Saturday, October 25, 2008


Since my last post, we have been so busy running to and fro, keeping contractors from stepping on one another, and working hard! Unfortunately, I was only able to work with the electrician on Wednesday morning and we spent most of the time ripping down the kitchen ceiling and cleaning up fallen insulation (add new insulation in attic to "to do" list and unexpected expenses...). I did have a brief moment of "hmmm, maybe we should raise the ceiling and add skylights" before snapping back to reality. While I didn't learn much about electrical renovation, we did make progress, and now the kitchen is wired!

On Wednesday and Thursday night, I re tiled the bathroom - it came out pretty well. There are a few spots that are messy and a few tiles I need to cut with a better saw that that dinky manual tile cutter, but overall I am pleased.

We hired someone to refinish our floors upstairs, and they started work yesterday. Apparently, there was no love lost between him and the electrician - almost had to break up a little territory fight - but they are doing beautiful work. Sanding the floors alone was a tremendous improvement. The second coat of sealer went on this morning, and they are really sparkling! The best part is they are using a water based low VOC sealer that really has no smell and is very safe to breathe, so Honey and I have been able to work while they seal and I have had no qualms about bringing Peanut around. They were hoping to be done today, but it is pouring and the sealer is taking a long time to dry, so the last coat wont go on until Monday. That will push some of the planned work for Monday, but there is much to do downstairs, so we will stay busy.

Honey and I finished the rec room floor and laid the office floor today. We went out and got all of the trim and base molding as well. We started at the Habitat Restore where trim is $2 a piece no matter what it is - that is really good! They have a lot of laminate and finished wood trim and we were looking for unfinished wood, so we only found two pieces - cost $4 but if we had bought them at Home Depot where we got our other trim they would have easily been $12-18. We saved those two pieces from a landfill and put a few dollars to a charity. I think they have a vanity sink top that might work for us too - we'll have to go back next week. They had a six burner gas stainless steel cook top and an exhaust hood that came from a display - all for under $2k. I almost cried - if only we didn't have our whole kitchen planned and in the works - I would work around those in an instant! It is a place to check out if you haven't been.

On the green front, I think we are doing pretty well. I would have liked to use recycled tiles in the bathroom, but they are really expensive. Had we done it ourselves from scratch, I think we would have gotten a lot of the tile and grout at the Restore. Since we had hired someone to do a fast no nonsense bath, we veered from course there, and obviously that did not work out for us! We have been doing a good job of reusing wood and other things from the house as we go, and have of course done all low/no VOC finishes.

Our next task will be to check out insulation options. Our outside kitchen wall is very thin and can't take extra insulation. Of course if we had figured that out before running the gas line, we could have added a true framed 2x4 wall and had no issues. But, our range installation guide is really specific and we didn't get everyone coordinated on this so we are going to just deal with the 1/2" insulation dilemma. We have also heard some about a spray on insulation for the attic that sounds really interesting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ranger Jim Would Be So Proud

Honey and I have missed our dads quite a lot throughout this whole process. They would have both been down here discussing the best way to do this or that, and instead of us busting our rears we would probably be getting them beers and kicking back a little more. His dad installed heating and air conditioning and could pretty much build or fix anything. My dad never met a project he didn't like. Growing up I truly thought he could build, fix, or make anything better. I know my "no fear" attitude towards home improvement came from him - you can always fix something if you break it - it's just stuff.

We had a guy who worked on our house when I was growing up named Charley Jones. He was a rough guy, smoked his cigarettes and gave one word answers. My dad always worked with him and learned as he went as well as got a better price on whatever renovation they were doing. Well, tomorrow starts my first apprenticeship a la Charley Jones. I'll be spending the next two days working with our electrician to wire our kitchen so I can learn as well as keep our costs down. When he offered this deal, I had to laugh - dad would be thrilled to learn about circuits and daisy chains and whatever else I'll be doing!

After a little more tiling last night I came to the rude realization that although my tile work looks pretty good, I was using the wrong mastic, using too much of it, and that we would need to remove it all and start over. So I got new bigger tiles today and all of the right supplies and Honey is over there right now prepping the wall all over again. One step forward, two steps back. On a better note, the plumbing was mostly done today - the only issue that remains is a leak in the gas line to the hot water heater. So we don't have hot water, but we do have water and heat!

Our current plan is to move in next Wednesday. Hmmmm. We are looking for a small refrigerator to set up our kitchenette in the office, and I've started packing some boxes. At least we will have the apartment until the 31st to shower and cook if we need to camp out here a little. Maybe it will make us eat more raw foods and do a little healthier cuisine for a while. I tend to think we might be grubbing for meals more than we think.

Peanut has been enjoying her visits to the house now that she can get down and move around in there a bit more. I had forgotten how much she loves to go up and down stairs! She loves to see the joggers and their dogs come by - she is always running down the hill towards them yelling "goggie!". At the apartment today, she had almost every toy she owns out in the living room and I was just envisioning the cozy rec room with all of her stuff and how nice it will be to once again have some more space so the toys don't look as though they are outnumbering us!

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Skills

Another hard working weekend has come and gone. We were all set to get down to business on Saturday when we got to the house and then, we had an unexpected development. I popped into the bathroom downstairs and noticed the bathroom ceiling dripping. OK. So I investigate, and find the bathtub faucet dripping. I try to shut it off but I can't, and the drain is not in right so it is dripping down around the drain and below the tub. I call the plumber to see if he noticed anything Friday, but he has not been working in that room at all, so he says he can come Monday to check it out and meanwhile we should shut the main off to stop the drip. After doing this, I cut into the very soggy ceiling with my utility knife and the whole area comes down on the floor dripping wet! I am thinking "Oh no! I was not prepared for all of this!"

So Honey arrives and takes in the scene, and after I cry a bit, we decide to clean the floors, paint the bedroom trim and deal with the vanity in the upstairs bathroom rather than think about the new leak. We got the floors cleaned up and covered with moisture barrier downstairs in the rec room in preparation for laying the cork floor on Sunday. The trim paint makes the bedroom walls pop - it needs one more coat but looks really pretty now. Unfortunately, we did have to demolish the vanity cabinet to get it out of the bathroom.

On Sunday, I learned how to tile. I got a few rows of 3 x 6 subway tile in before I realized what a huge mistake I had made choosing a smaller tile. I should have picked up the box of 4 x 8's! It's not hard, just tedious. We laid most of the rec room floor, and got much better at maintaining the proper spacing at the walls as we went along. We are planning on having some really substantial molding to cover up some big spaces we left before we knew better :). The cork does look really pretty and it is so cushy to walk on!

We got a call from the contractor who had a solution for us. He wanted to go half and half on a new vanity cabinet and keep on working on the house. After a long and heated discussion, we decided that since we didn't trust him to complete the work without jerry rigging something that we would not go that route thank you very much. Turns out, he felt that since the plumber and electrician were cutting up the walls, that he could do so too! Never mind that they are doing major system reconstruction and that they each asked prior to chopping a hole, and that the holes are all in the utility room, a closet ceiling, and the back room behind the rec room. He also was pretty upset with me for hiring painters. At least he admitted that. He still feels that I am a little nuts for being so upset...Anyway - he will drop off the key this week.

Today, (and Saturday) I had to work a little bit (Oh man - it's hard to go back!) and then met the plumber to talk about the bathroom. He needs to replace the whole tub drain assembly and will fix the toilet flange too so we can install a toilet without a big production. I'm planning on going over to tile tonight and probably every night this week. I'm also leaning some electrical stuff this week! Our electrician has agreed to let me "work" for him while he wires our kitchen in order to bring the project cost down. I'll save a bit of cash and lean some new skills too!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

You Did WHAT?????

I knew we had to hit some rough waters at some point. Thus far, our issues have been purely mechanical - the unexpected expenses coming from what we have found lurking behind the walls. I have been so pleased that I found a plumber and electrician we love, the painters have been great so far, and our contractor has been fine. Coming from someone who swore off all contractors after our last house remodel, this is a big deal. Today, my dislike of contractors was once again validated.

Last night, I sent Honey over to the house to lock up and check all the windows, etc. He found two of our guys finishing up with the bathroom and heading out. When he came home he said the vanity top was a little high and covered part of the electrical outlet. Maybe the vanity was sitting on something or not quite in yet - give the guys the benefit of the doubt - but he alerted me to check it out in the morning. So this morning, the house greets me with its beautiful new less colorful interior and I am happy. I do my rounds as usual, and everything is neat and orderly and work seems to be moving along.

As I turn on the bathroom light, I start to sweat. The vanity is in place, but the backsplash covers the bottom of the outlet. That is not nearly the issue though. The drywall has been cut out on the left side of the vanity and the studs have been shaved down in order to make it fit. Clearly, the vanity is the wrong size for the room. In addition, the sink is in the center, when we specifically discussed pushing the sink to the right so you would not have to sit on the toilet while you wash your hands. So, I stress, and I start painting. I'm fuming as the plumber arrives, the painters arrive, and finally the contractor. When I broached the subject of the vanity being the wrong size and maybe we should fit the cabinet to the room rather than destroying the room to fit the cabinet, he becomes agitated and tells me basically that it is my fault - I had already seen the cabinet in the living room and liked it. Since I didn't go and measure to check his work (which I should have!) I can't see how liking the cabinet amounts to knowing it will fit and set up the way we discussed. He's the contractor - I assume that is what he knows how to do. Bad assumption.

Anyway, we don't come up with a solution - he spends a lot of time telling me how he will shave down the drawers so they will still open and that the drywall can be shoved in there too, and no, Peanut will not trash the drywall the minute she opens the drawer... then he says if I don't want to deal with all of that then we need a custom cabinet and I agree. He and I both go off and continue working.

Well, if you can believe it, there is more. I leave to pick up Peanut from daycare, and then we come back to check on all of the work in the late afternoon. All of the contractors tools, equipment, truck, trailer, lawn sign, and stuff is gone. There is a printout on the vanity of a custom cabinet plan from Home Depot. I can't tell if this is what he ordered, something I am supposed to consider, or just so I know how much it will cost. No call, no note. Clearly, this is pushing a big button for him. Things like this happen with remodeling all of the time. I have never ever seen or heard of anything like this. Our bathroom has no wall tile, no fixtures, no light, medicine cabinet, no functional vanity, no toilet, and a completely destroyed wall! It looks like he finished (I say that loosely - there is no knob and the nails are sticking out and it's not plumb) installing the door to our bedroom. He still has not wired the lights in the gym, so we have random
wires hanging down in a dark room.

So I left a message on his cell, saying gosh I noticed all your stuff was gone and this printout here...what is it for? What is the plan? I've done the math and it looks like we might be OK - what we owe seems to be just about what he has yet to do. I am now faced with a half done bathroom that really needs to be functional within two weeks...and I need to figure out what to do about the studs. I think I will sister them if I can. Oy.

On the positive side of the day - our kitchen cabinets arrived and although they are in a million boxes, they are beautiful! So our weekend will likely be fixing the bathroom instead of laying the cork flooring downstairs as planned. Oh well - we could stand to learn something new.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Build It And They Will Come

Contractors descended upon the house this morning. At about 9:30 I realized that I had scheduled too many people for the same day! It all worked out fine - no one tripped over anyone else - buy boy there was a lot going on!

We've hired painters to do all of the patching, priming and painting in our living room, foyer, hall and rec room. There were just too many holes to patch and the foyer is too tall for me to get up there - I'm leaving that to the pros. They started this morning and by this afternoon the house was transformed. A skim coat on the gray splotchy faux finish made the walls smooth and clean, and the new primer makes everything bigger and sunnier. I spent the morning doing the second coat of paint on the bedroom walls upstairs and the insides of the closet in Peanut's room. I just can't stand the idea of her stuff touching old filth. Better to be on clean new paint.

Our heating folks also came to install the new duct work. We had some parts missing as the folks who lived here before had an electronic air filter that they took with them and just left the space between the furnace and the duct empty. Got to love that. Well, we discovered more missing today. On the left side of the furnace, the return is missing the back and side! It has a front and top so it looks fine until you look at it from the inside, when you notice it is not a duct but a piece of metal bent to look like a duct. In order to get to that to fix it, either the water heater needs to move or we need to cut a hole in the wall in the hallway. Drywall is cheaper than plumbing...

Contractor Mark came by and went over the kitchen plans with me. We may have him do our drywall in there and just hang the cabinets ourselves. He finished the grouting in the bathroom, taped and mudded a wall, and primed the bathroom walls. I picked out some tiles this afternoon for the shower (finally!) and went back to the house to show him, but he must have been all done with the chaos. I'll catch him tomorrow I'm sure.

The plumber came in and made the kitchen plumbing right! No more are there pipes along the floor and walls in the kitchen - they pop up out of the floor under the sink where they ought to be. We had the water shut off today so he can continue the work on the main. This is the time when I am so happy to have a well - at least we have water for clean up outside!

Our chimney was cleaned and inspected - it was filthy as anticipated. It also has some loose bricks, a big gap in the liner, and basically we can't use it until it is fixed. We have been living without a fireplace for quite some time - I'm not concerned about making it through the winter without it really. It is on the bottom of the priority list.

Two weeks from today we are moving in. That seems a little nuts, but I think we can have our bedrooms and the rec room set by then, which is really all we need for now. A microwave, mini fridge and some friends with a stove will keep us fed somewhat healthily for a few weeks until we can complete the kitchen. I'm just hopeful that we can get our hardwoods refinished before that day!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


My head is spinning will all that is still left to do and organize. As expected, we are finding the unexpected behind walls and so each step takes longer and more problem solving than we had planned for. We have a plumber and electrician we love and are having them help us wade through the craziness of this house's innards.

Our flooring arrived late last night (very late - I had to come home to put Peanut to bed and Honey had to bring in all 47 boxes on his own!) and can be installed once the basement walls are patched in the rec room and the office wall is taped and mudded. Hopefully that can be finished in time for Honey and I to lay the whole lower level floor this weekend. The bedrooms upstairs are now painted their true colors - they just need a second coat and the trim.

This morning I went to get a permit for the removal of the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Oh what a process! We were there for over two hours and still haven't completed the process. Peanut was signing "milk" and getting tired and crabby, so I decided to bail and finish this tomorrow. I was getting ready for the building review and it seemed the guy was being pretty picky, so I figured my little line drawing might not cut it anyway - I'll make a nice drawing and hope to get there early tomorrow.

This afternoon we'll go over to the house to check out the flooring, check in with contractor Mark, meet with the electrician about the kitchen, and make some decisions about who is doing our kitchen - us or someone else!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Things I Have Learned About Toilets

  • There are different sizes - 10", 12", and 14" rough ins - and ours is over 11" but not quite 12" which means that the toilets for a 12" will fit, but have less of a space behind the tank than they should.
  • Different toilet manufacturers give more or less room for a fudge factor with the rough in. Toto gives more space with some of their models than say Kohler.
  • There are lots of ways toilets work! Gravity assist, siphon....I don't even remember.
  • There are entire websites, group chats, and info sites devoted to toilet performance discussions and reviews!
  • Dual flush toilets are "hard to install" according to most people who don't buy into the dual flush idea overall.
  • There is a lot of discussion about how high the water is in the bowl and whether or not your kids can aim well enough that you don't have to constantly clean the bowl.
  • There are all kinds of high tech ways to reduce "skid marks". Who knew? The finish on the toilet, the size of the opening, the shape of the bowl... all things to consider.
  • I will go completely out of my mind choosing a toilet that will fit our rough in, work for our babe, us, our guests, and use less water, and stay clean, and not cost a fortune, and be simple to install.


What a difference a little paint makes! I am sore and tired, but all of the upstairs bedrooms are primed and their ceilings are painted - no more black and maroon walls! We had a little contest between Olympic (Lowes) no VOC primer and Sherwin Williams Harmony no VOC primer and the Harmony won hands down. The Olympic was runny and had trouble covering the dark colors while the Harmony was think and covered nicely. So, after the attempt to save some $ on paint failed, we promptly bought 8 about $400 worth of paint this weekend. The colors are beautiful - the ceilings already look so nice and warm with their "morning sun" glowy cream coats.

The tile is in on the bathroom floor and the last shreds of vinyl were pried up from the concrete floor downstairs today. Poor honey worked so hard at that - it was brutal. These tiles were really stuck to the concrete, which was a sad thing since all of our other flooring has come out so easily. Both of us have not been to the gym in a few days, but we certainly got our workouts this weekend. We used a power roller for much of the painting, which made it fast, but boy is it heavy! I'll have shoulders like Lara Croft by the time we are done.

The kitchen stud walls came down and we can really see how the layout will look. We've been going back and forth on finishing the kitchen ourselves or having our kitchen guy help out. He is supposed to come walk through on Wednesday and we are scheduled to start with him on Thursday. We go back and forth feeling as though we are already doing so much on our own so why not continue, and feeling like it might be nice to just hand it all over.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Just Fun Show and Tell

Here is an example of the craziness we see all over the house. This junction was behind the wall, without a junction box. The microwave was hardwired here. This wouldn't be so scary except the wire was pulled from the outlet that the range was connected to. So two appliances connected to one circuit with completely unsafe fire hazard wiring.

Here is a shot of our calendar on the apartment wall. It is the only way anyone remembers what the plan for each day is and what needs to be followed up on.

Well, this one is a little blurry, but you will note that the plumbing on the right is for the old washer and dryer that were in the kitchen, and the pipes come off of that set up and travel completely around the corner and wall to the sink area. All of the pipes are exposed, every cabinet must have been cut to make this work. The black pipe you see is the vent/drain and the smaller copper pipes at the floor are the hot and cold water lines. This, we did not anticipate - I really thought it was the other way around - the sink
branched off to the washer. Ah, wishful thinking!

Customer Service? Do We Have That?

It has been a heck of a day. Peanut and I met the plumber this morning and went over the plan for the day, then we dashed off to IKEA to order our kitchen cabinets. Since this will be my second IKEA kitchen, I have a clue as to what I am doing, and have already completed and reviewed the plan a million times on the planning tool. SO we get there and I upload the plan, print it out and I think "great - we should be out of here in no time!". Ahhhh, no. We got the brand new kitchen associate who took TWO HOURS to review and verify that all the parts were there and the doors were the right finish and the toe kicks were all there.... And then, we bought everything and went to set up delivery, when we discovered that the wine rack in our plan has been discontinued and it is out of stock! Well, if the wine rack goes that screws up my wall cabinet plan, so now I have to replace it with another cabinet. The act of "returning" the wine rack and replacing it with a cabinet and adding it to the current delivery order rather than me going to self serve for part of it and having the cabinet door sent UPS (!?) takes no less than five people and another 2 hours.

Meanwhile, my tiny one has been cooped up in her ERGO all day and is just itching to move. We finally get out of there and head back to the house. In my perfect world, our day included time to go home and have lunch and maybe spin around the playground. Since it is now 2:30pm, and I have not eaten and Peanut only had a little fruit and granola bar at IKEA, we must stop and grab a bite on the way to meet the contractor at 3pm. OK, it is the most horrific idea, but we stop at Burger King of all places! So I'm driving down the road and handing fries and bits of chicken over the back seat to my little one who hasn't the foggiest idea about fast food, but is saying "MMMM" every time I ask if she wants another. Oh yes, she loved it to my dismay. Of course, we arrived at the house, talked with the plumber (and paid him!), met up with my Honey, and got the tiles figured out with the contractor before I could finally sit down and wolf that whopper down. It is 9:30 and I am still feeling that mistake.

We are looking forward to a long weekend of work and hoping to get much done. On tap for tomorrow: prime all of the bedrooms, prep the floors downstairs for the cork, and finish taking the soffitts and wall down in the kitchen. We've also got a few more lights to install, and our contractor will hopefully be done tiling the bathroom floor and will be putting the wall up between the office and the utility room. We hope to finish all of the painting this week, lay the flooring next weekend, and start having the wiring and plumbing in the kitchen done while we build our cabinets which should arrive by the end of next week. We've got three more weekends before we move in!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cash is flying out of our hands

Even knowing how much work and how much money we had planned on putting into this house has not helped me feel any less stressed about actually writing the checks. Maybe it is a good sign, a sign that things are moving quickly and we will have a livable house very soon. Maybe it is a sign that our budget is not nearly enough for all of the help this house needs. I'm sure this doom and gloom economy is not helping the feeling that we are just watching our bank accounts disappear...

We do, however, have a great house and there really is a lot that has been accomplished so far. We are not even a week in to our renovation and we are ready to paint the bedrooms, the wall in the gym is down, the wall in the office is being rebuilt, the new bathtub is in, the bathroom subfloor and tile backer went in today, we have a new electrical panel with wiring to code, we have lights that work (and look good too) in most of the rooms, and the kitchen is completely gutted and ready to be new next week. Our appliances are being ordered tomorrow, our cork flooring arrives tomorrow, and I plan on ordering the kitchen cabinets tomorrow as well.

The systems of the house have been the most expensive and necessary part of this remodel so far. I've already mentioned a little about the electricity, we are now on to the water issues. The water main comes into the house at the front, goes through a closet, up a wall and through the utility room where it meets up with the water meeter. That is where the main shut off valve is right now. So, if there is a problem with the pipe from the main to the shut off, we have no way to stop the water aside from having the water company come and shut off the main at the street. So we have the plumber coming tomorrow morning to put a new main shut off valve on the water coming into the house, and help us figure out how to deal with the pipe running through the closet! He will also untie the well and city water - they were illegally attached when the prior owner did not pay his water bill and decided to just use the well for the whole house.

We continue to have luck with craigslist and freecycle. Our toilet went today and someone has claimed our vanity cabinets and laminate counter tops for pickup this weekend. Our metal scavenger was back today for the cast iron tub, the old electrical panel and meter, and all of the wire (I had no idea wire could be recycled!). We did order a dumpster to arrive on Saturday - we have quite a bit of old subflooring, drywall, carpet, and other non-recyclable things. Hopefully we will just need one, and we can continue to be careful with how much we toss.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The rest of our lives

I am so wrapped up in this renovation, that I forget about the rest of our lives. My tiny Peanut is getting to be such a big girl I can hardly stand it. She is such a joy - on all of our outings and errands and meeting with contractors, she is cheerful and social, and always gives a smile and wave. She makes my day, and sometimes I think she makes other people's too :) Our little family has been doing well throughout all of this stress, and we are all looking forward to our new home and neighborhood. I think the dog has no idea how she will love to bound around in that yard!

A tad bit sore

After such a productive weekend, I am felling a little like I am running in place today. We are getting ready for the energy star and watersense tax holiday next weekend, compiling a list of our appliances and fixtures and trying to find the best deal for it all. It should really pay off since we need every single appliance and new faucets and toilets throughout the house!

We had some more materials saved from the landfill - someone came from to pick up our discarded tiles from the kitchen. He planned on using them for a project with his church group. I'm still working on the range and all that leftover lumber. It seems there is a market for most anything.

We did choose our cork flooring for the lower level today and ordered online - that is one thing that has been amazing through this. Prices online are so much lower than the store! We got quotes of $10/square foot for cork and wound up paying just over $3 for the same thing on They will ship it to us and leave it on our driveway. Pretty nice. If you are willing to do the research, it is worth it.

Tomorrow the electrician arrives! He will ground the house (hmmm, seems pretty important...wonder why it was not grounded before?) and clean up all of the abandoned and hot wires in the utility room. I'm excited to give someone a tour without an electric shock warning! We also start to rebuild a wall, tear down another one and demo the hall bathroom upstairs. I'm just going to head over with Peanut in the morning, let everyone in and get out of their way. We'll head over to do some appliance shopping and price comparison at Bray and Scarf, Ferguson, and Sears.

I really understand now how hard general contractors work. Keeping track of each step of each project, ordering materials, prepping the site, and keeping things rolling is really time consuming. My hands are also sore from wielding a screwdriver, crowbar, and drill all weekend!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Much Less Stinky

Another busy day for us while sweet Peanut got to play. She stayed with her aunts and cousin this afternoon and refused to nap because she was so entranced with the cat. She has a had a busy weekend of fun while mom and dad have worked.

Eco-Jani came today and scrubbed our house all day long! They literally washed the ceilings and walls, windows and doors, and all of the floors. They cleaned the inside of the fireplace! By the time they were done, we could have moved in tonight. We can no longer smell any smoke in the house - it is all fresh and clean. I am telling you, I don't think I have ever had a house so clean. They used all green products too, so it was fine to be there while they cleaned and it smells wonderful! If you need a cleaner try them - They even gave us a bag full of Seventh Generation cleaners. I was absolutely astonished at the job these folks did. We may have to treat ourselves to a regular cleaning service.

Sadly, we had to spray the shrooms with some fungicide this morning. I almost want to post a warning, but I don't want to draw more attention to them... We put some makeshift downspouts on - we have had rivers of water shooting out of the gutters and straight into the foundation walls for weeks now, and not owning the house yet, we could do nothing but cringe. Travis got busy with the crowbar and got all of the tile off the kitchen walls, and most of the drywall gone from the wall between the kitchen and dining room. We can start to see the vision for the kitchen - it is already so much brighter.

Once again, craigslist has come into play today. Our dishwasher was hauled off as well as the kitchen floor. Yes, I said the floor. I started to pull it up and realized it was clic/lock tiles rather than vinyl. After popping a few pieces out pretty easily, the guy came for the dishwasher and I offered the floor as well. He said sure and I just sat back while they pulled it up! We've got quite a few intact tiles that we have put on CL as well. This demo ain't so rough!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tearin' It Up

Our first workday was really productive! We were able to get the disgusting black carpet up and out of the rec room, hall, and bedroom downstairs. I don't even want to know what was on that carpet and pad. It looked like one day they just decided to put down carpet - no cleaning the floor, just "let's lay a carpet - how about black?!". There were leaves and money, matches,, papers, and lots of dirt under that carpet. Once we pulled that up, we pulled the black hearth tiles out and with them came some of the vinyl that was under the carpet. So out that came too - pretty easily. We dismantled the big stage (the rec room was decked out as a theatre room) and got part of the second one out. Those may be the most well built and solid things in the entire house. We took several interior doors and closet doors out, and replaced the rails in the back portion of our split rail fence.

Meanwhile, we had a craigslist fiesta! The cabinets, washer, dryer, and refrigerator were removed and hauled off, and we expect someone to pick up the dishwasher tomorrow. So the kitchen has essentially been gutted without us doing a thing. Even the tile is just falling off the walls. Pretty sweet deal! The kitchen plumbing is a little crazy, and there is so much dirt! We found pictures, bills, business cards, change, and some odds and ends under and behind the cabinets. I'm so glad we were able to give our kitchen away. Much of the lumber we took out from the stages is in great condition, so we will either use it or freecycle it. Same goes for the closet doors. We did have a lot of trash today, but I think overall our impact on the landfill is a lot less than it might be without freecycle and craigslist.

Peanut got to play with grandma and her man - they took her to the petting zoo and the playground. She had a wonderful day being doted on and snuggled! She came to visit at the new house, and got to play a little in the yard.

Our neighbors had an Octoberfest, and we stopped by for a few after we ended our workday. It was great to meet folks and hear some stories about our houses' sordid past. Apparently, we had a bunch of teenager hanging out in our backyard last night. As I suspected, we are still the party house. We'll have to nip that...

So tired and I can already feel the sore muscles. Tomorrow is another opportunity to make this house our own!

Oh THOSE Mushrooms

A few weeks ago when it rained, I noticed there were a lot of mushrooms in the yard. I started doing some Internet searches on how to get rid of them, and came across a lot of information about types of mushrooms. I was thinking about the artwork in one of the bedrooms - there is chalkboard paint on the entire room and really lovely shroom art and graffiti all over it - and wondered...were those mushrooms THOSE mushrooms? I decided I would take a picture and post it on an identification website to see what we had. The next day, I go to the house with my camera, and the mushrooms are all gone! Well, that happened twice, so I started to think we had folks doing a little harvesting the crop. Yesterday, we had a man "in the know" at the house. The ADT guy used to work for the sheriffs office and said he could ID the shrooms. We searched and searched, and finally, I spied one slim brown stalk. We have professional confirmation of my initial suspicions! Hopefully the ATF won't bust down our door before we get rid of them. Ah, the joys of buying the neighborhood party house!

Homeowners Again

It's official - we closed on our house yesterday afternoon! It was so fast and easy, which is just a complete contrast to the rest of this process. I just haven't had the guts to look at the bank account balances yet. These foreclosures are nuts - there was no plan of getting us the keys. It was a little afterthought and the decision was that we go back to the house and get the key out of the lock box and assume someone will come for the box and the for sale sign at some point. We have a locksmith coming this morning to change the locks anyway. He will also be able to get us in to the shop in the back of the carport that we have not yet been able to access. Could be exciting!

Friday, October 3, 2008


It seemed this day would never arrive, but here we are! We close on our new house this afternoon, and I can't wait to start tearing carpet out. The gas and water were finally turned on yesterday (water was still off when the inspectors arrived!) and we completed our inspections of the furnace and other appliances. To our absolute shock - everything worked! We truly expected to have a house full of non-functional systems. Our front hall in the apartment has our calendar covered with appointments and tasks and it just keeps getting more full, but now comes the fun part - we get to start making this house our home.

My tasks for today are finalizing my appliance selections, scheduling the cleaners, plumber, electrician, and HVAC contractors, and I need to go grocery shopping - the dog has no food. I've been working on the appliances for a while, and thought I had it all figured out when I discovered that the fridge I want is not energy star compliant! That just can't be! So now we either spend an extra 1k on a fridge in the same product line, or we risk having the finishes be different and get the original pick, which was a KitchenAid fridge. Oy! Of course, I have a spreadsheet going for this as well. What a complete geek.

My mom and her boyfriend are here to help watch Peanut while we get some work done this weekend. They are having a great time with our little muffin - everything she does is the cutest ever - but who's biased? :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It IS easy being green!

So last night I put the kitchen cabinets and appliances on craigslist and said they were free to anyone who could un-install and remove them by the end of the weekend. I just couldn't see us putting all of that in a landfill, and while most of the appliances may not work, I said that someone who may want to tinker a bit might be able to fix them. Well, within 45 minutes I had two takers and by this morning there were seven people vying for the opportunity to do my demo for free and keep these things out of the trash! What a beautiful thing! I took some photos today of the bathrooms to see if I can get them gone in the same way...


After much ado yesterday, the gas bill is now paid and our title is clear! We plan on closing on Friday, and I am beginning to think that just might happen. Peanut and I went over to the house today with a friend and her babe to do a little tour. It was so nice to see the babies playing in the yard - a vision of things to come! We also walked over to the trails at the end of the neighborhood and took a little stroll in the wilderness. It seemed like we were way out in the middle of nowhere instead of suburban VA. This neighborhood just keeps getting better. Our neighbors seem great, the school is close a good, and we've got trails and a park so close by. I think we have picked a great place to live!