Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm on the Outside Looking In. . .

      Or, windows and doors, and siding and shingles, oh,my! Almost, if not all, the photos you will see on this post, will be from the outside looking in.  And I must confess, as I took these photos I couldn't keep myself  from singing the next verse to this song which is, "but I want to be, but I want to be, back on the inside wi-th you".  But enough singing.
     Up until now, I have always thought a door is a door, and a window is a window, but NO, not when it is going on your house forever and always!  We need a lot of doors and a lot of windows, so we must make the right choice. This is what we chose.  What do you think? We really like them. But we love the full glass windows that overlook the lake, too! (I don't have a great photo of that yet, but will get one soon.)

     The above photos were taken last Sunday when we went to check out the progress. The window above the garage is H's new office space. Before I forget, I have renamed this new space because it can no longer be "the craft room" with the office addition :)  I will now refer to it as the CROFT (craft room office together). Works for me!

These are the exterior doors.
This door is on the lower level that leads to the "lake storage" area.

These are the doors leading to the screened porch.

This door is the side door next to garage.

The front door is an 8 ft. glass  door with a transom above and side lite panel on both sides of it. It will be stained..we think.
Below are the photos I took today as I watched the Hardie shingles and Hardie board siding going on the house.

The front of the house and all the gables will have the shingles. The sides of the house will have the siding.  All other sufraces will be brick or natural stone.

Now comes the hard part. What color do we paint it?  As I have mentioned in a previous post, H and I have different ideas about the color gray. The truth is, that gray is not gray but gray with an undertone. We narrowed it down to three shades of gray. Denny painted the threes colors on the house (with trim color) for us to look at and decide.  One color has beige undertones, one has green undertones and one has blue undertones. See what I mean?

As luck would have it, H liked one color and I liked another! The builder and painters alike, all assured me that when painted separately, each one was really gray. So, Denny's homework is to paint each of the colors on a shingle separtely and leave for us to "ponder" over until Sunday when he needs a decision because he will be buying the paint. (Painting will begin on Monday, then roofing and then brick...not sure about the stone). I will not tell you mine or H's favorite at this time.  Do you have a favorite?
     It was very busy at the site today when we went to look at the paint colors. There were the painters who were caulking and getting ready for painting. The re were trimmers who were putting up the trim around all doors and windows. There was a crew just for siding and a crew just for shingles! And that was just outside! Inside were the Electricians and the Heating and AC men. Yesterday, when H was on site, all these same people were there PLUS the septic field crew and inspector. (We passed, and all the lines are now filled in.) There was also a guy who will be building the retaining wall that goes in an arc like fashion from the center of the terrace about 3 feet out and around to the sides of the house. This is to handle the slopes. There will be steps at in the center of the wall ( not sure how many) that will enable us to walk down to a sodded / grass area and then out to the boathouse.
     All of these subs have been so nice to work with and today I baked cookies to take to the site for them. I wanted to thank them for their skills and labor as they make this house OUR home.
    And to all my followers who read my blog and make comments, I thank you and send HAPPY THANKSGIVING wishes to you and yours  from our "almost" built house to yours.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Electric. . . .

This post has NO photos. To explain. . . Today we met with Mike, the Electrician on site to decide where EVERY light, light switch, outlet, recessed light, ceiling fan, TV outlet, chandelier, sconce, pendant light, floor plug, etc. would go in the entire house! We arrived at the house about 9:30 am and drove off the Ridge at about 4:30 pm.  I took it upon myself to decide that you would not want me to take photos of every R, P, Fan, S,  etc, that was written on the floors and walls for placement purposes.  And this was pretty much all that we did for the entire time.  This will not be our only meeting with Mike because he seems to think he will be installing boxes and "roughing  in"  ( notice how I use house building lingo?) the wires for longer than he had  first antisipated. :)  We added many, many more recessed lights than the plan called for, we added 5 or 6 more ceiling fans, lots more outlets than I can remember and several more light fixtures / or sconces that were  not orginally planned.  The reason. . . Dennis had asked us to be "ready" for all these decisions when we met with the electrician. H took this to heart and to his credit, really thought about this for several days.  I cleared my Thanksgiving decor off the dining room table and out came the plans. We designated Monday of this week to go through each room together and talk about what we wanted, and where we "thought" it should go.  We used highlighters to mark these new decisions on the plan and used question marks for things we needed to discuss. H even went back to the house on Wednesday and walked  through the house alone just look around and see if we missed anything. We STILL need to decide where a few "key" pieces of furniture will be placed in order to decide where some floor outlets will go. Also, our audio/visual expert, aka Jarrett, our son-in-law, will be here next week and hopefully he will have some input as to where most of the electronics need to go.
    Dennis told us that meeting with the cabinet man, plumber and electrician would be long days with many decisions to be made and he was not wrong.  I am going to take this opportunity to say I don't see how WE could have built this house with out being here in Alabama during the process.  Not only have we been a part of each decision, but we have had the opportunity to meet with and work with all the "subs" hired to do these various jobs. We couldn't be more pleased. H has also played a very important role, as well.  He has really done so much during this whole process from day one. It has been a comfort to me knowing these decisions were made with his input and knowledge based on hours of homework and research. (Thank you and I love you, H.)
      Did I mention that all the windows and exterior doors were being installed while we were there today? Love them!  Photos in next blog!
      We are so excited that Liz and Jarrett will be here  for Thanksgiving and they will be able to see the house for the first time! Liz has not seen the property since 2007 and Jarrett has never been here! We have so much to be thankful for this year and sharing it with them will be a blessing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Me and Bobby McGee... and Dennis and Denny and Steve and Robert and Eric. . .

Up until this past week, building this house has had us making decisions about one week at a time.  Ever since the roof went on, it seems there has been some type of major decision to be made every day.  We have been told that this will slow down some when the painting and dry wall start going in but all of these decisions HAVE to be made before that.  A lot of the time spent with the cabinet man on Tuesday had to do with where major appliances would go as well as the cabinet placement. This was to be ready to make decisions with the plumber, Big E, on Wednesday. We needed to know where dishwashers, sinks, refrigerators, bathtub fixtures, shower heads and outdoor faucets would be going.  Some of these were obivious, others needed some thought. This is what greeted us when we joined Denny on Thursday in my master bedroom!
There were  3 or 4 plumbers all over the place. In the attic, laundry room, all bathrooms each needing to know where things were to be placed. For instance, in order to "plumb" for the washing machine, we needed to know where it was to be placed, but in order to know where it was to be placed, one needs to know which way the door would swing on the front loading washer and dryer. Who would have thought?  Thank goodness, Denny was there to help us. Since I have mentioned Denny several times... this is where I will give a "shout out" to our builder's son Dennis, Jr. (hereafter referred to as Denny). Denny works with his dad and either one or both of them are on the site every day, pretty much all day, overseeing all this work. I have already praised Dennis Sr. and I now want to give equal time to Denny. He, too, is teriffic and we are so pleased that he has been there to "walk" or "talk" us through some of these decisions whenever Dennis was attending to other matters! He has put a lot of FUN in this process as well as his professional input. Thanks, Denny. What a delightful family to work with!
   Meanwhile more decisions are being made.  Since H wanted a rainshower head in the master shower, and I wanted some type of hand held shower that is long enough to use while sitting on the bench and also to clean the glass shower, we now needed to go to Birmingham to pick out just what type of shower heads we wanted and this needed to be done ASAP since he, the plumber, was there working for the next few days. This is now Thursday..remember we returned from Memphis on Monday, worked with cabinet man on Tuesday, and fulfilled our obligations at the church on Wednesday. Looks like a road trip to B'ham on Friday! 
    Also, during this visit to the site the heating and air conditiong ducts were going in. This is what was in the foyer, kitchen and great room since the plumber had already claimed the bedroom.  So much for my nicley swept house with all my cabinet drawings on the floors. Robert, is the H/AC contractor for our house and he is a talker.  In fact, he informed me that if we were both there on the job, he may not get much done, because he realized that I, too, am a talker. Who would have thought? H talked with him and pretty much had made the decisions that we needed  three separate units to handle this house (I was off the hook about these decisions). I WAS asked how I felt about losing some closet space for a duct.  Works for me! I said.  I DID have a say about where to put the thermostat downstairs and nixed the plan to put it on a wall that would be a great place hang a picture.

Found this in one of the bathrooms!
       So now it's Friday and another major decision day. We drove back towards B'ham to meet with Steve who had designed the entire layout for all the cabinets since our meeting on Tuesday. I now have a computer layout visual.Yea!  All of this was great, NOW what color and style of cabinets do you want? he asked. As I looked around his showroom at all the colors and styles he had available, my eyes glazed over.  As I mentioned in my last post, I had only thought about kitchen cabinets, so I am now faced with picking styles and colors for all bathrooms, both bars, the laundry room as well as the kitchen!  (Mind you , I have not even started thinking about cabinets, etc. for the caft room.)  Steve was wonderful and patient as we "discussed" what we liked and disliked knowing all along that we had no clue what we really wanted. We DID decide we did not want all the cabinets throughtout the house to be the same. BUT that just gave us more decisions!  After several hours, we finally picked out several styles so that he could price them with stain, with paint, stained with a glaze or painted with a glaze/wash.  Maybe the costs will help with these decisions.
   After leaving Steve it was now time to drive to downtown Birmingham (a place neither of us have ever been) for an appointment at a very large plumbing showroom to pick out faucets for 12 sinks, showers or tubs.  I was also able to take a look and "get in" several soaking tubs. Surprise to our plumber, builders and H, I do not want a tub with jets! Why, you might ask? Don't get me started.
    After this fun filled day, we headed back to Clanton so we could attend our very first HOBO meeting.
Out of the 7 full time families living on the Ridge, 6 of us were present to see one of our own installed as president.  We look forward to meeting all the other Lake Mitchell families we have yet to meet. So far, we have found there are some good folks living on the river.
    H finished out his week by joining Ralph for another trip to Tuscaloosa to see Alabama beat Mississippi State.  ROLL TIDE! It really has been a treat for H to go to these games with Ralph and a really nice way to end a very busy week. They donned their crimson colors and hats and were off! Jane and I went on an adventure as well. We found ourselves in a newly opened Scrapbook Nook where, after chatting with the owner for a while, I was invited to teach a class there after the first of the year!
      I hear the much needed rain coming down as I write, so I am not sure about work tomorrow.  Even so, next week is already being scheduled. We will be meeting with the electrician on Wednesday.  This will be another long day trying to decide where to put all the plugs, switches, recessed lights, ceiling fans, etc. It would be helpful if I knew what furniture I was going to buy, where I was going to put it and if it needed a light or not. :)  H and I plan to sequester ourselves all day Monday and go over each room together.  Hopefully we will have some idea as to what and where to tell him to put them, but just in case. . . Dennis, Denny, HELP!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Takin' Care of Business. . .

After a wonderful weekend with family in Memphis, it was once again time to take care of business as we were faced with  more decisions. As you can tell from the photos in previous posts, how fast things are going up, then you can guess how fast we are making decisions! Some, we have been thinking about, some decisions are brand new and some, we don't have a clue! We spent more than 6 hours on Tuesday with the cabinet maker trying to figure out what we wanted and where we wanted them to go. I must confess, since I am a virgin home builder, when we were told we were to meet with the cabinet man, I automatically thought KITCHEN cabinets and that was all. So while in Memphis, and with some help from family members, I attempted to "draw" out cabinet placement. I knew how long the space was, what "main" cabinets were needed and where I thought appliances should go. Starting with what I knew was for certain. . .the kitchen window, I drew my sink. (Easy, peasy, I said to myself) needs a cabinet underneath. Then I began drawing  the remaining cabinets and appliances to go along this 15 foot wall...  several times.  I am, after all, a visual. (My lack of knowledge about cabinet sizes and what was available to me did come back to bite me in the "end".)
So, this was what I found when I got to the house to meet the cabinet man, Steve. Has my builder got my number or what?  Dennis and Denny knew I would want to know how big and where the island would go in order to make these decisions. So hense, my visual! After several hours of drawing . . .and erasing,  Steve, the cabinet man was able to figure out  (don't ask me how) just what I wanted!  See the kitchen window? We decided to enlarge it to make it look proportional to the sink and cabinet.  Below  is just a sample of the drawings on the floor so I won't take up any more space in this post to show the rest. . .you get the picture! (no pun intended)

After the kitchen, we moved over to the bar area. I knew that the refrigerator was going there and then there would be a 6 foot bar with a sink. Now all I needed to tell him was where the sink would go on the bar, what cabinets  did I want under the bar,  will there be a wine cooler or not? Yikes! Just give me some cabinets above the bar, with glass shelves and a light to store my pretty wine glasses and bar accessories was all I had thought about. I was happy though, when Steve suggested staggering the cabinets and to only light the center one. (Now I don't have to keep ALL the bar glasses clean.)

What never crossed my mind was all the OTHER places cabinets needed to go! I was caught a little off guard when asked where I wanted the stack of drawers (left? or right? of my knees) that go under the drop down vanity in the master bathroom.  I was also asked where I wanted to put the trash can in the bathroom, towel bars and toliet paper holder? Mind you, this room has just been framed, and all I see  is the pipe for the toliet and sink and shower! In order to help me, the cabinet man began drawing on the floors. :)  A man after my own heart! Now I can see it. I'm still not sure where to put the trash can. :)

The hardest part of this "pop quiz" was how I wanted to lay out the newly defined laundry room.  As you recall, this room was added to when we knocked out the wall to the small office downstairs to make it twice its original size. Where I  envisioned the washer and dryer changed at least four times. I am happy with their final resting place tucked away on a small wall. This layout left the  long wall with two windows, separated by a wall,  now up for grabs. A laundry sink with a cabinet underneath was agreed upon which left about 12 feet of counter...more than enough to fold clothes! We eventually designed it /divided it up to make a gift wrap center with cabinets and shelves at the other end. An item I thought I wanted (mainly because I thought it was cute) was a built-in ironing board. You should have seen four grown men trying to talk me out of it. . . and they won!  (Don't let it be said that I am not flexible. :) Really, all I needed was one or two reasons not to have one and I was convinced. In the only place that made sense to put it,  there is now a wall with a bar for hanging the ironed clothes and a shelf. Sold me. See, I'm easy!
Along with the cabinet man and during all these decisions, there were several subs dropping by to measure for dry wall, design the ducting for heat and air, digging trenches for a septic field  and oh yeah, where are all the main level drains going they needed to tell the plumber.  One question the plumber needed to know was which end of the tub I wanted my faucets? Huh? Once again, four men and I came up with a good reason that satisfied me as to where it needed to go. What's wrong with this picture? All joking aside, I am so glad for their input for whatever reasons...it gave me a chance to think about it and make valid decisions because (unlike Dr. Phil) this IS my first rodeo.

Before I close this post, I wanted to share a few more photos. The one on the left is the screen porch and the one on the right is a view of the terrace looking toward the underneath side of the screened porch...just perfect for a hammock, Brother John!  And see how close you are to your own  "bathroom".
(Just make sure my neighbor isn't on his boat dock.) Below is a closer view.

As of today, we are 30% completed. Framed and under roof. It is so much fun to go from room to room and really get a "visual".  I understand the septic field was dug, siding and trim delivered and windows and roof (shingles) en route.  The brick was ordered and on our way home from Memphis, we stopped off and made the final decision on the stone. To date, picking out the color of the house, brick and stone has been the hardest part of this whole process. It has been the hardest thing fo me to visulize with such small samples and I'm still not sure. Dennis will put some paint colors up in the next few days and hopefully it will help even though its a little late to change my mind. But I have been assured, once again by all the men in my life these days, it will be beautiful!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Up on the Roof . . .

Instead of "up on the roof", this week's post is all about getting "under roof". ..after all, it is the first of November and we want to be under roof before the bad weather sets in!  Although I am not sure what you call the weather we had last Wednesday when we were awaken at 6am with tornado sirens blasting and a man on a bull horn driving around the neighborhoods shouting for us to get to a safe place NOW!  You should have seen me grabbing my pillow, a book and my knitting getting ready to "hunker" down for the day. Too funny. Let's see ? Tornada warnings or 36+inches of snow? Go figure. It rained almost all day and we were under tornado watches for most of the day. So needless to say, there was no work on the lake that day. Thursday morning the sun was back out and the crew was on site again making up for loss time. They worked the rest of the week and all day Saturday to make up for the lost day. We stayed away this past week as the the nail guns were working fast and furious and one never knows when a stray nail might fly across the area. But alas! the gables got up and the roof started going on.  This was what we saw on Sunday afternoon.
This photo was taken on Sunday.

If you can tell from my photo, the roof is almost on the garage. . .what you can't see is the floor in the craft room is in! It didn't take any time for me to climb up a ladder that was close by (the stairway wasn't in yet) and check it out!
    For the last two Sundays that we have been on the lake the weather has been wonderful.  I wish I could explain just how glorious the fall leaves are and how beautiful the lake is at this time of year. .  . you will just have to take my word for it. The lake is almost private at this time of year as most of the "summer" lake dewellers have packed it in and the "full timers" have the run of the lakes. Sure makes us wish we had "baby boat" here. Both of these days people drive by in their boats to check on our progress, wave and several have stopped by and asked for a tour.  This, of course, delights us as we get to walk through it one more time!
    We have made some adjustments to the original plans as I might have mentioned.  We decided to knock out one wall, which took away a small room, but  I gained a double size laundry room. We also took out a small closet to make more room in the powder room and pantry, lengthened a wall or two and lowered some windows for an even better view. We were told, this was the time to do it. 
This was a big decision making week. Monday we picked out the brick, stone, house color and roof color all in one day! We are to meet with the cabinet man soon to decide on kitchen layout so I have been busy with graph paper, pencil....and eraser to see if I can come up with the layout that will work best for me. I have pretty much picked out my appliances. When we were renovating the kitchen in Vienna we had the opportunity to really look at appliances for there as well as for this new house. Now I just need to see where to put them!  I did take a day off  on Wednesday to join some friends from The Ridge to go to a  very large craft show in Birmingham. (Heaven, I'm in heaven. .) It was not only a great show, it was so much fun sharing it with my new friends. When we finally went on site Thursday to see the progress, I was so amazed at what all has been accompolished along with getting the roof on!  But first here is my house with a roof on it!

These photos were taken on Thursday.

  (I hope you click on them to really get a good view). The second view is taken from the road approaching the house . . seeing the garage side first. They put a steel beam down the center of the garage this week mainly to shure up the floor for the bonus room. It's a great size garage and lots of room for a work bench and a closet to hide stuff in! The stairs that go up to the bonus room are now in!  (Since I have now decided to share this space with H, so he could have his very own "Hidey Hole", I can no longer refer to this as MY craftroom)  All he asked for was a window but I insisted he have a wall and a door. What a guy! In a future post I will share with you how this room will be divided and used. Any ideas what to call it now? Meanwhile here are the stairs.

H took the camera and walked down by the lake to take pictures of the house from that view. The deck has been built and we were able to see how much of it will be under roof. We are so excited about this and I am sure it will be put to good use. (Note to self: start looking for rocking chairs to line the porch).
Can't you just see ceiling fans, rocking chairs and mint juleps?

Here are some views H took looking up toward the main level. In the left photo the projection you see coming out from the kitchen is the screened porch. The small window on top is where the kitchen sink will be and the two "door like" windows are in the morning room (solid glass)  located just before you walk onto the screened porch. I plan on having my morning coffee there :)

The right photo is an additional view taken from the other side to show the terrace underneath the main level deck.  The top floor is the master bedroom and the lower level is a guest room. Any takers?

Blog side note: We will be taking a long weekend starting tomorrow to visit family in Memphis. We will return on Monday when I'm sure I will have a lot more to show you....that is, if the weather cooperates and stays as it is.