Monday, January 31, 2011

Chapter 39– Calculating the Extras (T-Minus 12)

Keep it real. Be ready for changes and additions. Extra lights, extra plugs, privacy screen, better windowa, etc. It means more money but if you planned it right, you’ve already earmarked a certain percentage above your home build contract to make the matter that much less stressful.


Still, no reason for your contractor not to give you all the details. (We got our 12 page estimate today) And ideally you should have an updated list every month to monitor the expenses. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop the surprise 20% overshot from last month’s estimate. But all in all we’re well within budget.

Ok on with the updates:

Let there be Light (by Odelic): Over the future dining table.


Kitchen Dining Counter Lighting.


Finally, a proper family sized washer and dryer (by Whirpool). Never thought I’d be excited over a Whirlpool.



Western dishwasher (by Miele) so we can kiss the daily game of dishware tetris in our counter top Japanese dishwasher.


Our new Satis Toilets (by Inax). Unless you’ve lived in Japan you won’t get this but…Japanese toilets are the BEST !!!.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chapter 38 – Hang on to your hats! (T-minus 16)

Just as a follow-up to our unsettling moments where things don’t always appear as you envision. Sometimes it just takes a little faith and trust. In the first photo we thought the beams and ledges would have too much contrast with the staircase if we kept to our plan of clear varnish. Sakamoto-san assured us (though I could tell he could see our unease) that the varnish would bring more harmony . And he was right! Thankfully, we can close worry point #122.

photo photo(2)

Closing Fees:
Stepping away from the home design for a moment, I’ve been cutting it close with the required house registrations (hyoうji touki = 表示登記) which is a pre-requisite to receiving the 2nd portion of the loan and my house keys. The notary fee is 95,000yen so I was hoping to find a better deal, but I’ve found this point too late, so I’m going to need to suck it up in order to hit our deadline. Lesson #87, remember the closing fees for house. It doesn’t end with the land purchase, and give yourself enough time to shop around. With enough planning you can save yourself 20,000 yen.

Going Green:
Meanwhile Lara is hard at work on finalizing some of the exterior design. This is one area where we’ve decided to take in stages based on the advice of friend gardener. It’s much cheaper and less risky in many ways. But one thing we would like to be ready early on is our green wall. We saw this in our neighborhood and we thought it would be a great way to hide the old decaying facade of our neighbor’s building. Who wants to see hanging laundry on their way in?

green fence
This is one of the plans Lara is thinking about below:

Get ready for more updates. Probably sick of them but this gives you an idea of the pace at the end.

Most of the kitchen cabinetry has arrived, and partially installed. Can’t wait to see this unfurl.


Bathroom floor tiling, sink cabinets are done. One of double sink made it this morning. Like I said,”Hang on to your hats! It’s going to be an interesting sprint to the finish line. Oh and did I mentioning the packing, selling, disposing, giving away, etc :)


Monday, January 24, 2011

Chapter 37- 3 weeks to go update (Day 170)

One of the draw backs of monitoring the daily progress, I find is that there are areas when taken outside of context (because other surroundings are not yet completed) cause you to doubt your initial choices. It can be an unsettling feeling. For example, we are quite happy with our son’s room which has a vivid blue.


But in some ways, we think could have gone with more vivid tones in the girls’ room. Same in master bedroom where the beige is faint in the natural light. My opinion however, is that it will look different once we have the lighting installed. Stay positive :)



In the meantime, things are moving at an accelerated pace. The entrance is almost done.

Kitchen tiles are done.


We can safely go out on the 2nd floor deck.


And our long awaited dishwasher is here.


Oh…and the packing...the packing…the packing.

Items for Sale

Corona Kerosene Heater for 6-mat room: Asking 5000yen each.
Available for pick up from 2/9.

P1060127 P1060128

Kerosene Heaters 8~10 mat (Left) and 10~12 mat (Right). They are 6000 and 7000 yen respectively.


Final Kerosene heaters is rated 15~20mat. It is 8000 yen.


Ikea cabinet with shelves. 3000 yen (Down from 8000).

DSC_3985 DSC_3986

Ikea Desk = 2500yen (Down from 5000). Filing cabinet not included.


Toshiba washer 6kg and dryer 4.0kg with unit stand: 10000yen.

DSC_3981 DSC_3982 DSC_3983

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chapter 36 – The Couch and other craziness.

Amazing to believe that in less than one month, we will be in our new home. For me the one piece of furniture for which I’ve been waiting for so many years is a proper sofa.

After visiting a few furniture stores, Lara and I were really drawn by the quality of NoYES (, a sofa boutique with a showroom in omotesando. For the same price of a drab and boring IDC sofa, at noYES you can get a stylish, handcrafted sofa. We were impressed by their selection, knowledgeable staff and the fact that more than 4000 customers have posted photos of their proud sofas on the website.

NewSugar System Sofa ロングセラーシリーズの最高峰

Choosing a sofa is one thing but getting it into your small home is another matter all entirely different. It was a real pain in the behind getting the mandated delivery service (Death to you Kuroneko Yamato!!) to agree to bring up the furniture, that a specialist mover was brought in for a second opinion. In the end we’re going to get them to deliver to the first floor for free and our house movers will finish the job of bringing it upstairs. Creativity is the name of the game.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Chapter 35– 2nd floor Painting Completed

Painting is done on the 2nd floor and we’re ecstatic with the results!

The study is just as I’d imagined, warm and cozy in the afternoon light. I’m going to have to start looking for a shop that make the cushions for our built-in couch. This desk area easily sits 2 and I already have plans for a dual Dell 24-inch monitors.


Also very happy with the living room. Kudos to Lara’s decision to paint expand the color onto the larger wall surface. The original plan was to have a small accent at the end. But this is much more striking. The adjacent wall on the right is a light gray, and we’re thinking that we could have gone a slightly darker shade.


Bathroom has a light gray blue on the sides whereas center and ceiling is an eggshell white.


Next steps for 2F is to install the kitchen, then they will varnish the oak wood floor and pillars. So far it all looks like we are on track for a Feb.12th move.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chapter 34 – Kid Holiday painting (Day 142)

A full year into this building a home project and I’ve heard so many horror stories about poor quality materials, workmanship or lack of experience. Painted walls is one of those things I’m a little bit concerned since most Japanese homes have wall paper and it’s a lot easier to hide dry wall imperfections. But it puts me at ease that the job is currently being done by just one person with many years of experience, and the hope is that it will be uniformly well accomplished.

We’ve wanted the kids to be involved throughout the process as we feel it’s important for them to understand all the work that goes into it. Below is the girls bedroom which they will share. Instead creating 2 small bedrooms we opted to make them room 14 tatami in size or about 250 square feet (large by Japanese standards) Each child got to pick an accent color for rooms. Ishan our oldest boy picked a strong evening blue. Iva chose pink and Saya chose Baby Blue.


But no free lunch at our home. Everyone needs to chip in. So we coordinated with the builders for the kids to help with the painting. Below our Saya (7) and Iva (8) are applying the base color with the rollers under careful supervision. A note about paint fumes. There were none: EcoFlat 100 by Nihon Paint is a water soluble paint with low VOC rated 4-stars.


Between the 3 kids they were able to finish 1 coat in about 1 hour which was a lot faster and easier than anticipated.