Monday, September 30, 2013

Up Up and Away

The hilarious excavator that worked on our project predicted it. He said that he'd do all the dirty work for weeks to get the foundation in place and we wouldn't be excited but then the framers would come in, work for one day and get all kinds of credit and glory. Yeah, pretty much. 

Let me start by reminding you what things looked like when I left for work this morning...

And now look at it!! Up up and awaaaayyyyyyy!!!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Water Water Everywhere

It's pouring rain this weekend and our porch pit is turning into a muddy swimming pool!! What a mess.

Fortunately our contractor had the foresight to cover all of the freshly delivered lumber with tarps before they left for the weekend.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hay Day

The excavators finished up today! They filled in all the areas around the foundation with dirt and covered the whole yard in hay. It looks a little silly but it's preventing everything from getting muddy.

The number of dirty dog prints on the carpet has significantly declined since the introduction of the hay so I'm all for it!

Lumber was supposed to have been delivered today with framing starting this week. Unfortunately we've had a delay since the lumber truck had a crane that our power lines would have interfered with. They'll try again tomorrow with a truck more appropriate for our city block.

Since the framers don't work on Friday, it will be Monday before much real progress is made :(. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Weekend Warriors

The concrete guys worked over the weekend to get the forms removed so that the excavators can start working straight away on Monday! .

The pit will be gone and only the top of the foundation will peek above the ground. So I suppose by Tuesday everything will look pretty much the way it did when we started :)!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Set in Stone

The concrete went into the forms today and the foundation of our new porch is set in stone! Well, it will be once it dries.

I really want to stamp all of the dogs paws into one of these big pools of cement! Jake said it probably wasn't a good idea though. He's probably right. I can just see them stampeding through the forms and ruining the entire thing!

We also had a field inspection by the city today. All is well. They reviewed and signed-off on the work performed by our structural engineer.
There are pages and pages of these crazy calculations. It's like Goodwill Hunting or something.
Oh and our light fixtures came today! I like them but they are bigger than I was imagining. We had originally planned to put one on each column but I think we'll reduce that to every-other-column instead. We'll see.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Our contractor's office manager has been helping us get all of our finishings selected and ordered. I've been pretty good about sticking with the decisions we've communicated to her with the exception of our ceiling fan!

I'm sure I'm driving her nuts with my "order this", "cancel that", "I like this", "wait, no I don't like it after all", "I think I want this", "okay, order it, I think."

After all the back and forth, I promised her that I had made my final decision today! We're sticking with this fan... whether we like it or not!!

A Useless Yard

For the next several days, our yard will be entirely uninhabitable unless you happen to be wearing a tool belt. Concrete will go in tomorrow, the frames will come out the next day and on Monday, the giant pile of dirt will be pushed back into the pit - making the yard (somewhat) usable again.

When the excavation was done the contractor uncovered some issues with our foundation that needed to be fixed in order to bring our home up to code. We're glad it's being corrected but hoping we don't find too many more surprises throughout the project!

Progress is being made but it's coming at the expense of our sanity, dogs included.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bright Ideas

We were a little bummed when we learned the fixtures we had originally picked out had been discontinued... mostly because we dreaded having to look through the hundreds of options again to try to make a decision!

But everything happens for a reason and I actually think I like our new selection even more. It also doesn't hurt that these fixtures are half the price as the originals! We need to buy 8 of them so it's saving us a lot of dough.

Dirty Paws

The dogs are loving what is currently a huge dirt pit in the backyard. It makes a great arena for chase game, rodent digging and worm rolling. Unfortunately the dirt doesn't stay outside after all the fun.

I wish the dogs cared about the carpet as much as we do. No such luck.

The deeper the pit was dug, the sharper the angle became on the dog ramp. You can see how steep it is in the pics above! The dogs have figured it out but still struggle to get up what is essentially a ladder now.

This should get easier on them (and us!) once the concrete is poured and set early next week. Until then, here's another ramp video :).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Decisions Decisions

There seem to be endless decisions that have to be made when doing a project like ours and I'm afraid that I inherited my Mom's ability to agonize over the tiniest design choices.

I took a quick inventory of the major elements we need to select and the status of each of them. We still have a lot of work to do!

Lighting - we picked sconces that we liked but learned that they were discontinued so it's back to the drawing board there!

Ceiling Fan - we ordered a fan but then I panicked, decided it wasn't right and cancelled the order! We're back on the fan hunt now.

French Doors - we think we know the design (multi-pane) and color (black) but we're going to make a road trip to Kent to see them in person before we finalize.

Shutters - similar to the doors, we know the material (vinyl) and color (black) but need to pick up a brochure and see some samples before we select the final design.

Tile & Grout - wooo hooo!! This one is complete! Florida Tile Formations in color Flint. We decided to go with the large squares (18" x 18").

Ceiling Stain - the ceiling of the porch will have exposed beams and and boards so we need to figure out what color we want to stain them. The quality of the wood used can't be painted so I'm a little nervous about how the stain will look against the other finished areas. We'll just play this one by ear.

Decking - we will have a small deck outside of the porch for the bbq. We chose a composite decking material recommended by our contractor. We think the gray color will match best with the siding of the house so that's what we're going with.

We're planning on doing some shopping this weekend. Hopefully we can get at least a couple more decisions finalized since time is running out! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Rampant Confusion

The dogs are all a little confused by the ramp that has replaced the stairs.

The littles have been soaring off the side and diving into the dirt rather than walking down it completely. Beatrice has figured out how to get up the ramp but Opie will probably have to be carried up and down for the remainder of the project.

The bigs are also flying off the side and then leaping half way up it rather than just starting from the bottom. We're hopeful that they'll all get the hang of it soon but for now, they are all confused about how to get from the yard to their food bowls.

Chaos Ensues

The chaos of the excavation stage has official descended on the back yard.

There is a giant trailer parked in our front lawn to haul away the dirt, tree stump and whatever else they find when they excavate for the new foundation - hopefully no Indian burial grounds or pet cemeteries! 

Part of the fence had to be removed to get the excavator in. Our contractor, who is thankfully a dog lover, built us a ramp so that the dogs can still get in and out of what is left of the yard. 

Quigley is skeptical of this new creature that he has to share the yard with.

Needless to say, it's a mess and will be for the next 4 to 6 weeks. It will all be worth it though! 

The digging is scheduled to run through the rest of the week. The team should be pouring concrete as early as Monday. 

Back Breaking before the Ground Breaking

We are leaving the bulk of the Taj Maporch work to the professionals but did a bit of demolition ourselves to save a few bucks.

We originally had a small patio attached to the back stairs. It was nice and well constructed but not very functional for us. Just like the tree, the patio had to go in order to make room for the new foundation.

Jake and I, with the help of the dogs, removed all of the stones this past weekend. We had to be bent over digging and hauling for the bulk of the afternoon so we finished the project with sore backs and dirty fingernails. All of the pavers are stacked and ready to be removed by a neighbor who will recycle them in another yard.

The before and after pictures don't feel like they represent the volume of sweat and smashed fingernails we contributed to the project! It pretty much looks the same :). We're one step closer though!

Sorry Neighbors!

Apart from the noise and chaos that has now descended on our back yard, our dear neighbors also have to put up with this treat on the sidewalk for the next month +.

I've encouraged them to take advantage of a nice outdoor wee if the urge strikes but I'm not sure that will make up for the eye sore.

Sorry neighbors! If we could send you all to Hawaii for the duration of this process, we would! 

Bye Bye Mountain Ash

To make room for Taj Maporch, we had to have our giant Mountain Ash tree removed from the back of our house.

Mountain Ash has a really pretty red berry. While they look especially vibrant and pretty in the late summer, they also make a HUGE mess. The dogs like to eat them and then puke them up in the house. The crows like to descend on them at 5AM and then gobble them up while bouncing around our roof. The gutters like to get clogged with them too. So, while it was sad to see such a lovely tree taken down to a stump, I don't think we'll be missing it much.

Fortunately for us, our neighbor down the street is a great arborist and wasn't at all mad that we were removing one of the neighborhoods biggest and oldest trees. Once he chopped it down, he could see that the inside was black and rotting. It probably wouldn't have survived another big wind storm.

Since we really did feel badly about removing something that many of our neighbors enjoyed, I decided that I would attempt to make Mountain Ash jam as a peace offering. I found a recipe from the UK and spent a whole afternoon slaving over the stove.

Despite freezing the berries, drowning them in lemon juice and showering them in sugar, the final result can only be described as TOTALLY DISGUSTING! It's a nice shade of orange but the taste is so bitter that it's inedible. Oh well. It's the thought that counts.

Taj Maporch

Apart from hanging a few photos and putting together an IKEA shelf, we really haven't dipped our toe into the home improvement waters since we moved in June of 2012.

That's all changing with a project we recently started that we're now affectionately calling, Taj Maporch.

When we moved in, we were missing a backyard space that was comfortable and functional for us, our dogs and our guests. Back in April, we began tossing around ideas for how to transform the space into something that would get more use. We originally thought about a simple cedar deck but after a number of wouldn't-it be-cool-if's, it quickly became a full blown home addition.

We've since hired an architect, a structural engineer and a contractor who have all helped us plan and permit a covered porch with all of the bells and whistles we could hope for. It's going to be a long and messy road ahead of us but we're thrilled to have finally broken ground.

I'll be doing A LOT of posts on this topic in the coming weeks and sharing loads of photos so that Jake and I can remember all of the fun we're having (said with just an ounce of sarcasm - no really, most of it is fun!!).


The Twenty Percent

When we were house shopping a year ago, our real estate agent counseled us to "expect to find a home that meets 80% of your criteria." After just a couple of weeks, we found our 80% and knew that with a little time and a few investments, it could meet 100% of our needs.

I'm setting up this blog to capture the journey to fill the remaining 20% that will make our home everything we wanted and more. I plan to use this space as a personal journal for logging the plans, the decisions, the progress, the pics, the dirt and the joy of our home transformations - one project at a time.