Week 42: Tile, Trimwork, Stairs, Septic, and Rental House Issues

Rental House

This week seems to have gone by so quickly!   One of the major things that happened this week is that we received an email from the property manager from the house we’re renting a couple miles from the build.  He said that the owners of the house want to move back into the house and we need to move out at the END OF APRIL!!!  Matt was anticipating for the house to be finished at the END OF MAY!!  Seriously?  How does this happen to us?  Our 10-month lease ended in January and since then our contract switched over to month-to-month leasing.  And the contract states that we or the owner can terminate the lease with a 20 day notice.  We actually met the owner about 6 months ago when they were visiting from China getting baby gear out of their garage.  Back then he said that we should stay and rent the house for years!  And in January when I told the property manager that we were extending our stay past the 10-month term he said to stay until August.  Now they want to move back from China though?  Something must have changed with his Microsoft job.  Ugh.  And the property manager has no idea either – this totally blindsided him as well.

So now for the first time in the entire build, schedule matters.  Prior to this, Joel and I honestly didn’t care if it took longer to build, we just wanted it done right.  I mean, what’s a couple extra months in the end if it turns out great?  The boys have made some good friends in the neighborhood we’re renting in and it’s so close to the build, that it’s convenient to pop over and check things out.  Now getting done with the build at the end of May when we need to move out at the end of April seems WAY too long though.  Where are we going to live for those 4 weeks?!?  So I did what any person in my situation would do.  Ask our builder Matt, “what’s really going to be left to do after the last week of April?”  I explained our situation and wanted to see if there was any way we could speed things up a little and maybe move in sooner than later.  He took a couple days and was able to push a few things…and now we’ll be moving into the new house the first week of May!  Can you believe that?!?  The first week of May!!!  That means that we’re only between homes for a week.  A week, I can live with.  Can you say, “hello mom & dad?”  They live about 45 minutes away from us without traffic so the commute just to get the boys to school and us to work is going to be horrific.  But the boys love staying there and it’ll be so nice just to move with only having to pack our clothes.  The rest of our stuff can move into the garage of the new house until we get there a week later to unpack.  Although Matt will have the inside of the house finished, we’re not expecting the outside to be completed – we’ll likely still need the deck, driveway and landscaping.  The inside is good enough for me though!

For our final hail mary, we’re still trying to see if we can extend our lease another week so we can move straight from the rental into the new house, but we haven’t heard back from the owner and they’re not returning the emails that the property manager has sent (which has been 4 of them now).  Cross our fingers 😉  At least mom & dad’s is a good back up plan.

New House

Besides the rental house issues, things have been moving along at the house quite well.  There’s so many little details that took place in the house this week. The tile and hardwoods have been completed and that’s all of the flooring until the carpet is scheduled to be installed in the last week of April (just before we move in!).  The stairs were even installed this week and they look fantastic.  It took a few different tries to get the right stain color for the treads, but I think they turned out great.  On Thursday evening, Cameron and I went to check out the house and Matt was there covering the stairs to protect them from all the workers’…and we ended up helping and covering them for him.  Um, don’t say that I never lifted a finger to build the house, ha!

The trim sub consultant keeps on trucking – there’s so much that we’re having them do for us.  Besides installing all of the door moulding and baseboards throughout the house, there were two major accomplishments this week – creating the fireplace surround and starting on the interior transom windows.  First things first the fireplace looks amazing!  Monday morning Matt and I walked through what I wanted the design of the fireplace to be and he made it all happen!  I love how it sits on top of the bench/hearth we have, and that the mantle is so deep.  In our old house there would barely be enough room for Christmas stockings, let alone any other decor.  This one is sure to fit whatever I want to decorate with!

On Saturday, Joel and I went out to check out the progress and one of the trim guys was there working on the interior transom windows.  We weren’t quite sure if we were going to order these or have them built on-site, and now that we went with the latter, I couldn’t have imagined the ordered ones turning out so well.  The first side of the transoms have been installed, then they’ll need to be painted on both sides and glass added.  Then the other side of the transom trim can be added.  It looks so good for them finally to be filled in with moulding though!  All these little details are really making the house come together.

And did you notice that the oval windows in the great room in the last picture now have trim as well?  These were measured for and custom made by a different company and then installed this week.  The same goes true for the arched windows in the dining room and in the entry.

Besides all of the trimwork, they also added some more detail on the cabinetry.  Matt pointed out that if we added crown all the way around the kitchen hood (like I wanted) that the crown would basically touch the other pieces of crown in the coiffured ceiling.  So that’s out of the question…so that’s a bummer.  But I still think it looks good as is without it – definitely my favorite feature in the kitchen, and it’s pretty fun that I got to design it!  Feet were also added to a few cabinets throughout the house – which I also had custom designed based on some pictures of kitchens that I liked on Houzz.

Tile work also continued this week.  Although choosing and shopping for tile was my absolute least favorite thing to do for the entire build, I love seeing it all installed.  Most of our selections were pretty basic, but even seeing white subway tile instead of drywall is fun.  On top of that, the tile my mom and I chose for the backsplash behind the range arrived and I brought that out to the house.  On Wednesday, I met the tiling sub onsite to go through the layout with him.  Originally, we were going to have a different border that had a dark gray bardglio marble liner and then a white chair rail that matches the subway tile backsplash.  Unfortunately though, the bardiglio came in and looked too blue to really coordinate with the beautiful mosaic tile.  So we ended up using a carrara marble chair rail.  We needed it this week though so there wasn’t any time to special order in the profile of the moulding that I wanted.  Luckily, good ol’ Home Depot carries one that will work perfectly.  Not so perfectly is that you have to find the marble in gray and white.  And when you see them at the stores, about 80% of them look white with brown veining.  Ick.  I’m not kidding you – to find the 12 pieces that we needed to frame the backsplash, my mom and I went to 6 different Home Depot stores!  Unreal.  But now that we have them,  I love them and totally worth the drive time to find them. Plus at $6 each, they were about 7 times cheaper than the ones that I wanted to order in!  Score!!!  I hope it gets installed back behind the range soon – I can’t wait to see it on the wall!

The painters were also in the house this week.  They’ve set up a Dexter kill room, er, um, a “spray booth” in the downstairs storage room .  That room was ALWAYS creepy with the concrete floors and unfinished walls and ceilings but this tops it.  I can’t wait for electrical finishes to finally put some lights in this space.  It’s beyond creepy and way too dark in there now.

2016-03-26 13.33.59

The painters have set up a spray booth in the storage room downstairs where they can paint doors and whatever else they have. I’m steering clear of this space though until they take down all of the plastic. A little too Dexter-esque for my liking.

And one of my favorite doors was also installed this week!  We have a dutch pocket door between the mudroom and the hallway.  This way we can just pull out the bottom half of the door to keep our dog Bella in the mudroom during the day.  No baby gates needed here!  Isn’t it fantastic?  It’ll be so nice instead of shutting the entire door on her while we’re gone during the day – I hate doing that now in our rental house.

Also, the septic installation began this week.  After getting the septic notice on the title recorded with King County and submitted to the health department, the septic stub-out was released and they were ready to do the install right away.  By Saturday, they had the tank set in the ground.  While Joel and I checked out the progress inside the house, we laid out a blanket and the boys ate their Subway lunch by having a picnic on top of the rock pile.  Little do they know that that’ll eventually be part of the septic drainfield!


Week 24: Crazy Weather & Fire Sprinkler System

I was traveling for work the majority of last week and this week, and I heard that Seattle has been having a crazy week of weather!  There’s been an insane amount of rain – flood warnings were in place with the torrential downpour.  And on Tuesday there were crazy winds with gusts up to 60 miles per hour.  People all over the Puget Sound (including our new neighborhood) lost power for days.  Due to all of the inclement weather, a couple things were delayed on the project.  First off, the siding company was supposed to be there this week, but they were unable to finish their last job, so that delayed them getting to ours.  Also, the power company (Tanner Electric) was going to transfer the power line from the temporary power pole we have to the permanent underground service to the house.  Needless to say with all of the outages in the area, they had more important thing to deal with than our house.

The combination of the siding and the permanent power line to the house is now on the critical path for our schedule.  We need the power to run the furnaces and get the house dried out, and we need the siding to keep the rain out.

And when it's not rainy and windy, the weather has been freezing!! Check out all the frost in the back yard.

And when it’s not rainy and windy, the weather has been freezing!! Check out all the frost in the back yard.

It's so cold here now - freezing temperatures every day! It'll be so nice to get the heat on in the house...hopefully next week.

It’s so cold here now – freezing temperatures every day! Look at all the frost on the house.  It’ll be so nice to get the heat on in the house…hopefully next week.

Although the weather has been nasty – they did install the fire sprinklers in the house.  In private homes, King County requires fire sprinklers for all homes where a firefighter can’t walk 150′ around the house and touch all sides.  Had I realized this was a requirement, I likely would have shaped the house differently just to avoid the fire sprinklers.  I think they’re such a waste of money and hopefully we’ll never have to use them.  Plus, they just add more things in the ceiling…not exactly my favorite.

The fire sprinkler system has to be designed by a licensed technician, then a permit is needed from King County which shows the sprinkler design.  Once it’s approved at the County, it’s installed in the house and then inspected and approved by the County.

Lots of parts & pieces for the fire sprinkler system.

Lots of parts & pieces for the fire sprinkler system.

The sprinkler system is those orange lines that run throughout the house.

The sprinkler system is those orange lines that run throughout the house.  Here’s the ones in our master bedroom.


Just a close-up of one of the sprinklers.

Just a close-up of one of the sprinklers.

In addition to needing fire sprinklers, the placement of them has been such a huge nuisance.  Because we’re having a coffered ceiling in the kitchen, theoretically smoke could get trapped in one of the “squares” in the coffered ceiling and not set off a sprinkler head.  To design around that, we’d either need to install a sprinkler head in each of the “squares” – which would have cost us another $2,500 – or keep the original quantity of sprinkler heads but put them on the beams.  I absolutely did not want to spend a penny more on sprinkler system.  The cost for the system was already higher than our initial estimate from last year, and I hated the idea of having to spend more money on something that is likely never going to be used – and on something that doesn’t give me any value.  It’s not like spending $2,500 to get upgraded appliances, or nicer trim work.  It’s literally spending $2,500 on something that will never be noticed or used.  So no way was that happening.  But that meant we had to install them on the beams to meet the current code – such a disappointment.  The beams are there as a fun ceiling detail in the space – and then with adding the sprinkler heads on them, it only accentuates the sprinklers, not disguises them.  So we’ll end up having four 3″ sprinkler head caps (which will be white) sitting flush on the 8″ wide beam.  It’s not the end of the world, and in this battle of budget versus design…design lost.  Let’s hope more things don’t end up this way!

We ended up having to put a couple of the fire sprinklers right on the beams of the coffered ceiling in the kitchen - despite my liking.

We ended up having to put a couple of the fire sprinklers right on the beams of the coffered ceiling in the kitchen – despite my liking.

Picked Up Our Building Permit!

I finally did it – picked up our building permit today!  It’s been ready for a while, but as soon as you pick up your building permit the clock starts to tick and it actually expires 12 months later (or you pay for an extension).  Since we’ve already paid $25,000+ for permits, I’d rather not give them any more of our money and simply wait until we needed the permit to pick it up.  So today was the day!  Of course there was a bit of a hiccup in getting the permit – some paperwork they thought I needed but really didn’t – but besides that it was smooth sailing.  We just needed to drop off our covenant for drainage best management practices (BMPs), pay our remaining balance and I was on my way!  I know it’s really just a piece of paper, but it feels like such a huge accomplishment to get the permit…definitely reason to celebrate tonight!

Huge Milestone: I picked up our Construction Permit today!

Huge Milestone: I picked up our Construction Permit today!

Besides that, we have an update on our loan process.  HomeStreet came back with a slightly higher appraised value, and with better rates and lower fees, they were an easy choice for us.  We anticipated to be closed on our loan by now, but apparently they’ve been swamped.  So hopefully we’ll be closed by the end of next week.  (So much for their 30 day close, but hopefully it’s not too much longer).

Other news is that the empty property next to ours is no longer pending and has officially sold this week!  Cheers to them and to having neighbors (now we’ll just need to meet them) 🙂

Open Houses & Permit Ready

This week has been pretty busy for us…

We put our house up for sale on Wednesday evening, and had two open houses this weekend.  It was pretty insane the number of people that toured the home – about 80 GROUPS of people came through.  And we had additional showings before and after the open houses on both Saturday and Sunday.  I guess timing is everything – thanks David Hogan (our agent) for pushing us to get it listed sooner rather than later.  Let’s hope all that traffic actually produces some families that actually want to buy our home!  We’re scheduled to review any offers on Wednesday.

Redfin 'dubbed' us a "Hot Home" - hopefully it will sell within the next 9 days!

Redfin has dubbed ours a “Hot Home” – hopefully they’re right and it will sell within the next 9 days!

Besides listing the home this week, we also heard back from the County that our permit was officially approved and ready to be picked up whenever we want to grab it!  Finally…all of the reviews were done and we can cross that off our list.

Permit Approval - Final

But we’re not quite ready yet – on Sunday we finished negotiating our contract with Matt from Ruttan Construction – our General Contractor.  It took a couple weeks, but the terms are mutually accepted now and we can sign them today.  Tomorrow we should be submitting all of the paperwork to the bank to be able to start the process of appraisal and getting the construction loan.

Building Permit – BMP’s Covenant Recorded

The final step for the Civil Review to be complete is to get our drainage BMP’s approved.  BMP’s stand for “Best Management Practices”.  Basically, our drainage design on our property requires us to maintain the drainage treatment types that we install.  We have two different ways that we’re dealing with drainage on our property – drywells and sheet flow.  The driveway drains to a drywell, the roof drains to a drywell and the back patio sheet flows to the back yard.  The County requires us as the homeowners to know how to install and maintain these drainage features.  For example – the gravel material in the drywell becomes filled with fines and clogged, we’ll need to have them replaced.  The County wants this recorded and on file so that if we ever sell the property the new owners will also know how to take care of the property.

The County asked me to prepare “Exhibit A” with certain criteria – a 1” border on legal sized paper and only pertinent information shown.  I did this, the reviewer approved and signed off on it and then he sent me the rest of the information that need to be recorded in a covenant.

BMP Covenant Sheet 3

BMP Covenant Sheet 3 “Exhibit A”

To have the covenant accepted by the county it needed to be notarized.  Luckily my uncle is a notary and lives just a couple miles from us. We brought over yummy dessert from Whole Foods on Monday and signed the papers with him.

BMP Covenant Sheet 1

BMP Covenant Sheet 1

BMP Covenant Sheet 2

BMP Covenant Sheet 2

BMP Covenant Sheet 4

BMP Covenant Sheet 4

BMP Covenant Sheet 5

BMP Covenant Sheet 5

BMP Covenant Sheet 6

BMP Covenant Sheet 6

BMP Covenant Sheet 7

BMP Covenant Sheet 7

Joel submitted them to Seattle to the King County’s admin office and we had our recording number.  We gave the recording number to the County’s Civil reviewer and he signed off on our review as being approved.  Easy peasy!

Permit Approval - Civil

Building Permit – Civil Resubmittal (#2) and Approval!

After our resubmittal meeting, I had a few things to change – the site drainage features and the limits of grading on the property.  The grading limits were simple to take care of – just remove some proposed contour lines on the property.

The County reviewers wanted us to move the drainage dispersion trench out of the wetland buffer.  This really doesn’t make sense to me since all of the water naturally drains to the area I located it in, but apparently it had to go in order to get our permit approval.  If I was going to relocate the drainage feature, I was going to change the type too.  I really didn’t want to have a soggy backyard, so I changed it to being a drywell.  In order to use a drywell system, you have to calculate the amount of roof runoff would be directed towards the drywell, and using the soil type you can appropriately size the drywell.  Here’s my calcs:

Drywell Sizing Calculations

Drywell Sizing Calculations

With the drywell sizes for both the driveway and for the roof runoff I was able to place them on the property in an area that’s outside of the wetland buffer and that was it!

Final Site Plan - Sheet 1

Final Site Plan – Sheet 1

Final Site Plan - Sheet 2

Final Site Plan – Sheet 2

Final Site Plan - Sheet 3

Final Site Plan – Sheet 3

With the new site plan, I got a call from the reviewer and we passed – he was ready to approve our plans!  The last step to getting his final approval is to get our drainage BMP’s recorded with the county.  With that recording number he’ll sign off and we’ll be done with the Civil Review.

Building Permit – Civil Resubmittal

Immediately after getting our Critical Areas Approved, I called and scheduled my appointment for the resubmittal for our Civil Review.  Luckily I was able to get in a week later on the 30th at 10am.  I felt like I was going to battle this morning though – the reviewer we had was known for being one of the most difficult at the County – lucky us.  I basically wanted to get in and out and just get our approval.

Far from it though – this reviewer didn’t agree with the Critical Areas Reviewer and called her in there and she rescinded her approval!!  What the heck!  She told us that we can’t do the small amount of regrading that we wanted to do on our property within the previously cleared buffer area.  Apparently she didn’t notice the regrading before and it was only when our civil reviewer pointed it out to her that she saw it.  So in order to get the Critical Areas Approved (again) I needed to revise our grading limits.  That’s fine with me though – it really not that big of a deal to adjust the grading.  So our #1 issues of Critical Areas seems to be easy to get approved again.

And our #2 issue was the small vs. large drainage review requirement.  The reviewer came in guns-a-blazin’ on this issue and it wasn’t until a drainage reviewer came in that he agreed with me and that we met the small drainage review requirement.  Phew!

So with a few more small plan changes, we’ll be able to resubmit our site plan for approval.