Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The Shinto Temple

This has been an exciting week for sure. The beams went up last week and have turned the house into some kind of strange Shinto temple. The main beam towers over the house and will continue to look very strange until they connect the dormers and the rest of the roof to the house. The dormer walls are going up today. I saw the front dormer face go up this morning before I left for work. It looks great. It’s starting to look like a real house.

We did have one design issue get uncovered. Turns out that the dormer windows are too tall to fit between the dormer roof and the roof above the porches. So the builders and the architect got together and decided to raise the pitch of the dormer roof to make the dormer wall 4 inches higher. Problem solved.

The next morning, the builder tells me that the window sills, the bottom of the windows, will be 50 inches about the floor inside the house. That’s over 4 feet and would prevent much of a view while one was sitting. So, the architect and I met at the house at lunch time and we considered our options. We decided the best thing to do was to leave the front dormer alone, but drop the pitch of the porch roof under the back dormer windows. This will make the windows only 38 inches off the floor, which is just high enough to allow an adult to see out while sitting upright. This will cause an indentation in the roof, which will look kind of funny. But, I decided that I’d rather have that indentation, which will only be visible from the backyard, so that we can see the backyard from inside.

Something else I’ve been thinking about is the kitchen. It still bothers me a bit that the kitchen will remain so small. I had originally hoped to extend the kitchen towards the living room, but that area is needed for the stairs.

The real need is for more counter space. My thought was to compromise the path between the front door and the kitchen / basement to add more counter space. I would wall off the doorway between the stairs and the kitchen, which is currently where the fridge is, and force traffic to go into the old hallway, through the dining room, before getting to either the kitchen or the stairs to the basement. Not very good traffic flow. But, I would gain 13 feet of nearly uninterrupted countertop space, interrupted only by the stovetop.

This also addresses the issue of having two parallel hallways. Currently, after the remodel, there will still be the existing hallway between the bedroom and the dining room, but after the remodel there will be a new path between the living room and the kitchen. These two paths are only separated by a single wall. This seems like a huge waste of space. It would be nice to somehow combine the two paths into one and salvage that space for something more needed, like counter space.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Crane is Coming

Today, the crane comes to install the roof beams. There will be three huge horizontal beams that run the length of the main part of the house. The top beam is the longest and will be installed at the crest of the roof. The other two beams will be installed over the front and back porches, respectively, and work with the top beam to hold the roof up. These beams will work with seven external columns to hold all of the weight of the roof, so that the roof’s weight does not bear down on the original house. Only the new floor will bear weight on the original house walls and foundation. (This turns out to have been a misunderstanding on my part. These new support beams help carry some but not all of the weight of the new roof. Much of the weight of the dormer will remain on the old house. But, this is a sturdy house and the engineering report says the foundation can take the weight.)

I want to be there today to see the crane swinging the beams into place. It should be one of the most exciting phases of the project. I plan to take many pictures.

One bit of bad news is that after the roof was completely removed and the new sub floor was put into place, we started to have a lot of rain. Heavy rain. After all, it is Portland and it is October. Despite wrapping with tarps, the rain water got in. We woke up early one morning to the sound of loud dripping in the living room and discovered several leaks, pealing ceiling paint, and water all over the old oak floors. We put all sorts of buckets and Tupperware in place to hold the water. Later that day the contractors brought a new larger tarp and cleaned up all the water in the living room. Since the new tarp has been in place, we have not had any more problems, but the damage has been done. We are left with a terrible ceiling in the living room, slightly warped floors, and an additional stain in the bedroom ceiling. I guess it could have been worse. I can’t wait for the new roof!

Oh, I forgot to mention that the builders decided not to cut the hole for the stairway before the new roof is in place. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to have had all that heavy rain and had a giant hole in the ceiling. It probably would have been a whole lot worse!