Floods and Updates

It was as I had expected. That inspector was definitely a hard ass. And the strange thing was, he had been instructed only to take pics of the boiler, the bathroom, and the kitchen. All of which are in perfect working order. Mike tried to explain to him that we'd made improvements to avoid cancellation and pointed these out to him, but no no. He didn't need any of that.

Apparently he had a photo of the house with the farmer's porch on it - so they'd been to the house before without our knowledge, taking pics of the exterior. And that's honestly fine with me - but we JUST added the railings a few days ago. Not to mention the gutters. Again, Mike tried to explain this, but to no avail.

When I found out around 4 yesterday, I immediately got on the phone with our rep to make her aware of it. She was going to be following up with the insurance company anyway. And she better not take any guff from them if they try to say things aren't done. I wish I could talk to them myself.... on second thought, probably not the best idea.

"Home insurance cancelled due to psychotic home owner." Yeah, I'm definitely a liability.

Anyway, long overdue, here are some pics of the recent inspection-ready improvements:

Gutters and downspouts on one side - Mike's advice - it is easier to put them together on the ground and then put them up as one unit instead of trying to attach them to the house piece by piece.

Gutter on the back - much needed!

Temporary porch railing - lookin good.

Ah the exterior lights are back up again. It's all for temp, but still...

Completed basement railing - a little funky, but still functional.

And now on to the drama.

After clicking on the title to this post you're probably wondering where the flood's at. Well, it was a dark and stormy night. (Last night.) We started out with snow in the morning, which changed to rain in the afternoon and evening as the temperature climbed from the 30's to the mid 50's! What an incredible change. The wind was wild, the fog was everywhere, and by the time I got home, melting snow was creating huge rivers and puddles.

Around 7 I suddenly turned down the volume on the TV - I heard water. Not just dripping water either - this was definitely a fast moving waterfall dripping on some kind of hard surface. We started walking around, hoping that it was just the new gutters doing their job. Unfortunately, when we reached the basement - we discovered our favorite back window leaking again.

And not a small leak either.

Immediately, Mike shut off the boiler - which you can see in the pic is right in the line of fire. I had to quickly prop up a wooden sleigh bed I was storing near by on a few pieces of wood to keep it out of the fast growing puddle - although luckily that was the only thing I was worried about being damaged.

Mike grabbed his gordan's fisherman outfit and rushed outside, where he discovered that it wasn't so much the falling rain off the roof, but a river of melting snow running off the hill, straight into the window.

He was outside for nearly an hour with a shovel and the skid steer trying to divert the oncoming tide. Meanwhile I'm in the basement snapping a few pics... I guess I nearly gave the poor guy a heart attack. He thought the flash was something electrical arcing out in the basement!

Note the faint line about halfway up the window glass - that's where the water is. Trapped in the window well. It looked like a fish tank.

Eventually Mike was able to divert the water and slow the flow as it were. The flood ended with a quick vacuum of the basement with the wet dry vac.

Thank god the inspector wasn't around for that!


I-Day or Inspection Day has arrived. And did I mention there's a few inches of snow on the ground and it only just turned over to freezing rain?

Excellent day for an inspection. Who knows what the roads will be like between 2 and 3 when this dude is supposed to show up, but I haven't received a cancellation call yet.

Mike is home tidying up a few last minute things - installing that basement stair railing, installing an exterior light, and hopefully not creating any big messes after I ran around this morning like a madman to finish the cleaning.

He finished the gutters on Monday, to great relief. We actually had a boatload of extra pieces that I was able to return to the Home Depot yesterday. What an even greater relief! Yesterday he installed the temporary railing on the farmer's porch - which looks great. Too bad I didn't have an opportunity to take down the xmas lights. But no matter. They're not even plugged in.

I'll be glad when 4:00 rolls around and I know the dude has come and gone. Then we're back to the baby's room. (Thank god because it's already Feb as far as I'm concerned.)

Lumber Liquidators called me yesterday - the flooring is in. Mike will be able to pick it up this weekend if not tomorrow/Friday depending on his schedule. He keeps asking me where I want to put all the extra. Hell if I know. (That's my one cheezy joke that I know - what do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhino? 'El-if-I-know.)

Anyway - as I said before, once we pick it up we can go ahead and install it. This time we'll have to rent the traditional flooring nailer (you know, the one you hit with a hammer and all) instead of the little 3/8 stapler. Mike would like to do the hallway at the same time too - and now we wish we hadn't returned those two sheets of 3/4 plywood.

I doubt it can all be done this weekend. Everything's just been so crazy leading up to this stupid inspection. We need a break.

Only 48 Hours

The inspector will be at home Wed between 2 and 3.

Side note - I'm totally going absolutely extreme annoyance theorem right now. I want to run screaming out of here at light speed, in fact. (Imagine someone repeating, sometimes singing, the same word for over an hour in the next room. Yup, that's life sometimes.)

So obviously I need to take a break before I go anymore insane than I already have.

So the inspector - yes! We were preparing for him all weekend. Saturday Mike continued work on the gutters, though didn't get very far. First he needed more connectors. Home Depot trip 1. Then it turns out our downspouts and turn outs were the wrong size. Home Depot trip 2.

Nevermind that the warm temperatures (40 degrees) were melting all the snow off the roof... causing severe discomfort during gutter installation. Mike spent a lot of time with the push broom trying to clear it all off, but still couldn't silicone any of the joints with all the gutter parts so damp.

Needless to say, the end of the day came without much progress. In the evening, Mike had to help out a friend of his while I got to cleaning. I cleaned the basement and the entire downstairs. Sunday, Mike's riding day, I finished the cleaning upstairs and felt pretty satisfied with that.

TJ was over on Sunday too... with good news and bad news. The good news - Mike did a great job on the baby's room subfloor and there's no need to put down an additional 1/2" of ply. When the hardwood arrives - we can just slap that down and be done. Bad news - the remainder of the downstairs should be done in the same fashion. Meaning we rip up the old flooring and install 3/4 ply instead of just installing 1/2" over the old flooring.

Well, that's all well and good save for the additional cost of 3/4 vs 1/2 inch. Big cost difference, actually. Unfortunately, if we don't, the final floor will squeak and shake on the unstable base. Just another reason to hold off on hardwooding the entire downstairs. We have too many baby's room periferals to worry about.

After the floor is finished it'll be window trim, closet doors and trim, closet organizer, closet light, rug, window treatments, and don't forget all that baby stuff.

Anyway - back to inspection news. Today Mike will hopefully have finished up the gutters... and not had any more crazy problems. Also over the weekend, we picked up some 2x4's to create a temporary railing on the porch and a 4x4 to attach the bottom of our basement stair railing to. So that's all got to be done too - if not today then definitely tomorrow.

And that's it. If they're not satisfied with everything - I can at least say confidently that we've done absolutely everything we could.

More Floor

We took the official plunge last night and ordered the hardwood. 500sq feet of 3/4" cherry goodness, soon to be delivered to our local Lumber Liquidators for pickup.

I'm still unsure about the sanity of this decision. 0% financing or no 0% financing. But when it came right down to it I thought, I'm going to regret not doing this. And that thought made my final decision for me.

Plus, you know, I'm sitting here and the inauguration is on TV in the next room and I'm thinking optimistically. Cautiously, but optimistically.

Yesterday Mike finished installing the 3/4 subfloor in the baby's room. Next up, 1/2 inch! Subflooring is just madness. Especially when you're trying to stiffen an old wobbly floor. You begin to think to yourself, how sturdy does this floor need to be anyway?

Luckily, we have some 1/2" in stock. And - we had two extra sheets of 3/4" leftover, which we can return and purchase some additional 1/2 inch, plus more caulk.

The hardwood plan of attack is as follows:
We'll install the 1/2" ply in the baby's room and possibly the hallway if we have extra and hardwood those areas. The living room (and possibly the hallway if we have no extra) can wait. We can hold on to the hardwood until we can purchase more 1/2 inch.

Meanwhile - and I think I jinxed myself yesterday - I finally received that home inspection scheduling call. They'll be out a week from tomorrow. So cold or no cold, those gutters have to get up. And the whole house needs to be cleaned and tightened up. That includes the garage.

I'm not looking forward to it. The inspector sounded like a douche over the phone - a real hard ass. I'm sure they picked him out special just for us.

But no matter. I'm feeling pretty good about our progress and if they don't want to insure us - there's got to be someone out there who wants our business.

Change in the Forecast

All did not go exactly to plan this weekend, but worked out well nevertheless.

Saturday turned out to be insanity. We were all loaded up to go to the dump first thing in the AM when Mike's truck batteries (2 of em) died. Wouldn't take a charge, couldn't be jump started, nothing. So unfortunately we had to go out and buy two new ones at the tune of nearly $200. Timing couldn't be better, eh? But you can't get anywhere without batteries - this was definitely a "have to."

By the time we got home from that ordeal, I had to run out for my luncheon date with a friend, leaving Mike to hit the dump and the deepHo solo. He was going to pick up some additional gutter connectors, the 3/4" plywood, and caulk. Outside, the temperature wouldn't budge above 20, ruining any gutter/burning activities for the day.

And of course by the time Mike returned home and unloaded everything with the help of his parents, who came by to give him a hand, it was time for him to leave to meet up with me at my parents' house for dinner!

Amazing how long all this running around can really take. Oh and all that plywood, another $200. It's almost comical how all this stuff ads up. And you don't want to know how much I had already spent over at BJ's on baby stuff on Friday. (I had coupons.)

Sunday it rained and snowed all day - further delaying any outside activities. So we stayed in. Mike did a few odds and ends for me - installed the last outlet and switch in the baby's room as well as the smoke detector. Then he started in on the floor, first finishing up the final reinforcement beam downstairs. Once that was in, he nailed down the old subfloor. (Which had previously been just, you know, hanging out on the beams, not really nailed to anything. Maybe a few nails here and there just for luck or something.)

Once everything had been nailed down and feeling sturdy, he began installing the plywood.

And once again, the moment the afternoon hit, time just flew. Mike only had time to install a couple pieces before we had to go out to our friends' house for taco night. But all in all, a very progressive weekend.

I'm sure Mike is working on the subfloor again today if not the gutters. It really is much warmer out today, but I didn't feel like leaving him a to-do list after such a crazy weekend. I haven't gotten the dreaded call from the home owners insurance co anyway, although they did send me a letter stating that they were going to call to set up an appointment.


And as for the decision on the hardwood - I still haven't made it yet. I have until the end of the day. I just don't know.

Waiting, But Not Wasting Time

I'm happy to report that this week really turned around for us after Tuesday.

First off, that presentation I was worried about last post was scheduled for this morning instead of Wednesday morning. So we actually had Wednesday and Thursday to work on it, much to my relief on Tuesday night.

Secondly, still no call from our home insurance rep. I'm still not sure if that's good news or bad news, but nevertheless it's given us (us, that's a good one because I'm pretty much useless at the moment) It's given Mike a chance to work on several projects.

Wednesday, he spent the day on gutters. Or, rather, preparing for the gutters. Because really once he got up on the latter and started inspecting the roof line, it was obvious that some prep work needed to be done first. One major area of concern was over the mudroom.

And we knew this was a problem because back when we did the roof, I noticed while cleaning out the attic - Hey! There's a big hole to the outside where the roof meets the wall! At the time, we brushed it off and said, "we'll take care of that with the new siding."

But of course with no new siding as of yet, and temperatures creeping below 0 lately - probably a good idea to plug that hole. So, using some of our extra PT decking (the ugly pieces left over from the farmer's porch) Mike trimmed out that area. Later, the gutter will attach directly to this piece.

Notice how the piece just melds into the farmer's porch. Perfect!

If the weather hadn't been so cold and snowy, Mike could have actually installed the gutters yesterday. He wanted to, the nut! But really, the snow plus major wind chill factor - even I'm not that much of a slave driver.

Here's the second area that is in desperate need of a gutter. This is the back of the kitchen, and when it rains, the water just slides off the roof. If conditions are just right, it can actually seep through that window and sometimes the wall itself. We had several major rain events one after another back in fall that caused a flood in the basement window directly under this kitchen window - not good.

Anyway, tomorrow the high temperature is a toasty warm 30 degrees. (Ooooo!) And sunny! (Ahhhh!) So hopefully Mike will be able to continue on this project then.

Yesterday, while the weather outside was frightful, (and at my suggestion) he started in on the baby room floor. If you remember, this room was the most unstable one. Jump on the floor and watch it buckle and shake the whole room! Not good if you can imagine the future shenanigans of a small Mike in there.

Our carpenter and good friend TJ suggested we just rip off the top layer of flooring altogether and put down 3/4 then 1/2" plywood before we hardwood to really firm things up. So Mike spent the better part of yesterday demo-ing.

In this shot you can see the old hardwood still in the closet area. The rest is the very old subfloor.

Of course, once the old hardwood was up, it became obvious just how unstable the actual subfloor itself was! It buckled to nearly the breaking point when walked on, nevermind jumped on. Luckily, we had some 2x6's in stock. (God, just call the basement the Miscellaneous Lumber Co!) And Mike began reinforcing the room from underneath.

He got quite a bit done and only has two more 2x6's to install to complete the reinforcing job. Very cool.

Plus - that's not all! Yesterday being the 15th, Mike went down to the FD and bought our burn permit. He spent some time burning what he could in the afternoon, but everything was still pretty wet and frozen. I imagine we'll get a fire going tomorrow too and continue making a dent in the ever present brush piles.

So let's refresh - this weekend:

1. Install gutters
2. Continue burning brush
3. Complete baby room beam reinforcement
4. Purchase plywood (?)
5. Dump run

I don't know about that plywood purchasing. We don't have any 3/4 in stock, and that's what we really need right now. 7 sheets of it to be exact. We have some 1/2" although I'm not sure how much. That'll be pricey. We'll see - we'll definately be at the HD anyway for some additional gutter connectors.

Oh - and lumber liquidators is tempting me with a 12months same as cash no down no payments no interest offer. I'm wondering if I should just screw the world and go for it. Buy all the 3/4 aztec cherry for the downstairs. (Which is really just the babys room, hallway, and living room.) I have to take some measurements and all that first... but it's almost tax time and I could use the refund to pay it all or at least make a dent.... right?

Something else to think about. We're officially more than halfway to Feb after all....

Happy New Year?

2009? When did that happen? It was 1999 about 5minutes ago.

Let me tell you, my absence from this blog is a good indication of just how badly our holiday season went. I can't go into details on the internet, but here are some high level highlights - the poor economy finally hits home, there's a death in the family, work and home to-do lists become overwhelming, and all of a sudden free time evaporates and we don't know whether to scratch our watches or wind our butts.

At this very moment I'm enjoying (enjoying - HA!) a momentary lull, soon to be followed by a mad rush of late night last minute presentation preparation for a giant meeting likely to be scheduled for first thing tomorrow morning. In this momentary lull, we're awaiting confirmation and further instructions.

Yeah. Perfect example of these more-than hectic last two weeks. And it's only Tuesday.

In the midst of all this, I got a cancellation from my home owners insurance company in the mail on Saturday. Reasons - mostly all that we had done our best to repair over the past year. Ok, red flag. They're supposed to know we made repairs and I told them they could come and reinspect at any time... and this was waaay back around Septemberish.

I got on the phone with our insurance rep right away and was pleasantly surprised to hear that she was there on Saturday. She would check into it for us and call me back with an update. I still haven't received that call yet, but it's ok. It gave us time to reexamine that list. After all, this is no time to be switching to a more expensive plan.

There's nothing we can do about the siding. The entire front of the house is Tvek'd and it's going to stay that way until spring. Sorry. But we built the farmer's porch complete with temporary stairs & railing, added a railing to the basement stairs and upstairs overhang, re-did the entire roof, removed the wood stove from the garage, and finished the mudroom. Honestly I would imagine that would be enough to subdue them for another year, but after all the bad luck we've come across lately, I worried about it.

So we removed and threw out the old garage chimney setup as one extra precaution. (Not that it was connected to anything, but can't hurt to be rid of it, right?)

We also decided to go and check out gutters. The insurance company had issue with all our missing downspouts. And since adding the farmer's porch, even more gutters are missing. Knowing nothing about gutters and how much they cost, we researched at the deepHo last night. Turns out metal gutters are cheap! About $9 for a 10ft section and $20 for a 16ft section. (How they figure that is beyond me - but whatever.) Cheap! And all the little connectors and many of the accessories were under $1 each.

We couldn't believe it and started loading up a cart. No use losing the insurance over $9 downspouts. When all was said and done, we had picked out enough to cover the house - although not the entire farmer's porch. (One thing at a time - besides, hopefully the porch will count as "still under construction.")

Mike is likely to have time to install them tomorrow - weather permitting. If not, then definately by the end of this week. Cross another item off the list.... as long as they don't call me in the next hour and want to inspect tomorrow. Knock on something.

Also, Jan 15th starts the official town open burning season! That wonderful annual time to get rid of all the brush that we cut or lost during numerous winter storms. Weather permitting, we should be burning all weekend. Thus further cleaning up the yard.

This brings me to another point about the insurance company.

It's so hard to decipher what the insurance company is complaining about sometimes and what exactly they'd like you to do about it. Great example, the insurance co mentioned debris in the yard - that's a big WTF. We have some items next to the garage that I wonder if they consider debris - just some scrap metal and heavy auto parts/tractor parts that Mike would rather keep out of the garage. But the amount is not excessive. I've been to several homes that should have been condemmed for the amount of junk in the yard. I wonder though if this is what they're even talking about. Or maybe they object to our backyard brush burner made from our old oil tank. Nobody knows! I suppose we'll find out soon enough.

This little unexpected home insurance side trip is unfortunately keeping us from what our real focus should be on - baby's room. It's all painted, but the flooring needs to be done ASAP. After that, trim, closet doors... time is ticking away and don't think we haven't realized. There's only a few months to go and all of a sudden all of this "we'll take care of it after the holidays" stuff is upon us like a sack of bricks.

What a way to start 2009.