before i fall into a coma.

06May08

I’ll have to write this post quickly, before I am overcome by fatigue. My apologies for the complete lack of pictures– I promise that I’ll add a few before the week is out. For the moment, it just seems like too much effort to dig the camera out of my bag, and share the visuals.

This last week (all 14 days of it) has been really stressful, but has also resulted in a LOT of progress on our little house project. A while back, I had the idea to ask a friend / client of ours by the name of Curt to help us reframe the kitchen on the back of the house. This is among the smartest ideas I’ve ever had (if I do say so myself). Luke has done quite a bit of work for Curt on his solar systems (which tended to be a bit raggedy around the edges– kind of like our kitchen), and so we were able to convince him to come & do some work on our house in exchange for Luke’s work on his house. I didn’t know it at the time, but the reason that my idea was so amazingly brilliant, is that Curt is the real deal. He knows his way around a framing square, and he’s evidently built more buildings than you can shake a stick at. He’s efficient & exacting, and quick. And he clearly knows how to coddle a motley crew of people (such as ourselves) into making progress happen. I have no doubt that, given 6-8 months of indecision, head scratching, and mistake-making, we probably could have framed up this little addition ourselves. We’ve got some idea of how to build things, and all that. But instead, (did I mention that this was my brilliant idea?) we’re getting it done this week. By the end of the week, I have every confidence that the kitchen will be framed, sheathed, and ready for plumbing/ wiring.

So we’re making a lot of progress this week– and it feels like pretty “easy” progress because Curt is here telling us what to do. But the week-and-a-half or so leading up to Curt’s arrival on site was pretty rough and stressful. I’d been procrastinating for months on finishing an incredibly rudimentary set of drawings to turn into the building department to get our permit. This is because a) I don’t particularly like drafting and b) I don’t particularly like making decisions when I have the option to “keep my options open.” But I forced myself to draw something, turn the drawings in, pull our permit, and move forward. We then proceeded to spend two days in a dark basement, bashing out part of a concrete slab in order to put in a new footer. (exhausting). Then we spent another day or so cleaning up around the place in an attempt to not look like slobs when the inspector came to check our footers. Meanwhile, I realized that my very simple kitchen addition was actually a bit more complicated than I’d bargained for, structurally. Thus began days of frantic emailing with my uncle Carl who happens to be both a faithful uncle AND an architect / engineer. While this was going on, we were trying to get together a materials list & talk to the lumber yard about which of our structural solutions would be reasonably affordable. This while trying to get demolition done at the house, keep our clients (and therefore our income stream, er, trickle) relatively stable, and still try to get some sleep. And did I mention the thousands of nails that we pulled out of kitchen roofing on the last evening before Curt showed up, in high winds, under a setting sun? (It felt dramatic, okay?)

In addition to learning a lot about structures (thanks Carl), and a lot about framing (thanks Curt) and a lot about sledgehammers (thanks overly-strong concrete slab)– I’ve learned that it is a pretty huge task to take on all the roles in a building project at once. I’m kind of used to operating a pencil on building projects– but it’s a whole other ball of wax to be playing all the roles at once: architect, homeowner, engineer, estimator, demolisher, general contractor, carpenter. Now that’s an education. Don’t get me wrong– I didn’t do any of those jobs all by myself– I’ve had a lot of assistance & Luke has probably done more work on this little project than I have– I’m just trying to explain why I’m feeling myself slipping into a comatose state right now.

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3 Responses to “before i fall into a coma.”

  1. 1 C & G

    Sounds like you might have actually gotten some wood up in the air! How exciting! The wood is the best part because it goes so fast. Looking forward to some pix in your next blog.
    Carl & Gretchen

  2. 2 Kathy

    When you awake from your coma, I want you to know how much I enjoyed your tale of progress. Your courage, creativity, and persistence are admirable!! Your writing brought so many visuals to mind – who needs pictures??!! Mom

  3. 3 lauracm

    Carl– We’ve definitely got wood up in the air! About 30 feet (or so) up in the air, to be exact. Thanks for all your help with this, and I promise pictures soon!

    Mom– thanks for your messages. They are coming through now (I think.) I’m trying to figure out how to automatically approve you, so that you can see your messages right away.


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