I’m retired but I’m up early every work day. Why? Because there are guys swarming all over my property! Since buying the house next door to our current residence a little over a year ago we have undertaken what we like to call THE PROJECT. This started out as a re-model but it soon morphed into a re-build. The house was old and needed work. A lot of work. For example, all the window frames were rotted. The windows were going to be pulled and replaced anyway, but once the guys got into them it became obvious the frames would have to be re-done. Completely. And several of the larger windows had no headers. So new beams had to be installed. That meant tearing out walls. A ceiling or two then decided to fall in. Out with the plaster-and-lath, in with new wallboard. The good part about that—exposed framing—is it made the electrician’s job easier. Did I mention ALL the wiring was substandard and had to be replaced? The plumber liked it, too. The drain system was mostly shot and had to be torn out and replaced. While he was doing that we figured ‘in-for-a-penny’ and all that and had him put in new copper, replacing all the old steel piping.
Mostly the rafters, studs, and floor joists were solid. But they had to be beefed up in spots. That took some doing. I have to give the crew a lot of credit—they saw what needed to be done and attacked the problems with zeal and skill. (We have a marvelous general contractor.) New doors came along with the new windows. New door frames. Thresholds, too. Floors. Did I mention floors? New flooring is coming, of course, thankfully the sub-flooring was pretty solid. New roof and new gutters are also coming. The stucco siding was ignored for decades and leaks on the building corners and around the openings caused cracking and bulging. That had to get torn out—imagine three guys with machine guns disturbing your neighborhood at 0800. That’s what those chisel-drills sound like. Thank the gods that’s over with. Now the stucco crew is here, building scaffolds and prepping for the scratch coat. About one-third of the exterior is getting a new base layer. All of if will get power-washed and have an adhesive layer applied and then color-coated. The color is part of the final plaster layer and will last, they tell me, fifty years.
Part of THE PROJECT involves our current residence, too. New paint job, for one. Six guys crawling all over the house at the crack of dawn scraping and caulking for three days. Then they painted! It turned out well, at least. Good guys who worked hard. Coming up will be some serious concrete work like a new and much larger patio. Not to mention the concrete work in the driveway and in front of the garage. Garage? Yes, we have one now. That’s about the only part that’s actually done. The house next door had this pathetic chicken-shack hillbilly garage that was ready to fall down in a stiff wind. Now it’s been completely enlarged and rebuilt! Instead of parking the camper in there, though, it’s loaded up with stuff from the cottage. Yep, our existing house included a detached cottage. It’s getting a face lift with new flooring, bathroom upgrade, etc. So all the crap in there is now in the garage, waiting to be moved back once that job is done.
This has been going on since April. Lots of destruction. So much I started to give the guys shit about it. “No more de-struction,” I said, “I want some goddamn con-struction!” Sure enough we are in the construction phase. Trucks come with cranes and forklifts and drop off piles of building materials. Those piles quickly disappear. I walk around looking at the new stuff after it’s installed going “that’s mine, man.” Feels good. All this noise and confusion and decision-making is paying off. Speaking of paying, I’m getting arthritis in my check-writing hand! Fortunately we have a few shekels in the bank and can afford to pursue this nutty dream.
People keep asking me “what are you going to do with this new house?” Do I have to do anything? Live in it, of course. Expand. Spread out. Right now we call it The Annex. It’s a land grab, plain and simple. We wanted more space and now we got it. We think THE PROJECT will mostly be done by the end of October. Then we’ll figure out what’s next. The yard, for example, was completely overgrown. The trees were so big we had to get a pro with a bucket truck to take them out. They were old, neglected, and too close to things like sidewalks, foundations, and power lines. When the crews finally leave we’ll have a barren wasteland for landscaping. That’s good, it will be fun to create a new space. But that’s too far in the future. We still have shower enclosures and kitchen cabinets to deal with.
We were fortunate to find a superb, serious craftsman to handle our job. And his crew follows his lead and does top-notch work. And the sub-contractors hear about it if they don’t toe the line and deliver quality. So that takes a lot of worry off of our shoulders. But it’s been four long months of activity and we’ve two more to go. And now things are really happening fast, the intensity will be ratcheting up here real soon. So that means no slacking off during the week. It’s amazing how many things come up during the day that require our attention!
But it’s all good. This is what we decided 2016 would be all about: The Year of The Annex. I’m getting a brewery out of it—we are converting what was a piece-of-shit laundry room into a proper place for my hobby. And lots of other things, too, like a primo guest house. Y’all will have to come visit! But you will have to make your own damn breakfast, though, because I’ll be sleeping in.