Here We Go!

No rest for the new owner of a 75 year old house that has been vacant for two years!

Immediately after we closed on Friday, we met with our contractors. We will be doing some fairly invasive renovations over the next 8 weeks including an entirely new HVAC system and ductwork, new main water line, renovated kitchen (new everything except cabinets), and a completely gutted and redesigned master bathroom.

In addition to these large rehab items, we'll also be doing a whole bunch of smaller stuff, like a new front door, new dormer roof, new lighting fixtures, some brick repointing, installing a vapor barrier in the crawl space, putting a french drain along one side of the basement, new ceiling tiles in the basement, repair caulking around some of the windows, upgrade the exterior electrical wiring...and other things that aren't coming to mind right now.

Bottom line: A SHIT LOAD OF WORK. Fortunately, that's why we hired contractors. Unfortunately, because we are not independently wealthy, there's a lot of work that we're going to have to do ourselves.

We got down to it first thing Saturday morning. I can't even describe how awesome it is to step into a house that is newly yours - even if it is weird and quriky and needs LOTS of work. Joy!

The first thing we did was to spray paint a white line in the front yard indicating approximately where we will be digging up the main water line. Today, Daniel will be calling 811 to get the electric and gas people out to the house to flag important underground stuff that we do not want to dig up. The spray painted line will help them, or so says our contractor.

Once inside, we headed up to the top floor which is a little bedroom that we intend to use as a closet/dressing room. The walls of this room are a lovely shade of Barney-purple and the carpet is a nasty bright green shag. The first order of business was to remove the nasty-ass carpeting, carpet pad, staples, and tack strips.

Taking up carpeting isn't fun under the best of circumstances. Taking up nasty shag carpeting which has been moldering for 2+ years in 90 degree weather is awful. We wore those little masks and everything. It was so gross.

But, BEHOLD! Beautiful original hardwood flooring underneath! Yay!

Our contractor will sand, buff, and polish the floor to bring it back to its former glory.

Also in this little room, we removed the broken window blinds, some old metal shelving units bolted to the wall, lovely contact paper stuck to the insides of all the built-in drawers, and a pile of odds and ends from one of the closets. I got my first blister of the day (on my thumb) from all of the staple removing. Woo hoo!

Then, we moved down to the next level, which is the master bedroom and bathroom. This wonky little house has many levels - 6 to be exact. It's bizarre. Anyway, our carpet removal mission continued in the master bedroom and master bathroom. Yes, there was carpeting in the bathroom. I think this is an old person phenomenon. Old people like carpeting in their bathrooms.

Since the contractors will be ripping out the subflooring in the bathroom in order to upgrade the plumbing, we didn't need to remove any staples or tack strips in there - we just tore out the carpet and carpet pad and left it for them to deal with.

The carpeting in the master bedroom and bathroom appeared to be much newer and considerably less nasty than the stuff upstairs, but there was a WHOLE lot more of it to take up. As we lifted the carpeting we saw more glorious original hardwood floors. Love those floors! HOWEVER, about halfway across the room, the hardwoods suddenly and unexpectedly turned into yucky plywood subflooring. Why? I have no idea! But, this probably means that we will re-carpet the master bedroom. Which also means that we will not need to remove the tack strips. Which is excellent news because those things are a bitch!

After that, we were REALLY tired of the whole carpet gig and decided to move down to the kitchen for a less demanding task: Removing the lovely black and white checkered contact paper from every cupboard shelf, every drawer and every pantry shelf. The people liked their contact paper! Despite not being terribly physically demanding, this was a pig of a job.

The heat gun helps to soften/melt the adhesive which makes for easier removal. However, we found out there is a fine line between too hot (contact paper melting and tearing and re-adhering to the cabinet surface) and not hot enough (contact paper peeling off in teeny tiny little pieces that you continually have to pick at with your fingernails). Eventually we got the hang of it.

In the kitchen, we (Daniel) also removed the threshold plates in preparation for removing the kitchen flooring. And I removed the back splash from behind the stove to discover wall paper that was practically falling off of perfectly primed plaster walls. This was a joyous discovery, as we will eventually be removing all of the wall paper in the kitchen (and in the dining room...and bathroom...and..). Plus, there were drawings and messages hidden underneath the wallpaper from the previous owners (or more likely the previous owner's grandchildren)

This is 92% funny, cute and endearing...and 8% creepy.

NEXT, we went a level down from the kitchen in what used to be an attached garage but which has since been converted to living space, and since we have a 2 car detached garage, we're okay with that. What we're not okay with is the completely disgusting carpet that was laid directly over dirty, uneven concrete.

This was, without a doubt, the most horrible part of our weekend. This carpeting was dirty and damp, moldy and mildewy, and the most foul smelling textile you can imagine. Fortunately, we were able to throw it right out the french doors into the yard.

As a side note, with the other carpeting, we neatly rolled it up, taped it and hauled it downstairs to store it in the laundry room. Our one contractor asked if he could have it for an experimental "green" roof he's working on. The contractors we're using are Green Home and they are all about sustainability, which is awesome.

We're going to have to figure out what to do with that floor (maybe pour a thin layer of new concrete?...we'll be consulting our contractor on that one), but for now I'm just happy that god-awful carpeting is GONE!

Don't panic, I'm not going to leave you with that yucky image of the dirty concrete floor. Instead, how about some photos of the lovely dogwoods all around our house? They're so pretty right now.

We Have A House!

As of 2:45 pm Friday April 24th, Daniel and I officially became home owners. Yay! More to come...


Plan Of Action

Today at work I was using the ancient, green paper cutter in the work room for an extended period of time. You may be wondering why, in this technological age, I was spending my afternoon in the work room with the ancient, green paper cutter whose blade is about as dull as watching grass grow. It’s not important, but I was cutting out occupancy load tables to glue to the Community Appearance Board life safety submittal drawings. Fascinating, no?

Aaaaanyway, as I was standing there all alone in the work room with only the distinct scratchy/creaky/squeaky sound of the paper cutter every 2.5 seconds, I wondered how I would react to slicing a finger off.

I know, weird, right? But cutting paper is so mindless, that I started thinking how easy it would be for me to just position a finger a little too closely and then SWOOSH, one aggressive swipe of the blade and I would only have 9 digits. So, then (while still cutting of course) I devised a plan on what I would do if I should happen to lose a finger. These are the kinds of things you think about when you come from a mother who devises elaborate plans of escape from crowded enclosures and randomly gives you pocket knives, tasers, and seat belt cutters “just in case”.

First, I would try very hard not to totally freak out. 1.) because I would be really embarrassed if I cut my finger off and 2.) because I wouldn’t want my co-workers to think I was a drama-queen. Then, I would immediately wrap the bloody stump in my white cotton undershirt (yes, I was wearing an undershirt today) to staunch the blood flow while I located and grabbed my detached finger, and rushed it to the office kitchen where I would take a Ziploc bag from the third drawer on the left, fill it with ice and put my finger in the bag. I would then put more ice on top and zip it up. I’ve heard they can reattach digits if you follow this protocol.

With my hand wrapped in my bloody undershirt and my finger nestled amongst ice cubes, I would call Daniel to come pick me up and take me to the emergency room. OR, if one of my co-workers happened to notice my predicament, and offered to take me to the emergency room, I would gladly accept their offer. The emergency room staff would be quite impressed with my wherewithal to ice my finger and the doctor would efficiently reattach it. Though I would forever have limited use of that particular finger, at least I wouldn’t cultivate the nickname “stumpy”.

Fortunately, I did not have to put my plan of action to the test and finished my paper cutting endeavor without incident.