The before-and-after photos never look quite right

Reading other people’s houseblogs makes it apparent that there’s a great deal of photographic technique involved in taking good before-and-after photos. None of my pictures really seem to convey just how haunted the house looked before we started, or what a shambles it is now.

Despite sweeping and cleanup, everything is coated in dust, and there are tumbleweeds of various kinds of insulation gathering in corners. The kitchen walls and ceiling are open to the studs and joists, and there are several huge holes in the subfloor made for ducts and pipes. In one spot there’s an actual door laid flat over the joists so you can walk across it, but you still have to be careful where you put each foot when walking around the kitchen area.

It actually looks like it’s further away from completion than when we started. Plus, next week our construction crew is not working because not only is Monday a holiday, but Wednesday is the Dalai Lama’s birthday, which is a serious big deal holiday for Tibet. Everyone deserves vacation, but I was alarmed that other people’s vacation might be inconvenient for me. (Yes, I recognize just how spoiled that makes me sound.)

But progress isn’t always visible, and we had a site visit yesterday with the contractor which was incredibly reassuring. I knew the walls were open because we had to shore up beams and posts above and around the kitchen, and add extra fire/sound proofing between the two units in our building, and to replace all the wiring and plumbing. I didn’t realize, however, that all of that work is now complete, and the plumbing and electrical has passed inspection.

In what remains of this week they’ll stuff more fire-and-sound insulation into the open slots in the kitchen floor, then close that up. While the crew is on vacation, the city will come and inspect the structural work.

Also our plumber has put in the furnaces and water heater, and the Tibet crew has replaced the rickety back stairs and rotten back door. We wound up with gray composite stairs and a white fiberglass door, so it’s not much to look at, but it’s done and it’s solid and it won’t require maintenance for at least a decade.

Once the crew comes back from the holiday, they will re-insulate the ceiling and walls in the kitchen, install air conditioners, and start the drywall-and-paint phase upstairs. We are still on schedule for a habitable room by August.

It seems like construction projects in general move like this: It looks like nothing is happening, and then there’s a giant visible change and everything’s torn apart. Then you wait and wait and it looks like nothing’s happening… and then there’s another big visible change. Then you wait and wait and it looks like nothing’s happening, and so on.

So, we’re moving nicely and nobody’s vacation is an inconvenience to me. Happy 4th of July, and happy 81st birthday to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

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