Creating the New Roofline

23 Apr

What can two guys and a forklift do in two days (with good weather?)



The the sheeting took a few more days. The wind was blowing so hard the plywood became like kites and almost flew the guys out to Kansas. After a few days off they got it all done and the house is “roughly” dried in. It will be much easier now for the final interior framing. I love the new height and peaks to the roofline!


Bye Bye Old Roof – Hello Snow

23 Apr

To achieve the look we want Darin (our builder extraordinaire) came up with a cool plan. We take off the old roof and all its framing. We add 12 inch header boards all the way around the top of the walls in the house to make taller walls. Then we put new trusses on that would allow for cathedral ceilings on the inside. Great Plan! They pulled the roof in about 3 hours and then worked on clean up the rest of the day….


Then the storm rolled in and it snows 2 days and leaves almost 2 feet…. inside my house!


This was after the snow clean up 😉

Demolition Begins

26 Mar

While I was in California visiting family the final permit was approved! The demolition is going strong now. All the drywall, wiring and plumbing have been torn out. Most of the siding is off and today the roof is going away! In the basement the plumbers cut up some of the floor to check the pipes finding that the main drain to the septic was old and crumbling. So, tack on some more money and let’s tear it all up and replace the whole thing!

I am starting to feel a bit like were in the money pit. We knew we’d find surprises that needed fixing or repair, but some of what we found when we pulled off the drywall was downright scary. For example, the front entry and guest bathroom were built over what used to be a deck. Literally they built right on the deck and just closed things in to look like it was properly framed, supported, insulated and finished space. No wonder that area was always so cold ;).

We also found some rotten areas behind the old showers, so in the long run I’m glad we pulled them out as well. Every fixture, wall, wire, pipe will be new in the house. Not to mention all insulation. That all actually gives me a sense of comfort, albeit at a pretty big price.

Tim and I went through the plans again and made some adjustments in the basement. Boulder County is requiring us to widen the hallway down there to bring it to code which means we had to completely gut the bathroom we installed this summer! Looking on the bright side, I will get a larger master bathroom!

After talking everything through this weekend (with much wine) Tim and I agree on the whole demolition process. While demo is fun and it shows so much progress and immediate satisfaction, it also opens up the problems lurking within, and stretches the bank. Budget? Ha, that house just laughed at our budget!ImageImageImage


Power Down

7 Mar

While were waiting for our permit, Excel and Comcast got some really important work done. They buried the overhead power lines that ran through the backyard! A huge improvement was taking place before my very eyes. I have to give kudos to those Excel guys. They get’er done! About 4 trucks, 2 backhoes, and two bucket/ladder trucks arrived and they went to town digging, pulling wires, and resetting the new power feed to the house. It took two days on the trench and wire runs, one day when they popped off the old overhead wires and took everything live. They’ll be back next week to take out the old pole on the east side of my backyard! 

The only bad thing is we had to shut down all power to the house. Since were relocating where the main power trunk enters the house, a new breaker box had to be set, and the old one deleted. There are 4 temporary outlets on the outside of the house, but nothing in the house is live and won’t be until the whole thing gets rewired. I’m thinking there are going to be some really cold work days ahead when we get our spring snows 😦 


Jumping Through Hoops

7 Mar

We have heard nothing but horror stories about the arduous process that Boulder has designed to get a permit. We also heard of all the “extra” rules and regulations that Boulder has incorporated into their code. What we have heard was right! 

I’m not saying that the rules don’t in some cases make sense. In fact, many of them in the long run are better for the homeowner and better for the environment. However, the cost of some of these items make Boulder the most expensive county in Colorado to build in. 

For example: Boulder requires fire sprinkler systems in all new residential space exceeding 4000sf. Roughly a $10K addition. Boulder requires all houses to go through a HERS rating, requiring a special engineer that makes sure the home meets the requirements of insulation, window ratings, energy efficiency and airflow. So you have the engineer, then you have the testing at the end of the process to make sure the house is air tight. A good thing, but an extra $5K. Then there is the actual HVAC that requires an air exchange. Air exchangers run a couple thousand installed and they will make sure that air is circulating so many times per hour even if the heater/cooler isn’t on so the air is clean and safe. I see this as an advantage only in clearing the air that my gassy dogs emit 🙂

While were putting the finishing touches on the plan, we get the Home Owners Assoc approval. Next we get the approval that were not disturbing the Preble’s Jumping Mouse. Next it is the Historical Society structural review since the house is over 50 years old. And, the other Historical Society who looks at the land features to make sure no artifacts might be buried along the creek. A big approval is the one from the Floodplain Managers. Once we compiled all those approvals we submitted for our Permit! Valentines Day was the big day!

Oops, I forgot to mention the Asbestos! Of course we were required to test the place for Asbestos. Of course we found some in one wall measuring approximately 200 square feet. A two week Asbestos Mitigation Process began. Special guys that are certified by the state took down the affected drywall. They had to wear hazmat suits and shower in a temporary shower set up in our front yard. The one good thing is that when they were done we had one wall completely demo’d! Progress at the cost of $3,200, but I had my Asbestos Certificate to turn in with the permit.


Now were playing the waiting game. Everything for the permit is waiting with the County. The package was extremely complete…but we hit a snag. Just when we thought we’d have permit in hand the entire Boulder County Building Department staff goes to an offsite training for a week. Yup, a whole week, no engineers on site to sign off on our permit. Waiting, waiting, waiting….

On The Move

26 Feb

By not having any house plan finalized, and Secrest selling after 90 days on the market we were pushed into probably the best thing that could have happened. We moved into our Boulder House AS IS in October. All our art, but very little of our furniture fit inside. Yet I think we did a pretty good job of making it comfortable and homey. We stuck the rest of our furniture in storage and settled into what we had. We woke everyday to the Flatirons turning pink with the sunrise and watched the birds play in the creek. Tim fished a lot and the dogs loved playing in the water (which didn’t help his fishing!). In the mornings we’d walk our loop trail along the creek and spot the bear, bunny, coyote, and Owl scat from the night before – a favorite time for the dogs.


We fell in love with the little house, and ideas to update and give it a face lift started to unfold. The square footage of the house (2,800) felt comfortable, the layout, while needing some adjustments, didn’t really need much. As Tim’s Dad Daryl says, “How much living can you do?” We started working on new plans that kept the footprint of the house as is, and would repair or replace the entire kitchen infrastructure, framing and roof, interior finishes, doors, windows and siding. Also, bury all the electrical and cable lines, add a new gas meter and line, and add a cistern and new pumps to the well. Did I miss anything? Ahh, yes, decks, patio and landscape will be added too! 


It was tough as the November cold came in. The windows in the basement that were actually not windows but pieces of plexiglass screwed on from the outside of the house let all that cold air right in. The back door and front door let wind blow right in even with insulation tape added. No insulation in the basement and next to none in the ceiling allowed all our heat to escape. So, living in the house AS IS  had it’s challenges. By December, we were getting tired of being cold, especially at night!


By mid-December we had a rough plan sent off to the Architect. As there was no way we could stay in the house during the remodel (6-8 months), we started looking for a rental and found one quickly. At Bailey’s request we rented in Lakewood to be close to her and make life easier. 3 months after moving into Boulder, we moved again to Lakewood. We took most everything from the Boulder House and stored it in the garage there except for clothes and kitchen items. Then we had everything from our storage unit delivered to Lakewood. It was like musical chairs with furniture and very of unsettling. 


By January 15th we were completely moved out of Boulder, into Lakewood, and had the architectural plans in hand ready to begin the Boulder transformation!


Christmas Morning
Snow on the Flatirons

Summer Party

20 Feb

While we were in the middle of all our planning we stopped for a moment mid-summer to host the McDonald Family BBQ. Tim’s sister Kathy was in town so we used that as our opportunity to get everyone together! The kids played in the creek, we all sat on the “deck” and everyone got in some good fishing time. Everyone knows those McDonald boys love to fish, but Billy caught his fair share too!

Yep that's from our creek!

Yep that’s from our creek!

At this point we were still on the path of adding a large new section to the house. We had our wonderful architect Jack White drawing up plans and were working on some bids. Tim and I hadn’t fully embraced the downsize idea. Sure in theory it sounded good, but every time we started drawing the house kept getting bigger. So while our Secrest Ct. house at 7200 square feet was a behemoth, the new one was only pared down to 4900. Technically not a downsized retirement home at all!

As the numbers to redo the old section of house came in, and the numbers for the whole new section came in, we realized we were totally out of our budget! It wasn’t pretty! We really had to step back and reconsider our options. Do we scrape and build small but totally new? Do we just adjust the old house? We were pretty disappointed after we put together such a cool plan. And, we had wasted money and time on a plan we weren’t going to build! I think that’s when fate intervened to help drive us towards the right decision! Our house on Secrest went under contract!


Over Grown

14 Feb

Over Grown
As our spring turned to summer in 2012 we realized we had a wildly overgrown 2.25 acres on our hands. We were struggling with our vision amidst all the growth, bugs infestations, dead trees, power lines and poison ivy. We needed a cleaner slate to work from to help us envision our future dream home. We embarked on a lot clearing, tree trimming, cleaning extravaganza that spread over several months!

There was one tree in particular that worried us. Sadly, a very old Cottonwood had not only grown over the house, but was laying on the roof and had rubbed off the shingles. Maybe it would crash in a wind storm and make our decisions on scraping v. remodeling easy? Maybe it would kill us in our sleep? 😦 We made the decision to have it removed. It was cut in chunks and removed by crane over the top of the house. Yikes! We mulched a pile as big as our garage and spent our summer spreading that cottonwood mulch over our paths and landscape.

Now That Was A Big Tree!

Now That Was A Big Tree!

First Steps

14 Feb

What exactly are we doing buying this house? That is a question that ran through both our minds repeatedly as we went through the closing process in March 2012… did I say repeatedly? I meant constantly. The more we looked at the house, the more we inspected it, the more things we found that had to updated, changed or straight out gotten rid of. And, what exactly was our plan? Were we going to live in it, rent it, flip it? Those questions also reverberated inside our heads, until….

Our first “overnight” at what we were then calling our “cabin” in Boulder changed our minds. We ate dinner listening to the creek. We sat and watched the sunset over the Flatirons until the stars appeared. In the morning the sunrise lit up the mountains in a pink glow, and we were hooked forever. Even the huge wind storm during the night, sleeping on an air bed with Wrigley and Rudder, and Rudder hurling up some dead animal he’d eaten at 2am, couldn’t dampen our excitement now!


First Dinner on the Deck