Suddenly a visible difference

Okay. It’s not sudden. It’s far from sudden. But it feels sudden, because the difference is so amazing. When we bought this house every single wall was paneled except for the bathrooms, and the inside of one closet. In between we had walls that we could look through for the longest time (standing in the dining room we could look through the guest room, through the master bedroom, and out the window on the north side of the house), now the walls are covered again but with sheetrock instead of paneling, and the outside walls actually have new insulation instead of 47-year-old stuff filled with dirt, dead bugs and mouse carcasses (ew). When I was at our house yesterday I walked in the door, and my brain exploded. It is looking SO good! We haven’t even painted the walls yet, and suddenly they’re fabulous.

I tried to find “before” pictures that were taken when I standing in about the same spot as I was yesterday. There’s still plenty of construction mess, but that part doesn’t count. Look, look, look, look! OMG.

Living room, before:

Now:

Kitchen, before:

Now:

Normally, I’m a “it’s wood, leave it there” sort of a person. But the 47 year old paneling didn’t look as good up close as it does in these photos. If time alone hadn’t been bad enough, the house was a rental for a decade or two, and there were a myriad of holes dotting the walls, many small, but some quite large (Dave enjoyed getting rid of the 70s era intercom system, but that left gaping maws in the paneling all over the house). Plus, see how the paneling that’s above the eight-foot mark stands out now? Before it was lost. Now it’s a feature. Be still my heart.

It’s been about a millions years… or feels like it, anyway

Our last post here was a catch-up post that I wrote in early October 2020, and the post didn’t even catch us up to the then current state of progress on our remodel. It’s been forever, and a lot has happened since then. Frankly, one of the things stopping me from updating the blog is pictures. Between us there are many hundreds of photographs to slog through. I’m not going to do it. The photo slogging. Not today, anyway. I’m apologizing up front for the limited number of photos. It’s come down to this: I need to either process all of those (expletive deleted) photographs, or I need to blog without (most of) them.

The other thing is how to organize all of the information and events, and get them all to you in a way that makes sense. I’ve been thinking about it, and I think that if I break things down by month that will be the easiest way to go. We have email messages and Facebook history that I can use for the order of things. Though written in October, my last post caught us up as far as early August last year, with most of the windows being installed, the replacement of the beams in the kitchen ceiling, and graveling the driveway. Next up: the rest of August. Oh, and though I was going to write entire paragraphs for all of this, get Dave to proof it, and any number of other things, I’m not going to. I’m going to leave it as a bullet list, and actually get this update out today! Here goes:

August 2020

  • North-facing kitchen window re-framed for larger glass
  • Window installed

September 2020

  • Removed remains of double sticky tape from lower bath walls
  • Dave continues to take the house apart

October 2020

  • Building starts in earnest: the new laundry room is framed in

November 2020

  • Removed wallpaper border from half bath
  • Copper pipe removed
  • Plumbing rough in done, except for a few things that they returned to do, and a number of things they never did
  • Inspector passes the plumbing… why?

December 2020

  • Electrical rough in starts December 9, and turns into a much larger job than originally planned, as the original wiring in parts of the house were so weirdly done, and so far away from code that it’s amazing the house didn’t burn down decades ago

January 2021

  • Electrical rough in passes inspection—hooray!
  • Maple tree near house removed, so very very sad, but it had to come out as a significant percentage of the trunk was hollow

February 2021

  • We realize that the plumbers didn’t do more things than we’d thought… like they missed plumbing the shower in the downstairs bathroom, and the ice maker in the kitchen has no water, and a large list of other things; if you’re local and want to know which plumber to avoid, we’ll be happy to tell you

March 2021

  • Heavy rain shows that the fix to the laundry room wall isn’t 100%
  • Network closet floor installed, and it’s gorgeous; that same floor will be installed throughout the house, except in bathrooms and laundry room

April 2021

  • Roll up garage door installed in barn
  • Fixed laundry room back wall leak problem but good; work done by Rock Solid Waterproofing

May 2021

  • Dave begins pulling network wiring throughout the house
  • Master bath linen closet delivery
  • Removed remaining insulation from entire house
  • Same guy who laid the floor in the network closet also fixed the two toilets that the journeyman plumber didn’t know how to deal with (there are no words for that original plumber that make him sound good)
  • New plumber found to fix original plumber’s mistakes, then he leaves for a three-week vacation so work is put off until mid June
  • Rose hedge falls over
  • Insulation hung upstairs

June 2021, so far

  • Insulation hung thought most of the downstairs
  • Insulation inspection passed for upstairs; downstairs pending
  • Finally finished painting the master bathroom; painting the half bath begins
  • Sheet rock going up!
  • Climbing rose put on trellis
  • Work cutting fallen roses back begins; this is going to take me a while (there are 17 bushes in the hedge!); the worst of the fallen have been cut back, and the remaining canes look great

And now you have read the list, and we are all caught up. Basically. I don’t even want to tell you when we think we might be able to move into our house, as I don’t want to jinx it. Stay tuned. I’ll leave you with this photo of Ansel. He is extremely good at being cute.

Catching up… again

Today I’m playing a little catch up. Again. Neither of us has touched this blog since May. I can’t believe it’s been that long! I’m not even going to try to get us caught up to current today, but I’ll get us a bit closer.

Before I get started, I’m going to answer this burning question that I’m sure is racing through your mind right now: No, we have not been able to move into our house yet. We celebrated the one year anniversary of buying our forever home on September 24, by drinking some lovely Prosecco at the rental house. Sigh.

Anyway, let’s talk about a couple things that have happened.

Windows

Back in November last year we ordered some windows for our house. I don’t know if you’ll recall, but the front windows in the living and dining rooms were a mess, all scratched up, one of two panes missing, wouldn’t open, or all three. These are the view windows across the front of the house, looking out across the balcony and to the stunning view beyond. We went all out for these four. We also ordered windows for my office, the kitchen, and the breakfast nook. Two of these projects, my some-day office and the breakfast nook, have to be postponed. We could certainly store all these windows for some unknown period of time. As it turns out, we were able to use the windows I’d ordered for my office downstairs. I’ll get more into that in a bit.

On window install day, I got to our house pretty much exactly when the window guys did. In fact, I followed them up the driveway. It was slow going. Their truck did not like the combined weight of the trailer with all the windows in it and our hill. We all made it, however. Right away they set up a spot on the driveway to work, and started unloading glass.

They started with the hardest-to-install windows first: the living and dining rooms. Naturally we begin by removing the old glass and frames.


Then put the new windows in. Ooh, they’re so very pretty! And they actually open. What a concept.





In their “spare” time, they also replaced the little window in the TV room. I’d originally ordered this little square window for the kitchen, to replace a fixed window over what will eventually be the coffee bar. However, we discovered that the square window wouldn’t fit, and ordered a window of the correct size for the kitchen. That left this square one to go somewhere else. Luckily, there are two other square windows of exactly the same size, one upstairs in the living room overlooking the barn, and one downstairs in the TV room. We are planning on eventually replacing the little window in the living room with a door to lead out to a deck we haven’t built yet. That means that the only place left for this one is the TV room. Okay. The TV room it is! I’m so very glad I had the forethought to match the size of this new window to those a couple of existing windows.

Silly girl

They replaced the living room, dining room, and TV room windows on Friday. They returned on Monday to finish up. On Monday this old thing that looked horrible was scratched all up, and was difficult to open…

was replaced by a new beauty that is the opposite in every regard.

The windows I ordered for my office were, once again, the same size as a number of windows that are already in the house. For symmetry. I don’t know about you, but having a bunch of windows leaning against walls and in the way seems like a recipe for disaster. Instead of saving these three windows for my some-day office, we used them to replace horrible original windows downstairs across the front of the house. Ta da!

The windows after the glass was removed
The new windows

We do still have one large window, and one sliding glass door that we have to store somewhere out of the way, but that’s only two windows, which is much better than storing a total of six of the things. Whew.

Driveway to the barn

We had originally planned on pretty much ignoring the driveway shooting off to the barn for some time. We were talking to the gravel guys about the gravel we’d need for under the propane tank (this is a different story, and not one I’m going into today). He couldn’t help but notice the disaster of our barn driveway. He happened to mention (cough) that having gravel work done costs less if you have multiple jobs done at one time; instead of doing one this year, and another next year, it’s far cheaper to do them all this year. We had the guy bid for just the gravel under the propane tank, and also to patch the scar in asphalt left from repairing the line to the septic tank from the house, and graveling that secondary driveway. In the end, we did the obvious thing, and saved ourselves some cash by spending more now, and getting all three projects done at one time. This is how it looked earlier in the day before the work started.


Inside the now empty carport

The day before all this work was to happen Dave and Grant, our guest from SoCal, moved everything out of the carport to behind the barn where it wouldn’t be in the way. I cannot tell you how glad I am that Grant was here at that time. Not only did he love to help do this, as well as a bunch of other things, but we had so much fun while he was here. Bonus: Grant got to see the gravel work done. The two of them took a bunch of videos on Gravel Day, but the editing that was supposed to happen to them hasn’t yet, so those videos are not included here. Not yet. Hopefully one day they will be.

Anyway… Dave went out to the house early, before Grant was fully mobile (he’s 18, so he sleeps a lot), so I took Grant over a tiny bit later. Turns out Grant and I arrived just in time to not be able to go up the driveway in the car. It was blocked by the big stuff getting staged down below. Grant gleefully walked the ¼ mile up the road, and I ran errands.

The heavy equipment arrives

Now we start clearing the driveway of pretty much everything.



This last driveway destruction picture shows them cutting a wider opening to this driveway. Dave’s intention was to make it wide enough that he could turn onto this secondary driveway when going between the house and barn. Well… turns out that my little car is the only one that can make this turn. We do have some extra gravel, though, and Dave hopes to use it at some point to widen this curve a little more.

Gravel delivery…




Spreading the gravel…

It still amazes me, after a lifetime of watching roadwork being done, how much can actually be accomplished in a single day. The finished driveway to the barn is a thing of beauty. Apparently, for now, you’re simply going to have to believe me. I don’t seem to have a photo of it all done! LOL Egads.

Beams

We’ve told so many people about the three beams in the kitchen that I don’t remember if we’ve written about it here or not. The ceiling over the living room, dining room (I almost typed “diving” room; wouldn’t that be fun!), and kitchen is vaulted. Like everything else, it’s covered with cedar, finished with big open beams that hide the seams. Gorgeous! It’s really lovely. The one thing about it, though, is that the way the house was built all of those beams start at the peak, and run to the outside walls… except for three of them in the kitchen. These final three beams, instead of being supported by the exterior studs, were held up by… egads. I can hardly say it. Well, here’s a picture. The three beams did not extend all the way to the exterior studs, but instead were supported by the soffit over the kitchen cupboards, which in turn was held up by the cupboards. Who thinks up these things? Why would you do this? Why was this considered to be a good idea? The mind reels.

Soffit and purlin
Closeup

We bought three 20-foot, kiln-dried beams. Dave cut a sample of the old stain off of one of the beams to be replaced. Grant and I took it over to Sherwin Williams, and had them match the color. They did an amazing job of it, too. I put several coats on all sides of all the beams before Beam Replacement Day. The contractor brought over a bit of portable scaffolding, took down the first beam, replaced it with the new one, and so on.




And ta da! They’re gorgeous. Don’t look too closely, as the old beams are all rough-cut timber, and the new ones are not, but other than that they look like they were always there. It’s so nice to not have to worry about one of them falling on my head.

Closing

There’s more, a lot more, but this is all I have for you today. The sun is coming around the corner of the house, and is now shining in the window, which means it’s time for me to quit my desk until tomorrow.

Catching up

It turns out that, what with one thing and another, we haven’t blogged for more than a month! We’re sorry. I’m here today to get us all caught up. I was originally going to create several short posts, each on a given subject, and release them on different days, but that seemed like too much work. I’ll do headings instead, so that you can skip something and go on to the next thing, if you’ve a mind to.

Coming back later (I’m about half done writing it) and reading this missive, I think that I should probably break it up to make for easier reading. I’m not going to, though. Hope to see you on the other end. Three cheers, if you make it through! LOL

The bears

After what felt like years, but wasn’t really, Dave finally found a source for the now elusive spar varnish, got some, got it to the house, and painted the bears with it. They’ve gotten two coats already. Now they’re waiting for more nice weather, so that they can get another coat or two.

One of the bears kept giggling, while Dave applied the varnish. He said it tickled.

The shelf paper

Though I desperately wanted to use up my 30-year-old shelf paper, it just wasn’t going to work out. Apparently, if you keep the stuff in a roll for 30 years without using it, the stuff complains. Not that I can blame it really. So I bought some new. I ordered it on Amazon, who has been getting way too much of our money, especially lately, but there you go. In the earlier days of the corona virus and everyone staying at home, contact paper was apparently deemed a necessity, and I got it in a couple of days. Meanwhile, the disinfectant wipes that I ordered on April 5 have been delayed even more. No biggie. There’s nothing else in this house that we can use to disinfect, well, anything, so that doesn’t matter at all, right? But I digress. Out with the 30-year-old shelf paper, and in with the new.

Yup. When the world sends lemons, paper with zebra stripes is lemonade! Just like the bears in the backyard, whenever I open a drawer or a cupboard that has been papered, I laugh. In the one photo you can see the new paper in a drawer, next to one of the blue sinks (really? blue?), while in the other photo you can see the flooring below the papered shelves. Anyone remember that exact flooring from my parents’ house? Yes, I grew up with this one, and can’t wait to get rid of it… again. Though wait I shall. Clashes beautifully with the zebras, doesn’t it? 🙂

The lower garage

The lower garage has been used as one of the staging areas. We originally shoved all the rolled up carpet that we tore from the floors, the paneling from the walls, and everything else we could think of into this garage. We’ve spent a good deal of time in there pulling nails out of everything from paneling to planks, sometimes making a bigger mess before we were through. Then suddenly—well, maybe not suddenly—the garage was empty!



It’s amazing how much we’re using the pickup now compared to…well, any time in the last 20+ years that we’ve had it!

The stairs

I think that from the very first time we saw this house we wondered why the staircase was enclosed on the one side. I mean, the garage is on one side of the stairs, so it’s obvious why that wall is there. It’s the other side. It was a short-ish hallway that was all dark and narrow and closed in. Like this, except this side of the wall was paneled, too:

You see what a dismal thing it was? But now? Now it is glorious! Well, now it’s awesome. It won’t be glorious until we have our flooring put on the stairs. In the meantime, this is how it looks from the entry, or looking down.

You won’t be able to see under the stairs when we’re done, but the wall used to start at the base of the stairs, and went all the way up to the floor of the story above. I’m getting all tangled. Hope you understand. It’s just so nice that it’s all open now. Hooray!

The hi-lift jack

Dave has pretty much always wanted to have a hi-lift jack. He never got one before, though, because he didn’t actually have a need for one. Now he does. He’s used it to great effect in the backyard, pulling out those old posts, the clothesline, all sorts of stuff.
 

The backyard is still a disaster, but nowhere near as bad of a disaster as before we started attacking it. The three rhododendrons back here have been freed from ivy and blackberries, so has the big old maple tree, and the garden where nothing grows any more (except blackberries and ivy). Now it looks like it has potential, where before it was just a big, old mess. Click on the photo below to see it better.

This part—see below—is “the garden.” It was almost completely covered with a mess of blackberries and ivy that was probably six or seven feet high. Most of the pathway was completely covered over. There was just a narrow bit along one edge where you could walk. You certainly couldn’t make it all the way to the tree! Now Dave’s there, holding up the tree, not in fear for his life or limb or anything else. Super cool.

The kitchen

We went over to the house the other day. I think it was on Saturday. We’d been collecting up a bunch of stuff for the house in the living room and entry where we’ve been living. Ansel was starting to get a bit weirded out, and we all thought it would be good for us to take those things over to our house where they might do some good. We filled up the truck, and headed over. A few minutes after we got there the truck was empty, and we were wandering around the house. Then we had lunch.

The next thing I knew I was putting zebra stripes on more shelves, and Dave started attacking the dishwasher. We had someone in line who wanted to take it off our hands. We knew it’d be a whole lot easier for someone to haul it away if it was already outside. That took some doing. The plumbing was all wonky, and instead of being plugged in the thing was wired into the wall (who does that?). Once that was done, managed to get the eating counter off of the back of the cupboard that had had the cook top in it.

Then he started wondering how the top counter top was attached to the cabinet. Dave can often be found pondering with a hammer in one hand.

The next thing I knew he’d gotten the thing off.

And then he got the cupboard up off the floor, and moved it over.

About this time the refrigerator got moved into the living room. Doesn’t everyone have a fridge in the living room? It’s so handy!

Then the cupboard that used to have the cook top in it also got moved into the living room. Dave asked if I could help manhandle it. I tried to budge one little corner. It laughed. I said no. We left for the day.

These next photos are some that Dave took yesterday, when I was at home buying more things for the new house. When he arrived the floor where the dishwasher had been was all wet. Now it’s leaking into a bucket. There’s another bucket installed where the “laundry room” sink used to be, too. He took that out yesterday, too.

Dave somehow managed to get that cupboard into the living room. It’s no wonder the man comes home with sore muscles so often!

The kitchen sink is out now, too. And all the lower cupboards. And the paneling on the walls. The only things really left are those two upper cupboards that are holding up the faux beams. Don’t get me started.



It’s spring

While all of this has been happening in and around the house spring has sprung. Everything is soooo green! Except for the flowers, of course. We now know that our rhododendrons are in an assortment of colors—a little thing that makes me dance with joy. There are two reds, two pinks, and a purple. They’re all glorious. Here’s one of the red ones:

The apple trees (two) bloomed their little hearts out.

Here’s one for scale. Dave’s 6’2″ tall, and looks like a tiny little guy in front of the barn… and the trees that soar behind it.

For those of you who are interested, there are more flower photos here.

I’ll leave you with a view shot, as a reward for making it all the way to the end.

Wow! That Really Opened Things Up

We removed some of the kitchen cupboards recently. Specifically, the cabinet in the laundry room area of the kitchen, the cupboards above the cook top, and the cupboards above the counter to the right of the sink.

It really opened up the whole upstairs.

Here is what it looked like before:

Kitchen

And now:

I can now see our spectacular view while standing at the cook top. I love it.

Of course there will be a big vent hood over the new cook top before we’re done, but still…

A Bit More Demolition

The last few days I’ve been doing more demolition.

I removed the ceiling trim and paneling from part of the soffit in the kitchen so that we can see how far up the new cabinets can go.

Those big purlins (beams), on the ceiling are apparently just for show. They stop at the walls and are attached with nothing more than home-made joist hangers.
Soffit and purlin

Having removed some of the ceiling trim I went ahead and finished removing the rest of it upstairs and down. The results aren’t much to look at but here’s the pile of trim.

The narrow boards at the left are the trim (the wider ones to the right are the board and batten that I removed from my office a while ago).

I also removed the shelves and shelf supports from the pantry.
Pantry before
Pantry after

 

And here’s an odd thing.

Yep. That’s a bare copper wire going across the corner of the pantry. On the opposite side of the wall to the right is a light switch. On the opposite side of the wall to the left is where the intercom master unit was. That wire is how they grounded the intercom system. Nice install guys. Not! 😕

I also finished removing all of the faux shutters, removed all five (yes, five), small satellite dishes, removed the (really ugly), medicine cabinet from the master bath, and finished removing all of the folding door hardware.