Thursday, February 25, 2010

We're Puppy Shopping!

To start, there are a few things you must know.  I am NOT a dog person, or really even an animal person.  (and Yes, because I was once asked... I do still like babies and small children!  sheesh!)  Because of this, we wanted to make sure we got a breed that would have a decent chance of being fairly low maintenance.  I am pretty intimidated by big dogs, because I grew up with toy size dogs, and so we wanted to start out with a puppy so that I could snuggle and bond with it a little easier before it gets big enough to eat me.  

Chris is a major dog lover, but we decided to put off getting a dog for a year and a half after getting married.  We didn't want to be tied down from being able to go out of town last minute or have to worry about going home to feed the dog.  We also wanted to wait a bit because we knows dogs can be very expensive to take care of.  We were in an apartment for the first year so it was generally just best for us to wait a little while.  We definitely recommend this decision to newlyweds!  But I know for many, not having a dog is unthinkable and that's okay too!

So now that we have a house and a fenced in backyard...we're going for it!  And even I...the non-dog getting really excited.    

We are thinking we want to get a goldendoodle.  Chris grew up with a golden retriever.
We are hoping for the calm laid back tempermant of a golden retriever with the cute curly non-shedding coat of a poodle!  Let's keep our fingers crossed.

We were hoping to get a mid-size dog, and thought a mini-goldendoodle would be perfect.  But we soon realized that "Mini-goldendoodles" have to be breeded through artificial insemination and thus are very expensive!  They are WAY out of our price range.  And frankly, so are standard size goldendoodles.  Even though we couldn't afford their prices, we went to see a breeder anyway just to get a better feel for what goldendoodles are like.  They didn't have any brand new puppies for sale right then, but it was good to see what goldendoodles can look like as they get older.  

Here are a few of their dogs at Mountain Spring Farm...

Born September 28th, 2009 (5 months old) - Mini F1 Goldendoodles

Born July 4th, 2009 (7 months old) Mini F2b2 Labradoodles

My favorite (looking) puppy there...
(from the litter in the picture above)

At this breeder, I actually thought the labradoodles had cuter faces.  But Chris sold me on the golden when he made an interesting observation.  There were probably about 60 dogs at this breeder-- labs, goldens, poodles, labradoodles and goldendoodles-- all lined up in different kennels.  When we pulled up the dogs went crazy!  They were all barking and jumping all over the place.  Then as we were leaving they did the same thing and Chris said, "Sara, look around at all the golden retreivers."  One of them was yawning, another was laying down, they were totally relaxed.  So this convinced me, a golden mix would be better for our needs, since I'm not used to having big energetic dogs.

Going to the breeder was a good experience to get a better feel for the goldendoodle breed in general, but their dogs were outside our price range.

So we kept on our hunt...

ALAS, we found a friendly pet owner (non-professional-breeder) in TN that is desperate to get rid of some standard size goldendoodle puppies and selling each for less than 1/4 of the price they normally sell for.  We are a little concerned about how big they may get, but the parents are smaller and so we are, again...crossing our fingers and hoping for a smaller standard size dog.  They may not have the same championship pedigree that we would have gotten at the breeder, but we hope we will luck out with a great pet.

We're leaning towards getting a girl.  We want one that's really calm, and we like the ones that are really light in color, and we like the really curly ones.  

Here are some pics from the litter we're looking at...

8 weeks old...

Here are the (only) two girls from the litter.  We are trying to decide between the two.  Hopefully we can decide when we meet them.  The one on the left is curlier, which we love.  The one on the right is lighter, which we also love, and she is supposed to be the calmest in the litter.  Right now we are leaning towards the lighter one.

Here are some pics of Chris's sister's goldendoodle, Bentley, just to give you an idea of how to look as they grow...

At about 8 weeks...

At about 4 months...

That's all for now.  We're going to go up to Tennessee this Sunday and hopefully come home with a puppy!  I'll let ya know how it goes!  If any of our friends in Birmingham have a kennel (or other dog accessories) you'd like to get rid of, give us a call!

If anyone is interested in getting a dog from the family we're buying from, contact us by email or comment and we'll send you their info!

...if you likee to readee then postey a commentee...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Money Pit- Rotten Wood

So, in one week we had:
Scraped our ceilings,
peeled wallpaper,
Painted every inch of everything,
and installed crown moulding.
We felt extremely accomplished and were pumped to start cleaning up and move into our abode.
There were only two items left on the to-do list...

In one bedroom there was a sag in the ceiling right over a window.  During our inspection we inquired about this thoroughly.  Our inspector examined the area from the interior and the exterior wall, tested it with his moisture meter and concluded that "Sometime in the history of the house, there was a leak here.  This leak has now been repaired and is no longer active.  The problem is now simply cosmetic. That part of the ceiling can be removed and a new patch of drywall can be put in its place."  Easy enough, right?  So we had a builder come over to look at fixing it (after Chris and his dad attempted and realized they were in over their heads).

In another bedroom there is a long dark closet that is only accessible through one door and so we planned to add a second door on the other end so the closet would be more usable.  So, we planned to have the builder add another door for this closet along with repairing the ceiling.

So when, "Paul the Builder" (my family lovingly calls him this so he won't be confused with Paul my brother in law) came over to make these minor repairs for us, he unfortunately found some MUCH BIGGER PROBLEMS.

He started by looking at the closet.  As he was mapping out where he would place the door, he happened to take one step right next to the exterior wall.  One step away from the wall he was on solid ground, but riiiiight next to the wall (a place that our inspector surely never stepped) was like a trampoline.  The floor boards were clearly floating on nothing, meaning that the floor joist beneath was completely rotten.  Yikes.  Our builder explained to us many reasons why this was detrimental to the house and could be a safety issue for the support of the walls and must be repaired immediately!

After assessing the floor issue in the back bedroom, we moved on to the next bedroom to have a look at the "minor, cosmetic repair" needed in the middle bedroom.  Paul the Builder was quickly able to assess that the leak in the ceiling was extremely active and there was going to be extensive damage.

The days after these discoveries were some of "down in the dumpiest" times for Chris.  He had just made the biggest purchase of his life (of which I'm sure he was fearful enough), and now he could just see the bills piling up to provide a place for him and his wife to live.  Of course, I held true, and naively still believed that we would move in at the end of the week, but Chris knew it wasn't so.

Paul the Builder set up camp at our house for the next few days, working alone (to keep costs down) to assess and repair the damage, starting with the middle room.  Paul made phone call after phone call to Chris with more bad news about the damage.  There was water running from the roof into the walls and over the next few days of working he found that it had completely rotted out almost all of the wood in the ceiling, exterior wall, and some of the floor joists in that room as well as the neighboring bathroom.  When I came to the house after work to find that in that room the floor was partially removed, there was no ceiling (you could see straight into the attic) (remember, the guys scraped this ceiling and put crown moulding in this room and we painted it.) and most of the exterior wall had been taken down, I finally realized we wouldn't be moving in soon at all.  The entire room (and much of our house) was covered in black soot and dust from 70 yr old insulation that had fallen from the attic during the demo as well as broken plaster and drywall dust.

Nonetheless, our lease at our apartment was up, and we couldn't afford to pay the inflated monthly rate along with our new mortgage.  We moved out of our apartment and stacked our furniture and boxes into the two rooms in the house without extensive damage.  We packed suitcases and moved in with my sister Liz, her husband Brett, and their three children (under the age of 9).  They have a private guest room in the basement and live about 3 blocks from our new house and so it was very convenient for us to stay there.  They were very gracious to let us stay, and we really enjoyed some of the late-night conversations at the kitchen table.

Everyday after work, and all weekend, we would go to the house and Chris would assist Paul the Builder in the repairs while I finished up painting the rest of the house and tried to clean up and manage the debris from the construction.  When Paul would go home for the day he would give Chris direction on things Chris could do himself to speed the process.  If we left by 11pm it was an early night; most nights we worked til after midnight.  We had a lot of continued help and support from our friends and family.  We could not have done any of it without them.  My brother-in-law Brett was instrumental in helping Chris work on the house.  He is an estimator for Brassfield & Gorie Construction and is extremely handy and knowledgable about building.  He helped Chris so much and spent many nights and Saturdays getting into the knitty-gritty jobs with Chris.  My sister, Liz, was patient while we kept her husband away from home so much during that time and she often had to get all the kids fed, bathed, and in bed without Brett there to help.
Thank you Liz & Brett!!!
Here's a pic of their family...

After the rotten wood was replaced, and new sheets of dry wall were put up, one of the most time consuming steps was the drywall mudding and patching.  It involves applying, smoothing, drying, sanding, and REPEATing!  It was raining a lot and the air was moist, which was NOT helping the drying process.

We did eventually manage to replace all the rotten wood and put up new drywall in all the problem areas: 1 closet wall; all bathroom walls and ceiling;  wall, ceiling, and floor joist in middle bedroom; floor joist in back bedroom.

We kept projecting that it would be 1 more week... 1 more week... 1 more week.  At the end of it, it was 8 weeks...but we did throw in a few extra projects while our house was in the demo-reno stage, more to come on those in future posts....

...if you likey to readee, then postey a commenty...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Money Pit- Crown Moulding

While I was running the painting operation, Chris was running the crown moulding operation.

Along with scraping the ceilings we knew that crown moulding would dramatically improve the look of our house as well as increase the appeal for future buyers.

Luckily, Chris and his dad had previously attempted to put crown moulding in one room of a house in college.  They pretty much botched it and probably de-valued the house...yikes.  So now, they felt like professionals.  But really, they had already made every classic mistake in the book and so this go round they felt pretty confident and got through it without any major mistakes (along with the help of our friends "Saint Alex", "Saint David", and another saint of a friend- "Saint Andrew").

One of the most trying parts of adding crown moulding to our house, was getting it from Home Depot back to our house.  We thought Home Depot had better prices on the crown moulding we wanted (but we were actually wrong and it was about the same).  But we were already there, so instead of purchasing from Lowe's right around the corner, we ended up at Home Depot which was about 15 miles away.

We made the trek over to Home Depot in Chris's Dad's truck.  We couldn't wait to purchase the gorgeous dental moulding we'd been planning for our home long before we even purchased it.  Boy did we feel silly when we realized how expensive it is!!!  So we got the standard crown moulding, which was fine, because dental moulding would probably be a little fancy and presumptuous for our little house anyway.

Dental Moulding...
What we got...
So, we went to Home Depot 15 miles away and all we had was Chris's dad's truck to transport 12 ft. long crown moulding.  One end of the crown moulding was in the bed of the truck, while the rest was extending forward over the top of the hood of the truck and some how strapped down with bungie cords and chris and his dad each had a had out the window holding on tight.  Right out of Home Depot, we had to descend down a long hill (for about 7 miles).  On the down hill, the wind was really whipping through the crown moulding and causing it to bend backwards.  It was really scary, and then before we knew it....CRACK!  We lost half of one.  It flew back into traffic.  I screamed and my heart could have shattered someone's windshield and/or caused someone to run off the road.  Luckily, everyone was able to avoid it!  I've never been so ready to make it home after that.  I was terrified we were going to lose more.
But we made it home without anymore problems.  I don't know what the moral of the story is.  Should we have rented some sort of flat bed truck just to go buy crown moulding!?!  geez.

Here are the before and afters for the crown moulding.  We put crown moulding in every room except the little hallway and the kitchen (our cabinets go up to the ceiling).  Sorry I don't have better pictures.  

Living Room...

Bedroom Example...

A few tips:
- Paint walls and ceilings before putting up crown moulding.  You don't have to trim out corners perfectly, because the crown will cover most of it.  
- Lay the moulding strips across a couple of card tables and paint moulding outside BEFORE cutting or putting them up.  The sun will help dry them and it's so much easier to paint when it's not above you head.
(If you follow the above two steps, you won't have to do as much touch up painting later.)
- After hanging, don't forget to caulk up all the nail holes and caulk above and below each piece.  (Don't wait to do this after you move in, like us!  It's such a pain to go back and have to stand on top of furniture to caulk!)
- Because of this caulking step, I can see why many people paint their ceilings white and their crown moulding white...much less touching up to do when you use white caulk.  (I, on the other hand, painted my ceilings a beigey white and my crown moulding is I'll be caulking and touching up paint probably up until the day we sell the house!)
- To touch up after caulking, use a taping knife (mentioned in the painting post) to keep from doing more damage.  

BTW...I love woodwork!  I have hope and dreams of adding even more woodwork in our house.  It already has heavy craftsman style woodwork, and I love it.  I'm thinking of a recessed panel wainscote in the dining room...hmmm, and beadboard ceiling and walls in the kitchen...ahh.    

...if you likey to readee, then postey a commenty...


Related Posts with Thumbnails