Wednesday, June 04, 2008

More about the build (like you didn't think this was coming?)

As I've been saying, this house business has been taking up an awful lot of our waking hours, so the relief we feel at now only having to deal with one house instead of two is enormous. Of course, it's also the more important house, being the one we plan to spend the next 30 years in, not the one we are leaving in 12 weeks. While I've been known to wax philosophical about the stewardship of old homes... well, practical concerns are winning out these days. Now, it's going to be all about how little we can get away with from now until move out day. I hope the movers we've booked don't have allergies, because I'm sure there will be more than our fair share of dust bunnies lurking about under the beds by the end of the summer.

Even as we've been dealing with selling house #1, house #2 has taken up an extraordinary amount of our time. We visit the site pretty much daily, and are finding it good to do so. While we have been extremely happy with all our subcontractors so far, we have also come to the realization that in our absence, if a decision needs to be made, they will make it - and they will often make a different decision than we would have made ourselves. It never fails that a simple trip 'just to see what is going on' gets us involved in one aspect of the project or another.

Since the unplanned visits always take longer than expected, it naturally follows that the planned visits do, too. A couple of weeks ago we spent nearly two hours walking through with the electrician to map out the outlets, switches and controls we want to have, and this was after we spent a good three or four hours on our own with some floor plans drawing it all out. I can live with an awkwardly placed light switch if I am moving into a pre-existing home, but if I'm responsible for locating that switch awkwardly... I know it's going to bug me forever and ever, amen.

That said, everyone always says, when you are building your house, that there are going to be snafus along the way that you can do nothing about, and the best thing you can do is embrace the imperfection. We have not hit too many of these (YET). A few light switches had to be relocated because the framing wouldn't allow for a box, or because the plumber beat the electrician to the punch and already ran something where the electrician had been planning to. We also found out that instead of going washer-dryer, left to right, we are going to have to go dryer-washer, which is kind of counterintuitive to me, but will allow the dryer to vent without sticking out an additional foot into the room. So I am cool with that. We did realize that by centering a light box in the breakfast nook, it actually would not be centered over the table, and we got that fixed before it was too late; likewise we adjusted the kitchen island pendants by a few inches. It remains to see how well those will work out; without the cabinetry in place, it's still just guesswork. We are putting a floor outlet in the great room (meant to go under a sofa so we can plug in lamps on a sofa table behind it), and I keep thinking that no matter where we locate it, we are going to decide to move the furniture and leave it exposed. But it will drive me crazy to have extension cords running around, so we've taken some measurements and checked them twice and then twice more, and I think it's worth taking the chance.

And I guess that is what it really boils down to: regardless of what we wind up with in the new house, it is bound to be a huge improvement over the old one, which is the reason why we are moving in the first place. We currently have a back hall that is less than three feet wide, and when we come home at the end of the day with a diaper bag and a purse and a lunch bag and sometimes a laptop bag and two kids who need to get coats and boots off... ay yi yi, it's a mess. So while the mudroom at the new house is of a modest size, I am tickled that we will have a mudroom. A place just for dropping things that need go no further into the house. Heaven. And even if I have a floor outlet that - gasp! - is inadvertently exposed, that will sure beat our current living room, which not only doesn't have any floor outlets - it doesn't have any ceiling light fixtures, either. It's pretty much a big dark cave. The move up to a room with two banks of recessed lights on dimmers, plus sofa table lamps, has me swooning. Don't even get me started on the fact that we will be able to have a small TV set up in our bedroom without a power bar and an extension cord running across the floor; old houses have character, but they certainly don't have a lot of outlets...

This weekend, again, we have a lot of house stuff on the agenda. Did you know how much cheaper you can buy light and plumbing fixtures in the US than Canada (not to mention the vastly improved selection)? Did you know that you can order items from US suppliers and have them sent to a UPS store just across the border for them to hold for you to pick up? 'Tis true. We need to make a run across the border this weekend to pick up 8 packages from UPS, another at Lowes and yet one more at IKEA (which we TRIED to get at IKEA Burlington on our side of the border, only to be told it was a special order and we'd have to make a return trip - not so easy to do when it's a 2-1/2 hour drive and you have 2 kids in tow). We need to meet with the cabinet guy to review the sample boards and edge finish options. We need to pick out countertops for the bathrooms. We need to do a heckuvalot, while still enjoying our summer. 12 weeks til moving day... the countdown is on.


Dawn said...

you know my address is always an option for you, though I wish you would just drive to NJ and visit Ikea and Lowe's here instead of Michigan. :oP pffsbbbbtttttt!