Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A little rain must fall....

But hopefully not through your roof.

Instead of tiling today, I had to figure out why water, and not just a little, was flowing through a ceiling a floor below the roof. I knew it couldn't possibly be through the roof I had repaired, and then installed a mahogany deck upon.

Upon pulling up the mahogany decking -- thank you stainless steel screws -- I discovered a number of plastic bags, trash, and other detritus that I knew I had not left there. Thanks to a furry animal of sorts, the trash had been stashed and the rubber roof ripped open in the hopes of building a new winter home. Within minutes of isolating the hole, tearing out the saturated roof insulation, and bailing the water out of the space, the leak stopped. I completed a mini repair with some tarp and now have on my list a roof to replace.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Rapscallions -- Kian and Ayla

My nephew and niece, Kian and Ayla, deserve their own blog entry. I've always been glad that we were able to grow up in place as beautiful as McCall, Idaho. I think we learned most of what formed us (my brother and I as well as the rest of the family). We learned the value of Grandma's cooking, Grampa's thinking, family dinners with always room for one more, being neighborly, returning something borrowed in better condition than when you received it, hard work, the time it takes to pick a gallon of huckleberries, and most of all the ability to just sit in the evening and gaze on the lake and mountains -- there always seemed to be a big white cumulus cloud over the mountain peaks that would slowly turn pink as the late summer light faded. It was always a treat to watch the moon peak over Jug Handle Mountain and then light the night with a white path of light across the lake. It was and is a magical existence.

Well, back to Kian and Ayla. I am glad that they are able to spend time in McCall and learn of all its magic, secrets, and beauty. They have both passed the dock to dock swimming test which allows life jackets to be taken off for good. They've fished off the dock, swam like minnows for days -- always with the intent of getting me into the water -- eaten breakfast on the dock, and learned the value in saying goodbye to the lake and saying thank you for a wonderful time.

So, to many more lake visits Kian and Ayla! And let's not forget the dogs, Toby, Calvin, and Mojo!

The Steam Shower Cometh

On to projects....

My favorite project this "season" is a modern steam shower that I am putting into a very Victorian home. Now, while the juxtaposition could be jarring, this design will still showcase fine cabinetry, vintage styled tiles, classic statuary marble, and original wood details. The steam shower is located off a bedroom at the back of the house looking from above down on the beautiful garden. We closed up the second doorway from the central hallway to the former bathroom to make the space more private and accessible to the owner. The old bathroom was a hallway like design with walls that obscured the light and the window. The new design creates a spacious 4 foot by 6 foot glassed in steam room/shower at the end of the room with no walls to obstruct the window. A new vanity and narrow cabinet tower will double the storage space and heated floors will now provide the warmth for the room as the steam radiator and pipe were removed.

The owner has been very much involved in the evolving design of the bathroom. She even took the first swing with the sledgehammer! I told her that one of the great things about working with me is that we can modify the design as we progress and new ideas come to mind. I also explained that one of the tough things about working with me is that we can modify the design as we progress... There are however two caveats with this design and build style: First, you can't go backwards with the construction because we don't want to undo anything we've already built or bought and, Second, changes and additions almost always cost money!

With the definition of "fluid" design now understood, we can talk budgets for a moment. My estimates usually come in right on target. But as a rule any project is about 10% over the original estimate. In this case, custom cabinetry and an upgrade from a quartzite granite to statuary marble are the over budget culprits.

Tiling starts next week. But first I will be applying a waterproof vapor barrier to keep the steam in the shower and out of the walls and ceiling. Notice the beautiful copper is now covered with 4 inches of cement and ready for the floor tile.

The Summer Explained -- Idaho

Though you may think I have not been busy -- the last three months have definitely kept me occupied. The highlight was a quick (just one week this year) trip to Idaho to visit my family. Lots of golf, good local fresh food, lake time, and Mom and Dad's lovin'. I need two weeks or more next year just so that I can double or triple the fun. I will work the schedule better in the future.

Speaking of schedule, that was my main hindrance this spring. I bid on more than 300K worth of business -- one big project with 5 underlying projects. Needless to say, I did not win them all, and to that I say thank goodness. While a large company might sign contract after contract to get them in the door, if I did that, I would have a number of unhappy customers. I don't have the ready corral full of people ready to work. I have to schedule, plan, think, strategize and then execute, doing my best to overlap projects when appropriate (installing a staircase while the plasterer is plastering) and completing them in a linear fashion.

At any rate, it took a while to sort out all the projects this spring which led up to the Idaho trip from which I came home to a well organized schedule and numerous fun projects including a steam shower, 4 decks, new windows, a built in window seat, a stair project and of course all the underlying support for all these projects e.g., accounting, labor, material acquisition, permitting, and accounts receivable (ugh). It is amazing how a little shake up and change of environment will get all the gears oiled and moving smoothly!

The only thing I can't understand, explain, comprehend, fathom, or get my arms around is that it is nearing the end of August. Once again, ugh.

Gert Lives On

It has been nearly 3 1/2 months since Gertrude's attempted "suicide". I will quickly report that she is still running around finding pizza crusts in pizza boxes hidden under cars, sniffing through wrought iron fences to find half eaten candy bars in a front garden, and catching birds in the fountain at Blackstone Park. She will never cease to amaze me. The Vet told me she is the most strong willed Dog he has ever known. He said with the size of her heart and other vital organs -- she is battling congestive heart failure -- that she shouldn't be around. Well, I've always known she has an extra large, very loving heart... Here is Gert with her 15 year old friend, Riley. They are strong ladies!