June 6, 2010


Our latest project has been finishing half of our basement. This is one of the only before photos I have where you can see the old windows and the cinder block walls.
We finished the right side of the basement (approximately 450 sq. ft.) and added a door that opens to the unfinished side on the left where the laundry, furnace, water heater, and sump pump are located.
First we replaced the windows. Then we had a sub-floor drainage system and new sump pump installed by Perma-Seal.
Next, we were super fortunate to find a couple of guys, John and Robert, who were able to fit us into their schedule right away to do the framing, drywall, and electrical work.
They came over on a Thursday to give us an estimate, started working four days later, and within 10 days the basement was ready for taping, mudding, and sanding.
After a few days of that, it was time for us to paint and install flooring. We had heard that laminate flooring is easy to install yourself and an ideal flooring option for basements, so Mike gave it a try. It took just over a day from start to finish!

John and Robert came back for two days of finishing touches (including hanging a few of our old kitchen cabinets), and then it was ready for us to move in.

We're so happy with how it turned out, and the timing couldn't have been any better as our kids' summer vacation is just beginning. The extra space, with a significantly cooler temperature than the rest of the house and a soundproofed ceiling, is just what we needed!

July 7, 2009

backyard landscaping

When Spring arrived it was time to put the finishing touches on the backyard. We had a landscaping company remove the excess gravel that was mixed in with the dirt surrounding the new driveway, and they also brought in new topsoil to help even out the slope from the garage toward the fence. Then we planted grass seed and some flowering bushes and perennials around the perimeter of the driveway.
We also had the landscaping company install a few stepping stones from the driveway to the side door of the garage, something we hadn't thought of when the garage was being built. We're really happy with how it all turned out!

November 26, 2008

completed garage

The concrete driveway was poured last Tuesday. Because of the cold weather, today was the first day we were able to drive on it. I'm really happy with how it turned out!
The garage door was installed today, so the entire garage is now complete! A few people have asked about the cost; here's the final breakdown:

Architect, $915
Survey & grading plan, $2,175
Raise electric service, $600
Concrete slab (20' x 25'), $5,300
Garage, $15,700
Driveway extension, pavers (480 sf), $6,275
Concrete driveway (640 sf), $5,950
Permits & Inspections, $350
TOTAL: $36,350

November 14, 2008

garage update

The roof is on, the windows are installed, and the power is working in the garage. The concrete guys arrived this morning to remove the old asphalt driveway; we're hoping the new concrete driveway will be poured on Monday or Tuesday.

November 10, 2008


The paver guys arrived at about 8:30 this morning and were completely finished by 4:30! It looks great, there are just a couple of odd angles where the driveway meets the patio that we'll need to hide with some good landscaping.

November 9, 2008

faming continues...

The garage guys worked most of the day yesterday (Saturday) and are pretty close to finishing the framing.

November 6, 2008

a quick update...

This is what the garage looked like this morning. The garage guys were hoping to get to a point today where they'd be ready for a framing inspection tomorrow morning, but with the rain this afternoon, I'm not sure if they were able to finish everything they were hoping to. Also, the paver guys haven't been back since Tuesday; I think they're waiting for the "pre-pour" inspection, plus the rain may have delayed them as well.

November 5, 2008


Things seem to be moving along pretty quickly now. They began the framing on Monday morning:
Yesterday the garage guys continued to work on the framing while the paver guys prepared the area where the driveway extension will go:

October 31, 2008

lumber delivery

The lumber for the garage was delivered this afternoon. Surprise, surprise, they couldn't get it into the backyard where it was supposed to go, so they ended up leaving most of it on the grass in the front yard.
They were able to take one small load into the backyard, but in the process they drove across the patio and destroyed this 2' x 2' paver that was covering a cistern.

October 24, 2008

detached garage update

The good news is the concrete was poured yesterday...
The bad news is that 1/4 of our existing asphalt driveway, which we weren't planning on replacing, was destroyed during the process:
So now we will be replacing the entire driveway with concrete.

October 20, 2008

detached garage

In August we decided to build a detached 2-car garage in our backyard. We thought we had a pretty good idea of how much it would cost, so we hired an architect and engineering company, and along the way found out it'll actually cost more than twice as much as we had originally thought. But since we had already paid for the blueprints and grading plan, and it won't get any cheaper if we wait to do it in the future, we decided to go ahead with it.

So we gave our contractor a deposit and applied for a permit. We've had all kinds of trouble with the city because apparently we have a deed-divided lot instead of a sub-divided lot (more than 80 years ago our lot was part of the lot to the north of us, and the owner sold part of the lot to someone else.) Also, our lot is "non-conforming" because it's only 40 feet wide, and the city requires all lots to be at least 50 feet wide. We're going before City Council tomorrow in the hopes of making the "lot consolidation" process that the city is requiring less complicated, but either way it has already added a large additional cost to the project.

But on Wednesday we finally got our permit, and on Friday our electrician raised our overhead power lines by several feet to provide enough clearance over the driveway extension. And today the concrete guy came over and dug up the ground where the concrete slab will go:

January 19, 2007

Finished Kitchen

So here's one set of before and after pictures and the rest of the after pictures (although we haven't decided on new window treatments yet). We're thrilled with how it all turned out. It was definitely worth doing over Christmas to get the whole thing done so quickly!

January 18, 2007

Kitchen Booth

I've always wanted an eat-in kitchen and especially a booth if possible. It was a tight fit, but we managed to squeeze one in!

I had a surprisingly difficult time finding good pictures and advice on dimensions, but I ended up finding this picture and some great advice in one of Sarah Susanka's Not So Big House books.
And then I found this picture on a blog, which was extremely helpful, but unfortunately I have no idea what blog it was.
So I drew up these plans for the contractor, and everything worked out beautifully.
(Click on these links to view full-size drawings of the end view, side view, and top view.)

First they created a frame with 2x4s.
Then added plywood.
Stained the wood to match the cabinets.
Built a post and added a piece of wood to the wall to support the table top.
The finished booth:
We eat all of our meals here, and the kids love sitting here to color and work on craft projects. It's been a big hit in our family! And when the kids have friends over they usually end up squeezing 3 in on each side.

Kitchen Remodel

Our dumpster was delivered on 12/16. We sent the kids to my mom’s house for the day and tried tearing up the floor ourselves to save a little money. We only made it through some of the tile and a very small portion of the plywood, linoleum, and old hardwood before we finally called our contractor and admitted defeat - we decided we'd gladly pay to have the workers remove the rest of it!
Two days later Ray, Sunshine, and Carlos started work. They quickly removed the rest of the kitchen floor, the dishwasher, and some cabinets. The next day they removed the stove, sink, countertop, and the rest of the cabinets.
Next they began opening up walls and working on electrical stuff.
The first big problem we ran into was that the floor joists above the kitchen are only 4x6's, so the remodeling can lights they had planned on using wouldn't fit. They're going to need to use new construction can lights, which are shallower but require a significantly larger opening to install. So they had to increase all the small, 5" diameter circles they had previously cut in the ceiling into large rectangular openings - not an easy task when you're working with a plaster ceiling.
Our living room was the holding area for our new cabinets, appliances, flooring materials, and light fixtures.Our appliances were delivered on 12/22, and we began using the new refrigerator in our temporary kitchen that we set up in the dining room. We had a microwave and toaster oven, and we used mostly paper plates and cups and plastic utensils.

Ray and Sunshine continued to work on the drywall.
After a final sanding Louie started installing the new hardwood floor.
Ray and Sunshine started installing cabinets on Jan. 4 while Louie continued to work on the floor.
The tile for our backsplash was delivered on Jan. 11. It took three weeks to get here from Spain, and it was the wrong tile! It took several calls, but I eventually got a rush on the correct tile, and it miraculously arrived by the time we needed it!
Sunshine, Ray, and Louie finished up the booth and cabinets (trim pieces, crown molding, baseboards, and knobs and pulls), installed the under-cabinet lights, booth light fixture, dimmer switches, and all the appliances.
The granite countertop was installed on Jan 17, and we love it! We had a really great experience working with Top Resources.

Ray and Sunshine began installing the backsplash tile the next day.The kitchen was completed on Jan. 20 – it took almost exactly one month! We've really been enjoying the booth, and it was great "moving back in" to the kitchen.