Chapter 48: Walls are Popping Up Like Weeds

July 21, 2010 • Written by Christina Berry

Wait, before I wrap this up with a whole frenzy of wall building, can I just list all the other crap we were dealing with at the same time we were kicking butt at construction?

1) Insurance — In early June we get a call from our insurance agent. He tells us that he’s dropping us. Why? Because we’re in the midst of construction. See, we have this insurance called Texas Fair Plan. It’s insurance for people with very little money or crappy houses. When no one will insure you because your house is so decrepit that it’s falling down, the state subsidizes your insurance. We’d been on this since we bought the place, but now we were in the midst of massive construction. They don’t cover that. Okay, fine, so find us another insurer. Um, yeah, no can do. No one covers construction. Huh? Um, I call bullshit. Surely there is someone who covers you during the course of construction. Phone call, phone call, phone call…no, no, no. None of the big beastly insurers cover construction. But guess what, small local farm insurers do. So there! Bye bye, big beastly insurer, we didn’t really like you anyway.

2) Code Compliance — After one very awkward visit from Mr. Code Enforcement Officer we decided it was imperative that we be 100% sure we’re covering our asses on everything. And I do mean everything. City of Austin is apparently hurtin’ for cash because¬†they looooooooove fining people. So Errek & I took a day off work and headed down to the city. There we sat in the waiting room, then talked to a guy, then sat in the waiting room, and then talked to a lady. At the end we’d spent three hours and $200 on permits to remodel our existing house. See, we stupidly thought you only needed permits when you were adding square footage and that all our remodeling work would be included on our addition permit. Nope. The folks at the city were very nice and helpful, we just had to exercise our patience muscle. Anyway, long story short we now have 19 permits and Code Compliance just drives on by, which was our goal.

3) Roof — Yep, with all that rain guess what we’ve got on the brain — the roof. We auditioned five companies for a metal roof. One guy made such a bad impression we told him not to bother with an estimate. We’ve picked a company with a neat product and a 25 year warranty. Now, just have to save money and build the roof rafter!

4) Windows — And you can’t finish the walls without the windows, right? We’ll we knew our rough openings for all of the windows except for those on the back wall. For a while we had our heart set on a steel door. We found a local distributor for gorgeous steel doors and windows imported from England and met with him to get an estimate. It took something like two weeks to hear back from England. *drum roll* And the final price tag for two windows and a door is — $20,367.36 (before taxes)! Um…okay, bubble burst. Let’s talk options. Well that bubble bust at exactly 12:04PM on June 22nd and we’re STILL talking options. *sigh* You know, sometimes it sucks to have such great taste and no money.

Okay, enough with the lame, let’s get back to the fabulous. More walls, please!

Next up, the kitchen.

Now the kitchen is going to be fabulous, let’s just get that reality out of the way. While the ceiling in every other room will be 8 1/2 feet tall, the kitchen is going to shoot up to 10 1/2 feet. This comes from a genius idea that our architect Rudy came up with. When we first designed the kitchen it had no widows. We had light coming in from the living room and breakfast room, but in the kitchen we needed our walls for cabinets, no room for windows. Well Rudy’s wife did not approve, so Rudy noodled on it and came up with the tall ceiling idea. This taller height allows room for three 2×2 foot transom windows to go over the cabinets. So we get warm light AND lots of storage space. Yes!

One issue, to make such a tall ceiling, we’d have to cut off part of the existing roof. Hmm.

Errek had an idea, let’s just cut a slit in the roof and slide the wall into it. Hmm. Okay.

Roof slit. Check.

See those squares, those are our transom windows. I heart them already.

Note the different color of the window header wood? That’s because that’s some old pine we took out of the house. We needed 2×6, so Errek found some old wood. Only problem is that old wood is really, really heavy (way heavier than new wood). The walls were already really tall, and now we were making it really top heavy. We’re supposed to lift AND slide this thing into the roof slit? Hmm, visions of crush syndrome disasters dance in my head.

Cleats are going in and I’m getting nervous.

Fast forward to AAAAAAAWESOME!

Yeah, the wall fit right into the roof slit, no need to note all the cussing and grunting and freaking out. Nope, gonna just glide right over that to the…BREAKFAST ROOM wall.

Technically the breakfast room wall and kitchen wall are the same wall, but given that we don’t have a crew of Amish dudes, I suggested that we put them up in two piece and dove tail the top and bottom plate. See, I got mad problem solving skills.

After our first two monster walls, this one was a piece of cake.

And then there were two.

Um…wait. What’s with the plastic and tarps?

Emergency roof flashing installation?

Oh noes. Don’t tell me…

More rain?

And rain…

And rain!?!?

Yep. After Hurricane Alex we had one weekend (Fourth of July weekend) with sun, and then a second tropical storm ripped through northern Mexico dumping a whole lotta water on us. Fortunately the new walls made the overheard tarp work better, and with the primer paint we were in a much better place.

Finally when the rainy pattern ended there was nothing but sunshine and brutal heat for a while. Man, we really need a roof. But you can’t have a roof without the walls. So we push on. Next up, the middle wall.

Again, we had to remove old house in order to tie in new house.

Since the kitchen is so tall, we had a different roof line there, so we had to rip off part of the bedroom roof to connect it all.

Building more wall on the floor.

Again we split the wall in half because this one was really weird. We’ve got this thing, you see? Well, actually, you don’t see. Meet me at the next caption and I’ll explain there.

Oh hi! Good to see you again, so as I was saying, see…oh crap…next caption. I know, I’m a caption tease, but I promise, next caption I’ll totally put out.

OKAY! See how there is a big fat gap in the wall? It looks like a garage door opening, but you can’t get a car up here, silly. Well, it’s not a garage door, this is the laundry “room.” We’re going to put our washer & dryer in the kitchen, but they will be disguised as tall cabinets. They’re going to be in the same line with a bunch of kitchen cabinets (and even have cabinet doors hiding them away), but they will be 42″ high instead of the usual 36″ height. But the thing is, washers & dryers are thick in the middle. If we built everything on one continuous wall our front loaders would pooch out all groddy, like a beer gut. So Rudy designed a little jog in the wall where the back of the washer/dryer space will pooch backwards into the master closet about a foot.

So what you see there in the middle is a big ole header on the load bearing wall. This will distribute the houses weight around the washer/dryer opening.

Plumbing up the wall at night means we don’t need those funky red glasses.

So, we’ve got the three load bearing walls up, now what? Oh yeah, all the little walls.

This cute little guy is small but important. We will be packing this wall with a radiant heat barrier because on the tall side (left) we’ll have a stove about 3 feet from the wall, and on the short side (right) we’ll be putting a large marine aquarium. Don’t want to cook the little fishies, so…little heat proof wall. Problem solved.

This little fella is the wall between the bedroom (which will be 5′ longer in our future reality) and the bathroom. You can see the door to the left. By the way, ignore the diagonals. That is just so that the walls don’t tump over. Ugly but important and stuff.

Here’s a full on view of the bedroom/bathroom wall from the back of the house.

Oh, speaking of the back of the house…yes, we do plan to put a wall there. But remember how we’re talking options with the window sales dudes? Well, we can’t frame a wall when we have no clue what the windows will look like. So, we wait. But that’s okay. We still have a walk in closet, and poochy laundry thing-a-ma-doo-hickey to build.

When it’s rear wall time, the house will let us know.

And so I bid you farewell, for now. At this very moment we are 8 minutes into July 21st and so today we mark the four year anniversary of the day this project began. Yep, FOUR YEARS! I’m so sleepy. When can we “veg”? I’m not really sure what that word means, but I hear positive things about it.

To our devoted fans, we love you guys so hard. Seriously, this blog allows us to laugh at ourselves and when you live in a Money Pit, you pretty much just gotta laugh sometimes.


See, Tom gets it.

Happy Anniversary, PVR!

We’re not finished yet.