Home Improvement: Fireplace Edition, Part 3

OK, our project is not exactly a well-oiled machine of closely-scheduled contractors. We’ve had many days of no work fine at all, then here and there someone shows up, does a few hours of work, and leaves again. I don’t think it’s been even eight hours of work yet, even though we started 10 days ago.

This is all right – we’re not on some tight schedule – but I’m looking forward to having interior access to our laundry room and garage back some day, hopefully sooner than later. It’s pretty inconvenient carrying all our laundry out the front door, through the garage, and into our laundry room. With all this in and out, we have a hard time remembering if the garage door is open, too, and have narrowly missed leaving it open all night several times. However, I remain grateful that we don’t have to go to a laundromat or carry our laundry long distances normally.

Anyway, on Thursday afternoon “Builder Dave” and “Builder Jim” (as Benji says) came, cut some holes in the ceiling and walls, and planned how to run the heating duct to our bedroom. It’s not far, but one water pipe to our bathroom has to be shifted to the side a bit. Jim assured me it was “no big deal,” but I remain skeptical.


Friday morning, Jim came over again and finished cutting the wall and ceiling for the duct to go in.



This resulted in a tremendous amount of wallboard dust, which got everywhere throughout the house despite the oh-so-convenient plastic sheeting. I cleaned up a bit in the remodel area, a possibly futile effort, but it’s still inside the house and I have to maintain some standards, right? A shop vac would be really useful, but I managed with a broom (mostly… There are still some dusty bits I couldn’t sweep).

Now we’re cooling our heels waiting for the duct guys to call and tell us when they’ll come and do the work. Supposedly that’s some time today, but goodness knows when it will actually happen. After that it’s inspection time, then fixing the drywall and doing the tile. Then we clean up a bunch and breathe a sigh of relief – or, hopefully in my case,  finally sleep soundly again.

Home Improvement: Fireplace Edition, part 2

This morning, bright and early, the Kirkland Fireplace installer showed up to install the actual fireplace itself. He arrived about 8:00 and finished about 10:30, so quickly I didn’t even have time to make a batch of cookies to say “thank you.”

The stove itself!
Installer Eric hard at work, having just hooked up to the gas line in the crawl space.
It's installed and we can even turn it on!
Not the most ideal location for a vent...

Wow, it worked! All my careful design and agonizing research actually did pay off: It’s not touching the wall in the back; the direct vent was able to bend and go straight out without being too tall; the sides fit in exactly right; the gas line had been run to the exact right spot and he had to do minimal work to hook it up. I have to admit, I’m kind of astonished.

Now on to running the heating duct up to our bedroom, hooking up to electrical, and finally adding the stone exterior.

This is exciting, but I’ll be honest: At this point I’m just ready to have access to my laundry room from inside the house again.

Home Improvement: Fireplace Edition

After three months of… Let’s be generous and call it “planning,” rather than the more accurate “completely ignorant bungling” – anyway, after three or four months, today we actually started breaking ground (or, in our case, carpet) on the new fireplace project.

Before, although after we moved all the furniture.
During just got way less exciting.

This is a day fraught with much anxiety for me, since I did all the research and design. I started from a place of complete and total ignorance, and did the entire thing based on advice from architect friends, City of Bothell code requirements, and the fireplace installation manual. On paper, it looks like it might be decent, and once we got the permit, I stopped worrying about it.

Going over the numbers today with Jim, who’s doing the framing, made me horribly anxious all over again: He always asks me questions that I don’t know the answer to, and if I don’t know now, I’m in real trouble. Thus far I did have answers, but in giving them I lost all confidence in my research and design, and then lost even more confidence (if that possible) in my ability to communicate that design correctly. But it’s going forward now, as the banging and air compressor sounds attest, so we’re fairly committed.

I keep reminding myself: There are two kinds of things you don’t need to worry about: things you can control, and things you can’t. But what about things you did wrong, but don’t know about?! Anyway, I also keep reminding myself that it’s not life and death here; at worst it’s a lot of extra money. Not ideal, but nobody’s going to die because I designed wrong.

Hmm, saying all that may give some insight into why I only slept three hours last night, after tossing and turning for five hours. I didn’t feel anxious, but I bet I was.

Edit to add: Day 1 is a wrap. Now we wait until Monday for the fireplace to be installed.