the matter, however. She's got her chair here in the scraper, and a nice varmint-filled view, so she's probably happier here at the scraper. But really, she's probably happy anywhere as long as we're all together!

New roof almost done!

Things are moving along! We've been blessed by great weather -- where else could you reroof your house in February? Well, Australia, maybe.

Last week they tore off the old roof shingles, and put plywood sheeting over the entire house (to replace the old skip sheeting). Unfortunately, one of the old boards was rotten and the roofer put his foot through the master bathroom ceiling. Fortunately he didn't hurt himself! (I was kind of hoping that he'd done it in the guest bathroom upstairs, which we don't care about, but unfortunately it was in our already-remodeled master bedroom. Our contractor assures us they'll be able to patch it and fix it as though nothing had happened. Maybe we'll get them to fix all the nail pops while they're in there!)

By Wednesday evening, they'd completely papered the entire roof, with the new shingles perched atop. Regulations require that the chimney be higher, so they're going to add some rebar and brick to extend the chimney before putting on the shingles. All the gutters have now been replaced, and don't they look nice?

Inside they've finished cutting and nailing all the shear walls, so the framing is now done. I think. They'll remove the shear walls (plywood) as needed to put in the electrical and any additional plumbing, then they'll nail them back up. The rough plumbing for both the kitchen and the downstairs bathroom is in, and we're working on getting a gas line strung out to the upstairs deck for a BBQ. Unfortunately, we can't do a wall-mounted outdoor heater, as there is not enough space to hang it. So we'll have to figure out some alternate plan.

Yesterday, we went to the house to find Ed, our foreman, working away, finishing all the final work necessary for the windows. The windows will get installed next week, and at that point, the house will be completely watertight and secure. Once the house is watertight, the HVAC folks and the electrical guys (the electrician plus the security system and home audio/video/server installers) will be able to install all their pieces. It's looking to me like they should be able to start the finish work in mid March at the rate things are going.

Meanwhile, back at the scraper, our water heater sprung a leak on Wednesday evening. Fortunately we were around when it happened so we could turn off the water to the heater. We've been trying to work around as many problems with this house as we can, since I hate to waste money (even other peoples' money), but it's impossible to work around a broken water heater. One needs hot water. Our landlord was able to locate a used water heater from another property and had it installed the next day, so we're all set for now. Based on our discussions, it looks like we're guaranteed to still be in this place until the beginning of May (at the earliest), so I'm quite relieved. I'm fairly certain I can convince the city to let us move back in at that point, even if there is still stuff to be done, which there will be. (Like the kitchen, for example.)

So... that brings us up to date! We are getting a big tax refund which will help defray some of the many many ever-increasing costs of this remodel.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Roof framing part deux

The roof is now completely framed above the great room, and mostly framed around the office. They've removed most of the scaffolding so you can really feel what the room is going to be like now. When they first took the old roof off, the room felt very big. When they started framing the roof and had all the scaffolding on, it didn't seem quite so big. But now that they have finished the framing and have removed most of the scaffolding, you can really get a sense of what the room is going to be like. And I think it's going to be the perfect size -- I've mapped out where all the furniture is going to go (although I'm not sure that Kurt and I completely agree on the location of the piano... but we have plenty of time to mentally move it from one end of the room to the other).

Our contractor says that we should be getting a new roof (shingles, I mean) very soon -- possibly this upcoming week. The windows are already here (but haven't been delivered yet), so presumably this means that within a week or two the house will be completely watertight! Kurt will have one of his three objectives met so everything is looking pretty good! We've been so lucky to have dry weather. I suspect like last year the rains will start soon, and if the weather is like last year, it will rain for quite a few days. So I'm very thankful that it's been so dry during this period of time.

Kitchen cabinets

We finally ordered the kitchen cabinets. But it was not without a considerable amount of stress -- possibly the most stressful part of this project. I don't recommend designing a kitchen in a short period of time. It would have been nice to give the process four to six months, rather than the two months it took.

Our architect did a gazillion iterations with the kitchen cabinet designer at the store. The problem with iterating on modular cabinets is that you're making decisions without understanding the total price implications. Even though the kitchen cabinet designer was pretty good about telling us relative pricing tradeoffs, the lack of transparency in the pricing made it a bit more stressful. When we got our final design, it turned out that the information we'd been given about the price differential between the two cabinet models we were deciding between was not exactly accurate. So the cabinets wound up costing quite a bit more than we'd anticipated. But, due to the circumstances surrounding the sale, the store gave us a big break on the price, and we ordered the cabinets. I did think for a moment of scrapping it all, but the thought of having to go through this again just gave me the willies!

Now that the cabinets are ordered, I feel at peace :) I know that they'll be really nice, and I don't have to worry about them any more until they arrive in May. We almost certainly will be moving back in without a kitchen, however. But that's also fine.

If you want to see the cabinets, you can go to and click on Poliform by Varenna, and in their collection, you can look at Matrix, Compasizione 3, which shows the style and the wood (but obviously, not the configuration, since that's kitchen dependent).

I now have to submit a permit application for the kitchen, as it wasn't part of the original plans. But since all the structural pieces (changes to the walls) were already submitted in the original permit, it should take a day to get the new permit.