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This might qualify as a rant* July 8, 2007

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I’m sorry. I must have been mistaken. This week must have been the week reserved for setting up the subs. I know that because the stairs still aren’t in place, the floor’s not finished, the fireplace is still comfortably lounging in the middle of the dining room quietly mocking me, the countertops have yet to make an appearance and we haven’t heard hide nor hair of the sitework subs regarding our site work. Is it the moon, the stars, or is it the subs? You know, at this point it no longer matters.

Don’t get me wrong – stuff has happened this week. The stairs to the porch off the kitchen are now mostly in place. The headband is now mostly done. The tile/slate work now needs only the front stoop done to be complete. The painting crew has been in, caulking the trim and doing some of the touch-up work – although they’re waiting for everyone else to finish so their walls don’t get banged up. Again. The geothermal system is in place and partially complete. The pump is in the well.

Fireplace in dining room - not where it’s supposed to beRalph says he has all the plumbing and electrical finishes in hand. He says the stairway is prepped and ready for installation on Monday. He says the floors will be finished Tuesday and walkable by Wednesday. He says the @#(&*%$ fireplace – that lovely, incredibly efficient, $@)(*%^ heavy woodburning fireplace unit that I spent so much time researching and paid $4K for over 2 months ago – will finally be put in place soon. As much as I love looking at it as it decorates our dining room. Porch railings? Early this week. Granite? Wednesday. Plumbing and electrical finishes? This week. Site work? Geothermal completion? Door and window guy in for final alignments? The @$&*(%$) delayed driveway and final site work?

See, the thing that really irks me is that this stuff COULD be done this week. These subs could work on the house concurrently. And a builder who really wants to get this job done could get it done this week. And if I chose to GC the project instead of running my company, we’d might have moved into the house weeks (months?) ago. Not that I know crap about building a house – It’s ’cause I give a damn about finishing.

I went to dinner the other night at a local Chinese, when they brought the fortune cookie all I wanted it to say was “you will move into your house next week” but all I got was “you will find love on flag day” thanks, I got love, I now want a house, time to  get it done.

*rant that was edited by Heather


Do they give 1/4 credit? July 3, 2007

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Tuesday.  Heck, it’s after noon on Tuesday.

The porch stairs are in place.  The handband is complete now – my office, the bathroom and even the laundry room were done.  Ralph says the newels are complete and are due to be installed on Thursday.  The master shower is tiled and grouted – looking good.  The granite was being cut while I talked to Ralph at 1:30.

Unfortunately, the fireplace is still sitting in the living room.  The geothermal is still incomplete, I have no way of knowing if the variable speed well pump was installed.  The electrical and plumbing hasn’t been touched yet and we no idea of when our site work and driveway is going to resume.

So it’s moving along – but we’re really hoping things kick up a notch after the holiday!!!

Moving fast now. Like a slug. June 30, 2007

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I’ve successfully proven that my blood pressure is not directly tied to the house progress.  I know that because I’m not currently bleeding from my nose, ears, or any other orifices.

It has, indeed, been one of those weeks.

Ralph said on Monday that this job was his top priority.  What he didn’t say was that we were going to take most of the week getting the subs lined up and measuring & building the staircase off-site.  While he did call us Wed. night to tell us the wrong fireplace had been delivered, he didn’t return my calls for the next couple days.  Today, finally, we spoke again.

The fireplace is supposed to be installed Monday.  Site work is supposed to continue Monday.  The well pump and geothermal are supposed to resume on Monday and complete on Tuesday.  The plumber is due back at the beginning of the week and the plumbing and electrical finishes are supposedly ready to be installed now too.  Tile/slate work is supposed to be finished and the granite’s ready for installation.  The porch railing and stairs?  I don’t remember, but I’m hoping that’s going to happen pronto as well!  The main stairs and remainder of the trim is due to be finished Thurs and Fri and the floor finishing has been pushed off ’til next weekend.  That leaves room for our painting crew to come in and finish all but the final touch-ups on Thurs and Fri as well.

That’s pretty much it.  The real question is whether Ralph can do anything to keep the project moving as it’s supposed to.  I’ll be on site Monday to help make decisions and hopefully witness a ton of work being done.  ‘Cause our butts are seriously on the street in 30 days and my patience will not stretch anywhere near that far.

Have I mentioned it’s a beautiful house?  Stay tuned – let’s see if I’m bleeding out my ears by the end of the week…

Trim continues June 26, 2007

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Kitchen trimmedMonday was a Ralph day.  After not being able to locate him for the past week, we talked for about 4 hours on Monday, walking through the entire house, hammering out the remaining decisions, picking out the bits that need tweaking – and talking money.  At the same time, 2 of the painters were working their way through the downstairs, putting a coat of polyurethane on the trim.  It really makes the cherry accent band pop!

South wall trimmedThe coatings are being removed from the windows now and the house is catching some wonderful light!  It was nice to see that our overhang on the south face is keeping nearly all the sun out right now – at the summer solstice.  Will the interior be brighter the rest of the year when the sun’s coming directly into the house, or will the diminished intensity cause it to be less bright?  How’s that work?  Either way, it’s incredible right now!

We talked over the schedule and let Ralph know we were pretty pissed off about missing the end-of-June move date.  It’s not so much missing the date as him not warning us that we were going to miss it.  Now we’re talking closer to July 7th, but even that’s going to be tough because of the amount of time the floors will take to dry.  Money worked out pretty well – we’re estimating a 4-5% overage on the project and that’s fine with us.  As long as the driveway and final site work doesn’t turn up any unexpected problems!

I stopped over at Gene’s Woodworking this morning to drop of the sink and handles for the cabinetry.  The pedestal is going to be quite the interesting piece and certainly the departure from the normal – as we were hoping!  Let’s see if the guys can get over to the house later this week or early next week to get the rest of their work done!

This may look a bit odd to you. We love it. June 23, 2007

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kitchen headbandThe headband is mostly in downstairs! What’s the headband? It’s one of the most defining characteristics we chose for the house – a band of 3 1/2 x 3/4 maple capped by a band of 1  x 1 1/4 cherry that runs through the entire downstairs approximately 7’4 off the ground.  The rooms will be painted beneath the band and left white above the band, which will be finished with natural polyurethane like most of the wood.  The photos we have are from our visit earlier in the day as the upper trimwork was starting, but Heather and I stopped by on the way home from dinner as well, and the headband is complete in most of the rooms. Only the office and downstairs bath need to be done, in addition to a couple minor fixes to the installed band.

deck boardsThis is one bit that took a ton of effort on my part.  I fell in love with the effect in the ‘Not So Big House’ books (written by a partner of the architect who designed the plans that were the inspiration for this house).  It’s not quite as simple as telling the builder: “put some wood up here”.  It actually effected the sizes of the windows, the height of the kitchen cabinets, the height of the soffits and put a burden on the framing crew to line it all up really early in the process.  How’d they do?  Nearly flawlessly.  We have height differences of less than 3/4″ through the house and it’s been blended in very well in most spots.  You’ll see the band in all the downstairs photos from now on – so you can be the judge.

In the meantime, it’s unified the downstairs, brought a powerful ‘natural wood’ feel to the house, and continued making the place uniquely ours.  We’ll take that.

shower tiledWhat else is being done at the house?  The porch boards were finally nailed down and look wonderful.  With finished decking, the porch feels wider than we expected and will be an awesome place to hang out!  Still waiting to finalize the details of the railing with Ralph – he promised to show us some colors/systems a month ago and that part hasn’t happened yet.

The slate has been grouted throughout the house, including the hearth.   We’re still waiting for the fireplace to get installed, however, so having a tough time visualizing some of that area of the house.  The headband is going to curve above the fireplace, matching the front of the fireplace – you’ll have to see it.

The painters came through and put another coat on the downstairs walls.  We need touch-up both upstairs and downstairs but they’re pretty much done.  On our last visit, we round the maple stair treads had been delivered as well, so it’s hopefully time to finish the stairs and then have the hardwood sanded and finished throughout the house.

Still some big projects to go including finishing the geothermal, installing granite and appliances, final site work and driveway.  Are we going to be done and moved in within 8 days?  Hmmmm.

It continues. We’re just not always there! June 20, 2007

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It’s been nearly two weeks since the last post and finishing the house has continued.  Heather and I have just been too busy to visit quite as often, take as many photos and write about it as often!

The exterior paint on the house is pretty much done.  Tony and his crew wrapped it up last week.  The downstairs baseboard and door trim as well as the doors themselves went in, then the maple hardwood was laid down over this past weekend – Saturday to Monday.

We had Verizon FIOS installed too, so the house now has a phone and high speed Internet!  Looking forward to having those big pipes to work with…soon?

That’s the big question. When?  Ralph hasn’t said we’re going past the 6/30 drop-dead date we gave him.  Since he’s pretty darn tough (read: impossible) to get in touch with, that leaves us really up in the air regarding our move-in date.  Right now it’s just a case of stopping by the house every few days and seeing what’s been done.  Lots of items on the docket right now including finishing the trim and hardwood, the fireplace and counters, sitework and driveway, finishing the geothermal and putting the pump into the well, finishing the deck, grouting the slate and tile, etc.

10 days?  We’d be amazed!

Timeless yes. Dog hair friendly? Um… June 9, 2007

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Slate in hallwayQuick stop by the site on Friday morning showed that finish work is proceeding well.   Pardon the quality of the photos – I was running late to a meeting and didn’t realize I should have been using a flash!  The slate has been pretty much laid in the downstairs hall, closets, laundry room and lav.  It looks great and really is what I think especially Heather was looking for – a very serene feel.  Nice choice by her – I’m real happy with it too!  The brushed gray slate is pretty local – sourced from Vermont – and we expect it to wear real well.  Tally’s white fur is going to make vacuuming it a pretty common occasion, perhaps, but we’ve been living in an apartment with wall-to-wall carpeting for the past year and nothing’s worse than that!!!

For better or worse, they installed the same gray slate in the lav where we’d requested they use the rust version with the same grey matrix.  It looks good an, in retrospect, may look even better than what I requested.  I was just hoping to have something interesting to look at while sitting in that room!  Oh well!  Maybe being bored in that room will get me off the seat more quickly!

On Thursday, we made the decision to run the slate outside the house, into the sheltered nook between the ch and the front door.  I’d always thought that was going to be the same decking as the porch, but Ralph pointed out there would be no drainage if we did that, since it’s directly over the basement.  Instead, we’ll bring the inside out and use the gray slate.  We’ve worked hard to bring the outside into the house, so this’ll probably end up working real well!

Tony and the Anner Valley Painting crew were at work on the exterior of the house again.  The red has a huge range of color, depending on whether the sun’s hitting it.  You can see in the photo above – it’s a lot more orange and brighter than in some of the older photos.   The trim’s pretty much done now and they’re about 75% done with the siding.  Tony’s expecting to wrap up the exterior painting next week.  Given that it’s his busy season and I gave him the okay to put off our exterior in favor of other customers (he’s a friend of ours), it’s wonderful to see how quickly he’s getting the job done.  Did I mention you should hire him?  Heck, hire him just to listen to his awesome Irish accent!

Hardwood floor upstairsI got to meet Tommy on Friday as well.  He’s our hardwood installer and was working at the top of the stairs when I visited.   The master bedroom is nearly done, the other bedrooms are both complete, and the hall is nearly done.  Even though it’s still strewn with cutoffs, tools, etc., the upstairs looks great!  Can’t wait to see how good things look once it’s all sanded and finished!

Some more big news on Friday – the maple order was delivered!  I’m a hobbyist woodworker and this stuff is pretty enough to  make me drool!  (Don’t worry, I didn’t drool on the wood.  I know that would effect the finish…)  This has been holding us up for a couple weeks now, since the first order was rejected by Ralph due to the quality of the wood.  Tony’s going to put a first coat of natural poly on the wood as soon as possible and the crew should have that trim in place early next week.  That’ll let Tommy move downstairs and finish up the hardwood.

Lots ‘o Paint. June 6, 2007

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Exterior Paint Exterior paint is well underway. We’ve got about 1/2 of both the trim and the exterior red up at this point. Like it? C’mon now – we don’t have enough comments in this blog! I wasn’t as sure about the color as Heather was, but I like it now. The house sits high and the red helps minimize the apparent size of the house, in my mind.

Master hardwood floorHardwood has continued inside – not fast – but continued. The master bedroom floor is about 3/4 complete now and it is looking good. I’m not satisfied with them not dealing with a few high spots in the Advantech underneath, however. Ralph agreed they were going to sand out those high spots before the hardwood went down. Since they’re now within about a foot of the first of these spots and it’s unchanged, I’m interested in seeing how they deal with it.

Our tile/slate work is underway in the master shower – the cement board is up and now waiting for tile. Ralph says all the tile/slate is in, even if it’s not on site, so we can’t wait to start seeing it installed!

And God Said June 6, 2007

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Kitchen - paint and lightsYup. We got light! Monday was a huge day with the electrician putting in all the recessed lights and trims, light switches and outlets. Heather and I got to walk around in the early evening and play with them! The rest of the lights are being ordered this week and we think they’ll be installed next week.  It’s not quite as streamlined as we’d like, but our energy auditor/friend Mike told us the standard practice is to have the electrician put standard bulbs in all the fixtures, then to replace them with CFLs once they’ve been provided through the utilities and ENERGY STAR.  We’ll give the other bulbs to friends who are using incandescents so that they don’t go to waste.

Living room - paint and lightNot only that but the painting crew surprised us and put the first coat on the downstairs! I thought Tony was going to be on another job for a day or two and was psyched to see they’d been at our place instead. Heather chose some great colors for the house and the green of the kitchen and yellow of the living/dining rooms work real well together. The hallway and entryway are blue and my office is the same yellow as the living room. The paint looks a bit funny because it stops shy of the ceiling but that’s because there’s an upper trim line that’s going to be put in and the top of the walls are going to remain white.

Looking in from the porchThat’s not all, though, the hardwood installation continued Monday afternoon and by the end of the day we had one of the bedrooms done.  Hopefully this work will speed up now that we have power!

TallyOn Tuesday, Heather and I went back to LeaMar with Ralph to finalize the granite order and it’s hopefully being cut today and installed within the next week. With the 12-foot long island, that’s a lot of rock!

We’re due to see the tile/slate work start soon, the hardwood continue, interior painting finish and maybe even start the exterior. There’s still work to do with the stairway, fireplace, the site/driveway and the porch as well. Lot’s of things moving right now, though!

You stand there long enough and lightening WILL strike. June 1, 2007

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You’d get hurt if you stuck your finger in the outlet now!  WE GOT POWER!  After 4+ months in engineering and 5 weeks since the town passed the rough electrical, National Grid got us tied in to the system!  WE GOT POWER!  There were two trucks on site when I showed up at 10am and – holy crap – it actually works!  We got power!  My next goal is to use as little of it as possible!  That’ll show ’em!!!

RalphWhat else?  RALPH WAS ON SITE!  After a week of him avoiding me as he rescheduled all the subs to deal with the lack of power, we talked for an hour and are hopefully back on track.  Ralph made calls to all of the subs while we were there and is set to go full-speed-ahead starting on Monday.  Hopefully the hardwood will continue this weekend as well, now that the sander and nail guns can run at full strength.

I’m heading back out this afternoon to answer questions as the granite is templated and picking up the cooktop this evening so they can have that ready for the install.

I’d about given up on June, but I’m starting to think it may still be possible.  Let’s see what next week holds!