Chapter 8: Light At the End?

I now have (temporary) electric service. Hooray. However, for every good thing that happens, it seems there's always something bad to cancel it out.

If I ever do get the chance to finish my house, I'll no longer be able to do all the work myself: my knee, which almost a decade ago had been predicted by a specialist to give out right about now, is in fact giving out.

As if to add insult to injury, New Jersey has been enjoying one of the most startlingly mild summers I can recall. Days barely reach 80 (some hover around 76), while some nights dip down into the 50s.

It was painful to see such gorgeous weather go to waste while I sat on my sorry butt waiting for something that may never arrive. It made me angry—to the point that I finally dragged my broken body outside to do something constructive.

My knee wouldn't allow me to get up on a ladder, but I could push a broom and move stuff around. So I straightened up the garage and put my car inside, just as any normal, civilized human who has a garage would do—the satisfaction of seeing it in there made up for some of my pain. I also swept up all of the dead leaves and cleared away some of the cobwebs from the rest of my sadly neglected little house. It was the first time I'd spent any significant amount of time there in months.

After I'd expended what little energy I had, I donned my finest rose-colored glasses and set my mind to task: assuming the best possible outcome with the property closing, what will I need to do next? I drafted a detailed checklist...

  • rough framing inspection (framing is done)
  • rough electrical inspection (wiring is done)
  • rough plumbing inspection (plumbing is done)
  • finish eave sheathing on living level (probably can't do this)
  • apply Tyvec house wrap (should be able to do this)
  • order and install custom windows and exterior doors
  • get bids on steel roof, eave flashing and gutters, and order installation
  • install transformer and underground line
  • install meter pan and energize main breaker panel
  • order and install soaking tub and toilet
  • well hookup
  • water test (may require a water softener)
  • final plumbing inspection
  • order, install, plumb and charge heat pump (ductwork is done)
  • install fireplace flue and chimney (I'm doing this)
  • install insulation (should be able to do most if not all of this)
  • insulation inspection
  • apply exterior sheathing (might be able to do at least some of this)
  • install and finish all sheetrock (will gladly farm this out)
  • reinstall all lighting fixtures (I'm doing this)
  • final electrical inspection
  • install smoke and CO alarms (I'm doing this)
  • fire inspection
  • temporary CO application (should be able to move in!)
  • floor tiling (truly wish I could do this, but my knee makes it impossible)
  • wall tiling (might be able to do this)
  • frame out kitchen cabinets (I'm doing this for sure)
  • order and install custom countertops
  • order and install appliances (oven, cooktop, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer & dryer)
  • install interior doors (I'm doing this)
  • finish all cabinetry and trim woodwork (I'm doing this for sure)
  • install fireplace
  • final CO inspection
  • build the deck (wish I could do this, but can't)
  • deck inspection
  • landscaping

Once the list was complete, it looked awfully long—I suddenly felt as though I've hardly gotten anything done! It was also quite evident that a number of these were big-ticket items made much bigger thanks to my blown knee, since quite a bit work would now have to be done by contractors, although the bright side is that things might get done much more quickly. Thankfully, there was a fair amount of stuff I should still be able to do. And there are some things I insist on doing myself, such as the cabinetry, trim and other woodworking. Ah, the sweet smell of sawdust...

Deep Dive

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