We haven’t seen our builders since Monday (we knew we might not). It seems all three built-ins will be ready early next week so I think they are waiting until they have a bunch of things to do. I’ve noticed they really like to be busy.

Yesterday and today I finally got some color on to some walls. Chris and I had decided that it would be best to paint between the barn boards of the old family room wall, so that’s how I started. Then when I rolled on the paint, it turned out it covered pretty well, so that may not have been necessary.

At first I was a bit doubtful about my choice of Whisper Yellow. Even though it’s a fairly mild buttery color, compared to what was there before (kind of a cream/tan/not quite yellow) it looked very yellow. However, once the whole wall was Whisper Yellow it looked very nice. I’m glad, because we bought five gallons of Whisper Yellow all at once to do the family room (2 coats, large room). It was pricey and non-returnable, so it will be Whisper Yellow.

I put the first coat on the old wall yesterday and the second coat today. Also today, I put a first coat on the end wall of the family room where a built-in will go. Only some of the paint will actually show so I didn’t have to paint anywhere near as much as I did, but I was kind of on a roll (literally as well as figuratively) and Chris wasn’t around to stop me. I’m sure for the second coat I’ll only do where the built-in won’t cover.

I left space at the top for my brother (hopefully) to cut in. Everything looks pretty good, although it’s discouraging to think about how much more remains!

Happy Veteran’s Day to any veterans reading this!

Monday, 11/7 – A Door, Baseboard Molding, Windows, and Paint!

Last week was mostly taken over by the floor guys. On Tuesday and Thursday nights, we stayed at yet another home away from home — my mom and dad’s house. We are so lucky they were willing to add five people to their household to help us out! These were school nights, too, so the kids had to take over the kitchen table to get their homework done and lunch bags needed to be unpacked, Thermoses washed, etc. Many thanks to Mom and Dad for their hospitality.

Our wandering ways are over now, though, and we have beautiful floors. Also, if you’re ever having your hardwood floors redone, try to find someone with this “dustless” system. We didn’t end up with sawdust everywhere, or even anywhere. They did put up plastic, but there was plastic when the plaster guys came too and we’re still finding plaster dust on things.

The big items of the house project are complete; we’re down to smaller carpentry work. Today Jamie and Mario came to wind things down. Just a word on timing: the contract with our builders estimated job completion for sixteen weeks after foundation signoff. Today was eleven weeks after the start of the entire project and there’s very little left to do. It’s the opposite of a cautionary tale about a house project!

Mario installed my sewing room door and its trim. A minor crisis was averted when I heard that the door should swing into the sewing room when in fact it should swing into the bedroom so I don’t end up with wasted “behind the door” space in the cozy (i.e. smallish) sewing room. In the bedroom, the door will open just a bit over 90 degrees; no furniture could go along that wall anyway, so there’s no real waste. There’s no handle on the door yet, but that’s the easy part.

Baseboard molding was added to the new rooms. It looks very good, adding a real finished look to things. It’s pre-primed white, like the window trim in the new rooms, to help make painting a bit easier.

There have been little packets of screws in each window since the windows went in. Jamie had said to leave them there and they’ll be put to use later. I’m not sure the purpose of these screws, because we’ve been using the windows for a while now, but they must have one. So today, their time has come — Mario started putting them into the windows.

So that’s a door, baseboard trim, and windows. The “paint” part of the title was mostly me with some help from Chris. We are now able to move furniture onto the floors and we would love to put the TV back on the wall of the older part of the family room and move the TV table (with all the electronics) back where it was.

However, we’ll be painting the entire family room so it looks consistent and we have to paint part of the ceiling in the old part — there’s new plaster there since they cut away the bay window and had to put in a new beam. It wouldn’t make sense to put our TV and TV table back and then have to paint around it, so getting this part of the family room painted is a priority.

Last night I prepared a bit and today, I painted! I used a brush to paint primer (Kilz2) on the edges of the ceiling and then, rolled on the primer. There are decorative beams across the ceiling so I was able to break up the rolling job into three parts without leaving a weird edge to dry. I don’t love painting, and for some reason my thighs hurt (I seem to do a weird rocking motion that uses muscles I don’t normally use), but it looks decent. I know because Chris would tell me if it didn’t!

Chris also painted Kilz2 on a red spot on the current family room wall which we think is sap coming through, as well as on some other spots. One coat wasn’t enough to keep that red spot down, so I repainted that later. The second coat seems to have done it, which is a relief. That red spot has bothered me for years.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to get some color on the family room wall – first coat! Our builders will be here tomorrow to install the first built-in if it’s ready. Otherwise Wednesday is likely. I’d really love to have painted before the built-ins and baseboard molding went in everywhere, but when the floors were scheduled for last week (and the prior Friday), that sort of ruined our painting schedule. But at least painting has restarted now!

I’ve reread this post and it has some clunky transitions (or lack of transitions), but better a clunky post than no post at all, I’m hoping.

Friday, 10/28 – Fire Safety, Stinky Floors, and Home

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” – Robert Frost

On Friday, our electricians arrived bright and early, even before Jamie, our builder. The town’s fire chief wasn’t happy that our fire and carbon monoxide monitors on the main floor and basement level weren’t hard-wired into the rest of the system. On the upper level, if one alarm goes off, they all do, but that wasn’t the case on the other levels. The town inspector didn’t want to do a full sign off on occupancy unless the fire chief was happy. Chris looked into doing a wireless approach, but that wasn’t going to do it. Jamie offered to share a bit of the cost (he wants that sign off!) and we decided to have it done.

I’m not even sure where the wires went through, but it’s all set now. If one fire or carbon monoxide monitor in the house goes off, they all will, complete with an odd “ship’s computer” type voice stating the type of problem. The fire chief should be very happy now!

Meanwhile, Jamie arrived and started to rip up the carpet in the old portion of the family room. It was kind of gross to see the dirt that had sifted down through the carpet and padding. We only have a little bit of wall-to-wall carpet left in the house (the guest room, upstairs landing, and the stairs) but seeing what’s underneath one makes me want to get rid of all of the rest! Maybe that will be another project.

The floor people came to sand down the floors and put on the first coat of polyurethane. They used a “dustless” system which involved a big metal unit resembling a fridge. Plastic was put up between the family room and the kitchen and over the current built-ins in the family room. I’m happy to say that, unlike when the plasterers came, we didn’t end up with dust everywhere, so the combination of plastic and the dustless system worked! The smell of the process was also a concern; the doors to all the unaffected rooms were kept shut to keep the smell from them.

We had stayed up rather late on Thursday night getting things cleared out of the current family room; sadly, I only got a couple of hours of sleep! Chris moved the computer into the living room so it was usable; it will stay there until the new built-ins go into the family room. The TV and the wii went into the current dining room (where I’m typing; this will be a dedicated office in the future) so we are able to at least see some TV, play wii, and watch Netflix. The floors will have three coats of polyurethane; we’ll be in this odd interim state for about a week and a half. I’m happy to say that everyone is handling it all really well.

Because of my sleep-deprived nature, I felt like I had to get a nap before leaving the house! I took my pillow into my daughter’s room and was able to nap for a few hours despite the noise of sanding. I inherited crazy napping genes from my dad. I woke up in time to grab a frozen dinner and take it to a friend’s house to heat up for a late lunch and a nice chat. At this point, the family room had been sanded and they were about to start on the sewing room.

When it was time, I picked my youngest up from school. We came home to make sure everything was locked up and to check out the smell. It wasn’t terrible, but after about 10 minutes it was as if I could taste it. Survivable, but not a state I’d like to be in for long! I picked the other kids up from school (they’d been on a field trip) and then took one to a practice and the others to the library while we waited for practice to be over. Once all afternoon activities were complete, we headed up to my brother and sister-in-law’s house 45 minutes away. We had packed clothes to spend Friday and Saturday nights with them to get away from the “new floor” smell.

And this is where the Robert Frost quote comes in. On very short notice (Wednesday afternoon), my brother and sister-in-law took in our little family of five for two days. We have two people with celiac disease (no wheat, rye, barley, or most oats) and one very picky eater, so we’re not the easiest of guests! We were welcomed, well-fed, and well-housed. I had a lot of fun working on puzzles; I’m so happy we’ll have room for a puzzle table in the new family room. The kids did Dance Dance Revolution and saw some movies, including Singin’ in the Rain for the first time and That’s Entertainment!, which I knew was a hit when my youngest wanted it paused so he could use the bathroom. It wasn’t even at a dance number; Gene Kelly was just talking. My boys helped make rolls from scratch and my older son did a fancy craft with his aunt. We are so thankful for our weekend home away from home.

Thursday, 10/27 – A Garage Door and a Sewing Room Floor

Not much time to post tonight — we need to clear the family room floor by 7 AM so the rug can be pulled up and the floors can be sanded. There weren’t a ton of things on the floor, but the type of thing presented difficulty: a computer and various things that went with it and the TV table with a lot of electronic equipment. I realized at the last minute I should probably clear out the craft cupboard, too, because it has a hardwood floor…there are things in there I haven’t seen in years!

The garage door was installed today in the new garage bay. It looks great. The other two garages look awful in comparison, but we will paint them when we can to make them look a bit better.

The sewing room floor has been installed. At one point the guy called me up to explain that he couldn’t run the boards the long way because that’s the way the joists were running. Apparently, people often want the boards the long way (and that’s the way it is in most of the house), but it looked good this way. Also, the sewing room is off the bedroom and the boards in that room run the same way. It would have been weird to step from one room to the other and have the boards change direction!

We have had rain today (and snow tonight) and I’m happy to say that the gutters are fantastic. Now I need to finish clearing that floor and packing to get out of here (away from the refinishing smell). I won’t be updating until Sunday now, probably.

Wednesday, 10/26 – Gutters and Flooring and Scheduling, Oh, My!

We have gutters! They go into PVC piping that routes the water behind the house where we want it to go. I don’t think our leaf guards came in yet, but it’s very exciting to have gutters. When we moved here, most of the house didn’t have gutters. There were wires that hung off the roof like waves (VVVVVVVV) that you were supposed to turn on when it snowed to avoid ice dams (we did not avoid them last winter) but I don’t know what that was going to do for rain.

Our inspector way back when recommended removing the wires and adding gutters, but…we never did. When it rained, the rain just poured off the roof. The moisture stayed near the house, last year resulting in basement flooding. So seeing a whole system of gutters on our side is a wonderful thing.

The floor guys were back and they finished the back room. The “wedge” turned out to be fine. There are small differences between how the boards lie along the wall but they aren’t especially noticeable and when the baseboard trim is on it would take a very picky expert to see it. We definitely made the right decision! They also did a little bit of sanding between the new and old floor to try to get an idea of how it will look; “great” is the answer! Tomorrow they will do the sewing room. It’s a small room so I don’t expect it will take the whole day.

Early in the day we talked about the schedule for the sanding and finishing of the hardwood floors. We don’t love how it worked out, but it’s been scheduled for this Friday, next Tuesday, and next Thursday. This means we have to clear the floor of the current family room by Friday morning — everything out! Then it will need to stay cleared until three days after the final coat which is Monday, 11/7! That’s a long time for us to be without our family room! We also will have to be out of the house (it’s supposed to be give-you-headache-smelly) twice because of the gap between the first and second coats. The company could have done Friday, Monday, and Wednesday (or was it Thursday), but…come on!

Monday is Halloween! We have three children and plans to trick-or-treat with one or two other children. We can’t pack up and be gone for Halloween, one of the most important holidays of the year, according to my daughter. She thinks Halloween and the day after Halloween should be a vacation day. Children need to finalize their outfits on Halloween! The next day, they need to sleep late, sort through their candy, and try to make the very best trades possible.

So Friday, Tuesday, Thursday it is. We already have our weekend get-away planned (thanks S & D). And if your name is “Mom/Grandma,” you might want to think about if you can handle some guests next week…

Tuesday, 10/25 – Hardwood Floors, This and That

Today two men came to put the hardwood floors in the new rooms. In the family room they need to join up with the existing hardwood floor . Luckily, this is running lengthwise so they can just run new pieces alongside the current floor. They’ll stain the new floor to match the old and refinish all of it together; hopefully it will look like the floor has always been that way.

We ran into a problem, though. Apparently the current floor wasn’t all that straight (or rather, the wall wasn’t). From one end of the house to the other, there’s a two inch difference in the width we’re covering so they need to do something funky with the flooring. If we were building a brand new house, I imagine that everything would be “just so,” with all lines straight. But we’re adding on to a late 1970s house that has either changed shape a bit (I have since the 70s, too) or maybe wasn’t built all that well to begin with, and we have to work with what we have.

One option was to put a wedge piece in what will be the middle of the family room. Then on the other side, everything would look orderly. We decided against that. We will continue to have parallel lines down the family room. Once it gets to the other side (the long back side of the house), the floor guys will do what they need to do to fit the difference. That side of the house will be broken up a bit. At the garage door end, there’ll be a built-in over the hardwood. After that there are baseboard heaters down to the sliding doors to the outside; a puzzle table will be along that wall in the family room as well. Then there’s a built-in to separate the dining room from the family room, and baseboard heaters in the dining room all along that wall. Hopefully a weird little wedge somewhere won’t be noticeable in all of that! If it is, at least it’s not in the middle of the family room.

By the end of today, one board more than half of the back room was done. The sewing room (exterior size 10′ by 14′) wasn’t touched. I’m interested to see if they can power through the rest of the back room tomorrow and do the sewing room, too. I’m guessing no, especially since they’ll need to deal with the aforementioned wedge situation.

Jamie was working on his list of little things that need to be done. Chris asked him about the new screen/storm doors; those will be installed at the end so there’s the least likelihood of them being damaged by any other work.

It seems like the scheduling we hoped would work out for sanding and coating the hardwood floors isn’t going to work out, and the alternate schedule suggested wasn’t good at all. I’m hoping my 2nd plan will work out…

Tune in tomorrow!

Monday, 10/24 – Electrical Work; This and That

Jamie noticed right away that we had been busy painting. We are lucky my brother Steve is running our “paint crew” so things are getting done!

The electricians came back for the final time today. They put the rims (this isn’t the right terminology, I’m sure) on the recessed ceiling lights, hung up a fan, installed some exterior lights, did some hocus-pocus-electricus stuff in the basement, and probably did many other things I missed. Our “back room” can be all lit up now! There are six recessed lights in the dining room and ten in the family room. The dining room will also have a center chandelier, but we need a different size of chain before that goes up — for now there’s a blank plate (again perhaps not the right terminology). The family room has a fan in the center; that will be nice in the summer months!

Jamie worked on finishing up a bunch of things. There were a few windows without trim, including the two windows that just went in on Friday. Every window has trim now. My son Thomas will be happy about that; neither window in his room had its complete trim and he was taking it personally! Also, Jamie did more work on the landing & stairs to the outside of the house. I think that just needs a railing at the top to be complete.

We talked about timing for the sanding and coating of the hardwood floors; hopefully the timing will work out so it’s on an upcoming Friday off of school. If so, we can get the kids off to school on Thursday, pick them up at the end of the day, and go stay somewhere until the end of the weekend. Fingers crossed that this will work out — it sounds like it’s impossible to stay in the house when the floors are being done, but it would be awful to have to get them all to school every morning for three days from someplace else.

Unbelievably, we are winding down on this project. They’ll start to put in the hardwood floor tomorrow. The garage door will go in…whenever the garage door people show up. The baseboard trim goes on after the hardwood floors are finished, I believe. The built-ins will still be a while. The one between the dining room and the family room is being worked on; the one at the end of the family room and a small one in the dining room should be ordered tomorrow.

But we have space, heat, lights, walls…it’s pretty incredible.

Sunday 10/23 – Painting

I’m typing with Ultra Pure White paint on my fingers. I know it will all wash/rub off, but I just haven’t quite gotten around to doing that yet. I asked Chris for one of his older shirts and that’s a little bit paint-y too. It feels good to see things with a coat of paint, though!

We have a coat of “ceiling white” on all the new ceilings – dining room, family room, and sewing room. This is just in time; the electricians come for the final time tomorrow and it’s nice to have the ceilings done before they put the last pieces of the light fixtures in.

Steve was, of course, paint boss, instructor, and master painter. He did the entire ceiling of the back room (12′ X 50′, sloped); Chris did the sewing room ceiling. Thomas and I did some painting where the brush was needed.

Mom sanded the windows in the family room and dining room; Thomas and I did some as well, particularly the higher parts. Three of the four double windows in the back section now have their first coat of primer/paint; they were pre-primed so they already look pretty good, but of course another coat will be needed. We will keep working on windows — maybe by next weekend all the windows in that section will have at least their first coat.

Now we need to clear both new areas — the hardwood floors will be going in tomorrow and nothing can be in the way!

A new approach, plus painting (October 22)

A new approach — I’m obviously not doing well at getting a detailed blog post up with pictures every day. The sticking point is the pictures — unloading, selecting, fixing if needed, and getting them into the right place/format to get them into the blog takes way too much time! I still intend to catch up at some point, but I think to keep things going I need to not worry about sticking to the current format and at least writing a bit every day about the progress. The pictures will be here when they’re here.

So much of this project is done. In the new areas, everything is wired and just waiting for the electrician’s final work on Monday. All the windows are in (the final two we were waiting on were installed Friday) and most windows have trim. The septic pipes no longer go through the new basement, but around the edges. We have blueboard and plaster. The hardwood flooring has arrived and will be installed this week. One built-in is being worked on and we’ve almost nailed down the design for the other two. Everything looks really good. It’s amazing to see pictures from 8/22 when they started; we’ve come so far.

Yesterday, 10/22, was our first day of painting. My brother Steve and nephew Campbell came. Way back when we were planning this, Steve said not to have the builders paint. He would come, teach us all to paint, and help get it done. And now we’re at that point in the project!

We had sanded the ceiling before he came. By day’s end, the ceilings were primed! Also, the nail holes in the pre-primed window trim had been filled with wood filler, most of the excess wood filler had been scraped off, and some of the window trim had been sanded. Steve will be back today, and my mother is coming as well, for more work. I’ll report at the end of the day what we’ve done.

One of my focuses lately has been trying to choose colors for the rooms. Ceilings are easy; they’re “ceiling white.” For the trim in the new section, we’re going with “Ultra Pure White.” All the paint except the ceiling paint will be Behr’s Ultra paint & prime in one in the hopes that we can get away with just two coats rather than a priming coat and probably two coats of color anyway. All of the old window trim is an off white that we had matched.

My sewing room is going to be a little funky. I’m the only one who has to like it, so I’m going to have fun with it. For the walls, I’ve chosen “Celtic Gray” which really is a dusty green/blue color.

Behr™ 490E-3 Celtic Gray

For the trim, I’m choosing between “Stained Glass” and “Corsican Purple.” Yep, purple trim.

When it comes to the family room, I’m a little bit like Myrna Loy (Mrs. Blandings) in this scene from Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House. I want it to be yellow, bright and sunshiny and the color of butter. I’ve held up a stick of butter to my samples. I think the most likely winner for the family room is “Whisper Yellow.”

The kitchen wallpaper will eventually be stripped and the wall will be painted a deeper yellow. So far, “Spiced Butternut” is the front-runner.

The dining room is going to be blue, but every blue I’ve brought home in sample size so far has been a disaster. Now I have almost every blue sample card the store has for Behr and I have to rethink it all and find something, hopefully by next weekend.

And now I need to be off — more painting to do today, and Steve has just arrived! Sorry for the lack of pictures, but hopefully a picture-free blog post is better than no blog post at all.

Another Sneak Peek

Apologies for not getting the day-to-day updates in here. At the moment, my big push (beyond ferrying the kids places and doing whatever needs to be done for the house project) is working on a quilt that’s due on 10/14.

But I thought I’d stop in and give you a few interior pictures. Following is a picture of the back area from what will be some added-on family room space looking toward the dining room at the end. This was when the bay window was still there; it’s gone now with a plastic wall in the same place, but my pictures aren’t in the right place to show you. Someone in a hazmat suit is actually doing the insulation even as I type, and the wiring and housing for the electrical plugs and lights is done as well the plumbing for the baseboard heating.

Day 19, DR at end

From the dining room end looking down at the family room add-on. The end there will have some built-ins; I met with the designer this morning to discuss those. It’s exciting to be able to design all this rather than just making do with whatever came with the house. Again, that bay window is out of there now and a lot more has been done with this space.

Following are a few pictures of the sewing room. It’s not a huge room (the exterior is10′ X 15′) but for a dedicated sewing room it’s huge and I think the tall ceiling makes it seem more spacious. This room has changed now also; the door has been cut through, it’s wired for plugs and lighting, and we no longer have a pipe in that space!

Day 18 Sewing Room, looking at front window

Day 18 Sewing Room, side of house

I do intend to go back and systematically detail the project day by day, but until that happens, the occasional sneak peek will have to do! Life is a bit crazy here but we’re thrilled at how quickly things are moving along. The builders are estimating they’ll be done around the first week of November. Even if it takes a bit longer than that, we only started on August 22, so it’s going very well.