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  1. #1

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    Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    Those of you who know me, and/or have read my posts in the last 2+ years, are probably aware of the fact that I have been having my attic remodeled. The idea came to me about 2 1/2 years ago, when the mother of my grandson was complaining about the high cost of her rent. She jokingly said, "I'll just come and move in your basement." Well I got to thinking, and I said, "Why can't we remodel the attic instead?" There was a lot of space up there, and I figured if I cleaned it all out, a contractor could remodel it, and make it livable for my grandson, and his mother.

    I found a contractor on July 29, 2009. Work began on my attic in March of 2010. I have had a wild rollercoaster ride. Lots of good things happened. Lots of bad stuff happened as well. However, now that my project is finally done, I thought it might interest a few MiceChatters to see some of the photos that I have taken in the last 2 1/2 years.

    This first batch shows my attic how it used to look before I emptied it out.





    This next picture shows an empty attic from the front, looking toward the back door.



    This is my house. The front of it. Technically, it is a 2-flat. I live on the first floor. I have a basement, with a small living space in the front. I have a 2nd floor apartment, with a tenant who has lived there the entire time that we have. I just wanted to move my tenant out, and offer that apartment to the mother of my grandson, but my husband would not let me do that. So the Attic Adventure started instead.



    This is my house from the back.



    I remember the day that the work finally began. I had high hopes that it would be a speedy process. Oh, how wrong, I was about that. I never had much trouble with the actual laborers that did the work. I would later find out that hiring my General Contractor so quickly, was not the best decision that I have ever made in my life.

    This next batch of photos shows the process of building the dormer. The dormer was needed primarily for the construction of the bathroom, and of course to let more light into the attic.











    ---------- Post added 02-19-2012 at 06:55 PM ----------

    The following are some photos that I took during the dormer building process. The workers would leave for the day, and I would head upstairs with my camera, before it got too dark.









    ---------- Post added 02-19-2012 at 07:00 PM ----------

    This is the attic floor, before they leveled it.



    This is the attic floor after it was leveled



    ---------- Post added 02-19-2012 at 07:34 PM ----------

    This is what the dormer looks like from the outside.



    Last edited by Barbaraann; 02-19-2012 at 05:56 PM.

  2. #2

    • sleepy lagoon
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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    Thank God this project is nearing completion!!

    It is fun to see the transformation in pictures.

    I look forward to seeing the space when it is all painted and decorated!


  3. #3

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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    Quote Originally Posted by my7dwarves View Post
    Thank God this project is nearing completion!!

    It is fun to see the transformation in pictures.

    I look forward to seeing the space when it is all painted and decorated!
    Thanks Stacy. Hopefully Kathy will let me continue to take some photographs during her early decorating phase. I want to respect her privacy.

    ---------- Post added 02-19-2012 at 08:51 PM ----------

    Early on, in my project, I had to have my electric meters moved. That also meant that I had to pay for brand new electric boxes. The electric wiring in my house, was always a mess. I was about to find that out. Getting my electric up to code, so I would pass electric inspections was a very long process. That process was made longer by a contractor who gave me many sleepless nights.



    I took these two photographs during the earlier part of the entire electric fiasco, and it was indeed a fiasco.



    The next step in the attic project was the framing of the bathroom. The original drawing of the architect had the bathroom on the opposite side of the building. The west side rather than the east side. It was not feasible to do that thanks to the building code of Chicago, where I live. The plans also started out with the bathroom taking up more space in the middle of the attic. Kathy and I figured the bathroom should be turned around the way it is now, to open up more living space in the middle of the attic. We are very happy with the end results.

    Last edited by Barbaraann; 02-19-2012 at 07:07 PM.

  4. #4

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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    So glad you are FINALLY getting some closure on this! I know you have been dealing with this demon for some time... I look forward to seeing the entire story unfold here!




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  5. #5

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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    The following group of pictures will show you the construction of the new staircase going up to the attic. They had to cut a hole in my tenant's wall, and ceiling, to build the staircase up to the attic. It was a traumatic time for my tenant when she realized that she was losing one of her two bedrooms. She also stressed over her cats. We had to barricade the cats out of that room. My front staircase was a mess for a very long time. They destroyed the wall, and my old wallpaper, and paint job. All of that had to be repaired, and repainted. I am only semi happy with the new job. Because the walls are so high, there are spots where the paint colors are uneven. It's not perfect, but it's clean at least. We lived with the mess for a very long time.







    These photos show where the stairs were put in looking down from the attic above.











    This photo shows the beginning formation of the stairs and you can look up into the attic. The staircase runs through the tenant's apartment, and is adjacent to what will become Sean's room in the attic. The city is calling the 2nd floor/attic dwelling a duplex. Technically, that isn't true because the stairs start outside of the 2nd floor apartment. We had to spend extra time at the Permit Department, getting a variance in order to allow this.





    The stairs look like stairs in this photo. The stairs start outside the tenant's apartment on the first floor, and they go straight up into the attic. I remember how much discussion there was about putting the stairs in, a different way. However, this was the only way that they could pass the inspection required by the city. We had to make sure, of course, that there was enough clearance for people to safely walk up the stairs, and enter the attic.



    This photo shows the bottom of the stairs, and the beginning construction of the wall that would be on the right of the stairs looking up.



    Here are the stairs looking down, before they put in the floor at the top of the stairs.

    Last edited by Barbaraann; 02-20-2012 at 10:49 AM.

  6. #6

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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    Oh geesh... I remember when you started posting in your blog about this. I thought it had been done awhile ago. I'm sorry it's taken so long and been such a hassle.

  7. #7

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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    Quote Originally Posted by knittingknerd View Post
    Oh geesh... I remember when you started posting in your blog about this. I thought it had been done awhile ago. I'm sorry it's taken so long and been such a hassle.
    2 1/2 years. As I look back on it, I remember a whole lot of craziness, and sleepless nights. There was some fun mixed in there as well, and of course high hopes for the quality of the finished product. The quality of the work, might not be a 10, but I'd give it about an 8. I have confidence that the important things have been done well. No home is ever perfect, and after all don't we all strive each and every day to make our homes, "our own"?

  8. #8

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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    I call this Barbaraann's Folly because of the many times during this project when I felt that I never should have decided to have my attic remodeled at all. I hired the contractor way too fast. I didn't do my homework, and I suffered from a lot of stress due to that fact.

    My husband was very patient during this entire project. Anyone else would have been hollering at his wife, or at the least criticizing me for all my mistakes. He didn't do any of that. He stuck with me every step of the way, as I worked through each roadblock the best that I could. Since this was my project, he let me handle things my way. He never got involved at all. Just last night he told me that I did good.

    In the end, would I do it again? Knowing what I know now, probably. It would be done a whole lot differently for sure. Hopefully I learned a lot, because believe me there was a lot to learn.

    My grandson was convinced it was never going to get finished. He never said that to me directly, but I was told that by others.

    Walt Disney's Disneyland was called a Folly, but in the end it worked out. It became a huge success for him. My attic is not the quality of Disneyland by any stretch of the imagination. However, there was a point in time when many including myself thought it was a mistake. Now that it is nearing move in day, Kathy and Sean can make it as close to their perfect home as they want.

    Now I look at it as an accomplishment.

    ---------- Post added 02-21-2012 at 11:12 AM ----------

    When the carpenter completed the construction of the front staircase, he dumbed all kinds of debri on my back lawn. It was a real mess. It was months before my contractor got around to having all that mess removed. So my backyard lawn really suffered. I still haven't gotten around to getting my backyard looking as good as it once did.



    The other thing that really suffered was my front staircase. I am talking about my original staircase, which went from the front door of my house, up to my tenant's apartment. The walls were damaged, and the dust was unbelievable. I lived that way for longer than I care to remember.





    Last edited by Barbaraann; 02-21-2012 at 09:21 AM.

  9. #9

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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    These two pictures depict a point in the project that I wasn't expecting. The plumber needed to run pipes from the basement up into the atttic. How did I think that he was going to do that? I wasn't really sure. Well I was about to find out. I ended up with a hole in my kitchen wall, and so did my tenant.





    In the meantime, walls started to be be framed. Walls in Sean's room, and the framing for the front door of the attic on the top of the staircase.







    Last edited by Barbaraann; 02-22-2012 at 06:36 AM.

  10. #10

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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    Barb... I love this thread. And I love your commentary.

    You and your husband are such a wonderful example of what a marriage is supposed to be.

    Looking forward to more pics.


  11. #11

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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    How fun it is being able to watch the stairs being built in stages, Barbaraann. All of your toil has definitely payed off with a terrific looking attic apartment. Your big heartedness, money management and innovation never fails to amaze me.

    Your grandson and his mother are very lucky to have you in their lives. Am anxiously anticipating seeing pictures of it once you apply the final touches.
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  12. #12

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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    I took a lot of photos of the plumbing work, and the heating work, while the workers were here. Here is just a sample of those pictures. It gives you an idea of how the heating system will be vented out, and how the plumber had to connect pipes from one side of the building to the other. The contractor was scratching his head at one point wondering why the plumber's charges were over budget. It stands to reason that moving a bathroom that much would be the reason. The bathroom should have been directly above the tenant's and it isn't.
























    ---------- Post added 02-23-2012 at 03:01 PM ----------

    When the plumber was finished putting in all the pipes for the plumbing, the plumbing was inspected by the city. I am happy to say that that was the one inspection that we passed with flying colors.

    After the rough inspection for plumbing, drywall started to go up. This was a messy part of the project. The first crew of drywallers were very very sloppy. They put up drywall mainly around the staircase, and did not do the greatest job. I am happy to report that that was corrected later on. Again, I suffered with a lot of dust. My tenant was very annoyed with this entire process. We never thought that her full sized bedroom would be downsized to basically one walk in closet.





    Last edited by Barbaraann; 02-23-2012 at 01:09 PM.

  13. #13

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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    Older homes often suffer the pitfalls of not being built to code. Which makes it tough for remodels later on as there are a lot of workarounds. Sorry for your hassle!! But it looks like it's coming along nicely.


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  14. #14

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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    During the next phase, work was done involving Sean's room. As you can see from the different views, Sean's room runs adjacent to the new staircase. Sean was adamant about not wanting the staircase either in his room, or entering his room. He ended up with a smaller room, but he is happy with the finished product.









    ---------- Post added 02-23-2012 at 03:29 PM ----------

    This next group of photos shows you the putting in of what is called "rough electric". I didn't understand this phase of the project at all. I couldn't understand how only part of the electric would go in, without wires, and the wires would go in after the walls went in. It all seemed backwards to me, and I had nightmares, of it being done all wrong, and having to be done over. Of course, it all worked out in the end.





    These pictures also show you more of the duct work, and the ventilation for the gas furnace that went in. Actually the gas furnace was the last thing that was added to this project. That was probably one of the most stressful parts of this entire project, since the original architect, and the original contractor made mistakes on the official building plans. Again, many sleepless nights, and many scratch my head moments.







    ---------- Post added 02-23-2012 at 03:47 PM ----------

    This is my chimney. It is a massive thing that has always sat almost exactly in the middle of my attic on the west side. As it turned out, since the bathroom was not able to be located opposite the chimney on that side of the building, that area became designated for the furnace room. Here you can see the beginning framing for that small furnace room. As it turns out later, it was fortunate that the furnace would be placed there, because they were able to vent the furnace through the chimney, and that ended up saving me quite a bit of money at the end of my project.









    ---------- Post added 02-23-2012 at 04:03 PM ----------

    This first photo shows you the phase that I like to call insulation. It was right around the same time that the insulation went in, when they finished the duct work for the heating/ventilation system. This first photo shows you the duct work heading into Sean's room which is ahead. The front door is on the left in the photo.



    Hopefully the quality of the insulation that went in will save me money on my heating bills. The attic automatically seemed much warmer after this insulation was added.













    Last edited by Barbaraann; 02-23-2012 at 02:13 PM.

  15. #15

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    Re: Barbaraann's Folly! - An Attic Adventure.

    You're doing a great job working things out on the electrical, plumbing and insulation. Sounds like the contractor has had his hands full keeping things up to code. Every set of pictures shows that you keep inching along making progress.
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