architecture

This Mod House – 4 Year Progress Report

 

Hi, You Guys!  Oh my gosh, where do I start after all this time?  I just updated my ‘About’ page, so feel free to click over there, if you want a refresh of what this blog and I are doing here.  Quick answer: getting back to having fun sharing our on-going house project.

We all have projects of varying degrees where we live.  Some of us are nuts and buy houses that need tons of help, and spend huge chunks of time (years) making them our own.  ‘No pain, no gain’ seems to be ingrained in our belief system.  We are excited and optimistic and ‘up for the challenge.’

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Late winter 2013 – Bad start on the day of cabinet install…

Then, when work starts and things get too painful, we learn our limits.  Never again!!!, we say with absolute certainty.   Only to dive into the next project to come along.

We remodeled a house before this one, and one after (an investment property).  All came with big challenges, and all were so worth it.  I love doing this, even of it means some frustration and a few tears.  (Crying in front of a contractor did happen (twice), and I’m not proud of it, ugh.)

I left you hanging back in May 2014.  We were busy-busy getting ready for our daughter’s grad party.  A couple days before the big bash, the architect who helped us with the interior and exterior remodel came out to photograph our place.  I have been wanting to share some of his photos with you, so here they are, finally!

All photos below credited to John Dwyer Architect:

 

 

 

And there you have it.  Love these photos of our pre-party 2014 home!  I am so grateful John took these and was happy to share them with us.

Whew!  This feels really good to be catching up, but there’s so much more to talk about and show you!  We remodeled the basement summer of 2015, and John Dwyer designed a pergola for over our deck that was built this past summer.  There are new furnishings to show and upstairs bathroom remodeling plans in the works.  It’s going to be fun!

Many thanks to those continuing to follow our progress!  And if any new visitors would like to get an email alert when I have a new post, please join!  Comments/questions are always welcome too… Thanks again.  It’s great to be back.

 

 

New Siding, Fresh Paint…and an Addition!

Over here at This Mod House, things have been really rockin’!  We are completely sided and painted, which has been a long time coming!  Want to see how things went over the past two weeks?

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The siders started with adding trim around the windows.

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After the first soffit material was torn out (due to our late decision to remove the original fin walls), we needed to redo the soffit and chose this ventilated composite material. The siders put it up as they worked their way around the house with the window trim.

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And this ended up being the new siding choice. We were considering several different siding panel materials, and ended up with Hardie because it was available in a 10′ length. Our house is about 20′ 6″ tall on most sides, so this length allowed for two full panels with a break mid-way down and a break close to the foundation. We liked that configuration best.

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Siding the top half of the house was very hard work. The panels are so heavy!

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The back of the house with its new siding.

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You may have noticed the 2″x6″ vertical boards running down the length of the house on both sides of the windows in the the previous photos…Here’s a closer look at this detail on the garage. After removing the original fin walls, we thought the house looked too flat and decided to add the boards.

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All sided-up, we needed to choose a paint color. Since the beginning, we have been planning on painting the house a dark charcoal. The black chair is for reference, as the fascia and downspouts will be black metal. What color did we go with???

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Urbane Bronze by Sherwin Williams! As the name implies, there is some brown in the color, but I think of it as a warm dark gray. The cooler charcoal grays felt too dramatic. 

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I hope it’s not too dark, but I think it will be great with the planned rich-stained cedar accents above the windows.

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A pic from this morning.  This is how one end of the house looks with the black metal fascia.  Do I dare say things are starting to look better around here?  The key word is “starting”….Still have much to do!

 

I haven’t forgotten to tell you about The Addition!  No, there is not a big change to our renovation plans… No proposed additional square footage….We aren’t that crazy!  But we are a little crazy, and felt the desire to add a bit more excitement to the household…  Have a look at our newest family member:

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Introducing “Jarkko” (pronounced Yarkko). It’s a Finnish/Swedish name, meaning “God is Gracious”.

Our 8 week-old lab pup is the grand-pup of my grandfather’s last hunting dog.  And Jarkko’s mother is also the mother to my dad’s last dog that he loved so much as he was battling leukemia.  This is one special Addition to the family!

 

 

 

Yo-Yo Renovating – The Ups and Downs of Remodeling a Mod House

Summer is upon us, and what should be a more carefree, relaxed few months of the year, has taken a different turn in my little world.  No trips yet to the lake for me.  No m’am/sir!   More likely, my summer day includes a trip to Menard’s and Home Depot.  What about gardening and planting flowers?  Fuh-gid-a-bad-it!  Anything within 100 feet of the house is in the work zone, and sure to get trampled.  Ah, the joys of remodeling!

Okay, I am being a bit dramatic… It’s not like this house project has been forced on me.  I chose to take it on, and happily so!  (Why didn’t somebody stop me???)  Anyway, it has been quite the challenge with many ups and, to be fair, many downs.  I wonder if there is such a thing as “renovation therapy” to get people through the tougher legs of the house-improvement-journey?  I swear I have developed multiple personalities since this all began…I’m only kind of kidding!

What’s the back-story for this woe-is-me attitude?  It has been a slow week on the ‘ole pra-jay.  I have been crazy frustrated, as the weather has been cooperating, but not the workmen!  There have been various excuses made for the guys to not be on my job, like incorrect weather forecasts, and my not being cool with the carpenter’s 7-year old kid coming to “work” with his dad all day….But I know these guys have other jobs going, and you know what that means.  My project was being stalled.

Of course, I complained.  A lot.  Called, texted, emailed.  Lots of negativity (by me).  I put my foot down!  No more Mrs. Nice Gal!  You might even say I was being just ever-so-slightly bitchy (no doubt)….

So this is the craziest part:  James, the builder/remodeler/owner, had a way of talking me through the frustration and helping me understand the situations.  His response to each complaint seemed genuine, and he always pledged to try to resolve the problems.  One point that has been made is that our project is different than most.  It’s residential, but has a lot of commercial-type details like the flat roof.  Mod houses like ours come with unique challenges, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of dudes around who are super comfortable with this type of residential design.  Many of the subs primarily work on commercial projects, so there’s a few things that get “lost in translation”, in dealing with me and my house.   Anyway, James most definitely has talent when it comes to calming down a client in a tizzy (Now, if he could just promise his guys will come to work each day…)!

So, here’s where we are at:

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The main roof has been insulated, pitched, and has its fully adhered rubber membrane glued. The raised part is the top of the soffit that goes around the whole house.

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With the main roof mostly complete, things got going on the garage. Here, you see the new soffit getting built. It will only be on the front side. Other sides will be flush with the walls.

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Roofers take over, giving the garage the same treatment as the main house.

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The garage roof all done (except for finishing touches on the parapet). Isn’t it pretty?

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Close-up of the scupper, where the water drains from the garage roof into a future downspout/gutter.

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The guys are adding the strip vent and the underside of the soffit. It’s the same stuff (Hardie Cement Board) as the siding and will be painted along with the house.

Today I am feeling positive, even optimistic, that the project is en route to completion.  I won’t get my hopes up too high, as I know there’s lots left to do, and surely a few roadblocks to come.  But, I will take this “up” mental state for now, and when the “down” surfaces, I know James (aka “The Remodeling-Client Whisperer”) is just a phone call away.

p.s.  Dear Friends,  I promise to get back inside for future posts!  Sure, I will continue to share the progress on the exterior, but I know it’s a bit technical/boring, if it’s not your thing.  Have been saving up some goodies like how my stairs turned out, and yesterday, I finally got my island counter top replaced!  Sooo exciting!  (I am really not that exclamatory in person, but it sure is fun here!)

Lighting Decisions and Ikea Trip #3

I know it’s been about a week since you have heard from me, so I hope I haven’t lost your interest in following my renovation project!  You haven’t missed much, as there was a delay (three days) in getting the city inspectors into the house to sign off on the preliminary work of the plumbers, electricians, and the heating/cooling guy.  So it has been a quiet week.  With the inspections complete, the exposed walls were insulated, and prepped for the sheetrock.  That’s what was happening when I popped in this afternoon.

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I wonder how many times I will take a pic of this wall during the renovation.  It must be 25 times already…

Mark, the head electrician on the project, was back for a few more adjustments.  Decided to lose a couple of lighting cans (some that were just wired last week) in the new space and a few more old ones in the entry and under the loft in the living room.  I thought a low profile ceiling light would be a much better look for the entry.  The placement of the cans and other ceiling fixtures has been a bit tricky.   John (architect) drew up a lighting plan, and there were a few things obstructing the exact spots specified, so there was some fudging of the plan, and I got talked into adding more cans by Mark and Jay (builder).  Over the weekend I came to the conclusion that I didn’t like the extras.  The ceiling was getting cluttered, some cans were too close to others of another zone, and I didn’t like the “close, but not quite” alignment of the cans and my future pendants.  I know Mark and Jay are skeptical, thinking I will want more light, but John is not concerned.   I think I will be happy with a cleaner looking ceiling, and my white cabinets, counters, and walls will bounce the light around adequately.  We will see (maybe not very well) who had the better advice when the kitchen is complete!

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Mark removing one of 2 existing canned lights from the entry. John has suggested an awesome fixture for this space!

Ikea Cabinet Update!

I thought I was going to be purchasing my cabinets on my last (2nd) visit to Ikea two weeks ago.  No, ikea explained, better to purchase when you are two weeks out from the install date.  So, John and I spent some time going over the plan, making a few adjustments, and left.  Yesterday, I was back.  We are roughly two weeks from our target install date, and I was ready and excited to make the purchase.  I approached a nice Ikea employee in the kitchen planning department, and we went over the entire project together.  John had done a great job drawing the kitchen cabinet design using the ikea software, so there wasn’t much to change.  Although, it was comforting to have it all double checked!

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Ikea’s kitchen planning department. I know it too well!

More questions were asked as to a timeline, and I said “Two weeks from tomorrow, please.”   Then it got complicated.  “If you purchase today, we have to deliver everything within one week.  Can we put a gazillion boxes to one side of the kitchen?”  (No…next week the new wood floor is being installed throughout.)  “Do you have a garage?”  (It’s already full of stuff.)  ” A basement?”  (It is being worked on.)  “Hmmmm.  We could try to schedule it for further out, but then your cabinets will come from our distribution center in New Jersey.”  (?)  “Or, you can just come back in a week or so, when you are within a week of your install date.”  (Can do!)

From what I understood (it’s still just a bit fuzzy), I just need to bring my cabinet “shopping list” back, and we will be ready to rock.  Set the date for delivery, which could be as soon as the next day, and pay.  Done!

We are saving our builder Jay (who normally builds custom kitchens) the headache of assembling the cabinets and installing them, by having ikea arrange that work for us.  This was Jay’s idea.  Our kitchen will arrive in 246 packages, and unless you do it often, putting ikea stuff together can be more than challenging!  The assembly/install portion is done by a local independent contractor who does ikea kitchens exclusively, so I think it is definitely the way to go.  Now, if scheduling that work has as many restrictions and is as confusing as the cabinet purchase, it may be a few days before I know what’s up.

Behind the Scenes (and Walls)

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Old ceiling totally gone.

It’s mid-week, and I have some updating to do!  Our little project is moving along quite nicely.  The demo phase was so fun!  Every day last week, there was such dramatic change.  And this week, I arrive to see some wiring in the walls, and the next day, some more wiring with a few other thingamijigs in the walls/ceiling.  The plumber, electrician, and heating guy have all been amazing, but I admit, the important stuff in the wall and ceiling cavities are a bit boring.  There were discussions on Monday between the electrician, me, Jay and John about size and number of recessed lights, and when proposed locations of lighting and switches couldn’t be accommodated, there were more hemming and hawing sessions (mostly by me).  A remodel inherently has some challenges, as new stuff has to be located around old stuff.  It’s kind of like a game to choose the next best option, when the ideal won’t work.   That being said, it’s great to have moved on from the demo to the “build”.  You saw the sub-floor in last week, and now we have new wiring, pipes, and vents!  I guess we are now ready for all of the inspections that need to happen before the sheet rockers take over, closing up the ceilings and walls, and bathing the house in the thickest layer of dust yet.

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Kitchen wall exposed.

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Housing for 4″ spotlights and one over-the-table fixture.  Fun stuff!

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Adios (today) to the last of the demo debris!

Good People.

Having embarked on this remodeling adventure, I am feeling so fortunate to be working with a great “team”.  John (our architect) has been wonderful in providing the expertise concerning the changes we are making on the house.  He is creative and thoughtful in his designs.  He is also attentive to my wishes and input, and when I have been indecisive, he offers that professional opinion I need.  He’s happy to email or call me back when I have had questions, and has even assisted me (willingly) on various shopping trips for the new spaces.  (These were trips for appliances and cabinets, which are time-consuming and would have been torturous for my husband!)  The best part is that John seems to be genuinely interested in our modest project.  This is a guy who has done some pretty cool stuff in terms of architecture, furniture design, and even ongoing architectural humanitarian efforts in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.  You must check out his website to see his work!

http://johndwyerarchitect.com/

My other fav person is Jay Middelstaedt, our builder.  Liked him the moment we met, and like him even more since work has started!  He is everything you would want in a builder, plus a smile.  Things have been moving along really well with no big surprises.  Here’s a pic of the main space as of yesterday:

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Two sub-foors were laid to bring it to the correct level.

Today, I met Jay and Dan from Sela Roofing for a roofing bid and to take a look at the hole in the roof from the chimney we had removed.  Here are a few photos from that experience…Yes, even I climbed the ladder!

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Gotta meet the electrician early tomorrow am.  Need to verify all the right spots for the wiring of ceiling fixtures, switches and outlets. Exciting stuff!

Demolition Slide Show.

Last week, demolition of the kitchen and dining spaces began…

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The wall between dining room and kitchen.

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Other side of the wall.

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Wall is gone!

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Other view.

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As of yesterday morning, this monster was still hanging around. With the stack, it was over 1.5 tons!

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Here’s what the stack looked like coming up through the second story (master bedroom). Once gone, we get a bigger closet. Yeah!

 

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Sometimes you need a crane to do the heavy lifting!

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Jay appears to have everything under control. The house feels sooo much better having shed the 1500 pounds of fireplace, and 4 dumpsters of concrete-set tile!

Just want to tell you all that I appreciate the interest you have taken in reading my blog.  Thanks so much, and I will do my best to keep you informed!  Off to ikea to purchase the cabinets.  Wish me luck!