Monday, March 31, 2008

The One Where We Are NOT Fooling Around...

When last we met, Gentle Reader, the occupants of our humble abode were still recovering from near death, and locked in the throes of our "whole house remodel".

Last month, we "celebrated" the six-month anniversary of the start of the remodel with the crew. Every day, for seven months now, Monday through Friday, sometimes Saturday, and even the odd and occasional Sunday... they have been here. In our house. Every day. Except for major holidays.

I now know the names of their wives and children. What kind of truck they drive (hint: it's black. The make and model might change, but they all drive black trucks. Go figure.) What kind of pets they own, what their leisure-time activities are, and where they prefer to eat lunch. (If it's Monday, it's pizza down at the end of our street. If it's Friday, it's Chick-Fil-A.) In case of emergancy, I have all of their cell phone numbers programmed into mine, and I can tell at a glance which tools belong to whom.

Luckily, fortunately, blessedly, we have been privileged to work with people who have remembered that their "workspace" is our home. Overall, they are great guys.

And, with the notable exception of the 10 day alleged "vacation" that we spent at a nearby hotel, (during the rather smelly phase when all the new woodwork was stained, then sealed, then lacquered) we have lived through, and with, and in this remodel and these people every day for seven months.

I am not kidding when I tell you that this cannot be done soon enough for me. For while we have enjoyed getting to know our Contractor, his crew, and all the associated sub-contractors (and their crews as well)... the endless dust, noise, and discomfort have been overwhelming for all of us. Some days there is no water - the plumbers are hooking something up. Some days, the electricity is off; other days the natural gas is off (so no hot water or heat). I've lost track of the number of times we have moved furniture from room to room just ahead of a crew, and during the three weeks that we had no kitchen appliances to speak of I developed a solid friendship with every drive-through fast food establishment in our little corner of the Greater Metro.

I'm sick of the 30-yard dumpster in the driveway, I am tired of piles of construction materials everywhere - on the porch, out in the yard, down the hallways, even in my new closets.

I am so ready for this to be over.

As I look back through my construction calendar, however, I can see how far we have come. Every day, I chronicle the days work in the calendar; it has been invaluable. We started with a tired-looking, early 80's heap of native stone and rough cedar, and it is beginning to take on the charm of an Arts & Crafts/Prairie-style/Craftsman cottage. We have added nearly 1000 sq feet of space, and have gone from 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms to six bedrooms and four bathrooms. We have knocked down walls to expand our new "open-plan" living room/kitchen, and we closed off the "old" living room with lovely new french doors (lovingly stained by a master craftsman to match the existing woodwork) to create a library that will have bookcases that line the walls.

New vinyl windows, new paint and paint colors, and 2700 square feet of floating wood flooring later, and it's starting to look like the vision we had when we first met our Contractor last year. Custom doors, a porch railing that I designed myself, and new lighting have all been installed; in the two new Master suites, custom showers and bright, sunny bathrooms are finally ready. I lost more than a few night's sleep worrying about the new floorplan; when I became the architect of my own home, I never thought it would be so nerve-racking to realize that the floorplan you drew damn well better work... because if it doesn't, you've just wasted a helluva a lot of money. The Wrench and I both have been adamant the whole way through that this has to "match" - that the changes to the house need to not only be consistent with the original structure, but also the neighborhood. When it is done, the first-time visitor hopefully won't be able to tell what is the original house, and what was added and/or changed.

A few more weeks (I'm hoping and praying for three at the most, and figuring on four to six realistically) and the workers will all be gone, and we will be left to sort out the boxes and put things away. During this time, I have realized that much of what we put into storage will be either sold or donated to charity; after twenty years, this has been the ultimate spring cleaning; every room, every closet, every drawer has had to be emptied and packed or moved.

This has been (and continues to be) A Big Deal. We have all been changed by this, and I think that will become more evident in the the weeks and months to come. Just like the house itself, we have grown and changed.

It is to be hoped that it will all be for the better...


Suldog said...

Glad to hear you're nearing the end of the line on the construction. And also glad to have you back blogging!

Chuck said...

It's always good too see the light at the end of the tunnel! And I agree with Jim it is nice to see you blogging again...but your absence, with all that you've been doing, is completely understood.

Fab Grandma said...

I'm so glad you're back. I was worried about you all, since that awful last post when you were all so sick.

I know you are so ready to have your house back!