A week at the house

To do the low-voltage trim-out work, which will take several days, we decided to stay at the house rather than go back and forth to Vashon everyday. Gay and I went over to the house on Tuesday morning to start. I spent the night there that night and Gay went back to Vashon for the night and brought the kids back on Wednesday to spend a couple more nights at the house. Mark had the plumber trim-out the basement bathroom ahead of schedule so we had a bathroom to use.

Ladder Rack Junction

By the end of Tuesday, I had all the CAT6 cables trimmed out in each room and the other ends connected to the patch panel in the basement. I couldn’t test them easily unti my assistant, Gay, got back on Wednesday since that required putting a tester on each end of all 30 cables. That took about 15 minutes using walkie-talkies on Wednesday. All but one worked fine and fixing the one was as easy as re-punching it into the patch panel. I was worried that I crimped or cut several of the cables pulling them through the walls months ago, so I’m amazed I did it right.

Installing all the speakers took a couple days. Mark and Colin had marked on the house plans the precise locations of all the speakers so it was easy to cut the holes in the ceilings. Except for one room. Coincidentally, no pre-cover photos were taken of the lounge, Mark and Colin didn’t mark the locations of the speakers and of all the photos I’ve taken of the house, not a single one showed the ceiling of that room. And we disagreed on the general location in the room where I had decided to locate the speakers, which had been a debate months ago before the drywall went up. We used a toner to locate the general location of the speaker wires in the ceiling, so then it was just a matter of cutting the holes. Even that wasn’t easy, lining up with the centers of the canned lighting in the ceiling, I ended up a half-inch off and hit a joist so Colin had to notch out part of the joist so I could fit the speaker in. The same was true in the master bathroom, which required even more cutting of a joist. It’s good that the house was built with 12-inch joists! I also mostly finished installing the ladder rack in the basement, which was fun.

By the end of the week, I had done as much as I could. Some rooms still had to be painted, so I couldn’t install the speakers yet, but cutting the holes now will make installing the speakers easy. Of the speakers I could install, they all work, so I didn’t leave any bad speaker wire in the wall either. Whew! I’m worried about letting the painters paint the speaker trim…. I have a feeling they’re going to get paint all over the speaker cones on at least a couple of them. We’re going to have them paint them as they’re installed just by dropping them down from the ceiling a little so they can paint them without painting them to the ceiling or having to hand them $350 speakers that they’re likely to drop or otherwise damage. Between this, the sloppy work they’ve done in places and their general negative attitude, we’re kicking ourselves for trying to save money by not hiring the more expensive painters we originally liked. Mark is going to make it clear to them that if they mess up a speaker, they’re paying to replace it and they’re not inexpensive, so hopefully they’ll be careful.

On Wednesday evening we went over to Steve & Renuka’s house, just 10 minutes away!, for dinner. Eric and Mark were in town from New York and London, respectively, so we all got together for the first time since Eric showed up in London when we were there two years ago. Our kids and their kids get along great so they entertain themselves and no one seems to get hurt so that lets us pretend we’re kid-free for a few hours.

Hudson had been sick with a cold for a couple days and it seemed to get worse and make him very cranky. Gay took him to his doctor on Thursday and he has a sinus and an ear infection, so he was prescribed antibiotics. This hasn’t made sleeping in a strange place any easier for any of us. While I was working and Gay wasn’t helping me, she took the kids to the park and out for walks. We left Friday afternoon, had a nice dinner at Porterhouse in West Seattle for burgers and good beers before going home for an early bedtime.

Staying at the house all week allowed us to watch lots of progress. At one point there were 25 people working in the house simultaneously, which is probably a record. It’s weird seeing so many people walking around your house all day. The staircase and main floor floors were being refinished, which means loud sanders running all day. The family room cabinetry was installed and looks great. The 6-foot guest room sliding door was built from two 3-foot doors. The sauna was being installed. The new sloped concrete top of the garage was poured, so Hudson got to see a couple big trucks. Bill, the electrician, was trimming-out all the electrical.

There’s still quite bit to do yet but it’s looking more and more like a finished house by the day. The last of the hardwood floors are being finished this weekend. The steel shelving needs to be installed in the kitchen so the tile guys can put the tile on the walls there. Once the tile is installed, the painters can paint the master bathroom, kitchen, family room and dining room. The rest of the plumbing (toilets and fixtures) and electrical (switches, outlets, ceiling fans, lights) still has to be trimmed-out. The moving wall in the attic needs to be clad. All the sliding door hardware needs to be finished and installed so all the sliding doors (attic, master bath and kitchen) can be installed. The master bath cabinetry still has to be installed. The glass (shower doors, mirrors) need to be installed. And all the cabinetry pulls need to be installed. Then we can move in!

The move-in date is set for July 8 and we’ve scheduled the movers for that day, so it should be real. It’ll miss the start of the Tour de France by a week, which was my goal, but the first week is all the flat boring stages, so it’s not terrible. I should be able to watch the rest of it at the house, but the decks won’t be done yet so I can’t sit outside in July and watch it like I wanted to. Maybe I will by the end of the race. After we move in, they will still be doing exterior work: patching, repairing and coloring the stucco, building the decks, pouring concrete and some exterior finish work. And the landscaping will start after all that is done. So it’ll be a construction site for a while yet but mostly on the outside.

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