And the Bricks Come Tumbling Down

Little M and I escaped the madness and went to Maine for a week last week. It was his first flight and he did really well. Like really well. I was so proud of him. He was even better on the flight home, especially since it was nap time and he did not sleep a wink in my arms. Snacks and stickers were our secret weapons.

At home we relaxed, saw a parade, played with friends, picked blueberries, ate lobsters and went to the cabin. We even got a couple days of amazing Maine summer weather after the heat wave passed. Totally relaxing, totally not long enough.
While we were away the addition foundation was finished and lumber for framing was delivered.

We're doing a conditioned crawl space so that hopefully the addition floors will be warmer and the whole space will be the same temperature as the main part of the house. That's why the foundation has a layer of foam insulation on it - we're insulating the foundation, not the floor.

We've been home for 4.5 days and the lumber for framing is still sitting on the curb. But that's a good thing 'cause we discovered that our house is not block and brick construction as the architect thought, instead it's regular frame construction with a layer of bricks on the outside ",brick veneer." Because of this they're able to take down all of the bricks before framing. Once framing begins they won't have to build a temporary wall two feet inside our existing house to hold up the side of our house - the existing wall that's there will hold it up, whereas before they thought they'd be knocking out a ton of concrete blocks and having to build temporary walls inside. All of that is a big time saver and a huge hassle saver on our part. We don't need to move out of our bedroom yet. Good thing 'cause the basement is still a mess. But we'll save that drama for another post.

So the lumber was delivered Tuesday. The framers discovered the good news on Wednesday. The masonry guys showed up on Friday and took the brick down. Like all the brick. It was all down by 5pm. Funny story (not) I was standing outside talking to our contractor with Little M in the Ergo and Feeney's leash wrapped around my legs while watching the guys hack away at the bricks from the bottom up when they stopped working quite suddenly. Apparently the whole wall of bricks were sliding down as they, duh, removed them from the bottom up. There was talk of a boom truck when I put my hand up, said, "ok you've got this" and took off. When I returned one of the guys was up at the peak of the gable, the attic vent screen was off and brick was flying down to 30 feet below. Where guys were wearing hard hats, thankfully.

All morning one guy took bricks down while one guy cleaned them off. Then after lunch another guy joined in the taking-off fun and the cleaning guy couldn't keep up. By the end of the day all the brick was down. This shot kinda reminded me of a house along my school bus route as a kid. It didn't have any siding over the black house wrap. I can get all nostalgic about anything remotely related to home.

There are peeks of the old sheathing sticking through. Sheathing or whatever it's called. It's from 1941, which is a far cry from the 200 year old stuff my dad is revealing this week, but it's still cool.

 This morning the cleaning-off guy came back and cleaned brick all day, while wearing a fedora. Style. I like it.

In the afternoon three more guys joined in - two cleaned bricks, one guy tossed to a fourth who stacked. It looks like they saved 80-90% of the brick. That makes me so happy. (Ignore the trash cans; our yard is such a freaking mess that I can't keep the mess out of photos!)

If you recall the new foundation is going to be faced in brick and by reusing our brick we'll have a perfect match. The grout won't match, but hopefully they'll get close. Our future plans are to face the sunroom foundation with any leftover brick;

I think we've got plenty enough to do that too.

I'm really happy we didn't just toss a gazillion square feet of brick into a landfill too.

Framers are set to come on Monday. On Sunday we'll enjoy the day of silence. Or at least I will, Little M will miss having a crew to oversee.

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Water and Other Stuff

Our basement is empty. All the flooring is gone, the baseboards are gone and our stuff is gone. Everything got packed up and shipped off to a climate controlled warehouse to get cleaned and stored until the new floor is installed.

It's dry down there now and late last night they finally took away the huge dehumidifiers. So now we're waiting on the restoration contractor to tell us how much money will will cost to get the floors replaced, new baseboards, and all the doors replaced. The contractor working on our addition is coming over tomorrow with his floor guy to give us quotes too. He's going to give us a quote on wood floors like we had, tile that looks like wood, and Allure floors, which a few of your recommended. I'm worried about the sticky glue in Allure floors and what happens if that gets wet. Obviously I'm a little freaked about water now even though the basement was dry for 80 years. I think we're leaning toward tile that looks like wood. I want wood. We'll see.

We lost a few personal belongings, which we'll replace, but nothing catastrophic. It's not like we lost our wedding album. Not that we could have since I still haven't made it yet, but you know what I mean. We did lose one of S's silk & wool carpets when something bled onto it. I'm not sure how that all works when I ask our adjuster if we can get something more my style to replace it. I think we've got enough of S's carpets, especially since he keeps laying claim to his parents' "when they don't need them any more." I'm all, "shut up, that's our baby sitters you're talking about." He's so morbid.

Outside, the addition foundation is coming along nicely. The footings were poured with a concrete truck, which Little M got to see in action, and the rest of the foundation is built with block. We've been dealing with a lot of rain or at least the threat of rain so the foundation guy decided to work with block since his work would rely less on the weather forecast. Working with block is slooooooow going apparently.

Of course no project is without its challenges and this week's challenge is that our yard slopes much more than it appeared to when there was grass and a shed in place. The rear most part of the new floor in the addition is actually going to be below grade by a few inches. So the foundation needs extra waterproofing, the block will be taken up farther in the back and yada yada. The other option was to excavate out the yard and create a retaining wall, but then our shed would sit about 2' higher than the adjacent patio next to the new retaining wall, so we said below grade it is. The option we chose won't be visible from the outside (nor the inside for that matter) whereas having a shed perched up towering over the yard would look really weird.

Given this week's water issues, we're a little gun shy over this whole decision over here. But there's tar, and extra waterproof membrane going up, and they'll use pressure treated joists, plus we have a sump pump in the new crawl space. And the yard will be graded so the water doesn't collect. It should be good. It had better be good, right?

We've decided to go with a "conditioned crawl space," which means that instead of insulating the floors of the addition, we're going to insulate the walls of the crawl space. The crawl space will then be heated and cooled with the rest of the house. This will make the floor feel much warmer and keep the living room at the same temperature as the rest of the first floor without cold infiltrating the floor below. It's a bit more expensive, but it should make the area much more comfortable. It just seemed like it was the right way to do things. We cut from our budget elsewhere to make it happen. Let me tell you how hard it is to cut from the world's tightest budget. I'll be applying makeup with a flashlight for the next three years because vanity lights were cut. At least I'll be warm when I'm watching TV next January. Who needs makeup anyway, especially when I won't be leaving the house 'lest I miss a moment to enjoy all that we're putting into it.

And on the subject of budget, I've been doing a lot of shopping lately and not just hypothetical shopping to submit a claim for a down pillow soaked with mud. I think we've decided on a vanity and bathroom tiles for both upstairs bathrooms. I've pinned a bunch of good stuff and will start putting together boards soon. This is the fun stuff. I mean apart from the whole buzzkill of a budget of course.

Any good water-related stories for me this week? Little M and I are spending a few days with my parents. We're enjoying the water in their pool. See, water isn't all bad.

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You Can't Make this Stuff up

Our basement flooded last night.

Our yard is a mess of a construction zone (to be expected, of course) and now our house is too. Our beautiful basement project from less than two years ago is ruined.

I cannot believe it. This is our bone dry basement.

All S's silk & wool carpets are covered with mud and water.

Our guest room bedding is saturated. Furniture is wet and all the pocket doors are swollen shut in their pockets.

We discovered it sometime around 2:30am last night. The screeching alarm on my phone from the weather channel woke me up, but S was already up. And at 3am when I was carefully wiping off Christmas ornaments from 1977 and S was vacuuming water from our beloved engineered hardwood floors, all I could think was thank God it's not a fire, thank God it's not worse.

Our insurance company sent out cleaners and a dry cleaning service today. The dry cleaners took several big laundry bags full of bedding, clothing, shoes, Little M's pack n' play extra mattress and tote bags. Lots of bags. The cleaners walked through the sloshing floors and said they had to rip them up. So I sat upstairs while dozens, if not hundreds of hours of research and shopping were ripped up from the floors and hauled out the front door.

Obviously it had to be done, the underlay material was soaked.

Everything is soaked. Everything is a mess. That 10lb bag of sugar hanging off the second shelf is drip drying. I don't know why it's not in the trash.

In the morning tomorrow we have to decide what we need for the next few months and then the rest will be packed up and taken to a facility to be cleaned and stored until new floors and drywall are installed. We're also taking inventory of what was ruined completely. Like all the saturated extra boxes of the floors we'd stored under the guest room bed....

So now in addition to shopping for (and trying to hunt down bargains on, given my unemployed state) doors, vanities, counters, cabinets, fixtures, decking, siding and a multitude of other addition necessities, we're also back to basement flooring square one. Not to mention getting our furnace, washing machine, hot water heater and freezer serviced.

It could be so much worse.

How do you feel about tile that looks like wood?

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New Subscription Buttons

I've added new buttons over on the sidebar for Feedly and Bloglovin, if you haven't made the switch yet. I thought I'd be mourning the loss of Google Reader, but it's been so long since I've checked my g-reader daily that I'm not missing it at all. And I'm kinda loving Feedly right now. A lot.

What reader did you finally choose? Who's in the Feedly camp with me?

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The Entertainment has Arrived

After a long holiday weekend Monday started off with a bang. Quite literally. The jackhammer started up at 8am just as little M and I were settling in for his morning milk. We rushed downstairs and I stuck little M in his tower while I moved my car from the driveway.

The noise was a little scary at first, but once he realized where the noise came from he was happy. There's nothing more exciting to a little boy than construction equipment.
By noon the top of the driveway, the portion of the basement stairs that are getting removed, the back stoop and the ugly asphalt walkway along the side of our house were gone. All the debris was loaded into a giant dumpster on the street. By the time they stopped working at 7pm the foundation and footing trenches had begun to appear.

After they left for the day S and I went outside to dig up the azalea plants in front of our kitchen window and along our little porch.
A few weeks ago I cut them back nearly to the base so we'd be able to handle them - it was at least a 75% pruning. I was really happy to see tiny, green buds popping up all over the remaining thick stalks. The one main azalea under the kitchen window had self-rooted in so many places that we got 11 plants from it!

S planted all the little azaleas together in front of and next to the newly moved shed. They're grouped near the arborvitae that we transplanted from the top of our driveway to the side of shed to make daily watering easier. It's not their final home, but it's the best place we could find to hopefully keep them alive until we can transplant them in the fall (or spring.)
This morning I was out watering the plants when I saw the first of the guys arriving at 7:30. Little M watched out the window white he ate his breakfast as they dug some more. By the time we got home at 4pm the entire foundation trench was dug and they'd started to add rebar to the hole. We're hoping for inspections tomorrow and concrete soon. I'm hoping for framing and a roof soon, but this isn't HGTV.
The whole area looks so much bigger in person. And so much more so from the second story window where I peered longingly out the window of my wee bedroom into what will soon be my masterful master. I tried to imagine what it will feel like to not turn sideways to make my way to my side of the bed. Then I stopped myself. I don't want to go wishing away six months just so I can have a bit more room to breathe. Or a place to put shoes...not in the dining room.
I did stand at the front corner of the house and pretend to walk out of my car and to our new mudroom door, which is precisely where that hacked-back acuba stands.

On the subject of doors, I can't find the freaking door I want anywhere. I know it exists because it's on the house down the street that was just renovated a couple of months ago, but it doesn't exist otherwise. Fiberglass that looks like wood, 3/4 glass with 4 lights, grilles on the outside so I can stain them to match the door and a single raised rectangle panel on the door below the glass. Next time I see our neighbors outside I'll ask them who makes their door. Until them I'm on the hunt.

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