Lee and I brought our plans to the town building inspector on February 1, 2012. Our fingers were crossed, at least mine were.
There was no reason the project should be denied. We decided to go for the permit on our own – no architect and no builder. The inspector was alone in his office when we arrived. In fact it seemed like the three of us were the only ones in the building, in the world, that night. It felt like the Twilight Zone. We ventured in.
The inspector looked the plans over, asked questions mainly about set backs and size, and who was going to do the work. I must have started talking too much because at one point Lee gave me a look. It’s hard for me not to gush about the house. The inspector made a few comments on the design and that the project was small compared to most that he reviews, explained the inspection process, figured up our fee, took my money, and sent us on our way. We crossed this hurdle easily. The inspector has been prompt and professional with all our dealings and inspections. Thumbs up.
It was time to start.
We had already chosen our builder – Dave Wilt from Kerhonksen. We first showed him the plans in November 2011 before the engineer beefed them up for gale force winds. We knew Dave. He is a friend of Robin who did house painting for Lee. We have several of her paintings hanging in our home – two florals and one of a young lad with the most brooding eyes. Those eyes would stare at me when I awoke and went to sleep and finally I had to move him out of his prominent spot in the bedroom because he was giving me the willies. Dave was a builder highly recommended by several contractors who had worked with Lee. It is small world.
Dave has been great to work with. He plans ahead if he thinks something is going to be troublesome. He says he is always reading construction, talking construction, thinking construction. He probably dreams it too. He’s reliable, shows up with a good team and works hard and long hours. Some of Lee’s construction buddies say they won’t work with Dave because he works them so hard. But they all respect him and encouraged us to give him a call. He doesn’t seem to fluster – does very well with my questions and my difficulty with decision-making. The most colorful of his crew so far has been Reuben, a hispanic chef who shared seder recipes with us. Robin’s daughter Emily came and worked with Dave for a few weeks. She doesn’t realize how much she is going to appreciate having had the opportunity just yet.
Al Dancy — a big guy from Kingston — took down two trees in the way. He does outdoor work for Lee and built the steps to my “lower back forty”.
We needed an excavator and someone to pour the foundation. We got estimates from two fellows Lee had worked with from the other side of the river, and from on my side also, as I wanted to support the workers in my community. In the end Dave dug the foundation and Nick DeLaura from Stone Ridge poured the foundation and slab. For a few months I was living in a Fisher Price construction site, a few too many months, because spring rains and fears of getting the concrete truck stuck in muddy ground delayed this part of the job.
Then we had to choose a plumber. Again all fingers pointed to one person – Sean Lamkin of High Falls – who also works for Lee. He brought his son with him during summer vacation and had him working. In addition to all the work on the house, he also got one of my burners on my stove to light again. He will definitely get a thumbs up at the end. Plumbers are very expensive. I’ve told Sean that already.
We were happy to learn that none of the work had to be done by licensed contractors, so Lee could do the wiring as well as act as general contractor. The electrical inspector complimented him on his work at the first inspection. He had a frustrating period when he couldn’t figure out which wires went where, but thankfully that is over. He’s feeling quite competent now and he wakes up with a smile.
Lee and his chief everything man, Derrick Moore (and brother Darryl), of All Home Services in Coxscakie, have been working hard on sheet-rock, flooring, painting, you name it. They’ll be with us until completion, and then some.
Who else have I been writing checks to? I contracted Hudson Valley Green Insulation from Rhinebeck, and Paul Groll of Hudson to grind up the tree stumps, and Scott Ziegler of Kingston helped with taping and is now designing and building the stairs to the observation deck.
Lee and I have been almost daily customers at Williams Lumber in both Rhinebeck and Red Hook. and have happily run to find things we need at the new Germantown Variety. I bought lighting at Wolfberg Electrical Supply in Albany, and an antique red glass lamp at White Whale Limited on Warren Street in Hudson. I bought paint from Sherwin Williams in Catskill, windows from Pella in Kingston and doors and windows from the Door Jamb in Shokan, more doors from a local scavenger on craigslist, flooring from the Carpet Store in Rosendale, stone from Quality Landscaping in Germantown.
We did have to go out of state for a few items. We took a mini-vacation on Cape Ann when we picked up our gas stove at The Stove Shoppe, in Windham, NH. We ordered our spiral staircase from Stair-Pak Products in Pine Grove, PA. I bought a wild ceiling fan from Kennedy-Webster Electric in Downers Grove, Illinois which I found on ebay.
Of course we did rely on Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Amazon but only when it was totally crazy not to.
While corporations are hoarding profits and laying off workers, and banks are protecting their interests and making home owners jump through hoops to get loans, and the government is being strangled so that it has no money to hire a corps to rebuild our infrastructure, I have been recklessly pouring the remains of my decimated rainy day fund into what sometimes seems to me to be single-handedly keeping the local economy alive. My credits may not read like those in Architectural Digest but they are just as legitimate and I am proud of them. I encourage you to get in touch if you need a good contractor in the mid-Hudson Valley.
I deserve a tax credit for job creation this year.