Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Guts of the House

Have you ever noticed on HGTV they never spend any time talking about plumbing, electrical and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning).  I'm not sure if it's because it doesn't make 'good TV' and people would rather see paint colors and tile samples, or if that's how they make their budgets as low as possible.  The stuff in the basement and behind the walls is pricey! 

New laundry area with all new electrical and plumbing

Since we work on old homes that often have original wiring and plumbing, we take this stuff seriously!  And like most of the houses we work on, this one needed a lot of work.  

We are adding recessed lighting in the living room, kitchen and mudroom

Very few of the outlets are grounded, so they don't work well with modern appliances.  The bedrooms had 2 outlets each - one near the baseboard and one up high, possibly to plug in a sconce?   And there is no switch to turn on a light as you enter the room, which made me crazy!  I'm a huge fan of having an overhead light in each room, so we will be adding them.  Oh, and the kitchen was sadly lacking outlets. 

The new wiring is getting hidden under the flooring

Out with the old wiring - in with the new!


As mentioned in a previous post, the electrical panel needs to be moved - code enforcement frowned on having a panel above the toilet πŸ˜‚.  With this change, the vast majority of the wiring in the house is being completely replaced.  Our amazing electricians have been on site for weeks getting everything done.  And while most people won't notice that the wall outlets are now grounded, they will notice that we have overhead lighting everywhere!

Since the bathroom is getting reconfigured, our plumber decided to rip out all the old plumbing and start from scratch.  That's faster and easier than trying to tie into old plumbing everywhere.  But it also created a couple of challenges - moving the toilet meant that the waste stack had to move, which meant that the kitchen window had to move, which meant that the sink had to move, which meant we have to patch the siding....well, you get the picture.....  It's why most people try to never move plumbing around.  It's an expensive proposition! 

Look at all that shiny new plumbing!!!

But doesn't it look great?  I'm so thrilled to see all that shiny new wiring and plumbing!  And the new homeowners will be so happy to have everything updated.

Getting ready for inspections!



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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The Challenging Half Bath

This is the half bath.  It's in the basement (at the bottom of the stairs).  It's certainly not pretty.  And it has a big, big problem.


See that mirror and what looks like a cabinet?  It's the electrical panel.  Yup, right over top of the toilet. Building codes say you can't have anything within 3 feet of the electric panel - because you need space to  stand and work on it.  And anything involving water and electricity is a big no-no!

So the city building inspector said we could 1) move the electrical panel (big, big job that means moving all the electrical wiring that goes into it) or 2) leave the electrical panel and remove the bathroom, essentially making this an electrical closet.

Ugh, what a choice!  But since this house only has one full bath, we can't lose a half bath.  So we will do all the rewiring and move the electrical panel.  We will also give this little bathroom a dramatic upgrade with new fixtures and surfaces.  Stay tuned for updates!

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Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Gamechanger - the Teensy, Tiny Addition

I know many of you probably thought it was silly to build a 2 1/2 foot wide addition on the house, but as it's started to come together, it really is a game changer!!!  As a reminder, this is to create a small mud room space at the driveway door,  making a safer entrance to the house (see The Deathtrap for all the details). 

We've had a lot of bad weather recently, so it's moved forward with starts and stops, but it's far enough along to share it now. 

Framing went quickly and it was exciting to see it take shape on the exterior.  That side of the house was a pretty boring, blank slate, so this provides a little bit of architectural interest as well.






The windows and door are on order, but they got it watertight with the original door, which will work while we wait for deliveries.

It's not big - but isn't it cute?

But the exciting part was when they got the wall opened up on the interior.  Now when you walk in the house, there's a spot to take your coat off, stow your wet boots and then go up into the kitchen.  And you don't need to worry that if someone opens the door behind you, that they'll pitch you down the basement stairs.


Look at the difference!! 

It's even better from the kitchen side looking into the mudroom.  It looks huge!  And once we get the new door and windows into the mudroom, it will be light and bright all day (it's on the south side of the house).


It's probably hard to visualize how it will all come together as we finish the rooms - but it's already so dramatically different, I can't wait to get it done!



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Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Demo Discoveries

Our last project had nasty surprise after nasty surprise.  This one......doesn't!!!  It's a well built house, no structural issues, no rot, no nastiness of any kind.  In fact, we've had a couple of nice surprises.


For example - I wanted to put sconces above the fireplace, but it would be really hard to install wiring without completely gutting the walls.  And then Steve our electrician was doing some digging and we found it's already wired for them, they had been buried in the wall! 


When the City Assessor came out when we first bought the house, she said records showed it was a 2 bedroom house.  That's so odd, because it's clearly a 3 bedroom.  But when we opened this wall up between the two front bedrooms, we discovered someone had previously removed the wall and turned 2 bedrooms into 1!  And then at some point it was changed back!  So I guess that's why the City records were different than what is in place today.


But the nicest thing about demo in this house is how incredibly bright and open it suddenly is.  We didn't take out a lot of walls, but even opening them a little bit allows so much more sunlight to come shining through.  Look how dark the hallway to the kitchen used to be. 

It's always been a nice sized living room, but now it seems huge!


Same thing with the kitchen & dining room - the whole space is so much nicer (my idea of nice might not be the same as yours!).  It's hard to believe it's the same house we used to live in! 



We haven't build out tiny mud room bump out yet, but look how much nicer the corner of the kitchen is with the door and half wall removed! 

This project is moving quickly.  Framing is starting on the little mudroom and the electrical and plumbing will move forward right after that.  Stay tuned for more updates!


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Wednesday, March 20, 2024

The Reveal - Nautical Kids Bunk Room

Last August I shared with you the plans for the Bunk Room.  It's taken awhile, but at last it's finished and I can do the reveal!

It's a long narrow room, with 2 sets of bunk beds (plus trundle) on one wall.  So there's plenty of room for all the grandkids.  We only had room for 75" long bunkbeds - which turned out to be some of the least expensive on Wayfair.  Win - win!!  


It started as an odd room.  It was tiny - the bathtub from the adjoining room jutted into the space, making it too small for most anything.  But when we added the 8 foot dormer (and moved the bathtub location!), it suddenly became a much nicer room!


I admit I got a bit carried away with the nautical theme.  But it was so much fun, I couldn't resist!  If you can't go overboard (pun intended!) decorating a kids room - when else could you do it?




The inspiration for the room was this Sara Fitz whale print from LL Bean.  It's a great unisex design that should be a winner with all the grandkids.


These Julie Bernier prints are perfect!

 

I added this 'No Wake Zone' sign - for those of you that aren't boaters, these signs are posted as you come close to shore or a narrow passage, so the boat will slow down and not create a big wake (wave behind the boat).  Will it work for little kids? πŸ˜‚  Probably not, but it made me laugh!


I created this Maine authors bookcase, which includes some of their favorite books!


And there are lots of toys to play with.  Maybe they never will go to sleep? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚








 

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Thursday, March 14, 2024

China Cabinet Update and Kitchen Sink Conundrum - What Do You Think?

I know many of you were wondering if we decided to keep the original china cabinet.  We've opened up the wall between the kitchen and dining room and now that I can really see the space, I'd like to leave the original built-in china cabinet.  It only sticks out 28 inches (kitchen cabinets are 24 inches deep + 1 inch for countertop overhang), so it will blend in nicely (and allow us to put a nice upper cabinet in that corner for more kitchen storage!).  And it helps define the dining space, since it keeps symmetry with the angled cabinet on the other side of the wall.  

But here's my next conundrum - the kitchen sink.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this sink.  When we lived in this house, I quickly learned what a powerhouse it is.  Have something hot on the stove and need to sit it down quickly? - sit it on the sink!  Washing dishes and want a drainboard that goes right into the sink - it does that too!  And while double sinks usually annoy me, because they're narrow and you can't get anything in them, these sinks are nice and wide and can hold so much! 

Interestingly, they still make this sink.  I found new ones online for $2,440! And this one is in pretty perfect shape.


It's still available for purchase - this is from Build.com

But as much as I love it, the folks at the 'Before' Open House were not fans.  Two thirds of the folks said don't keep it.   I heard comments like 'it looks like it's for a commercial kitchen.  And 'it's too big for the kitchen' or 'it's so dated'.  


So that got me to thinking, is it going to limit my pool of buyers?  Will most people want to see a more modern sink?  Am I crazy to want to keep it? (okay, don't answer the crazy part!)

What do you think?

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Wednesday, March 6, 2024

The Renovation Plan

We received our building permits, so I wanted to share our plans as we get the project started.  We aren't making big structural changes to this house.  But we are updating it with modern conveniences (like a dishwasher! And more than one electrical per bedroom!) to make it far more functional for the next owners.  Of course we will also be improving the energy efficiency of the entire house.

The first floor will see most of the changes.  We are opening up a couple of walls to improve traffic flow.  But the big change is completely gutting the kitchen and updating it with new cabinetry, electrical, plumbing, insulation, flooring and appliances.   I'm still working on the kitchen design and hope to share it soon. 

The changes are in blue.  We're opening up most of the wall between the kitchen and dining room a few feet.  The hallway in the living room will be opened up and the radiator moved (because there is another one 3 feet away!).  And we'll be adding the new mud room we discussed in our last post.
The new mudroom was covered in this post and will provide major safety improvements for the driveway entrance. 

Is this an open floor plan?  Kind of.  But with a center chimney, this can never be a true open floor plan.  And in keeping with the original design intent, we've struck a nice balance between defined rooms and lines of sight between different rooms.

The guys have just gotten a little of the demo completed, but it's already so different!!!  Look at how the sunlight floods in through the dining room, brightening up the kitchen as well.  And it feels HUGE!


What are we changing on the 2nd floor?  There will be fewer changes upstairs.  The bathroom will get a full gut job and will be totally rearranged.  And the 2nd bedroom will get new wardrobes added, to provide much needed closet space.  But the rest of the spaces will stay the same.

Our hope is that this will be a pretty quick project, but of course there could be lots of surprises waiting for us as we get further into demo.  Stay tuned for all the updates!






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