Sunroom Renovation – Week 1

For three weeks in June, our house was a flurry of activity. Chris (our general contractor) and his crew – Adam and Corey – arrived early each morning and were hard at work by 8am. Additional skilled tradespeople arrived as needed for specific tasks (e.g. electrical), and Chris oversaw and was accountable for all of their work. Here’s how things unfolded, broken down by week.

They started by tarping off our living room and putting up plywood on the sunroom side. This kept our house protected and prevented me from constantly watching the crew work, which they probably appreciated. It also meant that everyone had to come and go from the sunroom via a ladder!

By 10:30am the first window was out.

By 1:30pm the south wall was gone and they had started on the other windows.

Here’s the view at 2:30pm.

And by 3:30pm we had a fully open front porch.

With so many people working from home because of COVID-19, our house became the primary source of neighborhood entertainment. In the days that followed, Jarrod and I regularly climbed a ladder to sit out here and talk to neighbors about the project, which was really fun. Some people asked if we considered keeping it open – that answer is no. We use this space every single day we’re home, which wouldn’t be possible if it were open: Chicago has a lot of weather.

Moving along, I think most contractors would have called that a successful Day 1, but the crew pushed on and began demo of the ceiling.

Remember that wasp nest we got a peek at in this post?

This is what it looked like from the other side – unoccupied, phew!

We uncovered another one on the north side of the room.

I posted this photo on Instagram and someone said they initially thought it was sourdough bread, which is definitely a more common sighting in 2020.

On Day 2, Adam dove into leveling the floor.

The slope of the floor varied throughout the room, so each shim had to be custom-cut – they were nearly 3 inches in some spots, and super thin elsewhere.

This was slow, detailed work (and thus $$$) for something that no one will ever notice, but I’m glad to have it fixed.

On Day 3, Chris encouraged me to have the paint removed from the limestone sills. Since it was a last-minute decision, grinding/sanding was the only option – not chemicals. It was very dusty!

To be honest, I should have prepared for this sooner, but I half-forgot / was half-paralyzed with indecision – it was definitely something I wanted done, but I had previously hesitated on how to proceed. This was an example of when having a well-connected general contractor came in handy: he was able to get a masonry contractor onsite that day.

Here’s Chris, planning out the framing for the front window installation.

By the end of the week, a level subfloor was installed, the porch roof was jacked up, the windows had been delivered to our garage, and the framing lumber had been delivered to the front porch.

Woof, that was a lot of work for 3 days! And a lot of words for one blog post. This feels like a good stopping point – I’ll document weeks 2 and 3 in separate posts.

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