Small is Tremendous

Ah, didn't you enjoy my lovely poem yesterday? I enjoyed rhyming out my frustration. But in all honesty, I've been enjoying catching up on these little things because it really makes me feel like I'm getting stuff done.

All this week I've set myself to the task of purchasing and installing wall and switch plates. I even purchased a couple fan controls and dimmers, which Mike was nice enough to install for me on Wednesday. It feels good to flip a switch without fear of accidentally poking live wires. Plus, the outlets and switches look soooo much better.

At this rate, if I continue taking on at least a couple small tasks per week - I'll make great progress through the winter and be well positioned to begin work on the house's exterior and/or the bathroom in spring.

Yesterday I also checked out Lumber Liquidators - just because I like to check out their current prices on hardwood every once and again. Wouldn't you know, they had a beautiful pre-finished hardwood on sale for $1.99 per sq ft?! It was a gorgeous mahogany with a hint of cherry red. I just love it. I'm contemplating making the calculations for the house - upstairs and down. I know it would probably be around $2000. And I know I shouldn't be spending around $2000 when I have to contribute $2000 to my IRA or else my parents are going to annoy me about for a zillion years.

I know retirement is important - especially since Mike is getting to be almost 30 and the cost of everything is only going to go up - so we'll need over a million dollars saved.... I've heard this speech over and over.

But I could always get the Lumber Liquidators credit card. I did pay off my home depot card recently. No interest for a year - and I could pay the $2000 over one year to avoid interest entirely. AND - we are selling that Tacoma of Mike's.

I'll have to talk it over with him. $1.99 per sq ft for beautiful pre-finished like that is hard to pass up.

THAT would be a BIG small thing to get accomplished.

Ode to Little Things

Demolition I can do.
Electric, plumbing, carpentry too.
Major construction, no big deal.
It's worth $10 grand - that's how I feel.

But this little tiny stupid stuff -
Wall plates, trim boards - enough is enough!

$20 fan controls
$20 gets one eyeball trim
$82 bi-fold doors
$15 for a switch that dims

$5 for the wall plates
More for 3-toggle and four
Hundreds in wooden molding
And don't forget the floors!

$20 per closet light
(Light bulb not included)
$15 for a door knob
Too much, I concluded.

$60 for a pendant light
$100 for a lighted track
$80 flowering shrub
$400 for a tractor shack

And though I'd rather be spending my cash
On bigger things than this little trash,
A house with wires hanging out,
And untrimmed drywall all about,
Or closets with no bi-fold doors,
Knobs missing from half the other doors,
And too bright lights that do not dim,
No molding, no plantings, no window trim -

It makes the place look quite undone.
Too bad those little things cost a ton.

Merry Moosemas

Can't wait til xmas? That makes two of us. I know I'm not getting anything from my dream house gift list, but that's ok. All in due time.

I am hoping though to get a couple more drawers for my closet organizer after xmas. And maybe I'll even spring for some more closet lights.

Back in Bathroom

Hey jize. It's Decemberween time once again. Time to start dreaming of spring and all those home improvement projects that dreams are made of.


So in my latest caper - I designed a downstairs bathroom of EPIC proportions - which would totally make my current 6X7 look like an ink blot on a billboard. (Whatever that means.) See - I decided to totally stop compromising. Which is good. Bigger is better. That way I can get my jacuzzi corner tub, stand up shower, and everything else.

I designed a 6X11 that extended my current bano by 4 feet and fit all the amenities in it. I thought it was rather brilliant.

Mike thought it was rather ridiculous. Because if we stacked an upstairs bathroom on top of it (which we wanted to do) we'd lose both our windows in our bedroom. Plus one of our living room windows - a small problem, but the loss of the upstairs windows would be for ventilation's sake.

Very uncharacteristically, Mike unveiled a scheme of his own. And I hate to admit it, but I like the way he's thinking.

Step one - tear the current bathroom completely off the house and rebuild downstairs and up at the same time. It'll be easier than trying to retrofit old wood to new and trying to stack an upstairs bathroom on top of an old not-so-well-built bathroom.

Step two - keep the downstairs bath small, with just a stand up shower, sink, and toilet, with maybe just a small linen closet. New dimensions would make the upstairs bathroom 11 x 8. (Because we'd be able to build over our current basement stairs which are in back of our current bathroom, if you can picture it.) So the upstairs master could have the corner jacuzzi, stand up shower, double vanity, and private toilet enclosure. (Mike even picked out a design in a bathroom book that we both agree on... amazing.)

In the upstairs we'd only lose one window - which would become the doorway into the bathroom. Downstairs, we wouldn't lose any living room windows.

The kicker - Mike doesn't want to build this one. He wants to hire our carpenter TJ to do it. And I must admit, it can't be wrong because that jacuzzi tub alone is bound to be heavy and the framing has to be solid to code. The problem - costly costly. Currently, I have the tub priced at about $700 (unless I ebay it), toilet at $200 (times two), stand up shower at $250 (times two) and vanities at about $who-knows (times two) Plus building materials.

Plus, since we only have one bathroom currently, we'd be living sans-bath for x amount of time. Sounds dirty, don't it?

But I'm still confident that my luck will hold out and we'll be able at least to build both baths without buying all the accessories for both at the same time.


All I Want For Christmas

The Ultimate Wish List, Never to be Obtained, But Here Goes
(House only, personal X-mas gifts not included.)

1. New Bathroom: Corner Jacuzzi tub for two, new vanity, stand up shower, American Standard Champion toilet, mosaic tile, river stone floor tile

2. Kitchen: New windows plus trim, under cabinet TV/Radio, Kenmore refridgerator - the new double door freezer bottom $2200 model

3. MudRoom: Flooring, new door, new windows with bay window box built, laundry cabinets, laundry closet doors, closet light wainscotting, cushy big blue IKEA chair, tiffany pendant lamp

4. Living Room: Flooring, trim all round, new IKEA media center, Sony 32" HDTV, carpet pad, switch and outlet plates, stairway going into the basement, closet light

5. Hallway/Stairway: finished drywall and paint, new front entrance door, ceiling fixtures, a little door for the under-stair closet, banister, stairway trim, top stair step, stairway track light with dimmer, flooring, runner rug

6. Guest Room: Closet organizer from Closetmaid, closet light, Closet doors, window trim, flooring, new wood door

7. Office: recessed lights dimmer, new desk and file cabinets from IKEA, built in library shelves, closet organizer from Closetmaid, closet light, closet doors, door to the attic crawl space, new office chair, flooring plus an area rug, more throw pillows, better couches, window trim, railing for stairway overlook

8. Bedroom: plywood - foam - and batting so I can make my headboard, bed risers, new HDTV, closet light, closet doors, more drawers for my Closetmaid set, curtain pulls installed, flooring, area rug, new dresser for Mike, red mattes for my picture frames, trim and moulding, finish work on above closet storage, new storage boxes, door for attic loft space, stain for the bedroom door, a door knob for the bedroom door

9. Upstairs Bath: BUILD IT - frame it, electrify, insulate, drywall, paint, design, stand up shower American Standard Champion toilet, small vanity, stand up shower, pretty tile, skylight

10. Garage: Drywall and paint, Two garage doors, storage system with shelves, new wood stove and chimney, addition on back of garage - built, and whatever else Mike is dreaming of out there

11. House exterior: shingles for three sides, clapboards for the front, window boxes, green shutters, a new mailbox, lampposts, more grass, less gross plants and trees, flowering trees and other nice plantings, a shed, wrap around farmer's porch, chimney overlay, chimney cap, a bigger chimney with all accessories to vent wood stove, hammock, new driveway (ie, repour it)

12. Basement: finish it off with a bathroom (toilet, vanity, stand up shower), bedroom (twin bed, dresser, small closet), work room (shelving and storage), and rec room (comfy dark colored furniture and rug, pool table, air hockey, HDTV and storage unit). And I want my wood stove hooked up down therez.

Is that too much to ask?

Christmas Bowtie

Mike and I have not had an official Christmas in our house for the two Christmas' that we've been there.
Christmas #1: we got heat hooked up a couple weeks before and had just moved in - despite the fact that all the drywall wasn't completed and we only had heat downstairs. At that point we were living in our guest bedroom and eating out because we had no kitchen - except for a refridgerator, which was helpful for takeout at least. We had no other furniture besides out bed. All our clothes as well as toiletries were in trash bags and boxes. And we were working night and day to finish the drywall. I spent new year's eve watching an exhausted Mike sleep through.
Christmas#2: we were very depressed about the house lift. Our house lifter had originally told us he'd be able to do it in summer, but hadn't. $35,000 lay idle in our savings account. He was now telling us he'd be able to do the job after the new year, but we didn't keep our hopes up. Plus, both our vehicles had just died, right before the holiday. Mike bought a new truck at a high expense only to have the motor blow up after five miles. Luckily the previous owner helped us buy a new one. Meanwhile the headgasket in my 4runner went and we had to put my new one on the road. All those expenses, plus a trip to Maryland to visit relatives made it impossible to spend money on a real christmas.So this year I took the initiative the day after thanksgiving. I pulled out all the decorations, put the candles in the windows and bowtie on the garage. We got a tree the very next day and decorated it. There's no stopping the holiday this year!

blogging blogging i-2-3

This is a test of the emergency blog not working system. If the blog is actually not working.... i won't be surprised.

The System Is Down

I have been attempting to post pics for a straight week now, with no luck. In fact, my entire blog has been down for some reason. Don't ask me. I don't know.

But despite the fact that this post may not post - I'm writing it anyway. Can't stop the presses you know. Ok, update. The toyota pickup is mechanically fixed. This weekend we're going to hopefully complete the cosmetic repairs. Also, we have to put a new starter and windshield wash squirter motor in my 4runner.

At the same time, we'll work on finishing the shingling on the back wall where we put up the chimney. (It's already half way done - I took care of it last weekend.)

I think that will keep us busy for the whole weekend. I don't really have any other goals except for a bit of holiday shopping. Thank you internet. I don't want to leave my house on weekends. It's just dangerous with all the psycho holidites out there ready to kill over parking spots and nick-nacks. I'm one of them. Internet saves sanity. Save the Holidays - Shop Internet... sounds like an It ad for Ebay.

Friday four friday four. Not even, three forty. I need to get outta here. Another two hours save me save me.

It was Fancy Friday When I started this...

Welcome to another Fancy Friday. Normally at this time of the week, Mike and I would be gearing up for a rough and tumble weekend of work around the house.

But not this weekend.

Shocked? Well, I'll tell you what's going on. We finished the chimney last weekend. I raked leaves. Our carpenter extrodinaire TJ put in our new kitchen window. It was fairly productive.

But in light of the upcoming holiday and fast growing Home Depot credit card balance, Mike and I are taking a well deserved and neccessary break from home repair in order to catch up on our other other hobby - vehicles!!!

You see, last year round holiday time, Mike's '96 Tacoma ran into problems. Rather then fix it, we just stuffed it into the garage and bought a full size Dodge. (Cause you know we have the slide-in camper and the trailer and all - plus having a Dodge diesel is pretty fuel efficient for a full size truck - anyway - this is a tangent.)

So.... in order to pay off debt and have some money for the holidays and hopefully some for my beloved '78 trans am, which was so ruthlessly kicked out of the garage when the truck went in. (She needs two new doors, both inner fenders, a full weatherstrip kit, and one fender, plus motor mounts and a crud load of small niceities. Tangent 2. On a roll.... with cheese.) For these reasons and more, we need to fix the Toyota.

With a four day Thanksgiving weekend on the horizon, timing couldn't be any more perfect. So, we'll be spending our vaca in the garage. And hopefully, by monday, the truck will be for sale on our front lawn.

Ever so Toasty, There's Nothing Like Heat

So over last friday and saturday, as I prepared for our annual post-halloween bash, mike set himself to the psychotic task of making the heat work. 

The chimney is not totally finished, but it was high enough to be considered safe. So Mike installed two new baseboards upstairs for the second zone and finished plumbing in the basement.

Upon first pressurizing the system, everything seemed okay - no leaks. Then, just a few hours before the party, as Mike fired up the furnace for the first time, a few leaks appeared in the basement. We had to call over our plumber friend Brian to bail us out, for which I am ever so grateful.

We got it working and the party was a success.

However, now we're having some detail issues. The thermostat seems to be hooked up backwards - the heat is hooked in to the AC. Which means, the thermostat thinks that the heat is air conditioning.... a slight problem.

Plus - we don't have the second zone thermostat hooked up yet, so the upstairs keeps getting super hot. Hopefully we'll be able to get these problems resolved soon and then take a breather for the holidays. 

My home depot account needs to recover a little!!!

Hi, I'm Jess. And This is My Job

Last night the foundation we poured for the chimney had hardended, so we set ourselves to the second step - drilling a 6" hole in the basement wall where the pipe from the furnace will intersect the chimney.

After that was done, we had to drill matching holes in both the cement flue surround and the flue itself - a task that we thought was going to be so much easier than drilling the basement wall....

And drilling the cement flue surround was. Mike took care of it in less than 5min. But when we got to the flue - a terra cotta-like clay flue - all I could think about was Dirty Jobs' Mike Rowe and the episode where he's smashing huge terra cotta pipes quite easily with a sledgehammer. Terra cotta is not tough.

And sure enough, we tried drilling it, chipping it, grinding it - but every time, the flue piece just cracked and broke.

After some research, we found out that only a diamond tipped tool will cut it without breakage. Unfortunately, we don't have one. But a way around it is to build a brick base for the flue and allow the furnace pipe to enter through the bricks. 

Hopefully we'll be able to do that tonight. We're already a few days behind on this whole chimney project and cold weather is fast moving in for this weekend....

Another Option

So after being all gung-ho for ISOKERN, thinking this was the most economical thing ever, I was shocked when Mike came home with a similar setup at a cost of under $300 for an entire chimney on Saturday.

He just went down to our local concrete company, asked them for a pre-fab modular chimney setup - and they had it! This one has separate flue and concrete surround peices. You just put on a peice of flue, slide a concrete square on top of it, put mortar on both, and stack another flue on top of the flue and another concrete square on top of the first concrete square. And after twenty feet of repetitions, you've got yourself a chimney. Plus, you can purchase all sorts of fassads (Wrong spelling, I know.) that just stick on the outside with mortar. Various kinds of brick, stone, stucco - you name it. (Those Mike didn't purchase, we'll do that after the fact.)

So.. we're saving about $1,100 with this system vs. ISOKERN. Amazing huh? Pictures to come.

Rock yo Widget Post Test one two

Guess what guys! I'm posting from a DashBoard widget! Isn't this the greatest thing since cell phone pic postings?


Housebloggers: Has anyone used ISOKERN pre-fabricated fireplaces and/or modular chimney systems before? And if so, how did you like 'em? Did you put them together yourselves? How easy was it? Mike and I had a modular type chimney system to vent our furnace previously - and we thought it was a nifty and likely cost effective, so I googled it.

ISOKERN came up as one of the only companies to make these pre-fab and modular fireplace & chimney kits. (www.isokern.net) Plus, they have an office in Auburn - which is relatively close to us. I printed out a brochure with all the types and measurement specifications, plus a sample of their installation instructions.

Now, theoretically, you're not supposed to f around and install these yourselves. But technically, Mike and I were probably not supposed to install our own heating, electrical, windows, etc. And we definately weren't supposed to rebuild our own second floor and redesign the layout of half the house. I think with the help and support of our many friends in the trades, plus our intimate knowledge in a variety of fields - we can do it.

Ok - so I ringaglinged ISOKERN this morn and told them I wanted pricing on a DM 44 appliance modular chimney for the furnace, standard 36" fireplace, DM 54 fireplace chimney, and of course, another DM 44 chimney for the wood stove.

The DM 44 is $54/ft
The fireplace is $1275
The DM 54 is $65/ft
Plus, we'd need their mortar - one big 'ol size at $60 per project

They don't really have a showroom, but they can deliver the goods within 1 to 2 days, depending on when you get your order in. (Major credit card required, of course.)

So - now we need to do some measurin' & calculatiing to figure out how many modular sections of DM 44 we need. We need this stuff like, toot sweet. I'm freezing my bum off and not feeling too good about it. I'm sick - seriously - I hope Mike doesn't need me to work on stuff tonight. *yaaawwn*


Laundry. The final frontier. Well... maybe not the final final frontier. Anyway, as you may have guessed, we got it hooked up! And let me be the first to say, woo hoo. I did two loads just last night! Very cool.

But, speaking of cool - we still don't have our heat 'n hot water hookyed up yet. The problem is venting - triple wall metal pipe is expensive. Chimneys are expensive. Professional help is expensive. Most of our pipes are still in place from the old system... so that's not the issue.

Mike's been talking to one of our plumber friends - getting his advice. I think we've decided on a do-it-myself modular chimney system. Truth be told - 30 feet of metal pipe on the back of your house is just fugly. And going chimney is really not that much more expensive when all's said and done, plus it looks better. We just have to head down to our local supply place and see what they have to choose from.

We'll still need some pipage to go from furnace to chimney - but we do have some that was gifted to us by a chimney sweep friend of ours. So that'll save a few hundred dollars.

If the chimney system is economical enough, we'll also purchase enough for a second chimney - for our wood stove. I'm tempted by the idea of a pre-formed fireplace. That would just rock out loud, but needs furthur investigation.

We plan to start on all this tomorrow. The first step will be to wrip off the old siding on the back of the house where chimney #1 will be and replace it with shingles. (Cause who wants to do that when the chimney is on?) Step two is to go down to the supply place and check out the goods. Step three... well, let's just see if we can get step one and two out of the way first.

Yes, I know that's not healthy.

On Saturday our awesome carpenter TJ had a cancellation, so he came to our house to give us back the mudroom.

You see, the story of the mudroom is a tale as old as, say, the wireless web. Or footless leggings. Once upon a time before we owned the house, there was a concrete patio off the kitchen. Circa 1930's. Well, the home's owners decided to make this patio into a room! (Circa, perhaps 1970's.) Normal people might think to hire a contrator. Do it yourselfers might attempt to build it themselves. But this depression era couple decided to save themselves a lot of time, money, and effort by simply attaching a pre-built shed to the house.

Yes, they just took a shed, plopped it onto the concrete, chopped 1/4 of the roof off so it would line up with the rest of the rooflines, and called it done. We know because of this weird roof line - plus they didn't bother to take the old roof (ie roofing shingles and all that jazz) off of the 1/4 left roof side that is now part of our upstairs attic. (I actually had to do this - imagine me in a dark, small crawl space attic in mid-august 2004, ripping off old roofing. I've never sweat so much in my life.)

Anyway - when it came time to lift the house, our housemover said the concrete slab below the mudroom floor had to be removed - it couldn't be lifted.

So we ripped out the plywood and then jackhammered the concrete until it was far enough gone to be able to lift the mudroom with the rest of the house.

And through these past months, the mudroom has been floorless through the entire procedure. Lift, dig, pour, set, tar, fill. And of course, it's been exposed to the elements.

So TJ came on Saturday to rebuild the floor. Almost right away, he and Mike made a discusting discovery. Moisture had seeped in behind the wainscotting and mold was growing - everywhere! Luckily, the wainscotting was only on the bottom part of the walls, but green and fuzzy drywall is never a healthy site. That's some cancer-causing action right there. They guys immediately removed all the wainscotting but continued building the floor next to mold. Gross.

Mike and I were super busy and lived with the mold until Monday. Couldn't hurt to live with it a couple days, right? Well, on Monday when I walked in, I could smell it. That was it. I grabbed a razor knife and started cutting. Mike gave me a hand and in less than a half hour, all the moldy stuff was in contractor bags and out of the house.

That's some sketchy stuff right there. But boy does it feel good to have the room back. We even moved the washer & drier out of the kitchen! Amazing to have that room sans laundry. No more wash-in kitchen! WooHoo! Hopefully we'll have both machines re-hooked up this weekend.

Window Pains

You know, we still have eight big 'ol basement windows to put in. And with the winter months nearly all up on us, that's a big concern. Without the windows, the pipes could freeze just as quick and easy as they did before we had a basement!

Mike tried cementing one in about a month ago - but plain cement is too juicy and rocky to really work well. It just flowed out the sides and made a big mess. So, naturally, we called a mason. He told us that the kind of windows we have are supposed to be put in before the foundation is poured. *sigh* And they're really hard to put in after the fact. The quote he gave us reflected that - $1200 to $1400.

No way did we want to pay that. That's waaaay too much. So, Mike got creative and fashioned a set of window forms made of 2X4's and plywood and bought some masonry concrete mix.

His plan was ingenious. First, he'd put in the window. Then, he'd tape off the interior border with good duct tape. (Not that junky job lot stuff - actual, for ducts duct tape.) Then he'd put on the exterior form, which covers the entire window hole, and feed through two long, thick screws through pre-drilled holes. Then, he'd put on the interior form, lining up the screws with the pre-drilled holes in the interior form.

And then he'd wrench a nut on each screw until the two forms were as tightly squeezed together as possible. This would prevent the concrete from leaking out all over Z place.

Once all that was in place, he'd mix the mason's concrete and pour it in over top of the forms - on the two sides of the window and on top of the window. He'd smooth the concrete on top of the window to match the level of the foundation. And then, leave it to dry.

With only two forms and a lot of labor involved, we can only do one window per day. Last night we completed the first one - a test. We'll see how good it works when we take off the forms today. But it seemed to work perfectly - the forms held in the concrete, none dripped anywhere inside or outside!

The only concern I have is the bottom of the window. Mike thinks that enough concrete will seep in there to hold it in. I think a layer of concrete should be put on the bottom before the window/forms are put in. Mike's also concerned about the masonry concrete forming a strong bond with the foundation concrete. If the bond isn't strong enough, he may have to rough up the surface of the foundation concrete in the window hole to allow for a better grip.

Tonight we'll see! If all goes well, we'll do another window - and in 7 days, all the windows will be in!

Out on a Trim

FINALLY! We are so lazy sometimes.... well, not that we're lazy. We just happen to start new projects before old projects are really completed. The countertop, the hallway drywall, the trim in the entire house, painting behind the kitchen stove, the second heating zone... god, I could go on forever on half finished projects that were inturrupted halfway through.

But - at least now I can say that the countertop is finished! Yay! Also, we painted our exterior window trim - it would not have survived winter elsewise.

Now if we could just get our heat/hot water hooked up. We got the furnace... now it's just a matter of pipes and vents.

And, there it is.

So - yes, these were taken by my camera phone, so don't hate the fuzzy cruddiness. Here is that section of countertop yet to be finished.

You can see more clearly here, it is in fact, plywood!

And the rest 'o the kitchen looks very nice, don't you think?

Counter Point

If you are shopping countertops - and not expensive custom granite or stone or butcher blocktop - the el cheapo laminate from your local massive home improvement chain restaurant - which, by the way, I'm not knocking! I get a lot of comments on mine - good ones!

Ok - that was the point, here's the counter point. DO NOT, let me repeat myself for speed readers who may have missed that, DO NOT BUY 90% OF YOUR COUNTERTOP AND THEN WAIT 5 OR 6 MONTHS TO BUY THE REMAINING 10%.

Yes, I admit. This seems like a simple point. But waaay back in the day - and if you go back and look at my posts - there's one about the joy of getting that first 90% of countertop somewheres in there - I was really happy to get that first 90% of countertop. Previously I had just plopped my cutting board across the cabinets - that little 2 ft area was my only space! I nearly cried when the counters went on.

But, we didn't buy enough for the back right corner of the room. So for temp, we just plopped on a peice of plywood and called it a redneck butcher block. Well, money waxed and waned and other big projects needed to take priority as the months went on. You know how it is.

But throughout this 5 or 6 months, a little voice inside my head said "countertop countertop" or "it's only a 4ft section" or "it's only going to be like, $30" over and over.

So last night that little voice got big as Mike and I pulled into home depot for more grass seed and fertilizer. But when we got to the kitchen section - there were NO small sections of that color. Mystic Night or something like that. In fact, there was only one Mystic Night left - a super long 10ft peice.

Immediately I thought to myself - what if it's discontinued. Mike thought the same thing, so we grabbed the sku off the thing and went to customer service to find out what the deal was. Well, turns out that the sku wasn't coming up in the computer - it might be discontinued! So the clerk checked some other Home depots, made some phone calls. No luck on a small peice.

I finally said, "You know what, for the price it would take me in gas to drive all the way to east bumbledom (not a MA town by the way, but it should be) looking for a 4ft section, I could just buy the 10ft here."

And so, we did. Which isn't horrible, because we'll have some extra if need for it ever arises. But I spent $70 more than I needed to, which is annoying to say the least.

So, the lesson here is - a countertop in the hand is worth 2 in East Bumbledom. And at least five in Center Bumbledomport. Don't wait. Buy it all at the same time.

And if anyone else has this pattern and needs about 6ft worth... well - let me know.

2006 = Muy Bien

I am so bored. Nada to do. Dead. Everyone else at my work is going plum crazy. But unfortunately, I did my part and now I'm bored. I wish I could help with the graphics/web stuff. But I'm so inept.

I was looking through this blog throughout the months of 2006 yesterday. Hard to believe what a year it's been. Mike and I started out the year with a hope of finally lifting our home to put in a basement. January through April was nothing but permit apps, futile calls to contractors, and conservation commission woes.

The lift finally began in April and we moved out to Mike's parents house. By June, the house was down on its new foundation and by July 4th - we were moved back in.

In August I hatched the plan for a backyard wedding September 9th and we worked feverously to make it happen. In the same month, we also refinanced the mortgage and equity loan. On 9/9, everything went off without a hitch.

So here we are, 3/4 through the year and still going strong. I am going to make some goals here. With all 'yalls as witnesses.

Goal #1 : Hook up the following: Hot water tank/furnace/heating system/2nd heating zone. (That all counts as one.)
Goal #2: Bathroom Bathroom Bathroom

I think that'll keep me busy through Jan.

So what? Sew seeds!

I picked up a bag 'o seed and a bag 'o fertilizer at BJ's last night. I figured - eh, what the heck. Cheap enough. Of course, then Mike and I had to go to the Deep-Ho to pick up a push spreader and a rake... jacking up the price a little bit. Oh well. It's still a last ditch effort cheaper then hydro seed or sod.

Today's the last hot hot day this week, so we may plant tonight. Tomorrow's supposed to rain, which would be good because then we don't have to water so much.

Mike: The Next Generation

Mike has been the nicest person ever since we got married. Maybe it's the release of all the stress. Maybe it's newlywedism. In any case, I like it. Just this weekend Mike helped me install the soap dispenser I've been wanting to install since August, 2005. Then he changed my oil.

And - Sunday morning I happend to mention that he should call our carpenter to come over and install our new stair steps. I go out to do a few errands - and when I come back, he's tearing up the old stairsteps to put in the new ones! When I walked in and said "What are you doing?!" he merely answered, "You said you wanted it done."

Well I just thought that was the awesomest thing ever. We installed the new treads and they look pretty good. We still have to trim them out and everything - but it's already a lot better then those old treads with the nails sticking out of them. Can't tell you how many times I nearly punch a hole in my foot.

This same weekend I also installed three new eyeball trims in the upstairs office recessed lighting fixtures. Looks a heck of a lot better I tell 'ya. That was my mini-project along with the normal cleaning.

Ooo! Ooo! Also due in early this week is our new furnace. I can't wait. Once we have that in hand, we'll head to the Deep-Ho and get a hot water tank. A nice biiiig one. (Because I've lived with short showers and no baths for waaaay too long.)

Also, we're going to try and get some seed/fertilizer for the front yard. Just some el cheapo bags. Couldn't hurt, and we decided not to spend big bucks on a lawn right now. Who knows. Maybe we'll grow some grass or something. Isn't that a novel idea?

Aunt Sharon Makes a Startling Discovery!

The question all girls want to know...

A little OT here - but does ANYONE know that song? It's an oldie and it goes "the question all girls want to know... is there enough room to make love in a spaceship..." That's all I know of it and my friend Becci and I have been trying to track it down for YEARS.

Anyhoo - the real question all yous out there probably have been asking - now that the basement is done and the wedding is over - What's next on the house to-do list?

Well! I've been screaming BATHROOM! BATHROOM! Which, has led Mike to think I have some sort of disorder. But seriously, he reminded me that we have yet to put in the basement windows and finish getting our new oil tank hooked up to a not-bought-yet new furnace and hot water tank. We've got to get our good friend and heating man Hal on that ASAP. (Hourihan Oil - best oil there is, look 'em up if you're in the south-eastern MA area.)

And I have to admit - what is a beautiful bathroom without enough hot water for a nice soak in a jacuzzi tub? Or a long long shower after a cold and unloving day?

So, hopefully, we can get on those windows this weekend. Because next weekend we'll be up in NH for some R&R. Not a honeymoon, but it will be fun to get away.

We Did It!

There was always something... wait til I got out of school, wait until I had a better job, wait until he had a better job, wait until we had a house, wait until the house was done... Well, after graduating, switching jobs, Mike switching jobs, buying a house, renovating a house (partially) - We were sick of, well, waiting.

So last Saturday 9/9 we were married. The ceremony was held just down the street from our house and the reception was in the yard. And despite the lack of grass, everything was perfect.

Flowers and Mike

Mike graciously models the mums on the rock wall, which I have yet to plant.

Promised Pics

Amazing what one little hanging plant can do to the overall look of a doorway.

Trogdor - the Oil Burninator. They eyes were originally the feet of the oil tank.

The front yard - graded and grassless. September is supposedly the best time to plant grass. I hope I can hydroseed soon.

The rock wall - yes, you're not supposed to do it that way, but it looks nice, don't it?

Trogdor - the old oil burninator

Have I told you all the story of our old oil tank? Well, if not, we turn it into a firepit with a hinged lid and handle. (We just put the hinges and the handle on last night, which made me think of it.)

Anyway, we decided to name it Trogdor, since the old feet kinda look like eyes and the opening kinda looks like a mouth. I have to say, it's pretty cool. All it needs is some paint.

A List of Accomplishments

This weekend felt different. Strangely unproductive, yet, a lot got done. I guess it's just nerves. I feel like I want to go home right now and keep up the work. I'm at work work right now and feeling very useless and unproductive. People keep blaming me for not being organized when it's themselves who aren't organized. I feel sad.

But anyway, this isn't a work blog. It's a house blog. Maybe going over everything that got done over the weekend will make me feel better for 5 seconds.

1. Concrete was poured! Even though it's not the smoothest, most level surface in the world - we're really happy with the way it turned out. It'll work out great for both uses.

2. I finished the rock wall! I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I even have a large amount of extra small rocks that I'm sure I'll find a place for elsewhere in the yard.

3. We picked up the basement windows and glass. Those may or may not get put in this week. We tried putting them in with cement, but the cement is too runny. I think we need mortar. I may do some internet research on it later.

4. We finished wiring on the garage and everything works!

5. We bought exterior lights and interior bulbs for the gargae and got them working. We have one more exterior light for the back of the garage that we'll put in tonight perhaps if it stops raining.

6. We cleaned the garage and the garage attic. There's actually room to walk now! Imagine that...

7. Using the concrete we didn't use on the windows, we poured a step to the side door of the garage. It's not quite tall enough - not enough concrete, but it's a start. Another bag should fill it right up.

8. We got a new push broom and swept the driveway. (You wouldn't believe how much dirt was on that thing.) Our old push broom just was too worn to work. The new broom did a hell of a job and the rain today has really washed off the remaining dust. When it dries, it'll look 200% better.

9. We began cutting into a stupid hill in the backyard, taking the dirt with the skid steere and dumping down the backyard hill. Even though it's not fully gone - the backyard looks much more open already!

10. We bought some flowers. It's amazing what a couple of hanging flower pots will do for an exterior. We also got some small flowers, which I'll plant somewheres in the yard. We need some color for the 9th party.

So, it was a highly productive weekend. I'm really happy with everything. Too bad I'm having a cruddy time at work this morning.


I need to vent. Again. Here's the bottom line: I need a 12X12 concrete slab poured at the back of my garage. It will serve two purposes.

Purpose number A: Wedding Day Dance Floor (you try and rent one - they're expensive as heck!)

Purpose number B: Shed Floor for Mike's future expansion of the garage. (Less than two years and he's already outgrown a two car garge.... incredible, but not unpredictable.)

So, I should start out with the cost of my basement floor: $270. That's just the concrete. How do I know? I paid the ready mix company separately from the laborers. I think I may have told you guys all this already. Now, the basement is around 25X40 - approx.

A few weeks ago Mike and I headed to the DeepHo to buy some Quickcrete and perhaps rent a mixer. I was thinking to myself at that time - it can't be as expensive to do it yourself as it is to have an entire basement floor poured. And I was correct. It's MORE expensive. To make a slab 12'X12'X4 or 5" you need over 100 80lb bags of Quickcrete. Did I mention they're over $3 per bag? In fact, I think they're more than $3.50 per bag. And then you've got to mix the stuff.

I was sooo pissed. Doesn't make any sense to me - doing it yourself is more expensive than having someone else do it. MUCH more expensive. For a couple weeks I've been steaming over it. But the fact is, that's the way things are in the wonderful world of quickcrete.

So today I broke down and called Fucillo - the same ready mix company the poured my basement floor. Unfortunately, the proposition is still expensive. A 12X12X5" pour comes out to a cubic yard value of around 2.5. For delivery, they have a 4 yard minimum. Normally $80 per yard, but for Saturday delivery, they ask another $5 per yard. So in total - 4 yards works out to be $340.

WHICH - if you'll read back a couple of paragraphs - is still a lot more for a little shed than my entire basement floor. I'm sure they discount in bulk and I'm sure my floor dudes got some kind of contractor discount. But COME ON people. It's nuts, isn't it? I even called a couple other companies - they had comparable or more expensive prices and some did not offer saturday delivery.

I think the way to maximize this situation is to pour the entire 4 yards. I think that would be like a 14X14. There are calculators all over the internet you can use if you're interested in finding out for sure for yourself. So Mike has a bigger shed and we have a bigger dance floor. Or Mike has a little porch on his shed. woop-de-doo.

The lesson here, Quickcrete is expensive for medium size projects and completely out of the question for large projects. If you have 2 or more yards to pour - call in a ready mix company.

Wires, Ditches, and How to Make It Work

I had a realization on Monday. In three weeks - I have to power at least 5 strings of x-mas lights, 4 star lights, and a massive stereo system in my backyard. The problem with that, of course, is that my garage currently operates on extention cord power. With one outlet extender.

The garage has been wired for power for months - but the necessary wire to power it all up, UF 8-3 or 8-something is $2.99 per foot and it's 80ft to the garage from the breaker box in the house. That works out to around $250 plus breakers and the outlets themselves. (Outlet boxes and all other wiring is in already.) So, about $300. Ouch. I haven't wanted to spend it.

But this backyard wedding affair is forcing me to spend the dough. Mike's pleased as pie. He's wanted power out there since day 1. So we went to the home depot on Monday night and bought everything. And yesterday, Mike dug the 4ft deep, 1ft wide trench necessary to bury the wire. All 80ft of it. No small task, for sure.

Of course, now the side yard is a mess again after we just got finished cleaning it up. Tonight hopefully Mike can run the machine over the whole thing to smooth it out. And then we've got to hook up the wire to the breaker box in the house and the one in the garage. I'm not sure Mike knows exactly what he's doing... but as long as he's confident and doesn't kill himself in the process, I'm fine with that.

With power to the garage active - I'll have all the juice I need to run all those lights, the stereo, and more.

Rock On

We tackled the rock wall this weekend. Would you believe after all my research, we just ended up slapping rocks against the dirt? Yes, I know it's not the right way to do it - but I was running out of time fast. And, I must admit - it looks decent. Kind of rustic. I'll get some creeping flowers that grow over the rocks and I think it'll look great.

Plus, we put down the pea stone, which looks fabulous next to the rock wall. I really need to get you guys some pictures.

On Sunday, we also went to the dump and got rid of all the old plumbing that had to be removed when the house went up. We also had some scrap metal, a tire, and some misc other stuff that went. Then we put our trash bin back next to the house where it belongs. (It too had been moved for the lifting process.)

This week my goal is to finish up the very end of the rock wall and get the forms all set for Mike's 12X12 garage addition. I want that poured by weeks end.

Also, we're hoping to get the garage electrified. The wiring is expensive, since Mike needs 220 - or whatever it is - from the house to the garage (a good 75 freakin' feet). But I need mad plugs for our upcoming backyard evening wedding. You know, for lighting and music purposes. Lucky the garage is already wired for plugs 'n stuff. We just need to hook it and go.

The incredible Change

I totally forgot to snag a pic for all you housebloggers out there who wanted to see the finished result. Oh my god. I pulled into my driveway last night after work and nearly died.

It looks FREAKIN AWESOME... oh, excuse me, I need some New England flair here to properly describe it... WICKED AWESOME! Ok, that's better.

All the concrete is gone. The front yard, side yard, other side yard, and back yard are flat and B-utiful. Plus, the slope is such that water and other nastiness will flow away from the house and garage instead of towards it.

I can't even describe how excellent it is. You guys would die. The before & after is unbelievable. Plus, over 1/2 the big 'ol dirt pile is gone. Maybe we can sneak the rest out back without those damn Andersons raising hell.

And the price on sod isn't that horrific. Sod for the front and side plus loam would be $2000. The back, probably another $1500. That's not earth shattering, really. I'm thinking I may do just the back for this upcoming wedding event. I have to figure out how I can swing it though. It'll take some financial manuvering, for sure.

I'll get back to you on that.

Smooooth Operator

This morning Nick Mitchell and Dusty arrived bright and early and dug right in... literally. 15 minutes after they had arrived, Dusty had already taken 1/4 of our giant dirt hill and put it in the front yard.

You see, the goal of today is to properly grade the entire yard - at lease around the house. We're hoping Dusty will use as much of our leftover dirt as possible, while still keeping the level of the yard looking natural and flowy.... you know, no more weird hills and vallies.

Goal number dos is to get rid of all our excess concrete. If you remember, previously we had a small basement space where our boiler and oil tank were - this was made of concrete. So, of course, all of that was demo-ed and put in a pile in the backyard. Plus all the fieldstones that used to be holding the house up were cemented together too - so all of that is in the same pile, plus some misc. concrete. And so Nick is bringing in huge dump trucks to get it all out of there at $40 a ton. Resonable, I guess. I just have to have it gone.

I can't wait to see it tonight!

Clean up clean up everybody do your share

Clean up clean up everybody everwhere - is the next verse to that #1 jam if you wanted to know. It's true. It's time to get all the concrete out of the backyard.

Our original plot was to get a demo dumpster. But upon talking to our friend Nick Mitchell, Mike discovered that because of dumpster weight limits, it would cost approx. 2.71 bragillion dollars to get rid of our concrete jungle. So that's very depressing on the one hand. On the other, Nick offered to get rid of our concrete plus grade our front yard for the price of what it would cost him to dispose of the concrete. He estimated about $1200.

So basically, it's a buy one get one free situation. We pay to get rid of the concrete, and he gets rid of it and grades out our front yard! That deal's not too shabby... I just wish I still had like $10,000 in my account to feel warm and cozy about the whole thing. But you got to do what you've got to do. Nick's all booked in September, so if we don't take him next week, we don't get it done... unless we pay approx. 2.71 bragillion dollars.

Nick asked Mike if we wanted grass... oooo how I want grass. And not just plain 'ol ordinary grass. SOD. Growing stuff reeks. Especially for me because I touch a plant, and it dies... or makes me itchy. Me and plants just don't get along so great for some weird reason.

I know sod is an expensive proposition for us and our large property. I'd want it in the front and in the back too. (No sick jokes guys.) And of course we'd have to put loam down first because we live in a sandbox. No soil whatsoever. I want Mike to get a price on it. Wouldn't it be so cool if suddenly the price of Sod plummeted because of a world-wide-sod overstock? Maybe some SOD company will read this and think "I'm going to use their house as the ultimate before and after picture for our marketing campaign in exchange for freee sod!" You never know. I should pitch that to some sod co's.

Or, maybe the price wouldn't be so horrific. It would be sooooo worth it.

Imagine - nice fluffy grass. All new and pretty. Those Andersons wouldn't say my yard looks like shznt then now would they?

The moment

It arrived. The moment every weekend warrior dreads and awaits with sweaty anticipation from renovation day one.


This is when you get to find out if it was all worth while (monetarily speaking, that is). Are they going to notice the meticulous care you took designing your home, putting in your electrical sockets, and sanding your drywall? Are they not going to notice what you haven't gotten around to fixing yet. Are they going to care that several massive projects are still in the unfinished phasse?

We have soon to find out.

I have to admit, I jumped off a cliff and locked in a refinace rate - looking to accomplish several things, most of all consolodate and lower my monthly so I can finish these durn renovations. Plus rates are going up, home values are going down. And I'm trying to slip my hat under the door before it slams shut.

I spoke with Madame Appraiser this morning. She was available a las lunch time. Knowing my insanity would prevail if I procrastinated our appointment - leading me in a futile effort to tidy the house and finish projects that can't be finished - I aggreed to meet her at the house at 1pm.

She seemed sweet. We walked around the house. She didn't pick and poke at everything, which was good in some ways, bad in others. She took some pictures - I hope they represent a good cross section of each room and not an undone crappy one. She took some notes. I tried to tell her about at least the updates she couldn't see - phone, cable, internet redone and in every room for one - new windows. She didn't let on any hints as to how everything was looking.

Within 20 minutes it was over with and I was on my way back to work - numbers swirling around in my head. What if it comes out to $400,000? What if it's only $240,000? Will it reach my ideal of $320,000 or at least $300,000 as I tried to predict it would be? I can't dwell on it. I just hope they're kind enough to get me into the loan I want.

Who Hates the Andersons?

I do, I do!

Well, with the basement done and the yard leveled, we've got ur standard big 'ol pile a dirt in the front yard. Problem is - we can't afford to get it trucked away, and the free fill sign just isn't doing anything for us.

So Mike went over to the Anderson's house on Sunday - you remember the Andersons, right? Those nasty neighbors who only abutt us in the way backyard who nearly foiled this basement project by standing up and bitching about their mother's well during the conservation committee meeting? Yes, I'm getting all angry just thinking about it.

They were angry because when we first bought the house we cut into their property by accident. (ie, we trimmed some brush - should've sent them a landscaping bill) They complained that they had to pay for a survey - that they didn't tell us about. They complained about a bunch of tires in our backyard that we inherited from the previous owners.

In short, they love making my life a living hell. But I did send them a nice apology card and $200 for the survey - which they never cashed. And we cleaned up all the tires at a cost of $300, which they never said thank you.

Anyhoo - Mike goes over there to ask them if we could put the dirt in the backyard. It's clean fill - wouldn't effect the 90 year old mother's well. (Which, by the way, our neighbors told us, has old tires stacked against it. So much for concern for keeping your own yard clean - but it's ok to complain about the neighbor's yard... sure, I get that one.)

What did the Andersons tell him? That our house looks like Sh*t. Now why would you tell that to someone you don't even know? It really burns my blood how just plain cruel that is. Especially when you see people working on their house, sweating it out every day to make it better. Putting in everything they have. Putting in late hours.

Mike was polite. I'm glad I wasn't there - I would have just broke down and died. I can't take that level of just plain I-Hate-the-world-ness.

They told him, "we can't stop you if that's not conservation land."

So I wrote a long email to Heidi over at the Bourne Town Hall conservation office today. She was really nice when we were going through the permit process. I hope she doesn't think I'm just trying to get back at these people. The word is the Anderson kids are waiting for the 'ol lady to die so they can subdivide her land. Just wait till they try and build a house in my backyard - that's where I'll get them back. But for now, I just want to get rid of the dirt and improve the condition of my backyard.

Bird Poo

The floor looks awesome! There were two or three places where the concrete obviously dried a little too quick when they tried to smooth it, causing yuckiness, but those places are at the back of the basement anyway.

And the baby birds nesting in the beams (actually right on top of a lightbulb) have already pooped on it. Isn't that gweat? Hopefully they'll be grown and flown out soon because I don't need to be cleaning poo for months on end.

I hope this means we can start reconnecting plumbing and heat this weekend.

It's Not Just for Rocks Anymore!

Congradulate me everyone. As of this morning, they began pouring the basement floor. As of tonight, the basement will be sooo close to being complete, that I have to call it 100%, despite the fact we don't have our windows in yet or all the plumbing and heat re-re-reconnected.

Within a day I guess it'll be ready to hold my oil tank, furnace, and any junkidyjunkjunk I need to store down there. Isn't that the coolest of beans? I'll be glad to get the new oil tank out of the back yard and the furnace from out the garage. Plus, Mike's friend Hal is trying to get us a new furnace and hot water tank. (We previously had a tankless system, which sucked.)

Ok - I'll tell you the whole story. After no-showing on Friday, the floor dude came by our house on Saturday and told us $1700 for the job. (That works out to be 860 for the cement and 840 for the dude.) He told Mike he could do it TODAY, which was a major major plus, so we just told him to go ahead and do it.

7am this morning they started. I even got to see/film the cement truck and cement going down the shoot, through my front basement window. So awesome, I have to say.

It's so funny - as I was writing the checks to the cement man and the floor dude, I said to Mike, "This is both releaving and depressing." Releaving that it's almost done. Depressing that, well, I'm poor.

We're not that poor really... just, no more big purchases. Gotta refinance soon... especially with all this added value to the house. Hee hee!

Concrete Analysis

Mike, bless his soul, has been trying to get a hold of floor dudes for a good week now. Our first choice - the bold man who showed up at our house one day and offered to do it. Now, I know this may be a little riskay - but for the right price, I'll give anyone a chance. Plus plus, he couldn't do any worse of a job than we would do all by our selves.

Anyway, he hadn't called us back despite a couple phone messages. That is, until yesterday. He called Mike back and told him he could pour tomorrow... which is, today. Mike told him, of course, give me an estimate first before you do anything. Here it is at the end of the day and I'm wondering what the verdict was.

Imagine if the price was right and Mike told him to go ahead and I got home and it was all done?! How awesome would that be? Once this floor is poured we can get our new oil tank, furnace, and water tank down there and start plumbing it all. We're definately doing the 2nd heating zone in the upstairs this time around. I'm not tearing all the plumbing apart a THIRD TIME! Cause that's just insane.

And then we'll rebuild a floor for the mudroom and get my durn washer and drier hooked back up... and be able to enter/exit from the side door again. I want to get a nice set of french doors in there. And I want to turn the double window into a bay window with a window seat. I think both those would look totally bright and airy and nice in theres.

May have to wait on all that though. After the basement floor and the mudroom are all set, I have to worry about trimming out the inside windows and doors, plus base and crown mouldings. And finish the hallway. And the hardwood floors, don't cha know.

Then there's the bathroom.

Then there's the exterior to worry about - which, I AM worried about because I want to ditch it ASAP. It's fugly. Plus, I need to get a demo dumpster for all the basement construction trash and I want to trash the oldy moldy siding at the same time.

I guess that sounds like a "next" doesn't it? Now that the basement's done, every other project is at the top of my list. Sucks that all the money's gone. I've just got to get used to doing everything little by little again.


Ahhh, the beauty of the internet. A luxury that Mike and I have been without in our own home since the beginning.

When we did the electrical, we had our electrician friend install a Cat-5 high speed internet outlet in every room. (Minus the bathroom - I didn't want to be tempted to surf the web in my bathtub. Not a good idea.) A friend of mine asked - Why don't you just go wireless? My response to that was, While the walls are off, I'm going to put in ALL I can.

And I'm glad I did. I recommend it to everyone. Overdo it. Lotsa outlets, phone/cable/internet in everyroom, recessed lighting, closet lighting, cabinet lighting - wire for it when the walls are down. You can get the fixtures slowly. Also - put in lotsa breakers - so when you blow one, half the house doesn't go out. Ok - there's my electrical design advice. A little bit of a tangent.

So we had cable and internet wired in back on 7/8, but we still didn't have the ends crimped onto the Cat-5 cables, so... obviously couldn't plug them into the router. Mike and I lacked instructions on how to crimp the cables into the plugs... that's the reason for the delay. We even bought the special Cat-5 crimping toolkit - but it didn't come with instructions on the order of the wires into the plug.

So, last night we got out the 'ol multi-meter and figured it out. Once we knew which order the wires went into the plugs, putting them on was a breeze. (The magical order for us was white with an orange chaser, orange, white with a green chaser, blue, white with a blue chaser, green, white with a brown chaser, and finally - brown. But your order may vary depending on your plugs and wiring... so don't try it at home without double checking.)

Of course, once that was done, we were all excited about visiting the magical internet at home for the first time! Unfortunately, it didn't work. Not because of the wiring. Because for whatever reason, I need some stupid password or something from the cable company. The software they gave me to install wouldn't work on my operating system either... stupid people. Who uses OS 9 anymore anyway? Geez.

I'll see if I can get it sorted out tonight. Maybe if I take the router out of the equation it'll let me on. We only have one computer at the moment anyway.

No Ways

Well, last weekend TJ, Mike, and Hal finished up all the remaining support work in the basement. The new beams, the new columns, and most of the pea stone dispersement... if that's a word. At this point, the floor can be poured.

I've elected Mike to call the floor man... mostly because I'm sick of trying to catch up with these contractors. And they all treat me like a girly girl. And they're impossible to deal with. Plus, Mike met this floor man when he randomly stopped at our house and said he'd do it for a low low price... which would be cool. So why should I call him? I don't even know him. There - I've rationalized it.

It's also come to my attention that people read this blog. Which is, I suppose, a good thing, because I had a very nice dinner and a very nice time at the drive-in movies over the weekend - thank you very much, loyal reader for your contribution to my sanity.

If any others of you want to contribute to my sanity, just leave me a nice happy comment.

Now, back to the show.

Mike has decided now, after talking to Hal, that he doesn't want to do radiant floor heat. I guess the lime in the concrete eventually corrodes the copper pipes and you have to inject silicone into the entire system. That, plus the cost and the difficulty of repairs kinda sealed the deal. When we finish off the basement in the next few years, we'll put in baseboards like we did in the rest of the house.

Speaking of which, we should spend that radiant heat money on the second heating zone in my upstairs that still isn't done. Winter is coming fast. Just a thought.

Also, after dispersing the pea stone, we have a lot of it leftover, which is awesome, because we wanted to create a gravel driveway in the space next to the garage where we park the boat. Now I just have to make my stone retaining wall to hold in the dirt. (Right now it's just a gross washed out 'ol sand hill.)

Does anyone out there in BlogLand know how to make a rock retaining wall? I'm using regular old rocks... my old fieldstone foundation. Do you sculpt the dirt, then stack the rocks, put concrete behind them to make them stick, and then pour dirt in to hold them up? What's the method? Does anyone know?

This House is NonCompliant

It's all gone. $35000. Goodbye. I knew I couldn't get used to it always being there... that during the course of this job, at some point, it would be gone. And now that point has nearly arrived. A couple more payments to TJ, who's been re-supporting the house with new beams and columns - and we're spent.

It's very depressing. The Home Depot bill is also out of control. I'm frustrated that I can't even afford to get the two other ceiling fans we need to keep the living room and office cool during these hot summer months. Nevermind like... going to see a movie or out to dinner. Forget it. I'm lucky if I have 99cents for PastaRoni.

Ok - so I'm not THAT badly off. I can afford to eat and pay the bills. But I wasn't kidding about the movie.

I know you can't put a price on the structure of your house. And throwing rotted supporting beams out the basement windows was very theraputic... it's just the last thing we need to do before the floor is poured.

Hmmm... I wonder if Mike's called the floor man yet.

Time Box

It's been a while. I know. It's been crazy at work and I've been trying to get happy about everything because I couldn't ask for more on the homefront.

We moved back in right after we got back from NH. We just hooked up to the new water main and had cold showers. (And let me tell you - colder than cold. I don't recommend it.) Luckily, a friend of ours had a small electric water heater that he let us borrow for free. So now we've got that hooked up. It only holds 6 gallons, but if you hurry, you can get your whole hot shower in the 2 or 3 minutes of hot water.

I finally talked to the foundation dude about the windows, and he's going to deliver them the next time he's up in our area. I paid the remaining $17,000 we owed to the contractors... and have been feeling quite poor ever since.

Meanwhile, Mike hired our friend TJ to replace all the rot around the sill and do the final levelling-out of the house, which he did last week. The new PT looks great, although a few more beams still need replacing... $$$$...

Then, over the long weekend, Mike and I shovelled dirt back into the basement and levelled the floor to footing height. The next step is putting in 3 inches of pea stone, which we ordered on Monday....$$$$...That should be delivered today.

After that, we have to do the radiant heat. Which, I have no clue how we'll afford.
I'm worried I'm going to run out of money. And I can't zap our savings completely. What makes it even more difficult is the fact that I want to refinance by September. Get out of my adjustable rate (not set to adjust for a few years, but better to be rid of it now) and my stupid PMI.

So... I also want the house to appraise for a good value. I've got a number in my head that I'm striving for. I think if we can get a lawn going by late August (did I mention we live in a dirt pit?) and if I can redo the wood floors, plus a few small touchy uppy things here and there - we'll be golden. But blocking that is so many brick walls... Most of all, the money.

Oh yeah, I didn't even mention that after the radiant heat, we still have to contract the floor dude to pour the basement floor.

I Got My Fill

On Monday Mike finished filling. We lost a little momentum with his trip to NH last weekend. And this week, we're losing a little more as we head up to NH tonight for a loooong weekend. So, Mike really wanted to get the fill done by Monday - and he did. The front looks fabulous. No more stupid hill - just a nice, graded surface. Well, it's not perfectly graded. And there's still a bunch of concrete and other trashy junk out there from construction. But at least I only need a step stool and a cindar block instead of a ladder to get into the place.

The back and sides still need more grading too, but they're basically done. Maybe a little more and a little less dirt here and there.

The next step is actually to put dirt back IN the basement. Amazed? I guess they have to get the floor up to footing height. Then they put in 3 inches of pea stone. I should say we... we're going to be doing that. Then we'll install radiant heat and... after that they'll pour the floor. That reminds me, that floor guy hasn't called me back yet.

The water department did get my new pipe and meter in - and where we wanted it. Wow! Yay! And they filled in the trench too, which they didn't have to do. So that was nice.

Wooo - I'm pooped. Between long shifts at work, early morning meetings and shoots, late nights digging and getting packed for this weekend, and general stressed-outed-ness, I am truly exhausted. I'm hoping I can sleep on the way up north.

Water You Waiting For?!

I think I discovered WHY originally, our water main was not buried. (If you recall, it just lay in our old crawl space - right on top of the cold dirt instead of under it - for about 25 feet. With wind blowing throught the old fieldstone foundation, it froze right up the winter before last.)

I talked to the North Sagamore Water District on Friday morning, and a nice woman told me she'd try and have the guys go out to the house to have the water hooked back up that day. I was all excited. A few nights previous Mike and I dug a trench for the water main under the front footing of the house, though the basement, to the back wall where we wanted the meter, so all they had to do was lay the pipe back in and hook up a new meter.

Well - about a couple hours after I talked to the nice woman, a man called me to ask where the old meter was. I told him it was in the back of the basement and that there were a couple ladders at the front of the house to get in. He then said, "Can we just hook up the meter at the front wall there? You know, somebody dug a trench through there leading back." He was very rude in tone. I replied, "Our water heater is going to be on the back wall, we'd like it there." He got all huffy and said he'd have to lay down some more pipe (as if it was some sort of big deal) to go the extra 20 feet or so. I asked again if he could do it. He replied, in the same rude, seemingly angry tone, "I'll see what I can do."

I was so amazed! Our plumber friend Brian said they usually dug a trench for the water mains, so that's what we did. It didn't seem like a big deal to lay some extra pipe. I guess we just have a lazy jerk over there at the water department who isn't too happy about doing his job right - and to the homeowners design. I'm guessing it was the same guy who just plopped in the old water main without burying it.

At least he did what I instructed. The water main is in and on!

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I look like I'm in that "Ew, sticky!" pose, don't I? Well, I'm glad I'll never have to tar a foundation again in my life. I've been thinking about writing to Mike Rowe of Discovery's Dirty Jobs and suggesting he tar a foundation. That is dirty!

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Like Buttah

Consistency's good!

It's ME!

This may be the first picture of me ever on this blog. Weird huh? I'm just usually the one taking the pic. But Mike's mom was helping us with the insulation yesterday, so she was happy to snap some shots. Here I am stirring the tar as Mike warms it up with a map gas torch.

Tar'R Us

You can see in the sideview how textured the tar looks. It kinda swishes up on itself as it dries.

Tar and Tar Again

Here we are, filling in the spots we missed on Sunday. The tar dried considerably faster than we thought! Our foam board insulation wouldn't stick! We tried sticky-ing it up a bit, but it wasn't enough. We ended up backfilling a little bit rather than just insulating the entire house to keep the insulation from falling off.

Let's See That Butt Again

Celebrate Good Times Come 'On

And here's Mike, doing the classic celebration dance. (Even though we still have to touch up tar in a few spots this afternoon - as you can see the bottom of the wall right there is completely covered. That's because those parts still needed to dry out.) Our friend JP was helping us out that day and I said to him, you'll be able to see this on the internet! He said, I saw it in person, I don't need to see it again. I had to laugh. But for all you who weren't there - here is the reasonable facimillie.

That new pirate movie about foundations... TARRRR!

Here's the finished product! In all it took us only 3 hours to tar the entire house. I slopped the stuff on with the small broom and Mike spread it and carved it with the scrub brush.

I was pretty worried at first because the bucket said "Do not use if threat of rain within 24 hours." and it was drizzly on Sunday. But we were determined to get this done so we could begin insulation and fill this week. So we braved the weather and did it. Luckily, our carpenter friend called and said he'd seen it done in worse weather before, which made me feel better.

Brought to You by Henry!

The illustrated guy on the bucket of tar made it look sooo easy, one swipe and it's covered. In reality, spreading tar is like spreading molassas mixed with silly putty. It's thick and it wants to stick where you first stick it. We made it easier by heating it up with Sterno and a map gas torch. Let me tell you - that made it a whole lot faster.

But when we were all done, Mike wanted to make it look simple for all you internet lovers, so he took up a pose like the bucket's illustration.

It's Down!

THE HOUSE IS DOWN!!!! Pictures to come!

Bob had a cancellation and sent all his guys to our house instead! Mike told him he hadn't shimmed it level yet, and Bob said he'd have his guys take care of it as a favor. Awesome. Awesome.

Now let's see if I can get the water on...

A Tiff

Mike and I got in a bit of an argument last night at the house. I got out of work late and he was frustrated with working alone. Turns out that he made a mistake when putting on the PT (pressure treated wood) on the foundation for the sill. He wouldn't really elaborate. Plus he had lent out his air hose and some other tools that he needed.

I chimed in because I was really worried about the windows and the cracks and everything else noted in previous posts. Mike was frustrated that we weren't getting enough done. I agreed, but pointed out that we together decided to take the holiday weekend off from house work.

It's hard to cope when tensions get high. You just have to try and keep going. We'll both be there tonight, finishing that sill. I hope it goes well.

All Cracked Up

I'm still depressed. A long weekend in the camper did little for my mood. Hate to say it. I'm getting paranoid that Bob's just going to put the house down. Just plop it right down on the level foundation, causing the un-level house to crack up all over the interior, if it survives at all. The kitchen may fall of if that happens. They didn't pour the foundation to follow the house's level like we thought they would. And we're not sure how to shim the house once it comes down!

And then there's the basement windows. I paid $200 for each - but did that include a window or just a hole for a window? Am I going to have to put the windows in myself? Pay for them myself after I already paid $200 for holes? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Meanwhile Mike's ready to tar the thing. I'm rather scared of that too - we have no clue what we're doing. I've had a lot of faith in Mike and his mad skillz thoughout this house re-do, but it's not like you can un-fill the fill once it's filled, you know? Plus, it's got to be inspected. Grrrr.

What's really scary - I'm going to have to change the tape in the time-lapse VCR soon. That means it's been two months. Unbelievable. That's twice the time we thought it would take. Typical construction, I should have expected it. You always hope that the contractor is good and nice and timely.... but things never work out like that in this business. And I'm ok with that... except I'm ready to move back in. I don't care. No water - no shower - I don't care. I'll pee at McD's down the street. I'll get Poland Springs delivered right to my door. I'll shower.... somewhere.

It's driving me crazy. I have so much to do this summer and half of it's being held up because the house is being held up... literally.

I'm thankful for my basement. I would do it again 500 times over for what it will mean to me. But for pity's sake - I want it tarred and I want it filled and I want it down in two weeks. I want it hooked back up in three. Let's see if I get what I want.

Yard Stick

No progress. The house is 10 feet in the air, the basement is just sitting there - hardening every day. Not much else can be done, unfortunately, until the concrete has cured enough for us to tar it. Who knows how long that's supposed to be. I haven't heard from the contractors at all.

I was in the house yesterday. I'm starting to feel a little depressed. I want to go back. I miss my kitchen and cooking. I miss the awesome couch and my red red bedroom. I miss my edit system and I'm totally sick of the long drive to and from work. *sigh*

Mike was able to buy a big bundle of pressure treated wood from the tool man. He's been cutting and drilling it so it will fit atop the foundation so the house can sit on it. Pretty cool - we got a good price.

We've been doing some landscaping too. Trying to build a rock wall with the rocks from the old foundation - which is tougher than it sounds. Weeding. Cleaning up.

I'm hoping to purchase some plants as soon as I have some money. At least I can work on the right hand side of the yard while the front is still under construction.



Press Release Blurb

I figure a house up in the air is pretty coo - so, I'm going to send a press release to a bunch of the local and regional papers. Here's a cross section for you home skillets to check out....

But having the best in the business meant waiting in line over nine months. Even when the contractor was finally ready, building permits and conservation committee approval had to be obtained. Not to mention demolition of the old chimney and concrete front steps, and all necessary plumbing disconnections. "And we had to move out," adds Jess.

Though some choose to live in their homes during lift and construction, Mike and Jess did not want to live two months without heat and running water.

Within days of moving out, the house was airborne, supported by steel beams and crossbeams on towers of wood called cribbings. "I'm still amazed at the whole process," reflects Jess. First, a backhoe digs several access holes around the house to the depth of the basement. The cribbings are then built within the holes and the steel beams are inserted across the entire length and width of the house. Smaller blocks of wood are placed on top of the beams to keep the house level. Then, slowly, a series of jacks placed inside the cribbings lift the beams. Once the house is high enough for the escavation and foundation companies to work under, the cribbings are built up to support the lifted structure and the jacks are lowered.

"There's always that little bit of doubt and you think, what if it falls, what if all the walls crack, what if all my stuff is ruined..." Jess says, smiling. "But the structure is so strong. I don't think any of that would ever happen."

As soon as their house was in the air, Mike started digging. "This area is all sand and rocks," he explains. "No clay. So it's easy to dig even without a big machine." But to finish the dig-out, the couple called on their friend Nick Mitchell of Nick Mitchell Landscape and Construction, who completed the job in a single day.

And just a week after that, Allcape Foundations began work on the basement.

Bog Juice

The forms are off! That was quick, huh? I visited the house late last night after working late. Mike was down in the basement... hey, I can actually call it a basement. Pretty freakin' smurf.

Anyhoo, he was smoothing out and distributing sand for the floor that we still haven't contracted yet. We talked for a bit about our final design of the basement, things like rooms, boilers, stairs, doors from indoor to out, trap doors from upstairs to down, and windows. Turns out that a couple of the window holes are below grade. Mike is very against window wells, so we may either block them up, put in plain 'ol glass instead of windows, or grade the backyard a little differently. There's still time to decide.

In the meantime, Mike thinks that we have to tar the walls. That makes no sense to me. I would have thought that would be included in our basement job. I asked him to call Ernie regarding that and the windows. Apparantly, we also have to insulate the exterior walls - outside between the dirt and the concrete.. didn't know that either. All I hear is cha-ching cha-ching. So, if we have to tar the walls and insulate ourselves - that's our goal for this weekend.

Then we have to find out when we can backfill. Then Mike has to make friends with the Andersons and see if we can put excess fill in our hole of a backyard. I hope we can reach an agreement about that because boy... it would just be awesome for a lot of reasons.

Oh, and did I mention we have to figure out how to set the house down level? Yes, they poured the basement level - but the trouble is - the house is NOT level. So, if we just plop it down on the foundation, all our walls will crack, doors won't close, etc. All because all those things weren't built level. The house needs to be shimmed. But how? That's a question Mike needs to ask Bob Hayden.

So, in summary, Mike needs to make some phone calls. And me? I'll just worry about paying the bills right now. Paying the bills and getting rid of the cottage cheese of my thighs. Any suggestions for high-effectiveness workouts?

Pour It On

Concrete.... ah, so inspirational. I think I'll write a poem.

C is for cookie...

No wait, that's not it. Nevermind. I guess I'm not inspired after all. What else is new, right? Ok, seriously folks, the concrete has been poured into the forms. Woo-hoo!

Of course, my mail box, silt fense, and haybales were decimated by the cement truck, which came through the front yard. I hope Mike was able to stand up the mail box so at least I can get my mail. I don't think they'll be motivated enough to get out of the mail truck, walk over to the poor box, and put in the mail.

Ernie from Allcape called Mike and asked about the windows. Mike just told him to put one where every beam is - that totals up to 8. At $200 a pop, they're not cheap, but we'll thank ourselves later. Ernie bought them, they were there after work yesterday evening, and they blocked out for them in the concrete. Too sweet.


As of yesterday - forms are up. They hadn't begun pouring yet... perhaps it was the pouring rain that's been holding every body up for the last few weeks... Hopefully they started that today. I can't wait to check it out.

With the forms up, we could finally judge the height of the walls. And they are perfect. The house is going to sit at least 2 feet higher than it did previously, and we'll have enough room for, well, anything downstairs! It's so exciting. It's almost a basement. They only thing I'm concerned about is the windows... they don't seem to have blocked out for those yet.

But they told me the windows would be where the beams were, so that adds up to a lot of windows, which is fabulous in my opinion. Of course, they haven't told me where and when to buy the windows and in what dimensions... so, I have to worry about it and the pricetag attached. I doubt that they'll buy the windows. Though that would be cool if it was included in my price... yeah right.

I won't worry about it. The foundation guys told me not to, so I'll try. I'll really try because I do trust them. And if all continues at a good jogging pace, we'll be basement-bound by June 1st.

Goin' Mobile BEEP BEEP

Mobile blogging ROCKS! Except for cell phone fees - damn them. Now I have to upgrade my MMS package. Oh well - check out how high the house is now! It's a little scary, it's so high.

The form truck has been at the house all week now with no signs of activity. That means more waiting. I hate waiting. At least Mike and I have our slide-in camper to work on... we always have to be working on something. Weird huh? I guess we're just a couple work-a-holics.

A Lil' Bit Higher Now

It's another 6 days of rain, but still, I'm confident that work will progress at the house. We saw our friend Greg who works for All Cape Foundations over the weekend and he said, yes, Bob has to lift the house higher so we can get the forms in.

Yesterday Mike went by the house and, sure enough, Bob had been there and lifted it higher. I haven't seen it yet, but I can't wait to. Hopefully the foundation will be complete by next week. And another week after that, the house will be able to be set down on it.

Also, Mike rented the chipper this weekend and we spent all Saturday stuffing branches into it. I have about a zillion pricker scratches to prove it too...

A footing under the house is worth 2 in the bush

I visited the house yesterday after a few days of too-tired-to-drive-by-on-my-way-home-from-work syndrome. Footings are poured. Up until this time, I had a totally different image of what footings were. I was thinking they were just corner peices. In fact, footings outline the entire foundation, ie, the shape of the house. Which, looking at it that way now, makes more sense.

They hadn't taken away the forms yet, and to be honest, the concrete still looked moist. We've had a lot of rain over the last week though, so I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it. We're supposed to have a dry weekend, so maybe they'll be back on monday to start on the rest of the pour.

Meanwhile, Mike did rent a chipper for this weekend, so hopefully we'll be able to get rid of all that brush we took down last weekend, plus dead stuff in our hole of a back yard.

That gets me thinking about our fill again - I mean, maybe if I send those Andersons a nice card with $300 for their troubles, they would let us put the dirt from the escavation down there. It's all clean sand and rocks, after all, and could in no possible way that I could imagine, hurt the old lady's well. I know they're just mad at us for cutting trees and brush on their property accidentally - and I guess, rightfully so. But if they have any heart at all... or greed. They'll accept an apology and money and let us put the dirt down there.

I hate to be disliked. I've put it off so far because I dread talking to them. I dread them saying something else horrible, mean, and offensive to me.

And so it begins...

I dropped over at the house last night to see if they had started the foundation yet. At the end of last week, our house mover had repositioned one of the cribbing towers so that the footings could be poured and the foundation people could start on Monday.

And sure enough, last night there was a whole mess of wood and string at the bottom of the hole, which I suppose helps them determine the depth and level and all that good stuff. I didn't stay too long to look - and I certainly didn't want to go down and take the chance of messing up anything. It looked totally cool though. Mike and I are so excited. We can't wait to get back in.

This weekend we took down some more trees in the yard and stacked the brush and wood. Hopefully this weekend we can get a chipper to get rid of it all since burn season ended on Sunday.

Oh - and more exciting news for you fans of weird art out of normal stuff. We took our old heating oil tank, cut the top off, and cleaned it out to make a super cool burning container. We'll eventually hinge the top so it can be opened and closed easily. I'm going to paint it too and name it "Trogdor, The Burninator." (If you have no clue what that means, see www.homestarrunner.com and the Strong Bad emails.)

The Cape Cod of It All

Mike had a little freak-out when he realized that I hadn't told the foundation guy we wanted an 8 foot ceiling. And of course, I was stressed out from worktime business and bitched back "Then you need to take some initiative and call him yourself!" Which, wasn't very nice, I know. He's also busy at his work.

But, he knew that I hated talking to contractors and gave them a call earlier this week. Well! Just to give you the whole scoop, I had left them a message at the end of last week because Ernie (the dude) asked me to leave Nick Mitchell's phone # on his office answering machine so they could chit chat about depths and footing holes and blah blah blah.

So I left him the message - "Call Nick Mitchell at XXX-XXX_XXXX. I'm not sure if he knows my name, he's been working with my fiance, Mike Banis. So you should probably use that name when you call."

Turns out, one of Ernie's guys is a good friend of our friend Andy, who we've hung out with and rode motorcycles with before. He recognized Mike's name on the answering machine and put in a very good word for us! And so, we're getting our 8ft walls for an amazing amazing price. I'm not sure if that's the same price he quoted me or lower... but either way, that's super cool! Plus, they're starting ASAP.

And by ASAP, I mean as soon as Bob jacks up the house just a teenie bit more... which will be once he's finished some other jobs. Maybe he's waiting for our first check to arrive... I sent it to him Monday and he hasn't cashed it yet. Biggest check I've ever written and it's only $6,000! The remaining four I'll pay him when the house is down safely, which I'm sure it will be - hopefully within two or three weeks!!

Jess Dirt

Well, with the house securely in the sky, we finished digging out last weekend with the help of our old friend and landscaper/contractor/dude with machinery Nick Mitchell. He brought Dusty and a small CAT to the house on Saturday around 8am. By 5pm, the digging was finished. Mike and I hung out all day to take pics, help Dusty, burn some junk wood, and provide pizza and CocaCola.

I'm thinking I may write a press release and attach some of the pics and send it out to the local papers. Nothin' like a good 'ol fashion house raisin' here on Cape Cod... I know it happens all the time, but I've never seen one pictured in the paper. Might be a good story.

Anyway, the foundation guy Ernie from All Cape Foundations is out at the house today. (I passed his trucks on the way to work, isn't that cool?) He gave me a price of $10,900 yesterday, which was perfectly on point with my budget. I'm so excited. He didn't tell me how long it would take, but Nick estimated that if all went well, we'd have a foundation by Friday or early next week. Too cool. You can already tell how awesome it will be by standing under the house.

So cool. here's some more pics. I'll write more details despues de trabajar today... yes my spanish is bad, I know.

If you've been thinking about making the switch...

Ok - I should have knocked on something yesterday.

Our good friend and carpenter Chad stopped by the house randomly yesterday while Mike and I were at work. That eager beaver wanted to start replacing beams - with the house up and everything!! He called Mike yesterday night to express concerns about our other friend Nick Mitchell doing the remainder of the digging. Nick's company has done foundation holes, but not for lifted houses. He strongly recommended that based on his lack of his experience, we hire someone else.

Well that got us thinking that maybe we should. I mean, even though the house is pretty stable - a hard knock with a big machine could do some damage. Even with a nice insurance check, we would be devastated to lose the house or have to re-do work that we had already done inside. So if Nick hasn't started today, Mike is going to turn to another friend of his who has apparently worked with our house lifter before.

Making this all the more tricky is the foundation dude, who's coming on Mon Tues. I'm not going to delay him - even if that means paying a little more for the escavation. (How much more could it be? We already dug half of it, right?)

We'll see tonight. I'm working late so I'm sure I'll be dying of anticipation around 7 or 8pm as to what the verdict is.

And if you're wondering what's going to be next after the house comes down... hold on to your respirators gang - the asbestos siding is coming off! And who better to give us an estimate than the local ASBESTOS MAN!! Du duh duuuuhhh!

Seriously, his company is called "Asbestos Man." I love that. More to come houselovers. More to come.

Progress is Progressing Nicely

Well, everything is going along just swimmingly. Weird huh? I better knock on something. It was an Easter weekend of digging dirt and moving cinder blocks for Mike and I. The basement's about halfway dug now. Our escavator is coming tomorrow or the next day to finish the job. (We'll let him dig around the rigging and figure out the depth and level of the thing.)

I talked to the foundation peeps this morning and they'll be able to come out next Mon or Tues. Pretty sweet. Of course, I still haven't gotten anything in writing from them. I know I need to do that. They need to come take a look at the site too. I want to specify - yes, I want windows. No, I don't want the underground kind - sunken I guess you'd call them.

Meanwhile, I'm almost enjoying life in Brewster. The dogs are tolerable and haven't eaten my cats yet. Plus, I was able to clean the place and it feels so much better when clean! And of course, I wanted to clean it as a thank you too. Then there's the cable... mmmm.... cable. Makes me eager to get it activated in my own house.

More to come!!

Pics At Last!

The front of the house - this is before we really started digging. Now there's a ramp down right between those two front windows and most of the dirt is gone.

Here is the back corner of the house - on steel and shims, up in the air!!

Here's a closeup of the wooden jenga-like tower that holds up the steel beams.