Friday, February 27, 2009

A few things we have learned

We still love our home. But, we have learned a few things.

First, if we had it to do over again, we would never allow Real People Homes to pour our foundation. The foundation has cracked terribly. They did just an awful job on it. We may have to have someone in to take a look at it and repair it. So far, we have not seen any exterior cracks just large cracks on the interior. Recall that we left the concrete floors unfinished and just sealed them. Well, you can see all the cracks, too. It's ugly. Eventually, we will have to cover the floors with tile or some other flooring system.

Second, whoever wired the hot water heater in the kitchen was an idiot. Who doesn't know that black goes to black and red goes to red? Somebody from Real People Homes' contractor, that's who. We should have gotten 5-10 years out of that water heater. I personally replaced it in November, 2008. Could not believe my eyes when I saw how it was wired. No wonder it wasn't working. The miracle is that it worked at all and for as long as it did. Since this very simple thing was not done correctly, it makes me wonder what else was done incorrectly.

Speaking of which, the third thing we have discovered is that whoever installed the light in the pantry did a real half-assed job. Probably the same guy who installed the water heater. When he installed it, he did it in such a way that the cover was binding and could hardly be removed. It is looking like we will have to replace the fixture. Have finally gotten the cover off and replaced the bulb but it is not working. I'll go up there soon and just replace the fixture. That should take care of it.

On the up side, energy bills remain low. This house is super well insulated. No complaints there. Even with my daughter and grandkinds living there--who are as wasteful as anyone can possibly be--the electric bill has yet to go over $250/month. Even during the hottest months of the year! That is awesome.

And we still love going out to the house and just sitting on the porch. So quiet. Watch the deer run. Drink a glass of wine. Yes, we still love our house.


Monday, October 10, 2005

Week Fifteen

The place is really looking great. We had my folks up this weekend to show it off a bit. Clearly, Chuck has some guys in there cleaning up some. Phil and I showed up a little early to sweep up some more, too. Curtis and Danny from the Real People Home office in Pipe Creek sent a couple over take a look at the house. They were really nice and I must admit, we enjoyed showing it off.
Here is the dining rooma and entry with lights on.

The rock work on the wood stove has been corrected and we can now open the stove door without a problem. The supports for the mantel are equal in length and the mantel is up. It is actually installed upside down but it still looks okay so we are going to go with it that way.

In the kitchen, the back splash for the stove is being glued to the wall. There are 2 x 4 's bracing it against the wall til the glue dries. This is a very nice back splash. Got is at HomeWerks in San Antonio for a pretty penny. It is stainless steel with a harlequin pattern which sort of repeats the pattern of the floor. Though not too much of it will be visible, I am hoping enough will be to look good.

The plumber was here to install the pedestal sink in the bathroom and discovered that it needs more support than was allowed. So Chuck had to send guys back in to remove this piece of beaded board and install a support for the sink. Hopefully this will be completed soon so the plumber can get on with all the other things he has to do.

The painter was back to finish painting the first layer of trim on the back porch. There was more discussion about the rough nature of the trim. Chuck tells me that is just the way rough cut cedar is but I guess I did not know that. This is one of those things I will have to live with till I find something I like better. The painter forgot his sander for sanding in between coats. Fortunately, we had one in the garage and he was able to finish the work. I am still puzzled, though, as the outside of the trim has not been painted yet. The screens for the back porch will be installed on Monday and then the inside trim will be installed and painted. Maybe that is when all the trim will get a complete paint job.
Also, the yard clean up has begun. Phil and I spent a few hours last weekend and this one stacking left over rock for all those future projects we have in mind: flower beds, walkways, etc. Thank goodness it was cooler this week. We dang near died last week. We are too old and fat to be lugging heavy rocks in 105 degree heat. That could kill us! Fortunately, it was much cooler this weekend and we were able to get a lot more done. We will be back lugging rocks next weekend, too.

Oct 24 is not too far away but Chuck tells me that the counter top guys have the stuff in stock for the poured counter top I want so hopefully it will not take the full two weeks to get counter tops in place. Once those are in place, the rest of the plumbing can be finished. I am trying not to be antsy but I can hardly wait. The place just looks so good. And I also know that just when you do not plan for something to go wrong, it will. Of course, Phil and I have a short list of things that need to be done, too.
Phil has been talking with the insurance people about homeowners insurance. They are not familiar with this kind of house and it has taken several phone calls to find someone who was willing to talk about making the rates more realistic. We're not there yet, but much closer.
I have been talking with Verizon about telephone line installation. I do not like them very much. They have a "if you don't like it, too bad" kind of attitude. Yes, I was being difficult. I did not want to give them my social security number just so they could do a credit check. Why do they need that anyway? Everyone else in the world doesn't and they seem to get credit checks just fine. Hummmph. The joys of dealing a bureaucracy.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Week Fourteen

This week we got the propane installed. Who could have known that propane would go so high! $2/gallon. Good grief. The good news is that we will only be cooking with it and this huge tankful of propane will last us several years. I much prefer to cook with gas rather than electric. Our stove is sitting on the front porch just waiting for counter tops so it can be installed.

There was one little oops! this week. The rock guys finished the rock work on the fireplace/wood stove insert. The arch is a little cockeyed and will not permit the opening of the stove door completely. Also one of the supports for the mantel is a good two inches longer than the other and sort of sticks out.

The back porch is a screened porch and in preparation for the screens, the first layer of trim has been installed. But it looks like the rough side of the cedar has been installed up. I really want a more smooth finish. Otherwise, looks good.

Counting the days.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Week Thirteen

Finally, finally!! The kitchen cabinets are here. I was so anxious to see them. We have spent a good deal of money on them primarily because you can see them from every public place in the house. Here are some preliminary pictures:

This is looking back from the kitchen into the living room.

Here are the cabinets for the master bath:

Also note that we have electricity in the house now.

The back door has been hung.

And the front door, too.

The shower in the master bath is all done except for installation of shower control and shower head.

And the air conditioners are in place.

And here is one last look at the kitchen cabinets. Notice that the wall hung cabinets on the outside wall are not as tall as those on the other wall. That is because the beams come low enough to interfere with tall cabinets. I have gone with the extra tall wall hung cabinets on the other wall. We debated going with extra tall ones every where we could and putting up false fronts to make them all appear the same height but in the end, this seemed better. And actually, I do like it better, too. It looks cleaner. I really don't mind the difference in height.

The next things that need to happen are the completion of the rock on the fireplace, counter tops and plumbing. We are getting a littly antsy because the interest rate we negotiated is only good until the 24th of October. After that we will have to negotiate a new one and as everyone knows, they have gone up since we locked in this one. Hans and Chuck assure us that we will make the deadline. But we cannot help but worry a bit.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Week Twelve

Trenching has continued. It did turn out to be a hard job. Chuck first rented a backhoe kind of thing but the ground proved too hard. Then he went back for a trencher and the rock proved too hard. So back he went. This time for a rock saw. That did the trick. We have trenches everywhere. From the electric pole all the way out to the well.

The painters tried to paint the front and back doors with a paint brush but that did not work out too well. So they have removed the doors and are spray painging them. I said a little prayer when I saw this very expenseive front door hanging from the tree.

But one thing is certain, spraying them made for a much nicer finish. The back door windows are being taped and it will be the back door's turn to hang from the tree for a bit.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Week Eleven

At last, the shower tile and the glass block wall are complete. The guy who put these in has been setting tile for 60 years. Imagine! I can hardly imagine doing anything for 60 years except maybe breathing. He did a great job. We went with all white tiles and had one row set with decorative tiles alternating between white ones. The decorative ones are of colorful tropical fishes.

And we have a little progress on the guest bath, as well. The faucet has been installed. And the beaded board painted. One little setback, though. The painters did not sand the beaded board before they painted so the paint is peeling. They will have to go back and strip, sand and paint.

The stove pipe is in. Note how it sets just away from the front porch roof. That is what the angled pipe was needed for.

Trenching has begun. Now this will be a chore. I recall how hard Pete Morales worked to put in our septic system. We have clay soil with pockets of caliche and some seriously big rocks buried in the soil.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Week Ten+

Love the rockwork! Love the rockwork! Love the rockwork! This picture gives you a close up of the rock work around the windows. The rock guys will have to come back and take care of a few details still. Like, this one, of course. Notice that the window ledge is not quite cemented in place. This at least gives an impression of how it will look when complete.

Most of the rockwork, however, is done. It came out really nice didn't it?

We have a floor now for the back porch, too. We went with Trex. This was a big decision. I wanted to reduce the termite attractiveness of the house and wood composite was the way to go. The only decision was which brand. Since Trex came out a few years ago, the number of wood composites in the marketplace have multiplied enormously. There are bunches of choices and depending on who carries what, you can get any number of opinions about which is best. In the end, we went with Trex because it has been around the longest, it came in the colors I liked, and it has a good rep. I also like it that is is made of recycled material.

The bathtub is also in. This bathtub is cast iron by Kholer. Muchas Gracias to Morales Plumbing in Fredericksburg, for ordering it for me and give me a good price on it. I wanted an old fashioned feel to this bathroom. We have beaded board on the walls. It will be painted white. Eventually, we will also have a pedestal sink and porcelein door knob to round out that old fashioned look.

And here is the light is up in the kitchen. Again, we are going for a look that is a bit more old fashioned but in the kitchen, I wanted to make sure we had plenty of light. I am thinking that because of the high ceiling, this might be an issue. This is a nine light fixture.

And in the dining room, this light was hung. I am especially fond of this light. I purchased it when a good friend sold her business (Hill Country Design Center in Fredericksburg). At the time that I bought this fixture, I had no house or even an inclination of when it might be built. I just loved the fixture.

And the big honking, heavy wood stove insert is now in place. I bought this back when another friend closed his wood stove business in Fredericksburg. Again, I had no idea when we would be building but could not pass up a good deal. Every one tells me this is too much stove for the house. Okay. One thing is certain, we will be warm on those bitterly icy days we tend to have here in the Hill Country. Even though it looks the stove pipe is complete, it is not. Because of the way the roof for the porch goes over this spot, the stove pipe will need to be angled away from it abit. The angle is on order. Still more work here.

Of course, Phil wanted me to take a picture of the electric meter at 00000. I almost didn't make it.

Lots of progress and it is looking good. &:)