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Changes Are Afoot!
updated 30 July 2020
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Our quaint little Ballot Box is changing! We bought the house in 2009 to get our "foot in the door" in the mid-coast area in preparation for eventual retirement. When we were originally looking, our mindset was to get something that would get us up here and worry about whether or not it was "the" house later. But we ended up with "the" house, first try.

But alas, it's too small for a permanent residence (~900sf, great for weekends and vacations!), and it didn't have a garage (a necessity in the winter up here), and it didn't have great accommodations for guests, and... and... and.

We had three options; sell and buy something better, tear it down and start new, or expand. We couldn't bring ourselves to sell it or tear it down, so that left only option 3... expand. So we're expanding!

We're keeping the basic house and all it's charm, but bumping out six feet in the front/south to add to the tiny kitchen and dining cubby, adding a 4-season sunroom on the west side, building a 3-bay, 2-story garage on the east side (at a slight angle to the main house) with 2 bays for cars (the third bay for tool shed and woodworking shop), and the entire top floor as a quilt studio with half-bath, and connecting the house to the garage with a heated entryway. Finally the existing basement will be converted into a guest suite with another half-bath FULL-bath.

Click here for an architectural drawing of the end result. The yellow shading demarcates the original Ballot Box structure...

We'll post occasional "progress" pictures below as the work progresses. Click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...

Excavation Equipment Assembled:18 Sept. 1:00 pm
1 hour later, garage is excavated:18 Sept. 2:03 pm
View from other side of garage:19 Sept. 5:55 pm
Sunroom is excavated:19 Sept. 5:57 pm
Footings done, foundation forms done:22 Sept. 11:04 am
Sunroom forms, seen from the deck:22 Sept. 11:28 am
Breezeway and garage footings ready:22 Sept. 11:27 am  

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29 Sep 2018
We drove up Thursday night (27 Sept.) and I telecommuted Friday while Lynn met with her Fiber-Friday sewing buddies down in Boothbay Harbor. After "work" we drove over to the construction site to see the week's progress. No-one was there but the foundations had been poured, set, and exposed, and probably had some more curing to do. The form panels were gone, on to the next construction site we presume. We'll be up for the week starting next weekend, maybe it'll be done by then! Click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...
Site view from the driveway:
Garage foundation, but no slab floor yet:
Sun-room and bump-out foundations:
Bump-out foundation with Lynn checking out where the entryway will be:

Sun-room foundation from the back yard:
Breezeway and garage as seen from the old house door:

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05 Oct 2018
Back up on Thursday night, Gene's on vacation for the following week. We visited the site Friday afternoon and there were lots of changes, but they were more subtle than last week. The most obvious visual change was that the picket fence and associated garden was removed. It was in the way of the needed grade away from the new addition in front to provide drainage away from the foundation. We'll relocate the fence and recreate the garden when construction is completed. The foundations have been waterproofed and the excavation has been backfilled. The new cellars and garage have been prepped for a poured floor. A new retaining wall has been built by the foundation for the new sun-room, and the new 200 Amp service panel has been installed by the treeline, away from the house. Click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...
Long view from close to the lot entrance from the road

Closer view of the work area
Entryway crawlspace ready for concrete floor

Sun-room foundation backfilled
Sun-room foundation ready for concrete floor
Sun-room foundation and retaining wall as seen from the back yard
Close-up of the sun-room foundation with drainage pipe, ready for a concrete floor
200 amp service panel, away from the house by the treeline

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12 Oct 2018
We were up for the week so we visited again on Friday, and bumped into Ron (the GC) who was cutting the opening from the existing cellar to the entryway crawlspace. More progress, but nothing visually dramatic. The concrete floors are poured for all the new construction areas (sun-room cellar, bump-out crawl-space, entryway crawl-space, garage). The sills for all the coming new construction are in place and bolted to the concrete foundations. They'll put the decking for the new spaces' floors down for the sun-room and bump-out, then start building the garage and entryway next. Power might be restored soon, so the webcam pictures should start flowing again then. Click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...

View of the work area
Garage floor is poured
The carriage house door is off it's track
The new electrical service entrance is in place (meter is at the tree-line)

Bump-out crawlspace floor is poured

Sills are in place and bolted down

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26 Oct 2018
Two weeks away created an expectation of visual changes, and we weren't disappointed! As usual, we came up on Thursday after work. It was dark when we arrived in the area so it was pointless to stop by the Ballot Box that night. Power had not been restored (it was by the next day) but the water supply from the well would not be restored this weekend at all, so we wouldn't be staying at the BB this weekend... maybe next time up.

Progress is being made! Two first-floor garage bays have been rough-framed and the 2nd floor framing has been started. The 3rd bay/woodworking shop will have a different frame height because of the roof pitch, so that gets framed separately. Joists and sub-floor decking for the sun-room, the bump-out, and the entryway have been applied so you can really picture (with a little imagination) what the finished result will look like!Click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...

Today's view of the work area
The bump-out sub-floor
Lynn gets to use the sun-room first!
Framing the garage 1
Framing the garage 2
Inside the sun-room cellar
The non-trivial retaining wall by the sun-room foundation
The view from the back yard

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11 Nov 2018
Lynn's sister swung by the construction site on the way by today... BIG changes! The garage has it's full shape and most of the walls and roof are in place! Exciting!! Click on the thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...
View of the emerging garage!

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17 Nov 2018
Up for the weekend, and first snow of the season! Drove up Thursday afternoon before the storm, woke up at the Ballot Box to a winter wonderland! Snowed lightly most of Friday, so the first pictures of this visit were taken Saturday morning! Met with the general contractor this afternoon; plan is to waterproof the garage roof, and build and close up the bump-out and sun-room before breaking through to the main house. It gets more and more exciting! Click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...
The full construction site...
View of the stairs up to the quilt studio and the entrance to the garage from the house... through the future entryway!
View up the stairs to the quilt studio
View from inside the garage...
Panorama of the front of the future quilt studio from the back...
Panorama of the future quilt studio from the front (stairs are on the left). No, the ceiling joists are not curved, stitching the 3 photos into 1 creates that illusion.
Another view of the inside of the garage...
Another view of the inside of the garage...
The GC repurposed the stairs I built for the entry deck to let us get into the house easily... Brilliant!

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08 Dec 2018
Another two-week gap between photo updates! We stayed in Brunswick at Lynn's sister's place for the weekend. Lynn drove up Wednesday morning by herself, and I came up on the Amtrak DownEaster™ Thursday after work. and telecommuted Friday. Again, lots of progress in those two weeks... all the separate parts are framed and outer-walled, and all except the bump-out has a roof, and that will be done soon! It's really shaping up now! Click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...
The requisite long view from across the front lawn show the entire project:
From Friday afternoon, Lynn with our two framers, Stuart (L) and Danny(R):
The house-side of the project. The sunroom is framed, roofed, and paneled. The bump-out is framed and paneled, awaiting a roof.
The inside of the sunroom, with the makings of a cathedral ceiling
The entryway is framed, roofed, and paneled, with a front-porch-like platform
The view out the not-long-for-this-world front window, with the bump-out in front of it.
The view of the sunroom as seen from the lot-long-for-this-world dining area side window.
The back of the entryway and garage as seen from the back deck.
The sunroom and cellar below, as seen from the back yard.
The entire back view, from two stitched side-by-side photos
The construction site as seen from the other side of the driveway.

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22 Dec 2018
And another two-week gap between photo updates (almost)! We came up Friday, leaving a bit after noon, and hit a typhoon on Route 1 above Bath. We got to the house and the typhoon had knocked out power, so we booked a room at the Cod Cove Inn just above Wiscasset for the night. Power was back on next morning, so we headed back north to start packing up the downstairs in preparation for breaking through the old walls and into the new areas.  Visual changes are more subtle now that the new parts of the structure have been framed and walled on the outside.  They roofed the entire bump-out (which required the removal of the dormer windows since the roof connection extended a little higher than the bottom sills of the existing windows), and started the installation of the white roofline fascia and under-eave soffit. Click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...
The requisite long view from across the front lawn shows the entire project:
A close-up of the white roofline fascia and under-eave soffit:
Longer view showing fascia and soffit and the plugged-up former dormer windows:

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11 Jan 2019
Yet another 2-week gap between updates (see a pattern?). We drove up Thursday night, staying with family in Brunswick, and drove the rest of the way up to the Ballot Box Friday morning. The propane tank had to be moved closer to the garage so it could be filled (too much new construction in the way to allow the propane truck driver to drag the hose from the driveway all the way to the old tank location under the deck in back), so the house heat was off for a week or more, which meant the water had to be shut off and the toilet tanks emptied and plumbing traps anti-freezed while the heat was off.  Tank is in the new location behind the garage now and got filled Friday afternoon, so the heat is back on. Visual progress is more subtle still; most of the new roofs have been shingled except for the bumpout, which needs to have the old single-window dormers in the front replaced by new wider but higher double-window dormers, which has begun! By the end of work Friday afternoon the right-hand dormer was gone and the remaining gaping hole buttoned up for the weekend.  Click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...
Stitched composite of the entire construction site from the west side of the front lawn...
Nicely-shingled west-side garage roof, with an eclectic coat rack in view...
Working on removing the skylight and narrow dormer...
The east side of the shingled garage roof with roof-jacks still in place to facilitate siding installation. Propane tank is just behind the garage, around the corner...
By late Friday afternoon the right dormer was gone!

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20 Jan 2019
Lynn's sister Jan stopped by the house on the way by Thursday and snapped a status picture for us. New dormers are built (double-wide for two windows each) and the openings were boarded or covered up in preparation for the weekend snowstorm... (click on the thumbnail to see a slightly larger image):

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6 Feb 2019
A bit longer gap between visits (19 days) than before, and a lot has been accomplished visually. Front dormers are done, most windows are installed, new roofs and the front of the old roof has been shingled (back dormer will be rebuilt soon so makes no sense to shingle the back roof yet). Waiting on entryway doors and garage doors. Here are some pictures showing the visual progress so far (as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image);
View of the entire front, with roofing and windows in place ...
The main house a little closer ...
The quilt studio windows (double-front, triple side dormer, double back) are in - LOTS of natural light...
Closer view of the front dormers on the main house...
The sunroom windows are in (looking through the open window from the living room which will be removed once the wall gets opened from the living room ...
Inside view of the dormer in my new office (formerly Lynn's quilt-room and occasional guest-room) ...

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14 Feb 2019
Happy Valentine's Day! Up again the next week to further refine electrical decisions and describe to the GC what we don't like about the newly-installed kitchen and laundry-room windows in the first-floor front (too much white vinyl, not enough clear glass). They will be replaced. We looked at LED ceiling lights at a lighting showroom in Portland on the way up, and finished specifying lights and outlets in the new areas (kitchen, quilt studio, garage/workshop). Also took photos of the new composite siding; siding installation finished on the east side of the garage and being worked on on the back (north) side of the garage... (as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image);
The east side of the garage showing the new composite siding installed...
Closeup of the workshop window and siding and trim...
Closeup of the siding...
North (back) side of garage with composite siding installation in progress...

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25 Feb 2019
Up again (Sun-Tue) to see the first coat of paint on the exterior doors (not quite right, color needs adjusting) and to talk with the GC about kitchen layouts and options and flooring. Old upper kitchen cabinets have been removed and stored in the sun room for use in the quilt studio, and the support structures for the old front wall (to be removed) and the west wall (getting a pocket French door entry into the sun room) got exposed to begin the new wall support design and construction. Also discussed new kitchen layout with the GC... (as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image);
The west side of the sunroom showing the new composite siding installed...
Closeup of how the composite siding gets installed...
Closeup of the now-exposed west wall to help the GC figure out how to support the wall across the expanse of the pocket French Doors into the new sunroom...
The old front wall (to be removed) with beams and support exposed to allow the GC to figure out how to brace the existing beams before removing the entire wall... Close-up of the exposed west wall witha VERY old support beam from the original 1860s structure... The GC and Lynn working out kitchen details...

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09 Mar 2019
Another 2-week gap again between visits, this time up on Saturday, planning on staying 'til Tuesday. Big changes on the outside are that the replacement kitchen and laundryroom windows and the dining-room window (the bump-out on the bump-out) are in place, the two entryway doors have been painted (yellow) and installed, and more siding has been installed in spite of the spate of bad weather these past few weeks. But INSIDE... WHOAH!! They broke through and removed the walls into the kitchen-dining area AND the sun-room. The interior looks HUGE!!! (as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image);

The front of the house, showing the new windows across the front and the two new yellow entry doors...

The customary long-shot from the front yard showing the whole house...

Lynn and her sister Jan standing in the kitchen area, shot from the new bump-out...


Shot from the new yellow sunroom entry door, looking into the living room...

Lynn and her sister Jan standing in the kitchen area, shot from the base of the stairs......

A better view of the window bump-out on the house bump-out...

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14 Mar 2019
Happy Pi Day!! (you know, Pi Day... 3/14... 3.14(159)...ϖ... Anyway, we got an email from the garage door installer through the general contractor, the garage doors are installed!! And they look great!! (as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image);


The new garage doors! Compare with the full house photo in the previous set of photos ...



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29 Mar 2019
Split duties this trip. Lynn drove north to talk kitchens/cabinets/appliances with the general contractor and the kitchen designer while I stayed south to enjoy the experience of a crown anchor placement surgery in my upper jaw (phase 1 on the 25th... phase 2 in late June... dental insurance in retirement sucks). Lots of changes inside, while the exterior siding installation slows down because of the snow and rain. The stairway to the second floor is being rebuilt... a little wider and a more accommodating rise/run on the treads. The sunroom is just about ready to be sheetrocked, the back livingroom wall is getting some changes, a new window at the top of the stairs, window replacements in the upstairs rooms, siding continues to get installed, and the quilt studio is getting sheetrocked! (as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image);

The doorway to the cellar has been removed to facilitate the reconstruction of the stairs above to the 2nd floor... a bit disconcerting until they get fully enclosed...
Another view of the exposed underbelly of the stairs...
The sunroom is all wired and insulated and ready for sheetrock...
The back (north) wall is getting modifications... a new window, and the patio door will be upgraded and moved a bit to the right...
There's a new window at the TOP of the stairs, to compensate for the loss of the skylight...
The two remaining windows on the west side of the house (one in the master bedroom, one in the former quilt room/future office) also get replaced...
The new livingroom window, as seen from the deck...
The back of the new garage is now sided...
The new quilt studio above the garage is insulated and getting sheetrocked...

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12 Apr 2019
A mid-week run up north to consult with: the electrician on kitchen electrical issues, the GC who will be building a custom-made kitchen island for us, the HVAC guru for heat-pump and Rinnai placement, and to finalize (and sign on the dotted line for) the kitchen cabinet order. Remaining to be decided are the type and look of the kitchen countertops, decisions on kitchen major appliances, what flooring to put down in all areas, and more interior lights and ceiling fans need to be picked out. Interior work progresses in earnest, but the 1 May target finish date will clearly need to be slipped... Sigh! (as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image);

Exterior front of the house is pretty much done (except for a lawn and landscaping - the front yard is a mudhole). Siding and trim is done everywhere except the back of the original house which still has some exterior construction to be completed (see last photo in this set), all doors and windows are installed, garage doors, entry doors (yellow) and tool-shed double doors on the garage (wide enough for an existing snowblower and future lawn tractor) are hung.
Lynn, Robert the electrician, Ron the GC, and Danny the master carpenter in the front bumpout that will be the future kitchen, going over light and outlet placement.
The pile of "stuff" (old stove, old refrigerator, kitchen table and chairs, packed up dishes and glasses and pots and pans, a couch, a Morris rocking chair, boxed-up stereo equipment, etc.) that was in the living room area, soon to be relocated to the quilt studio area so the living space area can be "finished."
The sunroom, sheetrocked and partially taped and mudded, awaiting ceiling lights and fan. We're going to be spending a lot of our time in this room...
The quilt studio, sheetrocked and partially taped and mudded, awaiting ceiling lights.
I had the electrician run an empty 1½ inch conduit from the basement up to my office on the 2nd floor for possible future technology insertion we might not yet know about. Pulling wires through a conduit is much easier than trying to snake cable behind in-place sheetrock!
The last remaining major exterior construction is is to replace the back "peak" dormer with an end-to-end shed dormer that will make the master bedroom much more livable. Note the new windows on the second flloor and halfway up the stairwell on the back.

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07 May 2019
Another trip north to check on progress... (as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image);

A stitched panorama of the now-empty living room, as seen from the kitchen. The opening into the sunroom (awaiting pocket French sliding doors) is to the left, new slider door out onto the deck is in the center, and the bottom few steps of the stairway up to the second floor is to the right of the deck door.

The kitchen and bumpout with well-matched ceiling beams which were salvaged from the inside of the existing walls. Waiting for kitchen cabinets, appliances, and a custom-made island...


The sunroom has been painted, but the wrong color was used so it'll have to be repainted... it has a distinct green tinge now.

The quilt studio, with recessed "puck" lights installed and wired up! The bare bulb in the approximate center of the ceiling is where a ceiling fan will be, eventually.

Our front lawn is truly gone, replaced with a swamp quagmire with all the rain lately and the trucks driving over/through it!


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24 May 2019
We're up for the Memorial Day weekend, left Thursday morning around 11 to try to beat some of the holiday traffic, and it worked! Stayed the night at Lynn's sister's house in Brunswick and finished the last 28 miles Friday morning to observe progress and consult with the general contractor. The Sunday before Memorial Day has been a Maine lobster-feed party day at the Ballot Box for us for the past nine years, hosting Lynn's side of the family as a kickoff to summer in the Great State of Maine, so we always hoped our tenth party would also be a house-warming for the reconstruction, but the 2-month delay right at the start made that target pretty much unreachable. Maybe 4th of July. Anyway, the last outside modification (the back dormer) is well underway (see photos below), and the wallboarding is almost all finished, and the new interior paint color is delightful, and a lot of the windows have inside sills and trim. Most major decisions (kitchen cabinets, appliances, paint colors, flooring, light fixtures, etc.) have been made, and it's all coming together. We'll host our Memorial Day party at a local restaurant tomorrow, and reconvene at the construction site for an early viewing of the progress so far!! (as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image);

The dining room windows sport (as yet unpainted) trim and sills. The sills are extra wide to accomodate potted plants and things.

Lynn and the Ron the GC and cabinet-maker stand in the kitchen discussing where the custom island will be in relation to the stock cabinets.

The railing for the main stairway (and the quilt studio stairway, though no pictures this trip) has been installed to let the elderly and decrepit homeowners navigate the construction site levels safely. No, we're not having a purple wainscoat, that's insulation. ..


The new master bedroom dormer, as seen from the inside.

The master bedroon dormer from the far side of the room. The new dormer has been roughed in but the old dormer is still mostly in place, so it looks cramped.

The house used to have a fireplace before it was moved and we bought it ten years ago. I covered the hearth over witha sheet of plywood, cut jigsaw puzzle style to fit the irrecular gap in the oak flooring, then threw a rug over it. Real oak flooring will be taking it's place so it's being leveld with epoxy.

The new back dormer under construction, as seen from the back yard.   The full back view of the house, as seen from the far corner of the leach field. The propane tank (to run the Rinnai heaters in the woodworking shop and the basement, and the generator) will be relocated around the side of the garage to the left.

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07 June 2019
Big news!! The kitchen cabinets have been delivered and installed!! The GC sent us a picture (converted to two pictures with a little PhotoShopping). It looks like a kitchen now instead of a dancehall!! There is a slight cockup in that the tall middle glass door cabinet (small one over the fridge-slot, small one over the stove-slot, and a tall one between them) was supposed to go on the far right over the lower cabinet that looks free-standing all by itself (the gap is where the dishwasher goes), but the GC says the sizes don't work that way - the gaps for the stove and fridge will be too small. Looks like the cabinet company or the cabinet orderer screwed up. We'll have to decide if it's a big enough gaffe to wait another ?? weeks for the replacements. Big-Three appliances (fridge, stove, dishwasher) get delivered next week, and we'll be back up the end of next week to see it all in person!! (as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image)

Long shot of the kitchen area with cabinets installed...


Closer view of the cabinets. The apparent dark floor-to-ceiling vertical streak on the far right cabinets is the shadow of the support beam from the work light on the far left. ..

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29 June 2019
Subtle changes this trip, but we take progress where we can find it (and even make it up if we have to! :) ). The quilt studio is almost done and inhabitable! The Pergo® floor (also what I installed in Lynn's quilt room [a former bedroom] at the Woburn house 15 years ago) is in and looks great. Pergo® (not Prego®) is amazingly durable and a godsend in a sewing room because the dropped pins don't hide in the carpet waiting for a passing bare foot. Once the water and waste pipes are operational and fixtures installed in the half bath, we'll be able to unbury our bed from the piles on the second floor of the main house and set it up in the quilt room, saving us high-season rates in the tourist inns in the area.

The back dormer is done, inside and out. Sheetrock is in and wiring is being completed. They'll paint the walls, then move the room-sized pile of "stuff" from the front bedroom (that will eventually be my office) into the master bedroom and work on that. (as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image)

Lynn talking with Robert the electrician about lights and fans and outlets

The Pergo® Floor in and the baseboards down.

The half-bath needs a vanity (to be purchased) and a sink, but the toilet is on-site and the sconces are installed!


The new master bedroom dormer is done and the room is wall-boarded and painted...

New windows in the new recently re-designed dormer are in. First rev was going to have windows across the whole dormer, but that took up too much of the precious wall space - nothing for bureaus!

Looking from insode the master bedroom over to the exit door. One of the two closets is also visible. ..


The finished view of the back of the house, showing the finished dormer with windows in and siding applied. The deck will be rebuilt and expanded, probably last.

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17 July 2019
Another visit, and lots of exciting visual changes this time. Progress on a bunch of fronts. Lynn rode up to Brunswick ME on Friday's 5:18pm Amtrak Downeaster train and stayed with two of her sisters at one sister's house in Brunswick for a long weekend. Gene drove up Tuesday morning and picked Lynn up for lunch for the four of us at one of the nicest restaurants in Maine... The Dolphin Marina in Harpswell Maine. After lunch Lynn and I drove the final 30 miles north to see the past two weeks' progress .... (as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image)

The appliances and island are in place. The fridge is plugged in but the stove and dishwasher (barely visible behind the island) are just in place without being plugged in yet. The island may get a slight color adjustment before being bolted down. The cherry butcherblock top is exquisite!

Island and kitchen from another angle. You can see the dishwasher better from this view.

The "engineered" red oak wide board flooring is installed in the downstairs and the master bedroom upstairs, only the upstairs office remains to be refloored. The "engineered" part is seven laminate layers with an extra-thick eighth layer of real red oak to accomodate at least two future sandings and refinishings. Should outlast us!


The sculpted formica countertop is in but not buttoned down yet. Note the stainless steel "undermounted" extra-wide sink, which looks awesome....

The (non-counter-deep) fridge and (glass-top electric) stove are in place and the fridge is plugged in via extension cord to a live outlet elsewhere (permanent fridge outlet hasn't been made live yet). Fridge has French doors and the freezer is in a lower drawer with an ice-maker. We decided we didn't need chilled water in the door since the naturally-chilled well water from the sink faucet will be about three steps away.

The red oak stair treads are being installed. They look great!


We asked if they could finish the quilt studio and it's half bath first since our usual accomodations while the Ballot box is under constructions haave been to book a room at a local inn. But that was during off-season. Now that it's high season those rooms are in high demand and double the off-season price. The crew responded in spades and even set up the bed for us! This is what greeted us last night! All we had to do was make the bed! Note that they dug out our "advice-to-ourselves-when-in-Maine" sign ("RELAX") and parked it on the bed!

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01 Aug 2019
Another visit, but the visual changes are very subtle and difficult to photograph. Lots and lots of finish electrical work has been done... dozens of mounted but empty switch boxes and outlet boxes all over the kitchen, sunroom, living room, master bedroom, etc. have been wired, enlivened, and capped/covered. Way cool. We'll need to have the electrician move the ceiling light box for the dining area, as it's too close to the front wall of the house. All the stair treads are in-place in both stairwells except for the two big triangular treads that make the 90° turn in the main stairwell. The stove (Samsung NE59N6630SS) has been installed, wired up, and is usable. I even found the manual and set the clock! The fridge (Samsung RF220NCTASR) has the permanant outlet enlivened (no more extension cord connection around the corner into the future laundry room) and is up and running. Still waiting on the water line for the ice-maker. The dishwasher (Samsung DW80K7050US) still awaits hookup but I'm looking forward to experiencing a quiet (44 dBa) dishwasher in operation. The kitchen countertops have been bolted down and the sink has been (apparently) all hooked up, just awaiting turning on the water. Cabinet knobs and drawer pulls have been handed over to the contractor for mounting.

The 2nd floor master bedroom appears finished except for ceiling fan installation and final coats of paint. The 2nd floor office and master bath are almost done. The mudroom/entryway and 1st floor laundry room have subflooring and await the vinyl sheet flooring.

We're starting to think about the choreography of moving great swaths of furniture and boxes OUT of the southern house so we can get it on the market and start showing it. We've been doing needed repairs to get it ready, and now we need to get the clutter out of the way for showing. May end up using storage containers for the transition.

I spent some of my day yesterday ringing out network drops in the quilt studio and woodworking shop and wiring in RJ-45 connectors, and may continue that project today. There's still one network cable in the basement that comes from the new mudroom/garage/quilt-studio structure that I don't see where it terminates... I'll have to ask the electrician who ran the wires where it goes.

We're getting close!

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14 Aug 2019
Another visit, possibly the last one before we relocate. We’ve effectively got a studio apartment with a half-bath available up at the new house now. We had them finish the quilt studio over the garage first, and set it up with our bed, and a table with a coffee pot and microwave. The studio also has a half-bath (more accurate to call it a “no-bath”... toilet, sink, and “no bath!”), so it has most (but not all) of the comforts of home. We've been staying there when we came up the last few times (saving nightly tourist-season motel rates each time), and it’s quite comfortable. The progress on livability in the rest of the house is proceeding quite well… our true master bedroom and the full bath across the hall (on the 2nd floor of the original house) will be done soon, there is a working fridge and stove in the kitchen, the kitchen counters and sink are functional, the sunroom is complete and has the dining table and a few chairs, a couch and a TV as a temporary dining/living room. A bed, coffee, and a TV; same as what we’d pay $250 a night for (in summer rates) down the street at the inn!

What we’re going to do is to have MA-based movers move everything left in the Woburn house except a few showing/staging necessities into PODs™ and have the pods stored at a POD facility in Portland ME until we want them up north (after we get the completed Maine house professionally cleaned). Once the pods go into storage (for a month or two at most), we’re moving into the studio apartment in Newcastle and becoming Maine residents, and the real estate agent can go to work!

Once the house sells, we’ll have someone come and pick up what’s left and haul it north. Lynn’s monster long-arm quilting machine has been disassembled, put in boxes, hauled north, and is stashed in the corner of the quilt studio. We'll have professionals re-assemble it and level it out once we have use of the entire house.

Once the northern construction is declared complete we’ll call in the professional “disaster” cleaners to clean the house from top to bottom of all the sawdust and construction grime, peel the “new window” stickers off all the windows and wash them inside and out, vacuum the ceiling and walls, wash the floors, etc., then have the POD folks to deliver our pods and call the Maine-based movers to come empty the pods and move us into the house!

Piece of cake!

...(as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image)

Panorama of Gene's office (formerly Lynn's quilt-room and occasional single-bed guestroom) in the upstairs front-west of the original part of the house. A wider double-window dormer, new floor, and (soon-to-be) new ceiling fan...

Panorama of the office from the other corner....

Panorama of the mostly-finished master bedroom - the only other room (besides the full bathroom with tub/shower) on the second floor of the old part of the house...
The top of the new stairs to the second floor (smaller rise, larger run)....

Lynn heading down the rebuilt/redesigned stairs from the second floor of the original part of the house. One bannister in place, second one awaiting the built-in cubby-cabinet/bookcase/nicknack-shelf at the foot of the stairs...

The downstairs of the old part of the house, as seen from the third step on the stairs...

The foot of the main house stairs, with the double-door pantry/closet and the gap between the closet and the stairs where the cubby-cabinet/bookcase/nicknack-shelf at the foot of the stairs will be...


Another shot of the kitchen, now with a fully-functional sink. The island is still undergoing rework ....


The sunroom is effectively done (awaiting wall sconces and the ceiling fan), so we use it as our living room for evening TV. Got to have our nightly dose of "Silent Witness."

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30 Sep 2019
No more fleeting visits, no more long-haul drives up and back. Now our long-haul drives are infrequent, and when they do happen they are DOWN and back! We live in Maine! For "planting a stake on the calendar" purposes, we moved on 30 August 2019. We registered our cars in Maine, registered to vote, and got Maine drivers' licenses. We are Maine-iacs!

Our schedule for the actual "move" depended on a lot of independant moving parts meshing together (we call that “choreography”), and it didn’t choreograph quite as well as we hoped and planned. We decided to use PODs™ for moving because of the flexibility to put them into secure storage until the northen house was ready for our "stuff." Our empty PODs were to be delivered on Wednesday the 21st of August, with the packers/movers scheduled to do their magic on the 22nd, the filled PODs™ scheduled to be picked up on the Friday the 23rd and brought to Portland ME to be put in storage for a month or two, the whole-house cleaners scheduled to do their thing Saturday the 24th, and the carpet cleaners scheduled to swing through on Tuesday the 27th.

There was also a family party in Portland on Sunday the 25th that Lynn would attend while I stayed south to babysit the carpet cleaners.

But, as they so-often say, the “best-laid plans” often go awry… The PODs™ were delivered Wednesday as scheduled. That was the last thing to be on-schedule except for last thing... the carpet cleaners. The packers/movers were scheduled to arrive at noon on Thursday. We got a call around 11:30am saying they’d be there at 4pm instead of noon. When they hadn’t arrived by 5:30pm, I decided to call the PODs™ folks to reschedule the next-day PODs™ pickup, just in case. Next available pickup was Monday, but they were parked in the driveway so their presence wouldn’t disrupt anyone else. That reschedule was prescient.

The three mover/packers arrived at 7pm, exhausted, having started their day at 5am (they said). By 10:30pm they quit, saying they couldn’t do any more and our neighbors were probably annoyed at the noise. They had packed only one POD™ (it was well-packed, to their credit). We expected them to come back the next day (Friday), but they couldn’t come back until Sunday afternoon, so that meant the cleaners had to be rescheduled too; luckily they could come Monday afternoon instead of Saturday, leaving the carpet cleaners unshifted... for now.

Friday and Saturday was spent in limbo, half-packed, with the house in a bit of a shambles. Lynn headed north Saturday to spend the night at her sister’s and they both went to an annual Sunday end-of-summer family party together (that I was supposed to be at too, but...). After the party Lynn drove the rest of the way to the Maine house and set up camp.

Two of the three mover/packers returned Sunday (in a minivan instead of a moving van) around 1pm, filled the 2nd POD™, ran out of boxes and packing paper, and left – leaving the job unfinished. Abandoned, the rest was left to me. I scooted out to the local U-Haul store and bought boxes and packing paper, came back and picked up where they left off, packing stuff. Luckily most of the furniture that was being moved (some was left for “staging” when the house got on the market) was in the PODs™ and stored in Portland, waiting for our word to have it delivered to the new Ballot Box once it’s ready for full occupancy.

I was up at 4am Monday trying to pack as much as I could to get it out of the way of the cleaners, who were expecting to have an empty house to clean. The POD picker-uppers came and took the PODs away Monday. The cleaners came and did a great job, the carpet cleaners came Tuesday morning, and I packed the car for the pentultimate trek north by myself.

So we have our Maine license plates, our Maine licenses (temporary paper for now), have filed “change of address” notices with most of the people and companies that need to know, and registered to vote. We live in Maine now!

The house still isn't "finished," but it's damn close. We should be able to move out of the "studio" apartment and into our real bedroom any day now. The downstairs of the main house is done except for a few minor things. The washer and dryer get delivered Thursday. I've moved into my "office" upstairs and the one full bathroom (with a tub/shower) is awaiting a baseboard heater and medicine cabinet. We have five heat-pump heads and two compressors for heat/AC/dehumidification. A few photos of the downstairs ready for the house-warming party yesterday are below!

...(as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image)

The view of the kitchen and dining area from the foot of the stairs, in front of the sliding glass door leading to the deck out back...

The view of the living area and stairs from the corner of the dining area - reverse of the previous picture. One of the five heat-pump heads can be seen over the deck slider door...

Looking into the sunroom from the rest of the first floor. The autumn quilt has returned to it's place of honor...


The kitchen area, as seen from the living area...

The living area (where the couch and TV *will* be when they're released from storage) and the sunroom, as seen from the corner of the kitchen...

The kitchen area, in all its well-lit glory...

  The four Munroe sisters from Lexington, all residents of Maine now...  

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01 Feb 2020
Wow! Four months later, and we're still working on it all! We're into our second year of retirement, a new decade, and we've been official Mainiacs since 30 August (Maine driver's licenses, Maine car tags, registered to vote, etc.). The two PODs™ with the bulk of our "stuff" from the Woburn house were delivered and unloaded 23 October, and the final load of the "staging" furniture and other stuff left behind in Woburn was delivered 23 November. We passed papers on the Woburn house and became a one-house family again on 25 November (first time in 10 years!). The garage still has boxes and building materials rather than cars in it, but we're chipping away at that, and we have off-site storage for long-term stuff we don't yet know what to do with.

Construction on the interior of the house is pretty much done; still some cleanup and finishing touches to be taken care of. Our Winter-Storm-Insurance (a 20KV whole-house generator with a 320-gallon propane tank) is installed, wired-in, and tanked up, ready to go with a ten-second switchover (the computers and cable-modem are already on UPS battery backup [15-minute max] so the only thing we'll have to worry about is resetting the digital clocks!). The decks (a new front entry deck and a rebuild/expansion of the back elevated deck) are in process now. The new guest suite on the lower level (to accommodate guests, of course!) will be started in a week or two. Always exciting! And in the spring the landscaping and hardscaping gets completed... we'll have GRASS again!! With the snow covering the lack of grass and landscaping, the front almost looks done!

(as always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image)

The back deck construction site, as seen from behind the garage. Our heat-pump compressors are visible up against the back wall of the garage...

The old deck (still visible) is being extended out about three feet, with every other railing post 9 feet tall to accommodate bird feeders in the winter and hanging flowers in the summer...


We're adding about six feet to the east side of the deck, wrapping around the back corner and extending to the outside wall of the mudroom entry...

A view around the corner of the house to show the new addition to the deck...

Looking back at the original part of the deck from the corner of the new part...

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11 Mar 2020
And Phase 2 continues! Phase 2a (the back deck) is 90-95% done... the deck itself is wider now, and wraps around the corner of the house. The decking itself is done (except for a sliver of a board up against the house), and the posts and railings are up and done. We're still waiting for the stairs and the gate across the stairs (to contain kids and pets), but the footings for the permanent stairs have to wait until the ground is frost-free down a few feet for footings, so the old stairs are nailed on where the new stairs will eventually be, as a stop-gap. We've been grilling out on the deck 2-3 times a week, and we recently had a "warm enough" grilling night to be able to enjoy sitting on the deck with a whiskey while grilling! Bliss! Looking forward to the reinstallation of the deck sound system as "zone 4" of the house music system*! Next up will be sturdy hangers on the tall posts for flower pots (and a drip watering system) in the summer, and lots of bird feeders in the winter.

Phase 2b (the guest suite on the lower level) has also begun in earnest! We've decided to stop calling it the "cellar" or "basement" and start calling it the "lower level" because it sounds so crass to send guests off to sleep in the "basement!" It'll be fully furnished, with a full bath and shower - all the comforts of home! They've replaced the entire back wall of the suite (3 walls are foundation concrete that'll be insulated and wall-boarded, but the back wall is above-ground and opens out to an area under the back deck), and installed a new full-length glass door more in the center of the wall and away from the stairs, with good-sized windows on either side of the door - lots of light. That wall originally consisted of three French double-doors across the span, with only one door functional. A french door was handy before since the basement area was where the garden tools were stored and the garden cart needed both doors open to be wheeled outside. That (and things like that) lives in the tool shed now (the front half of the far-right 3rd garage bay; the back half is my workshop).

As always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...

March 4th - The mostly finished deck, using alternating tall railing posts for summer flowers and winter bird-feeders
March 9th - A warm(ish) evening of grilling country-style pork and sipping Irish whiskey...
Feb. 1st - the basement got cleared out enough to start (de)construction
Feb. 19th - The wall studs are going up, showing walls and doors
Feb. 19th - Still with the old stairs and the French doors
Feb. 23rd - More wall studs, and the stairs have been rebuilt
March 9th a.m. - Two of the three French doors are gone; deconstuction seems to go faster than construction!
March 9th p.m. - One of eventually two new windows and the new door are in place, as seen from the outside
March 10th - The second window is in, and the wall has been insulated, ready for sheetrock!
*Zone 1 is the living room, zone 2 will be the sunroom, zone 3 will be the outdoor sunroom patio area, and zone 4 will be the outdoor back deck. Each zone will have a separate volume control and a selection of either of two audio sources (assuming I install a second source).

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02 Apr 2020
Phase 2b (the guest suite on the lower level) continues, albeit a bit slower, what with sheltering-in-place and social distancing. Luckily there is a separate entrance on that lower level, so we HEAR the workmen, but hardly ever SEE them!

Putting a bathroom into a room on a level that WAS a cellar turns out to be non-trivial. The house waste-pipe that sends all the house sewage to the septic tank is in the concrete wall, a bit more than waist-high ("waste" high? :) ). That means the sewage and waste water from the guest suite bathroom needs to be pumped up about 4 feet to get to the septic-tank entry-pipe. Also, the waste-water pipes from the shower and toilet need to be below the floor, and lead to a sewage pump... (a - drumroll, please - Liberty PRO380 Sewage Pump). The big deal was the removal of some of the concrete foundation flooring to make a below-grade hole and trench for the pump and pipes leading to it. That means concrete drilling and jack-hammering. L-O-U-D! We had them give us a few days warning so we could socially distance ourselves from the NOISE by going out for a day-ride.

Once that was done, they worked on the room walls, electrical, and ceiling. I decided to run the remaining 1st floor audio-zone wires BEFORE the ceiling got installed in the guest suite so all four zone feeds are in place. The two interior zones (living room and sunroom) are now up and running, and the two exterior zones have wires and all that remains is to mount the weatherproof speakers on the back deck once it's warm enough to bother (it's getting there), and on the front patio once the hardscape work is completed. And if you're curious, my new Bosch Tapeless Laser Measurer says the guest suite is 20 feet x 15 feet.

We're making progress! As always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...

The shower-drain trough got marked out with a gazillion concrete drill-holes...

The pit for the sewage pump (under the stairs) found one of the floor drainage pipes installed in case of floor seepage. There hasn't been a hint of goundwater moisture in over ten years, so we got rid of that obstruction.

The toilet and vanity-sink waste pipe, and the sewage pump in place and the floor patched. ..


The view of the guest suite from the stairs. The wallboard is up and mudded, and the hung-ceiling anchors are in place...


The opposite view, from the corner looking towards the stairs and the bathroom (the shiny white thing in the bathroom is the shower stall that just got installed)...


And the ceiling is in!! The view of the north wall...


The view of the south wall...

19 May 2020

The guest suite construction is done, awaiting the new carpet and baseboards. The suite has it's own entrance (leads out into the back yard via the soon-to-be-landscaped under-the-deck patio) and stairs up to the first floor, it's own heat (via a Rinnai heater), and the "en-suite" bathroom has a toilet, sink, and oversized shower. The carpet will be nrfSelect's Corsair loop carpet, in the "Razzias" pattern.

As always, click on a thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...

Looking from the northwest corner, showing (L-to-R) the Rinnai heater, the entrance/exit to the (soon-to-be) underdeck patio, the landing of the stairs up to the first floor, and the en-suite bath.

Same type of view, diagonally opposite from the photo above, from the foot of the stairs, showing (L-to-R) the open bathroom door, the door to the utility room, the post holding up the house, and the side of the Rinnai heater.

A sample snap of the carpet that *will* be installed soon...

30 July 2020

We might be safe to declare construction completed. We're working through a punch-list of quirks (some interior doors have shifted and don't close now, stairs to the front patio are almost complete, the outside outlet on the front patio is wired wrong, some of the wallboard screws in the quilt studio stairwell are visibly bulging, stuff like that); the terraforming of the property has been completed (14 cubic yards of crushed stone to enhance drainage, 108 cubic yards of fill to improve safe access to the back yard, 186 cubic yards of loam to support a decent lawn [weed seeds were no extra charge], recycled asphalt for the driveway - an experiment [1/10th the price of new asphalt], eight pallets of tumbled bluestone for walkways and patios), and the multi-season planning and creation of shrubs and gardens has begun. Our front bluestone patio is done (to the left in the photo, in front of the sunroom) and our back bluestone patio (outside the outside entry to the guest suite) is in process.

Here's photo of the house from the front, WITH a semblance of a lawn! As always, click on the thumbnail to see a slightly larger image...

20 Feb 2021

After a longer-than-expected delay, we got the carpet installed and some basic furniture in place in the guest suite (like a bed!). We'll decorate as we go along... with COVID still hanging around we probably won't have many guests right away.

Here's a picture of how it looks:


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