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Still Waiting

Well, I am getting so impatient about getting moved into my addition. I’ve been squeezed into my approximately 600 square foot home, with a lot of stuff from my house in Roanoke for almost 16 months. The furniture is stored in a small shed, but a lot of boxes are inside with temperature control. The shed will probably be like a clown car when we unload it, it is so stuffed.

For some reason, the various crews are not communicating well, not only with each other, but also with me. I mediate and try to get things moving as I find problems, but things have really slowed down as of the beginning of the year.

The original construction crew has mostly left for other jobs. The plumbing is being done by my HVAC company, but it’s a small department and they have some large jobs so are allotting a certain amount of time per week. Of course I have chosen some non-standard items, like wall-mounted toilets, which take longer. The tile is going up as fast as possible, but gravity dictates how many vertical rows can be done until the thinset dries. My tiler is also painting and is keeping things tidy. I find I am relying on him for odds and ends, but his regular spring and summer job is starting up very soon. He is planning to work on days off on my place.

The concrete sealer that I got to mix into the wet mix looks to be doing a good job. With the elastomeric paint over the top, the new section has only had a leak around the solar tube and the connection between old and new. Unfortunately, we did a power wash of the original dome before repainting it, and apparently they were too enthusiastic and unsealed some cracks that we’d finally fixed. Now those need another coat of paint, but are not too bad. We are in the midst of frequent rainy days, so are working on the join between the old and new sections as weather allows.

I’m glad I have a concrete patio to step onto!

The cats are feeling cooped up, too, as I have started to hear a lot more growling and spitting recently. So, I have been taking them for a tour of the addition each evening. My girl loved it from the start, meowing her way around the living room. I think she liked the echoing she was hearing. The boy is easily scared, and has taken quite a long time to venture around the living room. He has now even gone through the bedroom and master bath. They’ll both adapt easily once my old familiar furniture is moved in.

The radiator lines should be a completed loop tomorrow, allowing us to finish the cork flooring in the hallway. We will put the tile flooring down there after the old door is removed. They plan to install the on demand water heater the next day, so I hope to have water to the plumbing then.

After the cork laminate flooring was down in the living room, one of the crew mentioned it had not lasted at his in-laws home. So I’ve been looking into a sealer. By chance the grout sealer bottle was spilled on the cork, and we found it is not discoloring, and it is waterproofing. It should do the job, plus it will dry much faster than a polyurethane.

soaker tub just needs faucet and water

shower with tile and glass block about done

The bathroom is going to make me happy once I am moved in. Most pieces are done, including the glass block shower, but no water is connected yet. Grab bars in both master bath and powder room, a little wall touch-ups.

powder room, sink side (blue is protective covering)

powder room, other side

The biggest project outside of the heating system is removing the door between old and new. It can’t be rushed, because we want most inside work completed first – I’ll need to turn up the heat, lock the doors at night (this means getting up earlier than normal to let workers in), and block the cats from the work zone.


Getting Close to the Finish

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything, but my excuse is that I’ve been sick – not flu, but a couple other things going around. Still not completed, but the addition is looking like I’d planned.

The floor has been installed in the living room, bedroom, and powder room, just waiting on some HVAC work to complete the hallway. The tile floor is done in the master bath, and I’ve decided to use tile for the hall floor from the doors to the original dome. With tile a small distance up the wall on one wall, it will be a mudroom entry and a spot for litter boxes that will be easier to clean than the cork floor.

cork floor and baseboard in living room

The sinks have been hung (wall-mounted) in both bathrooms, although we had to add plywood reinforcement behind to make sure the weight would be supported. The sinks are both a high-glass white with a solid surface sink top in white. My color is the painted walls.

The A/C air handler units are mounted, with only about an hour of work left to make them functioning. This is a big milestone, as it means I can use them on reverse cycle as heat pumps to heat until the radiators are ready. Sooner to get occupancy approval!

master bedroom is painted and air handler is partly installed

The shower pan is tiled and actually the back wall is tiled about three feet up. Gravity prevents it from all being set at one time. Now the floor tile is covered in paper, so I decided I wanted to show the mixed beige and brown tiles, as the beige wall is not exciting. It’ll be better when the decorative glass tile stripes go in.

shower pan has tile completed

The soaker tub has caused a little delay, first with a non-flat part that required a little removal of tile and wood in two spots so it would sit even on the surround. I expect it will be completed in a couple of days. I am so looking forward to a hot jetted soak.

tub is unpacked and waiting in the living room

The master bath toilet is nearly complete. The plumber wants to reinforce behind it, so it won’t pivot into the sheet rock. Other than that, it is supposed to support 700 to 800 pounds, so should hold up well. I have my short wall in place, with switches on the outside. I have very neutral colors in fixtures and tile, so I can be a bit crazy with saturated colors – two walls in an orange terracotta, and one wall in a buttery yellow. I’ve combined these before, so I know I like it, but paint is also the easiest thing to change if I do tire of it.

master bath commode (wall color changes with each angle, it’s not quite a dark as the back wall looks)

Both cats followed me into the new living room this afternoon, my Leo is getting braver. Kinsey insists she needs to explore every day.

Happy New Year to All

For those who want to see the house plan, I’ve posted this before, but it might be hard to find.

general idea of the layout for the addition

I’ve stayed with the design, mainly because it was exactly what I requested. A few details have changed, like a pivot door instead of a pocket door for the powder room. I had not heard that term before, but found one in a Lowe’s brochure. Actually my brother’s home has one for the downstairs bathroom. The door is split in the center and both sides are hinged. It allows a wider (and safer) path in the hallway outside if someone opens the door unexpectedly. I found one that has opaque glass to allow more light into the small room with no window.

I also have an open walkway between hall and living room, although the plan shows walls with a doorway. It will have the back wall of the powder room and a divider to prevent anyone from walking into a cabinet on the other side, otherwise open.

I also decided to use glass block for the shower, to allow more light into the far corner of the master bathroom. The size is about the same, just a little tweaking to have the opening on one side rather than the front. This was to give me a barrier-free opening.

I had always planned to have a short wall beside the toilet in the master bath, just did not bother to specify at design time, figuring it was an easy addition. This gives me something for leverage to stand, in case I need it. (I have, after 2 surgeries a year apart – repairs, not too serious). I will also have the switches for 3 lights and the fan on the side of the wall, handy from the command seat, kind of like the Star Trek captain’s chair. And this is all right inside the door on entry to the room.

I am actually going to create a small wall with bookcases, placing two back-to-back and perpendicular to the wall, right beside the living room door to the bedroom. I will have a small nook for a recliner, table, and lamp – a reading spot right inside the front door. This will also give a little privacy by blocking a view from the driveway and front door into the master bedroom and bathroom.

I am not putting in a closet next to the back door in the hall, as I already have a closet just inside the original dome. I plan to use that space for cat litter boxes, unless a better spot is found.

I believe we made the bedroom closet a little smaller, no problem for someone who is retired and never dresses up any more. I’ll have more dresser space for my casual clothes.

Here’s a link to an early version of the entire house. (You may need to click twice to pull up a picture, as it’s a pdf, not a picture.)


And this weekend I’m assembling sink cabinets from Ikea. It’s a job I like.

There Is Light in the Addition

lights in hall

I have spent most of the past week fighting a cold.  The crew has put in electrical outlets, light fixtures, and exterior door hardware. I found a light that goes into the 22 inch solar tube in my living room, nice idea for night illumination. I had to order a special bulb to get an equivalent to 100w in LED. Since it is 9 feet or so up, I sure want the long life of an LED. The bulbs today are more complicated, but some superior choices to the old incandescent bulbs.

flooring spread to acclimate

The flooring has been ordered and picked up, and was to start to be installed today. Actually need to acclimate to the humidity level in the house for 72 hours, so will start next week. Sub-floors have been scrubbed, in preparation.

closeup of cork flooring

The A/C mini-split units can be mounted on the wall now that plaster and priming coat has been applied. I understand I can run them as heat pumps until the radiators are installed. The radiators in the new dome can be installed soon as flooring is down (although last I heard they had not arrived at the HVAC company). I’m having 2 radiators installed in the original dome, but I will need to move some of the stored items that line the walls.

The powder room will be plaster walls, maybe tile backsplash on the sink, so it will finish fast after the sink and toilet are installed. It will have the same flooring as the hallway, no need for tile.

The master bath has the most work, with tile on floor, tub surround, shower pan, and back wall of the shower, then glass block for the front wall of the shower. Ceiling and the rest of the walls will be painted plaster. The tub will be set into place after the surround is tiled. So far the floor is done except for a few odd-shaped pieces, and the tub surround is partially done, since only half of the vertical surface can be done at a time (gravity pulls the tiles out-of-place). Picture looks messy, but the spacers will soon be out and grout applied. I am very happy with the light neutral tile with the copper glass tiles for accent.

tub surround in progress

One of the final items is to put up sheet rock over the end wall of the hallway that is concrete, used to be the exterior around the front door. The door will be removed and an archway will be finished instead. This will have to be well-timed, as I don’t want the cats out in the way, and the door is what is keeping them in the original part. Plus, that’s still not heated except by space heaters to dry stuff overnight and I don’t want the noise with the door gone until only a small amount of work remains. There is also work to finish around the 2 larger kitchen windows that were installed in May, then paint. Of course, I have to move stuff away from the windows where I’ve been storing sinks and smaller stuff.

There will be things to work on after approval for occupancy – moving my furniture from the small shed into the new space; putting down sheet vinyl on the concrete floor in the old dome, after I move things out and can really scrub the floor; I will be able to set up my large pantry area next to the kitchen and hope to start cooking more, with a freezer to hold stuff; I will have quite a few Ikea items to assemble, but I’m pretty good at that; I have a list of to-dos for the crew, but cannot get to these until I move stuff from the old to new area. Spring will be busy for me.

It Really Is Nearly Done

I’m starting to see the end of this project. I am so tired of living in such tight quarters. As I’ve acquired things for the addition when on sale, all of the small stuff (light fixtures, faucets, etc.) is stored in my kitchen. and I really have about a 2 to 3 foot wide path anywhere I go in my home. I had hoped to be done a couple of months ago, but I should have taken the delay before the panels even shipped as an omen of more to come. And the delays did keep coming. I’ve gotten almost as jumpy as my cats with all the people wandering around outside my home. It will be so pleasant to just relax and enjoy the quiet.

We needed to add to the septic drainage beds, and that was done in one day, approved by DHEC, so only final inspection remains after the rest is done. I hired a local company from Townville, A2B Contracting, and they did a great job.

last big excavation, extend drainage beds 45 feet

All the water lines have been filled in. They did work on grading around the driveway, to hopefully prevent rainwater from running down to the front of the house and causing problems. We want it to follow the other side of the drive to the end of the house, then downslope.

Yard graded and grass seeded behind the house

Inside, the crew has completed taping and plastering the seams – and there are a lot of them with all the triangles all the way up to the top. They’ve sprayed texture to the walls at the end of last week. It dried over the weekend and was primed yesterday. It took over 12 gallons. The walls are looking good. It’s called a knock-down finish. Since I already have that in the original dome, and like it with a semigloss paint, I chose to continue in the addition. I have selected paint colors I had in the house in Roanoke and found to be comfortable for me. Sage in the living room, to the top of the dome. The bedroom will have that top of the dome as its ceiling, but the walls will be a dark forest green. The hallway and powder room will be yellow, as will the window wall in the kitchen (pale gray will remain for the rest of the kitchen).

after plaster texturing, priming, ceiling painted. Inside living room walls will be painted later.

other side of living room 

The master bath is getting two colors on its walls, yellow and terracotta (a mix I liked in a bedroom in my other house), and tile on floor, tub surround, shower wall, and sink back splash. It has been delayed by different crews on different schedules, then by illness, but it is coming along.

bathroom with progress on tub and shower, floor leveling compound down before floor tiles

Sharon and I completed another project the past 2 days, met the new owners for her final 2 puppies, for delivery as surprise Christmas gifts for the children. We met at a central location that worked out to be Roanoke, so I got to see a couple of friends and load up the rest of my fragile kitchen items which were stored in my friend Phyllis’s basement. Of course, the boxes may live in the car for a week or so….

Water Lines Are Done

This was a slow week, with illness playing a part in some delays. Not good with the weather turning cold this weekend and through next week. That’s just too easy to pass along viruses to others. As with most of the South, we have a winter storm passing through. I hope we don’t have as much as the 1 to 3 inches accumulation that are predicted.  Snow started late here.

view of back yard from patio door – big flakes

Anyway, the crew got the water line connected, so both Sharon’s house and mine have a new line running from the meter to each house. We swapped meters to keep things less confused in the (distant) future when one house gets sold. I now have a line running to the original dome, plus a t-connection taking the line around to the addition. A few extra feet, but it doesn’t run under the house. Sharon had a few addition lines run to allow her to add irrigation in her garden areas.

Water supply to old and new parts of the house split off here. The meter is about 200 feet from here, into the trees. This parallels the new gas line.

The lines for the air conditioner units have been installed, running out the back from the small loft over the bathroom, down to the A/C unit outside. I’ll decide later if I want or need to cover it. It does sit on the south side, might want more insulation.

The taping and finishing of sheet rock seams is coming along, with expectation for later next week to work on the texture coat of plaster. I’m keeping it the same as I have in the original dome. Then painting can happen.

The wall between the living room and bedroom ends without a ceiling, so the crew will put some sort of finishing cap on it to prevent it filling with dust and dirt.

That will leave installation of light fixtures and any other electrical finishing, and plumbing fixtures. And besides tiling the master bath, flooring will be installed. I have ordered an engineered cork click and lock flooring. I just need to stay calm a little longer and face the next delay. I will be moving in before long.

Busy Week and Visible Changes

view from Sharon’s front yard (my house sits well off the road)

This has been a busy week, the gas line was finally run to my addition. It goes to a utility building behind the actually living space. I am still quite pleased with my decision to have the gas water heater and boiler located where leaking gas or carbon monoxide, even open flames, will stay outside.

new gas line, well covered and neat

At the last bit of fill work, the gas excavator guys snagged the internet cable, so another day without.

new white utility building, also sidewalk around back of house

On Monday we also had concrete delivered for the utility building floor, the front entry pad, and the sidewalk around the back. It looks great. With all the external work, I have to be careful where it is safe to walk/exit, or park this week.

New water line marking from meter near bench, down between two garden tables. That’s about a third of the distance to my house.

Thursday was water line day – the crew rented a ditch witch to dig a new line to both my house and Sharon’s house next door. We plan to swap water meters. Since we are not really expecting others to join us soon on our retirement property, we are trying to straighten out utilities and such for future when one of us dies and the other may want to sell the other house. The actual line will be put in Friday, and I guess both houses will be without water overnight while glue dries, unless they use clamps. This time we have a long feed of flexible polyethylene pipe (much better than the polybutylene used about 1975-1995) instead of pvc pipe that I know had to be glued, and joints which failed too often for my happiness. I have spent quite a bit of time Googling water supply lines.

The plumber should be in either Friday or beginning of next week to install drain lines for the mini-split air conditioning units. He’ll need to do a small adjustment on the shower drain to fit the new shower pan. Then tiling starts next week.