An ending turns into a beginning
Seven months after closing on this house we passed our inspections. Eight months after we had moved twice (home and office) and ‘mostly’ settled. This was a much bigger job than I anticipated actually, but also included time for us to lay the foundations of a garden and already see the buds of tiny tomatoes! Seems appropriate since back in September before the place was ours I remember finding small tomatoes growing in the thick mosquito-infested wilderness of a backyard. What I simply can’t wrap my head around is that was September of 2013…a year whose number I still occasionally write if I’m not thinking properly. It just doesn’t seem plausible that this was all completed within the cycle of three seasons, one of which was the burliest winter we’ve had in years. As this project closes I observe us both significantly winding down on one hand (is procrastination for simple tasks “around the house” a sign of exhaustion or just part of what it’s like to transition into becoming a homeowner?), and yet winding up on the other as we prepare for the next physically smaller but oh-so-much larger project currently reproducing in my belly (ironically for about seven months as well). Things we can be sure of: his name is still to be determined, he’s expected at the end of August, and he probably won’t have a blog of his own (in the near future at least). Parenthood has a high chance of rocking our world much more than a house renovation, I predict.
Thanks for all of the support along the way…it’s been a rewarding aspect of the project for me to visualize the progression through images and reflect on this totally new process for both of us. And it’s an experience that provided us both with valuable insight as to what both sides of the architect/client relationship is like. It was not easy and we did not agree on all decisions, but it was certainly all worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Here are some closing shots of the finished spaces. For more pictures and other Gradient projects, you can also always visit www.gradientarch.com (minus that last shot).
Speaking of drainage, we were able to finally repair the shower floor downstairs. The tile, as previously mentioned, isn’t exactly what we had in mind, but the fact that the shower is now properly operating is worth it.
Rainbow over Red Hook
One thing I love about summer showers:
Passing the time outdoors
The crew has made big strides in the yard since our big move - below are some progress images. There are foundation drains under the surface and a dry well which we hope mitigates the amount of standing water that accumulates with some of these summer showers that have started. But even more exciting than drainage is that we had our first BBQ this past weekend! The animals are slowing coming to the realization that they hit the jackpot, the office now works with the garage door open to fresh air, and I’m very excited to spend the summer doing some planting and filling in some of this hard-scaping with the soft kind.
Here are some progress photos of the past 10 days or so:
The crew built a very simple and genius way to sift soil, so we didn’t end up with a bunch of rocks and other obstructions to our planting efforts
Turns out there is a cast iron oven of some sort buried in our yard. It’s still there.
The dry well
Newness overtakes us
After seven months of design, construction, revision, frustration, and elation, we are actually sleeping in the new house (well, as best we can without window shades). It’s amazing how much else changes outside of the physical elements of a move: parts of my brain that have been on automatic pilot for so many years are challenged again just finding new ways to navigate the city. I actually enjoy the newness of it all, it’s like taking a trip where only time is in control of which routines stick and which ones are ditched for other, more preferable versions. When framed like this it helps remind me to be patient with the New Yorker side of my brain that always seems anxious to discover shortcuts and other ways to be as efficient with my time as possible.
But even after an epic move there are still plenty of signs of construction going on around us, and plenty of signs that the newness is winning. For instance, we quickly discovered that the downstairs shower was not properly draining…after multiple attempts to snake and unclog it by forcing insane amounts of air inside (think of the compressed air gun used by Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men. It caused some pretty nasty explosions down there), it was predicted that concrete went down into the trap during the basement floor pour. Next step was to actually jack-hammer OPEN the floor yesterday to remove the trap and sure enough, there was a good 1” of solid concrete formed in the bottom of the pipe. So the whole shower floor got ripped back open, trap replaced, and shower floor raised to accommodate a new slope to the drain. We had about two hours to find and purchase new tile for the floor which was accomplished in a single trip to Home Depot…not exactly how we thought that would go—or look—in the end, but I think Ben and I both agree this phase is ALL about the path of least resistance. Which is ironically what this pipe needs too.
Moving day affects everyone differently.
Verdict is in: we PASSED our inspections!! Coincidentally this is seven months (to the day!) that we closed on the house. What a feat. Only caveat is that we need to have a fence out back by Wednesday of next week. Totally doable! And of course there are still many little things to still complete inside, but we can officially occupy the house this weekend. So insane/unbelievable yet quite real/stressful/exhausting/emotional, but most of all, completely thrilling.
As the basement wraps up in preparation for tomorrow’s inspections(!), I can’t help but fantasize mostly about the ease of doing laundry. I kind of predict it might be life-changing.