Friday, August 8, 2014

Major building project: new rooms going up, relationship being tested!

Master builder Bruce Keller, whose specialty is high-end La Jolla, Calif., projects,
is spending part of his summer in the Beartooths, helping Cookie with their summer home.



Expert framer Tom Giamanco traveled from San Diego to help.

I've been making my own personal "I Love Lucy" home movie.  I'm thinking of the famous chocolate candy assembly line, or the grape stomping scene.  I can't remember ever being so frustrated, excited, confused, over-extended and overwhelmed -- with more than a little physical pain thrown into the mix.
KELLER knew I'd always wanted a "tree house" in the second story.  With mature aspen, beautiful stars and sky, and a backdrop of gorgeous mountains, large windows to frame the view seem a natural. With bird feeders out the new shower skylight.
KELLER MADE it happen.  But it had been 22 years since I'd walked the construction trail, and my moccasins were out of step.  This major overhaul of the second-floor rooms involves the whole house: addition of a new bathroom and bedroom, redo of the office and library, a new solarium bedroom and redesign of the entryway and first floor walkway.
Landscaping was torn up. Siding was torn off.  "Demo" -- contractor lingo for "demolition" -- involves destruction beyond belief. I've feared for the lives of our Yorkies, Nick and Nora, lest they be hit by flying debris.  I've been a weepy mess.
Tom, painter Jim Slater and Keller keep the Yorkies,
 Nick and Nora, safely out of harm's way.
There's bound to be trial and tribulation when people are living in the home being remodeled.  And although Keller's budget estimate was close -- within a few thousand of his original estimate --  the money has been flying out the window like the cliff swallows circling at dusk.
Throw in various unrelated annoyances, the ordering, delays, wrong materials, unreliable deliveries and etc.etc.etc.: Plus:

Cookie, arm in sling and looking more than a bit overwhelmed,
fixes lunch for the troops and awaits her "Calm" pill to kick in. 

*Two flat tires on the Explorer were followed by a blow-out on the truck.
Darrel Holmquist located the septic
 tank and prepared for addition 
of a new sewer line to new bathroom.
*The refrigerator died three days after we arrived July 1. Because it fits under a custom made cupboard, it is a special heighth and thus a special order.  We were three weeks living out of coolers with the back-up 70-year old Frigidaire in the garage (thank goodness for it.)
*One of the toilets in the older parts of the home checked out.  Or was it the plumbing
Bruce Keller, left, and Bradford Smith of southern California, at work.
below the toilet?  Suffice to say, ugly mess and overflowing waters.  Many towels relegated to rag bag and problem finally fixed, thanks to Stillwater Plumbing.
BEARTOOTH LUMBER has been a godsend, too, delivering much of our needed paint, lumber, drywall, stain and thousands of dollars worth of windows.
Lunches and dinners have been a challenge -- with many extra people. But we're eating well.
Keller's able colleagues have been flying in and out of San Diego.
Don't despair.  Plants will grow back,
and everything will be pretty again.
All of this wouldn't have been so unnerving with both arms, but with one arm in a sling, result of an accident a few weeks ago, I'm moving more slowly. And I'm still in considerable pain from serious arm injury.
CO-ORDINATING schedules of the back-hoe man, septic tank man, plumber, roofer, and an array of Keller's talented California assistants has called upon my travel agent savvy, meditation skills, and extra helpings of Calms Forte.
Good thing I've navigated the world and know how to arrange work times and schedules.
Fixing meals for the gang -- nine workers here one day -- has taxed my imagination and resources. I think I have a dazed look on my face much of the time.

Builder Tom Giamanco takes time to enjoy the west fork of the Stillwater, 
and to keep in touch with his California friends and family. 

NEXT UP:  Our two-parter on construction woes segues to tips for staying sane and keeping your relationship happy during a remodeling project.  Especially when you're living in the home you're improving upon, you need patience and good will toward one another. You also need to take time off to have a little fun. And you must look at the big picture:  the addition will be beautiful, the dust and disruption will disappear, and you'll be happy. We try to imbue our pieces with a sense of fun, and our travel stories with the spirit of innovation and adventure.  Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out Wednesdays and weekends at

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