Rain, rain, go away

For the first three weeks of this project, we sang Mother Nature’s praises.  While it was unbelievably hot, we felt to rain.  It seems we were in a rain bubble with areas all around us (and as close as a mile or two away) seeing far more showers than we.  It was like the clouds knew we needed a reprieve.

Apparently Mother Nature seems to have lost interest with us.  Here’s the email exchange from EARLY this morning.

3:08 am
From:  Greff
To:  Hillary and Scott

I woke up thinking about different things on your house and decided to tell you I knew exactly what Allan Sherman’s grandfather meant when he told Alan never to forget that “A wet bird never flies at night”.  While I was waiting for our computer to finally figure out that it wanted to work I looked outside and saw our patio flooded from an obvious storm within the past 5 hours which I didn’t even hear   .    .    .   (surprising isn’t it?).  I can only hope that our storm was “random” and you didn’t get rain.  I’m sure getting back to sleep is not going to happen until I find out what happened.  See you in a few hours.

Greff the Grump

3:24 am
From:  Hillary
To:  Greff (cc Scott)

Go ahead and sleep, resting comfortably in the fact that the grounds crew works 24×7 and has superior hearing.

As Greff always says, you have to maintain a sense of humor.


Us, Ourselves, and Irene

I cannot believe this is my second post in a week about a significant weather event completely uncommon to the Washington, DC area.  While many would argue we dodged a bullet with Hurricane Irene, not sure we’d agree…  Yes, technically it could have been far worse and there are any number of scenarios that would have been worse.  But, it was still a LONG night.  Here’s about how it went.

11 am:  Pre-hurricane showers arrive and seem to hit only our block.  Scott and Sammy are at baseball practice while Jack opts out of his nap and I begin the activity Greff has coined the “bucket brigade.”

~4 pm:  Grancy arrives just as the rains start to pick up.

4:30 pm:  Just as the rain really gets going, Greff arrives with a substantial quantity (~40) of 5-gallon drywall buckets in hand and many towels.  Grancy and I take the boys to a birthday party down the street while Greff and Scott really get the bucket and towel party started.

6:10 pm:  The birthday party team arrives home to find Greff has left to go pick up more towels and buckets.  It’s awfully early for this… not a good sign.

7:00 pm:  Greff arrives with reinforcement towels/buckets.  First round of towels goes into the dryer.

9:30 pm:  Bucket brigade continues – moving buckets, replacing towels.  Call in good friends who live down the street for back-up towels and buckets.  Discover a new towel drying technique – first put wet towels in washing machine on spin cycle only to shorten the drying time.

11:00 pm:  During a dryer run to move towels through process, Scott discovers the basement window is leaking as the window well is collecting water above the window line.  Quickly grab the only things left to sop up the water and collect inflow – a bath mat and a bathrobe.  Greff and Scott go outside in the pouring rain to dig a trench to redirect the water downhill and away from the window well.

Midnight:  Naptime.

~2 am:  Scott and Greff empty buckets, move towels, and assert it’s not really raining that much.

4:00 am:  Jack wakes up (from the loud wind or wet diaper, not sure) and the team arises to again empty buckets, move towels, and get a quick weather update.  Luckily, the 24×7 coverage of the storm did not disappoint.

4:30 am:  Ready for nap #2.  Grancy climbs in bed with me.  Greff decides this is reminiscent of the grandparents-in-bed scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Charlie finds the golden ticket and starts singing,  “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.”

Clearly we’ve reached the point of delirium.  Sammy wakes up.  Grancy falls asleep in bed with me, Scott falls asleep in bed with Sammy, Greff goes to sleep on the couch (next to the air mattress set up in the family room).  I post on facebook for the first time regarding the situation.

6:30 am:  Scott arises to again assess the situation.  The light of day shows we’re sufficiently soaked, but achieved our goal of no water coming through to the first floor.  Damage is contained to a few warped plywood panels in the second story sub-floor.

8:00 am:  Still raining…  When all else fails, I do what I do best… cook.  Homemade waffles somehow make everything a bit more tolerable.  The elephant enjoys some fruit.

Obviously we’re still punchy.

10:00 am:  Rain ceases and the sun comes out.  Here’s what the scene looked like by the light of day:

We lift and wring the towels, empty the buckets, and start up the fans.

Second facebook post goes up – a call for de-humidifiers to help remove moisture from the air, floor, etc.

Greff and Scott begin to drain the “moat” (aka footings for the porch).

Sammy’s “fish” from the moat didn’t quite make it.

The final stats:

–          107 buckets (empty drywall spackle and chlorine buckets, pots, pans, Tupperware, mixing bowls, trash cans)

–          72 towels

–          ~75 gallons of water dumped

–          4 sleep-deprived construction lovers with a good sense of humor and practicality


What’s more dangerous than three carpenters on the roof without harnesses? Three carpenters on the earth without harnesses during an earthquake.

Luckily, only half of this took place today.

When an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter Scale struck just 90 miles away, Greff and Rick (the plumber/experienced backhoe driver) were moving earth – digging footings for the deck. Rick felt the vibrations – even stopping the backhoe thinking perhaps there was a problem with the engine. Greff, standing is the shaking ground, felt nothing. Go figure.

Five Days in Canada

Last Friday, we left for a 5-day trip scheduled long before we knew the start date of construction.  Very inopportune timing.  We missed A LOT.

On Friday, the last major deliveries were made.

Lumber and plywood:

Not one, but two dumpsters:

Then on Monday, the carpentry crew arrived to prep the roof for removal.

First they cut the over-sized overhang from around the perimeter of the current roofline:

Then, they tarped their work to protect the house from any rain.

On Tuesday, the crane arrived to remove the roof while the boys supervised from across the street:

Greff provided a birds-eye view:

And, the view of the now-removed roof from the ground:

Being dismantled:

Then, the crane lifted the floor joists up for installation:

Pretty eventful couple of days to miss!  The rest of this week, they’ve managed to set the floor joists and deck for half the house… doing so in 100-degree+ heat indexes.  Somehow the FlavorIce seems like the absolute least we can do for the amazing crew working above.

Lumber Yard

Behind in my updates and it has been an eventful 10 days to say the least.

Last week, the house really started to look like a construction site.  First, the port-a-potty was delivered.  Then came the floor joists.

And then, the roof trusses…

Which were crying for photo opps…

The next couple of posts will be photo essays, as Scott and I were out of town for the two biggest days in this project so far!  Of all the days!

Protective Measures

Working overhead and literally dropping portions of the roof over the side of the house is dangerous business.  Greff installed the proper precautions to protect our newly-located gas meter and A/C unit.

The funny thing is, we’ll have a similar-style shed roof in almost the exact same location one level up in relatively (all things considered) short order – covering (in a more attractive way) the grill to allow for outdoor cooking regardless of weather.

And here’s the more creative approach to covering the DirecTV satellite dish.

Potty Time!

It’s unfortunate that Jack’s not quite ready to give up his diapers seeing as we now have the perfect training ground.

Greff waves in the delivery truck.

Potty elevator.

Satisfied GC.

First use!