Stamped Concrete and Paving

There were two items left undone when we moved in December due to the weather:  the stamped concrete on the courtyard and porches, and the driveway paving.  We waited until the weather warmed up, and had not heard from the builder about either of these.  We put our outdoor furniture out on the courtyard and side porch so we could use them.  Finally, in June we were contacted by the stamped concrete contractor.  I dug out our original color and pattern selections from last year and forwarded them to him.

The contractor did a 2’x2′ sample for us to look at.  We liked the pattern but decided that the color was too bright, and too orange.  We looked at his web site and found another color that we liked better.  We met with him and discussed the installation.  He did two more samples, and we picked the lighter of the two.  By then it was mid-July.

The contractor started work in early August.   There were a couple of days when it rained, so he could not work, but otherwise the work proceeded nicely, and he was on track to finish up by the end of the second week.

Then the builder called me on Wednesday and told me that the paving contractor was ready to start work!  We left work early so we could meet with the contractor, as we wanted to extend the final driveway for parking and access to the side porch.  When we got out there they had regraded the existing gravel.  We agreed on the additional area, and they excavated and put down  a base layer of stone.

Both the stamped concrete and the paving were finished on Thursday.  The paving contractor told us to be careful driving on the pavement at first, but otherwise we could use the spaces.

The stamped concrete looks terrific, and we really like the pattern and color we chose.   It complements the stucco and trim beautifully.  Here is a view of the entire courtyard with our outdoor furniture:

We have a sitting area set up on the back portico.

The round table is a story all by itself.  We bought the ceramic top during our trip to Italy in 2007, in a little shop in San Gimignano.  They shipped it to our old house, and we used in on our deck the past few summers.  When we moved it to the new house we bought a new base to give it more of a coffee-table height.  We think it looks fabulous on the courtyard.

On the side porch we have some wood furniture from our old place, and a potting bench that we bought after we moved.

It’s great to have the driveway done too, with a smooth surface instead of loose gravel.  (No picture; hey, it’s just black asphalt.)  We’re really happy to have the outside of the house finished.


First Snow!

The first significant snowfall of the season is always an occasion, good or bad depending on the circumstances.  In this case, it was also the first snow at the new house.  It was just a coating, and had already changed to freezing rain by the time I got up, but at least it covered the ground and stuck to the trees.  I was also pleased to see the snowplow come through our street before mid-morning; I hope that bodes well for future storms.

Here is the view from the back yard:

I thought the pine trees that separate us from our next-door neighbors looked nice:

Here you can see the little crape myrtle trees that we planted at the back of the lot after we moved in.

This will melt pretty fast as soon as the temperature rises above freezing, which it almost is now; but for the moment it’s covering our mud and straw, and looks nice.


Moving, Unpacking, and More

I have fallen well behind and haven’t posted an entry in nearly three weeks.  Mostly that’s just because we’ve been incredibly busy getting the house ready for the holidays and family, but partly because we did not have Internet access here for a while.  I’m going to try to recap briefly what has happened since the last entry.

The movers arrived on time on Tuesday, December 6.  It rained lightly during the day, but not enough to be a problem.  Bottom line is that everything was unloaded at the new place by early that evening.  They did a great job and were really careful to not track dirt in or bang up the walls.  And, we got to sleep in the new house that night!

It rained hard all day Wednesday, and our freshly graded and straw-covered lot turned into a sea of mud.  We spent much of the day driving back to the old house to pick up the cats, which we had left the day before.  We also started a routine of dropping by the place regularly (a couple of times a week), loading up stuff that was not included in the move (such as books and kitchen items), and picking up mail and newspapers.

Thursday the builder came to the new house, and we went over lists of items to be completed (the “punch list”) that both we and he had compiled.  I won’t list all of the details, or the blow-by-blow of getting them done.  I will say that the builder’s people have been working steadily to get all of the items resolved (in fact, they were there that day also, and have come several times since).  We still have a number of things that need to be worked off, and have discovered a few along the way.  However, we are satisfied with the progress in getting these done.

Friday, my wife went to work for the first time since the move while I stayed at the house to wait for the water softener installation.  Monday morning (December 12) we drove in together for the first time, leaving the house at about 6:30.  We improved on this as the week went on, leaving between 6 and 6:15.  I’ve gotten used to getting up at 5, taking the dog out in the dark, etc.

That Wednesday we finally had the broadband link installed.  I stayed home to wait for the installation.  We decided to get Internet, cable and phone service from the same company.  The installation was temporary since it takes longer to get the line buried.  There was an initial snag because the line needs to be run across our driveway.  I dashed out to buy a couple of lengths of PVC conduit and buried them in the gravel — problem solved!  By mid-afternoon we finally had TV, Internet and phone!  It was great to finally be able to sit in the study and get on-line.

Our out-of-town college age children were arriving that Saturday, December 17, so we got the bedrooms reasonably unpacked and set up in time for them.  The next day we went to a local nursery and bought our Christmas tree; they were nearly sold out but we still managed to find a nice-looking 8-footer.

That Thursday, the day bed we had ordered for the loft was delivered.  Last Friday we picked up the roll-top desk that we were having restored while the house was being built, and set it up in the study.  With those two items, our move is more-or-less complete, at least the major furniture for the near term.

We still have almost no furniture in the great room, and no rug (we decided we did not like the one we rolled out the night before the move, and took it back to the store).  We have most of the boxes unpacked, books on shelves, and curtains in most of the windows.  We still have pictures to hang, and a seemingly endless number of things still to be brought from the old house, including everything in the garage and all of the outside furniture.

It just feels terrific to be living in the house after the years of planning and months of building.  We love the neighborhood, and being close to the town.  We’re still learning about the area, of course, such as the best places for grocery shopping.  Even though we’ve been here less than three weeks, the place feels like home.

Moving Day!

The big day has finally arrived!  I’m doing a quick entry this morning because I won’t have Internet access at the new house until later this week.

Of course, we’ve been packing all week.  Still have some left to do this morning.  The movers will arrive in a couple of hours.

Yesterday we loaded a bunch of books and some odds and ends and drove them out to the place late in the afternoon.  The carpets had been laid and the place was freshly cleaned.  We unloaded the books and things, and took a few final pictures.

The rug we ordered for the great room had been delivered, so we rolled in out.  It looked very bright, but my wife assured me it would look fine once there was furniture in the room.

We headed home to continue packing, and were up to after midnight.  Back to work!


Home Stretch!

We left work at lunchtime to drive out to the site.  I needed to work on the bookshelves, and my wife wanted to put some things in the kitchen cabinets.  I also asked a friend to help with the shelves.

When we got there, multiple crews were at work.  The excavator was pretty far along with the septic system.

The stucco was completed, including the second floor.

The builder was there, and the electrician and the cleaning crew were also hard at work.  The heating system was installed and running,  the propane tank was buried outside of the house, the countertops, faucets and drains were installed, and all of the lights were working.  Finally, we were able to work after dark!

We talked to the builder about the remaining items.  There was crushed stone on the driveway.  He said that the final paving could not be installed in the cold weather.  He also told us that the stamped concrete installation would require a couple of days of warmer weather, which hopefully we would get soon.

We had made an appointment to have the water tested that afternoon.  The man from the water treatment company arrived shortly after we did.  Not surprisingly for a well, the water is hard, and we bought a softener.

My friend and I got to work on the shelves, and my wife worked in the kitchen.  With two of us working it went much faster, and we got all of the shelves cut and installed.

Our move is scheduled for Tuesday.  Almost there!