When they first moved into their current home, my sister-in-law was pregnant with B, their second of three kids. B is now seven years old (as of February). When they moved in the house was a five room (two bedroom, 1 and 3/4 bath home) in the center of a lovely NE town (the same town I grew up in, and where my parents still live - although they are on the south side, and my brother and family live in the center).

My brother immediately started renovating the inside to make it livable - the two bedrooms had never been completed - the man that built (and died in) the house was quite elderly, and didn't climb stairs, so he lived in the three rooms on the ground floor. M (my brother) had to install flooring in the two bedrooms. So the summer K (my SIL) was pregnant with B she spent living with her folks (and G who was two at the time), and M spent the summer, when he wasn't working, completing the house enough so his family could move in. The kids are in the two bedrooms and M and K have their "bedroom" in the tiny den on the first floor.

He has spent the seven years since B's birth planning and building the "addition" to the house - which happens to more than double the square footage of the house, and added a two-car garage.

The architectural plans were done by man who knows how to design an addition that will seamlessly expand the current look and feel of the house. M bartered for the plans. M is an artist (amongst his other talents), and at the time was working on a commission for the Eastman School of Music - a portrait of our grandfather for their portrait gallery. So instead of paying thousands of dollars for the plans, he did a portrait of the architect's daughter (and a couple of landscapes of land the architect owns on the Cape).

Three years in to the build (since he is doing 95% of the work himself) the cellar was excavated, and cement was in, the framing was up, and the exterior shell was weatherproof - windows and doors were in, garage was complete, and the shingles were on. None of the interior walls were up the last time I saw the house, which was about three years ago.

My mom took me over to see it today - since M was spending the long weekend trying to get a little closer to moving the family into the new bedrooms - because if the girls spend one more school year sharing a very tiny space we might have WWIII on our hands.

The plumbing and electric has all been done, and the walls are roughed in (drywall up, mudded and all - but the interior window sills have not been finished yet) - in some places the walls are even painted! There are stacks of hard wood for flooring planks in what WILL be the family/livingroom/kitchen waiting to be installed. The original plans only had a one-car garage, but when he expanded it to a two-car garage he left the girl's bedrooms the same size - but that expanded their closets - so they have the most AMAZING walk-in closets ever - with beautiful hand built built-in shelves and shoe towers (because my brother wouldn't do anything so mundane as buy ready-made anything).

The girls will share the new upstairs hall bath - L, their little brother (who just turned three) will remain in the original part of the house and have his current bedroom and the space where the girls' bedroom is, and the current upstairs bath to himself. Which I think he will be glad of when G is fifteen/sixteen/seventeen, B is thirteen/fourteen/fifteen, and he is nine/ten/eleven - living on the opposite side of the house from his teenage sisters. He'll still be a boy - and they will be rolling balls of hormones and hysterics (I know - I was once a teenage girl). That space will probably be a huge relief to him.

The master bedroom is gorgeous - with a closet slightly smaller than the girls' closets for M and a *huge* walk in closet for K - this closet is the size of my smallest bedroom! The master bath has a gorgeous oval soaker tub and a separate shower - but none of the tile or fixtures other than the tubs are in yet. The upstairs also houses the laundry room - which is probably a space about ten by ten feet, and two hall closets - linens and sheets, maybe? Perhaps one will house all the cleaning products?

The floors are in, but as yet unstained, in the upstairs hallway, and he is working on finishing the stairs and the newel posts for the bannisters. The bedrooms will be carpeted - that isn't in yet either. He showed off his pin-nail gun. And mentioned a couple of the windows "sprung" and before he finishes them he's got the replace them - what he means is that the seal broke on them and condensation got inside the panes - but the windows are under a twenty-year warranty so all he has to do is call them and they send him replacements. He'll replace the ones that "sprung" before he puts up the interior finishes - sills and framing.

The what-will-be-the-new-kitchen area is his current workroom - and the kitchen will be the last are of the house he finishes before he breaks through the wall to the current kitchen and joins the ground floors together. The upstairs he'll break through the wall as soon as the upstairs is ready to be occupied - but he can't break through before, because the wall where he will break through is currently where the girls' built-in bunk beds are in their bedroom (he built the beds when they moved the girls in together when L was born, because the roof line right there is weird, and there isn't the head space for standard bunk beds. He also built desks for them that fit the space they had in the very small room.).

He is planning the design and building the kitchen cabinets himself. Since he did this for his first house (and learned a LOT about making kitchen cabinets) I have no doubt his kitchen will be amazing once complete.

All in all I was incredibly impressed with where he is now.

I see a lot of work that the house needs, and K and the kids will be very lonely for him, and he will be very lonely for them, but they should have new bedrooms/bathrooms come September and they'll be back from the Cape, moved into the new rooms. Only a year late - he'd wanted to get them moved in last fall - but I think the summer he broke his collarbone (nearly exactly two years ago) put him way behind his schedule. All in all he is building it on his off hours from his day job (sys admin) and as he scrapes up the funds to buy materials and tools. My dad has tried a couple of times to give him money for various pieces of the project - but I don't know if he has been successful at getting M to accept at all. I think his frustration with my brother was what made him offer to redo my bathroom when the tiles were falling off the wall in the tub surround (the really bad tile job the previous owners had done was not done correctly - neither the mortar, grout or backing board was done correctly, so water had done its level best to rot out the backing board behind the (really ugly) tile). Since I didn't have the funds to do it at the time (three years ago) I accepted - and he paid for the tiling of the floor and tub surround, the new toilet, and the new vanity. I have no idea how much it cost, but it made him feel good to do it for me - and it allowed me to use the money I'd saved for house repairs to fix the roofline fascia and replace the gutters that were rotted out and falling off.
So my father has been promising to have someone come in and retile my bathroom for over a year. I've not taken an honest-to-god stand up shower in my own bathroom for about four years now, because the tile was literally falling off the walls and there were great gaping holes in the tub surround that you could put your head through.

I've been saving money for the home improvements I need to make - but Dad promised to do the whole retile project as a gift. Because he's like that. And also my brother is frustrating him because *he* won't allow my dad to hire people to work on his house. So over a year he's been talking about what I want and getting people in and all of that.

I was all, fine, whatever, make it clean and pretty. Plain white tile, cobalt blue trim, replace the vanity. Simple, clean, NOT fifties dirty blue and black (really, tiny bathroom, and they decided BLACK wallpaper was the way to go? Really? Ew.) which was what I had before.

The vanity was a piece of crap (coming apart and never could stay clean, and like vinyl covered particleboard or something skeezy like that), and the sink was shaped so that your feet got wet when you washed your hands. Yup. Screwed up bathroom.

So what does my dad decide to do? Schedule the work for the week I am in Dallas on vacation. Sure, I don't mind having anonymous guys in my house while I am away. Sure, I'll move all my furniture WHILE I PACK so they have space to work in. Yeah, I'll be just fine with all that.

So I was in Dallas, and I get phone calls regarding how I want the tile to go in, and you must pick out a new vanity and shower fixtures over the phone, and btw we finally found the water shut-off valve for the house. Right. No problem if I've never seen the vanity, or the shower fixtures, or anything. I'll just trust it all goes in correctly. Right?

Um. Well. Not so much. I mean MOST of it is perfect and lovely, and just right. But one thing. You see, the pipes in the house are a little... odd in the bathtub. The hot water pipe is on the RIGHT not the LEFT. And the cold water pipe is on the LEFT not the RIGHT. And the plumber, not thinking anyone would mess up piping a house like that, installed his shit and went on his merry way.

Except now my shower starts with hot water and mixes in the cold, instead of starting with cold water and mixing in the hot (and since mine is a tankless system, the hot comes out of the tap really fucking hot - straight from the furnace). OUCH! So he has ordered a part that will go in the mixer and reverse the flow and he is coming back tomorrow to install it. He was very puzzled, because even when I told him twice what I thought was wrong, he didn't believe me for the longest time. BECAUSE it is BUG-FUCK CRAZY ass shit! Nobody installs pipes in a house like that! It's like they were on LSD when they built this funhouse. Except it was the fifties, so probably not.

So while I had my first stand up shower in my new bathroom this morning, I scalded myself pretty good trying to mix in enough cold. Tomorrow, that should be fixed. But had I BEEN here, this all could have been avoided, because I could have told him the pipes were screwy like that - since, hello, been living with it for the past eight years.

But yeah, showers are good things. And while I like the occasional soak in the tub, it gets old when it's your only choice. Waiting for the tub to fill is a pain in the ass. Sometimes, you just want a quick hot shower. And now I can have one whenever I want!

I just have to paint and hang a new medicine cabinet/mirror and the bathroom will be done! nd the money I've saved will go into the next phase of fixing up the house - the kitchen - or maybe the flooring! Exciting life I lead, huh?
Once more trapped in the house by the big orange trucks. They are tearing up both to the left and to the right. And the house across the street has huge honking holes in their yard as the trucks dug right into it.

They dug into my front yard last week. No promises they won't do it again. But really! I've got dump trucks and CATs and some other big equipment I can't identify. And one tiny little green toy-almost CAT-looking thing, if CATs were made from my brother's erector set.

Plus something to raze the road even again. Woo hoo. Looks like they're beginning to patch for the day. Tomorrow they will likely come dig it all up again.

We've had detours going one way, and then the other, sometimes both in one day. They are certainly busy enough - I can't fault them for not working, because clearly they do and are. But man, the dust they kick up, and the asphalt scent in the air does not make me want to open the windows. And for the first time in *DAYS* it is under 90 degrees out, and breezy. I want my breezy! It is only 78 out there right now, and I can't enjoy it because of the smell.

And because I saw this on my flist this morning and it seems to be the only thing to make me laugh today, I'm going to inflict it on all of you:

Dance off with the Star Wars Stars (thanks, [livejournal.com profile] pegkerr!):

etakyma: (Default)
( Mar. 31st, 2008 01:53 pm)
I am quite literally trapped in the house. Well, I suppose I could escape on foot, but it is rainy and cold outside, so I shall stay trapped (dry and somewhat warm).

The street in front of my house has gone from paved, to dirt, to grand canyon in the space of a hour or so. They are working their way down the street about forty to sixty feet a day (which will slow way down when the pipes are twenty two feet deep instead of the eight-to-ten-ish they are here). And the past week has seen dirt and gravel and messy pavement patch after pavement patch.

They rang my doorbell at 7:30 this morning to let me know that if I needed my car today, to move it around the block, since I wasn't going to get another chance. He was damn lucky I was dressed at 7:30 this morning, because I *could* have answered the door in my underpants, since that was all I had been wearing not two minutes earlier.

I decided not to go out today, and left the car in the driveway. All I really have to do is go to the PO to mail my taxes, and I can very easily do that tomorrow when I go vote.

Yes, my town is having elections tomorrow. Why they chose April Fool's Day for town elections I will never understand.

So I've seen two dump tucks, a big CAT with front hoe, a slightly smaller CAT with the front-pushy-shovel attachment thingie, and several other assorted trucks (shut up. I have nieces - they aren't into big trucks. I haven't a clue what they are called. Give my still-incubating nephew a couple of years and perhaps he'll be motor crazy and I'll *know* what all these trucks are and the function of each. Right now? Clue-free.).

We've got the dig-it-out-part, the replace-pipe-part, the fill-in-with-gravel-part, and the cover-over-with-dirt-part. By about 3:30ish they will start the messy overnight-pavement-patch bit that will render the road use-able for about fourteen hours, and then they'll come back tomorrow morning at 6 and start it all over again, ripping up most of the pavement laid today - and move only a tiny bit down the street.

They've used my front lawn as a staging area for pipes, coolers, and surveying equipment and such, and in addition have come up to the house and used the outside spigot to run water into buckets, and wash of various tools. Which scared the heck out of me until I figured out what that *noise* was.

So yeah. Going a bit barmy here (shut up, Gwen). What's new out in the big wide world today?!?
etakyma: (Default)
( Mar. 26th, 2008 12:15 pm)
For the past few weeks, my town has been ripping up my street. And now that I am working from home, I am getting the loud noises, the dirt movers, the big trucks literally *shaking* the house with the construction. Not kidding - I have things falling off tables because the vibration is so *there.* The tires on some of these trucks are higher than I am tall. No shit, it's like they're building the Great Wall or something.

This has been going on for a while. Orange cones, big blinking lights, *detour* sign in front of my house. Piles of dirt everywhere.

Today, the town finally caught up with whats really going on and I got a yellow printed NOTICE shoved in my door.


Um. "Upcoming"?!? Methinks you are a little late. As the notice indicates work will *begin* on April 1 and continue through September 1.

I have the front shovel of a dirt-mover laying about in front of my house behind the detour sign. I have a messy patch all down the street and across my driveway from where they've already put in one new pipe. They just used a massive construction truck to move a pipe with a 3 foot diameter down the street.



etakyma: (Default)


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