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November 20, 2007


Today all the really scary problems with the house (that we know about) were solved with the big beam that went in under the joint between the lower living room and the back porch. There was so much rot that it appeared as if the house was holding itself up -- and the major engineering feats were replacing that beam and replacing the post on the end. Since the floor is now finished, the space looks like a real room and underneath is wonderfully dry storage. I was only thinking "thank goodness that I'll have a usable room out of this big financial burden." But, actually, I have a play room and a huge, dry storage area that is about 7 foot tall with concrete walls. One third of the floor is a slab of concrete and the part under the old pool has concrete runners with dirt in between -- looks like some drainage channels of dirt in between concrete -- I have a pile of gravel in the back yard that we'll put on the dirt, then black plastic to meet code. I suppose someday someone could pour a full slab if they wished, but it will be nice to have a clean, dry storage area under the house. Maybe I should rent out storage space as well as an apartment to pay for the remodel like my designer has suggested. View apartment with plenty of storage and a laundromat -- $1000 per month!

The more I look at the new room, I keep thinking wet bar! Once something is getting formed, it is fun to vision it finished -- and begin having dreams and ideas. That is especially fun since I have felt that the room was robbing me of a kitchen -- but now it begins to look like something I would have done had I the vision. Sort of like turning the half empty glass into the half full.

Of course there are lots of decisions to make -- flooring, heating, etc -- but I did order the cabinets for the basement bathroom today and the flooring for the bathroom last week. I'll paint after Thanksgiving and the bathroom should be finished by Christmas. Everyone will be traipsing downstairs to use the nicest bathroom in the house -- except for mine which is also unfinished at this point. No wonder I'm feeling a bit crazy -- everything in the house is torn up. And I haven't even begun to take things out of the rooms that will need to be vacated for future work.

I wonder if everyone has a touch of Bi-Polar activity when they remodel.

Posted by Marilyn at 3:23 PM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2007

Monday Morning

Another start to another week and the hammering begins at 8:00 sharp. Fortunately it is far away from my bedroom. These guys really work hard. They take no breaks until lunch and then begin again and work hard until its time to quit. Today they are putting the floor back into the basement (pool) room. After the floor, they have one more area to replace that is damaged -- putting in a new beam and replacing wood under the patio -- and then its on to building the two decks and finally getting into the upper (lower) living room. I can't believe how fast they are moving along and how generally amiable the weather has been. And, the skies are supposed to be clear all week. We still don't have a permit yet -- but nothing is covered up so the inspector should be able to see what had been done.

When Debbie went to apply for the permit, they found an old unfinished permit on the house. We installed a gas fireplace many years ago and also a new water heater -- the city said that we needed to strap the heater and when the inspector was ready to sign off on the heater and the fireplace, he complained because I didn't have the key to turn off the fireplace gas in plain sight -- he wanted it to hang on the front of the fireplace. Since it was in a drawer not three feet away, I thought that was ridiculous. He said he wouldn't sign off until I put a hook on the fireplace for the key -- so I never called him back. Therefore, that is now rolled into our permit for the rest of the house. I realized the other day that I was gaining more than a new play room -- also pretty decent storage underneath. And, most of it is cemented -- just not tall enough for an actual usable room. Perhaps someone would like to rent a storage unit.

My designer, Debbie, was featured in the Bellingham Business News -- I'll post her picture so you can see one reason why she is special (just one of many).


My New Room

Posted by Marilyn at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2007

A new Post!

Today a new post went up replacing one that was rotted that supports the upper floors -- The damaged one was the main reason for the cracks in the plaster around the patio door. As the structure gets built, my anxiety about the structural problems lessens -- I don't really want to spend my money doing this, but it sure feels good to get it done. The pool room floor is now out and they will be building a brand new floor so that they can attack the problems in the ceiling from one story rather than two. The guys took off this afternoon after the post was in -- I hope they weren't traumatized. It was probably the rain. By the way, the post is hard to detect in the photo - look for the wood that spans both floors! There are large beams to come.

My biggest problem with design is that I have difficulty visualizing something from plans. It just doesn't make sense to me spatially what the finish product will look like. I've been mulling over whether or not to close in the bottom floor with a wall and a door so that it could be used as a separate room with more privacy. I'm also not sure that we don't need a small window over the stairs -- but my builder says that we can get the stairs done and then I can decide. He doesn't seem fazed by my confusion. Once the stairs are in, I'll be able to visualize the area better and we can see if the upper windows provide enough light. I'm also wishy washy over the two windows on the upper floor that are going to open. I guess I can keep thinking about it until we order them.

Sometimes I awaken in the middle of the night -- am I anxious? I don't feel like I am, but I've had more sleepless nights since this project has begun. Maybe I'm in denial -- if so, reading usually puts me back to sleep again. Today I ordered the flooring and bought the paint for the basement bathroom where we are moving the washer and dryer. I have to order the vanity -- and I cringe every time I have to spend bits of money here and there because it seems like I am chipping away at the pot that will have to go as far as possible. That is probably what is keeping me awake. I wonder if I could write a best seller in a few months!

Basement and Subbasement

My New Post

Basement and Subbasement

Posted by Marilyn at 9:31 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2007

Boo Boo

I experienced my first remodeling problem -- someone cut my cable line. Tom knew that something had been cut, but we looked around to see what it was. We actually have so many old lines to the house, sometimes it is hard to know what is what. Unfortunately, I checked that the TV worked, but didn't realize that the cable TV did not -- because I had it on for a DVD. Silly, but there it is. So, Comcast came (after a few missed appointments that caused them to give me a free month) and fixed the problem -- just in time for me to see the fourth installment of The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard tonight. I didn't much care about missing anything else at the moment.

I went to Lummi for a few days and came back to the back of the house framed in -- looks nice. When it looks very different, I'll post a few more pictures. Some have asked about the project. I discovered lots of rot and problems with the back of the house when planning to cantilever a walkway around the upper part of the house for the purpose of washing windows without worrying that the window washer would get killed in a dramatic fall. This problem required an engineer and the need to fix the damage which, surprisingly, was not caused by an indoor pool but most likely by the poorly crafted windows and the original construction work -- as well as the fact that it faces the messiest, windiest side of the house.

The original walkway was just a prelude to the kitchen, but has turned into the prelude and main course!. I'm praying it doesn't also become dessert. It includes two floors, all new windows on the view, and two new decks. Expensive! But, I suppose I'll get a big playroom where the pool used to be. My designer wants me to rent it out to pay for the construction. If I'm not totally broke, I'll go on to the kitchen and little breakfast room where the back porch used to be (still is). I figure that I can always sell the house which is what I will do someday anyway. I would like to do the projects first and enjoy them for a few years.

While I'm doing the big stuff downstairs, I'm trying to do some smaller projects upstairs. So, I tiled my bathroom and had beadboard installed. Someone is coming tomorrow to put in the fixtures for me. Then, on to the other bathroom which needs some plumbing work. I hope to have all the bedrooms repainted and refreshed when the downstairs work is finished -- so the house will be in good shape. It is a mammoth job -- so I'll do what I can while I stay sane. If it gets too much, I'll sell. Seems simple -- but whatever I do will upgrade the house from what it is now.

Posted by Marilyn at 4:05 PM | Comments (1)

November 7, 2007

A Picture is Worth.....

Before Demolition

Off Goes the Siding

Lots of Rot

No Pool!!!

No Tenement Stairs!!!

Posted by Marilyn at 10:20 PM | Comments (2)

Windows Onto the Alley

This has been a week of thinking about windows. It is a pleasure working with such nice people. I met today with designer, Debbie, and contractor, Tom, to make final window decisions and check out the completed engineering report. Our plans have windows onto the alley that have transoms which I loved on the drawings-- but I became increasingly concerned about blocking my view with anything across the windows. Tom and I have been talking and talking about windows all week -- transoms vs awnings, ventilation, doors vs windows, double hung, picture windows, on and on and on. I had to make the decision long ago that the back of the house would be vinyl as much as I would like wood -- but the windows alone are costing a fortune -- and between windows and decks, the back of the house is eating up a good portion of my funding. So, vinyl it is --

It is a joy to work with such gentle and knowledgeable people. They have been infinitely patient with my need to brainstorm and think aloud. They have their own opinions, but are willing to weigh lots of possibilities and to keep up the dialogue until I make a final decision. Everytime a question comes up, off we go again into the weighing and measuring, thinking and wondering, until we sift through all the various consequences and just go for it. I didn't know that I could pay from $100 to $600 for a lock system for my pool room doors -- but do I really need a $600 lock? Why is that best? What can be done instead? How often will we access that door? Is one lock safer than the next? Less convenient to use?

I am getting an education into a completely foreign territory. I know that I haven't even begun to make decisions -- some will come fast and furiously. And, once made, I will live with the results. So far, I'm energized to dive into all this myriad of new and unfamiliar territory. I wonder how long it will last.

Posted by Marilyn at 4:55 PM | Comments (1)

November 6, 2007

Remodeling At Last!

Yesterday the remodel began in ernest. Two young carpenters came to begin to tear the back of the house apart. The tenement stairs are partially dismantled and siding is off much of the house. You can easily see the water damage -- even some holes here and there. Once I find how to post a picture, I'll have some up for perusal. There are days I wonder what in the hell I am doing -- I should be kicking back and enjoying my old age -- not taking on a project that takes a myriad of decisions and is truly invasive over a long period of time. But, I'm going to take one day at a time and see how it goes.

I always have loved watching new things emerge out of the materials on hand-- that is why I was a choral director. That is why I was a counselor. That is why I love being a mother. The new is always so exciting. It is a constant process of giving birth -- well, this is a big and expensive baby. And, it will take many months and much of my resources. I'll just have to see how it goes. Nevertheless, I am excited to begin.

Posted by Marilyn at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)