5 min read

It begins.

Framing the new first-floor space.
It begins.
More this-and-that has now been removed from the first-floor back space, including the flooring of the old bathroom and a lot of extraneous wood that had been tacked up on the walls.

That little bit of 2x4 board on the floor might not look like much to you, but having been through a lot of house construction, I recognize its significance. This means our framer has figured out where the wall dividing the new first-floor bathroom and bedroom will go.

While the framer will work off our mapped-out design, the reality is that he has to make professional decisions about distances and locations based on what he finds in the real space and what's going to go in that real space.

A lot of thinking and measuring and remeasuring and rethinking goes into the decision of where to start the framing, and I watched that today as I drifted in and out of 615 while on the phone with the electrician and our designer.

At one point I came back to find the framer – who is really a general contractor – sitting on the floor staring at the board the way I look at a chicken before I cut it in half. He told me he was making sure he understood where everything goes before he does anything. It reminded me of something I was once told by Bob the Builder (after whom the oak tree is named): that before he started a job, he built all of it in his head twice.

The old flooring below what had been the first-floor bathroom has now been stripped away. You can see in the photos above and below that we're down to "the diagonal."

The bathroom and the vestibule will have a new heated tile floor. The bedroom will continue to have the good wood floor, including in the new bedroom closet. The old wood floor will have to be cut away where parts of the old bedroom are becoming parts of the new bathroom and vestibule.

I was reminded today that framing may look simple when you're demoing around it, but if you watch a professional framer figure out exactly where all the bones have to be, you realize it takes a smart person to execute it correctly.

The framer has to think about so many different things, including where all the wires, pipes, vents, drywall, tile, and electric heating mats will go. They have to think in four dimensions – length, width, height, and time (timing of infrastructure installation).

In this case, our framer has to also calculate how to get the pocket doors in the bedroom – one for the closet, one for the door to the vestibule – to be a the right heights relative to the changes in the floor.

And because the plumbing will need to come in through the ceiling from the kitchen, the framer also has to carefully calculate how the ceiling will work. The goal is to leave enough space in the ceiling for all the plumbing, venting, and electrical that has to go in without leaving more space than necessary, so that we can maximize the ceiling height.

It's like playing chess, only with four opponents whose moves you have to anticipate. Of course, the subs are not really opponents! In fact, they are frequently doing me the favor of talking to each other directly and keeping me apprised of their conclusions.

Two families interested in buying 615 looked at the house this past weekend. For those visits, I set up my friend Froggy on the dining room window seat to show off what a nice reading space it makes.

Of course, both sets of potential buyers wanted to know when we're going to be ready to sell. I know better than to lock down a date. Contracting schedules are inchworms. The middle part has to rise up before the front can push forward and the back can be pulled along.

Sometimes the framer gets Covid (it happened) and then the plumber gets injured (it happened) and then the electrician has a big emergency job (it happened)...and you just have to wait patiently in the hopes the drywalled's vacation doesn't fall exactly when you're ready for him. (I think that's gonna happen.)

Our designer Lisa picked out some lights today for the first and second floor bathrooms, and these will soon be added to the growing pile of boxes in the living room that now includes fan/lights for over the showers on the first and second floor, ceiling fan/lights for the living room and sunroom, and four sconces for the living room– two for over the fireplace and two for the wall that backs up on the kitchen.

If you think with my great home decor taste I don't need a professional designer, you should see all the time Lisa saves me by knowing which products will look terrific without breaking the budget. Because she's also a general contractor, she reminds what I need to be keeping track of and offers options I would otherwise never think to consider.

One last thing to report: This morning, the framer took a good look at the kitchen ceiling, which now has almost all the second floor plumbing tucked neatly up into it, and delivered great news. It appears he won't even have to frame the kitchen ceiling because the drywaller can now just affix the new drywall right up against the plaster!

The kitchen ceiling looking from near the dining room door toward the sink.

This saves us time, money, and trouble and gives us yet more ceiling height.

The only pickle this presents is for the electricians who have to bust through the old plaster to wire the ceiling lights. But I talked to the electrician, and he said if I'm willing to clean up the mess it creates, they're happy to do it. (My hourly rate for clean-up is way lower than the electricians'.)

The kitchen looking from near the dining room door to the living room door.

My electrician is as thrilled as the rest of us to ultimately be taking away a mere inch from the original ceiling height. The kitchen is going to be wonderful.

Just a reminder that if you want to see all the posts from this newsletter, you can just click here and scroll down.