Archive for February, 2008

mama mia, she passed.

February 26, 2008

there’s not much to say.  whew.  insulation slated for friday, lots of orders being placed by phone today for the stuff to come:

– glue lams for stair treads

– 3/8″ lag screws and flat washers

– 10″ long angle irons to mount stairs to wall

– birch ply

– cypress decking to floor stair landings

tile scheduled.  welder to deliver angle iron.  many trucks to arrive.  we are officially in stage III. !


well, i failed, but it wasn’t so bad…

February 21, 2008

it was the super-nice city inspector who answered every question i had ever called him about on the phone. he walked around, smiled, talked to me, explained things, made a list, talked about his kids and his life, and i drank coffee and smiled and enjoyed the time! ?

so:  i have to do 1st stage polysealing (which is formal builder term. for filling all the holes left by electrical wires and plumbing, etc going through the walls and up to the trusses), and foam around holes in each floor. the plumbers have to move a shower head and insulate some exterior wall pipes. the electricians have to add a smoke detector. the mechanical contractors have to put sleeves around the flue vent to provide fireblocking. i have to take a few pictures of the roof vents and under the house. a very happily easily accomplished list…

what’s next, you might ask? i’ll be there polysealing tomorrow, and all the other contractors have said they’ll come as well. if they are done by end of day, i’ll call for reinspection on friday, and if not, we’ll be waiting til monday. and then we can insulate.

back to the inspector/answer man:  he said that he had been building houses for 41 years, and that i should know it is a great house. he patted me on the arm and said, with a twinkle in his eye, ‘you’re doing a great job.’ what a great morning.

and this evening we went to start on a few jobs and then had a dinner of pot roast, sourdough and malbec-shiraz on the roof.  in the dark.  with the shining lights of downtown illuminating the horizon.


i seriously almost suffocated in the port-a-potty

February 20, 2008

and i didn’t get inspected.  apparently there are ‘carryovers’ – people who the inspector just doesn’t get around to the first day after they call.

on the whole, though, a great day.  i sat in a lawn chair in our new living room drinking in the sunlight and reading, drinking coffee, and had visitors and various interested persons call and stop by throughout the day.  somewhat like a spa, but without some of the better (but less noticed) amenities, such as clean, flushing toilets.  it was quiet, calm, relaxing, and productive, if not exactly homebuilding.

and i really did almost suffocate.  my eyes started watering, then stinging.  i went from holding my breath, to breathing through my mouth, to not breathing again due to the sting, and then i had flashbacks of trying to hold my breath during the scene in ‘the princess bride’ when wesley dives after buttercup into the lightning sand – i never make it – and i stumbled out of the port-a-potty, pants unzipped, gasping for air and slightly stunned.  that all happened in about a minute, but it was definitely the most eventful minute of the day.  i’m glad no one else was there to witness my disheveled exit and subsequent gasping recovery…those chemicals were new and potent.

tomorrow is (the) big day

February 18, 2008

a big day? we’re ‘ready’ and then again, of course we aren’t. the plumbers encouraged me today by saying they just are used to the system… being callous is my only option. so i’m planning to sit and wait and listen and then plan? to fix things. this is what the inspector will see:

front entry

back balconies

and if he were to visit at night, this would be his view off the roof balcony…


thanks for coming along for the first half (or long 1.5 years) of this ride.  we are at a hinge, finally, and from here we’ll be finishing the inside.  more first-time homebuilder adventures to come – stay tuned.

happy weekend

February 17, 2008

from street

the inside, for those of you who haven’t visited, is only framing. it may look close, but we have weeks ahead – floors, walls, kitchen, plumbing fixtures and electrical fixtures. first, the framing inspection, and after a pass, insulation is next. we’ll keep you posted – i’m sure to need a little yell after the inspection, which i hope to have happen tuesday…after the welders protect the balconies, we cobble together walls for the back porch (ahhh, building code), and the plumbers, tony and andre, come spend an inordinate amount of time fitting gas pipe under the house again because of one bad fitting. that should all be done by the end of monday?!?!


February 15, 2008





it is just a combination of wood, metal, and thought; and in the end, it’s only a house. but having never done this before, i think the order out of disorder is quite fantastic.

red ink is always red ink.

February 14, 2008

red ink

having many friends in college at this point, i have found myself making parallels again to tests, syllabi, and exams.  as i get deeper and deeper into this project, i start to feel like i might have some handle on the whole thing, in general, if i ask enough questions, and then………………

inspections.  like tests.  and they always involve the word fail.  even if you don’t fail, which is what i didn’t do today, as it was the 3rd-party inspection (the pre-inspection that i pay for before the city inspection).  fail to place joist hangers, fail to check for fireblocking on bathroom plumbing outs, fail, fail, fail.

i have issues.  and so, this is the moment when i divulge that i would like to be better about the idea of failing something, knowing that it isn’t failure.  it’s just not having done it perfectly the first time in a world when some things are required to be perfect.  scones are never perfect, but there are never 3rd-party scone inspections either.  we just eat them and comment, if necessary, on the lack of salt or paltriness of the frosting.  mostly, we just eat them.

and so, tomorrow, cesar of craig’s list is coming over once again, and i will hand him many joist hangers, many nails, a long list, and some leftover 2×4’s, and the fail will turn into a pass.  but wow, it stuns me sometimes how sensitive i am.  i know that it is ok to be learning, but i dearly wish i could feel that it’s ok to be learning.  especially during an inspection.

thanks to dave, jenny, tim, taylor, laurie, sara, neil, and tara for all telling me this exact thing over the course of the last 6 hours.

i’m so sorry, but i forgot jane eyre.

February 13, 2008

that’s really all i have to say about that.  oops.  how i ever made it to 31 without reading it is beyond me.  it was great.

today was another amazing tuesday (what’s with tuesdays?).  a man from craig’s list – the same who fixed the skirting untreated lumber failure – came and treated all the cedar siding, which now looks like…


thanks to waylon, carpenter extraordinaire with tim, for giving me the TWP heads up.  order it online and it even has free shipping.

the details on the front of the house are almost complete – today was a lot of corner work in addition to the remaining galvalum.  a few views:



with school done in the morning/early afternoon, there was time for helping on the roof deck (they put the screws into the drill holes) and i don’t think this counts as child labor because it’s their house and they wanted to do it?!?!


but there was still a lot of time invested today in pet rocks.  they each have homes made of castoff building material boxes (or 12 pack soda containers), bedding of sawdust (straight from the shop vac), and each home is carefully sealed with tyvek tape, and comes complete with handle made from string used by the foundation crew to run the piers in a straight line (yup, that was still lying around too).  the family rocks are ned, rover, and birdy.  our friend kelsey visiting today also got a rock (terry) as did tim the carpenter (his is named harley) and the baby who didn’t care.  mine are the ones in front:  birdy on the right, ned on left.  i inherited ned midday from 5.8 year old who wanted a mini pet rock and a smaller home, but i don’t know what the mini pet rock ended up being named.


we ate really good mexican peanut candy (little round powdery disks that melt in your mouth), i took a midday nap at a neighbor’s house, and then even had a cup of coffee with our wonderful neighbor, dona victoria, who has been next door for about 80 years.

the proud pair of deck builders:

the guys

and the house with a new front view!


night comes early as a temporarily single parent

February 12, 2008

so these pictures are dark.  i will replace them on the morrow, but i know there are at least a handful of people who actually check in the am.  the roofers say they’ll be done by wedn. or thursday, which is great! and means insulation can be scheduled tentatively for next week.  that would be barring a gross failure of the framing/mechanical/plumbing inspection.

scuppers are on the back roof


you can see the lights from cesar chavez nightlife reflected in the window.

also, there is a roof deck, to be finished tomorrow…


this picture taken by the small dancing one up way too late so that we could have english classes tonight:


the new front                                 front

and now i’m home, tea and shortbread on a small plate, grateful for all God allowed to be accomplished today.  we showed the old house too…  further developments surely ahead.

a reading tangent

February 11, 2008

well, around here, there are a few things we love. eating, people, coffee, people. and reading. so here are some books i have read/been reading lately. highly recommend:

uncle tom’s cabin

coming of age in mississippi by anne moody

roots by alex haley

there’s a theme here. other books to come along the african-american lit theme include:

the souls of black folk by web dubois

the frederick douglass autobio

on other topics:

i’ve been trying to read the recommendations of our oldest son, and as a result read eragon and the sequel, eldest, which are light and fun, but if the thought of reading about dragons and fairies makes you want to run, keep running.

dubliners, a book of short stories by james joyce, may be the only way to read joyce without committing yourself your life to reading joyce for the next few years. i read this in prep for dublin itself, and where i don’t think joyce added to dublin, i think dublin changed joyce for me.

rereading nine stories lately (j.d. salinger), and just read franny & zooey with a friend. highly recommend, and a fast read too. i don’t know if i’d say it’s better having read nine stories, since i have read it without having read the other, but the cross of characters between books was extremely satisfying after over a decade of only the short stories in my imagination. my overachieving husband, who had the same sophomore english teacher as i did, read both. i missed out.

holes by louis sachar. another kid rec…

on the list to read soon:

the voice of matthew by lauren winner. she has written girl meets god and other books. i expect great things.

the giver by lois lowry

a history of the gypsies. i haven’t picked one yet, because as far as i can tell, there isn’t a standout, so i may read too. a fascinating and little known people group, and one that has intrigued me since i was in high school and saw gypsies in france with my family.

emma by jane austen. don’t laugh. this actually shows up on the ‘must read’ lists, but i’m an unabashed fan. people say this is her best…

i have no idea why anyone might want to read this post, but my non-building side just had to have a turn today.