Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Final proof the house is eating us alive

Let's just check in for a sec. Here we are, nearly 8 months into the house project. We've already missed our first deadline, gotten an extension and had enough delays after that to be pretty sure we'll need another extension around New Year's. That means we're looking at close to a full year of this work, by the time things wrap up, which we agreed the other night we probably never would have signed up for, had we known what we were getting into. At the moment, we're fighting to finish the heat system. We've been working on that project since July. (Remind us to tell you sometime about how long that was supposed to take, according to the company that sold us the system. It's an absurdity worthy of its very own post.) Once the heat project is behind us, we have about four big projects left before the bank signs off on our renovation. It now gets dark immediately after we get home from work.

So what did we do yesterday?

We decided to take one of those four projects and make it way more complicated than it was supposed to be.

Our kitchen and bathroom, as you may know, are at the back of our house, the one-story part. The roof there has a pretty shallow slope; it meets the top of the rear kitchen/bathroom wall and rises about 3-4 feet by the time it meets the front kitchen/bathroom wall. The other night, when we were putting insulation over the bathroom, I was looking at the wedge-shaped space between the bathroom ceiling and the roof, thinking about how that can never be used for storage (too shallow) and is essentially dead space.

Then, at work yesterday, I randomly thought, "I wish we'd made our bathroom ceiling follow the slope of the roof, instead of making it flat."

Then I thought, "We could still do that in the kitchen."

I emailed John right away and we went back and forth about a few particulars—Can we take out the existing kitchen ceiling joists? How will this come together with our beam?—but somehow it was clear that this idea, once voiced, could not be ignored. As soon as we got home we went into the kitchen and sized up the possibilities. If we do this, we will have an angled ceiling and a very tall (13 feet or so) front kitchen wall, above our cabinets and stove. There's no doubt it would do glorious things for the feel of the kitchen and the drama of arriving in the back of the house after walking through the smallish, cosy front rooms. With some other changes we envision down the road for that room, this will make that whole end of our house really, really excellent and at minimal extra cost.

Of course, it'll mean more work and a whole series of those small problems that you have to solve as you're working though any project. (The rafters suddenly level off 4 inches from the back wall! We'll have to make a flat ceiling for a few feet outside our bathroom because of nailers we already put in for the bathroom wall! We'll have to get different light fixtures! But what about the rear dormer!) That means in turn "a couple more weeks" [insert more realistic and impossible-to-predict time estimate here] of pushing against our deadline and all the wrangling with the bank that entails—not to mention the other parts of our lives that we dearly miss and have been on hold for too long already. But honestly, unless we find out this is structurally impossible, we can't see not doing it. It would be too awesome.

There you have it: proof the house is eating us alive.

- Erika

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