Thursday, April 28, 2016

Weeks Four and Five

Last Monday, April 18, was the start of week four of the house renovation project. I can't believe how much has already been done and how much there still is to do. I was planning to do an update a lot sooner, but we have been without internet a couple of times recently and it always seems to happen when I have a lot of school work to do. Thankfully, the internet is currently back up and operational and I hope it stays that way through the rest of this week as I have five papers and a final to complete by Sunday. It's the last week of the semester and that thrills me to no end! 

The slab was poured on Friday, April 15 and I was able to stop by the Saturday morning after to take a few pictures. They also poured the sidewalk out front at the same time. I really didn't care for the sidewalk at first. I wanted a smaller (in width) sized sidewalk and had talked to Richie about it, but he said it wouldn't look right if we did it they way I wanted. I still think it looks ginormous, but at this point, I'm stuck with it. It'd not terrible, just not what I had in mind and maybe it would have looked goofy if it were not as wide, who knows? My co-worker said it would be a good size for when I'm old and in a wheelchair. I guess he makes a valid point.

I had also wanted a circular patio and it was poured as a square so that's something I will have to get used to because all these months I've wanted and pictured a circular shaped patio. It doesn't look bad, but again, it just wasn't what I had in mind. C'est la vie as they say in France. 

On Tuesday afternoon they started the framing and by Wednesday, they were done. It went up so fast! I feel like the space looks even bigger once it was framed in. It's always good to see the walls go up because you are better able to tell the actual size of rooms. It is jaw dropping to walk through, or at least it is for me. I can't believe how much more space there is. It is going to be incredible when it is all finished. I am just so excited about it! 

Since the framing was completed, the electrical, plumbing, and air ducts have been roughed in and this week the roof should go on the new part and next week (provided we pass inspection) the sheet rock will be hung. I suspect things will move a little slower now, or we will at least not see as many big changes. 

Last Friday (April 22) I met with the cabinet man and designed the layout of the kitchen and picked out where I wanted cabinets and where I wanted drawers and made a few other changes here and there, but still managed to stay within budget. The cabinets will be Shaker style and will be white with black granite countertops. I'm putting in a wall oven also so that I will have two ovens to use during the holidays or when I entertain and I'm beyond excited about that. I went to Lowe's this past Monday and ordered the wall oven and it should come in about two weeks from now. I also bought a ceiling fan and a couple of lights for the back porch. 

Since I started writing this many days ago, the roof was installed as was the fireplace. Next up for the fireplace is the stone and masonry that will go around it. The windows were due in today (April 28), but didn't make it in. So, hopefully they will come in tomorrow because we cannot pass framing inspection until the windows are in. 

This Saturday, I'll be at the house pulling nails out of the wooden panels that were taken off the house and were part of the original house. These will be used as the ceiling outside on the patio and I cannot wait to see it complete. I came up with this brilliant idea driving home from girls retreat a couple of weeks ago. I think it is going to look amazing. I may cry when it is complete. The workers will be installing the ceiling this Saturday as well; so, I'll be over there bright and early to pull out nails so they can get to work. 

It's all coming together so nicely. I absolutely cannot believe how wonderful it all is. It's really even better than I imagined.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Updates from Week Three

Things continue to move along nicely at the house. There are visible changes every day and it's always exciting to stop by and see what has been torn down or put up. In my last post, I showed some photos of the kitchen. The cabinets had been torn out and the wall had been taken down to the original shiplap wooden boards. The boards were salvaged and are currently being stored in the shed which allowed me to really get a better visual of just how large the improved kitchen will be. Y'all, it is going to be wonderful. I was so excited when I saw how large the space was and envisioned how many cabinets I would have. The kitchen is definitely the heart of my home and I am so excited to have a bigger space to utilize. 

The new duct work was put in on Friday and Saturday. I'm replacing the HVAC unit with a bigger and more efficient unit and as a result, new duct work was required. In the process, one of my closets was torn out which was a little surprising as I was given no prior warning. I knew the duct work would have to run up from the existing house into the attic and back down into the new part because of the crawl space vs. slab situation I have, but no one told me that particular closet would be utilized for this and I had stored a lot of items inside that closet. So, I had to box those up and take them across the street to my cousin Anna's house to be stored for the next few months. The duct works will have sheet rock around it and then new shelving so it will still be a great linen closet when all is said and done. 

On Wednesday the gravel that goes under the concrete slab was laid out and some more demo took place. The outline for the new sidewalk in the front of the house was also laid out. They had planned for the slab and sidewalk to be poured on Wednesday, but the inspector didn't sign-off until late in the day and so that was postponed until Thursday; but Thursday when I went by, it still wasn't done. Hopefully, it will take place on Friday and then the slab can dry out over the weekend and then the framing should start next week which will be super exciting as even bigger changes will soon be coming! 

Friday, April 8, 2016

So Long Kitchen and Rotten Sub Floor

Things seems to be moving at a quick pace at the house these days. It's nice to be able to see big changes each afternoon when I stop by the house. Wednesday when I stopped by, the cinder block had been laid in preparation for the slab to be poured. I cleaned up some debris from the yard while I was there. For the life of me I will never understand why construction workers just throw their trash on the ground instead of in the dumpster or the trash bin. I'm sure I'll be cleaning up a lot more in the coming weeks and months. 

Thursday one of the biggest changes occurred. The workers tore out the kitchen cabinets and the wall where my little pantry once was and started tearing down the wall between the kitchen and the back room. Underneath the wall was old shiplap which had once donned the outside of the house. I had forgotten it was there. We had uncovered it in the first renovation, but this time around I was more enamored with it. I asked the contractor to be gentle when taking it down because I wanted to repurpose it. I have given this assignment to my cousin Jan because she is great at making old things look great and coming up with ideas for random things. She suggested just hanging it on the wall or using the wood to build a little cabinet for the bathroom which I need. At any rate, I'm hopeful that the wood can be salvaged and we can do something fabulous with it. 

Some of the cabinets were kept in tack as well as the sink. They were placed in one of the bedrooms and I'm assuming the contractor is going to ask me if I want to keep them or trash them or maybe donate them. My plan would be to donate them, but as I'm typing this I was just thinking that I might could hang a couple of the cabinets in the shed for storage. I'll have to ponder that thought. Otherwise, it's all going to the Habitat for Humanity Restore. The sink is being replaced with a farm house sink so it's no longer needed. 

The plan was to have the utilities turned back on, but the city wouldn't allow it since an addition is being built. So, the contractor had to go to the utilities to order a temporary pole. The contractor's name is Richie, by the way, and so maybe from now on I'll just refer to him by his name. It seems like the right thing to do. Richie also had to have the water transferred to his name for some reason which he told me and I didn't really understand. The new plumbing was also installed on Thursday for where the washing machine will go and miracle of miracles, it will be plumbed to the city sewer line. This makes me super excited! 

Finally, the sub floor that was rotting in the living room was torn out and it looked like they were adding some flooring joists. They either ran out of time or wanted the old joists to dry out some before they laid the new sub floor. It's definitely interesting to look at the inner workings of your home. The sub floor in the back bedroom still has to come up and be replaced and I'm hoping they got to all of that on Friday. 

So, everything is moving along nicely and I'm so excited to see the progress each day brings. This weekend I plan to spend a few hours at the house cleaning up debris and trash and straighten up some closets so I can put a few more things on the shelves. I'm storing a few things on the shelves of the closets because I think I mentioned I ran out of room in the POD. The house is in such shambles, but I know it will be great when it's done. I laugh at the thought that I was actually planning on staying in the house during all of this craziness. What in the world was I thinking? I'm so glad I moved. I cannot imagine trying to live in the house with all that demo being done. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Week Two Is Underway

Since my last post about the house, there have been quite a few changes. I stopped by on Sunday to get the mail and my Japanese maple tree (so I can try and keep it watered and alive) and walked around to see if there were any new changes. It appears that the phone company finally showed up and disconnected the line from the house. However, instead of doing anything with the line, it seems they just kind of left it dangling in the back alley. I hate to break it to them, but I have no intention of them reconnecting that line so they may as well come on back out and cut it completely. 

Monday afternoon I stopped by and discovered that the new meter box had been installed on the side of the house. It isn't hooked up yet (we have to pass inspection first), but that should happen some time this week I would think. On the inside of the house, a hole had been cut in the inside wall adjacent to where the new meter box was installed in order to run a line from the meter box over to the breaker box and there was a hole in wall where the breaker box was as well. Other than those few things, it didn't appear like much had been done on Monday other than someone getting their muddy footprints in the bathroom which isn't supposed to be used by anyone (that's another post for another day). Thankfully, the port-o-potty should arrive this week. 

Tuesday morning I got a call from the contractor who was concerned about some food that had been left in the fridge. The power had been off for about five days and he was concerned the food would be rotting. But, there were only some sodas and condiments inside so I assured him I could come by and throw them out that afternoon. I stopped by after work and cleaned out the fridge and freezer. There were only condiments and sodas in the fridge as I suspected. The freezer, however, had some ice cream bars and creamed corn which I apparently didn't notice when I dumped some things out last week. There were also a lot of chocolate chips and pecans, all of which I gave to my friend Cindy who will be making desserts for my cousin Tyler's wedding in May. Maybe she will be able to use some of those things. 

The workers had torn out all of the hardwood flooring and taken the dishwasher out and started taking down the trim around the doors and windows in the rooms that are going to be knocked out. The cinder block for the reinforcement of the slab was also delivered and the dumpster finally arrived and was placed in the front yard, not the back, which was not what I was expecting, but hey, less grass to mow. I moved the furniture from the front porch down the street to my cousin Anna's house as well as my ironing board and a couple of bins that were missed in the move to the POD. When moving things down the street, I almost stepped on the skeleton of a possum that was laying in the front yard. So, I sent a text to the contractor and asked him if it had been found under the house. He ended up calling me and saying that yes, it had been found under the house when they disconnected the dishwasher and then proceeded to tell me what a hot mess my plumbing was. 

Y'all, first let me say I was not at all surprised to find out about the plumbing. When my dad, granddad and I renovated the house 11 years ago, we sub-contracted all of the work. One day I came by the house to be introduced to the plumber and about fell off the porch when I discovered that it was a guy I had gone to high school with and immediately knew this was not going to be a good situation. The guy's name was Kevin Sisk and I'm publishing his name only because I want EVERYONE to know it and know he should NEVER be hired for any plumbing work. 

Y'all, first let me say I was not at all surprised to find out about the plumbing. When my dad, granddad and I renovated the house 11 years ago, we sub-contracted all of the work. One day I came by the house to be introduced to the plumber and about fell off the porch when I discovered that it was a guy I had gone to high school with and immediately knew this was not going to be a good situation. The guy's name was Kevin Sisk and I'm publishing his name only because I want everyone to know it and know he should NEVER be hired for any plumbing work. I voiced my concern to my dad and granddad because the guy was a few bulbs short in high school, good looking, but dumb as a rock, and I didn't think he would be capable of putting anything together, let alone plumbing. My granddad, bless his soul, wanted to give Kevin the benefit of the doubt and let me tell you, my dad and I had to show up at his house in the wee hours of the morning just to catch him at home and make him come finish the shoddy work he started. 

The bad plumbing resulted in my having to spend thousands of dollars to have the flooring and sub-flooring replaced in my spare bedroom because the floor had rotted because the washing machine wasn't connected to the sewer line. The flooring in my den has been rotting away for years and I had always thought it was from the HVAC unit condensation, but it now appears it could have been from the dishwasher because apparently it wasn't hooked up to the sewer line either and all the water was just being sent under the house. The contractor went on to say that whoever did the plumbing wasn't a plumber and he has seen some things he has never seen before. How in the name of the Lord that plumbing passed inspection 11 years ago is beyond me. I'm thinking either Kevin paid the inspector or the inspector was too lazy to crawl under the house and actually inspect the plumbing. If I wasn't having to use the inspection department right now, I might sue them. I think it goes without saying that this situation has made me a little hot under the collar. At any rate, if you ever need a plumber, DO NOT HIRE KEVIN SISK! 

So, that's where we are as of Tuesday afternoon. No doubt there is more drama to unfold. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Foot and a Half Became Six Inches

In the last post about my house, I made mention of the property line and how the new structure had to be four feet off the property line and how my dad ordered a survey, but then I told him to cancel. Well, apparently we couldn't cancel because after the failed inspection, the city required a survey of the property line. So, the surveyors came out and as it turns out, my fence was not on the property line and I had about one foot more of property than thought. So, instead of the addition being offset by one and a half feet, it will only be offset by six inches which is really not a big deal. 

My dad talked to the zoning commission and I could have gone before them to ask for a variance to keep the new structure in line with the existing house. There was a lot of paperwork and such that would needed to be completed, including getting permission from all neighbors within 500 feet of the property, which wouldn't have been a big deal, but it would have delayed us a few days. We also might run the risk of aggravating the inspector and that could lead to problems down the road. So, we talked about it and decided to just offset by six inches since six inches isn't really a lot of space. We felt it would just be easier in the long run. 

So, on Wednesday, the concrete truck came out and poured the footing for the slab. When I went by the house that afternoon, I discovered the telephone line I mentioned in my last post was still connected to the house when I got there. I also realized some time during the day on Wednesday that the line that the builder needed cut was actually not the telephone line, but instead a cable line which was being used for the internet. So, I called the internet service provider and arranged for them to come out and cut their line off the house as well. Then, I called AT&T again about the ticket I opened on Monday. The lady on the phone told me the ticket had been closed on Monday and the work was completed. I told her that was funny since I opened the ticket on Monday, they were supposed to come Tuesday and here is is Wednesday and the line is still connected to the house. We set up another appointment for the techs to come out on Friday. 

Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m., the utility company called me and wanted to confirm that the line needed to be taken off the house and service disconnected that day. It was pouring down rain and I'm sure they were hoping I would say no. I told them, yes, to please go ahead and disconnect and cut the line. We are transferring the utilities from overhead to underground and so it should be connected back some time next week. Around 8:30 a.m. the internet company called. Apparently the technician was unclear on what exactly needed to be done; so, I explained to him that the line needed to be cut off the house because that particular was was going to be knocked down. I then asked him about transferring from overhead to underground for the cable as well and he said, yes, that could be done, but there was a fee associated with it. There's a fee for everything, y'all. I assured him, the fee was no issue and that I would be in touch about that soon. Thursday afternoon I stopped by the house to pick up the mail and a couple of packages and confirmed both the cable line and the utility line had been cut and the meter was gone from the house. I guess they must take it when they disconnect service. Who knew? Not me. 

Friday they are supposed to lay cinder block if the concrete is dry and next will be gravel and the slab and then framing should start next week. It's all going very well so far and I'm really excited to see the daily progress! 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Enchanting Rose Tea Cup Exchange #8

I recently participated in a tea cup/mug exchange sponsored by The Enchanting Rose. Erika had done this previously and really enjoyed it and sent me an email when this most recent one was announced. You may recall that Erika actually wrote a guest post on the blog describing the goodies she received from her last mug exchange. I loved hearing about all the lovely things Erika received in her package and since I don't have enough going on in my life right now (she says sarcastically) I decided to go ahead and participate this time around. 

A week or so after the sign-up deadline, I received an email with the information of the person to whom I was supposed to send a mug and gift. You are supposed to send a mug or tea cup (depending on what you signed up for) and some tea or coffee and another small gift. I signed up for the tea cup exchange and received the name of Maggie in Missouri. I bought her a tea cup and saucer and spoon set that was a pink floral pattern, a bag of Front Porch Special Tea from Piper and Leaf (my favorite!) and a dish towel with pictures of historical landmarks in Huntsville. I included a note describing why I chose each item and included my information inside and sent it to her on Monday, March 21.

When I went by my house this past Monday to check on the progress of things and collect the mail, I had a thank you note from Maggie and a package from the person who got my name. As it turns out, Maggie is 12 years old and is the fifth of eight children! When I signed up for the exchange, I didn't even consider that there would be young girls participating. I guess I just assumed it would be a lot of old ladies (yes, Erika and I often consider ourselves old ladies). Maggie's thank you note was very sweet and she mentioned she would like to get to know me. This brought back very fond memories for me because as a child I had many pen pals and loved writing letters to people. In fact, I still have most of those letters. This was long before the days of email and blogs when the written word was still cherished. At any rate, I wrote Maggie a letter and am planning on sending her another small package soon with some small gifts I think she will enjoy. One gift I had actually ordered when I got her name, but it didn't come in before I had to send my package. I've thought a lot about Maggie since I got her thank you note. I hope we will stay in touch over the years. I think it will just warm my heart to watch her grow into a young lady and see what life has in store for her.
As for the package I received, it was absolute perfection. I really don't recall what all I included in my likes and dislikes on the information page, but Emilee from Utah interpreted it beautifully and sent me a box full of wonderful surprises. First of all, she taped the box so well I wasn't sure I would be able to open it; but, I was finally successful in the opening of the box and loved everything that was inside. 

The tea cup Emilee chose was a cream color with a navy pattern and it was just gorgeous! I am planning to paint my new dining room navy and so the tea cup is just perfect! Also in the box was some pomegranate tea and lemon cookies. I'm really looking forward to trying the tea and will probably enjoy a cookie as well. My cousin Jan and I have been having hot tea at night and so I have no doubt the pomegranate tea will be put to good use. Emilee also sent a cute "things to do" note pad which is just perfect for me because if anyone loves to make a "to do" list it's yours truly. Finally, there was a cute dish towel inside which depicted flowers and birds and water cans and was very cute. I'm anxious to use everything included in my basket. Emilee did a fantastic job of picking out items for me without even knowing me! 

I told Erika just the other day that I wasn't sure if I would participate in the mug exchange again because I had spent a little more money than I had ever intended. However, after receiving my thank you from Maggie and my package from Emilee, I think I will definitely participate the next time. Erika had told me she found the last exchange very encouraging and uplifting and you know what, so did I. I'll be on the lookout for the next time The Enchanting Rose does an exchange and I'll try to remember and post it here so you all can participate as well if you want. 

Until next time...

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Days One and Two

Perhaps all it took was a post about nothing being done at my house for something to be done because I'm pleased to announce that work began on my house this Monday, March 28! I'm super excited to see red clay instead of patchy grass in my back yard and soon there will be a concrete slab where the addition will be built. It's all starting and I'm just pleased as punch! 

They started moving dirt a little after 7:00 a.m. and it wasn't long before I got a call about the lines attached to the house. Long story short, we determined that in addition to the utility line (which will be taken care of on Wednesday), there was a phone line coming into the house which also needed to be taken down and I needed to call someone to take care of it. Considering I had a phone line for about three months about nine years ago, I had no idea who to call. I'm pretty sure when I had my landline for a brief shining moment that I set it up through BellSouth and BellSouth doesn't even exist any more. I ended up calling AT&T and miracle of miracles, after I made it through two automated systems and one transfer, I had an appointment for the crew to come out and disconnect the line and it only took about 15 minutes of my life. I was thrilled it went so swimmingly.

Monday the backhoe man came and dug the footing for the slab. They decided to put a base of cinder block and rebar in trenches as a base to make it more stable. I went out Monday afternoon to take some pictures and they were still there working. They finished up about 5:30 p.m., packed up the backhoe and headed out. It was super exciting to see the work that had been done and gave me a better understanding of how big the space would be and how far it would go back. 

On Tuesday morning, the concrete man was supposed to come, but first an inspection of the footing was in order. We failed. Y'all, we failed the first inspection! I feel a long road ahead. The building has to be four feet off the property line and according to the footing and the fence line, it was too close. My dad ordered a survey because there was some thought that my property actually went beyond my fence. The survey was going to cost $500 and if there wasn't another foot and a half on the other side of the fence that was my property, then there was also going to be a charge for the backhoe man to come out and redo the footing on that side. We talked it through and both though that there was some property on the other side of my fence. 

Then after hanging up with my dad I started thinking about it and decided to cancel the survey because I really don't think there is a foot and a half of property on the other side of the fence. Long story short, I had to put that fence up because of a property line dispute with the previous owner of the property next door and I'm sure we put it on the line, if not a few inches off the line which means the footing would have to be moved. So, instead of paying $500 for the survey and whatever extra charge for having the backhoe man come out, I decided to do away with the survey fee and just pay the backhoe man more. This also means the back bedroom will be offset by a foot and a half, which will look a little goofy, but there's really no other way around it. I'll just have to make it work.. You would think we would have known about this four foot from the property line requirement before we starting digging, but you know, those are the breaks. I'm currently just looking at it as having saved myself $500 that I didn't have to spend. I'll adjust, It will be okay. In the end, it will still look great and I'll have the added space I want and need and it will still be beautiful when it's all said and done, just a foot and a half less wide.