After weeks of nearly indiscernible baby steps on our cottage construction project we have a finished space. It wasn’t really worldwide breaking news the day they sprayed foam insulation into the walls, when the metal roof and the interior ceiling planks went up, or when paint covered the walls inside and out. But when they broke through the walls and finished the transition from old house to new addition, this adjunct room that seemed to independently protrude from the back of the house was now part of the collective whole, and the end of the project was finally in sight.
The cottage before construction started:
Most every project has at least one memorable moment – something you can’t believe just happened. There were no shocking, pull-your-hair-out surprises in this project. Everything fit. Everything worked the way we wanted.
The contractor’s biggest worry was that the floor of the addition wouldn’t line up evenly with the home’s original floor. He poked a hole through the side of the house to spot check his measurements in late April, but we wouldn’t find out whether those measurements were accurate until they opened the wall at the back of the house a few weeks ago (they were spot on).
There were two places where the addition would open up to the house – in the master bath and through a hallway closet that would ultimately become the entry to the room. The guys hung a tarp to serve as a partition of sorts when they cut through the exterior wall – which means the only thing between my bathroom and a half dozen workers was a blue tarp. Sometimes I walked to the end of the road to use the bathroom at the gym rather than use the one at home with the tarp.
Once we discovered the existence of wormwood (the ceiling planks we used in the hallway bath remodel), we changed direction and used them in the new addition as well. It totally changed the character of the room. I kept eyeing the leftover pieces of wormwood from the cuts they made for the ceiling, and finally decided there’d be enough to also use on the wall in the master bath.
The master bath during construction: Still in progress, but almost finished. . . In January we decided on all the design particulars of this one new room. Building the room on a slab rather than crawl space left us with a decision about flooring options. I didn’t relish the possibility that the sound of walking on hardwood floors could be different between the slab foundation and the crawl space foundation of the original house, so we decided to use brick. Everyone that sees our new brick floor has asked if it was an original patio or some part of the original house all along. One of the early chores of the project was to meet with the electrician about the lighting plan – although it became more of a negotiation than a meeting really. I wanted to convert my beloved sconces to be hard-wired and permanently attach them to the wall. He suggested I buy new sconces. I asked that all the outlets be switched, but eventually compromised on half the outlets – which turns on exactly two lamps. By the end of our meeting, he had told me I was ”obviously afraid of the dark.“ It all worked out in the end and there’s a light, outlet and switch in all the right places. The furniture movers had only one day available last week and then they were booked until the end of September, so we hauled the furniture in from the storage room a few days earlier than perhaps the contractor had hoped for. There’s still a pretty hefty punch-down list of things yet to be finished, but the guys have cleared out their tools and for the first time in months our house doesn’t really look like a construction zone – aside from the gutter strewn across the back yard, the dumpster across the street and the port-a-potty in the driveway, of course. But none of that will prevent me from the most wonderful part of renovating: decorating.