Tuesday, April 1, 2014

October 16, 2013 - time is flying! - read this before the April 1, 2014 post!

October 1, 2013 - this should appear under the April 1, 2014 post - but I can't seem to figure out how to do that!!

Once again, I have let the blog slide for weeks with no reports from me!  I have continued to take pictures,so I will attempt to bring everyone up to date.  Pressure is mounting, since we must obtain a mortgage to pay off the construction loan by end of November.  In order to get a mortgage, the house has to be liveable - at least a functioning kitchen and bathroom, plumbing and electrical - all that good stuff.  We have been making great strides towards that goal.
-We buried the electrical lines from the pole to the house, got it inspected, and finally Detroit Edison came out and connected our lines up to the pole.  Woot woot!  Dan's temporary power pole can come down. No more long electrical lines from the temporary pole into the house!
-All dry wall installed, finished, and primed!
-Repair work to the old house's plaster has been done.  Now, we are priming those walls.
-Both garages painted.  Garage doors installed.
-New shutters installed on front windows.
-took old front door trim down in preparation for installing new pillasters and header.  Yikes - bad brick work behind that peeling trim.  Been waiting for our bricklayer to come back and work another miracle - trouble contacting him.  Hopefully, he'll show up soon.
April 1, 2014
I must be the worst blogger ever!!  I last wrote a post on August 31 of last year!  We've been very busy, but that's not much of an excuse..   I have been a regular poster to Facebook, with pictures and events, but have neglected the blog.  I'll include some narrative here, in the way of catch up, and, hopefully, I'll take the time in the next few weeks to post some pictures and more narrative to the blog.

The last year, we have done little or no traveling, but have worked almost exclusively on our 'hoarder' house.  More updates on that later.....

Right now, we are on our way home from our Florida get-away vacation.  This is the fourth year that we have gone to Key West for a few weeks to avoid the worst of the weather in Michigan.  This year, we stayed home through January and most of February - turned out it was the coldest winter and the one with the most snow since 1950!!  Wow, it was brutal.  We were so glad to pack up and leave.

On the way down south, we stopped at Laura and Derek's for a long weekend - caught up on loving on my two grandsons there, Rylan, turned 9 in March, and Brody, who turned 6 in January.  I just wish they lived closer to us so we could see them more than 2 or 3 times a year.  After leaving their house, we drove down to the panhandle of Florida.  We stayed one night at the campground in the Pensacola Navy base, then drove almost to Mobile, Alabama, to look at a boat that was for sale.  Left there, stopped at the Navy base in Panama City, Florida, for one night.  We then made our way along US-98 down the coastline of Florida.  Visited a delightful town, Apalachicola, where the fishing boats come in loaded with oysters and shrimp.  We had some fresh oysters, then bought some plus 4 pounds of shrimp!  Our next stop was the St.Joseph State Park on the St. Joseph peninsula.  Pretty cool place -leaving Port St. Joe, you drive over 30 miles out on this peninsula, with white sandy beaches on either side.

Our next stop was Dennie and Denise Sprenkle's place in Orlando.  Dennie and Dan served in the Navy together, and have been friends for many years.  Denise cooked those shrimp, and the four of us plus two other friends gladly devoured them!  We stayed at the Sprenkle's for several days, then headed out to Key West.

In Key West, we 'dry camp', in a field on the Navy base, with no electricity or water hookup.  That's just fine, because we have solar panels on the camper to keep the batteries charged (with PLENTY of sunshine).  We spend almost all of our time outdoors, so have little need for lights.  We have devices to keep our electronics (phones, pc;s, etc.) charged.  We use the generator for about 10 minutes each morning to make our coffee.  Other than that, we are either sitting in the shade reading (we do LOTS of that) or riding our bikes to a favorite eating/drinking place or other places for our favorite Key West activity, people watching!  Dennie and Denise came down with their friends, Pat and Jan, for a few days.  We hit all our favorite places, had a ball with them.  Things quieted down quite a bit when those folks left.  Many of the people we usually see while in Key West were not there this year.  So, our socializing was fairly minimal.  Dan and I enjoy each other's company just fine, so we did enjoy Key West - especially when we looked at the weather reports from home!  After about 3 weeks, though, we decided we'd had enough of Key West, and decided to leave on Thursday, March 27.  Our plan was to meander up the east coast of Florida, spending a few days enjoying the warm weather and tourist sites.

Well, plans are just plans, and they do change.  I got a call on Wednesday night from Janice, my sister, who had gone to Detroit to visit my son, Travis's family.  She planned on staying at our house to insure she got plenty of rest and quiet while there.  Lisa and she went by the house to drop off her suitcases, and found that disaster had struck! A pipe that runs through the attic in the ranch house, built on a slab, had burst.  The furnace was not running, and there was several inches of water throughout the house.  I called my insurance company, and they sent a damage mediation company to the house the next morning to begin the process.

Sooooo, we did leave Key West on Thursday, but we just hightailed it north.  We stopped for one night at a Cracker Barrel (one of our favorite by-way camp spots), then drove straight to Laura and Derek's for two nights.  Last night (Monday) we stopped at another Cracker Barrel (near Dayton, Ohio), and now we're about 3 hours from home.  First stop?  The house where we live (WERE living) to see how the damage mediation is going.  All of our belongings, including kitchen stuff, clothes, furniture, pictures - everything - will  be either packed up and stored for us, sent somewhere for cleaning/restoration, or discarded.  They will also be tearing out damaged dry wall and insulation.  The kitchen we just had redone a year ago will have to be taken apart, beautiful backsplash torn off, so that the drywall behind can be replaced.  Much, if not all, the electrical wiring will likely have to be replaced.  More than that, we don't know yet.  What a mess!!

Fortunately, the ex-hoarder house is almost ready for move in!  We hadn't planned on moving in until the driveway was poured and ready, which likely cannot be done until some time in May.  But, now that we are  forced to move out of our other house, we will  be moving whatever we need (bed, clothes, kitchen) into the new house.  We wanted to have EVERYTHING done before moving in, but that's just not in the cards, it seems!

The good news is, we have really good insurance!  And, we had planned on moving out of this house anyway - now, it's being done for us.  After the insurance company (Farmers) finishes their work, we will get a check and proceed to hire companies to get the restoration work done.  As it happens, we have some very recent experience with companies that we've tried out!  Once the house is restored, it will be ready to be rented to some lucky tenant!

And, if that's not enough, my tenant in my Ferndale house is leaving this month.  So, that's the third house we have to work on!!  Just minor stuff there, I hope, some cleaning and painting.

My next post, hopefully not months away, will include pictures and catch up on our ex-hoarder home - from now on, I'll be calling it the Sheridan house!

Friday, August 30, 2013

8/30/13 - lots of activity!

The siding is about finished.  All 15 windows in the old house are being trimmed out with aluminum siding.  A crew will finish the insulation of both the old house walls and attic and the two garages and the addition today!  Next week, dry wall will begin.  Dan and our guys David and Roy have leveled the front and back yards, have dug trenches and put drain pipes to drain excess water from the back yard, anoter trench to bury the house electrical lines, and one for the line to feed the front yard light. We've ordered new shutters for the front windows.  Moving pretty fast!  Once the dry wall is installed in the garage, Dan will order the garage doors.  Glass blocks will be installed in the basement windows.  Then, my friends, the house will be 'buttoned up'!!

Soon, we'll be painting, installing cabinets, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, outlets, switches....all that good stuff!

Pictures soon, I promise!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 22 - yard has been graded, trenches going in for drainage and electrical service

Yesterday, Dave and the gang used a John Deere tractor with a blade on the back and a shovel on the front to move the mounds of dirt we had stored in the front and the back yard.  The entire yard now is level!  Today, the machine of choice was a trencher - still hard going with our millions of rocks, roots, and hard hard clay.  Our backyard is lower than our neighbors and has a flooding issue when there's lots of rain or snow.  Also, we're burying our electrical service line.  So, after leveling the yard  yesterday, today the trencher was put to work.  The siding guy started his work today as well.  Pictures follow:
Our level back yard!
So far, the white pine has survived.
 Another view.
 This box is on the back garage - intended for electrical connection to our camper (or anyone else's who happens to camp in our driveway.....)!
 Now, that's what I call electrical service boxes!!

 Jim, the siding guy, has started!
Roy, Dave, and Dan cuss and discuss the trencher machine....
 Future lovely back yard!
Side of yard - no more heaps of dirt!

 Front yard - a little more leveling, maybe some top soil, and we're ready for grass seed!
 No more raggedy bushes next to the street.
 Trenches going in - painfully!
Here, you can see the trench that was dug.

Not easy!  Man with shovel is needed to facilitate the trencher's job.

This will be buried to carry the water from the back to the front yard and to the street.
 Bushes ready to plant in the back - should provide some privacy in a year or two.

Ok, now folks, you are all caught up!  Next week, insulation, both in the new and the old house.  After that, dry wall!

Catch up from August 9 thru August 22!

Well, Dan couldn't leave town, but I went to Alabama with both my kids, their spouses, and all five grandchildren - had a fabulous time!  Here's a picture of all of us;
When I got home, I couldn't believe the amount of work that had been done!  Our bricklayer, a true artist, had finished.  He also replaced some ugly old aluminum siding that, for some unknown unfathomable reason, had originally been installed under both windows on the front of the house.  Here are some pictures of the brick work:
 Our main entrance, between the main house and the garage.
 People that don't know us well will ring the bell of this front door....
 Our worksite supervisor is at work every day.....
 This is the basket weave pattern that the bricklayer, Rich, created to replace some ugly white aluminum siding.
 Another view.
 This is the membrane in Dan and my shower.
 Beautiful brickwork on the front of the garage.  The bricks were reclaimed from the part of the house that was torn down.
 We're going to plant bushes like this in the space between the driveway and the garage.
Side of the garage.
 Back door to Dan's 'man cave'.
 French doors that will open on to a deck.
 East side of the house.  We'll be putting more fill here to cover up the insulation.
 New mailbox!
 Front of the garage.
 My hydrangea tree took a hit from the excavator - should be ok.  You can see here where we've removed the old shutters.  The new ones will be shorter and narrower.
Another picture of the basket weave bricks.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Late June into July - plumbing, electrical, windows, bricks, interior....!

We lucked out with a good friend of David,  Roy.  He is a trained and talented plumber.  Turned out that, not only did we have to do the plumbing for the new part of the house, but ALL the plumbing for the existing house had to be replaced.  With Dan's help, Roy pulled out all the plumbing, including the stink pipe, replaced it.  We've put in all water lines, gas lines, and tried to anticipate any needs in the future.

 Old windows being completely removed to rough openings.
 Old windows going.....
 New windows ready for install...
 Installation next.
 New windows in!  The shorter window is because the same size would encroach on the new roof.
 Rough opening ready.

 These are ready.

 New windows from outside.

 David preparing the rough opening..
 It's a two man job!
 Like a glove!

 New windows all in!
 Hydrangea tree in full bloom!
 Hydrangea tree, nine bark bush, more bushes.

 Plumbing for our master bathroom.

 Kitchen wall ready with electrical connections.
 Canned lights and connections for pendant lights over the bar.
 Here, you can see some of the big plumbing pipes in the basement and lots of wire!
 Our bricklayer, Rich, a true master of the art.
 The reclaimed bricks actually look better than the original walls!

 New windows are in, old shutters removed.

Now would be a good time to insert a note about my friend, Linda Adams, who is a decorator.  As I was bemoaning all the choices I had to make for this big new house, Linda, who at that time was just a golfer on my league, said "Hey, I'm a decorator and I'd love to help you!"   She started coming to the house while things were still really rough.  She had ideas, really good ones, on so many things while we were still in construction.  For example, she realized that the bar in the kitchen was placed wrong - it would have impeded traffic flow.  She suggested a slightly different configuration of the wall of our shower which resulted in a more roomy shower.  She helped me choose light fixtures, tile, backsplash, colors....pretty much everything.  She insisted from the very beginning that we should make the old dining room into a sitting room and use the living room as our formal dining room.  We really resisted that idea!  But, out of respect for her, we decided we could start out that way.  As it turns out, we love it!  She shopped all over the metropolitan area, and even in Chicago when she visited there, for items for the decor of the various rooms.  Her taste is impeccable, she respected our views on things, was concerned for our budget, for our comfort in the use of the new rooms.  I couldn't have done it without her!  I will be forever in her debt.

 Side of the garage - above the brick will be vinyl siding.

Now, I can show progress on the inside of the house.  Getting pretty exciting!
Ceiling fan in family room
Lights for over the bar in the kitchen

Old fireplace cleaned up

old wood floor needed some replacement boards

powder room floor in the new addition

kitchen cabinets, granite counters, backsplash installed!

light in the new sitting room (old dining room)

ceiling light in upstairs bedroom