Please view the Parent Page to this if you haven’t already. There is a continuation page link at the end of this article that unveils yet more of the saga. Please follow that link to learn more and thanks for reading!
The work began in earnest bright and early Monday morning after the wrecking crew had cleared the decks for the GC and his various sub-contractors.
At first we decided to have everything built upon a new pier and beam foundation, but after careful consideration (and coaxing from said GC) the decision was made to put the new addition on a slab. It cut out quite a few steps in the construction process, namely layers and layers upon layers of wood foundation materials to properly support my ideas of tile floors and glass block partition walls. It was a good choice. The builder said it would save on labor costs and a concrete slab foundation would be quicker to create and would support any weighty idea I could come up with. Plus the latest trendy rage in Central Texas is to stain your concrete slab a cool decorator color and just go with it as flooring. Easy! That worked for us, so off we went with a concrete slab foundation.
Setting The Form Etc.
My husband and I were in the Early Stage of New Project Syndrome, that happy-go-lucky stage of the disease where all is rainbows and sunshine. Nothing could ruin our moods. We were looking forward to the remodel and all its promising improvements to our life. I must admit the days before the slab was poured were exciting. The crew came and set the forms, the plumber came and put in plumbing pipe and lovingly wrapped each stretch of copper with its’ own color coded sleeve (to protect & identify it), reinforcing steel was tied in and the little meshy gridwork was laid. It was a beautiful sight. All was lucky butterflies and happiness. After the dust settled on a big day’s work, the cats came creeping out from under the bed to investigate and inspect the handiwork. I think they thought it was a personal gift to them in the form of a giant litter box.
Everything was ready. The concrete truck was slated to arrive in the morning to pour the foundation for our new addition. My yard and yard fence would never be the same. It still hasn’t recovered from the various forms of traffic and abuse a yard sees during six months of agonizing labor. But what’s a few blades of grass in the grand scheme of Home Improvement?
Our GC came over the evening before the pour for one final look before things got “written in stone”. It was a good thing because I casually mentioned the fact that I didn’t see anywhere for the dryer vent pipe to go. Was it to be routed to the ceiling (and squirting all that nasty lint into the attic?)? Or did he (in his infinite knowledge of all things construction) have a plan for it? Since the washer and dryer were going to be on an inside wall, the venting wasn’t a simple hole-thru-the -outside-wall solution.
To put it plainly, there was panic in his eyes when he realized he had forgotten to place a dryer vent pipe into the fill with the rest of the plumbing. Something had to be done before the truck got there (and it was quickly getting dark). He and hubby dug a trench and laid a 3 inch white plastic pipe to take care of the dryer. Now we were really ready…. or were we? I must admit that night before they poured the slab was a restless night of anxieties. We could only hope that the dryer vent was the only problem. There was no turning back after the concrete was poured.
We had officially entered Stage Three of NPS.
There were a few more tweaks the morning of the pour, but it went well. They were in and out in a matter of hours.
The cement crew was fantastic. They started early and were pulling forms off by 2 pm. I’m glad I was there to witness it. They were totally self-sufficient (meaning I didn’t have to cook a generous lunch or provide gallons of Gatorade to satisfy the working man’s thirst). They had everything they needed to get the job done. Of course we found out later that our job was VERY SMALL and for some reason were charged extra. WTF? But it wasn’t that much more and hey, we had to have it done, so there it was, getting done. I took pictures of everyone and their cars, trucks, vans, etc. and I was obvious about it. Not that I didn’t trust anyone, but you know… or better yet you never know!
We told them we were gonna stain the concrete and use it as flooring, so they called in the “hombre especiál” to slick it off. He did a great job. All in all a good day. Beers for everyone!
I must admit it was amazing for the forms to be off by early afternoon. And for the slab to retain its shape. I wanted to toss the cats and chickens onto it and let them make a mark (or at least sign it and date it) but by this time it was too cured. We could have done it earlier I guess, but we were chicken to look goofy. Plus the man that did the slicking off might have been mortally offended by chicken and kitty tracks across his glorious artwork of a slab finish. Looking back I wish we would have (artsy fartsy guy is long gone and wouldn’t care anyway). Rats. Perhaps we will do it for the NEXT project requiring cement? Maybe for a certain Industrial Strength Chicken Coop in our near future?(unbeknownst to us?) Who knows what the future holds when you are remodeling or adding on to an old house.
After strolling around the wide open slab & trying to see the new rooms in my mind’s eye, I sorta panicked. Dang this slab looks small. Will everything we have in mind (and painstakingly drew up) fit on this tiny island of concrete? It was hard to imagine walls, ceilings, windows, light fixtures, a washer and dryer, etc etc all squeezing into this little space. That is until the framing started. What a difference that made! And how quickly did it go up! After seeing how quickly the outside walls went up, we just knew we would be right on schedule and be using our brand new shower by Halloween. Sure, no problem!
I must admit going to work in the morning with a bare slab out the back door and coming home after work with four walls up gives you the warm fuzzies. Hubby and I were so happy. I played house for an hour out there until it got so dark I started stumbling over plumbing and extension cords. It was finally coming together and I was excited.
I spent quite a lot of time gazing out of the future picture window over the future double vanity in the future master bathroom. Of course in the above picture the interior walls dividing the future master bathroom from the future walk in closet and future half bath and future laundry area and future stained glass studio aren’t there yet. But that was all in the future.
As soon as I got home (and the workers were gone for the day), I swept up sawdust and ran my favorite construction toy (a giant magnet on wheels) over the yard and floor picking up nails by the zillions. I piled up lumber scraps, coiled up cords, stacked sawhorses, polished hammers, organized power tools alphabetically, and basically just over did it in general. It was the cleanest construction site on the planet. The carpenters were forever asking me where did I put this or that? I think my over zealous attempts to “help” got on their nerves. But they were nice about it. I can see why contractors prefer new builds as opposed to remodels where the homeowner is constantly present to tinker and toy with everything, and notice the teeny tiniest of mistakes, and leave sticky notes all over everything with instructions and questions. They earn their pay. Or at least these guys did with my husband and me. But the trade off was we felt good about the proceedings and there were no surprises at the end of the job. We had a good team working for us, and we appreciated that.
With every afternoon the progress got more exciting. I could now picture rooms where once there was wide open space. Sure the walls were just studs, and see-thru, and walk thru, and there were no lights or plugs or roof or interior details in place, but that didn’t stop my imagination. In my mind’s eye it was finished and furnished and glorious. I guess in a way I was rushing the process in my head, and that made for quite a bit of frustration when things slowed down (weekends for instance). It was hard not to rush the guys. More than once the boss mentioned to us that maybe we needed to go fishing after work, instead of rushing home before they left to get updates and details. Maybe I should have done just that, but I couldn’t help myself.
The windows arrived one day, and were put in the next. Lots of windows! We wanted transom style overhead windows (I now know them as clerestories ~ thanks Houzz.com) to fill the spaces above the functioning windows. The walls were going to be nine footers to match the old part of the house and we thought, why not? I eventually want to create stained glass panels to put in them with various designs to suit the character of the rooms. They were pricey ($155 for a 12″ by 36″ clerestory window) but once they were there, they were gonna last forever. I’m glad we got them, I just need to get on the ball and design some panels…. that will come someday. We also got two glass block stationery windows for the master bath (I feel so regal having a “master bath”) beside the potty and in the shower area. They were prefab and just what I pictured. Things were taking shape.
I had curtains in the closet waiting for their turn to grace the brand new windows. Nothing too fancy or pretentious, just an excellent white string curtain for one window in the master bath and some stylish “window treatments” for the half bath (powder room). I lovingly hung them in their brand new windows, stepped back to admire them and congratulated myself… they were perfect! It was all coming together and I was having so much fun!! I don’t know who kept doing it but everyday after I got home, my splendid window treatments were lying on the bed, and there were some ugly old extension cords and air hoses snaking their way thru the new windows. I guess (considering the walls were still exposed studs) it might have been a little too early for decorating the rooms. But I couldn’t help myself.
TRICK OR TREAT?
Things did not progress according to the timeline. The contractor had labor problems, material problems, plumber, sheetrocker, roofer, yadda yadda yadda problems. There was nothing much we could do about it but wait. Our GC had one helper. He was a good one, and worked really hard when he worked, but that was one guy. Therefore Halloween (targeted completion date) was a little disappointing. Here’s the addition all dressed up in it’s Halloween Costume :
It was now fully Fall. A chill in the air, leaves blowing all around (piles of them in the corners of my new bathrooms), football, and great construction weather. The camper-trailer we were borrowing ran out of propane a few times (during a shower~ yikes!) and the heater didn’t work when we needed it the most. It was still a blessing to have it, I can’t imagine going 8 weeks and counting without any facilities. My In-laws were getting antsy, they like to travel and take it with them, but they were sweet and let us keep it. Besides, the builders were going to be finished by Thanksgiving, right? Right? Then they could take it on any far away journey they wished.
The GC and his one and only helper worked every day on our project. For a while. Then he got another job across town. It needed his attention everyday, so guess which project came to a standstill? I must admit it was maddening. After a week or so he got his crews squared-away for the other house and came back to ours. The outer siding went up, the sheetrock went up, the doors were hung. We could no longer walk between rooms through the studs. It was looking like a liveable space finally.
We had an idea for a vanity top in the “powder room”. My handy husband wanted to take a slab of wood, sand it to a fine smooth finish, cover it with that interesting clear epoxy (like what you see in restaurants on tables), then put a marvelous glass vessel sink (that I have had for over a year in what my mom calls a “hope chest”) on top. We had to start looking for a slab of wood we could live with for a long time. Our first choice was mesquite, but considering the size of the vanity top, mesquite was going to be hard to find. We settled on a magnificent hunk of cedar from the local mill yard. It was rough, and we had our work cut out for us to make it into a piece of furniture we could be proud of. But I had full confidence in the master, and he pulled through like the champion he is.