Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Farm House Remodel - Week 2

Let's see if we can catch up on the action.  Here's a week's worth of updates...

Day 5 - Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday was Memorial Day, which was not a work day for the crew, but was one for us.  More to do in advance of the demolition.  I picked up the river rocks that border all the flower and shrubbery beds around the house and hauled them to the back of the property.  I also spent time salvaging lumber from the demo pile, ending up with a good load in the back of the pickup.  No, it's not new wood.  Yes, it has a lot of nails sticking out of it that I'll have to pull out.  But when it's time to build a new shelf in the barn or another nest box in the hen house, it will be just fine.

Day 6 - Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On Tuesday, the crew started sometime after 1:00pm.  They built the temporary wall inside that will provide privacy and security for us when they remove the front of the house.  Everything beyond the wall will be gone.

Day 7 - Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Today the power was out from around 9:00am until 3:30 while the temporary service was installed.    We'll be living on 60amps for the next few months.  That's the temporary pole at the right edge of the photo below.

You can also see the other noticeable development - the windows were all removed.  Not as noticeable from outside was the removal of most of the ductwork - the furnace and central air are now out of commission.  

We had dinner tonight with a group at the Pine Room Tavern in Nashville, Indiana.  No cooking in the FEMA trailer today!  

When we got home, we discovered that the power to the window air conditioner in our bedroom was not working.  Something got disconnected during the demo today.  Luckily, an adjacent outlet is still live, so an extension cord is enough to keep us cool.  I'll report this to Greg, the contractor, tomorrow.  

Day 8 - Thursday, May 30, 2013

The good news:  The electrician was on site today and fixed the problem with the bedroom air conditioner.

The bad news:  He cut power to the barn.  Not a major problem, but one we'll have to get corrected later this week.

No picture tonight.  We took off early and went to Indianapolis to join our friends Ann and Alan at the Indiana Historical Society Concert on the Canal.  We enjoyed these open air concerts regularly when we lived in downtown Indy, and it was fun to go back again.  We sit on the grass bank across the canal from the stage and enjoy the show for free.  It was a beautiful evening -  perfect weather to sit outdoors, sip wine, enjoy a picnic dinner and listen to the Tad Robinson band play Motown hits.  If you're looking for a fun outing on a Thursday night, let us know - we're up to go again.  (I'm marking August 1 on the calendar.)

Day 9 - Friday, May 31, 2013

Nothing happened today - all activity was rained out.  We'll hope for more production next week.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

The Farm House Remodel - Days 4 & 5

Day 4 - May 23, 2013

Today most of the crew did not work.  Mary worked with Jeff, the electrician, to get the FEMA trailer powered up.  By the end of the day, all the extension cords in the trailer were gone and an new 30 amp circuit was feeding power to the trailer.  This means we can use the toaster,  and the coffee pot at the same time, with lights, and might be able to cook a meal that doesn't involve a crock pot in the dark.

This will be our "summer kitchen" until the new kitchen is completed, sometime in the fall.

Day 5 - May 24, 2013

Today the tree guys came to cut down four large trees around the perimeter of the house.  We hated to see these trees removed - some of them were probably 50 to 60 years old.  But they had not been adequately maintained or ever trimmed.  There was no way to build the new floorplan with these trees in place.

They took out the two large trees to the left of the outhouse.  Better pictures will follow on a later day.

Today is our 37th wedding anniversary and we celebrated by leaving town for Bloomington.  We had a great dinner at Restaurant Tallent - one of our favorite places for special occaisions.  The chef agreed to do his five course tasting menu - normally only available on week nights - for us, because the restaurant was slow this Friday night.  It was one of the top 2 or 3 meals we've ever had!  A great way to end the week.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Farm House Remodel - Days 2 & 3

Day 2 - May 21, 2013

If our neighbors had not already concluded that we were white trash by now, today's demolition might lead them to that conclusion.  The view when I got home from work today included a toilet in the front yard.

I haven't asked any questions, nor am I drawing conclusions, but the toilet was gone the next morning.  I had already sifted through the debris pile to the right and salvaged about $100 worth of 2 x 4's.  Hey, we're always building something on the farm.  Might as well reuse whatever we can.

Lots of activity indoors today.  Sheetrock from the interior walls and ceilings was torn out.

Ray the plumber did some rework on the septic and water lines to ensure that we still had service from the master suite.  (Thanks, Ray!)  

And after all the work was through, we sat on the back patio and enjoyed a cocktail, followed by a dinner from the crock pot.  It was a beautiful evening, and we expect to enjoy many more as the project continues.

Day 3 - May 22, 2013

Today we were surprised when the crew started cutting the house in two.  This happened earlier than we expected - probably something we'll need to get used to.  

Mary shot a video of a definitive moment.

Inside the house, the crew removed a section of floor across the width of the house - in line with the cuts in the walls - sort of a large perforation through the building.  We could begin to see where the house would come apart, but couldn't yet imagine how it would be done.

All of this work took a toll on the Boston Terriers.  After a full day of supervising the work from the back yard, barking at the contractors and generally missing their naps, they were exhausted!

Stay tuned.  More to follow.

The Farm House Remodel - Day 1

Monday, May 20, 2013

We had spent the weekend clearing out the front of the house - moving furniture back to our master suite, packing boxes of stuff to be stored in the garage, removing doors and wood trim that might be salvageable for later use.  By Sunday night we were as ready as we could be (and worn out!)  There were a couple big pieces of furniture left - a sofa and a dresser - but we figured the crew could work around them until we got them moved later in the week.

Here's the view from the outside at the end of Day #1.  I'll take a picture from the same spot every day.  From the outside, there's not much visible difference.  Everything happened indoors today.

The crew arrived at 10:30am on Monday morning.  This was later than we anticipated - we would have figured on 7am - so we'll have to understand their schedule and approach. This week and next are designated on the schedule as "demo" - as in "demolition" - so we expected sledge hammers to be flying.  They were, and the crew made short work of the interior of the house.

Everyone we've talked to about remodeling had war stories to tell about things they discovered once they started tearing out the old parts of their house.  Our experience was no different.  We had a couple of surprises in our first day.

Day 1 - No kitchen left!

Surprise #1 - The crew discovered that the original part of the house extended further back than we had thought.  In the photo above you can see an old window that was uncovered as the sheetrock was removed.  So the kitchen section probably dates to the 1930's, not the 1980's.  This may or may not prove to be a problem later.  

Day 1 - Kitchen and Dining Room are gone!
I don't have a good "before" picture of the rooms shown in the photos.  Trust me, though, they were not remarkable.

Surprise #2 - Within the first hour, another problem surfaced.  One crew member had started pulling up the floor in the current laundry room.  This is part of the middle of the house that will be gutted and reconfigured, so we were anticipating that there was a good foundation underneath.  The crew member reported that he found four different layers of floor in the laundry room - tile, linoleum, etc. - and that underneath all those layers the wood was rotten.

They stopped work in this room - not sure why, but we'll come back to it later.  I'm sure there are more surprises ahead.

Overall, we were impressed by the amount of progress made on this first day.  We're off to a good start!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Another Crazy Adventure - The Farm House Remodel - Part 1

I started this blog almost 9 years to the day ago - May 25, 2004.  If you look through the list of posts, one conclusion you could reach is that I have been neither prolific nor committed.  You'd be right about that.  Spoiler alert:  That's probably not going to change, despite my good intentions.

I reread the original post tonight and was surprised by how many other things have remained the same.  I still think I'm living the good life in paradise.  Mary still hasn't figured out she got the short end of the deal.  (Though it's been 37 years now, so it's possible she's figured it out and is simply not going to admit it.)  And we're still pursuing crazy adventures together.  Since I published that first post we've put our last kid through college, lived in at least three different homes, toured Europe and moved to a farm.

Which brings me to the latest adventure - the subject of this series of posts.  We moved to Second Act Farm in the spring of 2012.  The house was livable, but we knew it would require some major work.  I could see a major renovation in our future, but we agreed up front that we'd live in it for a year before we attempted any substantial changes.  We wanted to experience the place through four seasons and give some thought to what changes were really necessary.

That was a good plan for a reason we didn't anticipate up front - starting the farm would completely consume all of our spare time and energy.  Stripping wallpaper and picking paint colors never made it to the middle of the priority list, much less the top.  We had our hands full making all the mistakes that new farmers make.  (Some of those are documented at the farm blog, http://secondactfarm.blogspot.com/ .  Same spoiler alert - posts are few and far between.  See a pattern emerging?)

But over the winter we found some time and a good architect, Louis, who helped us refine our ideas into a buildable design.  The plan in a nutshell is this:  We would demolish the front third of the house (everything forward of the dashed line in the photo below).  It contains two small front rooms, and a half story above - ceiling is at 6' - 2".

In its place, we would have a new, larger two story addition, like shown in the architect's drawing below.  It will have a new living room and master suite downstairs and two guest rooms upstairs.  A wall of windows on the first floor will look out over the adjacent farm land, and a wraparound porch will give us extra space to entertain.

The middle third of the house will be gutted and reconfigured to contain a new kitchen, pantry and laundry room.  The rear of the house will remain unchanged.  It's currently the master suite - where we'll be living during the remodel - but in the future will become a combination office and exercise room.

Through the early spring, we talked to several local builders and negotiated price and specifications.  We ultimately selected Greg and his company to do the work.  

They started the demolition one week ago.  Two thirds of the house is now gutted.  There are large saw kerfs in the side walls that mark where the front of the house will be separated.  We're currently living in the master suite (along with half of our furniture) and using a borrowed FEMA trailer parked in the back yard as our kitchen and dining room.  (Yes, that's FEMA trailer, as in one of the thousands that was deployed in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.  But that's a story for another day.)

Lots of our friends and family members have asked us about the project, so we have decided to document our experiences here.  It's not likely we'll post every day, but we will document the entire project from now through completion - currently scheduled for the first week of October.  We hope you'll find it entertaining.  Mary and I went into this with an agreement that neither one of us would complain about the noise, dirt or general inconvenience involved in this project.  So far, we've held up our ends of the bargain, but there's a long, hot summer ahead.  We know that some of our friends have started a pool, betting on which one of us caves in first, and when.  You might want a piece of that action.  

Stay tuned.  Lots more to come!