I know, I know… it’s been awhile. But we’ve been really, really, really busy! Instead of boring you with words or excuses, we’re just going to dive right in and show you some glorious progress photos.
The goal of this post was to take photos from the same vantage point as the original “before” pictures of the house and the photos from one year later (our house looked more or less the same in the one year later photos and right before we started this project, and that’s what we have to work with). But so many things have changed over the last four years that I found it difficult to figure out what I was looking at. I made the diagram below to show the vantage points of each set of pictures; hopefully it helps! And please excuse my amateur Adobe skills…
Alright, on to the photos!
View 1: From the entry, looking into the library. This room hasn’t changed much and at this point is serving as additional storage.
View 2: From the entry, looking toward the dining room and new additions.
View 3: Bedroom 1.
View 4: Bedroom 2.
View 5: Previously Bedroom 3, now master closet and laundry room (this is where things start to get weird!).
View 6: Previously kitchen, now looking into new kitchen.
View 7: Previously rear corner of the West Wing/ patio slab looking toward the garage, now from the great room looking toward the kitchen.
View 8: From the garage door (the location of the door hasn’t changed). Previously looking across the West Wing/patio slab, now through the kitchen toward the great room.
View 9: Previously, looking to the backyard from the edge of the West Wing/patio slab. Now, looking toward the backyard from the great room.
Like I said, we’ve been busy! Since the concrete pour, we’ve completed the framing, utilities (for the most part), and the roof. I wanted to get this post up now because things are about to start changing fast… we have insulation, sheet rock, tape/texture, and exterior stucco all scheduled within the next month! And then it will start to feel a lot more like a house and less like the bones of a house. But I do have to say, these are some damn good looking bones!
A few more photos to leave you with:
3… 2… 1… We have concrete! That’s kind of like we have lift off, because we are officially out of the dirt. Not that we are done getting dirty, playing in the dirt, or dealing with a house full of dirt; we’re just done digging. For the time being.
My dad and Uncle Todd spent most of last week preparing for the pour, and Justin spent every night checking and double checking concrete quantities and orchestrating the concrete delivery. I just bribed people to come help us with donuts and coffee. It all seemed to work out, and come Friday at 7 am we had 8 able-bodied gentlemen willing to help us schlep the concrete hose around the yard, trowel the concrete into submission, and drink all my beer!
To be honest, before everything started I thought we had a few too many hands. But everyone stayed busy and we were very grateful to have all the help. We were finished pouring concrete by 10:30. And when I say we, I mean those 8 able-bodied gentlemen. I mostly took photos and kept everyone “hydrated.”
We started with the footing under the house.
Then moved to the two footings on the front porch…
Then to the stem wall and interior footings in the backyard…
And finally, the troweling. Lots of troweling!
Thanks to Justin’s careful planning, we were very close on our concrete numbers. Sadly, we were about one-third of a yard short of concrete! That was enough for one of the interior footings to not get poured. So close, yet so far… but a quick trip to the depot and a wheelbarrow later, we were all set.
Throughout the morning, our abandoned septic tank became a blessing in disguise. It was the perfect place to clean out concrete hoses and tools. Without that, some part of the yard would have become a huge mess.
The rest of the afternoon was spent troweling and removing most of the stakes holding the forms up. Throughout the day, we had lots of visitors stop by to observe and direct the activities. We even had an impromptu dinner party later in the evening!
Saturday morning, Justin, Matt, and my dad stripped the forms while Kimmi, my mom, and I started backfilling around the new footings. We had arranged to have someone come pick up all of our used forms (thank you craigslist and Uncle Jeff!), so the guys helped him load up the truck. Then it was backfill for all six of us. All that dirt had to go back into that hole.
Because we had given away our used forms, we were able to get away with one light load to the dump with miscellaneous leftover junk. At some point during the activities (I honestly don’t remember when or how), a water pipe had broken under the house. I don’t have details for you, but it happened and my dad and Justin went under the house into the “dead dirt” to swear at it and fix it. My mom and I continued to backfill and clean up, and by the end of the day we had working water and about 90 percent of our backfill was done.
And that, my friends, is how you pour a foundation and clean up after yourself in two days. With lots and lots of help!!
They tell me it’s now officially spring. So as I sit down to type, life almost feels normal with dinner simmering away, laundry tumbling around the machines, and the incessant sniffles that come with the season’s allergies. Then I walk outside to my construction zone of a yard to find Justin, only to remember that he is under the house digging footings… and then I realize this is my new normal!
Lots to catch up on. Since our last rendezvous, the slab was demo’d in the backyard.
The crawlspace and foundations were excavated for the addition.
The previously partially abandoned septic tank has been fully abandoned.
The new footings under the house and under the porch have been dug. (Sorry, no photos!)
Formwork and rebar for the footings have gone into the excavation.
Our concrete pour is scheduled for this Friday!!!
Now, if you just wanted a quick update, a handful of pictures, and an awkward anecdote from yours truly, you are free to stop reading and go back to your springtime duties (whatever they may be). If you’d like a few more details and photos, keep scrolling.
We had a crew out to demo the back patio slab in mid-February. With a bobcat and a jack-hammer attachment, a dump truck, and a handful of strong guys, they finished a job I was dreading in two days. Two days! Two days of madness, noise, and dust while I was toiling away at work. Sorry, neighbors… but it was so worth it!
The following week we had a crew out to cut our crawlspace down to grade and excavate the footings. It was more than slightly unnerving to see a giant excavator come through our side yard, but it made reality sink in that the project was under way.
After two and a half days of digging, hauling 40 yards of dirt away from our yard, and covering everything in plastic, it started raining. Literally, about twenty minutes after they finished the job the skies opened and it rained for two weeks. Dry January, dry February, then two weeks of solid downpour. Good for the snowpack and the summer, bad for the project!
When the rains stopped, we pumped the water out of the excavation and uncovered everything to let it all dry out. At this point, we noticed a big, rectangular-shaped soft spot between the interior footings. Justin did some digging around, and we realized that the old septic tank for the house was located at an awkward angle between our newly excavated footings. By some miracle, none of our footings or the excavation for our crawlspace led to this discovery. We couldn’t have positioned our footings better if we tried, and we didn’t know where the septic tank was to begin with!
Finding the tank wasn’t a big surprise. We knew the house had been on septic in the past and the previous owner had connected to the city sewer “under the table”… something we found out (and paid for) during the permitting process. We were fairly sure we would hit the tank at some point, but weren’t sure where it would be, what state it would be in, or what we would have to do about it.
Turns out, we found it roughly where Justin thought it was, partially abandoned (i.e., about a quarter full with a bunch of rubbish thrown in the upper three-quarters). After some phone calls and some hemming and hawing, we know we had to fully abandon the thing (i.e., completely empty it). Justin and my dad did most of the work in a day. And while I can’t speak from personal experience, I can say that shoveling sh*t did not look like a fun experience…
Next, Justin busted out the bottom of the concrete tank with a jackhammer. Another activity that looked not so fun. A few trips to the dump, a city inspection of the busted out tank bottom, and a look of gravel, the tank had been properly abandoned. And all I can say to these two guys is thank you. Because, for lack of a better word, YUCK.
With that behind us, we cleaned up the footing excavations and covered everything back up for another round of rainy weather. After another week of rain, my Uncle Todd’s return from a trip to Hawaii, and my dad’s second retirement, we were off and running to get the forms set and the rebar in. And when I say “we”, I really mean Justin, my dad, and my Uncle Todd. So, yet again, I must say thank you!
Nancy and Dirk, my parents, and Todd all came out on Saturday to help us finish things up. With all the help, we’re gearing up for our pre-pour city inspection on Wednesday. Think happy thoughts, and hopefully our pour on Friday will go smoothly!
Seeing the forms go up has been really fun. I run around the giant hole in our backyard (now bordered by plywood and 2x4s) and imagine myself standing in our new kitchen, in the laundry room, looking out the glass door from the master into the yard. I’m having a great time daydreaming and I’m sure anyone watching me thinks I’ve completely lost my mind. Flo follows me around and seems to have fun imagining with me, but Justin is probably tired of playing my game of “guess where I’m standing now?!” I still enjoy it though 🙂
And for those of you who made it to the end of this long-winded, picture-loaded post, you deserve a prize!! xoxo
It was 75 degrees today. So, naturally, I am sitting in my backyard typing this blog post in the soft light of a warm, February evening. The only sign that spring hasn’t sprung is the fact that it will be dark by 6 pm. And when it is spring, that slab will (hopefully) look a little more like our planned addition!
We’ve made some headway since I last checked in. Our plans have been revised and resubmitted to the City, along with a very last minute geotechnical report (it pays to be in the business!). This phase of the project has included lots of planning, lots of scheduling, lots of discussing, and lots of paying. Even though we haven’t broken ground and our house looks virtually the same, we’ve spent quite a few pretty pennies to get this thing off the ground. Permit fees, utility fees, school fees, design fees, fees, fees, fees!
But that’s all about to change. We will still be paying lots of pretty pennies, but things are about to start looking different. Like our money is going into our addition instead of the black hole of building department bureaucracy. But I digress. Before I get into what is planned for the next few weeks, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane…
When we moved in, the west wing had doors and windows, leaked like crazy, and served as additional storage (because, clearly, we needed more storage space?). After far too long of living with that, we finally tore it down and have since used it as a sun-drenched patio.
Now to the present. Justin and my dad demo’d the only remaining portion of the never-beloved west wing. The little blue stove and other miscellaneous crap that has been stored here have found new homes, mostly with other people.
With the patio cover gone, there is so much light in the bathroom! It gets me daydreaming about all the natural light we’ll have when the house is done. I know, daydreaming about natural light… this is my current state of mind 🙂 You can’t blame me; it’s been sunny and warm outside and I’m currently suffering from mid-winter vitamin D deficiency.
On Wednesday (drumroll, please!), the slab will be jackhammered out and the concrete taken to a land far, far away. The following week (weather pending) the crawlspace and footings for the addition will be excavated and things will really start to take shape! Flo is a little unsure about all this, but she’ll love it in the end.
One last thing to report: we recently purchased our doors, windows, and skylights. With the exception of the two windows at the front of the house, all of our current windows are single-paned, likely original to the house, and will be replaced. Plus, lots of new windows for the addition. The windows are nothing too fancy, but I can’t tell you how excited I am about remote-controlled skylights. When those bad boys go in, I’m just going to stand there with the remote for about 20 minutes like a kid in a candy shop!
Hi there! Nice to converse with you all again 🙂
Justin and I bought our house over three years ago and immediately started turning it into our own little slice of heaven. But wait, three years? How did that happen?! That means six birthdays, four Christmases, three wedding anniversaries, one FloPo, and countless home improvement projects. And now, we are in the midst of planning a massive addition and remodel to our house. Woohoo! Big things happening over here! And, for the record, I’ll claim that house planning has taken up all of my time and not allowed me to do any blogging for almost a year… Oops…
From the beginning, we had plans to add on to and remodel our 1,100 square foot house. It was only a matter of time, money, and an agreed-upon design: the latter of which proved to be more difficult than anticipated. After about two years of pinching our pennies and tossing around ideas, we sat down to design our dream home (within the constraints of our budget, the existing house, and the city’s many, many, many rules, of course!). Probably to the detriment of our project, we started planning and sketching before we had done any research on the city’s rules and regulations. Double oops…
Our original plan was to build a two-story addition over the existing concrete patio in the backyard (where there was once a lean-to with doors and windows that leaked like a sieve; remember that?). Two of the existing bedrooms would be combined into a master suite, the new first floor addition would be home to the kitchen and a living room open to the backyard, and the new second floor would have two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a laundry room. Sounds pretty peachy, right?
Wrong. Well, maybe it sounds peachy, but reality turned out to be a rude awakening. The city we live in has very, very strict rules on what projects are considered “remodels” and what projects would be considered “new construction.” By building up and out, we would land squarely in the category of new construction. Meaning buried utilities (even though the power pole in our front yard would still be there), interior fire sprinklers, higher fees, a community design and planning hearing… just to name a few of the costly differences. In short, if the project was deemed new construction it would push our timeline out another year or two while we could pinch more pennies. And that didn’t sound peachy.
And to be honest, this wasn’t a bad thing in my opinion: I was never crazy about having a two-story house. While trying to plan our house in this configuration, we kept running into the same roadblocks: the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom were significantly larger than the downstairs, we couldn’t get the master suite to really function properly, the laundry room was upstairs… You get the picture. So we attempted to design our house as a single story and were instantly more successful! Where we had been stuck with the two-story conundrums for months, we were able to come up with a basic single-story floor plan in about a day.
Now that we had our basic floor plan, we spent the next few months refining the details and coordinating with the city to make sure we stayed under the “new construction” thresholds. We submitted architectural plans in July and, after a few back-and-forth issues with the city, we got our architectural approval in September on the day we left for an anniversary backpacking trip in Yosemite.
On another tangent, I couldn’t write this post without mentioning that Justin has done so much work over the past year… No architect hired for this project! Just my wonderfully talented and patient husband. And patience was of the utmost importance as I continually asked him to try different configurations and slightly altered details for the floor plan, kitchen layout, window placement… Over and over and over!
We submitted our building permit plans to the city a few days before Christmas and received our first round of comments back from the City this week (!!!). Call me paranoid or superstitious or crazy, but I didn’t want to post this until we had heard something from the City. I’ve been having nightmares that the City would send the plans back to us and say, “Just kidding! Your project is new construction. Please start over.” My dreams have been reminiscent of drawing the “Go to Jail” card in Monopoly. Okay, now that I type this and verbalize the thought, I think maybe I am crazy…
Anyway, the point of this super long post is that we’re in the process of getting our building permit to make our house super fantastically amazingly wonderful. Yes, it deserves that many superlatives. We’re planning to do a lot of the work ourselves with the help of many friends and family members who have already volunteered their time and expertise. I’ll try to update the blog periodically with our progress, but we all know how those promises tend to turn out.
Here are the stats of our house as it is now, and our house as it will be (hopefully when it’s finished in about a year!):
Some of you may think we’re crazy for doing this and not increasing the number of bedrooms. But I would be the first one to tell you that we’re gaining a library (that may be converted to a bedroom in the distant future), a coat closet, a walk-in pantry, a laundry room, a kick-ass kitchen, living space that opens into the backyard, and a master suite. Without further ado, here are the existing and proposed floor plans:
I hope you are all as excited about the next phase of home improvement as we are! Any tips and tricks on construction, maintaining sanity during a remodel, and living without a functioning kitchen are more than welcome 🙂
Apparently my blogging resurgence has turned this blog into more of a lifestyle blog than a DIY blog… hopefully no one minds! In keeping with that new found theme, I’m starting a new series of posts. About our dog 🙂
In case you haven’t heard, Justin and I are head-over-heels in love and obsessed with the newest addition to the Porter clan: meet Florence!
Also known as Flo and FloPo. Born October 3 and brought home to Burrows the day before Thanksgiving. This post doesn’t need a whole lot of words, so enjoy the photos. And just imagine that puppy smell!
And yes, these are a small handful of photos from the few days she lived with us in November. My phone and camera have been completely overrun with photos of this little pup. I have no idea how that happened… but let’s just say there is a cuteness overload happening here!
It rained last weekend. Glorious, wonderful, plump droplets of water fell from the sky! For anyone who doesn’t live in California, you may be tired of all the wintry weather you’re encountering. But us drought-stricken Californians? LOVED it.
But that’s not what this post is about. You see, I was so excited about last weekend’s rain for a few reasons (all of them selfish, I might add). Here are my top five:
1. It did not rain a drop in January, and it is quite difficult to justify staying inside in your pajamas all day watching the rain when it is sunny and seventy degrees outside.
2. Whatever rain we can get might help get lake levels up so we can spend the 4th of July on the houseboat (if LA doesn’t steal it all first…).
3. Rainbows. Enough said.
4. Green hillsides are so much prettier than “golden” hillsides (golden sounds a lot better than brown, but we all know what I’m trying to say here).
5. California is thirsty. She told me so herself.
Enough of a rant about droughts and rainy days. This post is actually about the lovely weather we had in January (surprise!). A few weeks ago, we spent a day at the beach in Seascape. In January. In shorts and t-shirts. Some people got sunburned.
The real reason behind the day trip was to celebrate my grandparents birthdays and anniversary. They are such wonderful people and have taught me so much, I won’t even try to put it into words. Let’s just say cheers to many more!
As much as we desperately need more water (and the forecast is looking mighty dry), I can’t help but be grateful to live in California and enjoy winter days like this. Not to mention the beachy, wintery sunsets.
May your memories of January be as warm as mine 🙂
I have so much to show and tell you, faithful followers of a less-than-faithful blogger… Regardless of my serious lack of blogging and posting, I want to show you where the Lounge stands as of today. Don’t get mad at me for skipping all of the in-between steps, but you have to understand: with my recent track record, if you waited for me to show you every project before the Lounge reveal, you would be waiting for years. Instead, I’ll show you a photo tour of our favorite place to hang out. There are a few projects that I think deserve spotlight follow up posts, but I don’t want to tell you which ones for fear of disappointing you if they never come to fruition…
Keep in mind that when we bought the house, this space looked like this:
One year later, it looked like this:
Before & After (Progress) #1
Before & After (Progress) #2
Before & After (Progress) #3
Now, without further ado, it looks like this:
Yes, I promise you, each of those sets of photos are taken from the same vantage point (roughly). Remember how I said life got in the way of my blogging? Well, this is one of those “life” things. When it comes to choosing between doing a project and writing about a project, I tend to choose doing! Enjoy these photos, and come lounge anytime! If there is something you want to know more about, please ask ☺
And now, for a little more eye candy for this fine Tuesday evening…
Welcome to the Lounge! More on this door installation here. We’ve done 95% of the work to get this room where it is (we hired out parts of the door installation and the tape and texture of the walls and ceiling); needless to say, it has been a labor of love! We started with the new tile floors, moved on to painting and installing all of the trim, and finally installing cabinets, homemade concrete countertop, and the tile backsplash. Even the light fixture over the pool table is a DIY! Most of the furnishings in the space are hand-me-downs (pool table, small bench, brown chairs), garage sale finds (rolling cart under the dart board, metal-topped table), or salvaged (hellooo rolling furniture cart). We did finally break down and buy the couch and gray chairs new, and they were worth every penny!
We also turned an older refrigerator into a work of art with a few coats of chalkboard paint.
How cool is that table?! I can’t get over this garage sale find… excuse me while I drool…
We also created this cork surround for our dart board, and I love how it turned out! After drinking more wine than I care to admit and may hours gluing and nailing corks, it’s pretty cool.
We had the pool table re-felted when it was moved from Roseville. We thought we chose a shade of gray for the felt, but apparently it’s more of a blue and matches the paint color of the walls almost identically (and I promise you, this was an accident but I love it!).
A few close-ups of Justin’s latest lighting adventure.
So that’s where we are. These photos were taken last weekend. And while we have a few small projects left to work on, we are very happy with how everything turned out. For everyone who helped, we couldn’t have done it without you!
Happy Lounging, xoxo
With all the updates we’ve been doing in the backyard recently, we had a massive eyesore lurking around: the Hub. Although highly practical and much more visually appealing with the demo work we’ve done, the addition of new doors, and the lawn of my dreams, the Hub was still visually jarring. It had basically been painted white: so bright that it was nearly impossible to look directly at it in the daylight for fear of burnt retinas. We had always planned on painting the exterior, and now that the doors were in the time seemed right.
We knew we wanted to go with a darker color to protect our eyes, and we settled on a dream color somewhere between green and grey. With test pots in hand, we painted test swatches on both sides of the Hub visible from the backyard and spent a week looking at them in different lighting and debating the pros and cons of the different shades. In the end, we decided on a color called Gettysburg Grey (the third color among the options in the photos). You’ll notice a swath of white paint with each option: we had decided on white trim, but I’ll get to the battle on white trim in a bit!
Before painting, my dad helped us out by power washing the Hub’s exterior (facelift step #1). That way, the paint would actually stick! Then we taped off the windows and doors, rented a paint sprayer, and got down and dirty with our Gettysburg Grey.
The paint spraying actually went really fast (facelift step #2). We only had to rent the paint sprayer for 4 hours and Justin and my dad were able to get the whole thing done and cleaned up with time to spare. Justin did most of the spraying and had a nice film of paint all over himself by the end!
Paint sprayer returned, we went back for a few rounds of holiday checks with a standard paint roller (facelift step #3). The next step was to add the trim boards around the door into the shop and the garage door (facelift step #4). Then came the great white trim debate… Even though we had already decided on white trim, Justin was having big time second thoughts. After we just got rid of all that white, he was worried that the white trim would be too bright and too stark in comparison to the mellow Gettysburg gray and the deep blue we had chosen for the doors. I should note that I had my eye on a dark eggplant color for the door, but that was vetoed as “too purple”. So I stood my ground on the white trim! I convinced him to let me paint the trim white, and if he hated it we could just consider it very well primed and figure out Plan B.
At the point in the painting progress in the photo above, Justin hated it. But I was convinced I could make him love it. After all, I hadn’t done any cutting in and the edges around the trim were really messy. Plus, the gutters needed at least two more coats, and the white ring within the blue shop door really had to go. So I persevered. And I kept painting… painting, painting, and more painting!
And now that it looks like this, I’ve at least convinced him that it’s not terrible. Actually, I just asked him: he likes it! That response has been a long time coming 🙂 It looks sooooo much better now that it’s all cleaned up. And we’ve put up twinkle lights along the newly painted white gutter (you can see the bulbs in the photo above), and they just shine like you wouldn’t believe! I’ll have to get a photo of that up at some point.
We love the newly painted Hub. It makes the backyard feel like a new place, and it’s so beautiful! We’ll see if I’ll be able to win the white trim battle again some day in the future when it comes time to paint the house…
And, last but not least, here are the before and afters (I tried to line up the text on the photos with similar features so you can see how far things have come). Enjoy! And good luck with any painting projects you have under way 🙂
After we built a wall in the Hub, it was time to poke some holes in the Lounge side to make way for some glorious doors. The goal was to put a door on the north side and the east side, so on warm summer evenings the doors could both be opened and the loungers could enjoy a nice cross breeze. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
As part of the ongoing Lounge project, Justin and I had been on the lookout for doors. I know, that’s kind of an odd thing to say. But if you know us, you know that we frequently haunt garage sales, thrift stores, Craigslist, and even street corners when we are “on the lookout.”
We scored our first door at a garage sale last summer. We saw the door for sale and had to run home to check the measurements to see if it would work, then figure out how to get it home. The door we picked up was still wrapped in its original packaging, and we were able to look up the details online. What we picked up for 150 dollars retails for over 1,600! We knew we would need to spend some additional money to get the door in, but we were willing to take that risk. By some miracle, we were able to fit these 9’ French doors into the Prius (!) and get them home in one piece.
And, even though I’m incredibly behind in the blogosphere, we held on to this door for the better part of a year before actually installing it! There they sat, in the corner of the sad-looking Hub for a while.
We ended up paying someone to install the door for us. We were a little worried about waterproofing and because we picked up the door at a garage sale, we felt better letting someone else build the frame and find and install all the hardware. I’m sure we could have figured it out, but it would have taken a lot more than one day. So not much to report on the installation front. We swapped out the window in the before picture, and used the existing header for the new door.
Door #2 has an equally thrilling story. After much debating, we had decided to go with a large sliding door out to the patio on the north side of the Lounge. We went so far down this path that we went to Home Depot and Lowe’s and got price quotes for the type of door we wanted. Then we went home and cried because we were far to cheap to spend 2,500 dollars on a door. In a moment of shear brilliance and luck, Justin sent me this link to a post on Craigslist.
It was essentially the door we were about to buy before the crying fit! I called our local Re-Store, found it was still at the store, and asked the fine gentleman to hold it for me. Then I went to the store, deemed it worthy, and later Justin and my dad went to pick it up with the truck. 400 dollars later, this beautiful four-panel sliding door was ours for the taking. And it too sat in the sad-looking Hub for a while.
Because we elected to pay someone to install door #1 (French), we opted to have them simultaneously install door #2 (sliding). We did the more extensive prep work to have this door put in, including removing the previous single door and installing this ginormous header.
And, ta-da! The space went from a dark, dreary shop to a fabulous, light-filled, door-studded Lounge!
Now for the before and afters:
Time for a confession: We had the doors in before we had the drywall guy come in to tape and texture. Remember how there were conspicuously no photos of either of these walls? 🙂 We sequenced that so our drywall guy would patch the areas around the doors to make them look uniform and glorious.