I’m going to start with the positive this time…
I’m convinced by next weekend, or early the week after – we are moving boxes to the house! Really, truly. It’s happening. In the last two weeks, crews started showing up again and things got accomplished — including:
- The blower door test was completed! When I first started learning about green building, this was my favorite thing because it was such a simple concept. You hook a fan to one door that pulls air from the house and hook up a mechanism that measures leakage. We scored a 0.82 (3 is required to “pass”). If you do this on an old drafty house that fails — the next step is to blow smoke, which will rush to all the crevices that are leaking so you know where you need to patch. I really wanted to test our house with smoke, but the guy said we didn’t need to. I was sad.
- Our fancy railings were installed (twice!) in the upstairs hallway — I won’t get into why they needed to go up, come back down, and go back up. Everything is an adventure. My mother-in-law will be happy about this as it was open and scary before the railings were up. 🙂
- We have a front sidewalk and steps up to the front door — no more crawling onto the deck to get into the house! (again, my mother-in-law may come back now!)
- All appliances are in.
- The lot is backfilled and flat. Finally.
- The retaining wall restoration guy has about 75% of the stair returns rebuilt — this is the wall portion that goes up our front stairs.
- Gutters were installed.
- The garage is nearly completely framed and the lid is going up (and now we transition to the bad news…)
Oh, the garage. So — you may recall that we’ve made significant investment to make sure the upstairs of the garage is a usable space for our family. Short-term, we intend to use the space as a game room and office. Long term, if Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are approved in St. Paul, it’s a guest room / granny flat for my folks. Think of it as a trade — you let us stay at the lake cabin, you can stay at the urban cabin. After the kids are older, we could rent it for some additional income. (We also feel strongly about keeping affordable housing and diversity in our neighborhood — this is a way to do our part).
We have run electric and low voltage. We have run sewer all the way from the street to the garage (not cheap!). We have run gas. We are insulating the detached garage. We basically are putting in all the guts so that it’s ready to be finished and used, although we are not finishing it right now.
So imagine our surprise when the roof trusses came and it became evident that the head clearance was about five feet wide in the upstairs room. Yes folks – we built the world’s most expensive hallway — no joke.
may be is the most disappointing surprise in this process. Truly. It ranks up there with the house being built up too high and not getting our walkouts. So now what?
Well – of course we discovered it when the trusses (and the expensive crane!) were on site. So we at least got the trusses up to the roof. We then talked to the HPC. We are working to get approval on a few extra inches of garage height (our garage is already over code, but the HPC approved the first time as they were happy to give us that extra space for keeping the footprint of our house smaller). We also have a neighbor with a carriage house above his garage that will still be higher than our garage. And the church is high too — so we are not the only ones on the block, which is good.
With the extra height, we will build a stub wall and move the trusses on top of the wall. The goal is to get at least 9 feet wide before we are at 6 feet tall on our roof slope. It still won’t be the most roomy space, but it will be usable. Cross your fingers and your toes, folks. Send us good juju. Whatever you do, do it now.