I Touched My Camera

I had a YPC photo shoot yesterday. That’s the first time I’ve used a camera since February. Which, coincidentally, was also for a YPC photo shoot. The creative muse has flown the coop. The photo shoot was a total shit show. It was a large cast of teenagers with zero attention spans. The actual director couldn’t attend, so someone else was reading through his notes and attempting to direct the photo shoot. Multiple costume changes were involved.

It took twice the normal time and I was completely exhausted at the end. At least the season is over now and I won’t have to do another one of these until September. By which time I hope to have a semblance of a life back. Meanwhile, rapid progress on our new home continues. We had a low voltage walk-thru on Tuesday, discussing the division of work between my husband and the company that did the wiring. We kept dodging drywallers, painters and trim guys.

We rented a truck yesterday in order to transport my husband’s tools to the site today, so they could be loaded into the workshop. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the 500 lb table saw up the ramp into the truck, so that’s staying in our garage for now. Our builder is going to contact some movers to see if they can get it loaded for us. My husband needs to get going on his woodworking projects for the house.

I’m still vacillating between elation and terror on the house. We’ll make the show, but that first weekend will be a scramble and there will still be a lot of work going on afterward. It’s not going to start settling down until the end of July. Everyone keeps telling us it will be worth it in the end. I hope so.

We’re in the Show

As I’ve mentioned previously, our new home is supposed to be featured in an upcoming home tour, hence the remarkable progress being made recently. I’ve checked the tour’s website a number of times and only found the list/profiles of the featured builders/remodelers. Until yesterday.

There’s now an online brochure for the tour, as well as web pages for each of the featured homes. So, I guess that definitively answers the question as to whether or not our house will be done by June 8th. Spoiler alert – it actually won’t be done done. It will be done enough for the occupancy permit and to look good for show, but there will still be work remaining.

There’s a triage process and things that don’t absolutely need to be done for the show won’t be done. Things like our roof deck and sauna, both of which were called out in the description of the house. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, apparently. I thought I would be excited when the brochure came out, instead I find myself annoyed and a little bit terrified.

Annoyed because of the errors and some grammatically awkward sentences in the description, and terrified because there’s still so much work left to be done. I’m hoping to get to the excited stage in the near future.

Gaining Speed

At various points during our new home construction, we were told that “things are going to start moving really fast now.” Never happened. There were brief bursts of rapid activity, but nothing sustained. Now, with less than six weeks remaining until the Artisan Home Tour, there is truly a flurry of activity. It’s about time.

Our cabinets were delivered, almost completely filling our enormous garage. Day by day, more of them are being installed. Meanwhile, drywall finish work is nearly done and priming/painting is in progress. Outside, final grading was done between the house and workshop. Then they needed to pause, as the ground on the north side of the house still contained frost. The landscapers started last week and finished our first segment of gabion wall in a few days.

The basalt landing outside of the front door and some of the basalt treads were installed. The remainder need to wait for the metal section of the staircase to be fabricated. Speaking of staircases, the installation of our interior one started today. It came like a massive flat pack piece of furniture from Ikea. They had to install a pulley on the ceiling of the stair tower to install it. The elevator installation also started yesterday.

It’s beyond gratifying to see significant progress when we stop by every day. The house is large enough to accommodate multiple crews working without getting in each other’s way. Parking is becoming a bit of an issue, though. Most of the time we have to settle for a spot at the end of the block. It’s a small price to pay.

So Very Many Pillows

We had a follow-up shopping excursion yesterday. This time the focus was on outdoor furniture, bedding, bath and pillows. So many, many pillows. You could buy a very nice camera lens for what we ended up spending on pillows. Yes, decorative pillows are crazy expensive. I’ve never been willing to spend serious money on pillows before, but having destroyed our third or fourth round of cheap pillows in Phoenix, I figured it was about time.

I had browsed the R&B website in advance and wasn’t super impressed with the bedding/bath/pillow selection. Or the outdoor furniture. So I didn’t go in with the thought that we would be selecting a whole lot. Of course, I was wrong. We did some scouting at a couple of stores on Monday afternoon, just for comparison. Then the snow started. By the time we ventured out on Tuesday for our appointment, there were at least seven inches on the ground and it was continuing to come down.

So the store was dead. Our designer spent the morning assembling pillow vignettes for our approval. We did some tweaking, but for the most part we went with his suggestions. Bedding pretty much went the same way, although I drew the line at sheets. I buy all of our sheets at Costco and we’ve been very happy with them, at half the price of designer ones. The designer was totally fine with that. By the time we finished, the entire house was wrapped up. Tomorrow we shift gears and head back to Phoenix to wrap things up there.

Sometimes it Snows in April

Minnesota has a wicked sense of humor when it comes to the weather. Despite my ardent plea for warm, dry weather, we are currently getting socked with snow. It started just after noon yesterday and continued on and off all day. Then it started up again early this morning. They are predicting 3-6 inches before the snow finally ends. Pretty funny, Minnesota. You are killing me.

I’m trying really hard not to freak out about how this is impacting the house. Final grading can’t take place until the ground thaws and a blanket of snow followed by cold temps just delays the thawing. We’re running 10-15 degrees below normal right now. Meanwhile, interior work continues at pace. The garage floor epoxy is finished, so all of the concrete in the basement is now complete. It looks amazing.

The drywallers were back on Monday and had finished the crow’s nest and all of the second floor ceilings. They were starting on the walls when we arrived at 3:00 yesterday. At this rate they should be done hanging by tomorrow. We met the two guys who do the more skilled work – the shadow line along the floor and the area where the drywall meets the trim. They are starting work today.

Now we go into a month of tape/mud/sand/repeat, so the house will be a dusty mess. I’m guessing that’s why they wanted to get the basement floors done. Meanwhile, our garage doors are coming “soon” and the cabinets are supposed to be delivered within the next two weeks. They can’t be installed yet, so they’ll be stored in the garage. Just over nine weeks to go now.


Well that was crazy. We ordered almost all of the furniture for our new house in the last 24 hours. How did that happen? Late Friday afternoon we received an email from our builder. Apparently, they had been working very diligently behind the scenes on getting a local retailer to provide furniture to stage our new home and give us a discount on anything we purchased.

In one way they struck out and in another way they struck gold. They didn’t find a store willing to stage, but they did find a store willing to give us a discount for anything we purchased. Let us refer to it as Rude&Bored (R&B). This is something along the lines of discovering a unicorn, as R&B does not have sales nor do they give discounts to designers. You pay full price or wait until something goes on clearance and take your chances in the outlet store.

Of course we jumped all over the opportunity and went to the store to meet with a design associate. I expected to have a long conversation about what pieces we needed and some preliminary viewing/shopping. Instead, we dove right in and selected everything we needed for our living room (2 sofas, 2 chairs, coffee table and rug). We also made plans to meet this morning at the house and walk him through it, then head back to the store for more shopping.

We spent 90 minutes at the house and, after a quick stop for lunch, met at the store. Four hours later, we were making a huge down payment on a huge order. The only significant items we didn’t order were the study desk and our master bed (both of which my husband will be making) plus our mattress. We also tapped out on patio furniture. So we are going back next Tuesday afternoon after we have a chance to recharge. What a whirlwind.

Moving Into High Gear

The weather wasn’t great, but we sucked it up and managed to get in a walk yesterday afternoon. We took an extended break at the turnaround point, when we stopped to visit with our friend who was taking some measurements outside of his new home. It ended up sprinkling on us during the second half of the walk.

This was after my husband spent three hours at our new house, giving a tour to my uncle. He happens to live nearby and drives past our home almost daily, so he’s been very interested in the progress. By the time we finished our walk and headed to the house together for our daily check-in, it was after 4:00. I was elated and somewhat terrified to see that the second delivery of drywall was in progress.

The basement and main floor drywall was hung almost two weeks ago and I had been anxiously awaiting for the rest of the drywall to arrive so that work could continue. It was supposed to come last week and then Monday and then Tuesday. I was started to despair. They had finished unloading one truck and were nearly done with the second when we arrived. The terrifying part was watching them lift it with a crane and pull it in through the window.

The siding guys have been hard at it for the past week. They’ve put up all of the Hardie on the house and the workshop. Yesterday they were working on the shiplap inside the conservatory. It looks awesome. When we returned today, they were just wrapping up work. The only areas of siding left are a few small metal sections and the vertical shiplap next to the front door. Now we just need warm and dry weather so the landscape work can get started.

Losing the Circus Tent

While we were busy getting ready to sell our house in Phoenix, work on our home here continued briskly. Most significantly, the last areas of siding are now going up, covering the yellow insulation. The stair tower and the northwest corner of the house were completed this week. Based on their progress so far, I’m hoping it will be finished by the end of next week. Unfortunately, they managed to disconnect our internet in the process, so we haven’t seen updated solar numbers since Wednesday afternoon.

The drywall has been hung in the basement and on the main level. We need another delivery before they can start on the second floor. The tile has been completed in the main house, except for grouting the master bath. Speaking of which, the waterproofing for the master shower has been installed. The epoxy flooring in the workshop is also in progress. Apparently, solid white is the toughest one to do, so it’s taking them a while to get it right.

Meanwhile, we are deep into the weeds on some (seemingly) minor details. This week’s biggest debate has involved vent covers. You know, those things that go over the air ducts? Most people have plain metal ones or wood, if they want to get fancy. Not us. Once we found out that flush mount wasn’t really an option (because we didn’t specify them during framing), we settled on a cool design. There’s still a number of minor design choices to finalize, as well as some material options. But it’s definitely dwindling. Which is good, because we have just under 11 weeks to go.

We Will Rock You

Drywall, aka “rock,” has commenced at our new home. Why do they call it rock? It’s short for Sheetrock, which is actually a specific brand of drywall. It’s a Kleenex kind of thing. The drywall guys are swarming the house and the music has changed from Russian to Mexican. I felt sorry for Vladimir, who was working alone on the second floor, tiling our laundry room.

The regular tile guys are gone, having completed everything except the laundry and bathrooms. The wiring for the bathroom floor heat has been installed, but with a one man crew, it’s going to take a while. Apparently, only Vladimir and his son Victor, who owns the company, do the sloped and/or heated spaces. So the drywall guys are staying out of those areas for now.

Given the speed with which they are working, I don’t know how long that division will last. Yesterday was only their second day and the basement was nearly complete, along with a significant portion of the first floor. Hanging the drywall is fast work and I think there were six guys doing it.

The taping, mudding and sanding is much more meticulous work and likely will involve a different crew. That process will take weeks and the house will be pretty miserable to enter while it’s in progress. Yesterday was bad enough, with just the residual dust from cutting the drywall. The effect of hanging it is transformational, though. It’s finally starting to look like a real house.

Finally Some Fun Stuff

We went shopping yesterday. Our original goal was to purchase just one mirror, at Design Within Reach. We had seen it some months ago and the store was having their semi-annual sale, so we decided to just go and pick it up. Didn’t quite work out the way we planned, but things rarely do these days.

First of all the mall was crazy busy and it took us a while to even find a parking spot. Next, we found out that not only did they not stock the mirror (or anything else, for that matter) but they had a ridiculous delivery fee. I guess they expect you to get a whole truck full of stuff, not just one mirror. So I felt the need to find something else to purchase. We settled on a set of four red chairs for the conservatory.

Next we decided to head to Peter’s Billiards to check on lead times for ordering our pool table. Again, we picked out the table quite a while ago, but had no need to order it. The pool table needs to be in the house for the start of the show on June 8th, as the staging company obviously doesn’t supply one. Peter’s was also crazy busy, because they were having a sale. A huge sale.

We ordered the table and then we ordered a sofa for my husband’s study. As we were walking to pick up a copy of the order, I spotted a counter stool that was perfect for our new kitchen island. So we ordered four of those as well. We got a great deal on the pool table, a small discount on the stools and zip on the sofa. (It’s one of those brands that’s price controlled)

In the end, a very expensive day. But it’s nice to be in a position to finally order actual furniture for the new house. We probably won’t be getting anything else for the house right now, since my husband will be building a couple of things (our bed and dining room table) and we want to see how it’s staged before we get any living room furniture. But we do need to look at furniture for the conservatory. I don’t think the stagers are going to know what to do with that space.