Crossing the Line

"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
Matthew 22:39 
A lot has been happening at the house the past few weeks. Here's the quick rundown:

Boundary dispute with neighbors: resolved.

Exterior painted.

Material and color selections for kitchen.


Sheetrock delivered.

Sheetrock installed in master bedroom.

Sheetrock installed in basement.

 The installers should finish all of the sheetrock installation today. We are still on schedule to move in five weeks. More details to come next week!


Where the Sidewalk Ends

"Dig within. Within is the wellspring of Good; 
and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig."
Marcus Aurelius

I stopped by the house thinking that not much was going on today. Boy, was I wrong! They've been busy digging out my entire front yard. As a result, my front porch/sidewalk is hanging perilously over a fifteen foot hole which extends from the house to the street! Besides that, where my sidewalk ends...

...I have mounds of dirt as a front yard. The boys will have fun tonight!

    ...we're getting a new water/sewer line. 

      ...windows are being installed.

      ...the painter is preparing to start on the exterior.
      ...the interior will be insulated tomorrow.
      ...the plumbing and electrical passed inspection.
      ...the gas line has been moved from the front of the house to the side of the house.
      ...the leaves are changing.

      What's happening at the end of your sidewalk?


        Gray Matter

        "Genius and virtue are to be more often found clothed in gray than in peacock bright."
        Van Wyck Brooks  

        After many weeks of pretty much nothing happening, things are starting to pick up again. Next on the agenda: paint the exterior.

        First, we had to move the large spruce tree which was planted next to the front porch:

        Next, I began the color selection process. I bought several pint sized samples of the circled Kwal Paint colors and painted small sections of brick and siding on the house. The winner? 6874M Muddy River!

        I've always liked painted brick which is very common in the south. Here are some images that have inspired my color selection:

        I'm looking forward to our new, temporary exterior. Pictures coming soon!


        Basement Before and After

        "Form follows function - that has been misunderstood.
        Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union."
        Frank Lloyd Wright

        There's not much to say about the basement other than it was a sad, sad place. There were tenants living in the basement when we purchased the house, and bless their heart, they repainted everything white in an attempt to brighten the place up. I didn't have the heart to tell them that we'd be gutting everything down to the framing. Check out the before pictures below:

        Basement bathroom before. 
        The shower was approximately 24" x 24" and the ceiling height was 6' - 8"!
        Kitchenette before. Notice the low, tiled ceilings.
        Laundry room before. How was the washer accessed?

        On paper, I'm very happy with the functional changes I've made to the basement. Most notably, I rearranged the laundry room entrance, added a bathtub to the bathroom, and added a linen closet to the hallway. I also raised the ceiling height throughout the entire basement. The result? The perfect combination of form and function. See below:


        What a Pane

        "Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. 
        Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won't come in."
        Alan Alda
        Basement windows to be replaced.

        I knew things were going too good. The most trouble I'd had up until this point was a misplaced light fixture (which I take complete accountability for!). Last week we had our first home inspection by the city and it did not pass. Darn. Not that it's that big of a deal, but I feel like it didn't pass because of me.

        I gave our contractor the go-ahead to keep the existing basement windows despite him strongly encouraging me to replace them so they'd meet the egress code. Even though I called the city engineer and got a verbal approval over the phone to keep the existing windows, the city has now rescinded.

        Typically on remodels, basement windows do not have to be replaced. Only new construction must meet certain specifications. The city claims our renovations are too extensive and since we've upgraded wiring, plumbing, etc., we must also upgrade the windows. I can see their point, but it's still frustrating.

        As a result, I had my first passive-aggressive tiff with the City Engineer. It went something like this:

        Sorry, I can't approve your inspection. Your basement windows don't meet code. You will have to dig out the all the window wells, break out the foundation and install bigger windows.

        (looking expectantly at Jeff)

        My wife said you had a phone conversation with her and that you said since it's a just a remodel that the current windows are acceptable and that they would pass inspection.

        I can't give approvals over the phone, and I can't approve basement windows that are too small.

        (looking desperately at Jeff)
        Well, the new windows have already been ordered and they cannot be returned. It would be quite an additional expense for us to dig up the current window wells and replace them, not to mention that we will have to order brand new windows. You did give my wife approval over the phone...

        I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do. Good luck.

        (ever the optimist)
        Well, OK... we tried! Thanks for your time!

        (head hung in defeat)

        I'm not sure what happened, but the meeting didn't quite go as planned. That's not exactly true. I do know what happened. If I'd spoken up, I would have done one of two things: yelled or cried. So, I kept my mouth shut.

        In hindsight, it's kind of funny. At the time, I was really upset. 

        Here's the good news. We get brand new, bigger windows with brand new, bigger window wells. Our house will be safe and up to code. If there's ever a fire (heaven forbid), firefighters will be able to get in through the window with all of their equipment. My kids will be safe.

        When one window closes, another one opens.