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more structure–and detail

October 28th, 2012 by

Two topics in today’s post: the incredible pace (or so it feels) of the structure of AHNF, as I like to call a house named Fred–though that should be ahnF, I guess.  Also, what it’s like to deal with the details, the picking out of lights/plumbing fixtures/finishes and the surprises and stumbles that come with all that.

First, the growth of ahnF.  Here’s how it looks as of yesterday, with the roof framing becoming more and more complete:

Wide shot of a house named Fred as of October 27 2012

The two sections of roof you see in this photo will join as the framing gets further along, for a continuous if bent line from garage to the main part of the house.

You can see the piano bump-out to the far right; a little triangular projection that will house my late mother-in-law’s Steinway and frame it from the inside with windows and a lowered roof.

In fact, that piano bump-out gives me a nice segué into the next topic, because the beautiful light fixture we’d always pictured hanging over it exemplifies some of my own frustrations with this whole home-building process.  More than a year ago, when we started the whole work-with-an-architect home design process, the two of us went through the catalogs and websites of all kinds of companies that make light fixtures, and plumbing fixtures, and other necessary details that go into a house (see earlier posts here and here).  We found, after careful research, what things got the best reviews and recommendations (thank you, Consumer Reports) and narrowed down our choices for such stuff.

This lighting fixture was one of those things with which I just fell in love, and pictured hanging over the piano–over the seat, maybe, but at least over the body of the lovely grand with its shining ebony surface.  Fancy chandelier looking like sailboats floating in airIt’s called a “Crescendo,” which seems especially perfect for a part of the house where music may happen.

But what nobody tells you, especially if your home-building process takes a while and goes through fits and starts at its start, is that things change.

The lowered ceiling over the piano, for instance, means this beautiful light hangs too low to go over the piano; if we leave the lid open–as is the usual practice with grand pianos–the light will hit it, so it has to go back in the bump-out, not where I’d always pictured it.

The other thing that happens is that as time goes by, the companies that make the oven, for instance, that you’d carefully researched, compared with similar models, decided was the best deal with the features you wanted (a popcorn setting on the microwave is absolutely necessary) stops being made.  The company (KitchenAid, thanks a lot) discontinues that oven, and replaces it–maybe, it’s hard to tell–with a couple other similar models, then publishes only a little information on its website so you can’t really tell if the new one that’s similar priced still has a popcorn setting or if you’ll now have to pay $1000 more to get that stupid button.

Do I sound frustrated?  That would be because I am.

One other thing that happens as the process gets into final deadlines of decision-making is that you find out one of the folks you work with put a line item from your budget in a category different from the category the subcontractor or vendor put it into, so that you assume you’re well within your allowance for, say, cabinets, only to find out the allowance in one budget didn’t include that item and you’re now $10,000 over budget.

SO….building a custom house is wonderful as you watch it become real.  And it’s sheer torture as you watch it become real and watch the budget expand.

i’m a lumberjack

September 3rd, 2012 by

It was a little warm for flannel shirts. Heck, it was too warm for clothes, period, or even just moving at all.  But my sweetie and his friend Scott hauled the logs left from a big beautiful poplar we had to take down (or else the house might have ended up, after being built, with an unwanted exterior/interior feature that would’ve given us fresh air somewhere between the kitchen and the master bath).

photo of two guys on top of big logs

I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK

Some part of one of these logs will become the desk in my office at some future date.  Meantime Scott will help us by providing his milling services and kiln-drying expertise so a once-beautiful tree will become beautiful, usable hardwood.

keep ‘er footin’

August 31st, 2012 by

That headline is an obscure reference probably only one person still in my life would get–it has to do with a skipper on a racing sailboat, something they called an Ensign back in the day, who used to exhort his crew to “keep ‘er footin'” when they were on an upwind leg. “Footing” referred to the ability to sail faster by dropping a bit off the wind, taking the chance that even though your line to the mark in a race wasn’t as tight as the boat next to you you’d make up the time in faster hull speed.

It almost works here, too.  Our indefatigable builder, Leon, and his superintendent Myron have done a bangup job of keepin’ us footin’.  The house is only 10 days old, as far as construction goes, and we have our footings.  (Another word meaning there–see number 3–but still sort of applicable.)  Which are, for those of us who are ignorant of construction terms, the very basis of the house; the foundation to the foundation, as it were.  The hard parts that dig into the dirt, like your toes would into the sand if you were walking on the beach.

let’s give them something to talk about

August 21st, 2012 by

 

It’s really real today!  The earth movers (and shakers?) started tearing out trees and clearing the space for our driveway today.  Fred is being born!

The pains of childbirth are probably worse–I’ll never know about that–but the time it’s taken to get to this day suddenly seems much less now that actual physical evidence of our soon-to-be-house is there to see.

Here are a couple still photos: