Wednesday, December 31, 2003

End of a Year

Well, it’s the last day of the year. And, what a year it was. We discovered that the basement leaks, we had the most amazing display of tulips, America invaded Iraq, we hired an architect, we hired a builder, we lost a roof and gained a second story (though still incomplete). It was hot, it rained, it snowed.

Delays, delays, and more delays. The latest is the mysterious disappearance of our windows order. Not sure who lost it, the rep or the factory, but the bottom line is that the windows are on reorder and won’t be in until at least mid February. But, one thing, we decided to add two more windows, which will be (should be…) included in the order. The original plans call for a flat ceiling over the stairs in the sunroom stairs, but we decided that it should be vaulted to match the rest of the upstairs. This left us with a blank south-facing wall that seemed perfect for 2 more windows. They will be fixed-framed triangles flanking the center support column. A room that is already bright and sunny will be that much more bright and sunny!

Speaking of stairs, yesterday they knocked out the ceiling and most of the walls surrounding what will be the main stairway. Wow, what a mess! Fortunately, they shrouded the area pretty well and there is hardly any dust in the house. It’s amazing to stand at what will be the bottom of the stairs and look strait up at the massive center beam. It must be 20 feet up! Of course, in the end, that beam won’t be visible from the bottom of the stairs because the west side won’t be vaulted because of the ductwork. But, it’s still impressive to look at now.

Speaking of ductwork! So far the biggest disappointment is the amount of ductwork that is now in the existing bedroom. Geez! Not what I expected. If I had known during the planning phase that this design would require a huge chunk of ducts running up one wall and across the ceiling, I would have demanded another design. It looks awful and will still be very intrusive to the room even after they are covered up. Really disappointing. But, there didn’t seem to be an alternative once it came time to put the ducts in. Our hope was to make this room the library and guest room. The next design challenge will be integrating the new book shelves, the restored window, and this intrusive ductwork into a room that can still sleep a couple of guests. Gah!

Next up is the demo work in the kitchen. Sigh. We moved everything out of the south wall cabinets last night. This could get ugly. They need to make room for the fridge, which will be moved from the northeast corner to the south wall. But, to do this they must remove the broom closet and some base and above counter cabinets. They must also move the dishwasher. They’ve been vague non-committal about getting the dishwasher operational. It looks like we’ll be hand washing our dishes for awhile.

I still need to decide where to put all of the light fixtures. I decided early on that I didn’t want to just go with the architect’s choice of lighting. He picked mostly recessed ceiling lights, which would look great, but not really match my vision of making the addition look older. I decided what I really want is wall sconces, but I don’t really know how many or where to place them. So, I’m just going to guess and hope for the best. The architect did volunteer to review my plan for adequate light coverage and I will likely take him up on it. I’ve gone back in forth between putting a bunch of sconces everywhere for really bright light, to just a few for more of an accented lighting look. Still not sure, but right now I’m leaning towards the ‘more light’ plan, mainly because that seems to make Jenn happier. When possible, I plan to group them in pairs. For example, the master bedroom will have two sconces on the north wall and 2 more on the south wall. The master bathtub will have one on each end. However, this doesn’t work as neatly in the 2nd bedroom. We can put 2 on the north wall, but if we put 2 on the south wall, one will be blocked by the door. So, I’m thinking the solution will be to still put 2 on the north wall, but only 1 on the south wall and 1 on the west wall. Hopefully I won’t think this was all incredibly stupid 10 years from now.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Neighorhood Meeting

Wow, things are really starting to move now. The week of November 17 we finally got our new roof shingled. Last week they started framing the upstairs. And then this week we got our new furnace, the chimney extension, and they started installing the new plumbing. We also got to attend a curious neighborhood meeting.

The new roof looks great. It’s a 40 year composite shingle, brown and tan with a vaguely 3d look to it. Although we were promised a large crew that could do the whole job in 1 day, just two guys showed up. Neither spoke much English and I think they were pretty new to the area since they were completely unprepared for the cold rain. Imagine they were in Portland and didn’t know about the cold November rain! They had to stop early on the 2nd day to go buy some decent rain gear. But, they both worked full days and seem to have done a good job. The roof looks great.

The new chimney blends in nicely, although I haven’t had a very good look at it yet. The two chimney guys seemed pretty young, listened to country music, and have American flags printed on their business cards. I took some pictures of them while they had the scaffolding up. I forgot to ask when it was OK to start a fire in the fireplace. I will probably wait another week. I still want to add a fireplace stove insert at some point, maybe next year.

The new furnace is pretty amazing. After going one evening without any heat, the new furnace is really great. I was surprised by how much force the air moves now. When the furnace is in full stage mode, it’s almost like having a little tropical storm in the house. I think this will diminish some when we have the 2nd floor and the basement all hooked up. It’s what they call a multi-stage furnace and the speed and temperature of the air are constantly being adjusted while the system is running. It’s also supposed to have a continuous flow mode, which I’m told is barely perceptible, so I can’t yet confirm if (or when) it is on. I’m hoping this continuous air flow helps keep the house cool this summer. I’m going to meet with the furnace guy again on Wednesday and talk about some of these issues. Also, it’s a 90+ fuel efficient furnace and it is suppose to be electrically efficient, so it will be interesting to see what my gas and electricity bill are like this winter. In addition to getting the modulating feature, I got both a ‘media’ air filter and an electronic allergen filtration system. Basically I went all out and, including the extended factory warrantee (for a total of 10years), the whole thing cost me $5400 (before rebates and tax credits). I hope I get my money’s worth.

Now that most of the framing is in, it’s a lot easier to see what the floor plan looks like in person. I think it’s going to be excellent. Although I still wish we could have squeezed a 3rd bedroom in up there I think the extra space that we enjoy will be great.

So, they still haven’t cut the hole for the main stairs, framed the sun room, or moved any of the walls on the first floor. Aside from the plumbing and electrical, those are the main things that remain. Now I need to get busy and buy the jetted tub and the insulation, probably this weekend.

Oh yeah, that curious neighborhood meeting. We got a notice in the mail the other day inviting us to a meeting regarding ‘improvements’ to our street. The notice was a bit vague about what kind of improvements or why we were being contacted. We got to the meeting and found almost every single person on our street was there. The guy from the city talked for bit and it turned out that he got involved because someone living on the street had complained about the street’s condition. He explained the options including completely repaving, improving the drainage, and adding sidewalks. However, the total bill would run anywhere from $300,000 to $1,000,000, which could work out to nearly $40,000 per household. Naturally financing would be made available. So, we took a vote and all but one resident voted to keep the street exactly the way that it is (revealing who launched the initial complaint). Still I had wondered what it might take to improve the street and add side walks, etc., and now I know. The best part of the meeting though was getting to meet all of our neighbors. After the meeting about a dozen of us went to the local brewpub and chatted. It was really great to get to know each other.