First Floor- Finished

26 Mar

This entry and the one I published just before this one are a bit delayed. We did in fact, move into our house the weekend of February 20th.  The painting, staining and the floors were all finished on time so that we could move into the house over the long President’s Weekend. The last month we were dealing with the usual run-of- the -mill stressors and joys of moving into a new house. The house did turn out beautiful with all of the details and plans that we put into it, the pay-off does feel really big. In the month since we moved in, I have begun to feel more relaxed and realize that the project is finally over! Losing your house in a fire and then rebuilding it from the foundation up was definitely no small task, the whole experience was very stressful. However, it helps that we have the fruit of all of our hard labor to enjoy–our brand new house!  I will try to impart some of the wisdom I gained from undertaking this project in my final blog posts.  Here I leave you with some pictures of the finished first floor.

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Painting and Staining-1st Floor Issues

26 Mar

The painters completed the second floor and the basement first as these floors did not have any stained oak trim, so they were quicker to paint. Originally, we spoke with our painter about completing the whole job of painting and staining in 3 weeks. We were on a tight schedule to finish the house as we need to be moved in by March 1st. (Which did happen). We knew that after the painting was completed we would need to have the floors finished which takes a few days then we’d need to clean the house-top to bottom. For anyone who has done even a small renovation, they know that house construction is very dusty and dirty. So, with an entire house to make ready to move into we knew our house would need a major cleaning before we could move in. As the painters were working on the first floor I stopped by the house and saw the living room walls painted green but with white splotches of spackle all over them. He said that the spackling was missing a third coat and therefore the seams where the sheetrock met were uneven. He said the entire first floor was not spackled correctly. He had done similar work to fix the problem all over the first floor. The problem was he never called me or my husband to discuss it, he just started spackling. By now I’ve learned that when someone you hire to do a job starts doing work outside the scope of the agreed work without discussing it with you first it means two things-one  an argument will follow about the necessity of the additional work and another argument will follow about the new cost of the project due to the additional work being added on. We were not given the chance to look at the walls and decide for ourselves if we wanted them to do the additional spackling (or to decide if we thought it was even necessary). This my friends, is why you have to be around when people work on your house. Otherwise people just decide for you what they are going to do. Needless to say, the painting got finished on time after some heated words with the painter.

Painting and Staining-2nd Floor

16 Feb

In the last 3 weeks the entire house was painted and stained. By this point in the process I was so tired of making decisions that I really had to psyche myself into picking out paint color for each room in the house. I hired a friend who is a designer to help me come up with the paint colors and find a group of colors that would work well together. Paint is something that you could really notice and a design element that really stands out if you want it to.  I wanted some nice warm colors to complement the stained oak on the first floor and brighter colors to accent the white trim in the rest of the house. We worked with Benjamin Moore paints. They have different color collections and most of mine came from the historical collection. I had researched enough Arts and Crafts style home renovations to know what colors worked well with our house style. Here are some of the rooms. Also, we chose English Chestnut for the oak stain. It’s a dark brown but not too dark, it’s light enough to see all of the beautiful knots and variations in the oak. When I first saw the paint colors go up on the second floor I panicked and worried that it was too much color. My painter said that many people shy away from using bold colors but that it works well if you take the risk.  After three weeks I am loving all of the different colors in the house.

Kitchen Bench

11 Feb

In the last 2 weeks the final trim and carpentry in the house was finished. Currently I am a bit uninspired to blog even though we are almost done with the house. I think its because 1) I’m tired and a bit “housed out” and 2) I’m getting ready to stop building and just LIVE IN MY HOUSE!!! The kitchen bench you see above was part of our original house plans. When we were working with our original contractor aka “DB”  (DB-your choice of a pejorative expression that begins with these letters) he started saying the built-in bench would cost extra even though it was part of our architectural plans. So, we didn’t know if we would have it built if we had to pay him extra for it. Then, after DB split and we hired another contractor to finish the house his carpenters gave us a price to build it and we decided to proceed. They had done such great work already including the fireplace mantel and the gorgeous trim in the dining room. They did a great job with the bench as well. It came out beautiful and looks even better now that its stained. I will include those pictures tomorrow along with more work they did.

The Porch

1 Feb

The last two weeks have been extremely productive. The trim work on the whole house including the basement is done. We began painting last week and  the house is really coming alive with all of the paint colors and painted trim work.  Our porch including the columns, handrails, and railings were also installed. The columns are made of fiberglass and will need to be painted white (probably in the spring). The columns sit on a square of bluestone which is really beautiful. The handrails and railing are made of PVC. When I first saw them installed I felt that the impact was a little lacking because the material is not wood, there’s nothing like the look of the real thing. However, the synthetic materials are cheaper than wood and also require much less maintenance over time. Overall, it looks great and most importantly we have our front porch back!

Bathroom plumbing installed & trim and molding work

16 Jan

The last two weeks since our new contractor took over the project have been extremely productive. Our plumbing fixtures – sinks, faucets, bathtubs and toilets – have all been installed on the second floor, including our washer and dryer in our laundry room. The boiler has been turned on and there is running water in the house. While our plumber has been busy, the carpenters have literally banged out the rest of the trim on the second floor and much of the trim on the first floor. With the fireplace located in the corner of the family room, I wasn’t so sure that we were going to be able to create the look that we wanted on the fireplace but the carpenters did a phenomenal job of building an arts and crafts style mantel for it. We will be tiling around the mantel and on the hearth.

Back on track!

8 Jan

I could start a whole other blog regarding the crazy and horrible stuff that has gone on with our original contractor, but there are already internet sites such as http://www.contractorsfromhell.com where I will publicize some of this information. Here I’ll just stick to finishing my house. So for the last 3 weeks my husband and my father-in-law have taken over as interim GC’s working with the subcontractors. Thankfully, my father-in-law is extremely knowledgable and handy and has been working hard-from cutting holes in the floor for the plumbing to meeting with the sewer guys, the electrician and overseeing all of their work –THANK YOU JACK!

Since our contractor disappeared we lost several weeks of work on the house which we are now trying to play catch up on. The good news is that we hired a new contractor who has a whole crew that are picking up the pieces and moving us towards finishing the house. The last 2 weeks we had more plumbing and electrical work done as well as the installation of the seepage pits. With new construction in our town we are required to install seepage pits in our backyard. Seepage pits are installed to catch the run-off water from the roof gutters to drain it into the ground. Two 500 gallon tanks were buried under the topsoil so that when storm water run-off occurs it will be directed from our gutters to the pits and slowly seep through gravel into the soil. Yesterday, a crew finished 99% all of the remaining work on the exterior of the house– caulking, window trim, siding and soffits.