Tuesday, November 04, 2008

11/4/08 Bike bookworm

Katrina picked this book this morning to insist on bringing into the car with her, and to screech furiously over if either curious brother dared venture near her prize.

I wonder if she'll be inspired or put off someday by knowing that I rode motorcycles seriously for 10 years? (And still might again.) Oddly, I'm not nearly as nervous about her getting into bikes as her breakneck brothers. Fine, call me sexist.

An astoundingly busy difficult but productive day in remodel-land. Somehow, even though all three bathrooms tile had been chosen and laid out, it still took almost 3 hours to set up the order with a tile designer at the tile store. Countless items needed clarity ("this cap should match the field, it should be Alabaster") or minor correction ("this piece doesn't come in any of the Earth Blend colors,") or changes ("this cap costs almost $10 for a 6-inch piece?!?!!?"), and many other details that would come to light when the tile setter goes to put the tiles in place. But I think we got it down pat. Why can't I be like normal people and just pick ONE tile and say "put it in the bathroom" and that's that? No, I can't resist a beautiful border or a niche detail. I love tile.

Then I went to the kitchen designer's store to finalize the kitchen backsplash, niche, and family room fireplace. More tile. This was fun and easy, and I'm excited about how this will look, though it's quite different than my original vision.

The last bugaboo: the living room fireplace area. How will that work?

But this afternoon, the answer arrived in email, from our architect/interior designer:

I'm blown away, this is beautiful. The tile pattern is perfect, Craftsman-y without being overly heavy. Gabriel says it looks like it has eyes.

And finally, our fireplace will have a mantle! A fireplace must have a mantle!

It's tacky to talk about money, but I feel the need to "express." We just got hit with another massive bill, one that included over $50,000 of "extras" not included in the contract. Half of it was necessary, unexpected framing things, but half of it comes from electrical extras and my insatiable appetite for flexibility. "Can we run TV cable to this corner?" "We'll need an outlet up here too." "Oh, those switches will block furniture, let's move those to the other side." Ka-ching ka-ching ka-ching. Electrical especially is very hard to know how it will add up ahead of time. We still have many, many expenses coming up (just today my kitchen designer told me it'll cost $7000 just to install the cabinets!?!?!!) and we're going to top out our line of credit. OK, we had a plan for that, which was to dip into long-term savings. Except there's a whole lot less of that than there was a few months ago.

So I'm starting to get freaked out. But this is good -- I work well under pressure, and I'm now paying scrutinous attention to costs, making lists and planning for the remaining biggies. I've organized things so that our cashflow is completely under control, and positive, as it wasn't exactly a few months ago (au revoir Monsieur VISA).

Shouldn't I have done this from the beginning? Sure, and I was, but it's really difficult when the framing carpenters show you all the unexpected things they had to do, and you have no idea what that really translates to, and your house won't pass rough inspection if you don't -- you can't possibly say "NAH." And there's a lot of "it makes sense to do this now while everything's open." But the finishing materials are easier to contain. That living room fireplace and mantle won't be cheap, but I'll make sure that none of the tile costs $10 for a 6" piece.

I've had to take so much time off work, and will moreso, this month. But it'll cost us far more if this project falls behind.


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