July 26, 2010
So what's it like to be the homeowner on a This Old House project? It's a unique experience, for sure, and BUSY (a major renovation is always busy, but in our case we also have (1) a compressed timeframe and (2) the small matter of documenting the whole thing for TV and a magazine!) I thought I'd share 'A week in the Life of a This Old House Homeowner' to give you all a feel for what it's like. Every week is different, of course, but read on to see what happened during the week of July 19, 2010. (And if readers enjoy this'week in the life' snapshot, let me know and I'll do it again some other week!)
Monday, July 19, 8:15 am
We started the week with our weekly jobsite meeting at the house. Since there's nowhere to sit inside the house (we moved all the furniture out in May), we've been meeting in the front yard at a picnic table. So far the weather has cooperated! Most weeks, the meeting consists of Raveen and I, Tom Silva, our architect Chris Chu, our interior designer Melissa Gulley, and one or both of the This Old House producers (Deborah Hood and Jen Wells). The focus of this week's meeting was budget, and Tom reviewed a few areas where we're over-budget so that we can plan accordingly -- fun, fun!
So far we've had unplanned beam replacement due to worse-than-expected termite damage, additional costs to replace a few more windows than originally planned, and additional costs to build a new bathroom in the basement (long story, but let's just say that when the asbestos was removed in the basement, it didn't leave much of a bathroom behind!). We had been aware of these unplanned/added expenses, so there were no huge surprises at the meeting. But there are certainly better ways to start a week ;)
Tuesday, July 20, 8:00 am
Shoot Day! Raveen was filmed in the morning with Norm and kitchen designer Donna Venegas, with the three of them checking out a paper mock-up of our new kitchen. There's a lot of energy at the house when the TOH crew descends on shoot days. From the homeowner's perspective, the filming process can initially seem quite chaotic ("We're starting NOW? Where's my script? What, there's NO script?!!?"). But after having been filmed a few times now, I see that the beauty of the show is that it IS unscripted, and we homeowners are really just being ourselves. That said, it usually takes quite a few tries to get a good 'take'. Raveen was at the shoot for most of the morning, for what will ultimately be just a few minutes of TV footage. (The rest of the TOH crew remained at the house until 7:00 pm(!) shooting additional scenes that didn't include the homeowners... and actually doing real work on the house).
Wednesday, July 21, 9:00 am
A trip to the Boston Design Center to meet Donna at her kitchen showroom, with Raveen and I, Chris, Melissa, and Jen. Donna had already developed her 'first draft' of our kitchen plan, so the objectives of this meeting were (1) to review and tweak the kitchen layout as necessary, and (2) to start thinking about cabinet door styles and colors/finishes. Our new kitchen is pretty big, so there was lots to review on the layout front. (Not to mention that we could have spent hours just ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the model kitchens with all those great cabinet features -- soft-close drawers and pull-out spice racks come to mind!) But we made good progress and by the end of the meeting were down to just a few details to iron out (location of prep sink in the island, and the organization of the cabinets/appliances along the sink/front wall of the kitchen -- dishwasher to the right or the left of the sink? Where will everyday dishes be stored?) In terms of door styles and colors, we tossed around several ideas but ultimately landed on a simple, classic door style in white, with a different, fun (yet-to-be-determined) color for the island cabinetry. Here's a stock photo (from Donna's website) of the cabinets we chose. We plan to add more color in our kitchen, but you hopefully this gives you a sense of where we're headed.
Wednesday, July 21, 11:30 am
After the kitchen meeting, we wandered across the street to the headquarters of rug company Merida Meridia in South Boston. A good friend of mine runs the company, and I have seen (and loved!) their beautiful rugs at her house. Raveen and I have just barely begun to scratch the surface in terms of interior finishes and furnishing for our house, and Melissa has suggested choosing a rug we love as a starting point. Then we can use the colors in the rug to help set the palette for the rest of the house -- it's like literally 'laying the groundwork' for our interior!
Wednesday, July 21, 11:30 pm
Raveen and I were both working late, long after the kids were already in bed (since our house project takes up quite a bit of time during the regular work day, we frequently burn the midnight oil to catch up on our day jobs). We took a quick break from our 'real work' to talk about house stuff... specifically, the open issues with the kitchen layout. We make a decision about the front wall of cabinets (dishwasher to the right of sink, primary storage of plates, bowls, etc. to the left of the sink), but still couldn't agree on where the prep sink should go... we'll have to sleep on it and revisit.
Thursday, July 22, 5:30 pm
As I was driving home from work, I received a call from someone at This Old House magazine. Can either Raveen or I can be available for a photo shoot in a couple weeks? I'm sure one of us can figure out a way to carve a few hours out of our workday, so I confirmed that yes, one of us will be there.
Thursday, July 22, 7:00 pm
I stopped by the house after dinner, kids in tow, to pick up the mail and check out the latest work at the house. (Hmmmm... there was no mail. Could that be due to the scaffolding blocking the mailbox, perhaps? I'll stop by the post office tomorrow). The kids had fun pretending to use the mock appliances in the mock kitchen :)
Out back, they discovered the new deck footings Tom installed this week, and enjoyed hopping about from footing to footing (Tom, I hope that's okay!) We stayed for about 20 minutes in all, then headed back 'home' for the night.
Friday, July 23, 9:00 am
I heard back from This Old House magazine, with more details on the upcoming photo shoot. It turns out that the shoot could take the better part of a full day. Yikes, it sounds like one of us will be burning the midnight oil again that night! The thing is, though, we both really love being a part of all this. The people are all amazing (and I'm talking about the guys you see on television AND all the 'behind the scenes' folks you don't see) - incredibly talented, interesting, and just plain nice. It's totally fun to be involved in the filming, photography, and interviews, and also to just hang around the job site a bit with Tom and crew. When our project is all said and done, we don't want have to have regrets about not be as fully involved as possible. And thus we gladly say 'yes' when asked if we are available to do something for the show or magazine. But since we both have full-time jobs, it's a balancing act to say the least!
Friday, July 23, 3:30 pm
A reporter from This Old House magazine called, looking for information to help with the upcoming photo shoot and article. We chatted for about 20 minutes about the asbestos, lead, termite and carpenter ant issues at our house (all the really glamorous stuff!). Look for an article sometime in the fall! [Editor's note: The October issue!]
Saturday, July 24, 12:00 noon
I took the kids over to Yale Appliance in Dorchester to scope out kitchen appliances. It was a wee bit overwhelming, honestly, because there was so much to look at. But it was helpful to see 'in person' some of the appliances we had been researching online, and the yummy treats from the live cooking demonstrations helped keep our energy up!
Saturday, July 24, 2:00 pm
The kids had been promised a trip the the New England Aquarium as a reward for good behavior at the appliance store (they were actually great in the store, and for the most part enjoyed checking things out almost as much as I did!). So with our 'Old House' to-do's wrapped up for the week, we headed downtown to take in some fantastic sea life. If you've made it this far, thanks for sticking with me, and check out this cute harbor seal asking for a treat from his trainer!
(15) CommentsComment on this Blog
It really looks like your family is going to have a very nice home when This Old House is finished. I really have enjoyed looking in on the webcam and I am really glad you are getting the termite damage addressed. Sounds like you had more damage than you thought. I imagine you had your house inspected before purchase and do understand you have been living there for a while. Just wondering though if you had a homeowners warranty or if the inspector who inspected your house for termites offered a warranty. Perhaps you might be able to file a claim and that might cover some of the added cost. Good luck to you.
I'm getting a tiny bit concerned about progress. I check in every couple of days and it doesn't seem like there are very many people working or that very much is getting done. Usually the summer shows finish up in late fall. Do you expect to be in by Thanksgiving??
Judy, we are still hoping to be in by Thanksgiving, and there is in fact quite a bit of work going on now (lots of stuff you don't see on the webcams... rough plumbing in the second floor baths, work in the basement, etc.) The new windows will arrive in about a week, and be installed shortly thereafter. Once those go in, the house will suddenly appear a lot more 'done'!
And Richard, no we didn't have a homeowners warranty (those are very rare in the Boston area) and our inspection report was clear that the house needed *major* work. So to some extent, we expected a few unknown issues to surface.
Great Post! Now the real truth comes out that there are not enough hours in the day or days in the week to be a TOH TV celeb and family memeber to boot ;) But just think of the nice views you'll have off the backyard porch of the river and the wrap party when the project is finished....Oh yeah, can U change the web cam ? the living room is pointing at the stupid beam and we want to see the progress on the back porch.....KEEP ON POSTING!!!!!!
Thoroughly enjoyed the week in review! New angle for the living room camera is great.
Could someone please knock the debris off the front view camera?
Time Compression: I recall a cupola that took two hours to be placed on a house while watching the Web cams took just two minutes on TV!
Summer would not be summer without TOH Web Cams!
Thanks for all the comments! I turned the living room webcam around tonight... take a look at the beginnings of our new sunroom :) We were there at sunset, and it was just lovely to stand in the sunroom and look out back. I'll work on the debris on the front view camera tomorrow...
Thanks for the 'week in the life' of a TOH homeowner Allison!It's great to read about what a homeowner actually experiences when working with the TOH crew. They are great people and extremely talented! All the chaos will be worth it in the end. I look forward to more updates.
Allison I am sorry I couldn't help you save a few dollars. I thought of the homeowners warranty after our storm damage we had in Maryland and dealing with insurance. Also finding out just how much damage some trees can do. Luckily no real bad damage to our house,just an antenna down but we will have to cut our tree down. I liked the week in review too and also like seeing some immediate things like your reactions to the kitchen cabinets when they come,when you have time. I think I kind of understand a bit of what you are going through having gone through estimates for my tree. You guys have a nice day!
I also love the weekly update. And after hearing everything that happened on the worksite and your real job, I am tired! Thanks for taking the time!
Thank you, Allison, for cleaning the front-view camera this morning!
Allison, I enjoyed your "week in the life" very much! I especially like the shot of the kids on the deck footings!
Allison, thanks for moving the Living room cam, now we got some movement and progress!!! Any chance of posting a Blooper reel on You Tube of your mistakes while on camera with the crew???
Keep on going, it's worth it!!!
I love your all tips. Thanks for sharing it.