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  • Writer's pictureoriane

Where we've been. Where we're going.


Happy New Year and goooood riddance 2020!


Aren't we always so full of hope as we make our champagne toasts at midnight--but '20 sure was like swallowing a spoon full of nasty cough syrup--gooey, painful, and artificially orange flavored.

YUCK.


Yet here we are, the new year bringing a host of promising updates.

We have a new President, a vaccine proving itself a formidable Covid-19 foe, and this renovation is making material progress daily. I plan to hang on to every shred of optimism I can.


"2021 will be an excellent year." (...clinks champagne glass during midnight toast...)

 

Where we've been...


Demo.

As you might recall, we completed demolition at the end of October 2020. This phase took about 2 weeks, with the house gutted down to the exposed brick walls and original joists. We figured any booby traps lurking below 120 year old ceilings and floors would be discovered at this point in construction. Luckily there weren't many red flags. The floor sagging we might have expected with an old frame two flat wasnt an issue since our building is brick and only a few joists needed reinforcement or replacing, with no evidence that we would have serious unexpected construction costs.

I'll tally this one as a win.


A New Foundation.

With a 9' 6" addition planned for the back of the house a new concrete foundation needed to be dug and poured. Unfortunately, as this process was about to start half of the subcontractor team got Covid (thankfully, everyone has recovered and is ok) and delayed the concrete foundation by 2 weeks.

The delay meant working with the unpredictable beginning of Chicago winter. We did a whole lot of finger crossing for good weather.

On the day of the dig and pour, we discovered that our westward neighbors patio and concrete sidewalk was 5" into our property line. This is the kind of call you dread making on a renovation, especially if it's your neighbor that you'll see every day, forever. Making that phone was one of the really low-lows of this renovation so far. Five inches is a big deal when you have a narrow 25' city lot, literally every inch counts.


Because the neighbors home was built much closer to our property than we had anticipated, we had to reinforce the west wall of our new foundation with angle iron. Which, surprise, came as an additional $5,000 expense.

Interior Framing.

This happened the week between Christmas and New Year and like Santa bringing gifts, framing for the 1st and 2nd floors magically happened over night. Like I said, our team is incredible.


One day I had an empty house, the next, I had 2x4s marking out our old new home.


This was the moment scrutinizing every detail of that one-dimensional floor plan made it all feel real. After walking the layout I felt validated we had chosen this floor plan over the others. I believe it pays homage to the original intent of a 1900s architecture and maximizes modern livability.

The Addition (So far...)

With the foundation complete, all that's left on the Phase 1: To Do list is the addition. The team started with the removal of the exterior porch during demo and existing north most brick wall, which was handled by masons.


Fifty percent of the north elevation brick wall was removed on the basement and first floor levels, and the entire brick wall was removed on the second floor. With the masonry openings complete, the new frame portion of the building will be constructed (weather permitting) over the course of the next two weeks. The incorporation of this extra space will bring the entire building just shy of a very comfortable 3,500 square feet.


Windows.

I've been pining for sexy black windows since buying Melrose and these are finally on order. Install is 3-4 weeks away, and I can't wait for the facelift these windows will provide inside and out. We ended up going with double hung black windows with a beautiful grille pattern for the south and north elevations of the house. For cost saving reasons, the east and west elevations will also be black, double hung, but won't include the grille detail.

We got bids from Anderson, Pella, and Marvin but ended up going with Weather Shield (recommended to us by our GC) because the window specifications and warranties were the same as their brand name competitors, but roughly half the cost.



Where we're going...

With construction underway, and a delivery date apprehensively verbalized (it's June 1st, friends!) I'm fondly calling 2021 "The year of the house".

We still have a lot of road to travel and I'm sure we'll have a fallen tree or two in our path as we continue the journey, but things are shaping up fast!

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