03 June 2009

After a brief hiatus...

The kitchen and all related construction have been on hold for the last twelve days. We've been waiting for the newly refinished floors to cure. I've commonly heard to wait 7 days; our flooring contractors recommended 14 days. We waited 12 days and now are proceeding with light footed work that can be done in socks, such as painting.

We were going to paint ourselves, but after all the construction was done, we realized the amount of painting required was far greater than we anticipated. Our GC helped us out by giving us an extremely forgiving bid to do the ceiling and cut in at the top of the walls. That's the hard part as far as we're concerned. We (which means Jay, my husband), will paint the rest of the walls. We're pretty happy about reaching a compromise in saving money versus doing the job proficiently and professionally.

We have made some adjustments in our timeline due to the fact that I am pregnant, and am due with our second baby on July 5th. Yep, folks, 32 days and counting. The kitchen will not be done by the baby's arrival. Everyone thinks we were insane to do this remodel now. But I ask you -- is it better to start the remodel after the birth, with a newborn? It would be best to wait two years but -- I didn't want to wait that long. Who knows what could happen in two years. I personally am glad we started now -- we have all the framing/drywall/floor refinishing out of the way well before I give birth. That's a load off my mind.

Let me tell you -- there aren't any words to describe how we dread the thought of washing baby bottles by hand, day in and day out. Life will certainly not be easy with a newborn and yet no kitchen. Here are some scheduling changes we made, in consideration of my pregnancy and our impeding birth:

(1) we normally would have the floors finished as the very last step. This has many advantages, namely least risk of damage to floors by any other contractors and their dropped tools and materials. Some people also like to choose the floor stain as the very last step. Those benefits aside, the finishing steps require that we vacate the house. As various minor delays started to add up, we realized that with the new schedule, we'd be kicked out of the house with our toddler and a very young newborn. We decided to get our floors refinished earlier in the project, when our life still has some routine and control and we can be displaced without much issue.

Our contractor picked up some extremely expensive ($280/roll) blue floor protection material that is supposed to be the bee's knees. That's in addition to red rosin paper on bottom, masonite on top, and some strategically placed rubber rugs. It's a pretty sweet, cushy, well protected surface of multiple layers, so I'm really confident that my floors will make it unscathed through the final steps of the kitchen.

(2) In general, I have worked to get the "lower skilled" trades on the schedule early, with the higher skilled trades and more reliable contractors at the end of the schedule. All the guys at the end of the schedule have proven to me that they have good communication skills. It is likely that all of these trades will still be on the job after the birth. Their ability to communicate well is very important since I won't be able to be onsite as much as I would normally like.

(3) I've had very detailed meetings to go over installation requests with these higher trades - the cabinetry installers, counter installers, and the tiler. I selected these people very carefully and truly believe I have some of the best-of-the-best on my team. The tile guy, especially -- I paid more for him because he has excellent communication skills as well as lots of experience and craftsmanship. He wrote up a very clear bid and verbally demonstrated a perfect understanding of my desires. He's also come over to personally check my tile as it arrived, to minimize possible issues downstream. He has young children of his own so he knows especially well just how distracted I will be and is really helpful to get details figured out in advance.

(4) I've worked with my GC to establish a partial move-in schedule for the kitchen. Typically we would wait for everything to be done before we move in. We'd love to gain use of our fridge, an oven, our dish hutch, and the pantry. That would just make life so much easier than cooking out of the garage! He is trying to work out a schedule to enable us to get into the kitchen partially before I deliver. I can't express how much we appreciate this. I hope it doesn't incur extra trip fees for him, from his elec. and plumbing subs.

Right now, I am most excited about two things. One -- this weekend, we should be able to reclaim our dining room and my office. Praise be. This will be a real milestone for us. Getting these little nuggets of normalcy handed back to us in little doses helps to keep us motivated and excited.

My second exciting item - Monday is DELIVERY OF THE CABINETS!!! To me, this is like being six years old and waking up to Christmas morning. I interned at a cabinetry company a couple years ago, so this is a bigger deal to me than most remodelers. I was so excited today to meet the lead installer, who is also the guy who actually built my cabinets. He came up to me and said -- "your cabinets are gorgeous." He explained how they were all setup in the layout on the shop floor and everyone who walks by, oohs and ahhs over them. I'm thinking, they probably say this to everyone. Really, would they ever go to a client and say "your cabinets are really average" ??

... But then he followed it up with "especially your red hutch -- the red paint color on the outside and the wood stain just really go well together. I love that piece. It's just beautiful." That's my favorite box in the whole kitchen. He got major brownie points with me for calling that out.


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