If you came here looking for a way to help out the Linden Family,
you are now a member of Annabelle's Circle.

Monday, June 30, 2008

We did it. We actually returned some livable space to Matt and Holly this past weekend. The last few coats of polyurethane were slapped on the last couple bedroom floors and we went for it with the baseboards and crown moldings. Much of the weekend was spent painting the wood trim and touching it all up. We were so inspired that we even painted the guest bedroom a nice grinch-who-stole-christmas green! It was lovely. It really was.

As we moved the trundle bed out of the living room and pushed the furniture back into its rightful place, there was a collective sigh, and perhaps a tear, as the house was able to take its first full, deep breath in weeks. The lot of us felt that things finally seemed to be coming along. The "we can take it from here" feeling was on the tip of Matt's tongue, but he knew better to let us come back for more -that Family Room has about the same square footage as the rest of the house! So we will we back. Oh yes. We will be back.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'll be there on Saturday and Sunday this weekend to make sure those floors are finished and to get moving on the baseboards. If all goes well, we should be able to get all the baseboards painted and installed -along with the baseshoes and some other moldings- in all the rooms of the house except for the Family Room. They will need to be painted before they're cut and nailed in, so any assistance would be terrific! If we have enough people, we should be able to get some sweet assembly-line action going on the painting/trimming/nailing/patching/sanding/caulking/touch-up thing.

See you there! (I'll be arriving with materials around 10:30AM.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

I thought I'd post a before-and-after shot here of the front door to show how things are really changing around 2016 Dayton. When you get thick into a job, as we have been for nearly a month now, it's easy to forget the "before" part of things. It's the petty sanding and patching that is interminable, and makes you feel like nothing's being accomplished. We did decide to tackle a lot early on and all at once, so things inevitably take a turn for the slow sooner or later, but we're coming around the bend!

This past weekend the last of the hardwood floors were sanded and stained (along with a number of other minor projects) and next week we'll move on to a Big Baseboard Bash, where it will be all baseboards and all casings and moldings all weekend! If we can make it through that, nearly all the rooms will be finished -with the serious exception of the Family Room. Headway is being made there too, I might add, as most of the drywall is now up on the ceiling.

SDG&E also came out for an inspection last week and appears ready to move on the electrical upgrade -as soon as I can get the time to meet with an electrician and the building inspector. We may pause on this for a bit, while we get caught up on the floors and trim work (it's a challenge to live in a house where all the furniture and belongings are upturned) but we're really getting there!

Special thanks to Kristy and Kelly, Deron and Kevin, Ryan and Wendy, and all those who've come this far and refuse to give up!

Friday, June 20, 2008

It has been a discouraging week for the Lindens. Info on Annabelle's condition is here. Matt and Holly really need and desire your prayers and support.

This weekend (Saturday and Sunday) a few of us will be back at 2016 Dayton, moving some projects along. Holly will be out of town visiting family until Monday, so we're going to take direction from Matt as to what he would most like to get accomplished. Help is always appreciated! Stop on by or email me for info.

Monday, June 16, 2008

There were ten or so of us this past weekend at 2016 Dayton, and though we felt something of a lull in accomplished works Saturday morning, the weekend ended on a fairly strong point. Matt really wanted to push on through with the floor refinishing (there were two rooms in the house undone) so we called Kristy out of retirement and put her back on the sanding. (She lived to sand another day, it seems, but now she'll sand no more forever.) Beneath the bed in the Master Bedroom had long been a hole in the floor that was patched with a few odd pieces of plywood (I wish I had a picture of it!) and we tackled that on Sunday with some replacement oak planks. Everyone took turns with the upright industrial sander, as we had to return it to Coast Equipment Rentals on Monday morning, and no one was sorry to see me load it into the truck at 9PM Sunday night and haul it off.

We got the exterior trim up on the front door and did some stucco repair/paint on the front entry, as well as the installation of a new porch light, and also did a little touch-up getting those last few tiles and grout in around the base of the door. The cactus wall was mortared together and currently awaits some cap blocks, stucco finishing and paint, and the sweet accomplishment of the weekend was the installation of the Baja palapa over the deck, which is really a delightful addition to the yard. There's still some staining to do out there, but we're holding off on that until the Family Room floor is done (we keep tracking dust outside.)

Though it was pushing 90 degrees Sunday afternoon, you can already feel how much cooler the Family Room is with the addition of insulation and drywall. As soon as we get the work order from SDGE on the electrical upgrade (and finish the floors in the other two rooms) we'll make a big push on the Family Room -hopefully next weekend or so. Keep in touch! We'd love to see you out there.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Project Update

Hawkins Construction has been busy making a living this past week, so we have been occupied with other doings, but the Makeover swings in again over the next few days! Here's a list of some of the things still to accomplish:

- Guest Bedroom/Master Bedroom Floor Repair & Refinishing
- Back Deck Sanded/Stained
- Back Deck Palapa Cover Hung
- Irrigation System Check -additional heads, pressure reducer, etc.
- Annabelle's Room: Crown Moldings/Baseboards Installed & Painted
- Living Room/Dining Room: Baseboards Installed & Painted
- Front Door Casings Installed, Surrounding Stucco Patch, Finishing
- Entryway Tile Scrubbed/Sealed
- Entryway Header/Post Brackets
- Side Fascia Replaced/Painted
- Front Cactus Wall Capped/Stuccoed/Painted
- Various Stucco Patching/Paint Touchup Around House
- Front Wall Stucco Lathe (installed to code around window)
- Kitchen: Finish Sink Install, Window & Doorway Casings
- Laundry Closet Framed Out/Drywalled
- Water Heater Cabinet Built
- Family Room Ceiling Drywall
- Family Room Floor Refinishing
- Install Buckley Door
- Laundry Hookup (re-plumbing)
- Electrical Circuit in Family Room (installed to code)
- New Mail Slot
- New Doorbell
- New Porch Lights (front & back)
- Soffit Vent Replacement

There will be more finish work to be done (minor carpentry, sanding, painting, etc.) once many of the main projects are completed and the inspector has signed off on the plumbing, electrical, and stucco. I will try and keep track of the ongoing work here in the coming weeks.

It's looking great! A LOT was accomplished in that first week (more so than any contracting job I've seen) and the work to come can mostly be tackled a task at a time, if needed. Our goal is to get it finished up and livable/looking great for the Big Baby Shower which is scheduled for July 13th -one month from today!

If you'd like to drop by this weekend to help out -EXCELLENT! (We will be there on Saturday/Sunday.) If you have a particular project in mind that you'd like to work on and have a day or two in the coming month, EXCELLENT! Just send me an email and let me know. ("sean4annabelle@mac.com")

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Alan Schnepf, freelance reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune, has written a lovely little piece on our efforts. It's in the East County section of today's paper, or you can check it out here. Alan arrived at the home about twenty minutes before the Lindens, when I was running around in my tool belt and socks (I didn't want to muss up the new floors!) I think he got a good feel for the madness that was that moment, and I appreciate him not dwelling on the petty detail of me in my socks!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Annabelle's Circle is a Completely Legitimate Operation

One of the untold stories from last week are the events of last Thursday. I have been a licensed, bonded and insured general contractor since 2002, license #810162, with a clean record of no complaints. Though I specialize in the patio cover business, I have some experience in nearly all areas of home building, but I am neither a skilled electrician, plumber, or craftsman. I can get by on some jack-of-all-trades knowledge, but I know enough to leave the tricky stuff up to the professionals. We all should -especially when it comes to the homes we live in. The building code is there for everyone's safety, and is one of the reasons why this country is so well-built, so safe, and so great. When a bunch of us got together last week to fix up a friend's house, it was just that, and nothing particularly fancy. (I mean, we weren't building a hospital or anything!) Imagine the demoralizing moment when the Lemon Grove Building Inspector and Code Enforcement Officer dropped by unannounced last week, putting a stop to our efforts on the Family Room.

When we ripped the old siding off the front of the house to replace the cracked aluminum window, some stucco repair had to be done. The paper was quickly stapled up onto the wall, flashed haphazardly, and basically flagged down the officials as they drove by. They stopped in to check out what was going on.

It looked to them to be an illegal garage conversion. Though we had assured them that it wasn't, and merely a mess of new drywall and minor repairs, they had to put a stop to the efforts while they pulled the building record from the county. Everyone on site rallied to get the heartbreaking story out, and it should be noted that the men from the city were very understanding. All the same, any work on the house had to be done legally and it had to be done right. They encouraged us to keep going on the landscaping and the floors, and focus on the cosmetic stuff while they got to the bottom of the situation. I was off-site at the time, purchasing the wood for the deck repairs. I got the call while I was standing there in the lumberyard, and my heart just sank.

When I got back to 2016 Dayton, I was glad to see that the group would not be deterred by this setback. We quit the Family Room and the stucco while I got to the bottom of the situation. Everyone moved outside, grabbed a paint brush and went for it on the landscaping. They were really making a difference.

Down at the building department I learned a few things about the house. The inspectors had found that the laundry drain and vent were improperly installed, that the electrical panel was an illegal installation, that the deck railing and stairs were not to code, that the gas line to the water heater was the wrong size (for starters.) Nearly all of these things were problems inherited by the Lindens when they bought the house, and out of nowhere, in the middle of a busy and exhausting week, they had suddenly become our problems.

The good news is that the record finally came back from the county yesterday and it stated that the garage had been legally converted into living space in the sixties. The bad news is that a lot of the stuff in and around it is old and busted, and poorly done to begin with. I pulled the permits for electrical, mechanical, and plumbing right then and there. We can make this house safe, functional, and legitimate.

So there are a new set of hurdles before us. It seems there is only 110 coming down from the power pole into an illegal (and full) electrical panel. A work order has to be filed with SDG&E, and the panel needs to be replaced. (As well, the laundry and Family Room both should have dedicated circuits.) The water heater is an old Bosch tankless that was improperly installed on too small a gas pipe, so new lines must be run out from the meter. The deck we fixed and built up to code, the stucco and window flashing we can easily do right, and all the other little things will take some time but are not impossible. If anyone has a connection with a licensed electrician or plumber (or even a window installer or stucco specialist!) who is willing to contribute some time on Annabelle's house, it would be sincerely appreciated.

We're all relieved that we have the necessary permits for the repairs and upgrades. The people working for the city of Lemon Grove were interested to hear the whole story and were moved to be patient and helpful with the property at 2016 Dayton. I told them of my intent to get this house up to proper specs, and that if the inspector saw anything that looked wrong or out of place to please let me know.

This episode has all been a blessing, really. We were able to finish the exterior stuff as a result of the redirection of efforts, and the home will soon be legal and current.

Everyone wants the house to be perfect, finished, warm and complete.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Phase 1 -Report

I wanted to take some space here and mention how generous everyone has been, giving so much time and money to the Annabelle's Circle project. It has galvanized us all to work harder and be good stewards of the investment. Early on we had anticipated needing more than the initial $1500 that we were trying to raise, but we weren't sure of the response. That amount was chosen because it was more or less the cost of the new Family Room window and sliding door, which we got with a wholesale discount. The enthusiasm of friends and family snowballed the projects, and -as of Sunday- in excess of over $10,000 was raised! And that's not counting the receipts of everyone who just went out and purchased things on their own, bought everyone lunch, burned expensive gasoline, and showed up with plants for the garden!

Every last dollar (and more) has been spent on the Linden home. We were able to haul off a lot of debris, which totaled upwards to seven tons, $500 in dump fees, and another couple hundred in trailer rental. We were able to replace the old planks on the deck and rebuild the railing and stair so that they are child-safe and up to code (over $1500.) Another thousand was spent on paint and paint supplies and floor refinishing materials, and another thousand was spent on replacement wood for the rotted out sections of the walls and front walk. Add the newly tiled kitchen and front path, Family Room insulation and drywall, new front door, and full back-to-front landscaping, and the house looks new and shiny! It's really quite a change, and must be seen to be believed. In a future entry I will post a detailed list of both finished and unfinished projects, and further needed repairs and materials. (We need to do a full assessment of the job so far.)

Money keeps trickling in, which is amazing and needed. Final receipts haven't been tallied from the equipment rentals, building permits, and last minute purchases. Though most of the exterior and landscaping is finished (aside from some stucco repair, the deck stain, and some minor adjustments to the irrigation) there is still some work to be done inside (Family Room finishing, some electrical and plumbing, and baseboards/moldings/casings in the rest of the house.) Many of the materials have already been purchased, and I will be arranging a few more work weekends before July 13th -the date of the Big Baby Shower. This coming weekend, however, everyone has off! Matt and Holly would like some time to themselves to digest it all, and who can blame them?

The following are people who have specifically sent or deposited money to fix up Annabelle's drafty old house:

(Please email me if we missed you!)

Kim Abrams & Rita Belter
Beth Bolles
Doug & Dianne Bolles
Elizabeth Brushwyler
Heather Buchta
Guy & Debbie Cambone
Solmaz & Michael Chandler
Carmel Cheely
Wendy & Shande Darcy
Kevin Day
Sean & Jen Day
Beverly Day
Mike & Pat Donahue
Dave & Kay Endow
Kelly Endow
Scott & Tami Fitch
Nancy Grimes
Jim & Cammie Griswold
Curt & Melissa Harrington
Sean & Marci Hawkins
Tony & Kirsten Hawkins
Brian & Laura Heany
Amanda Hines
David & Bev Hosokawa
Brian & Ruth Hoyt
Doris James
Kelly & Kim Keener
Jessica Kimbrough
Gary Klein
Raine Klover
Sara Lovelady
Deron Matson
Heather Mercer
Dick, Dina, & Danielle Mercer
Massimo & Jane Monticelli
Barbara Moss
Cheryl Otto
Cory & Katherine Parker
Chris & Kim Plant
Daniel & Nicole Schairer
Eric Simon
Tim & Kelly Smith
Bill & Val Standifer
Steve & Stacie Vetica
Chris Vithen
Jonathan & Lynne Weaver
Anonymous #1
Anonymous #2
Anonymous #3
Anonymous #4

There are many other names of people who bought their own items while they were working on the house, and gave in so many other ways. (For example: The Kessler Family provided living arrangements for Matt and Holly, as well as some excellent meals for the crew, and The Monticelli Family sent down a case of their wine!) We would very much like to recognize all of you. Please email me with comments and corrections! If you have a blog or web site, let me know and I will make your name a link. It's a great way for us all to stay connected.

A list of people who gave so willingly of their time is at right. (Kudos to the names on both lists!)

Local businesses who have been moved to assist the project are also listed at right. These are good, reliable, caring companies! Please check them out and send some business their way!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Corey and Jordan have reported on their experiences out at the Linden Makeover construction zone. It's really worth the read, and nails the experience in honest words I couldn't have found. Corey's report is here. Jordan's is here.

From Jordan: I learned that it is important to work really hard for your friends... When everyone works together, really big stuff gets done.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Day 9 - The Lindens Come Home

It was a beautiful spring day, with all the chaos of life glommed on to 2016 Dayton. Sod was piled high in excess and construction debris was everywhere. Kelly was firing up the new sprinklers and the drip line heads were rocketing off into the street from the excessive water pressure. The toilet was still backing up into the bathtub. The new front door had gone in crooked and there was no time to get the knob on it. The staples refused to hold down the palapa cover over the deck, which still lacked the new stairs and some of the railing. But there was a happy buzz in the air, and when Lynne took a break from tiling the front walk to go get In-N-Out for everyone, we stopped, took a step back, and gazed at the place from the curbside. It was actually coming together!

We worked all day. No one stopped to clean. The kitchen tile was being sealed, the garden boxes were being planted, mulch was tossed around, and another coat of polyurethane was slapped on the newly stained floor. At one point someone yelled out, "Matt and Holly will be here in five!" to which someone else responded, "Five o'clock?" and the reply came back: "No, five minutes!" I think we all dropped our hammers.

The crew ceased all projects and hurriedly moved furniture back into place. Some of the trash was picked up, and tools were moved into the unfinished Family Room, which had become the contractor's bane with all its problems. The catalyst of the whole affair, and there it was at the end of the week, little more than studs and drywall. Our vision for a luxurious Family Room had been reduced to mere tool storage.

But from the street the place looked pretty good. We dragged a rock from out back and bolted some nice new numbers to it. With the new sod and landscaping, and then the replaced headers and painted stucco and tiled walk and new door and window shutters, it actually looked pretty nice! I'm not sure what Matt & Holly expected when they took off the blindfold (probably a new Family Room) but I think they were satisfied. We were all mostly proud of our work, and very proud to be a part of the whole event.

We led Matt and Holly on a tour of our work so far, and then out onto the deck and into the garden, and tears were shed. It really was beautiful, but in the end it wasn't the house that was beautiful at all. It was all the people who came out to help, arriving daily with their bottomless kindness and good cheer. Most everyone ran out of some part or tool or another and went down to the hardware store to get what they needed to finish the job. We had run out of money days ago, but here the work was getting done and no one was handing me receipts. It was like the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, (Matthew 14) where I've always suspected that in addition to the miracle of the Lord, people who were there were inspired to lend food they were quietly keeping to themselves, and then kept giving and giving. It becomes infectious.

It was a joyful twilight out on the deck, with a few bottles of wine a la "Baja Winery" (the theme of the makeover). The lights twinkled on the new gazebo and the new tile in the kitchen just sparkled at sunset. At one point, Jenn accidentally spilled her wine on it, which caused everyone to laugh: she had just sealed the grout about 5 hours before. This was the moment that defined it all for me because there was no horror in the blunder at all, it was just a good laugh with friends and family in the kitchen.

It felt like home.

(By the way, she must've done a good job: the stain came right up!)