Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Day we Went Vertical

This remodeling process has been an adventure in of itself.  Our builder could not have been better crafted for the job.  We needed to put two houses together under budget and quickly.  My poor boys had been sharing a room for many years, with the littlest one sleeping on a mattress on the floor.  At least once a day someone was in tears for not having a "big boy bed" or having to share "with the little boys".  It really tore at our heart.

So we soldiered ahead and did the remodel.  We knew that we were asking a lot so when decisions came up that we didn't care too much about our response was "which is cheaper?" or "which is easier?"  sometimes we answered "You pick.  I don't care."  At the last one our builder would always laugh.

However, there were a few things we really did care about, deeply.  For instance, Caskey's sculpture had to fit inside the house.  It had been lashed to a palm tree outside for 7 years.  It had survived weather and wind.  The squirrels had been plucking away the padding for their nests.  It was time to bring it inside.  One of the other things I cared about deeply was a fireplace.  The reason - Norman Rockwell.  Enough said.

We spent six weeks demoing the old house.  It was loud and dusty.  And while it was exciting that progress was being made every day, I was desperate to go vertical.  It was through this process that I realized how very lucky we were that Caskey goes to work late; about 9:30 am (he also gets home late, which isn't so great).  Each morning at 7 am the workers would arrive to start their work.  Most mornings I would pad out there in my slippers and a cup of hot tea in my hand and listen to the run down of the day.  I found it fascinating listening to the process. Plus it was nice to know if they would be shutting off my power.

The day we started to go vertical; after the footings had been poured, after we had been sleeping in 2 bedrooms for 3 weeks, after the kids had sword fought on the joists, we went out for our morning meeting.  We were going to meet our framer for the first time, E.  Our contractor, K, had great news for us.  Fantastic, really.  When the plans were drawn up there were no measurements for the floor height or ceiling height it just said "matching"  We expected to have a step or two from our existing living room (new dining room) into the new living room and then we would have the living room flush with the old 2804 living room (new family room).  We had previously had a 3 step down into our garage so we expected a step to be inevitable.

This was not to be the case!  When they peeled off the stucco of both homes they discovered the floors were at the same height.  How remarkable and wonderful.  The new completed home would truly feel like it was built this way, not hodgepodge together like  a lot of the other homes in this area (wich is one of the other things we were very concerned about).  However, the ceiling was also "match to existing" which meant a simple 8'1" ceiling exactly what we have now which is why the sculpture is outside.

So I turned to K with a laugh and said, "We have two choices here.  We either make the ceiling taller or you buy a sculpture, cheap".  K turned to the framer E and said, "How hard it is to change the ceiling height?"  E leaned over the plans (spread on a trash can) with a pencil in hand and crossed out "match existing" and wrote in 9'1".  He turned back to us and said, "Done."

And that's when I knew that we had made the right decision in choosing our builder.


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