Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Our Budget

It's been a while since I posted about money. We're on the home stretch now so I thought I'd give an update.

Like most every house ever built, I am over budget. There are three main reasons why:

  1. The exchange rate to the kronor was a lot worse than my plan at the time I purchased the house. This alone added about 10% to the cost, although I am getting a little of that back now, since the dollar is stronger than I had planned. But the damage has already been done.
  2. The helicopter was a significant unplanned expense, which represented about 3% extra on the budget.
  3. My two main budgeting underestimations were on the electricity and finishing the bathroom, which combined represent about a 6% overage.
In total, then, you could say that I was about 20% over budget, with half of that due to currency exchange.

Based on the estimates I have from Wille, Janne, and Tommy, I should just about be able to finish off the house with available funds. Paying for our month's holiday this summer, and the new roof in the fall, may require selling off a family jewel or two, but that's a topic for another post!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Travel Plans

As I posted last month, I will be going back next weekend for a 20th reunion with my workmates in Stockholm. Since Monday the 4th is a holiday here in the UK, I'm going to stay behind and spend Sunday/Monday on Aspö and go home Monday night.

My main task will be to stain the deck; I can give it a coat each on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning before I catch the mid-day boat home.

I'm also planning to come back the last weekend of May as well. Wille, Janne, and Tommy should all be done with their projects by then. I thought it'd be good to have a final check before we all show up in June, planning to stay a month.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Door Locks

I mentioned that I had installed the door hardware successfully last week, which was one task I was especially pleased with. When we left last Saturday, I locked the door behind me, which struck me as a milestone; our little cabin was just like a real house now.

Of course, that gives us keys to worry about. I gave one each to Wille and Janne, and we hid another in a place agreed upon with Anders and Tommy so they can get in and out. That should be enough, although I will probably get copies made for Tony and Ronnie, too.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rutger the consumer advocate

Rutger was pretty annoyed about the shipping problems I experienced last week. Since he set everything up on my behalf, he felt responsible, although I tried hard not to make him feel that way. But Rutger's that kind of guy.

He's spent the past couple of days chasing down the responsible parties and has received an admission of error and an apology. Now he is chasing financial compensation. Since the shipping was 1200 kronor (£100), it's probably worth asking for some money back.

I told Rutger he could keep any refunds, to help pay for all of the gas I've burned in his Volvo! I'll report back if he has any success.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


My favourite feature of the house is the big front deck that thrusts out over the rock. The problem is that it's about 4-5 feet high, and if someone were to take a spill off the edge, it would be pretty serious. The risk is even higher for visiting children and dogs, too. (Especially squirrel-chasing corgis with surgically-repaired backs.)

I really want to keep the deck unobstructed but I also think it's prudent to have something that protects the edge when we have guests.

From my time living in Dallas, I saw many removable mesh pool fences, like the one pictured above. They are on poles which fit into the ground and are kept under tension to keep kids out of the pool. The big advantage is they can be easily pulled out and rolled up, so we can keep the deck clear between visitors and parties.

I'm talking to a couple of fence providers in the US and UK; my thought is to attach brackets at the edge of the deck and insert the poles there, so everything stays flush and out of the way when the fence is removed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Home in London

It's Sunday night, we're home and unpacking; remember that Sooz and Grant were away for two weeks so there's a lot of stuff. We picked up Ollie on the way home and he's in good shape and very happy to see us.

Before we left, I took a trip to Bauhaus with Rutger for a few more supplies. I also got a new SIM card for my phone from Tele2; my previous phone had almost no coverage at the house, making it pretty much unusable. Tele2 apparently has much better coverage on our part of the island.

I also talked to Wille about the remaining tasks at the house, he's all set to come back in early May to finish things off.

Now it's time to return to the real world...!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Back at Marcia and Rutger's

We had a breakneck start to the day, finishing off the garderobes (some glue was involved due to an accident which I wasn't too happy with myself about), bringing our leftovers to Janne, and cleaning up in general. It was a lot colder and windier today; in fact there was a one-minute snow shower!

The boat ride was pretty empty, people usually go to the islands on Saturday, not from. We took the subway up to Margaret's shop, which was very busy, unfortunately due to her closing down sale. But it was super as always to see her, with the bonus of knowing now that she'll be on Aspö all summer.

We're all now freshly showered and ready for a good night's sleep at Rutger's. Back to London tomorrow afternoon. Fresh photos in the webgallery.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Finishing up

Another sunny day, of which we took full advantage; lots of cleaning up and assembling various IKEA furniture. We finished Grant's bunk beds, Sooz did her second coat of stain, and we moved the lumber for the stairs up from the dock.

Sooz thinks we all got some sun on our faces, but I think we're just flushed from our exertions, although in my case at least, it might just be blood pressure.

Meatballs for dinner (the Swedish kind of course), and an early night. We leave on a 12:05 boat tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lots happening today

It's after 10PM and we're all beat so just a quick update.
  • Wille decided not to come back out as he just needed to do the garderobes today and since he has one more trip to make, he'll get it all done then.
  • Tommy and Anders came out as planned. Janne came over and we all had a good conversation, mostly in Swedish! But the bottom line is that everything will be done the way we had planned, in the first half of May. The bad news is that it'll be about a third more than my budget.
  • The goods boat finally arrived and we managed to hike everything up to the house. Thank goodness for Janne's ATV; we just had to hand-carry over the difficult bits uphill from the dock and overland to the house. But that part just about did me in!
  • Grant had great success with the fire; we started with 4 big piles of brush and scrap and now there's only one. And Sooz continued her work with staining the trim.
I downloaded LOST off iTunes and we watched it together on our new sofa. Now Grant is watching the Cubs and I'm listening to the City- Hamburg match. Ain't life grand?

UPDATE: Well the Cubs and City both lost; some things never change. Also note there are more photos posted in the webgallery.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A nice evening

We just got back from Janne's for a group dinner with Tony, too. Sooz made chili and we got to take showers at Janne's, which felt great.

A productive day today, finishing off lots of little things, although I have to say I felt like we found at least one new thing to do for every one we completed. That's the nature of the finishing details, I guess, although it is a little tiring.

Tomorrow morning, Tommy and Anders will come by to talk about the bathroom, joined by Janne and Wille, so we should settle everything then. The garderobes arrive (along with the rest of the furniture) at noon, so it'll be another busy day.

Sooz was busy staining all the window frames and doors, and Grant tended the fire all day. We also installed the sky chair and it's pretty cool.

Right now, Grant is sharing my internet connection and is watching the Cubs play the Rockies live from Wrigley Field in his bedroom. I think that's pretty cool.

The shipping mystery has been solved

I checked on the internet this morning and confirmed that I had paid the freight charges on March 24th. I talked to Helen at Waxholmsbolaget, who spoke English very well and was quite switched on. She checked and confirmed that I had indeed paid, although I hadn't faxed confirmation as they wanted.

That seemed strange to me as I didn't do that last time, and they did have my money after all. But no point in arguing at this point as the boat only comes this way on Tuesday and Thursday. They are planning on a noon delivery tomorrow. Once I get home and talk to Rutger, I'll sort this out.

It is a nice sunny day today and we're all busy on various projects. Sooz is staining the doors and window frames and Grant is manning the fire. Photos are being added to the gallery as I get time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wow am I annoyed

I went to the dock around 2:30 to check on our IKEA delivery but the dock was bare. After a number of calls, I finally found out that our order was indeed on the boat and went to Aspö, but the delivery wasn't made because I wasn't there to pay the freight charges.

Apparently, Waxholmsbolaget didn't have any record of my paying in advance (I swear I did, but can't check right now). In any case, they didn't call me or Rutger, both of whose numbers were on the paperwork. So they left, and I have to sort it out tomorrow, with an earliest delivery now on Thursday. Annoying to be so close and so far, especially since Sooz cooled her heels on the dock for three hours this morning and watched them load our stuff. If only we had known.

We have plenty to keep us occupied tomorrow and Thursday morning, however, so we should be OK. Willie put the new doors in, and I managed to fit the door hardware successfully at last. He's finishing off the little house, and we'll fill it up tomorrow with all of our various purchases so there's room for the IKEA delivery, hopefully on Thursday. Arrgh.

At least we have dinner with Janne to look forward to tomorrow night.


We had a lot more stuff in Marcia and Rutger's garage than I realised, and with the table/chair set we bought yesterday, there was quite a load to take out to Aspö. We wanted to take advantage of the boat Wille hired, so we looked into a taxi to carry everything to Stavsnäs. However, that was quite expensive, with no guarantee of the size of the van.

Ultimately, we decided to take Rutger's Volvo at 5AM, load it up to the gills, and drop all our stuff at the dock, with Sooz staying behind to watch over it. I drove back to Jarfällä to drop off Rutger's car, and then Grant and I took the bus back to Stavsnäs to meet Wille and load up the boat. Fortunately, everything worked as planned and we're safely on the island with all our gear. Phew!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Back to Bauhaus

Sooz and Grant arrived ontime from Newark on Malaysian, only a little worse for wear from their overnight trip.

We stopped by Bauhaus on our way home, and they had an Easter weekend sale on a nice teak outdoor table set with 4 chairs, 2000kr off the original price. Everybody liked it, so we loaded it up in the car. Getting it to Aspö will be a bit of a chore, though!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Here in Stockholm

I arrived yesterday, Marcia's birthday, and it was warm and sunny. Today, it's even nicer, as evidenced by the Sandhamn-cam snapshot. Thankfully, the forecast is pretty decent for the upcoming week, too. However, Margaret was absolutely right about the pollen; I can feel my allergies kicking in already.

Today I'm off to Bauhaus to pick up a few items and check out outdoor furniture. Sooz and Grant are in New Jersey today, and will be flying in overnight on Malaysian Airlines. We've got a big birthday bash on Monday and then we're joining Wille for the trip to Aspö on Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's soupy on Sandhamn!

Very murky on the webcam today. The weather forecast is improving for the weekend but it looks like more fog and mist next week.

Monday, April 6, 2009

One week to go

I talked to Janne over the weekend. He said it was getting warmer out on Aspö, but it's been a cold and wet winter. He'll turn on the heat a day before to give the house a chance to warm up.

The lumber for the stairs is already on the midsummer dock and Grant and I will carry it up; I can't add too much sweat equity other than hauling stuff, so it's good to do that. Grant will be on fire duty as this is the last good chance to burn the piles of brush we have left. Fires during the summer months aren't allowed, which makes sense, but puts the onus on us to clear as much as we can now.

Janne also plans to confer with Anders and Tommy when they're up to visit, he wants to be sure we decide jointly and in detail who will do exactly what when it comes to the water and plumbing. That should be easy to do when we all talk face-to-face. Janne's built enough houses to know that good communication is important!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Info from Margaret

Marg sent an email today with a very important tip:

"I'm particularly thinking of the lumber Don & Grant will be carrying up...if like I you get allergies, the pollen nightmare exploded here yesterday, big time - we went for shots this morning. If you think you'll be affected out there bring pills (stuff from the UK is probably better than Apotek!) and plenty of hankies. Without the shot I'd be sneezing so much I'd never be able to carry anything!

Spring has at least made a first's beautiful here - blue sky, warmer temperatures. I'm not quite ready to give up my winter coat, but it is beautiful. Particularly if you like the golden shade of pollen coating everything within sight ; )"

She's right about the allergies; Grant and I are both have pretty decent hay fever. When in the US next week, Sooz plans to stock up on a wide range of supplies from a local Target or Wal-Mart, and she'll be sure now to concentrate on the strongest allergy stuff she can find.

I'm also glad to see her news about the weather. I've become increasingly worried about the Sandhamn forecast, with tonight's low supposed to be -1ºC (30ºF). We managed a day (and night) in the house when it was a bit warmer. I don't think we could handle a week at that temperature! But perhaps a little sunshine will make the stay much more manageable.

Wille has an update

He said the new doors have been delivered, so we're ready to bring them when we're there in 10 days. Wille is also arranging a taxi boat for all of us and our stuff from Stavsnäs on the morning of the 14th.

In more disappointing news, Leksand lost last night to AIK Stockholm. This ends their playoff push, which is a shame considering they won their division. Hopefully Wille will be past his sorrows by the time we see him.

An interesting post-script is that I've somehow attracted some hockey trash talk on the blog...!