Friday, March 28, 2014

Oops! What's hidden underground?

Work at the lake house is moving along. I emailed our general contract for schedules, and people started showing up the next day. Interesting. Us Yankees gotta nudge these "life in the slow lane" people along sometimes, right?

Painting is complete in the kitchen, laundry room and the sunroom. I wanted these rooms finished first because the kitchen cabinets are ready to be delivered on Monday, and the tile guy needs to begin. He has started tiling the laundry room today. I love the colors I chose and cannot wait until the rest is complete. Tammy, our painter, is finishing up the master bathroom, so the plumber can get in there next. I've asked her to get the living room done after that, so all the workers coming in and out won't be tripping over her ladders, buckets and brush handles. She's very nice, and is doing a great job.

Sun Room
The plumber showed up yesterday with a helper and a backhoe. He dug a long trench from the house to the pump house. A new water pipe and wiring was laid in the trench before covering it back up again. I feel sorry for Larry because in the course of digging the trench, sprinkler system pipes got broken as well as our internet cable. No more cameras to spy on workers. Because he's a plumber, he fixed the broken sprinker pipes before covering them back up. We'll wait to call Comporium, our internet provider, until we are ready for our packaged service to be installed.

Next, the backhoe dug a dry well for our washing machine. The septic on the laundry side of the house is limited, so running a drain for the washer somewhere else seemed prudent. Stone was layed in the trench into which the drain pipe was laid, and plastic covered the stones before it too was covered over with clay soil.

Larry hand-dug his own trench from the shed to where he thinks our new power pole will be installed, if MCEC (Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative) decides we can have one or need one. Our power comes from a pole in the neighbor's yard over the fence. Because our soil is hard clay and rock, hand digging is strenuous work! But, as usual, Larry did a great job, and laid the wiring pipe for power to the shed.

I was there yesterday to meet the painter and see the latest progress in person. I took pictures of the Azaleas beginning to bloom, the Red Bud trees and Pear tree blooms. Our Forsythias have gone past now, and spring continues here, even though the temperatures are at least ten to twenty degrees below normal for this time of year. I guess everywhere is being affected by the powerful winter that hit us this year. I'm just glad I'm not in freezing temps with snow threats. Enough of that for me, thank you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dry Wall not Sheet Rock

Renovations at the lakehouse are moving along quickly, then they slow down. Rain and cold have not helped the process. The house may be dry now with doors and all but three windows installed and complete, but this cold, damp weather does not allow anything to dry. Not drying slows the process down again. Up and down; fast and slow. We feel like we're on a roller-coaster ride sometimes. Spring has sprung here in SC with Daffodils, Snow Drops, Ground Flox, Magnolia trees, Red Bud and Braford Pear everywhere. It's amazing how a little spash of color can lift one's spirits, especially knowing family and friends in MA and RI are still experiencing snow and freezing temperatures.

Kitchen (see stilts)
In my last post, I think I told you that I was unhappy with the "old" bathroom window our vendor installed, and the kitchen window over the sink. I lost sleep, again, over these windows and emailed our GC, Bill. The upshot is that he will replace the double, single-hung sink window with a slider, and the rigid pane of glass in the bathroom with a small casement. Bill was not happy that I insisted if the only way to get a casement was to screw it to the concrete, then so be it. Larry backed me on this, and that's what Bill's crew will do. This replacement means the wood "buck" that was installed will also be removed, so the tiled opening will be smooth up to the window. I am happy now. But, the large kitchen window has still not come in, and that hole remains covered in Tyvek paper. I firmly believe in getting what you want if you can, so I push when it feels right to do so.

Living room into Kitchen
All the sheet rock has been installed and taped. I learned when I met Dave, who introduced himself to me as our "dry wall" man, that sheet rock is no longer a viable term. Tomato; tomahto. A single coat of spackle, now called "mud" was spread yesterday. Today, the weather remains cold and rainy, so there are no workers at the house. This layer has to dry before another layer can be added, so we wait.

The Mexicans, as they are called by everyone down here, who installed the dry wall, tape and spackle must double as acrobats. The stilts they use to walk around are really tall. Not only do they have unbelievable balance, but they hold tools while they walk, look up and back while they work, and I am in awe of their talents. These guys are also happy, and as we approach the house, loud Spanish music blares at us. I love that they play music while they work. They feel like kindred spirits in that regard.

As the house gets closer to completion, I get antsy to shop. Larry and I went browsing in furniture stores on Sunday, and we decided to not only upgrade to a king-size bed, which will have to be purchased, we decided the living room sofa needs replacing. We do need new coffee and end tables, but I hadn't anticipated any other new furniture. With the new sun room, some of the furniture will be moved out there and the existing coffee/end tables will go with it. The best laid plans...
New Laundry Room

We're going out today to order the new shower door, tile for the sun room with its grout, and upper oak cabinets for the new laundry room from Lowe's, our other favorite store along with Home Depot.

The only knob and pulls I haven't purchased yet are those for the laundry room cabinets. I also am looking for one artistic knob or pull for our bathroom cabinet door. I got nice chrome pulls for the drawers, but wanted to add a little "something, something" to the door with a handpainted, porcelain or glass knob/pull. I haven't found it yet though.

I also found a little bench for the back bedroom dressing area that we will go pick up. I'm just not sure the fabric will work. I may have to recover it later. I'm looking for mirrors and some art work for the walls too. Interior design is so much fun!

We have a beautiful, framed map of Narragansett Bay on our RI wall, so we purchased a lovely fishing map of Lake Murray, complete with marinas. I'm so happy we found this. I think it will make a lovely addition to the new sun room. And, it will help in August when the big bass-fishing tournament is here. I still hope my two brothers and sister will make the drive down to visit, drive around with our brother-in-law, Ed, on their Harleys and do a little fishin'.

Oh, we also got free tickets to the Home and Garden show at the SC State Fairgrounds this past weekend, and low and behold, we won a free $1,200 security system! Equipment, installation and activation fee are all free. We aren't ready for its installation yet, so we asked the company to call us in two weeks when we may have an electrical outlet to plug the wireless router(?) into. I never win anything! Let's see what the monthly monitoring cost is. This is a fancy system like we see on the television commercials where the guy hits a button on his Smart phone to close up the house his kids left "on". I can't wait. This will also add market value down the road, so I am one happy camper.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Back in the Southland Again

Front Entry
I had a dream while in RI. My dream wasn't about freedom, but about being alone. I realized how much I missed my husband, so that day I quit chorus, the gym and my exercise class. I let my friends know I was leaving after my sisters volunteered to clean my house for me so I could leave for three months. And, me and the pups were off! We spent a lovely weekend snowed in with our friend, Nancy, in Annapolis before continuing south. It was so nice having our "pack" back together again once we arrived in SC.

New Sunroom
Living Room
The day after we arrived, we drove to the lakehouse to see renovations in person. The first thing that struck me was how much I do not like the new windows. We opted for single-hung windows, especially in the large holes, to save money. I really wish we could have afforded windows that offered more glass. The frames on the ones we ordered are so chunky, it put me off in a big way. We lost glass in the process, but that is just how it will have to stay. I will get used to them. The problem is going from what we had to the new version, that is not a huge improvement. Maybe I would have felt differently if we had built new, but the ones we have will just have to do. The two windows I absolutely cannot live with, however, are the tiny one in the old bathroom and the one over the kitchen sink. On a positive note, I love the octagonal windows in the living room, and am so happy I opted to have those installed. We can see the tree tops and sky through them and they give the room an expansive feel.

Bathroom Window in Foreground
I woke up this morning realizing I lost sleep over the offensive two windows mentioned above, so I called our contractor, Bill. The window in the old bathroom next to the kitchen was small to begin with. What they installed is so small now, it looks silly. The builders installed a "2x" buck frame in the hole, which made the new window about four inches wide. It just looks stupid. I asked Bill if a smaller "buck" could be installed so we could get more glass. He said he'd ask. "If I have to live with it I will", I offered.

Kitchen Window
The other window I cannot live with is the small one over the kitchen sink. The non-opening window we had before was larger with two big, horizontal panes of glass to look through. What we got were two small, single-hung windows in one chunky frame. It is very distracting and I told Bill we'd pay a little more to get a slider replacement. "There," I told Larry, "I feel better for letting him know how I feel about all the windows in general, and about asking for what I really want." Part of me feels silly, but when my gut tells me it's wrong, I have to change it. I think another woman buying the house will feel the same way. Could it really be just a "chick" thing? I seem to be the only one who noticed, so maybe. At any rate, I believe Bill needed to know my reaction, so he can help future clients with the reality of what one orders from a picture in a catalog versus the reality of what gets installed. The two are very different animals.

All the walls and ceilings now have insulation, and the interior is looking more complete. We had an inspection last Thursday, and the "nit-picky" inspector insisted the rafter on the interior chimney had to be cut away by two inches so they don't touch the brick. Really? Yes, really. So to reinforce the support structure, boards had to be "sistered" onto the rafters being cut back and connected to the plate. Next we had to add hangers in the old bathroom ceiling. Again, all that is being supported in that ceiling is sheet rock, but we had to add hangers anyway. So, this morning the inspector will return, and hopefully not find anything else we have to change. Once he gives us the "thumbs up", the sheet rock guys will descend and should be able to finish that installation in a couple of days. When the sheet rock is in, the house will really feel whole, and I can complete my vision for the interior design. Taping, sanding and spackling should take another couple of days, so by the end of this week, it should all be finished.

Front Porch
View from the dock
We chose a color from a special pallet for the stucco on the exterior that very closely matches the paint color we chose. It is called Mango, and the stucco will come already colored. Shingles will get installed on all the gables and will be painted a dark red. The trim will all be white. We found outside lights for the front and back door at Lowe's with stained glass that pulls all the house colors together, and Larry found a matching, flush-mount version by the same manufacturer for the front-porch ceiling. I think it'll look beautiful. The ceiling of the front porch will be finished in white beadboard.

Master Bath
The master bathroom now has the shower and pocket-door frame installed. It feels smaller because it is now long and rectangular, but I think a mirror on the solid wall across from the smaller window will expand its feel.

I climbed up the pull-down stairs to the new attic, and was very happy to see we have lots of storage space up there. It is a space that one can walk erect in, and that makes me happy. The new heating/air conditioning system looks good up there and all the duct work is in place. The electrical and plumbing rough-ins are all complete as well.

I cannot wait for this house to be finished. We've already scheduled a housewarming/thank-you-to-the-workers party for the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. We'll launch the pontoon boat for the party, and slow-roast a half-pig for the occasion. Are you salivating yet?