Archive for August, 2008

Week 6: going up!

Some going up is about to go down.

Some going up is about to go down.

It’s week 6 of construction at 1133 Shades Crest… and the fast and furious frame game continues.

After dealing with the bulk of the main level last week, seems there’s nowhere left to go but up. But first, some (temporary) stairs…

Stairs!

Stairs!

We can see our house from heeeeere!

View from the top.

And now that all of the subfloor has been installed for the upper level, the downstairs bedrooms are beginning to feel a lot more more like rooms.

Inside the east side bedroom.

Inside the east side bedroom.

The east side hallway.

The east side hallway.

As the week progresses, walls start happening in the upper level, and we’re able to see the first hints of the middle volume rising from the kitchen into the upstairs…

Putting up a facade.

Putting up a facade.

Pump up the volume (and the kitchen).

Pump up the volume (and the kitchen).

…and the middle volume office/mezzanine, master bedroom, master bedroom closet/laundry room, and bathroom areas are now delineated.

The master bedroom and closet.

The master bedroom and closet.

shaping up.

The west side: shaping up.

Another week of framing, and the shape of the house is coming into focus. Speaking with Will at Green Bottle, he’s optimistic that, despite the financing hiccups that put us a week behind schedule, the house will be fully framed within the original 7-week estimate…

…oh, knock on wood (there’s plenty of that to go around).

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Week 5: let the frames begin

Monday, August 11. It’s drizzling, gloomy, overcast day in Bluff Park. Not the best of weather for framing, but the framers get to it…

The amazing Lauren and Rachel Burns… and balloons!

The amazing Lauren and Rachel Burns… and balloons!

…while we’re enjoying sunny, unseasonably temperate weather in Washington D.C. hanging with Bubs, Lisa, Lauren and Rachel.

After spending the weekend taking in a few sights, eating too much, and being fairly glued to the Olympics, Liane and I hit the National Building Museum on Monday with Bubba and Lauren for the Eero Saarinen exhibit (he of The Arch and the lovely Womb Chair).

Meanwhile, back “home,” Will is kind enough to capture the results of week 5, day 1 for us: half the first floor done before calling it on account of rain.

We’re back in business!

Half of the first floor floor.

Half of the first floor floor. Photo ©2008 Green Bottle Workshop LLC

Over the phone the next day, Will lets us know that we’ll need to commit one way or the other to the outdoor fireplace, which will go on the east side terrace. Even if we decide to do it after the house is finished, a footing will need to be poured, and that has to happen now. We all really, really want to this to happen. So, after minimal debate (and encouragement from Bubba), we give ’em the go-ahead.

At week’s end, we say our goodbyes in Baltimore, fly back to Birmingham and head straight for the lot. Will had said that the framing stage is typically the quickest part of the building process. Never having done this before though (and knowing that the weather hadn’t been fully cooperative while we were away), we weren’t quite sure what to expect when we pulled into the “driveway” at 1133.

To our amazement, here’s what we saw:

It's not a lot. It's a house!

It's not a lot. It's a house!

Looking through the kitchen and into the downstairs bedrooms.

Looking through the kitchen and into the downstairs bedrooms.

A closer look at the east-facing bedroom.

A closer look at the east-facing bedroom.

So much progress in so little time!

We’re actually able to see the layout of the first floor. And, we’re also getting a much clearer sense of the scale of the house.

It’s different to what we’d imagined.

Bigger. A lot bigger.

The extra digging during the foundation process has the house sitting high off the ground, making it feel pretty monumental up close. Pulling into the driveway though, it feels just right. Not too big, not too small. Perfectly tailored to the lot.

We leave on a high, planning to return the following evening.

Just 24 short hours later, we arrive to find this:

Is that the front window?

Is that the front window?

Steel beams offer extra support for the large front and east-facing corner windows.

Steel beams offer extra support for the large front and east-facing corner windows.

There it ith! The footing for the outthide hearth!

There it ith! The footing for the outthide hearth!

The west side (dining room TK).

The west side (dining room TK).

Back o' the house and the entrance to the standspace (formerly known as the crawlspace).

Back o' the house and the entrance to the standspace (formerly known as the crawlspace).

Inside the completed crawlspace.

Inside the completed crawlspace.

Again, we just can’t believe it. In just 5 short days (4-and-a-half if you count the weather interruption), we’re able to see where the middle volume and kitchen will live, the downstairs bathroom and bedrooms, and the living room.

The entire first level is almost done!

Gas prices had us just about to swear off coming to the site every day. But, with so much happening so quickly, so much for that.

We Heart Manhattan

I'll take Manhattan…

I'll take Manhattan… Photo ©2008 Green Bottle Workshop LLC

The house that got the ball rolling on 1133 Shades Crest is back on the market: Green Bottle Workshop’s Manhattan House (MLS #402489).

Will and Matthew’s first project at 1629 Manhattan Street in the heart of Homewood, is a renovated 1930s bungalow, reconfigured with an open floor plan to make the most of its limited square footage (common to houses of the period). It features large sliding panels and floor to ceiling openings—maximizing transparency without sacrificing privacy—and exterior spaces located on the North, South, East and West facing facades that allow for multiple experiences, while encouraging cross-ventilation.

Striking a perfect balance of contemporary and traditional, the Manhattan House has already been featured in the August 2008 issue of Birmingham Magazine; and, is due for more props in the February 2009 issue of Southern Living.

Oh, and the Green Bottle Workshop site has been revamped and relaunched. Have a look!

[Update: November 4, 2008. Manhattan SOLD! Help Will and Gia find a new place… in less than 3 weeks!]

Week 4 (part deux): the inspector arrives!

"I am here to fix ze problem with yer benk dreau."

"I am here to fix ze problem with yer benk dreau."

Finally! The inspector has inspected. We have the next bank draw!

And then some.

The bank has mistakenly (suprise!) issued us a substantial larger amount than they were supposed to at this point.

Of course we’re keeping it.

This unexpected extra bit of money will hopefully allow us to start reaping the benefits from our DirectBuy membership, which has, so far, left us feeling like cult members who haven’t yet been thoroughly brainwashed. Seems you can’t use credit or debit cards when placing orders, so we’ll need a substantial bit of cash in hand whenever we order anything. Tricky… and made even trickier by their lengthier (than average) lead times, and the fact that we’ll likely never have a substantial amount of dough in hand prior to a draw, and…

Well, we’ll figure it out.

At any rate, this is one instance where our bank’s incompetence has actually worked in our favor.

OK, so lunch yesterday at Jackson’s with the Green Bottle gang had us dining on Baltimore BLTs, Fish Sandwiches, Pizza and Crabcakes… and looking at options on the exterior Hardie Board cladding, our kitchen, and the middle volume.

For the kitchen, we’ve settled on white Akurum cabinets from Ikea, a glass backsplash, and the Euro-Style Stainless suite of appliances from Jenn-Air arranged thusly:

Kitchen layout with middle volume.

Kitchen layout with middle volume.

The middle volume extends from the kitchen area and wraps the overhanging room above in birch plywood with two glass handrails and a small window. One of the birch panels will be on a pivot or hinges allowing it to be opened and closed, like so:

Middle volume door opened.

Middle volume door opened.

Will and Matthew also presented us with an option that left the mezzanine open to the space below by employing glass panels at handrail height. Very nice as well. But Liane and I really liked the versatility offered by the birch panel option. The pivot panel will allow us to better manage the privacy of a space, which we foresee adapting to and accommodating our future needs (an office, a media area, an extension of the master bedroom, a nursery).

Also, we thought it looked really cool!

As for the Hardie Board cladding on the exterior, we went with this arrangement:

Cladding selection.

East Elevation: Cladding selection.

So, framing starts next Monday. Hurray!

In the meantime, we’re off to D.C. until next week on a much, much needed mini-vacation (visiting Bubba, Lisa, the girls, Uncle Billy and Aunt Debbie).

Week 4: intermission

We’re waiting. All of us. Liane. Myself. Will. Matt. The framers.

Waiting.

Mr. Petty and his Heartbreakers sang it best: “it’s the hardest part.” And as darn near perfect as that song is, it just don’t come close to conveying our collective feelings about (yet another) delay in the process… brought to us by the folks at New South Federal Savings Bank.

Irritated.

Perturbed.

Frustrated.

Sure, not nearly as hummable… or optimistic. But, alas, our own song has turned from one of hopeful anticipation to sheer friggin’ annoyance. Nope. Not nearly as hummable.

OK, so we’re all a bit impatient (and I’m being a bit melodramatic). New South have insisted that the order for inspection was submitted last Thursday as promised. This should’ve meant an inspection of the foundation the very next day, or Monday at the latest… which would’ve meant that we’d have the next draw on our loan in hand by end-of-day Monday the 4th… which would’ve allowed framing to start, as scheduled, on Tuesday the 5th.

It’s now Thursday. Thursday the 7th. One whole week since the order for inspection was submitted. One whole week and, still, waiting.

So we call. Two, three times a day from Monday on.

“The inspector is headed out there this afternoon.”

“We’re not sure why the inspector hasn’t called yet.”

“We should definitely be hearing from the inspector any second now.”

Given that this is the very same reputable inspector who helped bail us out of the sticky situation surrounding our first appraisal, the bank’s claims of her elusiveness are met with no small amount of skepticism from us.

So Thursday morning. And it’s looking like week 4 is a wash (doubly frustrating as it’s been a week of sunny days). In the meantime, Liane and I are having lunch with the guys at Jackson’s in Homewood today to look at design directions for the exterior cladding and the kitchen layout. Fingers crossed, we’ll also be delivering the unbelievably good news of a passed inspection and a forthcoming draw.

Chances are though, we’ll probably all just commiserate… and wait some more.


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