March 17, 2005

Catching up

by Ed Rozmiarek

Oh my, has it been a month since my last update on the house? Looks like it. All the usual excuses seem to apply, work, life and actually the old and new houses as well. Let me see if I can bring everyone up to date on the new house.

The exterior is nearing completion.
Let’s start off with the fun stuff, the new house. Things are moving along at a steady pace. The exterior of the house is nearing completion. The remaining structures have been built, the roofing felt and shingles have been put on and the siding is on and painted. The masonry was almost complete when we visited this past weekend with just the top part of the chimney to do along with a small area around the garage entrances. We’re very pleased with the look of the rock. However, I’m not sure we picked the right color for the siding. But, I can live with what we have for now since, given the Texas sun, it will probably need to be repainted in a few years. Once the masons get done with the outside, they should be moving inside to do the fireplace and bar front. They will be using the same rock for these as they used on the exterior.

Once the roof was mostly complete, the interior work was able to commence. The plumbers returned to run the pipes through out the house and installed the bathtubs and shower pan. The HVAC units were installed and all of the duct work installed. After that, the electricians came in and installed all the rough wiring, including the telephone, TV cable and computer network (yeah, I’m a geek). After all of that, the site was cleaned up in preparation for the drywall to be installed.

The past two weeks have mostly been the drywallers putting up the sheetrock and doing the taping and mudding. The rooms really took on their feel after the drywall went up as we got a good feel for the size of the rooms and such. I did notice at least one outlet that the drywallers covered up. I reported this to the builder and they said that usually happens and the electrician will uncover it when he comes back out. We’ll see.

The electrical wiring has been installed.

There are cedar posts on the porches.
This week we approved the design of the kitchen and bath cabinets. These are going to be custom made for the kitchen, but they are pretty straight forward, nothing out of the ordinary or really special about them. They should be ready in a couple weeks. We have also approved the design of the wood beams for the living room and the loft railing. We made a big change on the loft railing that is going to cost a pretty penny, but we think it will be one of the “real cool” things about the house. I’ll keep the details quiet for now.

The decisions continue, but are becoming fewer and fewer. A couple weeks ago Susan and I picked out the lights for the house. We were really concerned about this because you can spend a lot on lights. Our lighting allowance was not really large and with some overages in other places, we really were looking to stay within budget.

We spent two lunches going to the lighting supplier. Our first appointment was cancelled due to the salesman having a personal conflict, but Susan and I went to the store anyway to scope out prices. We knew we were going to have a hard time fitting within our budget, but we got a little disappointed during our first visit. Once we got past the huge, gaudy and highly priced fixtures ($4000 or more for some of the chandeliers), we focused in on what we could afford. All of the fixtures had a “retail” price and an “our price”, but even using the lower “our” prices, our total was running up fast. We thought we were going to have to settled for very low end fixtures or go way over budget. We even spent the next couple days price shopping at Lowe’s and Home Depot to see what we could get there. We actually found some nicer things for a reasonable cost which reassured us that, even if we had to do the work, we could get some decent fixtures.

Starting to look more like a house with the sheetrock up.

The kitchen area with the sheetrock up.
We returned to the lighting supplier later in the week and had our meeting with the salesman. What we soon found out that there is a third price for most of the fixtures, the builder’s price. This third price seems to be just in the salesman’s mind and kind of flexible. As we were going around picking out lights, the salesman keep writing down prices that were generally lower than the printed “our price” and were always round numbers (not $12.99, but $13). Also, he mentioned several times, “I can let you have that for …”. The other nice thing about going around with the salesman was that he was able to quickly narrow down our choices to the “budget” items that still looked nice. After little under an hour the salesman had our selections and went off to get a total. I expected the worst but he actually came back with a number under budget! So much so, we were able to upgrade a few fixtures. In the end we came in about $150 over budget which we were very happy with.

The last major thing that has been sucking our free time has been getting our current house ready to place on the market. I’ll save you all the gory details, but we have been spending a large amount of time cleaning, painting, packing stuff to move to storage, moving furniture, moving and removing pictures, patching holes and more painting, having new carpet installed, mowing, cleaning out flower beds and putting out new mulch, etc. Just listing it all makes me tired.

The back porch with the rock and posts.
A lot of this we had been working on slowly, but the final push was very exhausting. Our real estate agent has an interior decorator that comes by a couple times to give you tips to make the house more sellable. I would say “more attractive”, but I’m not sure that’s the right word. It seems that the basic idea is to make the house look like no one lives there and it is just used as a storage place for some token furniture.

All of that work is now behind us as we officially listed our house last Thursday. Now we just have to keep it spotless and be willing to leave on short notice. (Remember what I said about making it look like no one lives in the house?) Unfortunately, as I write this we have only had two people look at the house (plus one real estate agent who was scoping it out). Since this week is spring break for the local schools, were thinking (hoping) that the slow initial traffic is due to people being out of town. If so, I don’t know if we should expect much traffic this weekend. And since the following weekend is Easter, that may be slow as well. Now the waiting is probably the worst part since it is out of our hands. However, all we need is one buyer so if you know anyone who is looking for a house in the Austin area, let me know.

There are lots of recent pictures on the last couple pages of the house photo album. Stop by for a peek.

Posted by Ed Rozmiarek at March 17, 2005 1:31 PM

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