Friday, June 28, 2013

Success! Mortgage Closes Today

We're done!
All of the hard work and sleeplessness has paid off. With a phone call from our mortgage lender at 4:05 Thursday afternoon, we were given the go-ahead. We will meet at the bank and sign over the next 30 years today at 3:30. I didn't take any photos during the final push but I can give you a few highlights (you can use your imagination for the visuals.)

1.) Scott bonked his head on a bolt on the stair rails and actually had blood running down his face. He mopped it up and kept working.

2.) After a brief tutorial, Scott trusted me to lay-out and glue down the rubber floor tiles in the new office with little supervision. It looks great!

3.) I was also in charge of grouting the master bath. My hands are still swollen and numb but I got the job done.

4.) We hired a plumber to set the fixtures and an electrician to install the sconces. We now have a beautiful functional master bath!

5.) Amy B. volunteered her services again Wednesday night. She painted, arranged a book shelf, helped Scott glue the new rubber baseboard in the office, and brought us a pizza. She's my hero!

6.) We didn't go to bed before 1AM for a week (including being up til 3:30 Monday night/Tuesday morning and 2:30 Wednesday night/Thursday morning.) I now realize how awesome sleep is!

7.) The appraisal was set for 4PM Thursday but the appraiser asked to come over at 1:30. The house was dirty but he didn't care, and was very happy to see our completed projects.

As soon as we get the house clean, I will take photos of all the completed projects to share.

Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Monday, June 24, 2013

3 Days + 6 Things = 2 Exhausted noTTafarmers

Three more days.

That's what we've got until Thursday. The day of our final final final appraisal before the construction loan expires on July 1st. We've been working our little tails off, have stayed up way too late every night, and have made great progress.

There were six things noted on the May appraisal that must be completed:
1. the powder room must be functional
2. the old kitchen needs to be painted and have a floor
3. the stair rails need to be done
4. all door knobs need to be installed
5. all wood trim must be in place
6. the master bath must be functional

The good news is that, as of right now, #1 and #4 are done; #2 is 66% done; #3 is 80% done; #5 is 87% done; and good ol' #6 is 53% done. The even better news is that we both have vacation days tomorrow and Wednesday so we are confident these items will be taken care of.

I've been given 22 seconds to you will have to be patient and enjoy the photos below until I have time to catch up.

Our good buddy Amy B. returned on Sunday, June 23 for another day of baseboard duty. With me as her whiny assistant, we were able to piece together baseboards in the big guest room and finish a few in the library. Thank goodness for Amy!
Frustrated by a dull tile saw blade, Scott turned his attention Saturday evening to the stair treads on the main staircase. Installation is easy: just apply super sticky double-sided tape to the wooden stair, then stick down the rubber treads.
The first one was the hardest but after that, he figured out a good system.
The finished product: by 1:15 Sunday morning, the stairs were covered! Good job, Scotty!
Friday evening, we set out to put the new sub-floor down in the old kitchen. Leo was a great help, as always.
Even the sub-flooring had to be cut as closely to perfection as possible.
Meanwhile, Scott continues to tile, tile, tile in the master bathroom. We'll have the tile done by the time we go to bed tonight, and then I can grout, grout, grout tomorrow. Anyone want to help carry buckets of water up and down the stairs? That is the hardest part. I did grout the water closet and the sink wall on Saturday so at least I've got good experience.
Friday evening (or maybe it was Saturday morning? I can't remember) I painted the upper walls of the water closet. The color we picked is a dark browny green called Pier - another color from the Coastal Colors Collection at Sherwin Williams.
Wilson loved sitting on the balcony, looking down at the excitement below as Scott worked on the stair rail construction. He had a good view!
Saturday, Paul was back to finish installing wood trim. He had to recreate a few pieces including the trim on this door in the big guest room. His expertise and help are soooo appreciated! We would have never found time to do this task - 10 windows and 5 doors. Thank You, Paul!
Paul brought along his best helper, Cooper. It was fun having him here!

I will try and post something Thursday night to let you know how the appraisal goes. Until then, keep your fingers crossed and say your prayers that we will get this done . . . I am ready for a celebratory glass of wine (or two.)
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Work, Work, and More Work

I'm tired.
As we speed toward our for-real-this-time final appraisal, rest and relaxation will have to wait. Check out the progress we made this weekend:

Hooray for Hired Professional Help!
Thanks to a suggestion from our friend Marie, we hired Paul Welchert ( to assemble wood trim on the 10 windows we had replaced in the 1920 portion of the house. Paul used a combination of the original wood trim (which we pulled off during the good ol' demolition days) and a few new pieces that he fashioned. He brought along his 8 year old son, Cooper, on Saturday. Cooper did a great job helping Paul but also had time to make friends with Wilson and the more-stand-off-ish Leo.
In what seemed like about 5 minutes, Paul had the trim back up on the two windows in the parlor.
Paul also put the trim up in the smaller bedroom - including the door trim on the closet and entry doors. It all looks fantastic - and saved Scott a lot of time, stress, and heartache.
Just when you think that all the woodwork is "done" . . . 
As you will recall, the big guest bedroom was created when the wall separating two smaller bedrooms was removed. All of the woodwork in those two bedrooms had been painted (some white, some yellow.) Once removed, that stack of wood trim got moved from room to room and eventually languished in the barn. I was supposed to strip it all but I always had a really good reason to avoid that task. With our completion deadline looming, Scott agreed to take the painted trim to The Strip-It Shop. It only took 4 days and about $260 for the Shop to complete the stripping. Scott brought it home Friday afternoon, and Carl started sanding it for finishing. Later Friday, I finished sanding and applied stain to all. (We were up til 1:30!) Saturday, I was able to get the first coat of poly applied. As soon as I get this wood ready, we can call Paul and he'll come slap it up.
Meanwhile . . . Carl Kept Working, Too!
Dad Camp has been a super duper helper this past week! He spent a few hours at noTTafarm several nights this week, mainly working on patching and sanding the drywall in the old kitchen. 
He somehow manages to keep smiling through all the back-breaking and dusty work.
Sunday afternoon, Carl took a well-deserved Father's Day break - so I spent a few final hours sanding the patches. It was exhausting and dirty. And I never want to do drywall again. Ever.
Scott gave it one last review. He declared that "Level 3" finish was good enough for this project, and granted me permission to paint. ("Level 5" is perfection. "Level 4" is his normal standard.) 
We chose Sherwin Williams 7732 Lemongrass for the old kitchen (which will soon be the new home office.) This same color was used on the accent wall in the connector.  
First Coat Finished!
Those darned soffits probably should have been taken down when we removed the cabinets. It took a lot of time to paint all of those surfaces! The effort was worth it; we are both very happy with the result, and the second coat will make it look even better. 
Meanwhile . . . the Railing Project Continues!
Scott finished the rail around the second floor landing on Saturday and shifted his attention to the basement stairs. He will need to finish these rails by Friday so we can spend next weekend finishing the master bathroom. I know he is up to the challenge!
Go, Scotty, Go!

Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Stair Rail Progress Continues

The majority of Scott's time this weekend was spent in pursuit of a completed stair railing. The thinking, fabricating, and installation of each piece have added up to one specialized railing system that looks cool and is super strong.
Saturday morning, Scott nailed seven finished blocks that will help support the pickets on the balcony portion of the upper connector.
Meanwhile, Carl was called into service to trim the rubber stair treads. These terra cotta colored treads will cover both staircases in the connector.
 Carefully using a utility knife to slice through the tread.
Eventually, the treads will be attached to the stairs with industrial-strength adhesive.
 By 7 PM Sunday, the pickets were in place.
 The view from below
Each picket is attached with two 6" lag bolts which are fed through 1 1/2-inch stand-offs Scott created out of a piece of conduit to clear the floor nosing.
Detail shot of the end picket on the south wall.
Next up:  the top hand rail and a horizontal rail  to both stabilize the rail and hold polycarbonate panels . . . but that's a story for another day!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

That's What Friends Are For

Friend of noTTafarm, Amy B., finally convinced me that she had the desire, time, and talent (well, I knew that part) to help with one of our outstanding projects. She spent six hours on Sunday acting as a trim carpenter, and did a wonderful job (of course, as her carpenter assistant, I get some of the credit.) After a brief skills test by the foreman (aka Scotty), Amy and I tackled adding the trim and baseboards to the 1972 hallway and the library.
Because Amy is an engineer, she is very thorough with "boring" stuff like measuring and using tools.
Maybe I should have taken Industrial Arts class in junior high rather than Home Ec - then maybe I would be allowed to use the miter saw. Amy made it look so easy!
Using the stud finder before nailing the first baseboard.
The coat closet was the first to receive the new trim.
This is the trim that Carl spent time routing and sanding, and Marita helped with sanding and staining last weekend. A true team effort!

By the time 6:30PM rolled around, we had finished as much as we could, including the trimming the three doors in the hallway and the majority of the baseboards. I am so thankful that Amy was able to lend a hand today; having these tasks complete is a huge relief!
Thanks, Amy B.!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Now if Mother Nature Would Cooperate . . .

The consensus among bankers and appraisers is that a house needs to have a yard. We've done our best to comply by planting about 100 pounds of grass seed over the past few weeks. Even though we've been blessed with a cool and rainy Spring, it would be helpful if a week of warm sunshine came to noTTafarm to get the seeds poppin'! We did have one pleasant evening last week, and I got to help plant.
Scott used his new pull-behind-the-Ranger harrow to break up the bare patches of soil.
 Meanwhile, I walked behind the fertilizer spreader full of seed. 
 After the seed was spread, Scott worked it into the soil with the garden weasel.
And, of course, Bibbers patrolled the yard and kept us on task.
Stay Tuned for the Green (Hopefully) Update!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

June is Jumpin' Already!

Refreshed from our week away from home improvement, we faced the weekend with renewed energy. Scott decided that the stair railing would be his top priority, and when his folks volunteered to help, he assigned them woodworking tasks. Scott even had time to mow for a few hours Sunday which made for a successful weekend!
Saturday, Marita happily volunteered to sand pine we purchased to use as trim around doors in the 1972 entry hallway. Scott has total confidence in his mama's skills. He watched her refinish a lot of furniture throughout his childhood!  After a thorough sanding, I was there to help add two coats of stain.
Thanks for your help, Mom!
Meanwhile, Carl was in the garage. He was in charge of routing out the backside of the aforementioned door trim and baseboards for the library and 1972 hallway. It took about three passes of the router on each of the 20-some-odd pieces of pine to achieve the necessary profile. Carl spent Sunday sanding the 10 baseboard pieces, and I was able to get the first coat of stain down before calling it a day.
Thanks so much for your help, Dad!
 Meanwhile, sparks flew as Scott got busy fabricating the steel "pickets" for the stair railing.
Two pickets are set back-to-back to make one vertical post of the stair rail system. Scott drilled through the steel (using a titanium drill bit) and into the stair tread to secure each piece of steel using 3-inch bolts. Very sturdy!
Fast forwarding to Sunday . . . by the time I got home from church, Scott was working on the sixth of eight picket pairs.
All of the vertical posts were in place by 6PM Sunday. The horizontal handrail is held in place (temporarily) by a variety of clamps. Next, Scott will tackle the rail across the catwalk upstairs, and the rail that will surround the basement stairs. Still lots to do but he's made great progress!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!