Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Latest and Greatest

No more interior ramp!
Brick wall addition
This is the final week Larry will be at the lake until Saturday. His bother takes the grandboys deer hunting and Larry has asked that he wake him up before sunrise so he can get on the road extra early. He'll stay in RI with me and the pups until the Monday after "turkey day", then head back south for a couple weeks. Then he'll come back north for Christmas. We'll both drive down with the dogs after Christmas and stay with his brother for a couple of weeks.

Interior kitchen roof
Larry trusts the workers he has gotten to know and like to do a good job while he's gone. Plus, he's hanging one extra security camera on the temporary electric pole so we can watch the roof get built on the main house. Today the masons are finishing up brick walls in the living room, and starting to reroof the pump house.

New Water System
Our new water system has been installed, but will not be activated until we are ready for water. They cleaned out the house and sealed the cinder block walls, so that it looks clean and white in there now. Our new water system is self-flushing which will cut down on the need to purchases filters. And, we have been assured it will also remove the iron and magnesium, so prevalent in the water now, as to allow us to actually do laundry at the lake when we are done.

Pump House
Larry purchased the natural hickory kitchen cabinets from Lowe's after designing the kitchen layout. Buying from Lowe's saved us about $3,000. He's also purchased the majority of our appliances and sinks from both Lowe's and Home Depot; taking advantage of early "Black Friday" deals, saving us many hundreds of dollars, and percentage discounts for using our HD credit card. The only appliance to actually get delivered to the lake house after he returns will be the refrigerator. It is the largest and heaviest item, so the closer it is, the better. The rest are being delivered to his brother's house and the "brothers" will get them to the lake when it's time.

Proposed Laundry Room
My talented husband also designed my new laundry room and we talked this morning about refinements for it like cabinetry for pantry space, and counter tops for folding clothes. We'll use propane for the dryer, stove and water heater to save on electricity. Our electric coop has very expensive rates. And, we decided to get a large propane tank to be located near the "shed" (garage) parallel to the fence separating our property from the neighbor's. We don't have any neighbors right now, but someday we will.
Kitchen Lighting Plan

Larry also sent me the lighting design for our new kitchen. It is the darkest room in the house, and lots of lighting is very desirable. We've been talking about exterior lighting, spotlights to keep an eye on the pups at night, and where switches should be located. There are so many small decisions to be made and planning for use of space required when doing any build or renovation.

My husband has done an excellent job planning, researching, and doing all the work of this project. All I've had to do is "sign off". I am happy about this. He is having fun kibitzing with the workers and making jokes at my expense like, "keeping the little woman happy". I could care less. They now know I spy on them on the cameras, and they think this is hilarious. The cameras and Skype keep me connected with the project and my husband, and that also makes me happy.

SCE&G (the utility company that owns Lake Murray) has been dropping the lake level over November. It will continue to drop until December and be left that way for a month. This periodic level drop helps to naturally curb invasive weed growth and in general aides the health of the lake. From this shot, the level should drop about another three to four feet! We will extend this concrete boat ramp up into the yard once the concrete trucks arrive for ease of backing the pontoon into the water.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Latest Demo News

Demolition of a house is quite the expansive process. As of today, the rest of the roof of the main house was removed.

It was discovered that bricks must be removed in the living room to create a hole for the new sliding glass door out to the new sunroom that brings the wall "to code". Apparently, the demolition guys went crazy with brick removal!

Before cleanout.
Replacement bricks, mortar and machines to mix it have all been delivered. Masonry work proceeded today and seems to be going well.

The pump house is all cleaned out and repainted inside to clean it up. Our new water system is being installed on Friday. After the installation, the roof will be rebuilt on the building. Larry had to wrap the pump in a tarp to try to protect it from twenty-degree weather coming tonight. He is the only one thinking about exposed pipes that could actually freeze.

It is very cold in SC right now. Larry had to buy fleece clothing and long underwear for his days sitting next to the heater in his "man cave" designing our new kitchen. He continues to send links to Home Depot and Lowe's Department stores for appliances for me to peruse and approve. In the most recent iteration of his kitchen design (yet to be viewed), the dishwasher is on the left side of the sink. Plumbing pipes need to be moved and consolidated in order to be efficiently run down the wall to be able to use the existing drain. I don't fully understand all this, but then, I'm not there to see it either.

Tonight he'll send me the laundry room design too. I can't wait to see his latest and greatest.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Demo Continues

Letting go of control over how a house renovation happens is hard. But Larry is doing a great job of keeping me "in the loop" by texting and emailing pictures of the entire process. There is no internet at the house anymore, so watching the goings on over the security cameras is not possible any longer. Not only does he keep me abreast of the demolition, he also sends updates on our plants and the critters that we have grown so fond of.

A lizard still crawls on the floor amidst the debris and chaos, while a new (to us), very large, red spider visits our dock. It feels like our wild friends are keeping track of the progress with hopes of continuing to invade our space when we're done. "Sorry, kids, that won't happy anymore. You must stay outside from now on," I tell them telepathically. I'm sure our family and friends who come to visit will be happy about this change too.

The roof is off all the bedrooms and the living room now. Steel trusses had to be to be cut off with a torch and slowly lowered to the ground crew for removal outside. The demolition team discovered, however, that once windows and now the roof were removed from our brick living room, those walls are not very stable anymore. Framing has to be built back in to the window holes for added support, and wood braces were added while the trusses were being removed. Mortar is old and cracked, so our mason is repairing it, and adding concrete to the holes in bricks for added structural support. The place is a mere shell of its former self. Larry feels a little sad by the change, but I remind him that we are breathing new life into the house. It is more of a rebirth than a death.
Now the dumpster is full, so demolition cannot continue until it is replaced with an empty one. So, today they are trenching for new plumbing pipes and maybe power lines between the pump house and the main house. We belong to an electric co-op, and MCEC (Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative) will have to come move the main house power off the outside wall to the temporary pole that was installed recently. We also decided this morning that we will have another trench dug, which our builder tells us MCEC may pay for between the transformer and the house, to move electric power under ground.

We decided in the last few days to remove our utility closet in the kitchen. The main circuit-breaker box in that closet will move into the new laundry room because the house has to be rewired anyway. Our builder discovered the wiring powering the house and hidden above the kitchen ceiling was old and spliced. This new knowledge sent shivers down our spines for the potential fire hazard they posed unbeknownst to us. Thank you, God, for protecting us all this time. With the utility closet gone, we gain a little more useable space in the kitchen, and it becomes more aesthetically pleasing.

Larry has done lots of research into our bathroom renovation purchases with pricing and web links for me to look at. I am taking a trip to Lowe's to look at a vinyl shower stall with glass door, granite counter tops with sinks, and vanities in person today. He also got two plumbing company quotes for our new bathroom purchases to compare with Lowe's pricing. We assume our builder will be able to get additional discounts to save us more money as well.

I have to admit that my husband knows my taste pretty well, and I like what he has chosen for me to weigh in on so far. And, I admit that I have no problem letting go of control over this process. Because I trust what he has chosen so far, I feel included and good about the proposed final look and feel of our renovated lakehouse so far.

One decision he convinced me of this morning, also, was to not frame over a window from our current living room into the new sunroom, making it a solid wall. Instead, we will add a frosted glass panel. This panel will allow in light, but add a little privacy to the new room. I was concerned that if we decided to put a television in front of it as the only usable wall in that room, the shadow would be unattractive. I can always just hang sheers over it like we used to and will do in the rest of the room. We'll see once it is done. I'll be redecorating the place, and it just won't be the same. This kind of change is a really good thing.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

More Demolition

Demo continues at the lakehouse with Larry supervising the efforts. Our GC, Bill, has a wonderful family crew doing all the excavating, jackhammering and stripping; inside and out. Dennis, his wife, son, brother and father are handling all the work with expert care, and "Mr. Larry" is on hand in his self-made "man cave" to answer whatever questions arise.

All the bedrooms have now been stripped of walls down to the framing, and the ceilings reveal trusses for support: a surprising find given these are flat roofs. Another snake skin was found in the ceiling above our bedroom. Argh! The living room and kitchen have also been stripped and all the windows and interior doors removed. The house doesn't even look like itself anymore. One thing Larry and I realized, is how big the living room window holes are! If only we could afford a large pane of glass for those holes. What a gorgeous, unobstructed view we would have. But, we can't afford that, so double units of single-hung windows will go in instead. So be it. The view will still be magnificent.

We decided to move some walls around. Dennis asked the question, and echoed what I had begun to think about but did not yet voice. Larry drew up a design, and our final decision is to make the master bedroom a little bigger and the back guest bedroom a little smaller. The smallest guest bedroom door will be moved to make the room more efficient for use of space. There will be more flexibility for where to place the double bed, and the room will not feel so crowded.

Yesterday, Dennis's father, jack-hammered the boat ramp out of the living room and will be the mason replacing it with a level broken-tile mosaic floor. Hopefully, we chose a color tile that will closely match the existing tile.

Today, Dennis will demo the master bathroom and begin ripping the roof off the living room. Progress is being made very quickly, and we expect building the new roof could maybe start next week. With things moving this quickly, we hope the entire project will be completed by January! Fingers crossed.