Monday, October 29, 2007

The week of pink houses.

If anyone besides me has been reading the comments (and I love comments by the way...) you'll know that our friend Ramsey has been putting up fan fold insulation on his house. By the way, three cheers for Ramsey who took time out from his busy schedule of remodeling and being a professional (ie one that gets paid) musician to come and work on our project. He didn't just come for the fun stuff either, here's the only picture I can find of him...bagging old nasty blown in fiberglass insulation.

This was one of the only jobs that I got to do (carefully respirated of course) before I became too pregnant to help out, so I know from first hand experience how much it sucks! But you have never had a better shower than the one you take after a day of dealing with that stuff.

But we are not dwelling on things that have passed! We are looking towards the future, and the future is rosy indeed...or at least pink.

Because pink is the color that fan fold stuff comes in. Yes yes, we are also getting ready for siding.

First though we must have windows, which will start to be installed tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Plug it in baby...

Electricity, it's what makes the jobsite go round.

And while you are admiring our new electric meter, you can check out the lovely window wells. This is the side of the house where the new foundation wall went in, so as you can see everything is buried back in.

And the new mast, waiting to be hooked into the grid. (In response to Layne's comment about the number of masts on a ship, our one master is a sloop).

And this week is all about plumbing.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's a bird, it's a plane...

It's a house!!
Or at least it's starting to look like one.

I was sort of into the idea of an open air second floor, sleeping under the stars, cool breezes...but it was pointed out to me that we live in Michigan, which tends towards drizzle in the summer and slush in the winter. So a roof we have, as well as a porch, and as of yesterday afternoon, a new electrical service!!

I was going to go and take pictures of our spanky new fuse box, but I spent this morning at home waiting for the washing machine repair man...apparently our old clunker wasn't up to three loads a day. It's back and better than ever though, and the repair man didn't even have to unload the wet diapers in order to fix it. What a pro.

Petoh is acting more and more like a person every day, so it might be possible for me to make it up to the wireless coffee shop more's a goal anyway.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Downside up and Inside out....

There are always surprises when you are remodeling, nay rebuilding a house. Usually they aren't pleasant surprises. As you've no doubt noticed there isn't much of the "old" house that we feel worth saving, but one of the things that we were hoping to reuse was the foundation.

Surprise!! The north foundation wall just wasn't fixable, and even though we are well in to the second story, we had to go back to the bottom and replace it.
This is the wall that had the chimney on it. This is what the first story wall looked like behind the chimney:
You can see where the wood is rotted away? Well that water went right down in to the foundation as well. Plus this wall is only a few feet away from the neighbors house, and neither house has an adequate gutter system, so all that water just soaked into the ground. I didn't get to the site in time to take a before picture, but here's the trench and the big gaping hole waiting for the masons to come and wall it back up.
And here it is the next day after it's walled back up again:
Check out those swank glass block windows! In addition to the wall they squared up and enclosed the strange ledges around the outside walls.
If you have a good imagination you'll be able to see that the basement is actually going to be a very nice space, which is exciting since it used to be a scary dungeon full of mold and funk.

And another exciting development:

A truly historic moment, the last dumpster being hauled away!

We keep expecting a phone call to say that our trusses are here, but so far no word. We ordered them a couple of weeks ago, so they are overdue.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Untimely post...

All of these pictures were taken over a week ago, so these are rather out of date. My excuse?
Okay, that's a little unfair, actually he's a very sweet natured little guy. I've noticed that there are some silly questions that new parents get asked everytime someone new meets the baby..."is he sleeping through the night?" No of course he's not, he's only a month old. "Is he a good baby?" Is there such a thing as a "bad" baby? He is like all babies, he is a perfect angel as long as you are doing exactly what he wants to be doing. This is usually eating.

The house is plugging along though, thanks to our crew of carpenters.

Here's the downstairs bedroom, the door is on an angle which will theoretically provide us with a little more space in the livingroom/diningroom area. All of the downstairs framing is in, even the staircase.
It's really starting to look like a house, at least on the first floor. As the space is taking shape we are having to do some serious thinking about our layout. The staircases are taking up a lot more space than they did on paper. There is a strange shelf, or ledge running around the outside walls in the basement, possibly because the basement started as a crawl space and was excavated to make space for a furnace and waterheater, and why dig more than you have to? The problem is that basement stairway has to run 12" in from the outside wall, so that's a lot of floorspace lost in order to make the headroom we need to pass code. So our "livingroom" has become more of a living "nook." We're thinking "cozy," and keeping our fingers crossed.

The upstairs is shaping up as well. I haven't been on sight for awhile, so I understand that the interior framing is well underway. The other complication with our stairway is that it's taking up more of our upstairs bathroom than we had planned on, so we're trying to figure out if we can still fit a bathtub, or if we are going to have to go with a shower.

The trusses are ordered for the roof, and we were thinking that they would be in this week, but they haven't arrived yet. Eli is using the extra time to work on the flat roof over the addition. There are some pretty rotten spots, after tearing off the asphalt it's surprising that it didn't leak more than it did.

And it leaked, boy did it leak. Flat roofs tend to do that after awhile, but Eli is a retired roofer so at least we know that it will be done right this time.

I'm going to try to be onsite (if Petoh cooperates, always a gamble) when they set the trusses, so look forward to that next week.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Movin' on up...

This is just a teaser post to show the progress that's been made since the last post. Look! A second story.

Now that we are actually getting some walls up (the first floor is basically framed in) we are having to make some decisions about our layout. It's amazing how different 3 feet looks on paper vs. real life.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A new addition.

I have no new house pictures to put up, because nothing has happened on the house for the last two weeks. Quite simply we have had other things on our minds.

Things like this:

Meet Petoskey "you can call me Petoh," the newest member of our family and crew. He's not that good with a hammer, except maybe to drool on, but we're keeping him anyway.

Eli was planning to take a week off to get me through the worst of the new mama days, although we weren't planning on my being in labor for almost a week (okay, 4 days...not really a week), but he's starting back to work tomorrow. I have to say that I'm a little anxious about being totally on my own with the new human, but the house we are staying in is only 10 blocks away from the job site so I can call him home pretty easily.

Once we get the whole sleeping, eating thing sorted out I think we'll be okay. I've heard that babies find the sound of the vacuum cleaner soothing, I wonder if the same is true of power saws.

Monday, August 6, 2007

New first floor...

Not first story, that's a little optimistic, just the floor. The part you walk on.
Last week it looked like this, the first floor was in the basement, and unless you wanted to practice your joist walking skills then you were best off elsewhere. Luckily we are blessed with a crew of superlative balancers, and now it looks like this:That divide is where the new first floor from the original part of the house meets the old floor from the addition. The new floor was framed with 2x12's and the old floor was framed with 2x6's, so this involved jacking the addition up 6 inches so that there's not a 6" drop between the two sections.

See the board running around the bottom of the house? That's the elevator board.

Rumor has it that now that the first story is in order (mostly, there's still some leveling going on) that we will start to frame the second story.

You can see some of the new framing here. The northwall had to be rebuilt because of the chimney, which was holding moisture against the wall, so the wood behind it was basically nonexistent (remember our upstairs closet with the skylight?). The odd corner sticking up on the left side of the picture is where the electrical service is attached, so we are working around it for the time being. I went down to the code office to get an electrical permit last week, so we will be installing a new mast soon (today? tomorrow?) so that the electrical can have a more secure place to hang out.

We also have new window openings cut in the foundation for the basement, and framed into the upstairs walls, so things are definitely coming together more than they are coming apart. This is quite an exciting turning point!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fresh wood.

The fact that I'm getting all excited about a few new floor joists might be evidence that I've got some sort of house rebuilding (can't really call it remodeling at this point) psychosis. But seriously, up until this point it's been all about things going in the dumpster(s we are up to 6 at this point), everyday less and less house.

And now things are being put into the house, it's like we're saying "we have faith in you little house." Isn't that pretty? I mean there are still big gaping holes in the walls, and the whole thing is supported on some spindly two by fours since we can't put in the real supports until we level the basement floor...but for now I'll take what I can get. It's so odd to see sunlight in my house, it's always been sort of cavernous and gloomy (I tried to have house plants, ha!). I guess taking off the roof is a guaranteed way to increase your natural light.

Meanwhile we have run into our first set of design challenges. The basement stairs are going to be a problem, because it has these odd concrete ledges.

This is pretty typical of Michigan basements, but it makes it impossible to run a stairway along the outside wall, since at about two feet from the ground you hit a concrete shelf. So instead we have to have a U shaped stairway into the basement, which will mean that we have to create headroom on the first floor for the turn....can we do?

Well we all know what Bob would say, and Eli's got some ideas, so stick with us and we'll see what happens.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Destruction happening so fast....

That's meant to be said is a Captain Kirk overacting sort of voice, but really, I can't keep up with those guys. Everyday I have less and less house, there are about 50 million pictures on Flickr, some of them with captions, and some of them waiting for captions, but if you want to see what a house looks like when it's been attacked with hideous vengeance, crowbars and demo saws, it's all there.But Bob's optimistic about the whole thing so I guess I am too.

Now some sayers of nay have raised the question "why didn't you just bulldoze it and start from scratch. Partially this is because we have to have it classified as a rebuild in order to play nice with the city. If it's new construction is falls into all sorts of other pitfalls, like the fact that our site is so small that a house doesn't really fit on it. But if it's a rebuild in the same foot print, then we don't have to reapply for all the variances etc. Partially it's a philosophy that Eli and I share. What can be saved should be saved, and in spite of all the nasty things I've said about my house, the leaky roofs, the shoddily installed windows, I actually really like my house and I'm sort of sentimental about it.

That being said, everyday I am told of more things that we thought we might be able to save, but turns out that we can't. Like today it was the first floor. We had been hoping to save the floor joists and "sister" them (that means nail another board to them) where needed for support. Turns out there's not enough worth sistering and they're all just coming out. But the outside walls are still okay to save, which adds a new level of complexity.

I don't know, what do you say Bob? Can we cut the floor out from under the walls and build a new floor and reattach the walls to it?

Apparently, yes we can. It's hard to tell from this photo, but look at the bottom of the wall, on the left side. See that yellowish stripey stuff that looks like clapboard siding? Well it is! It's the neighbors porch...through a foot wide hole cut in the bottom of the wall.

I only get nervous about this when Joe, he of the huge saw, stands inside the house and wobbles the wall by pushing on it from the inside. It's sort of like watching a play at a small community theater, where the sets are cheaply constructed. The villain sweeps in and slams the door , and the scenery sort of trembles. Up until this point I've been thrilled to show up and document everything with my leetle camera, but I am now officially nervous.

There is a silver lining though, because new building materials have begun to show up on site. This is so very exciting that I can almost forget about the fact that the whole south wall of my house is basically floating in mid air.

See, floor joists. New ones. Like from the store. Ready to become the new and improved first floor floor.

Now that's a beautiful thing.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A man and his saw...

So much has happened at the jobsite (we've stopped calling it a house, because it isn't one anymore) since the last time I posted.
The early part of last week was all about blown in fiberglass insulation. I spent Monday afternoon scooping it up with a dust pan and shoveling it into garbage bags. It was 95 degrees on Monday. When I took off my respirator sweat actually dripped out of it, but when I finally went home I got to take the nicest shower of my life. Since I was thoroughly done at that point, I was surprised when Eli said that he was still working when I called him around 8 o'clock. I stopped by the jobsite and this is what I saw:
That would be the porch...or rather what used to be the porch. Since we've owned the house we've been rather tentative about walking on the north half of it. Aside from the fact that it was visibly detached from the house, it was about 6 inches lower than the south side of the porch, and bounced noticeably underfoot. Now that we've gotten a closer look at it we've found that the whole thing was basically held up with two cinder blocks that had been shoved in behind the stairs...ah home improvement. Here's Josh with our house number...
We figured we'd have to start forwarding the mail, but our mail woman must have an adventuresome streak because the next day there was post in the mailbox.

And the destruction continues:

This is Joe. Joe comes with a saw.
I always thought that Joe's saw was a concrete saw, but it turns out that when you fit it with something called a "rescue blade" it becomes a demolition machine. A rescue blade is what the fire department would use to cut through the side of your house if you were trapped inside and couldn't get to a window or a door. Since we are erecting a new second story there didn't seem to be any point in tearing off the shingles. Instead Joe used the rescue blade to cut our roof into strips, straight through the deck boards and through the four (!!) layers of shingles, that's about 2" of asphalt. Once they got the system down they went through the whole roof in less than 3 hours...not counting the 3 hours it took to find someone who could sharpen the blade and get it back to us on the same day. By mid afternoon Isis and I were watching as the east wall came down.
Going, going, gone.

After that it's been all about filling up dumpsters. We will be getting our fourth one delivered tomorrow, and will need at least one more after that. Eli estimated 3 dumpsters for the whole job, so that will push our budget slightly, but it's worth it to see them haul away all of that debris.

Since the roof came off it's back to interior demolition. If you're impatient you can check out the flickr site, there's a permanent link on the sidebar that should take you right there. The best pictures are in the "demolition" set, of course. Otherwise I will update within the next couple of days and post some pictures of the inside....everything must go!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Destroy, destroy....

There's a whole lot of shakin' and bangin' and breakin' going on at our house. It's amazing how quickly things are coming down now that we're actually able to work on it. I have been taking lots of pictures, but unless you knew what the house looked like before the pictures probably all look the same, so instead of taking the time to upload them here, I'm going to put them all up on a Flickr (click on that link and it should take you there) page and anyone who's interested can go and look at the slide show.

Instead I'm going to tell my funny story about the windows.

About a year ago a couple moved in up the block from us, and Eli was chatting with them one day and found out that they actually used to live in our house. Not just that they used to live in our house, but that the guy's mother used to own it, and that he grew up there and that until about 12 years ago or so he and his wife lived there. And I said "Oh are their names Joe and Judy Smith?" (not their real names of course, but when I said it I said their real names), and Eli said "Yeah how did you know?"

Well the names Joe and Judy Smith (not really, but anyway) are sort of burned into my brain because about two months after I bought this house I got a letter from the bank saying that Joe and Judy Smith had defaulted on their Home Equity Loan and that because of this the Bank was going to foreclose on my house. I got this letter on the 3rd of July by the way, so everyone in the mortgage department was on vacation for the holiday, ditto everyone at my title company. When I did finally get to talk to real people about "what the heck is going on!?" they told me that Joe and Judy Smith had taken out a Home Equity Loan that was set up as a credit line, and that until recently they had continued to pay on it, even though they hadn't owned the house in over 5 years, there had actually been another owner in between them and me and (so says the genius at the title company) the lien had actually showed up in the title search, but because there hadn't been a problem with the previous owner they "assumed it was a mistake." Then when I asked them to send me a copy of my title insurance policy I was told that "it wasn't typed up yet." The closing was a month and a half previous to this, and I'm sure they weren't writing a special title insurance policy just for little ole' me, basically you just fill in the blanks and hit "print" right? Anyway, I was thoroughly P.O.ed with the title company.

The happy ending is that the title insurance payed the bank and I got to keep my house, but needless to say the names "Joe and Judy Smith" are etched into my brain and not in the "happy place" part of my brain either.

But I thought you said this was a story about windows?

Oh right, the windows. Since we've moved into the house we have been fighting against previous "improvements" done by previous owners. Like the overhead light that plugs into a wall socket, and the wall sockets that are partially obscured because when new flooring was installed they just put it over them instead of moving the electrical box. And the wall sockets that smoke when you plug things into them.
And the windows.
The windows are all different sizes, and they have been sort of shimmed in place into holes that are for the most part much larger than they are. It's not uncommon to install windows into holes that are larger than they are, but usually you would patch the drywall around them instead of just shoving dirty fiberglass insulation into them and leaving big open holes in the walls. Usually. And it would be nice if they were installed plumb and level so that when you wanted to close the window it actually sealed. That would be especially nice in the winter time when it's convenient to have closed windows instead of windows with inch wide gaps at the top where they don't shut properly.

Basically it would be nice to have windows which are not like this...This is the window that used to be in our bathroom, until our friend Ramsey pried it out of it's frame and threw it in the dumpster. I guess they must have run out of dirty fiberglass insulation, because this one has a wadded up towel in the gap in the top of the frame, and that black line running down next to the toilet? That's where the drywall has gotten mushy and flaked off because the window leaks so badly.

Here's the view from the outside:Now granted, one of the reasons that the window leaks so badly is because of the hole in the roof directly above it, which had a piece of sheet metal nailed over it up until recently...but a piece of sheet metal is not a roof repair, and a piece of unfinished particle board does not substitute for siding.

So here's the punch line to the whole story. While talking with Joe Smith about his former childhood home, Eli mentioned that we were about to start a major remodeling project. "Oh" says Joe Smith, "I'm pretty handy myself. I did a lot of improvements to that house while we were living there. I actually put in all the new windows."

I think it says a lot about Eli's character that he didn't a). laugh in his face, or b). punch him in the nose.

I was telling this story to a couple of friends last night and Eli mentioned that he's seen Joe Smith glaring at us whenever one of "his" windows goes into the dumpster. Sorry buddy, thems the breaks.

I wonder what Bob the Remodeling Mascot would have to say?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Pictures, pictures....

The internet and the laptop are friends again! I'm so excited! And I'm so behind on updating the blog, so here goes.
We are well into the destruction phase, it's got to get worse before it can get better, right? If you are terribly observant you might notice that some of these pictures were taken with Isis's digital camera, and some of them were taken with my crap cell phone camera, so if things seem a little blurry, it's not your eyes or your monitor.

This is our old bedroom, as seen through the wall from the landing at the top of the stairs.And this is Isis's room/My old studio, good-bye strange wooden paneling. It had a certain style I guess, but it also sort of made me feel like I was working in a hollow tree. It's gone now!Isis is helping as well, here's her contribution to the drywall removal portion of the project. Notice how she stores her hammers while they are not in use...what a pro.

Safety before fashion, although I look quite stunning in my flashy new respirator if I do say. And it makes me sound like Darth Vader, as a bonus.

This is the first official before and after picture, and an opportunity to introduce you to our renovation mascot. Bob is sitting in our kitchen cupboard. Bob has unflagging optimism and says "Can we fix it? Yes we can!" when you give him a squeeze. Sometimes we wonder about Bob, and whether he might need glasses at the very least. Here's the same corner after the cabinets came out...

But if you ask Bob he'll tell you loud and clear: "Can we fix it? Yes we can!" Okay Bob, we're with you all the way. Good-bye yellow paisley counter top! Hello strange green tile board. It's like an archaeological dig. We knew there were three layers of flooring in the kitchen, because we had to tear them out when we moved in so that we could lay a new floor, but who knew that there were at least that many incarnations of wall covering? There are wallpaper patterns back there that haven't been seen since the old homeowners bought the last roll off the sale table in 1932.

That's enough pictures for today, I don't want you to get spoiled. I do have a funny story about windows, though, that I will post as soon as I get another half an hour in front of the laptop...which is now happily online once more. In the meantime, think happy destructive thoughts in our direction. Once all the interior demo is complete it'll be time for the roof and the porch to come off, and then things will really get going.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


This is a quick and dirty post, because I realize that it's been over a month since I last updated the blog. The main reason for lack of updates is that I've been having trouble reconciling my laptop with the internet. They aren't speaking to each other at the moment, but I'm hoping it's one of those playground "you're not my friend anymore, until tomorrow," things.

It seems to me that the fun thing about a publishing a remodeling blog, is showing pictures of the remodeling? Right? Well no laptop means no pictures. We are moved out of the house, and staying with a friend for a few weeks before we move into Eli's Mom's house (she has moved north for a great new job and the natural wonderfulness of it all and her house is standing empty). This friend is a computer geek of the highest order and his system is made up of left over server parts from his internet company. It is impressive in it's density of blinking lights and it's tendency to make odd cheeps and beeps...but it contains nothing so prosaic as a USB port. So I have internet, and I have pictures, but I can not have both.

The big news is that we are out of the house, and the second big news is that the house is being reduced to a pile of drywall and paneling scraps. I bought a fancy new respirator at the Home Despot, which not only protects me from breathing 100 years worth of dust and mouse droppings, but gives me a certain apocalyptic chic.

Next post hopefully with lots and lots of pictures....hopefully.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

There she is...

I don't know why I've decided that our dumpster is a she...perhaps because someone graffiti tagged the side and it says "mom" on it. But here's what it looks like to have a dumpster in a driveway that's barely wide enough for it:

Eli went and talked to the slum lord, er, home owner next door and she gave us the go ahead to park the not so wee beasty in the drive way.

Now why isn't it full of porch? I must confess that we've been a little distracted around the old home stead of late. Something to do with an art fair.

Yes, it was my first "real" art fair, and although I felt like I was pretty ready for it, it turns out there was about a million last minute details to be attended to, including driving to Grand Rapids to buy display materials. Mom and Dad came into town to help with the heavy lifting, the 11th hour display modifications, the sitting in the booth so that I could take potty breaks and spy on the other vendors...all the really important stuff, and I'm pleased to say that the fair went well. I think I'm breaking some unwritten artist's code in saying so, it was actually a lot of fun. I am pretty excited about the next one, which will be in two weeks down in Detroit.

I do have a bundle of notes, things to do better next time sort of notes, that I need to go through, but since I just did a relatively successful show, I'm not especially concerned about getting every last one of them accomplished before June 8th. I am more concerned about getting the house project underway. Eli and Dad moved out most of the furniture on Saturday while Mom and I were schmoozing at the show, and we were going to move out the final load on Monday, but the breaks on Eli's truck (the Revenger...the Revenger is going to get it's own post some day, because it's a good little truck/van/box thingy and deserves it's moment in the sun) decided to go kapluoey and it spent Monday and Tuesday at the truck spa...uhm the repair shop.

Instead of feeding my frustration at the speed of progress I'm going to concentrate on the positive things. We are through the bureaucratic mess, and we have the dumpster and we only have one more load of things to get out of the house, so this space should be updated a lot more frequently starting soon! (the eternal optimist, yeah I know, hush).

And the picture for the day:

It takes a little exposition to explain what is messed up about this picture. See the switch box nailed to the inside of the window frame? That's the light switch for our overhead living room light. See the plug hanging out of the bottom of it and plugged into the wall? That's how the switch is powered. That's right, instead of wiring the switch into the rest of the house, they just decided that it should plug in. And the really messed up thing, is that there's that huge drywall patch between the window and the switch box by the door, so they obviously had the wall open at one point, and the switch for the porch light (by the door) is in a double box, so there's plenty of room for the other switch. I don't understand. The bolt cutter is just there for dramatic effect.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Still playing the waiting game...

The architect did actually call the next day, and we met with her again later that week to go over a few changes. Then there were some phone calls and then finally last Friday I came home to see this sitting on our living room/dining room table. Yes! Our house, all three levels plus a site plan, cross section and two elevation drawings! Hurrah! But it was Friday, and planning offices aren't open on the weekend so we weren't able to take them down and exchange them for a permit until Monday.

You can't just take your plans down to the planning office, lay them on the table and say "I'd like one of those magic yellow papers to hang in my window that mean that no one's going to show up and complain when I remove the second story of my house, please." It's just not that simple.

They really hold onto those little yellow papers, and they grumble a lot and make you agree to put smoke alarms in practically every room of your house. No problem planning office guy, we love smoke alarms. Then they look at your support beams and the grumble some more and say things like "We'll need the specs on these beams...grumble, grumble." and something about how our rafters were going to lose some of their raftering capabilities because the ceiling cut across them two thirds of the way up instead of at the bottom...blah blah, we need bigger rafters, which means we need a bigger ridge beam....etc. No problem planning office guy, you tell us what you want and we will be happy to oblige. "And we'll need to see the specs on these trusses for your porch roof." By this time I had gone out twice to put more money in the parking meter, and was bouncing up and down on the balls of my feet, repeating under my breath, "just give us the permit, just give us the permit." Which he finally did, after we passed him a big pile of cash.

If we have plans, and we have a permit, then what the heck are we waiting for?
We are waiting, for a dumpster.

We have a very narrow (32 feet wide? something like that) lot and a shared driveway. There are wires over our front yard that would make it hard to for a trailer to drop a dumpster there. Eli met with someone from the city this morning about getting a permit to park the dumpster in the street. The answer?

Not in your street, no way, no how, never.

Which is fine ultimately since it was sort of an expensive permit, but I have no idea where we are going to put this dumpster. The alternative would be hauling all the debris away from the site in trailers or something, but there is going to be a lot of debris...did I mention, the whole second story of our house? So that's not an option. We need a dumpster! We shall have a dumpster. We may not have a front yard, but we will have a dumpster!!

And here's a picture of something that will eventually go into that dumpster.

Wow that's awful looking in a photograph. That's the corner of one of our "closets" upstairs. Water runs down next to the chimney, and seeps into the wall. When we first moved in it was a moldy wet spot, and last summer it became a hole. Daylight should enter the house through windows, not through holes in the backs of closets. Part of the plan is to install a 90% efficiency furnace so that we can do away with the chimney so this problem won't come back. In to the dumpster with you moldy upstairs closet!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Patience...not my strongest virtue.

As I mentioned, this is a project that has been long in the planning, so when we finally decided to put pencil to graph paper and finalize our floor plan, we had very strong ideas about what we wanted. We decided to have the whole thing drawn up by a "real" architect though, so as to minimize our grief when we submit it at the planning office. She came over last Thursday, and (I'm so pleased) announced that there was "nothing" she would change about our plans. Yay!! It's so gratifying to get validation from professionals.

She took our home drawn plans, which were to scale and neatly labeled with all sorts of measurements, capped off with cute little arrows, just like I learned in Jr. High Drafting class, and said that she had "way more" information than she needed, and that she could have the plans back to us "very soon." This was Thursday. Now it's Monday. The first thing I said to Eli upon waking this morning was "Do you think we should call the architect?" He laughed.


So we continue the preparation phase of building remodeling.

When we first moved into the house I was sort of seduced by the idea that all this space (bigger than any apartment I'd ever rented) belonged to me, and I could therefore fill it with whatever I wanted. Eli does not have the garbage picking gene, but I think that even he went a little mad those first few years. When we decided to get serious about know, two years ago, the first thing we had to do was sort through our belongings and decide what was worth keeping and what we (okay, I) should never have picked up off of the neighbor's curbsides in the first place. Not surprisingly we found that much of the clutter in our house was actually (gasp) garbage.

And I thought we'd done a pretty tremendous job, so imagine my shock when I found that many of the treasured items that had managed to survive the first three or four cullings were actually very get ridable. In fact, the bulk of our remaining household goods fit into a stack of plastic storage totes that fit very nicely in one half of the living room. See?And actually that's sort of misleading because that garbage bag is full of old blankets that are waiting to be cut up to cushion the smaller and more delicate items.

The problem is, that even though we own no fine china, and that our book collection fits into two medium sized suitcases, several of the items which are left fall squarely into the awkward and difficult to store category. Take for instance the painting in the background of the picture. It's 8 feet tall, and a little over 6 feet wide. Not too heavy, but where the hell are we supposed to store it while we're tearing the house down? We thought about leaving it there, after all what could be more appropriate than a larger than life portrait of Kali the destroyer? Unfortunately I'm rather fond, and the probability of her surviving is slight. Luckily we have sympathetic friends with large basements.

Forgive the blurry picture.
When all was said and done the paintings, and boxes of sculptures made up the bulk of the items that were saved. Post renovation we are going to have a very minimal house, with few pieces of furniture, a bare minimum of dishes and kitchen equipment, but very full walls.
Our worldly possessions, in a friends basement, where they will stay until the house is ready to receive them. This is also rather misleading, since there's a washing machine, a large dresser and several foot lockers in this picture that belong to the basement, and the friend. I will probably try to claim the cut out of Einstein when we move it all back, but he's not ours either.

Reading over what I've just written, I have to in honesty confess that while the number of items mentally labeled "things to go in the house" is very small, the number of items which are mentally labeled "things to go to the studio since they are inherently creative and therefore worth saving" is growing by the minute. While we have donated and or hauled to the scrap yard many items of furniture that are no longer useful to us, I actually had to buy two more sets of library shelves for the studio to accommodate yarn, unspun wool, spinning wheels, and countless other items that got transferred over from the house. So I guess I'm not quite as virtuous as I thought. My inner child is saying "Yeah, but Eli's got the garage crammed full of tools and stuff. That's like my tools and stuff. yeah."

But the important thing is that the house is practically empty, and the weather is finally cooperating.

I was planning a post detailing all of the really awful parts of our house, but when I started thinking of what should go in it, I decided that seeing them all together would be too shocking, so instead I'm going to include them randomly at the end of regular posts. This is the stairway to our basement.


I wonder if tomorrow will be too soon to call the architect?