Archive for March, 2010

Adventures in Remodeling: Part 2 – All in the Family

March 22, 2010

As I said last time, the three of us were living in the camper during the remodel of our home. It was a nice camper and great for a weekend, but for a long-term situation, it was a bit too close. The rain didn’t help.

We had planned to ‘live’ mostly outside. We have a patio in our front yard, shielded from street view by a tree and several bushes. On this patio we have a picnic table, chairs, an umbrella and grill. It rained. I have no data to back up my claim, but it felt like the coolest, wettest July I had experienced since moving to the Pacific Northwest.

It wasn’t long before we were donning sweaters and setting up house in our shell of a house just to have some elbowroom – evenings and weekends of course. There really is such a thing as being too close. Greg and his crew would arrive in the morning and we would gather up the paper, coffee mugs and chairs and withdraw once more to the confines of the camper.

Andy took a summer school job, so he escaped for a few hours every morning, which left me to work from ‘home’ and keep an eye on Samantha until he came home, at which point I would retreat to my office if I wasn’t needed at the house for any reason.

Samantha turned out to be a really good worker, at least in the mornings until her attention waned and the call of the park became too great.  Walt, one of Greg’s crew, still talks about how helpful she was with cleanup throughout the day.

My Dad, and hero, came up from Portland several times, for several days at a time, to help. He was the electrician, plumber and natural gas piper. He also re-framed a few of the windows and doors in the existing portions of the house where they needed some remediation. He joined us in the camper for lunch, dinner and, at 73, the occasional nap. Fortunately we have friends close by that offered to have my parents stay in their guest bedroom during their many trips north from Portland. We owe Jim and Irma tremendous thanks for their hospitality.

My Dad - Elwin McGrew

My dad spent hours figuring out, shopping for and assembling all the parts for the various trades he was going to fill in. Samantha and Andy lent a hand when they were home and I did my share of ‘gofering’ too. Some things never change – “Lila, go for ……” “I need ……”, “Go into town and get another …..”, “Call the lumber/hardware store and find out …..”. This has been my job since I could tell the difference between a standard slot and a phillips head screw driver.

My mother accompanied my dad north a couple of times and helped with the end of day clean up and even operated a broom while Greg and his crew were at lunch.

And I certainly can’t forget my sister, Lesley, who came up from Seattle for our Saturday demo party and BBQ (that I neglected to mention in my last post) and helped load up Greg’s trailer three times that day. Kudos to all our neighbors and friends who came to help that day as well. Thanks, too, to Greg for graciously checking in on us and emptying his trailer twice that Saturday.

At any rate, the gist of the matter is that the quarters were tight and living 24/7 with that perpetual mess in full view was wearing – even for me after a time.

On a more serious note, we did this for 3 1/2 months.  I can’t imagine victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita living like this for months on end with little or no relief in sight in entire cities of chaos.  In fact, some are still living in those FEMA trailers.

I recently advised clients with two young boys, who were planning to live in their house while undergoing an extensive addition and kitchen remodel, to plan to take some weekend trips to somewhere – anywhere – else in order to preserve their sanity.  They, too, were doing as much as possible themselves to cut costs.    I’m glad to say they took my advice.

Next up, Reconstruction.