Well, lots of banging away this week, but a lot less dust!
The emphasis this week was on three things:
1. The new beam in the attic to carry the load of the walls we knocked down. This is a lovely piece of wood!
2. Fixing the rotted floor joists and the foundation sill.
3. Adding more earthquake retrofitting. As part of any significant remodel in Berkeley, you are required to add a certain amount of reinforcement--our remodel costs much more than it would in, say, Iowa for this reason. There are significantly beefed up corner posts; more huge bolts have been drilled 12" or more into the foundation (man was this noisy) to secure the frame to the foundation; and shear panels will be added. This house will be SOLID! The builder said it should stand for 500 years (at which point, if the oceans rise as expected, it will be beachfront property).
4. The new opening to the backyard was framed in. We are keeping the old door (well, not that old: we had replaced the old patio doors with the 1" gap at the top with state-of-the-art doors 2+ years ago) and adding a side light and transom to let more light into our new room, which is rather dark. The ceilings are 9' high, so we have space above the doors.
The requisite bad news: It turns out that the patio was poured incorrectly. Our neighbors say it was added about 15-20 years ago by the previous owner. It was put in flush with the door opening and all the water runs directly against the house. In this photo, the rotted sill (it's not the sill, it's the foundation something or other, I can't remember, but it's important!) has been removed and you can see how the patio (in the bottom left of the photo) is the same height as the concrete the sill rested on. This is bad.
We will need to have it removed and dropped down about 6". I'm really hoping this is the last of the bad news! On the bright side, the current patio is pretty well cracked (to be honest, it's sort of slipping down the slope) and we would have replaced it eventually.
Weird news: The kitchen floor 3.5" higher at one corner than at the opposite corner. This wasn't readily apparent when the interior walls were in, but it creates a big problem with the cabinets. The architect, the contractor, and I spent an hour pacing the room and talking about counter heights and toe kicks and stove heights.... It will all work out, but is another reason why we are having semi-custom cabinets rather than off-the-shelf versions.
I drove out to visit the cabinet makers last week--Precision Cabinets & Trim. It was instructive to see how they operate and to look at real examples of colors and styles. I'm still unsure about paint and countertops--I expect I'll be asking general opinions about this soon! You know from my sweater designing that I tend to leap in and decide as things go along--clearly I am approaching this the same way!
I will admit that I had a dream of a sort of industrial-rustic worn wood kitchen. Sort of wabi-sabi. That isn't going to happen: such a kitchen is beyond our budget. We went to a salvaged wood furniture shop today to price having the kitchen island top be some funky, textural piece--not going to happen. And frankly: we see this remodel as both something to enhance our family life and as a capital improvement to our property. So perhaps it is well that we are forced to be a little more mainstream in our choices!
Every step of the way we've been trying to be environmentally responsible. The old stove and some of the cabinets went to a friend; the cut-away wood is being chipped for mulch (it is too old to be reused, according to the builder--it would just split); the cabinet maker is certified as an Environmental Steward; other appliances, if not re-used, will be taken apart for scrap. Berkeley has some pretty tough regulations about demolitions. Some decisions, though, were less kind to the environment: I decided against pressed paper countertops, for example. No matter how we do it, though, we are still using stuff in this remodel.