After much anticipation, Jeremy and I received notice that the final steps of adding the wood stove and hooking up the water/propane in our kitchen were done and our house was habitable. Habitable, but not done. We were incredibly excited, but also a little apprehensive. After all we have been pretty comfortable in our Lucca apartment and what if we move into our house only to find it to be a far cry from our fanciful imaginings. So much could go wrong and there was much we couldn’t afford to do this time around. I could go stir crazy away from the city or the house could be too cold. The repairs and additions could also be less quality than they appear. We could have issues with bugs in the house or animals outside of the house. The list of what ifs was a mile long, but in the end what really happened was rather wonderful despite including some of those what ifs actually coming true.
As mentioned before, there were a few things (well a lot of things) that we just couldn’t afford to do this year. Most of these things primarily influenced the warmth of the house. The first of these things was the outside of the house. Our house is stone. Stone is beautiful and classic, but it is also not a good insulator. So, per recommendation of our architect, we plan on putting an insulating jacket around the house and then adding plaster plus paint. As you might guess this is not cheap, but we hope to get to this by next summer. In the meantime we had the workers leave up the scaffolding from replacing the roof so we don’t have pay for set up again. The scaffolding is not pretty, but neither is the outside of the house at this point.
One other thing still to be done is hooking up the underfloor heating, which included adding in new radiators in the bedrooms and installing a new heat exchange pump. In the meantime we just reinstalled the water heater that had come with house. It was small, but heck the previous owners lived here and used it. The house was pretty cold the day we arrived, but we were sure in few days we would get the house warm and dry between the new wood stove and a space heater or two. It was actually more like 2 weeks before the house felt fully comfortable, but we couldn’t complain. We have warm blankets on the bed and a cute little stove to snuggle up in front of. The first snow we experienced this winter was actually pretty magical from our house. The bathing situation, however, is a little less magical. We were excited to be able to take baths in our bath/shower combo. Bathtubs are rare in the small apartments we tend to rent and we are both big fans of relaxing in the tub. Unfortunately, the size of the water heater makes filling the bathtub very difficult. At the hottest setting the hot water only lasts about 5 minutes. After the hot water runs out it takes about 20-30 minutes for it to return. In order to speed up the process we have been boiling several pots of water on both stove top and wood stove and adding it to the bath. It certainly makes taking bath more of a major event. We at first thought that hot showers would be impossible, but experimentation has shown that we can have nice hot 10 minute showers barring any recent use of hot water in the house.
The other things that are left to be done are primarily cosmetic, but some have a practical use as well. These things include the hand rail for the stairs, interior doors, light fixtures in every room and the tile back splash in my kitchen. We also are sadly under furnished. We hope to fix these items quickly, but money is limited due to practically rebuilding the whole house and buying a car that is capable of navigating our untamed driveway. Despite these missing items we have come to truly love our rustic home with all its quirks even if it does have a few more bugs than we like. We love the peace, the stars you can see at night, and the way you slip into enjoying simple things here. We bake bread from scratch, grow rosemary in the kitchen window and watch the flames in our wood stove.