Sunday, October 23, 2011

The surprise from our old dryer

Allow me to go back in time before the major project began.  I can't leave out the story of our dryer.  Before we put the addition onto the side of the house, Mark and I decided to finally take our old, rusty, non-working dryer out of the basement and get it hauled away.  We planned to drag it up the stairs and out the side door that was mercifully located at the top of the stairs.

The two of us lifted the dryer step by step, Mark at the bottom and myself at the top.  That thing was heavy!  Each time we dropped it onto a step, a coin or two fell out.  We got partway up the flight of stairs and Mark decided to give the dryer a thump.  A handful of coins fell out! I banged on the top of the dryer and more fell out of the bottom.  How about that?  The previous owner left us a little money in the dryer to go toward functioning appliances!  No wonder it was so heavy!

Once the dryer was outside, we took turns banging and shaking it to see how much more change would fall out.  Did someone think this machine was coin operated?  Mark took it apart to see if we could find where the coins were coming from.  But ultimately, our method of banging and shaking proved most successful in getting the coins to drop out of the bottom.

We guessed that the previous owner didn't empty his pockets of change before washing and drying clothes.  Nearly $40.00 in coins came out of that dryer that day.  Not enough to pay for the new dryer we had already purchased, but hey, every bit helps, right?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

We can't turn back now!

Once our renovation plans were finalized, Mark was on the phone with his dad and brother in Australia.  They had agreed to travel to Minneapolis to help build the addition.  The two  would arrive in early July, with the expectation that the project would have been at the point when the framing could begin.  We had a great deal to do before they arrived to work on our project.

A little wrinkle in our planning came up just before we started this major project.  I got pregnant with our firstborn.  It was exciting, but also challenging to determine whether we should go ahead with our plans.  At the very least, I wouldn't be able to help with a number of projects that would expose me to chemicals that may harm the baby.  But we ultimately decided to proceed as planned and re-allocate our respective tasks to ensure that I didn't put my health, or that of the baby's, at risk.

Mark set to work tearing apart our half-story - taking down drywall, removing carpet, and tearing out insulation.  Then, he and a friend tore off the roof.  There was definitely no turning back now.  We literally had no roof over our heads.

Check out our Tear-down slideshow!

Some tasks seemed more appropriate to delegate to people with the training and tools for the job.  We hired a contractor to dig the basement for our addition.  Then, a concrete contractor built the basement walls.  Everything started to feel much more real once we had no roof and a deep hole in our yard.

New Basement Slideshow

Mark's dad, Bruce, and brother, Dave, arrived ready to tackle the framing segment of the project.  We were lucky to have a neighbor's brother, Don, who was a semi-retired builder, to lead the way.  All three Bertrams admitted that they wouldn't have made so much progress in two weeks were it not for Don's leadership.  The three would have wasted time arguing about the proper way to get the job done.

On an unlucky night before the roof was built, we, along with our next-door neighbors, Kevin and Meg, scrambled to put up several tarps to keep out the rain that poured down that night.  It was a stressful process, but we succeeded in keeping out the rain.

Framing slideshow

Dave's girlfriend Sophia flew into Minneapolis and the two of them took off on a cross-country road trip.  Two days later Bruce departed for Australia.  We were grateful for their help and happy with the progress that had been made up to that point.  It was fun to see the house take shape and begin to visualize how it would look when finished.