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The Remodel

Posted by joeabbott on January 7, 2012

This could either be a really long post, or a relatively short one (with a lot of pictures). I’m going to expect something in between but I’m just starting so we’ll see!

… OK, I just deleted about five paragraphs and hadn’t even gotten to talking about what we remodeled! I gave some history, explained our motivation, and really strung it out. So, here’s the deal, let’s just jump into some pictures and see what story falls out!

Oct 3: The day they start

The first day they spent doing some investigation work to find the main support beams and setup their operations. It was also the day I lost my workshop as they slowly took over the third bay of our garage (my shop area). I was a bit disappointed as I’d expected a swarming crew and a transformational change; we got two guys for what looked like a few hours of work.

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Oct 4-7: First week

After the first day, things did pick up but it was still just a crew of two. They were scheduled to be onsite until the 28th … three weeks of work with a final week of finishing touches.

On the 4th and 5th, they continued to build out the “loft” structure in the garage and really took over my shop in earnest. I ultimately moved everything except my saw and a work table into storage.

P1030372  P1030374   P1030399

They then began some of the outside work. The deck railing was removed and they began to frame in the room.

P1030409  P1030395  P1030427

Oct 10-14: Frame-in and removing siding

On the 14th we left for a long trip and that was too bad: it was fun seeing things moving along after a long time planning. We’d started discussions with the company in late spring or very early summer and the long process of getting permits, having engineering buy-off the plan, and getting on the construction company’s schedule took more time than either Suzy or I had anticipated.

But, this week we became “that house with a blue tarp over it” as the framing continued and they removed the exterior siding.

P1030472    P1030525  P1030542  P1030558 Stitch

Oct 17-21: Making progress

We left a camera with the crew and asked that they take daily pictures while we were OOF but we missed pictures of them hanging the trusses. I’m still asking one of the guys from the crew if I can get some snaps he took from his camera. But, we’re still doing OK in the picture department.

Now, a LOT happened this week: sheeting was installed on the exterior and by the EOW they had Tyvek (moisture barrier) in place, the electrical wiring was installed and they completed the roofing work; additionally, they did a bunch of stuff to level the floor and add the required structural attachments.

That said, this was supposed to be the last week of the heavy lifting … with just pick-up work during the final week. Clearly we weren’t going to make our deadline.

PA170005  P1030863  P1030752  P1030869

Oct 23: The day the rain returned

I didn’t snap a picture of the problem, so you’ll get a long explanation. It was prime “get things done” time and I wasn’t able to use my shop … I was going a bit nuts. But, I decided to build an exterior storage area anyhow. I detailed that project here but it was frustrating in that I couldn’t get to a lot of my tools, it was raining outside where I was installing it, and then, as I was sawing timbers in the middle of my garage, I started getting rained on. Yup, rained on inside the garage.

It was a Sunday and we had to call the contractors in to deal with both the rain coming in and any potential water damage. On the back of the house, where the new room’s wall rose above the roofline, they had severed and capped a gutter. Unfortunately, the gutter wasn’t supported and in the heavy rain, the cut end sagged a bit and water spilled over the capped end, ran along the sheeting, and into a seam. What a mess.

We had fans running for the better part of the week to help dry things out


Oct 24-28: Final pickups? Nope.

So, it was clear we wouldn’t make our completion date and when I asked about plans (“what are you going to do”), I got aphorisms: they were going to keep their noses to the grindstone, put in extra innings, and make it happen. But, from what we (anxious home owners) could see, they did none of these. Now, we like the crew and I don’t feel animosity either way or that there was gross negligence, but snappy sayings wasn’t what I was looking for.

I don’t know what I was looking for, maybe. Anyhow, what we got was the windows installed, our “eyebrow” (the mini “fake” roof above the garage doors) built out, insulation installed and they began to sheetrock the interior. While it looked like it was coming together, we did appear to be well over a week behind.

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Oct 30: Extra innings

While Suzy and I work long hours, it was pretty clear the crew working our remodel got in around 7:30AM and were gone by 4PM on most days. In the last week I might see one of the guys still on the job when I got home around 5:30PM, so they were making some effort. Today, however, we got a little “weekend time”. It was nice to see a recognition from the crew that they had to step it up to finish. Not “too little, too late” … but I would have liked more, sooner.

Oh, and because the rain was returning, we had to park our cars outside so they could use the garage to pre-paint some of the siding. This was Suzy’s idea … nice thinking!


Oct 31-Nov 4: Finishing the interior

Well, “finishing” is a little generous but this week they completed sheetrocking the interior, hung the exterior siding, removed the original sliding door, and started mudding the sheetrock. And, because it was fall in Seattle, the humidity and dew points were very high, they couldn’t work a couple days this week as the mudding hadn’t dried. So, we got to live with a droning dehumidifier running non-stop in the room just off our bedroom for about four days.

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Nov 7–11: Much nothing about nothing

This is when the job really started to bog down. We were getting some of their time, but it was clear they’d scheduled another job after ours and they were starting to split their time. So, this week we got some paint on the walls and they started installing the flooring. So, while my title for this week is a bit ungenerous, they were now clearly running over the contract and our attempts at communicating with the head of the company were met with terse and infrequent responses. Sigh.

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Nov 14-18: Finishing touches

While they weren’t “done”, the work would look complete this week. The floor was finished (modulo a vent), they installed casings around the windows and doors, and had cleaned up the work area to take away all the trash, tools, and other materials. While it was really nice to look this finished, we were unable to move in as they still had to install the doors, put in the light switches, and complete the owners’ pickup list.

P1040191  P1040196

Nov 21-Dec 2: The great nothing

Sometime in this two week period we heard back from the construction company on our door: we would see it sometime in early December. A bit disappointing but we had to be happy we were hearing from him at all! While we’d given him the specifics on the door we wanted during our discussions in early summer, it wasn’t ordered until sometime later. That “later” date was never mentioned. Anyhow, the door company had “runs” on specific wood types and our clear maple/pine/whatever species wasn’t scheduled to be run until around this time.

Not much we could do except wait. So, rather than leave this section empty, I’ll include a picture of a Japanese maple we have out in the front yard.



Dec 4: Major work done

Today was the day they scheduled doors to be installed and any final work to finish up. Yes, it was a Sunday but the hope that we’d be done was exciting. Well, “done” except for a missing window screen. Unfortunately (how many times have I used that word in this post?), the floor vent they brought didn’t match our wood so we asked them to get it in a carbonized bamboo.

They did a nice job of installing the sliding doors straight, level, and operating very smoothly. There are bumper stops at both the ends and center but one was missing and they needed to order a replacement. So, while it meant we’d need to schedule yet another visit, we were quite happy with how the door and valence turned out.

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Dec 5-21: More nothing is still nothing

While we waited to hear from the construction company on “what was next”, we just sat tight. “Communication” didn’t appear to be their strong suit but we were holding back enough of the final payment we were sure to have their attention. Sooner or later. Unfortunately, we had no idea of what was the holdup (the delay ended up being a problem finding the vent in our wood choice).

So, while we wait, here’s another picture from our year: a mini-deer decoration that I’m going to try and build at a larger scale.



Dec 22: The day they finish

They just had a few items to finish on but it took a long, long time. One of the windows was missing a screen, our floor vent was without a cover, and one of the stops for the sliding door was missing. All minor things but the city inspector was unwilling to sign off until it was “done” (and he probably really only cared about the floor vent). But, 12/22 was the day that all the parts were in hand, they had time to finish it out, and the city inspector signed off.

“Done” feels good.


Done means done

P1040133I would have never guessed that between the “start” and “finish” dates I’d have

  • Seen the Fall colors in our garden come and go
  • Enjoyed two plays downtown
  • Attended two symphonies
  • Spent a week at Whistler with some of Suzy’s family
  • Celebrated both Halloween, my birthday and Thanksgiving
  • Put up our Christmas decorations
  • Started in a new group at work and attended their holiday party

It went well beyond the “three week” estimate we got at the beginning but, with it over, I’m just happy for the new space, think it’s a marvelous addition to the home, and look forward to seeing what Suzy does as she appoints the space and makes it her own. More on that later.

Thanks for reading.


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