Thursday, August 22, 2013

8/22/2013 Order (sort of) From Chaos


Spent the day unpacking cabinets, and clearing access for the movers who are coming with household goods tomorrow.  We're not ready to move in just yet, but the basement and garage will make better storage for household goods than the place we've been paying storage on for the last year.  Tomorrow is going to be wild.  The drywall finisher is coming bright and early to finish fire taping the garage drywall.  The movers are going to be there about 0900 to deliver all my stuff that's been stored ever since I sold my house in Chippewa Falls a year ago July, and our kitchen designer is coming about noon to inspect and help make sense of the truckload of boxes we have taking over most of the house.  I spent a sizeable portion of the day unpacking said boxes and setting all our cabinets out to inventory and inspect.  We plan on starting to hang the wall cabinets this weekend, so am really pumped right now.  Another skill we'll be learning on the fly (with a little help from You Tube).  Debra, with her usual enthusiasm, thinks we can get most of it done this weekend.  Her optimism makes me smile and keeps me trying hard to live up to her expectations.  This is my same loving wife who thought we'd finish drywalling the whole house in a weekend. :)


Thursday, August 15, 2013

8/15/2013 Garage Doors

8/15/2013  Another visual progress item finished today.  Finally after a very lengthy stretch, the stars have aligned in such a way as to provide us with finished and installed garage doors.  The doors were ordered and received clear back in February, but without a concrete floor to set them to, we were never able to have them delivered and installed.  Now, at last we have a fully secured house, and can start staging some items out of paid storage into the garage so we can move them in as we finish rooms inside.

We decided to let the pros take care of this installation.  I would have preferred to do it myself, but can't take the time right now, and we really want this garage closed in and secure finally.  I'll add the openers myself later.

Ta Daaaaa, or some such fanfare as needed. :)  We didn't put any windows in the garage, so the glass high in the doors was a compromise that will allow some natural light while maintaining some security for the contents.  you'd have to stand on a ladder to see in these windows.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

8/13/2013 Lots of STUFF


The kitchen cabinets were delivered yesterday.  I find myself saying with increasing frequency....."What have we gotten ourselves into now?"  I was expecting a large quantity of material, but not as many odd containers as we received.  As soon as I'm able to get my hands on a good quality self leveling laser level, we will begin laying out the wall cabinets and preparing to start hanging them.  I've purchased two laser levels and returned same so far.  The first one was a cheaply made Johnson Level and parts of it were already broken.  When I opened the box, lots of little shards of plastic tumbled out.  I returned that one and went out and bought a much nicer Bosch (at 4X the price).  The Bosch self leveling laser  wouldn't actually "level".  On a wall twelve feet wide, it was consistently 5/8" higher on one side.  I thought initially we had a floor problem on that wall, but after some experimenting, it didn't matter where in the house I pointed the laser, it was always 5/8" low on the same side, and something appeared to be loose inside the unit.  So, that one went back to the store too.  I almost purchased a much larger unit (at more than double even the Bosch price), but both boxes in the store had obviously been opened and returned to store stock.  That made me curious enough to go online and do a little research.  I found that the Johnson unit at almost $500 was universally panned and was notoriously inaccurate, according to consumer feedback.  So I'm back to square one, which will most likely result in my ordering one online tonight.  We're anxious to get started on the kitchen, but not until we have the appropriate equipment.  In the mean time I still have the master bathroom and the entry way  to finish tiling, and the deck railings to finish,  so it's not like we will run out of things to do in the near term.

Large boxes are cabinets, and skinny boxes are glass doors, trim, and hardware.


Another view, and to gain some perspective, the tall box on the right is just over seven feet tall.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

8-10-2013 Simple things


Sometimes you get so wrapped up in big picture things that wear you out and wear you down, that you miss the fun of something simple.  We learned a new skill today, that would probably not impress anyone but us.  We learned how to make stairs.  Not graceful winding "Gone With The Wind" impressive stairs, but just a simple little two step, three rise set of stairs.  We've been using ramps, scrap lumber, and ladders to get in the house since we started, but with the completion of our concrete pour, we could finally make something permanent and SAFE to get inside.  Again, nothing fancy, just lumber left over that we felt was not good enough to be used on the deck.  A little trimming of the rough edges, and voila......stairs.

No more slippery narrow ramps to get in the house.

The ramp on the right was how we were getting up on the deck before we had the sidewalk poured.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

8/8/2013 More Visual Progress


If more of the folks working on our house had been like todays crew, this whole process would have been way less stressful.  We hired a new concrete crew after giving up on our previous one ever coming back to finish what they started.  The men from Jaenke Concrete were professional, courteous, and good at what they do.  In two days we went from dirt floor and muddy hillside, to fabulous new patio, a flawless garage floor, and a perfect new sidewalk.  When we have people like this working on the place, I have no qualms about walking away and not having to supervise and worry about what type of work is being done.  So, along that line, I was able to get the shelves and hanging brackets mounted in our walk-in closet, finish grouting the tile in the main bathroom, and start laying out the design of the tile in our master bath, instead of shadowing the guys working on cement.  Although I did take breaks for pictures and to admire the way they were making the house look. :)

Pouring the garage floor at last.

In the space of 2 days, we went from this..... this....


...and ultimately this. 
No more mud spattering all the lower windows every time it rains.  We also have the materials set aside for building a retaining wall on both sides of the patio at a later date.

Another little side job our concrete crew helped us with.  Our well was supposed to be drilled at the back of the clearing you see in the picture, but the well driller showed up on a day we weren't there and drilled it right on the edge of our driveway, where any errant delivery truck or visitor would likely smash it trying to turn around at the top of our driveway.  Their fix was to drop off these four large steel pipes, which our crew set and filled with concrete for us today.  Hopefully this will forestall any potential damage.


The visual illusion is that the sidewalk ramps up to the deck, when in reality, it merely flares out as it gets closer, giving us a nice big base on which to place the stairs (which I plan on building this weekend).  Notice the system we installed to run the downspout under the sidewalk instead of having it flow over.  This will prevent ice and other unpleasantness where we have to walk when the weather gets cold.

The first of the shelves and hanging brackets for our walk-in closet.  After we get settled, I plan on building modules for shoe storage, and other shelving needs.

Monday, August 5, 2013

8/5/2013 Milestones


I love visual progress.  That feeling of satisfaction you get from completing something both difficult and challenging.  We've had a number of those points on this build so far.  Helping on the crew where the initial shell went up and was weathered in.  Putting up all that sheetrock, with all its angles and shapes.  Painting all that drywall.  And now we can add, "installing all the hardwood flooring in our living areas".  As I mentioned back when we started our drywalling project, if you don't have a partner you enjoy working with, these things aren't possible.  Luckily Debra and I have done well as a team, working off each others strengths and weaknesses.  On the flooring project, while I did almost all the actual knee walking and nailing, she was up there for a significant portion of it, running the miter saw and keeping me supplied with appropriate sections of floor boards and support to take days off of what a solo project would have taken.  The floors turned out beautifully, and we are immensely proud of our efforts.

Our appliances were finally delivered last week (we purchased and had them warehoused almost a year ago in anticipation of building months earlier than we did!), and we were not impressed with our delivery.  In their defense, bringing the largest items in the house would have been challenging, but there was no effort by these two big men to make any attempt.  Since we still don't have actual stairs going in to the house, there was a narrow ramp leading up from the garage to the entry.  If their appliance dolly would not fit, they were not going to "carry" anything.  The choice was to send the appliances back, or leave them on the dirt floor of the garage.  I chose the latter.  Within an hour of their leaving, I had built a ramp over two feet wide and strong enough to drive my car up.  With that and a rented appliance dolly Debra and I completed the job.

The current goal is to finish the tiling so we can have the plumber back to complete all our hookups and finally get running water from other than the one faucet in the basement.  This last weekend I did finish the floor in the main bathroom (still needing grout), and Debra got a good start down in the basement staining our doors.  As I said earlier, "I love visual progress".

The final sliver of floor about to be nailed in this five cornered closet about 10 p.m.

Our new appliances  somewhat unceremoniously left on the dirt floor of our garage.  This picture was after the old ramp was torn out, and before the new one was built.

They look much better in this setting.  Hopefully cabinets will be in before the end of the month.


This is how our master bath vanity a large box, completely spray encased in foam.  What a challenge that was to extricate!

The first tile project nearing completion.  We loved the randomness of the earth tone tiles in this selection.  Still needs grout this week.  As with everything else in this house, there were more challenging angles and curves to cut as I went.