One More Phase of Remodeling Finished!

For the past 5 or 6 weeks our place has been taken over by workers making some changes to our outside space and inside working on our kitchen.

Finally all is completed and Joe and I can start to clean up the dust that was left behind while they worked.

IMG_2936We had the bamboo fence added to two walls and it has turned a beautiful tan color. It was treated for bugs and then varnished.

IMG_2937Our driveway was plain concrete so we had that resurfaced and topped with granito and then varnished.

IMG_2938We also had the one section of our back yard covered in cement and they topped that with large outdoor ceramic tiles and granito to make a nice patio.IMG_2939I hated the way the top of the cistern looked so we had them put the granito on that as well.

IMG_2945The last item was the new gate with a built in door and a roof to protect it which was just completed this past Saturday.

Now everything needs a nice coat of white paint.  Well not right now, we need a break from workers.  ja ja

Sad Day Watching Your House Being Torn Down

Over the past two weeks, Sergio and Nellie and their family have removed everything from the one house on their property.  Doors, security bars, roofing, timber beams, everything that they could remove they have removed. With the earthquake the house could not be repaired and needed to be torn down.

Early this morning the backhoe and dump truck showed up on our street.


It was hard watching this lovely family as the heavy equipment rolled down our street and within 30 minutes their house was gone and the lot nearly empty of all memory of the house.



IMG_2921Within a few hours a tent was carried down the street and set up on their now empty lot.


Hopefully they will be able to rebuild one day soon.



Finally Kitchen Cabinets

When we moved into this house we put a basic kitchen counter in the kitchen.  Several months later we added shelving underneath along with a wood work table.  It has taken me almost four years to decide what I wanted in the way of kitchen cabinets and finally a few weeks ago I placed the order.  Please first understand, if I did not have my neighbor and friend David Zambrano to assist me this would never come to pass. His contacts, artistic insight, innate ability to understand me, abilities as a maestro and supervisor, and his total acceptance of us make him and his family so special to us.  Today the cabinets have been installed and now I can finally put all my kitchen items in closed cupboards or up on a shelf and off the counters. Notice Helena, David’s wife and alter ego, in the first picture carefully watching to be sure everything is just right!

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Jorge and his crew did a beautiful job. We could not be happier at how the cabinets turned out. IMG_2895

It took both Joe and I most of Sunday to figure out where everything should go. Below is the first draft, you know I will need to make a bunch of changes before I am totally pleased with how everything is placed.

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Roof Painting, Yes You Heard Me!

While living in South Florida we knew many retirees that owned and lived in mobile homes. Each year they had to paint the roofs which we were told helped reflect the sun and helped keep the inside cooler. Living in San Clemente we really have no need for a heater, most times you really don’t need an a/c unit, forget about a fireplace or hot water we only have suicide showers and our home does not have one pane of glass in any window. All we have are screens with wooden shutters for windows.

Our first hot season the house really heated up, as soon as the sun hit the dirty almost black roofing it turned into an oven. So we talked to our neighbor David (pronounced DA VEED) and had him pick up the supplies and hire a guy to help him clean, patch and paint our roof as well as adding an extension of roof panels to the porch area and while he was doing that we had him add a wooden beam so we could hang bamboo blinds to help even more to shade our porch area.

San Clemente 1.7.2014 011 San Clemente 1.7.2014 012 What a huge difference all of these improvements have made on the interior temperature of the house. At a minimum it is making a 10 degree difference.

We also purchased two exhaust fans that will be installed one in the kitchen/salon area and one in the master bedroom up near the ceiling to help remove any hot air trapped up near the ceilings.

Starting our Shelving

Quote for the day:

“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself
from happiness.”
— Jonathan Safran Foer

Joe and I took some time off the past few months from construction work on the house to decide what was the most important items needed to make our life easier, now that we have lived in the house for a while. Since July we have dealt with concrete dust, saws spinning and hammers banging. We needed some time to live quietly in our house, get used to the rhythm of daily living, give our wallet a rest and time to recuperate –  and then decide what projects were most important.

I think the kitchen shelving under the counters is the most important item for me at this point. Having half of the kitchen items in the one spare room, stacked on a bunk bed works, but is not really that convenient for me.

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I found out that Max, our next door neighbor (actually renting the house we rented before this one was ready) is a master carpenter…so he offered to help us out. Early one Monday morning we went to the lumber yard and found what Max felt was the best hardwood to make the storage shelves under the kitchen counters. We placed our order, gave our deposit and were told it could be ready that afternoon or the next morning. Max did not want to rush these folks so he told them the next day would be fine. When we returned the next day we were told that enough wood for our needs was not available from the raw boards we had picked out, so Max started the task of looking at all the other hardwoods looking for the best for the job. He found it and they starting to plane it — I think that is the correct terminology. And then cut the pieces per Max’s dimensions. The two photos below show what we bought for $129.00.

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This will take care of under both kitchen counters and should last us our lifetime. Next he picked up these for some of the shelving we will be doing in the house.

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Max hand-picked each and every board to be sure there were straight and dried and ready for our use. This is what the undercounters look like before the shelving was installed. Not a great use of space!

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Here is what it looks like during installation, looks like tons of room right? Think again!

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Now the shelves filled!!!

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THe next days project is the shelving in our storage/laundry room.

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This is the finished product…all those shelves to fill…..what JOY!!!

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Now you can see how I have filled them up already, but getting all these items off the floor, adding a place to hang my brooms and mops was a stroke of genius.

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Week 7 – Moved In

We moved in on Wednesday afternoon. All the little finishing touches have been made to our Beach Hut, the place has been cleaned and we moved across the street. I do have a small punch list of items that need to be taken care of and the painter has not finished the wall around the house but all the big stuff is done and we have enjoyed three glorious nights in our home.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Patricia, Freddy and all their workers for the hard work and especially their kindness to us while working on our home. It looks better than Joe or I expected and are proud to have met each and every one of these great folks. The good thing is many of these folks live and work right here in this area so we will see them around town I am sure. I know that Patricia and I will be good friends and that Freddy will always have a very special place in our lives all because we bought this house.

Here are the last pictures before we move all our boxes in.

We now need to decide what projects will be started next. I think that we will take the next three months off and then decide: will it be the closet for our master bedroom, will I be ready to decide on what kitchen cabinets and shelving, will I want Freddy and Patricia to make the changes to our driveway before the rains come???? So many projects and the rest of our lives to get them done.

Thanks to all of you who read the blog and have followed our journey for the past two years here in Ecuador. I cannot tell you just how much your comments and kindness have meant to us.  I am pretty busy now opening boxes and setting up. I apologize in advance for not being able to get back to each of you on your comments and emails. I will be back blogging as soon as we are settled in.

Week 6 – The Finishing Touches

Patricia and Freddy are excellent managers, keeping our renovation project on track with their watchful eye and so many excellent suggestions for making our home even better. Their crew of workers have been respectful of our little beach hut, diligent in their work schedules and concern for us and our renovation. If management is concerned with the little things, the workers do the same.  I just love these guys and cannot say enough about their professionalism and work ethic. Kudos!

The beginning of this week finds the workers trying to complete many things. Below is the maestro who has worked on the tile in our bathroom. He is kind of shy but did allow me to take a few pictures of him working on the security bars on our windows.

He is working also on the master bath to complete it with the installation of the sink and the completion of the tile work on the glass block as well as installing the towel bar, hooks and soap dishes. It looks pretty much complete except for the curing of some of the concrete work and the prep work, sanding and painting of the walls.

When I asked my friend Ana Zitnick from Florida for a suggestions on what to do with the bathroom shower instead of using a plastic shower curtain, she suggested glass blocks. I had Freddy find a few samples and I picked these cute ones that have a coral pattern on them.  Thanks Ana that was a great idea and as you can see they look wonderful!

The painting of the ceilings continue with the hand painting of some areas he was not able to get to with the sprayer. And the maestro painter is continuing on the interior and exterior wall prep work, sanding and then he will be ready to apply the finish coat.

The maestro roofer is here installing the extension of the wood beams to be able to apply the extra roofing sheets to the back of the house to protect the bedroom windows from rain.

Some minor trim work, plumbing and electrical work also needs to be completed and Freddy said that work should be completed this week but with the holiday on Friday we are a bit behind.

The painters are hard at work sanding down our front door, this is one item that did not turn out as expected. We will find out on Monday what needs to be done to correct this little item.

This afternoon my kitchen work table was delivered. It is absolutely stunning, I know how can a work table be stunning but come-on take a look, kind of cute, right?

It is 5′ long x 2′ deep x 3′ high.

Natural wood finish that will be used as a kitchen work table until I decide on what shelving and cabinets I want in the kitchen and then it should be workable as an island, if not it will go into the office room. This beautiful handmade table is the test for this cabinet-maker and as far as I am concerned he scored an A+ on this project.  Now to talk to him about the closet in our master bedroom…..but I really want to live in the house first before I decide on the closet for the master and the cabinetry for both the kitchen and bathrooms.

Here are the pictures I took just now showing how great the paint job is going.

The one thing I can say is it sure is white and it sure looks clean!

Week 5 – Wow What a Difference

Work has not been as furious this week, as the list of items to be finished has diminished exponentially (I just needed to use those two words together once in my life). Most of the work has surrounded the master bathroom where our maestro has painstakingly attached all the wall tiles, completed the shower floor with a different type of tile, finished the concrete work under our toilet and attached the floor tiles and yesterday put in the glass block that I only decided on yesterday morning at 9am.

Here they do not attach the toilet with bolts, they attach it with concrete and at 5pm he was outside on the driveway chipping away at the bottom of the toilet to remove the old concrete. Both Patricia and I were holding our breath thinking he was about to crack the porcelain and we would need to send Freddy off to Charapoto to get a new toilet, but he is the maestro and did an expert job.  Serrano has moved the one electric outlet and added another light above where a medicine cabinet will hang as the original light was centered in the original bathroom area and did not light up the extra space very well.  Take a look at our almost finished bathroom. What a great transformation.

The painters have worked hard this week, having a paint sprayer going almost non-stop, spraying the ceilings throughout the house. The ceilings inside the house had been painted before and required a great deal of cleaning and scraping as well as brushing with a wire brush to get off the flaking paint. Once that was completed using a sprayer made this job faster. The ceilings glow now and the porch looks 100% better with the wood beams painted instead of raw lumber.

Freddy has suggested that we attach an extra strip of roofing at the back of the house as an overhang to stop the rain from entering our bedroom windows and it will help with the early morning sun as well. He has purchased the extra wood and will be delivering the roofing early next week when the roofer maestro will do his thing!  I failed to mention that Freddy’s Mom has a ferretería making it possible to get items at any time and pay later. How great is that?

The wall painting will continue early next week with the concrete in the master being cured enough. Then the painter can start on the outside and the wall surrounding the house.

A few small things need to be completed like a new door frame around the guest bathroom door, a screen door for the porch, concrete work above the guest bedroom closet, connecting the drain for the kitchen sink and of course completing the bathroom but all in all it looks fabulous. Both Joe and I are very happy with our decision to do more of the demo work now. Spending a bit more money now will save us in the aggravation department later.

I have looked for cabinetry and shelving that will enhance the cottage or beach hut feel for the kitchen. Any suggestions especially with photos would be appreciated. I do not want to make any decisions until I have the appliances  and the work table in the kitchen and feel comfortable with their placement. This will probably tell me what would work best in the way of cabinetry…I do have a pretty clean slate now as you can see.

More next week.