Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pipes, Paint, and a Plymouth

We had a bunch of visitors this week, which is why I didn't have much of a chance to write anything, even though we actually came to the house three times in the last seven days (and have the pics to prove it).  On Friday we had our first repeat out-of-town visitors when the Stewarts (Laura, Brian, and Katie) came down from Buffalo for the weekend.  Laura had been clamoring for a Bungalow visit since their first stop by last year, and I don't think she was disappointed-- although the usually bustling atmosphere almost left me a liar when we arrived and only two guys were working.  I had just been telling Laura how the workers are constantly going, and of course we get there and the place has crickets chirping.  But it was just a lull in the action, because within five minutes a truckload of gravel arrived and suddenly a half-dozen people surrounded it with shovels.  Vindication!
Shoveling gravel
Lola with Katie Stewart, surveying the gravelly hole on our porch
In the days leading up to the Stewarts' visit, the contractors had unearthed (literally) a problem while excavating under the porch.  Seems the stone wall serving as the retaining wall was not in any condition to be kept there.  Initially, it looked like after firming it up, they'd just build a stronger wall in front of it, which would basically take ten inches (at least) away from the space.  I was bummed, because the whole space is only about five feet wide, so those ten inches took nearly 20% of the reclaimed room away.  Not to mention, the bathroom and guest room would be that much more cramped.  However, as a surprise (of sorts) the stone wall was completely removed, the porch kept up on jacks, and a new retaining wall was on its way.  The gravel was being poured through holes in the now-taken-up porch floor into a two-foot trench dug all the way around the excavation, with rebar going in afterwards for a new front foundation.  My ten inches has been saved!  (Also saved were the beautiful stones in the wall-- all native to the property-- that we plan on using for landscaping once all's said and done.)
The channel for our new front foundation wall.
Pouring gravel into the foundation channel
Inside, the temporary flooring on the ground floor has been removed so the plumbing (all $15k worth) could go in.  Now you can see the big PVC pipes underneath the floor joists, all set to carry our waste water to the sewer.  (I think Isaac got a kick out of the idea that water from the toilets would head under Lola's room and not his...)  Rory tells us the sewer piping is all done, and all that's left is the actual connection and meter outside.  One problem we did discover was in the upstairs bathroom, where Abby & I think the pipe for the toilet's not placed correctly.  We had planned a 4-foot-wide shower, with the toilet between that and the sink.  However, the shower's been roughed in to be only 30 inches wide, so the toilet's really close in.  The four-footer was supposed to be really luxurious, and 30 inches is basically as wide as an interior doorway.  Needless to say, we're going to try to make sure the toilet pipe is moved at least an extra foot, if not two feet, further away.  I have put up with eight years in a claw-foot tub, and I want my luxurious shower stall!

PVC piping under Lola's bedroom floor
Other news?  The two-story window complex (how else would I refer to it?) in the Great Room has been rehabbed and reset in the wall, and it looks fantastic.  One of the windows was open and letting in a great breeze, which was welcome since the temperature was teetering between hellfire and damnation that day.  Each new piece of the Great Room reminds me why I love this house-- I could just spend all my time in it once I'm there... SO happy we chose the layout that allowed it to be fully opened.  In fact, the other night while laying in bed I confessed to Abby that I was having misgivings about even putting a TV in the room, because it was just so pretty.  It doesn't really fit having a TV, but I don't want to spend evenings downstairs in the family room once the kids are asleep.  Well what do you know: Abby already had planned for that, and is fully intending for us not to have the TV mounted on the wall as we had originally planned, but instead to buy a doohickey that would raise and lower the set so it can be hidden behind a chest of drawers when it's not in use.  That's why she gets to plan the layout, not because of any feng shui business!

The other visitor we had this week was Abby's Uncle Jimmy, who drove his gorgeous 1939 Plymouth all the way up from Tennessee to visit on his way to an antique car show in Pennsylvania.  We dropped by the house with him last night before introducing him to sushi-- which he amazingly enjoyed.  (He may have lost of bit of luster among his fellow East Tennesseeans by doing so...)  He was definitely tickled to see the house, which he's been hearing about this whole year, and had fun exploring the place and looking into the windows of the neighboring places.  Oh, and the owners of the windmill next door had better watch out: Jimmy says in case of a storm, he's running over and jumping into your cellar. :)  And one more thing: when we went to the house with Jimmy, we noticed it had been painted!  No trim or anything, but the Tadpole Green's up, and we love it.
Jimmy with the newly-painted bungalow and his 1939 Plymouth
So there has to be some negative news in there, right?  Yeah, well our homeowners' insurance expires at midnight tonight, and we won't finalize our new policy until tomorrow morning, so we're going to have something like a twelve-hour lapse between policies.  You may remember Travelers so unceremoniously dropping us last month.  Well, since then I've been calling around trying to get someone to take us, without any luck.  This past weekend, our old State Farm agent sent us a letter trying to get us back, and I decided to give them a call.  The agent was nice enough, and worked to see what she could do for us, but in the end said we were a "builder's risk" and gave me the contact information for one of her colleagues that did that kind of high-risk insuring.  She called yesterday and said we could finalize things today, but her colleague (are you following) made a mistake by calling my cell phone this morning, leaving one message at 9AM, and never calling back.  (FYI everyone: I work in a SCIF, which means I can't have a cell at work.)  So I didn't get the message until I turned on my phone in the Metro after 5PM.  Argh.  First thing tomorrow, and hopefully nobody burns down our house tonight.

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