Our Home: An Update

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

It's hard to believe that we've been in our new house for four months already. It doesn't seem like that long...especially in the world of home renovation where every little thing takes at least a two-week minimum. We've made some progress these last few months, though, and we're getting a lot closer to the major changes. It's crazy the amount of tiny things that have to get done before the noticeable improvements can happen! Looking back, there are definitely things we would've done differently as far as planning, but we're giving ourselves some grace since we basically jumped into a house renovation with absolutely no idea of what we were doing. To say it has been a learning experience is an understatement. We're getting ready to head into another slew of projects, so I thought now would be a good time to jot down an update on our progress these last few months.

Painting the bedrooms was a project I thought I'd knock out quickly while Mark worked on other things, but it actually took much longer than I was anticipating. In addition to painting the walls, we also needed to paint the ceilings, trim, closet doors, bedroom doors, baseboards, and windows. (Let's just say, priming and painting French window panes was not my idea of a fun time!) All of the doors and trim had been painted previously with an oil-based paint, so they all needed to be sanded, primed, and then painted with multiple coats in order for the new paint to stick. It was an ordeal, but we made it through. We pulled up the carpet in each room as we painted and I spent more evenings than I can count crawling on the floor, pulling out carpet staples. In the end, we were left with almost-mint condition hardwoods. We're planning to refinish them down the road, but for now, they'll do just fine.

Looking back, we've debated whether we should have held off on the bedrooms and worked solely on the kitchen remodel instead. There are still a lot of ticky-tack things that need to be done in the kitchen area before our cabinets can be installed and it probably would have been more time-efficient to have worked on those instead of the bedrooms. BUT, on the other hand, having our room put together has made a world of difference. There were several weeks after we moved in that felt like we were just living in someone else's house. Everything felt foreign and out-dated, but re-doing our bedroom has done wonders to make it feel more like our own. Right now, it's the only room in the house that's even remotely close to being finished, and it feels good to have a clean, construction-free zone to relax in at the end of the day.

The other two bedrooms are close to being finished in terms of remodeling work, but they're still pretty bare. One is set up as a guest room and I'm using the other as my office. I'm trying not to get hung up on decorating yet since there are more important things that we need to spend our pennies on (a kitchen floor, for example), but just having bare, clean rooms feels good when the rest of the house is filled with drills and pipe cutters and every size screw imaginable.

One of the joys of buying a 1960's house is having all 1960's electrical work. Mark has been slowly rewiring all of the outlets so we can have three-pronged outlets instead of using adapters in everywhere. We've also been adding in a few more outlets where it makes sense.

The kitchen still looks like a complete construction zone, but we've actually made a lot of progress in this area! The big news is that we ordered our kitchen cabinets! We ended up going with a local cabinet maker. They are very busy at the moment, so it's taking longer than usual for them to build our cabinets but it's actually working out in our favor since we need additional time to finish up that list of ticky-tack items I mentioned earlier. After tearing up the original vinyl flooring, we noticed a few sections of subfloor that needed to be replaced. We've been working on adding in new pieces, supporting them properly, and then securing them down. We finally screwed in the last piece of subfloor last weekend! Next up is plumbing and electrical work.

Before we even bought this house, we knew we wanted to open it up by getting rid of several interior walls — specifically, a wall that separated the family room from the formal living room and another wall that separated the kitchen and dining room. It just so happened that this was the main load-bearing wall that runs through the middle of the house, so we had an engineer come out to tell us whether we could replace it with a recessed beam. Turns out, you can replace anything with a beam as long as its strong enough! This is the big looming project right now that I'm dying to get done. We've priced our beam and bought lumber to frame a wall in the basement that will support the load down there. Once the basement wall is built, we'll need to put up a temporary wall to support the house while the beam is going in. It's all very technical and a little frightening, but it'll be a huge step forward once that is done. In the meantime, Mark and I have taken out a few non-load bearing walls — one that separated the dining room from the living room and the laundry room wall (more on that later), so it's much easier to visualize how things will look all opened up.

This was a surprise item that popped up most unwelcome and unexpected. Long story short, we found out the hard way that our septic tank was filled with roots and the drain field on the verge of failing. The septic tank had been inspected and pumped during our due diligence period of purchasing the house, but the company that was involved was doing some sketchy work and presented us and the seller with two very different documents. We called the seller about it and, thankfully, he was willing to work with us to get the septic tank fixed and a new drain field put in. I think I aged 30-years in one week while this was going on. You really don't understand the stress of adulthood until the bill for a new drain field is dropped in your lap one month after gutting half your house. Ugh! This is one item on the list that I'm so glad is over and done with.

The photos above show the laundry room as it was when we moved in and after we started the demo process. (It's that small room at the end of the hallway). I went back and forth on useful ways to use the hallway off the kitchen that leads to the laundry room. Ultimately, we decided to make the laundry room bigger by turning that hallway into part of the laundry room. We tore down the existing wall and moved it just past the window in the photo up above. The added space has given us room to add a sink and countertop in the laundry room which I'm really excited about!

In the grand scheme of things, we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but it's nice to know that every little thing we've done so far is one less thing that needs to be done. Progress is slow, but we're getting there!

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  1. Oh my word! So much work! Glad you were able to sort out your septic tank. Our first house (the one in Frederick) flooded the day we bought it. I couldn't believe it! But luckily, it was a minor repair and the cleanup and fix was covered by the seller. Weird stuff does happen!


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