Wednesday, August 21, 2013

And that's a Wrap!

Why is it that the final phase of the project seems to drag on forever? It just does.

I think it's because the end is in sight and you just want it to be done. It's easy to feel that it should be finished as of yesterday but there are still several loose ends to tie up. As Joe was telling me, you've got to keep the intensity level up at this stage and not let down.

It's been busy around here since my last update. Joe installed some hardwood flooring in the area leading into the sun-porch and had Above All Hardwood Floors come in and do the final sanding and sealing of the floor. There was no way it was going to match because of the fading in the flooring that takes place. It will take time but eventually the surfaces will look much more similar than they do now. First world problem.

Joe also installed the gate for the deck so we can now leave the pups out there to bark their little heads off and upset the neighbors., I actually plan to buy two shock collars if necessary; Toby won't need one. We'll see how it goes.

Marvin Windows came through as they said they would and brought us our replacement door frame with attached transom window last Thursday. I was so happy to see it arrive. Joe took some time to make certain this one didn't leak before installing it.

When we had our driveway replaced 5 years ago I redid some of the landscaping in front and replaced all of our low voltage landscape lights. I bought about a dozen extra knowing that I would at some future point be adding a sun-porch and deck off the back of the house and wouldn't it be nice to have some matching lights? But I didn't get enough. Fortunately I was able to find the same lights online packaged under a different name and ordered enough to do the job. I spent some time this past week putting them to use. They add a nice touch.

Eric was here yesterday working on gutters for the project. He's got them engineered so all of the water coming off the roof is being directed away from the foundation either off to the side of the house or in front. Nothing gets dumped out in back and allowed to flow back toward the foundation the way it used to.

There are still a few small things that need to be done but the city inspector came through this afternoon and did his final inspection. He said Joe did a "super job!" We couldn't agree more! I never would've imagined a year ago that we'd be blessed with an addition such as this.

We can't say enough good things about Joe. We'd hire him to do our addition again in an instant if we had it to do all over again. We do have several other projects around our home that will need attention in the next few months and I've already told Joe that he's our guy. I have no intention of bidding them out.

If you're in the metro area and are looking for a carpenter please consider giving Joe a shot at your project. I can guarantee you that you won't regret it.

Joe can be reached at 612-597-3606

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cabinetry and Brickwork

A lot was accomplished this week inside the sun-porch. Keith was here Tuesday morning and began the installation of his shelving and cabinets. I was a little concerned when I first saw the finished cabinets inside his shop a few weeks ago. The yellowish-beige color of the back of the cabinets was more yellow than I remembered it from the sample we used but I decided not to get too concerned because I knew that all of the colors we'd chosen worked well together and I had to trust in that. But still my curiosity got the best of me so I took off from work a couple hours early on Tuesday to go and have a look for myself.

I was relieved to see that in the light of the room the color is perfect! It was just the color I was hoping for and not too yellow at all.

Keith also made the mantel for the fireplace and he could not have done a better job. I had given him a photo of a mantel I'd found online and he did a great job of duplicating it with just the right amount of distressing. It's a simple design with just enough 'rustic' thrown in. We couldn't be happier!

Joe came by the next day to see Keith's work and I could tell that he was impressed. He figured that Keith must have made the crown molding in the shop and fit it into place once he got it here because it was so well done. I told him that he constructed it all on site.

Dan and Scott arrived Thursday morning to hook up the ceiling fan, the outdoor lights and the rest of the electrical.

I got a call from Dean at Condor Fireplace Thursday morning to see if it would be alright if he sent a guy out on Friday to do the brickwork for our fireplace. That would work perfectly I told him. So much was falling into place now and both Tammy and I were feeling relieved about the progress considering the delays we've had to deal with because of Marvin Windows. I'm sure Joe was feeling it too.

A driver from Condor Fireplace dropped off the stone for our project Thursday afternoon. He said that Paul would be doing the work for us and that he was the best. That was so nice to hear.

Paul arrived early Friday morning and got set up. I asked if he would mind if I set up my video camera on a tripod to film his work for a time-lapse video that I'd like to do. He didn't mind at all.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Week 14 and We Shall See

Monday morning found me in a not so happy mood. It had been at least 10 days since I was told by a woman at Marvin Windows that I'd be contacted in the next day or two by Gabe who would be making arrangements with me to come out and look at our leaking door. Gabe nor anyone else at Marvin Windows had contacted me since that call 10 days earlier and I was beginning to wonder if they ever would. I left a message for Joe to tell him of my frustration and then followed that up with a call to Marvin Windows where I eventually reached Gabe's voicemail. I left a not so kind message for him detailing my frustration in having two defective products delivered to our home on the same day with little to no follow up to rectify the most recent problem.

Joe returned my message as soon as he got it and shared in my frustration. He was on the road returning from Florida but was going to do what he could to elevate the issue to someone at Marvin Windows headquarters.

His efforts paid off.

I got a call within an hour from a Marvin Windows rep who was working in Burnsville and said he could be by in the next couple hours to look at the door. It was perfect timing because Joe would be arriving in town in time to meet with him.

It turns out that the problem with the door is a cracked sill which is preventing the drains within the base of the door from working as they should. The rep told Joe that we'd hear from him within 48 hours about when we might expect delivery of a new door.

48 hours later and we'd heard nothing. I asked Joe to give them a call once more. I haven't been this frustrated with piss-poor customer service since dealing with BestBuy a few years ago. I no longer do business with them.

Joe was told that our door will ship out of their Warroad, Minnesota factory on the 12th and that we should receive it later in the week. We shall see.

That wasn't the only glitch this past week. I called Perry at Condor Fireplace to see about when we might expect to have the brickwork done for our fireplace. Perry was on vacation so Ryan took my call. They knew nothing of me. I wasn't on their horizon or radar for installation even though I'd sent Perry our credit-card information two months earlier. Ryan said he'd do what he could to get us scheduled as soon as possible. Again...we shall see.

Last week wasn't all bad though. Bryan was here steadily working away on the tile floor. It looks really nice! The idea of covering most of it with a large rug doesn't really appeal to either Tammy or me but it's what we'll probably do because of how echoey it is in the house now. We'll need to do something to dampen the sound. Echoey actually is a word by the way...I looked it up.

We're expecting Bryan to come by tomorrow and apply grout sealer to his work. Keith is planning to install the cabinets and shelving on Tuesday. I hope I'm here to get some video of the install but that may not work out because I work a day shift. Y'all don't want Tammy me.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Marvin Windows is Causing us Disappointment

Marvin Windows, the manufacturer of our windows and door for our project has been somewhat of a letdown for us. Joe said that it's rare to have any sort of problems with their products but we've encountered two issues that have added considerably to the completion time of our addition. The first being the dent in the window framing that I'd written about earlier and the most recent being a defective sill along the bottom of the door leading to the deck. The sill is supposed to void rainwater out some vent holes in the base of the door's framing but it's not working and when it rains the water backs up and leaks onto the floor inside the porch. Joe said the Marvin Window representative told him he's only heard of this happening one other time.

With the tile floor next to go in inside the sun-porch, the leaking door threatened to put a halt to any further work in there. We couldn't afford to risk having more rainwater seep in and cause any sort of damage to the tile work that was about to be done. Joe came up with a temporary fix that allowed us to press on. A heavy downpour of 3/10 of an inch of rain in less than 15 minutes Sunday morning proved to be a good test. The temporary waterproof fix for the door did the job!

Joe asked the Marvin Windows rep to resolve the defective door for us expeditiously but I hold out little hope that they will. They were supposed to have rushed a replacement window to us to rectify their first 'mess-up' and that took over a month. So, this is where the blog comes in handy as I voice my dissatisfaction with Marvin Windows and their lack of quality control and upload my experience to the net for others to read about. Are you listening Marvin Windows?

Bryan set up shop in our garage earlier in the week and began readying the floor in the porch for tile. The process is much more involved than I would ever have imagined. His crew arrived at 9:00 sharp Thursday morning and after going over their individual roles one last time they got busy laying down the self-leveling floor compound.

It's a time-critical process that allows so little room for error because the compound begins to set up after just 4 minutes. Bryan had spent easily two days prepping the floor and laying out the thin, low-voltage wires across the entire floor that will provide heat for the room. One of his biggest concerns during the cement pour Thursday morning was that the wires not be ripped out by a dragged foot from their anchored positions. He had a glue-gun at the ready in case a fix needed to be made on the fly. He also had another drill waiting in the wings in case the one being used for mixing the compound went belly-up. He was leaving nothing to chance.

I was off from work this past week and made a point of finishing the remaining landscaping around the deck. It's a job I'm really glad to have behind me.

The focus for the coming week will continue to be the tile floor in the sun-porch and possibly finishing up work on the deck. We're waiting for the gates to arrive which will be placed at the top of the stairs and will allow us to let the pups while away their day out there when it's not too hot.

And we'll also continue to wait on Marvin...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 11 of Our Project

The majority of Joe's time last week was spent building the pergola. It was no easy job but all of his efforts payed off because it looks great and we're all very happy with it. I know he enjoyed building it but I think he's glad to have the job behind him.

Joe had fun asking people looking at his handiwork, "how many rafter tails do you think there are?"  I guessed way low and so did Jeff. Joe counted 116 of them. Keith came by and Joe posed the question to him. Little did Joe know that Jeff was behind him giving Keith the exact number with his fingers. Keith looked up, surveyed the structure and shot back, "hmmm...115?" Joe couldn't believe it! "That's pretty good!" Haha...too funny!

I mentioned in my last post about the window Joe needed to move along the back of the house to make for a better transition for the railing to tie into the side of the house. We'd hoped to have the window moved a full 12 inches but because of some unforeseen vent-ducting in the way Joe was limited to only 6.25 inches. He cut some new cedar siding that Jeff painted before installing a pseudo post which appears to be embedded into the side of the house that the railing will tie into. It's going to look and function just fine and we're pleased with how it turned out even if it wasn't ideal.

Jeff finished painting the interior and exterior of the porch in addition to caulking all of the joints in the pergola and painting it. It really looks nice.

The project continues to make steady progress toward completion but because of some scheduling conflicts with Joe's tile installer work will come to a standstill for a couple days during midweek this week but not before Joe finishes the deck and railing which he began putting down a couple days ago.

The pups have been eyeing their new deck. One key thing we'll need for them out there is a new water bowl. That will be the crowning touch!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I say "Purgulah", you say "Pergola"

Week 10 and lots of stuff is beginning to come together now.

Jeff will be done with the interior painting of the porch today freeing up the space for Bryan to come in and do his tile work although I don't think he'll be able to begin work until Thursday due to his schedule and other work commitments. So many contractors in the area have had their schedules pushed back at least a week or two because of the wet spring we've experienced.

We had one 'oops' moment this week when it came time to erect the pergola. The Azek composite deck material we'll be using comes in lengths of 12, 16 and 20 feet. We'll be using 20 foot lengths but that length results in the far right vertical beams of the pergola falling in line with the outside edge of one of our family room windows. It's something we could live with but ideally we'd like to have a setback of maybe 12-18 inches so the post isn't so visible from inside our family room looking out. Keep in mind, in the photo to the left there will be one more shorter post situated between the one closest to the house and the window which will be used for the railing. It's that post which was troubling us most.

What to do?

We mentioned our concern to Joe, somewhat worried that maybe he'd think we were being too picky. He didn't think so. He agreed that it would look better to not have the pergola post imposing on the window the way it is. Joe came up with really the only option available to us and that's to move the window over in the direction of the other window; something neither Tammy nor I had considered.  This solution works really well for us all and I can sleep better once again.

The pergola is quite labor intensive requiring calking of all the seems before it gets painted. It's also labor intensive because of all of the calculations Joe has to make to get it to assemble correctly. It's not a kit. I believe the plan is to have it fully built in the next few days so Joe can begin work on the decking.

We're coming into the homestretch now and that's nice to know but there will still be a lot that remains to be done with respect to furnishings and such.

Video from the past week...

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Working in Miniature

Joe has been doing some serious thinking about the pergola he's about to build for us. There are many considerations to factor in, some known and some unknown. To be able to foresee all of those considerations better Joe decided to build a mock-up to scale and construct a miniature pergola using proportional pieces of wood for the pergola. He noticed a couple of issues during its assembly and after calling Karen over to have a look we believe we've got the solutions figured out.

Antonio's work on the retaining wall was held up at times by continued wet weather but he was able to place his last brick Thursday night with an hour of daylight remaining leaving me the next couple days to work on landscaping around it.

I'm Steady Eddie when it comes to this sort of work but still I spent most of my Friday and Saturday with just a few minor interruptions working on landscaping around the retaining wall. I could have done without the half inch of rain we got Friday night. All that's missing are two or three additional shrubs and the accent lights.

The replacement window for the damaged bank of windows on the east side of the porch will be delivered and installed tomorrow and that will allow work on the inside of the porch to resume. Everything pretty much came to a full stop while we waited for the replacement window to arrive. Once the window is installed Joe can finish applying the cedar siding and Jeff can come back and finish both the interior and exterior painting of the porch.

I think Joe's main focus this week will be the construction of the pergola. I'm not sure that I've fully grasped just how large it will be even with Joe's miniature mock-up. It should be exciting to watch it being built.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Karen to the Rescue, again!

Jeff arrived early Monday morning to apply a coat of primer to the cedar we'd been drying out in the garage for the previous two weeks.We'd mentioned to Joe that we were planning on painting the pergola white but that decision hadn't quite been set in stone yet. Jeff said it was important to get the right tint to the primer and that he really needed to know our color selection before he could prime it.

Hmm...what to do?

I knew I didn't want something stark-white because that would be a bit too bright for my liking. Tammy agreed. I called Karen but couldn't reach her so I sent her a quick email. Still no response. I was getting worried because I didn't want to make a mistake with this decision and Jeff was waiting. Plus, I needed to be leaving for work in less than an hour. Usually we're more prepared but I wasn't expecting to have to make this decision for a few more days.

Just when I was about to give it my best effort Karen arrived having just gotten off the phone with a client. She had me get the sample tile for the porch's flooring and then we placed that against the composite decking sample we'll be using for the deck. We held both samples against the side of the house and used a fan-deck of colors to find something that worked for the pergola. It didn't take long for us to settle on Biscuit Beige, a creamy off-white color that works well with all of our other choices.

I thanked Karen again and again before heading inside to get ready for work.

We're still waiting on the replacement bank of windows for the east side of the porch. If it doesn't arrive soon it will begin to hold up the project. Joe was assured that a "rush" has been put on it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Insulation and Drywall

Week 7 of our project.

One of Joe's bigger tasks this past week was to remove the sliding glass door that leads out to the porch as well as the windows on either side of it. But rather than take the door out completely, he moved it a few feet inside the house so it can serve as a barrier to help keep drywall dust from getting into our home once they begin the mudding and sanding phase this week.

Besides moving the door, the main focus for this week was getting the space insulated and hanging drywall. The drywall should be finishing up as I type this update.

Joe plans to begin putting cedar siding on the south and west sides of the porch tomorrow. The east side will have to wait until the replacement window arrives and is hung. While he waits for that he plans to begin laying out the joists for the deck.

I'm looking forward to watching the deck being built. We're going to use a composite material for the flooring and railing, one that will require no future maintenance. Who has time for that in retirement? The only catch with using the composite material is that you don't want to get any paint on it because it's nearly impossible to remove. The pergola will need to be painted and to minimize the risk of having paint drip onto the decking while painting it, Joe is going to build the pergola before he installs the decking. He says this will be the most elaborate pergola he's ever done. We're looking to create a couple of different levels to break it up some but we haven't yet firmed up those plans.

And here's an overview of the project. You can see the pergola to the left of the image.

Here's a video of some of what went on over the past week...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Curbing My Enthusiasm

Keith came by last Monday morning to have a look at our window dilemma. Without hesitating he suggested moving the center window up as high as we could and moving the trapezoid windows on either side of the fireplace down and toward the outside of the wall centered between the fireplace and the wall. He then suggested positioning the transom windows just beneath the trapezoids. It would take a little bit of visualizing but I knew it had to be better than what we had. Joe smiled while taking it all in stride then proceeded to get busy. He and Keith assured us that this sort of thing happens all the time.

Our original window configuration along that wall had 3 transom windows in the design but after placing our window order we decided we could only use 2 of the 3 transoms. We'd have to scrap one of them. While Joe was repositioning the center window he had an idea. He suggested that maybe we could use the soon to be scrapped transom after all by placing it beneath the center window. Why didn't I think of that? It was a great idea! We'd have to lop off about 6 inches from the top of the fireplace so the bottom of the window would be visible to anyone standing in the room but that wouldn't be a problem. We had plenty of fireplace to work with.

Before and after photos.

I felt so relieved that we had a solution that we could not only live with but one that we were also happy about. I'm glad we didn't settle for how they were.

Our plan is to eventually (when we're retired) do stained-glass in the transom windows. What sort of design has been the question and one that I didn't expect to have an answer to for quite a while but I may have just stumbled onto an idea for a design. I came across the photo to the right online the other day. It's of an original design by Louis Comfort Tiffany and one that I've always liked. The idea I had was to do a replica of Tiffany's window in the center window along the south wall (above the fireplace) and have the feathers of the peacock trailing down through the trapezoid and transom windows and working their way into the transoms above the bank of windows on the east and west side of the porch. I think it could be so cool if done right. It was one of those things where I just knew it's what I wanted to do. I started getting excited just thinking about it.

But then I had the wind taken out of my sails!

I found Tammy and told her of my idea, expecting her to share in my excitement but that wasn't happening. Okay. She just wasn't sure. We already have a peacock window above our entryway, a simple-something I did when I was first learning the art. I assured her that I can do another design above our entryway.

I then went next-door to Karen's (we've hired her to help with design elements and more) and pitched the idea to her and once again was met with a very lukewarm response. Hmmm. She's concerned that the colors won't work with the rest of the room and that there will be competing focal points between the fireplace and the windows. Valid points but I assured her that I could make this work. And I'm determined to. But maybe having my enthusiasm curbed just a little isn't such a bad idea. I'll give this step a lot of thought.

Here's a video from week 6...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Dilemma

Since having the fireplace installed last Wednesday much of Joe's focus has been on installing the skylights and shingling the roof. The skylights are in and he's nearly done shingling.

After getting the fireplace framed in and installed I stood looking at it and felt that something wasn't right. It became apparent that the two lower transom windows on either side of it are tucked in too close to the fireplace and not spaced evenly between the outer walls and where the stacked-stone surrounding the fireplace will be. At least to my eye it seems the space there should be equal. I contemplated saying anything to Joe to see if maybe I could get used to looking at it the way it is but I don't seem to be warming up to the idea. It probably bothers Tammy less than it does me but she agrees that it would be nicer if it were more balanced.

What to do?

I think the problem comes in with the rectangular center window above the fireplace. Ideally it would be another 8 inches longer allowing for all of the windows to be pushed 4 inches closer to the outer walls giving us the balance I'd like to see. I suppose it's not too late to do all of that but it would likely mean putting parts of the project on hold while we have another center window made.

Or is there another fix or two?

We could eliminate the center window (which was something we were seriously considering early on in the design phase) and take the stacked-stone all the way to the ceiling. We'd still have to re-position the remaining four windows so they were centered between the wall and the fireplace. It will cost extra to take the stacked-stone all the way to the ceiling but it would save me from possibly having to put the project on hold while we wait for a new center window. Plus, there wouldn't be the additional cost of a new window.

Another fix we're considering is to push the two lower transom windows 4 inches closer to the wall. They would no longer line up with the trapezoid windows above but I could more easily live with that arrangement than the way they're situated now.

I emailed Joe and Karen to tell them of my concerns.

Joe is always thinking long-term when he does a project; will it stand the test of time? The video below gives a good example of his approach to potential problems and the extra effort he makes to avoid them.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Skylights and Fireplace

I can't remember a time when our backyard was as spongy as it is now. With all of the traffic it's been seeing it's such a mess! But I'm not worried about least I keep telling myself that. It'll take some time but I'll get it looking like its old self once again. It's not that May was a record setting month for rainfall but the ground was already so saturated going into the month and that's been the problem. I'm not sure I can recall a wetter spring season.

The skylights and fireplace were installed today. We're very happy with the amount of light we're getting into the room through all of the windows; they're giving us the feel we were after. When we first started talking about this project we wanted to be sure we weren't just adding another room to our home because we didn't necessarily need that. We needed the new space to feel unlike any other room in our house and it's definitely going to do that.

When our windows arrived last week Joe noticed a dent in the metalwork around one of them. He wasn't happy. He called the manufacturer to advise them of the problem. If it were on another set of windows we may be able to overlook it but it's in probably the worst place it can be considering where this set of windows is located; just off to your left as you come up the stairs onto the deck. I believe they've got a fix in the works and will deliver it before too long. It's a little difficult to see in the photo to the left but it's there, right in the middle of the picture.

I emailed my insurance agent last night and sent a couple of photos of the project. With all of the stormy weather we've been experiencing I figured it would be a good idea to bump up my policy to get the project covered. I haven't heard back from him yet about how to proceed.

Jeff will be here tomorrow applying more primer to the cedar siding and if it's not raining I think Joe may be looking at shingling the roof. We've also got Perry from Condor Fireplace & Stone coming early in the morning to give us an estimate for the stacked-stone around the fireplace.

It should be a busy day around here!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Taking Shape

The project continues to move along at an ever quickening pace. I think Joe's plans for next week are to (among other things) get the roof shingled, finish installing the rest of the windows and install the fireplace.

Our home had hail damage back in the spring of 1999 and I had to have the roof replaced. I assumed then that I'd be building a porch some day so I purchased some extra bundles of shingles for the future project. I had no idea then that it would be this long before I'd get to use them. I also don't think I figured the porch would be as large as it will be so I'm pretty certain we'll come up short of shingles. Joe will use them on the side of the house that faces the street and do his best to find a match for the rest.

The most interesting aspect of the project for me continues to be how Joe was able to tie the new roof of the porch into the existing roof of the house. The photo to the left gives a good idea of what I'm talking about. Click on the photo to enlarge it then look closely. Consider all of the angles he had to figure out to get the boards to lie flush against one another. I told him that I'd like to sit down with him sometime over a beer and have him explain how he does that. Not that I'll ever have a chance to use the knowledge, I just want to know how it's done.

Joe installs a "cool roof", meaning he makes a sub-roof that creates an airspace between the roof and the shingles. It will lead to a longer lasting roof.

Charlie keeps trying to sneak out onto the porch to snoop around any chance he gets. There's so much stuff to see out there.

I'll let the video speak for the rest of the project...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Busy Monday!

Rain continues to plague our project in the form of very heavy downpours. One storm after another works its way up from the south and drenches everything. But despite the bad weather Joe was able to make some nice progress yesterday with the help of Mario.

They were both on site for close to 12 hours, determined to get the rafters in place. I came home from work around 6:30 and was surprised to see them still there and even more surprised to see how far they'd gotten. I quickly got out my video camera to chronicle a little of the action.

Joe had me come up on the roof so he could more easily explain to me how he was going to tie the project into the existing roof. I did my best to keep up but once he began talking about a reverse cricket I was lost. There's so much that goes into this aspect of the project and it's a part that fascinates me. Joe talked about water management and how it's important to make sure that any rainwater coming off the roof is diverted away correctly so it doesn't pose a problem elsewhere. He also talked about snow accumulations and how that must also be considered. We're working with a south exposure so that will be to our advantage.

It's one thing to view the project on paper but entirely different to stand inside the structure and get a feel for the actual dimensions. We're excited to see how it unfolds with each passing day.

They worked well after sunset trying to get the structure draped with tarps to protect the sub-floor from more approaching storms, finishing just as the rains began.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rain Rain Go Away!

The weather has not been kind to our project with rain being the biggest offender of late. Joe is easily one week behind where he'd like to be if not more. It can't be easy trying to reschedule subcontractors to come in and do their work when timelines keep shifting but it's all a part of the process.

I was watching Joe hoist up some main overhead beams a few days ago, impressed by his methods that allow him to do much of this work solo. You'll see what I'm referring to in the video below. It wasn't my intention to not want to lend a hand as I observed but instead I wanted to video his technique for others to see. He commented to me that he's been going over in his head how to approach this project for the last 5 weeks, imagining how he'll engineer the steps along the way.

As I write this there is more rain on the way. We must've gotten at least two inches yesterday and this morning between two separate storms. Joe has done what he can to protect the sub-floor from moisture but even his best efforts are no match for a driving rain that eventually finds its way beneath the tarp. He's back here daily to unzip the covering, squeegee the water off and allow the sun to dry it out.

He was hoping to have it "dried in" by this time next week. I think that means having all of the windows in place and having it roofed and shingled. He's going to need more cooperation from the weather than he's been getting but I think given a good stretch of dryness to work with he can get there.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Making Progress Amid Some Hardships

Wet weather slowed Joe's progress a little earlier in the week but he made a nice recovery. He came out Saturday and spent much of the day trying to get the project back on schedule.

The biggest impediment to staying on schedule (besides the weather) has been a large rock directly under one of the support beams. It's so large and it's not going anywhere. Joe had to drill holes into it to be able to add rebar to it as part of an anchor embedded in cement to secure the post in place. I was hoping to get a photo of the rebar but I was too late. The photo to the left is the finished work. The built up area in front will serve as a foundation for some landscape blocks that will sit in front of the porch along the west and south sides. Joe added it so I wouldn't have a continual problem of the ground settling beneath the blocks.

I really like Joe's attention to detail and the way he takes the time to explain what he's doing. Whenever I've approached him with a question or a concern he has always taken whatever time is needed to talk with me. I really appreciate that.

We have the electrician coming tomorrow to run lines for some outlets in the floor of the porch area. We'll have outlets along the wall as the code requires but we also wanted a couple in the floor hidden under our furniture. I took my best guess as to where those outlets should be based on a diagram Karen made for us of the room with some likely furniture arrangements.

Joe mentioned how this part of the project phase we're entering into is where it becomes a lot more fun for him as the building will begin to take shape. He mentioned that by this time next week our project will look entirely different. We're excited to watch it become a reality considering how we've waited a long time for this.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

There's No Turning Back Now

The weather finally broke from the wintery cycle we've been stuck in long enough for Joe to begin work on the project. Unfortunately the break wouldn't last long.

Joe and Steve got an early start Monday morning intent on getting all of the holes dug for the footings for an inspection later in the day. Bald tires on Steve's Bobcat and a rock of behemoth proportions slowed the pace some. Joe worked well beyond sunset Tuesday night to try and get as much done as he could in anticipation of another large snowfall forecast for Wednesday. The snow missed us for the most part but wet conditions will keep the project on hold until Monday.

I spoke with Karen on Tuesday and she said that Bob came home and commented on our project saying "there's no turning back now". I had to laugh because he's so right. We're committed.

I've been in touch with Karen regularly as we kick around ideas for the south wall of the sun-porch. Keith came up with a design that I really like a lot but she had some reservations about it. Her concerns were with the height of the stacked-stone surrounding the fireplace. Typically the stone is either capped at a level considerably lower or taken all the way to the ceiling. You can see from Keith's drawing that he has it stopping at a point somewhere in between which to me feels just fine.

With Karen's concerns in mind I did an image search online to find something similar to what Keith has designed and found that she is absolutely right. Something other than the norm is very rare indeed but after a couple of hours spent searching through hundreds of images and coming close to giving up I came across this photo. It's almost exactly what we're looking to do. This can definitely work for us and Karen likes it a lot too!

Video from the first week of progress...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Timely Meeting

The plan was for Joe to begin work on the project this week by digging holes for the supports for the deck and sun-porch but the weather has us on hold. We got another 4 inches of wet, heavy snow overnight making for a no-go and it's been snowing on and off throughout the day and evening. We're looking at next week at the earliest to begin.

But this week wasn't a total loss. We had a meeting scheduled with Karen and Joe for this afternoon and also plans to meet with Keith later in the day to go over ideas for what the cabinets/shelving that he's going to build for us may look like.

Keith came earlier rather than later and I was glad he did. He started running ideas by us that we hadn't considered for the south wall of the porch where the fireplace will be; ideas that I was hoping he could go into detail about with Karen and Joe present. He left to go to another job-site but came back to meet with all of us later and expand on his ideas for everyone. It was a timely meeting because it meant putting a hold on two of the special order windows along the south wall of the sun-porch. Fortunately it wasn't too late to stop production.

Keith would rather see us run the brick for the fireplace in a more narrow but considerably higher column than we were planning. The design we had come up with was all Tammy and my doing as I don't think we'd even shared our drawing with Joe or Karen yet. Keith has seen enough fireplace designs that he could tell instantly that our drawing was out of proportion. He was going to do one of his own and get back to us.

We discussed the look of the pergola and the dimensions of the materials we'll be using. Joe told me that this will likely be the most detailed pergola he's ever done. I'm sure he's up to the challenge!

I mentioned to Tammy this week that a new phrase the pups will soon learn will be "wanna go out on the deck?" They're going to love it out there!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Road-trip with Karen

Karen drove with us today to Condor Fireplace in Spring Lake Park to look at the choice of brick we're pondering for our gas fireplace insert. We brought along several tile samples of the flooring we're considering to see which ones if any worked best. We did find one that stood out. It was also nice to know that after going through the entire 10,000 sq ft showroom and looking at all of the brick displays, Karen felt that the choice we made was a good one.

The tile we're considering can be seen in the photos here on the floor just in front of the hearth. It's a brown with some hints of blue. It works well with the brick and grout. It will also make for a nice transition between the hardwood floors of our kitchen and dining area into the porch.

We still have a few decisions to make with respect to the fireplace. How high we'd like the hearth and what color stone to cap it off being among those decisions. We have two choices for the capstones and you can see them both in the photos. The lighter color topping the hearth in the display fireplace or the darker color we've placed on top of it. I think we're leaning toward the lighter color.

Our thinking right now is to have a hearth that doesn't sit quite so high as the one pictured and one that is also a couple inches less in width. We're still not sure which look we want.

We came to one other consensus today and that had to do with the flat-panel screen above the fireplace. There's not going to be one. Rather than mount it above the fireplace where it will be obscuring the beautiful stone, we're going to have it built into the shelving or cabinetry that Keith builds for us. I was never keen on the idea of mounting it directly above the fireplace but that's the way I seem to see it done so often. I'd really rather not have it there taking away from the beauty of what will be a focal point of the room.

We got the readjusted bid from Joe for the pergola and it wasn't quite what I was hoping to see. It was probably twice what I was figuring but then I'm not experienced with what this sort of thing should cost. We need to meet with Joe next week to go over some of the dimension of the materials being used on the pergola. I'm concerned that some of the pieces in the list of materials will cause it to have a heavier look to it than I've been envisioning in my mind's eye.

There's a part of me that really wants to put the entire project on hold until after I see what the fallout from the sequester and soon to be realized furlough days will be at work. The fact that loans are quite cheap now keeps us pressing forward.

Joe figures he will be on site next week to begin work.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Karen to the Rescue!

I was really feeling uncertain about how to proceed with the deck so we put the brakes on the project which was just as well because the weather turned nasty and it's doubtful Joe would've been out there doing much anyway. We're experiencing the coldest spring since 1965. Our winters seem to go from one extreme to the other lately.

Karen to the rescue!

We've hired our next-door neighbor, Karen, to help us with much of the design and details of this project. She's an interior designer. I expressed to Karen that before we could move forward I needed to come up with a more complete idea for how we wanted the deck to look. She agreed that with the type of project we're undertaking we'll want a deck that compliments it. I mentioned that I'd either like to somehow break the deck up into a couple of different levels or add and arbor or pergola. We talked quite a bit about what we were looking for in the deck or maybe more-so what we didn't want. She loaded me down with a bunch of magazines to look through for ideas, one of them being magazine on garden structures with various gazebos, arbors, trellises and pergolas. I found one photo in particular that caught my eye and sent her a scan of it.

She got busy.

I got an email from Karen yesterday with a couple of deck design options for us to consider. Of the two options she'd put together, I was really drawn to option 1 (below). The dotted lines represent a pergola which will be patterned somewhat after the one from the magazine in the link above. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

We exchanged a few emails before she followed up with an enhanced view of what the pergola could entail. This was really working for me. Tammy hadn't seen it yet but I knew she would approve.

And to give us an even more complete look, Karen put together these last two images for us complete with a railing so we can allow the pups to sit out there in the sun and police the yard of squirrels and rabbits.

The only question is how much more will this cost to have Joe do for us? We should know soon enough.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Slight Interruption

Here are some drawings Karen did for us which depict an overview of what we're undertaking.

We're a little uncertain about the deck at this point. We're not so keen on having a simple square deck as depicted in the drawing. We're considering adding an arbor or pergola somewhere to break things up a little. We also like the idea of a railing so we can allow the pups to be out there and be fenced in by it.

Tracee's father is an architect and has done his share of deck designs over the years. We hope to have him out to look at where we're having this all built so he can get a feel for the lay of the land and offer any suggestions he may have.

Until we get our concerns about the look of the deck ironed out I would figure we're a couple weeks away from any further progress on the project.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

And so it Begins

Well, maybe not just yet but soon. We got nearly a foot of snow a few days ago and that's something we can do without. I went out yesterday and removed it from where our sun-porch and deck will be built. No doubt piquing the interest of a few neighbors in the process. Joe came by this morning and laid down some black poly to absorb the sun's heat with hopes of giving him a head-start on getting the ground thawed. I think the plan is for him to return toward the end of next week to start work provided we get a little more cooperation from the weather than we've had.

Stay tuned...