Archives for category: Pictures

This week I found myself picturing all of the subcontractors as part of my big proverbial 60s style, swingin’ afghan just like my grandma used to make, not worrying so much if it wasn’t utterly perfect, just humming away and focused on putting together an item that would keep a loved one warm. Of course my grandma was color blind (I don’t know this for a fact but what sane person would otherwise knit those colors together?), but her goal was clear.

Richard and I spent all week coordinating. Telephone call to Whittington Plumbing, text to Josh at Eberling Design, quick pow-wow with Rob Lytle about the wood flooring timeline, and a stop to visit with Chris at Tile Market…all just so we could ensure the bathroom tile and wood flooring would continue as planned.  Oops! Must check the sinks are coming in on time for the plumber. Oops! Must remember to mark the walls where the electrician needs to put light outlets in the bathroom. Rip out a few stitches and start again.

Unlike coordinating a renovation, however, knitting is therapeutic, meditative, and supremely satisfying. And a decent quality skein of yarn only costs $5-15. Perhaps my color-blind grandma had clearer vision than I thought.

Today I spent my first day in the house – no we haven’t moved in, that’s sure to hit Twitter first – organizing the architectural plans for most of the homes in our neighborhood and searching for the plans for the Hatcher House. The history lessons have been delightful. Joseph Durkee, who owned much of the land in the neighborhood, subdivided his holdings into lots and decided who could buy and what they could build. A neighbor mentioned he now has possession of all the plans from the Durkee family, and offered to let me look through for my house, then I offered to organize the rest by address.

Original lots here were generally sold for at least $4,000 in the mid 50’s. Mr. Durkee wrote a letter to the bank advising that one proposed buyer should not have been approved for a mortgage because he seemed to lack sufficient income – the mortgage was for $19,500 and the buyer only made $6,600 per year as a bank clerk. A number of local architects and builders were involved in designing and building the homes, and almost all were designed as one level homes with an understated appearance. A few original owners are still in the neighborhood, as well as many descendants of the original families. Tracking the homes by the year built, I saw that many lots sat for a while before homes were built. I could imagine watching the houses pop up initially in the mid 50’s, then a smattering in the late 60’s and early 70’s, with a few stragglers in the 80’s. No trees clear cut or widespread construction, just organic growth over the years.

After opening the last bag and working my way through half of it without finding our plans, I was becoming disheartened. But this story shall have a happy ending – curled up modestly with the few remaining sets was an entire permit plan set with the name “Hatcher” scrawled across the outer edge.

As to our news: We have wood flooring on our top floor! We have wood flooring in our dining room and kitchen! We have tile in the second bathroom! We have a refrigerator and oven and dishwasher and induction cooktop…to install! We have kitchen cabinets…to assemble! Must be time to return to the present.

We all know children live in their own little universe and ours are mostly blissfully unaware of the home renovation stress. Thanks to the clearance section at Target, the kids have invented a new activity in conjunction with fishin’ and crabbin’ and twirlin’…

Earmuffs make it quiet for the fish

Ethan's first Florida blue crab

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Galoshing to one and all!

Against the odds, we arrived home Friday to find our four hvac units gloriously, and incredibly quietly, humming away outside the house. Then straight from a 30’s Fred Estaire movie, we swept in the front doors to have our hair and clothing softly stirred by cool, conditioned air. If a manufacturer rep from LG had been standing right there, I would have signed a contract in my own blood promising to tout the amazing benefits of their products for my lifetime.


Alas, Sunday was not a day of rest. Richard and I ripped up the last of the two layers of parquet and plywood that had been glued and nailed down in the dining room, I scaled the scaffolding and scrubbed clean 2 of the 4 coquina exterior towers, and I met with a fourth wood flooring installer, hoping this one will be the right fit at the right price. We also ordered all of our kitchen cabinets and talked through the final design for the master bathroom.

Almost time for the Clampetts to move from behind the cement pond into the big house.

I would think that any homeowner experiencing a massive renovation always takes some comfort in seeing movement and progress, no matter how minute. However, when you’re told by the contractor that completion is just weeks away, and even a week passes without seeing major progress, this particular homeowner goes a little crazy.

Dandeneau Contracting IS installing the birch ply ceiling panels slowly but surely, Butch from United Electric IS installing the lighting finishes in those ceiling panels, the drywaller IS doing a beautiful job on the installation. However we still have gaping holes where glass is supposed to go, such an awful job on the new roof that we’ve called do-over, we’re back to square one on a front door entry after weeks of wasted effort from various parties, and we’ve got a Change Order of Damocles swinging above us as the waterproofing is finalized.

Thank goodness we love, love, love our camper life so much. But wait, the camper owner needs her camper back in a few weeks…! Yes, we are happy to announce that we will be moving from the camper into the top floor of our unfinished home in a few weeks’ time, to languish on air beds and sleeping bags. Be careful what you wish for out there. It may make you loco.

Bill Thorne and his team have installed the majority of the Berridge zincalume siding in super quick fashion. 
Honestly, no matter how crappy I feel about the problems that are still arising, I can’t get the smile off my face upon seeing the cubic shell starting to look like a house!

Patricia McQuaid, our architect, is back on the job and working remotely from Italy to help finish up. We are now getting quotes on the wood flooring installation and bathroom cabinet fabrication, but we can’t do anything until the builder and architect figure out how to resolve the waterproofing around the glass.


My one unwavering bright spot is the bathroom. Chris at Tile Market helped finalize tile choices and gave us his blessing, and Josh Eberling is lined up to finish installation in two weeks. Will this be the one item that is completed on schedule? I daren’t hope.

Meanwhile we’re enjoying the first siren songs of spring. The oak leaves began dropping the last week in February, followed by a serious pollen drenching that continued into last week, and this week the maple tree across the little side creek began dropping helicopters all over our camper lawn, whirling down and remind us of our childhood.

downed helicopters

helicopters on the pool deck

Highs are inevitably followed by lows. Upon closer inspection of our glorious new sliding WinDoor systems, we found large gaps in some areas between the window frames and jambs that are not easily sealed, and everything has ground to a halt while the experts scratch their heads and figure out how to keep water out AND still make the architectural detailing look good AND not require us, the hapless homeowners, to sell our first-born. The huge fixed glass pieces arriving next week will have similar issues. My suggestion of pillows of pink expanding insulation and metallic spray paint was met by cold stares.

Nay! Gaps!

Pressure treated wood reveal, gap, aluminum door frame

The over-arching problem (oh that’s so negative! how about “consideration?” much cheerier!) with this house has been, and always will be, waterproofing. Every single major decision that has been made in this project has first been based on waterproofing. And here we are, within keen eyesight’s view of the finish line, and we have a new major waterproofing…consideration.

I’m going to go sit outside and watch the mullet jump (must be some seasonal thing? they splash around all day and night right now), forget my problems and let the experts mullet over. Ba dum bump.

A juvenile mullet

After six months of staring at a black plastic-veiled shell, we are overcome by the sight of plywood sheathing on the exterior walls and sliding glass doors and windows in place! Normal people may not get a charge out of such a sight, but normal people don’t live in 300 square feet without proper plumbing or heat/air. A huge shout out to Willy and his crew from Architectural Windows & Cabinets – they have worked until 6 pm the last two days to install cumbersome windows and sliding door systems on all four levels, and they’ve been in a jovial mood for most of it. Whistle while you work, indeed!

THAT'S what's underneath?!

Richard and I are on our own for a lot of the finishes and have been working feverishly to complete our research and make decisions. Today we ordered 2500 square feet of bamboo flooring, my dreamy dining room pendant lights, kitchen cabinetry, bathroom countertops, kitchen appliances, and a whole house tankless water heater. We are still finalizing bathroom tile choices but Josh Eberling will be here tomorrow to install the Schluter-Kerdi shower system and related Ditra subfloor in the first bathroom (supposedly rendering said bathroom a stand-alone floatation tank in case I fall asleep during The World’s Longest Indoor Shower, which I plan to commence immediately upon the grout being dry).

insulation around bath fixtures

Feel free to send ideas for an art installation or other reuse for our dear black plastic house veil…I’ll miss that sudden snapping sound at 2 am when it caught in the wind and woke me from a dead sleep, its funereal drape, the way it gaped in all the right places to tempt the driving rain…

Well we try, and we try…

There is great comfort in having an insulated house. It speaks of warmth, shelter, safety, quietude. We were scheduled to have an insulated house months ago, then two weeks ago, then a week ago, and finally today the insulation guys arrived…with the wrong, i.e. el cheapo, insulation. Durwood (site superintendent) saw them coming in the door, and after a few not-so-nice conversations, the insulation guys left never to return.

Baby better come back later next week. Perhaps we shall then have insulation?

My wee family happily burst out of the camper in mid-December for a long-standing Christmas holiday date with family in Australia, just in time for the apocalyptic flooding, expecting to return to a mostly done house (since the project completion was slated for January). Instead we returned to freezing weather, no electricity and a water leak in camper (trouble shooting took 24 hours with numb fingers), a house that looked the same as we left it, big decisions in limbo, and ever-growing budgetary concerns and project delays.

before

after

The completion date was pushed a few weeks, then a month, and as of today we’re probably looking at early to mid-March. If we’re lucky.

But I’m always cranky when I’m cold.

Current problem to solve is choosing an LG ductless hvac system. Our recently discovered that our contractor was apparently relying on the subcontractor’s knowledge because the systems aren’t common in these here parts, so Richard and I are now spending a lot of extra time researching and talking to people to educate ourselves about our options. Since the house can’t be completed or lived in until this is done, it is an Urgent Decision.

If you’re not interested in the details stop reading this paragraph now, otherwise ductless systems are kinda neat. We chose ductless because it allows us to raise the dropped ceiling height a sorely needed couple to eight inches (we run thin drain and condenser lines instead of big fat air ducts), and we chose LG because they have the purtiest evaporators (the bits inside the house that contain fans to blow either hot or cold air). We get the added benefits of higher energy efficiency and better greenie status, too, since the condensers run at multiple speeds and use R410 instead of freon. Imagine chopping a window unit in two pieces – the ductless system has the condenser part outside (smaller and quieter than a standard forced air system box thrumming away outside), and the fan part (air handler or evaporator) inside. But one condenser unit can run to multiple room units in the house AND can simultaneously run heat through one unit and cool through another AND more efficiently dehumidifies at the same time. Decision-wise, there are commercial or residential systems that will do the trick, but how to compare? I know, I know, you’re as enthralled and mystified as I am.

The electrician from United started today and will start on the exterior so that as he finishes bits the house can be insulated, sheathed and ready for siding. The very last bit of steel was installed by fabricator Haskell’s sub today, Dandeneau Contracting has framed almost all fixed glass openings, Willy has ordered the glass WinDoor systems, and Walter from Lee & Cates is teeing up the fixed glass (as much low e as made sense for energy efficiency). (I realized today that we only have one solid exterior door in the whole house, the rest is glass. Weird.) We had a 4 hour meeting to cover lots of other details but those are the Big Decisions.

For those of you who have them, revel in your centrally heated, insulated homes running on power supplied by your municipality, with large hot water tanks and plumbing lines you don’t have to empty yourself. I yearn to be you.