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The 250 Day Plan May 25, 2007

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The first bit of installed flooringThey started installing the maple flooring! Started being the operative word, of course. I stopped by expecting to see some of the flooring installed upstairs and indeed got just what I expected. 10 sq ft. of it. Maybe 20. At most. So I did a little bit of mental gymnastics and can see us in the house in Feb ’08 if they keep going at that pace! Okay, so he probably caught the end of the day on Thursday and had only an hour on the job, including prep. Hopefully we’ll see the rest of the upstairs complete next week!

Our painters are coming back this afternoon and working a bit of the weekend as well to finish up the upstairs. You’re looking at the back bedroom in this photo with the attic stairs down in the hallway. The paint’s rough because the second trim coat was sprayed over the first wall coat. That’ll be cleaned up in the next few days.

Attic insulation (cellulose) was sprayed in today as well, so the insulation on the house is nearly complete.

Master shower tileThe real big news was a call from National Grid this afternoon – they’re planning on installing power on Tuesday!!! Thanks to our friend Steve for giving a nudge there and let’s hope it actually happens!

Ralph’s ordering slate & tile now (That’s the master shower tile in the photo) and we’re ready to have the fireplace in next week. Are we getting our occupancy in the next 5 weeks? You make the call (not you, Joe, you’re excluded from voting. ūüôā

Paint & Stuff! May 24, 2007

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Drying painted doorsThe painting crew worked their magic yesterday and we saw major progress upstairs.¬† The trim has two coats of paint on it, the doors are painted and drying, and the walls (for the most part) have their first coat complete as well! They’ll keep going and we’ll see most of the interior painting done by next week.

Heather and I stopped by to check in with the crew at 5pm, dropped by again at dusk to drop off slate samples, then made an early morning run to make our final decisions on the slate since we could see anything last night!¬†¬† We have different goals when it comes to the slate. Both of us want a very natural look and feel.¬† Heather’s more inclined to a tranquil Tally picks the slatewater-like look and I’d like to see a bit more interest.¬† With that in mind, we came up with a pretty simple compromise.¬† Heather gets her brushed grey slate in the hallways and laundry room.¬† I get the interest of the natural rust slate in the bathrooms.¬† We’ll wait ’til the fireplace is in, then decide which of the two to use for the hearth and fireplace surround.¬† In the photo, the brushed grey is on the left and the natural rust is on the right.¬† We decided not to use the green in the middle or the other 4 sample colors we got from Tileworks in Shrewsbury.

You can see Tally was a big help over the last few days!¬† (We were a touch anxious that she was going to knock the doors down like dominoes, but she’s a pretty careful dog!)¬† The final project was Backsplash tile selectionpicking out tile for the backsplash and we managed to take care of that as well.¬† We’ll use the 4 inch squares tiles and figure out the border or focus pattern soon.

More painting over the next few days and the hardwood’s about to start going in as well!¬† Now if National Grid would just GET US POWER we’d be all set.¬† 4 weeks since the town gave the approval and 4 months since they’ve been notified of the project!¬† Why are monopolies bad?¬† Arghggh!¬† The geothermal can’t be completed until the power’s in and they don’t want to come out just to finish the flue for the fireplace, but the fireplace can’t be delivered and installed until the flue’s done.¬† As you might imagine, we’re pretty upset at National Grid right now.¬† Don’t worry, we’ll get even, though.¬† We’ll try to use so little energy that they don’t recoup the cost of the wires and meter!¬† Hah!

You Need Cabinets? Hire These Guys! May 22, 2007

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Kitchen cabinetsOnce upon a time, in a condo far, far away, we dreamed up a plan for our house. We dreamed it’d be reasonably priced, completed quickly, and we’d get to meet all kinds of local craftspeople and learn lots of stuff.

Hmmmm.

Hire Gene’s Woodworking from Northbridge, MA. That’s about the strongest recommendation I can give to anyone. Don’t ask questions. Just hire them. Why? Great communication, great prices, great workmanship, ready ahead of schedule, customized without any problems, installed quickly, painlessly, and beautifully. We’re not giving out prices on much of this stuff ’cause, quite frankly, it’s not your business. But this one we’ll yell out from the rooftops. The reason is that Steve and his assistant Jeff (The company’s named after Steve’s father) built, delivered and installed the kitchen cabinetry, two bathroom vanities (4′ and 8′), and a custom bathroom pedestal for under $13K. We priced out Kraftmaid cabinetry earlier in the process and found it’d be over $11K and we wouldn’t get the craftsmanship, the custom pieces (12′ long curved bookcase?), or be able to use local craftsman. Can you tell we’re bloody happy about this stuff? It’s all screwed into place except for the bookcase. That’s going to set on top of the hardwood both for ease of flooring installation and to keep the rounded edge looking finished.

Master bedroom trimThings are moving pretty well in other areas as well. Mike, Marco and Miguel finished the upstairs trim this morning. The hardest part of that job was the trim around the master bedroom window, but it was all wrapped up by this afternoon. That means we’re all set for Tony and his crew to come in Wed. am to spray the trim and hopefully start on the interior walls.

Exterior paint samplingWe settled on the final paint color yesterday – that’s the exterior trim. Heather and I decided that the suede trim went well with our red exterior and still maintained a lot of the character we’re looking for. White and beige went with the red as well, but they didn’t seem to carry the arts and crafts spirit of the house.

Wild geraniumsThe coolest thing for me right now is the wildlife on site. There’s a barred owl hooting nearly every time I’m there. Some kind of thrush was calling today around 6pm and I saw an oriole on property yesterday. Today I got to see a pileated woodpecker in the trees 70 feet from the front of the house. I’d heard the call on site before, but this is the first time I’d seen one at the house!

The wildflowers are in full bloom around the property as well. Wild Geranium (photo) is everywhere, as is False Solomon’s Seal. There’s also a bunch of Lily in the Valley and even a cluster of Columbine up near the top of the driveway. We’ve found a couple of apple trees of some sort growing wild and know there’s plenty of wild raspberry, blueberry and grape on site as well. While we do have some noise that drifts over from our one close neighbor, for the most part the birds dominate the sounds on property.

Hopefully the next post will see progress on power, paint, hardwood and fireplace!

A Week of Nothing Makes the Heart Fonder May 19, 2007

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Well, it’s been a frustrating week.

Nothing happened.

On site, that is.¬† In reality, all the deliveries and subs were being lined up, the next orders placed, and a ton of calls made to National Grid who still hasn’t put our meter in place and turned on the juice!

Pile of maple flooring in the kitchenBut starting Thursday, things kicked back into high gear!¬† The maple flooring, which had been preconditioning off site, got dropped in two huge piles in the kitchen and green bedroom.¬† All the upstairs doors and trim was dropped off as well.¬† On Friday, when I stopped by around noon, the crew was back at work on the trim & doors.¬† Hardwood will wait until next week so the wood can condition a bit more prior to installation.¬† We’d like to get the fireplace in place before the maple goes down too, since a 600 pound fireplace can do a mite bit of damage to the floor!

Trimming the upstairsSo the paint-ready upstairs doors came framed incorrectly.¬† The guys had to strip off the 5/8″ x 3″ trim in order to use the proper 3/4″ x 4″ trim.¬† If not, the door framing wouldn’t mate with the baseboards.¬† We’re trying our best to minimize waste on this project and I’m really hoping that door framing can somehow be reused by someone.¬† In the meantime, the important part is that we’re not paying for it.¬† We’ve got¬† a fun detail there – the upstairs trim is all going to be painted to save us a bit of money.¬† The downstairs trim is the true character of the house.¬† It’s all natural maple and cherry.¬† Causing us some timing issues as well, since we’re still looking for a good price on the maple doors and the maple trim wasn’t delivered with this last load as it was supposed to have been.¬† Hopefully that’ll come in early next week so that the crew and painters can address it and get it rolling.

Baseboard profileBaseboards.¬† The details.¬† I’d worked out the trim detail with Ralph downstairs but I guess that bit had never been communicated properly to the crew.¬† When I arrived, Marco was installing the baseboards expertly.¬† Unfortunately, they still had a squared top corner instead of the 45* bevel I’d worked out with Ralph.¬† As I thought about the impact of tearing off 40 feet of baseboards, I thought about how dinged up the square edge was going to get over time and what it would feel like for myself, Heather, or children to fall and have the sharp edge cut into us.¬† Enough said.¬† Miquel and Mike put together some templates, we chose (and signed!) one, and we’ll now have the same baseboard upstairs and down.¬† Albeit the upstairs will be painted pine and the downstairs polyurathaned natural maple.

Window on the workstationOne of the coolest little things to see was were the crew had set up their workstation in the master bedroom.¬† In order to see better, they’d taken the protective coating off one of the windows.¬† I caught this out of the corner of my eye and had to walk over and touch the glass to make sure it was really there.¬† We’ve gotten so used to the filtered light seeping into the house.¬† Once the plastic comes off, the light is going to blaze!¬† I can’t wait!

What’s next?¬† Upstairs trim completes on Monday.¬† Painters come in to do the upstairs on Tues or Wed.¬† Hopefully they’ll continue and do the downstairs immediately after that.¬† In addition, cabinetry gets installed on Monday morning!¬† That’ll be a huge change!¬† Fireplace, tile/slate?¬† ELECTRICITY?¬† We’ll see…

All the Colors But One… May 15, 2007

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It’s been a slow few days since the painters finished their priming. Heather and I have been by the house twice to work on paint colors and we’re all set with everything but the exterior trim. We’ve tried two colors with the dark red exterior so far, but one was too yellow and the other too brown. Third one might be the charm?

The bonus yesterday was giving our new neighbors-to-be a tour of the place including their 2-year daughter, who now is friends with Tally. They’ve been helpful in a lot of ways during the build and we’re looking forward to being able to repay some of their kindness!

As soon as the trim, fireplace, woodwork, tile, etc. get rolling, I’ll be posting more photos!

But, even though we’ve haven’t moved in yet, their has been a couple of (uninvited) house guests

First House Guest

Second House Guest(s)

Why Hire Professional Painters? May 10, 2007

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Living room paint samplesCan YOU prime a house – walls and ceilings – in 3 hours? Tony and his 2 assistants got to the site around 6am, taped and sealed everything before 7am and then had the entire place primed by 9am. That’s crazy. No, that’s more than crazy. That’s impossible in my world! I know they’ve got both experience and tools and I know sprayers go a lot faster then anything else. It would still take me 3 or 4 days. Minimum.

Hire painters. Heck, hire Tony Gahan from Anner Valley Painting. He and his wife (and 4 week old son!) are friends and his prices are just as good as his timeliness!Bedroom paint samples

The guys spent the rest of the day caulking the exterior of the house, getting it ready for paint. Again, I don’t want to think about how long and how ugly the job would be if I were involved. The funny thing is that I didn’t even think of doing the electrical, the site work, the framing, etc. It’s just that I used to paint semi-professionally! I really should stick to my day job! At least I built Tony’s website!

Exterior paint samplesSo Heather spent a bunch of time on colors over the last few weeks, culminating in a bunch of decisions reached last night. Today I painted our first 6 color samples and then picked up another 6 samples this evening. We’ll check those out tomorrow. What do you think? When does the real painting happen? Well, we have to finalize the colors. Then the trim carpentry has to go on upstairs and the natural wood has to be delivered for the downstairs. Then Tony’s free to keep rolling.

Tomorrow’s supposed to be a big day – the fireplace is supposed to be put in place in the morning. All 600 lbs of it. If I’m involved, I’ll be taking pictures – not lifting – don’t worry! I know my limitations! National Grid says they’re going to hook up power on Monday and tile/slate and hardwood is ready to start rolling next week as well. Mid-June? Maybe?

White and Bright and Light! May 9, 2007

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kitchen plasterWe’re really starting to look like a house now! The plaster wrapped up on-schedule on Monday afternoon and we’re giving the house about 3 days to dry before the prime coat gets sprayed on. It’s a huge difference with the plaster up – everything’s so much brighter!¬† Ralph and the electricians did a good job putting the recessed in the right spots – it’s so much clearer now with the plastered ceilings.¬† The beams in the kitchen are exposed as planned.¬† We’re going to wrap them in maple or cherry to really divide the kitchen from the living room.¬† One of the amazing things to me is how the plaster unified the house.¬† All the way through the planning stages and building – until now – I saw the kitchen and living room as one large room, but the dining room as separate.¬† living room plasterNow with the plaster up, it feels like the dining room is more a part of the living room than the kitchen is.¬† I love it!¬† This means the house continues to open up and reveal new rooms as you walk through it.¬† It’ll be up to Heather and I to chose paint, furniture position, etc. well in order to distinguish between the rooms…

Now we’re trying to work out the details and schedule on the fireplace, tile/slate, hardwood, trim, paint, etc… All I know is it’s coming fast and furious right now – and I like it!

From Brown to Gray to White? May 2, 2007

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Upstairs sheetrockSheetrocking is nearly complete now!¬† The crew had some personnel issues and is working with only 2 guys, but they’re still going to complete the house in about 3 days.¬† I’d be destroyed after the first hour doing what they’re doing, but that’s definitely why I’m sitting behind a computer!¬† Kinda fun to watch them work with one cutting and moving board and the other fastening it.¬† The installer is about 6’5 and doesn’t bother with stilts or ladders or anything like that.¬† Downstairs sheetrock in progressHe just reaches up and drives the fasteners home – even the ones at the top of the walls, 8’2″ up there!¬† Think about that for a second – it’s not just reaching to that height; it’s repeatedly driving home screws at a 90 degree angle at that height!¬† My shoulder hurts just thinking about it!

We ran into some problems as well – and for one of the first times, it’s been me being picky rather than a true obvious mistake.¬† The windows near the fireplace were installed about 2 inches different from one another.¬† Because it’s an obvious symmetry issue that will be exaggerated and exacerbated by the trim, they’re tearing off the drywall and moving one of the windows.¬† In addition, the pocket doors weren’t sized/installed as I pictured.¬† The pantry door was installed too close to one of the walls and would have made cabinetry on that wall awkward.¬† The laundry room door left the machines jutting out a couple inches into the doorway.

This is where I acknowledge it’s a custom build rather than a purchased home.¬† We’d accept things like this if we bought a house off the market.¬† But almost 3 years into the process, we’re going to have them done right.¬† The trick is that our plans were a bit minimal – we didn’t pay our architect to compile the usual 20 page packet of complete plans that would give all the details to the framing crew.¬† Instead, our builder and his crews have had to make a lot of it up.¬† Of course, if these little bits are all that’s lost in the process, we’ve done real well!¬† And Ralph’s handling it well too – he may not be happy with some of these fixes, but he’s pleasant about it and understands that it’s all about fixing it and not blaming for it.¬†¬† Who’s paying for it?¬† The windows were an error on the part of the framing crew and the pocket doors were a lack of planning/communication.¬† I’m not sure where it’s all going to shake out!

Today¬† the sheetrocking crew should be finishing up and the plaster should be starting.¬† We’re looking at finishing plaster next Monday, so we’d prime the place at the end of next week and begin finish trim/painting/floors soon after that…