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Monday, September 29, 2008

two weekends of progress in a row?!

This weekend was eventful all around. On Friday, we went out to dinner with Don's family for some fantastic food at Roy's. Saturday, Don was supposed to go to a fraternity golf tournament and I planned to go downtown to the Baltimore Book Festival, but weather forced us to find other, more indoor plans. I had a draft to work on for work for most of the day, but we were able to steal some time to head out and go shopping, because Don starts his new job today and was in desperate need of some pants. Sunday was our work on the house day. Don's dad showed up bright and early -- 8 AM -- and the two of them got an astonishing amount of work done upstairs before they called it quits at around two. They removed the wall which separates the master bedroom and the master bathroom and replaced it with a header, which means that we can rebuild the wall a few inches over, giving us room for the shower in the master bath. Then they got started ripping up the floor in the master bedroom. They finished tearing up the floor in both the bedroom and the bathroom, and will move on to the master closet and the middle bedroom and parts of the landing next time.

From what I understand, the current plan -- such as it is -- is to tear up the floors all the way back to the chimney, in the middle of the house, and then go ahead and level the joists and put in a subfloor in that area (long-time readers will remember the process from when we did it on the main floor -- but never you fear, newcomers, the pictures they are a-coming anyway). Then we'll move our bedroom from its current spot in the back guest bedroom into the master, and the office from the dining room to the living room underneath the master, and the same process will apply to the back half of the house. And then the floor will be done.

That said, however, I have been promised that before they get too involved in the upstairs work, they'll finally install a new water line to the laundry room and slap down a temporary subfloor in there (we're not finishing the space for real until we renovate the kitchen), which will mean, glory of glories, that I can FINALLY buy a washer and dryer and do laundry in my own home. Hallelujah! Tentative plans have that work being done this upcoming weekend, although as usual there are no guarantees. That doesn't stop me from drooling over appliance websites all week, though.

Monday, September 22, 2008

one giant step forward

Last week was pretty eventful. On Thursday, in particular, we had a veritable swarm of people running around the house: the window guys were working on the glorious dining room bay window you can see in the foreground of the picture below (and which I am sitting in front of right now, having moved my little work table over in front of it so I can watch the squirrels chase each other around the tree in the side yard); the lawn guy was mowing and also giving us an estimate for some yard cleanup; our new ADB representative was here getting some papers signed and getting the grand tour; and the HVAC guy was here (finally) fixing the upstairs air conditioning. Whew! Everybody said hi to each other -- the lawn guy took a card from the window guys -- and everything got done in good time.

And now, here we are. The huge hurdle we've been waiting to get over for months and months is rather anticlimactically past (okay, maybe it's only anticlimactic to me -- everyone who's come into the house so far and seen the new windows acts pretty darn climactic), and we're finally ready to move forward. We've been waiting and waiting for the windows and the HVAC for so long that it's hard to transition back into the mindset of DIY; it's been contractors this and financing that for most of the year, and now it's finally back to Don and his dad, working on the weekends and getting things done.

The next big step -- and really, the last of the overwhelmingly huge projects -- is the upstairs floor. We're doing the same thing we did downstairs, if you can remember -- tearing up the original, sadly unsalvageable floors, sistering or installing new joists to create a level plane, and then installing a level plywood subfloor.

A new dumpster got delivered on Friday, ending my brief period of dumpster-free bliss (although, amusingly, the HVAC guy told us that he drove right past our house on Thursday, totally missing us because there wasn't a dumpster in the driveway). It's ready and waiting, and Don plans to start ripping up the floors upstairs while he's home this week. Other things that'll go into this hopefully last dumpster (sorry, Benjer): the drop ceiling in the front screen porch and the one in the kitchen; the mudroom, in its entirety; the old desk in the basement and the platform it's on; and the vast majority of the things Don's grandfather seems to have crammed under the basement stairs.

And that's it. From then on, it's all construction, all the time. Once the floors are done, the plumber will come and install the plumbing for the two upstairs bathrooms, while Don and his dad create a wiring diagram and pull wires and install outlets. Then, insulation and drywall and a practically finished house.

Please try not to place your bets too high on when it'll all get done.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

please buy some windows

I can't say enough about how fantastic our window people are. They're friendly, interested in our project, and most of all, they are both really good at what they do and totally communicative. Our windows are beautiful, well-built, and perfectly installed, and we've known exactly what was going on every step of the way. The installers have been able to rearrange their planned installation schedule according to some special requests from us, and have made sure that we know and are comfortable with every part of the process. They even let the cat sit in their tool bag. And here's the thing -- they're getting laid off tomorrow. The company doesn't have enough work to keep them on, because the current economic mess means nobody is buying windows these days. It really, really sucks.

So if you're local -- anywhere in the greater Baltimore area -- and you've been thinking about buying some windows, now would be a really great time to get it done. Call American Design and Build, tell them we sent you. They really, really want to keep their crews employed, and they'll do everything they can do get you a great price so that you can get your project done and they can keep their crews. (And yes, they do stuff besides windows -- they did our roof, too, and they also do siding, doors, and lots more.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

before and after

So yesterday, the front wall of the living room went from this:

To this:

It's all very exciting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

and then this happened

Every contractor should have one of these in his tool bag.

Monday, September 15, 2008

like a whole new house

This weekend marked another major change in our progress: we moved! The goal was to leave the office where it is (currently in the dining room) and clear out the living room (which was serving as our bedroom) so that the window guys could start the downstairs installation there. While we did manage to accomplish the goal, there was (as usual) a fairly major hitch in our plan. Originally, we were going to move the bedroom back upstairs, into what will become the guest bedroom. We'd leave the office downstairs, and keep the upstairs mostly clear except that one bedroom so that Don and his dad could rip up the floors up there. Well, we got most of the way through moving our racks of clothes and a dresser upstairs on Saturday when we realized that even though we'd turned the new air conditioning on up there it wasn't getting any cooler. Quite the opposite, actually. And if any of you are local, you know just how hot it was this weekend. I promptly got heatsick, of course (I thought we were done with that for the summer!), and we stopped moving and tried everything we could think of to make the air conditioning work. No such luck.

So now the bedroom is in the family room/library downstairs -- where, thank heavens, we had the foresight to have the window guys finish up the installation of two double-hung windows last week. The living room is clear, and they're in there sawing and banging as I type. Don got hold of the HVAC guy on the first try this morning, miraculously enough, and he has promised to come out to take a look either tomorrow or Wednesday. If he fixes it, we may move upstairs this weekend, although I have to confess that I like being downstairs better -- proximity to the only bathroom in the house right now gives this setup a whole lot of bonus points in my book.

In the meantime, we're enjoying the novelty of having two separate rooms to live in (how luxurious!). Don is home for the next two weeks before he starts his new job, and I work from home full-time now, so with both of us here all the time it's awfully nice to be able to put a wall in between us if we want to, even if it's just made of black plastic. Right now I'm working on a table in the bedroom, and he's at his desk in the office. And, of course, the window guys are in the living room. Pleasant company all around.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

speaks for itself

But I'll talk about it anyway. This is the new bay window in the guest room -- if you come stay with us, you'll get to check out the great view it provides of the yard. It's still missing its little hip roof -- the wee roof that attaches to the main roof and eliminates that weird gap at the top. The framework for the roofs for both bay windows -- the front one is in, too (check out this view of the front one from inside the room) -- is sitting upstairs in the middle bedroom. I'm assured it will go in today.

I had to go in to the office yesterday, so Don got to stay home and take pictures for once. He called me with hilarious updates throughout the day, like when the army of window guys were all standing around cussing while they tried to figure out how to get the bay windows upstairs. Later, they told him that this was literally the first time they had ever been unable to get a window up by means of the regular stairwell -- ours has a lot of narrow turns. Eventually the windows went up by means of ladders to the kitchen roof and a lot of sweating.

The upstairs windows plus two in the downstairs family room are all supposed to get done this week; over the weekend we'll move our bedroom back upstairs and the office into the family room so that next week, the remainder of the downstairs windows can be installed (including the dining room bay, which may be the biggest one they've ever installed). Talk about progress!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

the curse strikes again

The window guy called this morning -- he had some sort of unspecified emergency and won't be able to make it out today. But he promises that the windows in the family room AND both bay windows upstairs will be done tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Window guys are here. Right now. Installing windows!!