Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Demo Time and First Peeks of New Open Space

Day 1 after purchase.....  Day 11 the boiler died.....
Ah, demo week (yup, this wasn't a day, it took a whole week!).  That's always a project milestone that gives me a knot in my stomach as I wait to see what nasty surprises we will find.

Yet we've already discovered some expensive issues with this house - the boiler died 10 days after we bought it (and attempts to resuscitate it failed),  the shower handle broke and leaked all over the bathroom a week after that and the attic only has 4 inches of insulation (see how the snow has already melted off the main roof?  That's a telltale sign of poor insulation).  So we have some big budget items to address.

But as demolition progresses, we always find new surprises.  Some good, some bad, and some that can change our game plan.
Demo team - ready for action!
First Surprise - was a big safety issue.  Evidently the dryer vent was somehow disconnected between the ceiling and the floor above it.  So for years, dryer lint was pumping into the space.  When the guys pulled back the ceiling tile, lint started raining down on them.  The entire space between the joists was packed tight with lint.  It's amazing they never had a fire!

Second Surprise - We had hoped there might be oak flooring under the laminate in the family room or the vinyl in the kitchen.  (That's what is in the living room and bedrooms)  But sadly, all we found was some stained pine and plywood.  That's a big budget hit.

Third Surprise - There was some evidence that there were problems with the electrical system.  I've never seen a house with so many extension cords!!  But as we pulled out walls and looked further, we discovered there isn't a single grounded outlet in the entire house.  That will never work for today's electronic needs.  Looks like we're going to have to rewire the entire house.  BIG budget hit #2
This may be a record for number of things plugged into one outlet from the ceiling
First peek of the open floor plan as the wall between the family room and kitchen is torn out.
This brightens up the kitchen as daylight comes through the opening!!
See the old windows in the wall?!

You never know what you might find behind the walls..... maybe this is why some of the walls are a bit wonky!

The demo team kept air filters running for days.  This was one morning's worth of air filtration.  Can you believe how filthy it is?

This air filtration system had an extra layer of filter on the outside - can you believe how gross it is?
Anybody need a 1974 calendar?  I did some checking and evidently you can reuse a calendar ever 6 years (28 years if it's Leap Year).  
The owner was obviously a heavy smoker.  We found a lot of cigarette butts and ash trays.  But also a LOT of nicotine stains.  See where the posters used to be taped to the wall?  That golden haze around them is nicotine build up.  And despite ripping out walls, ceilings and floors, I can still smell it.  Yuck! I'm hopeful now that we can open windows and air the house out, the smell will go away.  Some of the windows have a golden glow to them, so once they're replaced that should help as well.

Nicotine stains show were posters used to hang.  And yeah, that's another extension cord!
This is the wallpaper we found behind the paneling in the kitchen!  Which is better?  Dark paneling or wallpaper?  Tough choice!
What is Cedar Ware???
The basement clean out was a biggest task.  The bulk of the dumpster loads were from the basement.  The ceiling tiles and paneling reeked of cigarette smoke!
Now that demo is done, I can start to relax a bit - after I go back and revisit our budget!!!  Stay tuned for more updates as we start to put this place back together.  And don't you love how the open floor plan is starting to look!  It's a big space!
Look how big the living space is - now we need to remove that wall to the kitchen!
Removing the old kitchen wall lets so much sunlight in!

Kitchen looking towards future Dining Room
Can you believe how nice that basement is without all the stuff? 

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Renovating During the Coronavirus Pandemic

So..... we have a routine as we kick off our renovations.  The demo guys come in and we gather up anything that can be reused as they pull it out of the house.  Habitat for Humanity's ReStore comes and picks up the big stuff.  The smaller stuff that they can't use goes to Goodwill and other charities.

And then COVID came and I couldn't do any of that.

Yikes, I have a house full of stuff!!  Lots and lots of stuff!  So now what?
Enter Facebook Marketplace.  As many of you have noticed, I'm on Facebook a lot, but I really didn't have any experience with Marketplace.  It's their answer to Craigslist, but it targets people in your local area and is super easy to use.  On the advice of a friend, I decided to give it a try.

And it was amazing!!!  It's become my pandemic quarantine hobby!   (Disclaimer - I'm not trying to make any money on this - I just want to keep things out of landfills - so everything was offered for free.  It's been fantastic for free stuff) As I'm cleaning out the house, I take a photo of what's available and post it in about 10 seconds.  Typically, within 10-15 minutes I start getting inquiries and the item is gone that day.  I put it out in the driveway with the recipients name on the item.  Curbside, no touch delivery!!  Woo hoo!!

I didn't really meet these people, they just came and picked up what they wanted.  But thanks to Marketplace, they became temporary pen-pals (okay, social-media text pals).  And it was such fun!

Suppose you had the entire VHS set of Gunsmoke (more Miss Kitty than you ever remembered!!) that you need to get rid of?  Enter Facebook Marketplace.  My new Marketplace friend Joe was so excited about them, because he and the missus have a camper with a built-in VHS player.  They're always looking for something new to watch when they go on trips.  Well now they're going to have to step up their camping stays to watch them all!
Plus I found a couple other VHS tapes to keep them entertained!!  You might be noticing a theme to the former owners entertainment taste :-) 

Or Bill, who was trying to decide if it was worth filling up the truck for an hour + drive to pick up DVD's.  But he's a big western and war movie buff and when I told him there were 44 DVDs waiting for him, he decided to come on down!!!  He was happy, I was happy.  It's a wonderful thing.

There was a gal who is getting her first place and needed kitchen stuff.  I left out boxes and boxes of pots & pans, glasses, small appliances, etc. and she took it all.  Win-win!

The big appliances all went in a flash!!  They were in nice shape, so someone will get a lot of use out of them.

And then there was the gup who flips houses. He took a lot, including countertops, filing cabinets and this amazing WWII era metal desk - that I seriously wanted to keep, but had no idea what I would do with it.  It weighs a ton and has this very cool flip top - that was probably to hold a Selectric Typewriter!!!  I'm sure some of you aren't old enough to know what that is, but trust me, it was a critical business tool for many years.
Look at this beauty!  Probably weighs 200 pounds!
Vintage Corning Ware?  It was gone in a flash.
The pattern on the bottom?  1979 - the year Richard and I got married.  I still have some of that stuff!
Old bed frame, futon frame and other miscellaneous furniture?  They've gone to a new home where they'll be repainted for a whole new look.

I'm guessing we kept an entire dumpster full of material out of the landfill.  Stuff that's in new homes that are happy to have them.  COVID has made everything a bit more challenging, but this feels like a happy result!

What else has COVID changed?  Well just about everything and some habits are hard to break.  Handshakes?  Nope, can't do it.  And yet I find breaking the habit of sticking my hand out is almost as hard as not touching my face.  (but I do find a facemask helps remind me not to do that!)

Having more than one subcontractor on the premises at once?  Nope, we're trying to limit them to ensure people can work 6 feet apart.  That's sure to have an impact on our schedule, but keeping everyone safe is far more important.

We've kept a working sink so everyone can wash up with soap and water on a regular basis.  And of course we wipe down doorknobs and other surfaces on a regular basis.

Is this the new normal?  Well for the time being it certainly is.  But everyone has been supportive of the changes and staying safe is the most important thing we can do.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Introducing - Romancing the Ranch

When I reached out for suggestions to name our new project, I was overwhelmed with how thoughtful and creative you all were!  With so many great options, it was so hard to pick a single name.  But after a lot of consideration, I decided on Romancing the Ranch.  It seems to perfectly describe what we need to do!  And as you will see, this place needs some serious ROMANCE!!

Built in 1952, the house has had the same owner since the early 1960's.  That's a long time!  Sadly he has now passed away and the family sold the home 'as is'.  And like many houses we see with elderly owners, there weren't many updates over the years.  It's time for some serious investment!  It might be hard to see now, but it has so much potential!

So let's start with a tour.  On the outside, it's a bit quirky.  There is the main house, connected to a garage that's almost the same size as the main house.  My guess is there might have been a breezeway connecting them years ago - but that's been closed in, leaving a covered alcove in the front.  It's a nice spot to store the trash cans, but I think we can find better use of the space!

The back has a long deck with lots of windows to a big rear yard.  And since it's adjacent to a Nature Preserve, it's a nice quiet location.  By SoPo standards, it's a great big backyard!

Inside, as you step in the front door, you see the washer and dryer!  Not your typical location, so we will be moving that.

The kitchen was probably updated in the 1980's.  Dark oak cabinets and paneling - and without any direct windows it's a dark room.  

The former breezeway provides a bit more kitchen space, with cabinets and storage.  But it still feels tight and obviously needs updating.

There are only two bedrooms, which are a bit on the small side.

And those fans!!!???  People are always amazed that I can guess the height of the former owners - but seriously, it's not so hard :-) 

The only bathroom in the house had a large shower added at some point.  I'm sure it was an aid to the elderly homeowner, but it made the bathroom extremely tight.  We will be removing it!

So at this point, you're probably wondering why in the world would I want this house??  And this is it.  In the mid 1970's, the owners put this big addition across the back of the house.  It almost doubled the size of the house and provides so much living space!

The room is 16 x 26 feet with a gas fireplace and a wall of windows/sliders, out to the rear deck.
I know it's a bit jumbled at the moment, but trust me, it's going to be fantastic!
See the waterfall picture?  It's embedded into the window frame of the original exterior window!  Clever!
But there's more!  The house has a HUGE, dry basement.  And while there isn't usually a lot of interest in finished basements in this area, the coronavirus pandemic has changed that.  There are two big rooms that can be a way of getting away from it all - whether it's a home office, playroom, craft room - whatever!  Wanna hide from your kids?  There's room for that!  Wanna watch a TV show your husband will hate?  There's room for that!  Want a pool table in the basement?  There's room for that!
You can see the nicotine stains on the walls, where the old pictures were taken down
But it will take some work.  The first room at the bottom of the staircase was used as an office.  It has some nice bookcases, but a low ceiling makes it feel cramped (not sure what we will find under all that ceiling tile!).  Does anyone need some C++ programming texts?  We have lots!

Next is the boiler room, that also has a whole house vacuum, oil tank, washer and dryer.   And look at the big workbench - that's pretty cool!  Oh and more bookshelves, this was home to a book lover!

And the surprise space - this huge workroom.  When they built the big addition in the 1970's, they also dug out a full basement.  That's pretty unusual, but it's a fabulous space.

Want some old VCR's that have most of their parts?
The previous owner ran an electronics repair business out of here (does anyone need 22 VCR's that were used for parts???).  I'm not quite sure if we'll find any treasures mixed in all this stuff - but it's a huge space.

And finally, there's a large garage.  The garage door is oversized for a single car.  And the separate door next to it appears to have been the primary entrance used by the owners.  There's lots of space in there!

Throughout the house we found lots and lots of VHS tapes, DVDs, art and books that focused on war and westerns.  Those were obviously his favorite genre - but it's time for a change! So we're going to give it a big dose of romance!

Stay tuned, we have a lot of work ahead of us!  And be sure to follow us on Instagram or Facebook for even more updates!

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