Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We got licensed!

We finally have a home business license so my husband, a speech pathologist, can start seeing clients inside our very own house.  It was hard to pull this off.  We are relieved. We had a number of barriers along the way.

The Faux Floor Fiasco
I stained the floors myself, when I was eight months pregnant with my last child.  This involved crouching over my enormous belly and attacking the floor with three different colors of die in spray bottles.  If I had to do it again, I would buy airbrushes.  The final effect of the cheap spray bottles was fine, but my hands ached for days afterward and the bottles kept breaking, so I used several  (although even several cheap bottles was probably less expensive than buying three airbrushes.)  Oh, and my back hurt for days, too.  I don't think you're supposed to spend hours crawling when you are that pregnant.  (It was a harmless, water-based die, though, so no inhalation problems.  The kid was not born with an extra arm or anything.)

Twenty-four hours later, after the die was supposed to have set, according to the instructions on the can, we examined my work.  The die seemed to have turned into chalk and it rubbed right off when you stepped on it.  I was mortified.  We concluded that the unusually frigid fall temperatures may have sabotaged my project.  We didn't have heat in that part of the house yet, and with only colder weather on its way, we covered the whole floor with plastic and decided to revisit this project in the spring.

Restroom: Hard to see, but my talented hubby crafted curved shelves that wrap around the path of the open mirror cabinet. The cat is not a permanent fixture; she just wanted to pose for the photo.


The hills are a chalkboard for the kids.

Cool shelves behind the desk camouflage a plumbing area in the corner.

My husband and brother-in-law threw in a shower at the last minute in the corner of the restroom. Completely unnecessary for the office, but not an expensive change and why not have a 3/4 bath instead of a 1/2?
Come spring, my benevolent parents came to help us try to establish that office.  We pulled off the plastic and started washing the floors to try again.  To our shock, the chalk washed off--and stained floors were discovered underneath it!  It had worked, after all, and all we had to do was clean the floors and add the sealer!  Hurray!

Note:  If you ever want the option of staining concrete at your house, warn the construction workers to only use pencil or chalk, no permanent markers, for measuring marks.  Believe it or not, you also have to tell them to do this on your walls, even those that are already painted.

The Concrete Barrier
Our office is in the basement, but has a ramp leading down to it to accommodate the many clients with disabilities that my husband treats.  When the addition to the house that includes the office was under construction, my clever hubby suggested that the construction team deviate from the original plan and extend the roof over the ramp, adding columns matching those on our front porch, in order to prevent snow from building up in the ramp.  The end result is very cool--it looks like our porch wraps around the house, instead of leaving an ugly exposed ramp.

The ramp wraps halfway around the house before it reaches ground level, so we needed to add a sidewalk to get to the ramp from the driveway.  Actually, we needed to add the driveway, itself, since the new addition was located where the old driveway used to be.  It was November when we finally got a concrete crew out.  They finished the driveway, and most of the walkway, but left two squares of concrete undone, the two that would have connected the sidewalk to the ramp.  Then it was too cold to finish the job, so entering the office involved going down a sidewalk to a mud trap that you had to somehow survive before you reached the concrete ramp that took you the rest of the way there.  Not exactly ADA compliant.

Contractors generally turn their noses up at such tiny projects and so we were stuck with the mud trap until almost a year later when my husband worked up the nerve to try to pour it himself.  My dad helped him and they did a great job; the sidewalk turned out beautifully and the mud trap is no more.

The First Attempt
We tried to apply for our license for the first time last spring.  We still didn't have those missing squares in the walkway, but I temporarily filled in the gap with pavers and crossed my fingers that would suffice for the time. My husband and brother-in-law got the heat working and my family came over and helped us finish up painting.

The city denied our application due to unfinished landscaping.  We knew you had to comply with city code to get the license, but our unfinished yard was not considered illegal because the house was being remodeled.  Apparently, you have to finish remodeling before you can get the license.

This failed attempt made us a little wary of trying again.  We were very detail-oriented on our second try.  We even had "no smoking" and "restroom" signage, art, and magazine rack with magazines in place.  As for that yard...I have tried, hard, to grow things in that lousy soil and sometimes the results even looked nice...but not consistently.  I was always scared that the inspector would show up on one of those not-so-pretty days, so after the snow started falling, it occurred to us that we should get that application in now, while the yard was  covered.

Even though we reapplied in December, I was still feeling a little paranoid, so I did quite a bit of winter yard work to make sure things were spiffy enough out there. A concerned neighbor asked me if he couldn't send over his sons to do whatever crazy project I was trying to do out in the snow while in my third trimester of pregnancy.  (Hey, at least being pregnant keeps you warmer.)

We didn't hear from the city for a long time and finally called to inquire.  We had learned last time, when we didn't find out we were denied until we called and asked, that no news is bad news.  However, this time all was in order--except for the code compliance officer signature.  He or she had not yet checked out our yard.  And it was February and the snow had melted!  I was scared.  But the very next day, they called back and said the license was in the mail.  Hurray!