I know things have been quiet on the blog front lately, but they’ve been busy at the house! Our big push happened to coincide with my busiest time of year at work, which wasn’t ideal, but it meant that I got to come home from a week of travelling to some fun changes. Fortunately, my dad has been able to take advantage of the resources at his company so we have access to skilled workers and equipment for the things we aren’t able to do ourselves.
We are finally moving forward on getting a new roof. As much as we have enjoyed the sound of rain pitter-pattering on our dining room floor, we couldn’t be more excited for this work to get done – mainly because it means we can finally repair some of the water damaged walls without worrying about having to redo them. The water damage is causing a lot of the concrete walls to crumble, so we always have little piles of gross sand-like stuff on the floors.
Before the roofer can start his part, all of the structural changes that will directly impact the placement of the roof had to be done. First up was removing the industrial air conditioning units and corresponding duct work from the roof. One morning a few weeks ago, I got out of the shower only to hear our dogs barking their heads off. I threw on a robe and ran to the front door – where I was met by eight guys, lots of trucks and a huge crane. They were VERY early! They got started hooking up the units and lifting them off and were done before 9 am.
At the same time, the mason was working to repair the cracked, crumbling chimneys – there was a lot of excitement that morning! Once the units were taken care of, the guys started on the other tasks – repairing the poorly patched old doorway in the doctor’s office, widening the doorway upstairs and installing a new lintel for our future french doors, and demoing the old vestibule on the doctor’s office. Here are some fun photos:
As you can see, where the old patched doorway used to be, we had orginally planned to just re-patch it, but ended up deciding to install a window there. It looks awesome and makes such a difference! The window was taken from the side of the house, from one of the exam rooms. Where the vestibule was demolished, the window on the edge of the street-facing wall was able to be made into a corner window (using the window from the other exam room). Fortunately, one of the guys was a welder so he handled the window installation and all the lintel repair (the steel lintels on the doctor’s office were all corroded and needed to be repaired). Check out that beautiful red front door too (detailed pictures to come).
Unfortunately, I will have to update later with a picture of the house from the street without a whole bunch of cars parked in front (that huge direway has come in handy!), but here is a bad picture to give you an idea of how it looks. Bonus: you can see our new MINI!
I love this shot because you can really see the clean lines of the roof – the air conditioners were so distracting before. That window at the front of the house (with the paper taped over some of the panes) is the guest room – it used to look right onto the back of the vestibule. Now there is finally daylight in that room!
After the main house work was done, it was time to work on the guest house – I will post that update this weekend, hopefully!
Holy cow, how is it almost October and I’ve failed to update the blog for 6 weeks?! Despite much prodding from my husband, I have been negligent, but I promise I have excuses. Life gets busy, and you’re so caught up in doing it that you neglect to write about it. Or maybe spending all day every weekend day and some evenings was just so much that I didn’t really feel like rehashing it all.
But, we have made progress. Significant progress, enough so that we were able to move into our lovely little home last weekend. In addition to getting our bedroom, our “dressing room”, a bathroom and the living room all fixed up enough to manage a decent living space, we also got the bamboo cut down, much to the delight of our neighbors. We were all slightly disappointed when the promised chipper couldn’t start, but that’s happening this weekend, and we will finally be able to walk around our backyard and discover the treasures it hides!
Here are some refresher photos (notice how you can’t even see our neighbor’s house in the first picture!):
When we arrived at the house just 30 minutes after the guys did, we saw this – our neighbor’s house!:
They made their way along the side of the house, where it was most dense, and after about 5 hours had reached the guest house.
Since the chipper wouldn’t start, they piled all the bamboo in the side yard so that when they came back they could load it in easier. It made a huge pile that came about up to the windowsill and totally blocked access around the house.
Then the backyard was tackled – and we discovered we have neighbors! They are probably the only ones sad to see the bamboo go, since now instead of a lush green view, all they see is our ugly little house
When all was said and done:
A slide and monkey bars!
So we’re tentatively t-14 days til move-in (I say tentative because we haven’t secured a renter for our condo yet, and we’re staying put until the last possible date!). If you recall, we were aiming to have the living room, Jack & Jill bedrooms and bathroom usable. We’re well on our way!
The “before” of the living room didn’t look particularly bad, but you should have seen the up close. There were some obvious cracks in the paint, so we started scraping. Before long, it went from this:
A lot of the paint came off in sheets – it was paint over plaster, without primer. The plaster/concrete combo basically sucks moisture out of the paint, which causes the paint to pull off the wall. Primer is necessary people!! We also discovered some MAJOR cracks. Here is an example:
That was about the width of my finger. It had been patched with plaster and was fairly stabilized, but to be extra safe we decided to patch with hydraulic cement – in the off chance that moisture is still a problem (which it doesn’t seem to be), this will hold and not expand/dry out like plaster might.
After all the patching we did, we essentially covered every part of each wall with joint compound. I think our gallon count right now is about 10 gallons used – and we’re not quite done. The room looks a thousand times better, but we’re still doing some final sanding and patching. Hopefully this weekend we’ll be ready to prime and maybe even paint!
While Matt and I have been busy in the living room, my mom and dad have been working away in the bathroom. It looks completely different already!
Those patches were actually what was there when we toured the house – the ceiling was totally unfinished and really moldy.
This is essentially the same view now (with a look at the back of dad’s head):
Everything’s been patched up and primed (with mold and mildew resistant paint), the destroyed sink and toilet were removed and will be replaced, and everything feels fresh and clean.
I hope to have the “after” pictures soon!
Bonus: me on the “climbing: wall:
Age: 1 month
Last Seen: Sunday, July 31
Reported Missing: Thursday, August 4
We went to the house last night to put out our trash for collection today. As I pulled up, I noticed the conspicuous gap in our lovely lined-up row of three trash cans and one recycling bin. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the thief didn’t feel like exerting him- or herself, and took only the one empty bin.
My “country mouse” husband is now convinced we live in a high-crime neighborhood. I tried to convince him otherwise, but I am a “city mouse” so I have a slightly different view of things – now the shooting on my parent’s corner a few weeks ago, that worries me!
Has it really been over a month since my last post?! I was hoping to have some pictures to at least make this post more entertaining, but I fear that if I wait for photos to be downloaded from my camera we may be waiting another whole month! Instead, you (if I still have any readers ) will have to settle for a boring recap of the last few weeks.
The beginning of a project can be a little slow-going. My dad/our architect is busy finalizing the (amazing) plans so that we can apply for building permits and get to the fun parts (demo! a new kitchen!). However, we still fully intend to move in in four short weeks (yikes!) so this is what we have been doing:
1) Inspections and estimates. We had the roof guy, termite guy, and tree guy all out at once last week. It actually was really nice that they all showed up around the same time because it meant we didn’t have to wait around for each appointment. The verdicts:
- Roof: In good shape, overall. Fortunately concrete roofs are pretty durable and patching is something we can do ourselves. The wooden roofs on the doctor’s office and breakfast room/future family room may need to be replaced. We are especially excited for my dad’s new suggestions for the roofs – white on the doctor’s office for energy efficiency and a green roof on the top where the a/c units are now (they will be moved), which is the area that doesn’t have safety railings around it.
- Trees: we got some quotes to trim up some of the trees that have dead wood, and have some other particularly bothersome trees removed – specifically the small that are right next to the house that have seeded from other trees and the one that is practically dead directly over the power lines. They also offered to cut down/clear out the bamboo – but they won’t dig it out, so we may get another quote for the whole job.
- Termites: good news, no live termites! There was an infestation at one point, but it was treated well and they haven’t come back. We did find a wasps’ nest in one of the walls that we’re planning to demo so that will be fun!
The CAD drawings of the existing layout are finally done! We had a lot of fun looking them over with my dad and looking at his ideas for improvements. Those will be shared in another post – for now, here is the existing layout. You can see how it is pretty chopped up and there are a lot of walls – we want to open it up as much as possible, but there will be some challenges!
After much studying of the plans, my dad concluded that the house was, at one point, only 2 beds/1 bath! We assumed the second floor was an addition, predating the office and enclosed dining room, but now it seems like there were many phases of renovation. Here is a look at what we believe to be the original layout:
What would you do to improve this layout? Let me know – we still haven’t finalized anything!
Good news: Dad (our architect) started the survey this week! He’s spent two evenings measuring and drawing, and we’re all really excited to see what we have to work with. Hopefully I will get an electronic file to post (my dad is still pretty old school and draws by hand, which I love, but his assistant will be able to do the CAD drawings).
Better news: We went to the house Monday briefly to let Dad in, and since we were there, we decided to bust out the EPA-certified lead paint test kit we bought at Home Depot over the weekend. The house was built in 1935, there is no way it couldn’t have lead paint, right? Wrong! By some stroke of good fortune, all of our tests, interior and exterior, came out negative. I even tested the thin layer that sat right above the concrete block in the living room (thinking that I was looking at the oldest paint in the house), and still, negative! I am really relieved – we will still be cautious when working (gas masks!), but at least we don’t have to wear full on body armor.
I think the enormity of this task is starting to really sink in. The problem is that we cannot dedicate ourselves to it 100% right now, and we feel pulled in a few different directions. First, if we are going to rent out our condo, we need to get it ready – that means between trips to the new house, we are packing stuff up, taking things off walls, patching, sanding, and eventually priming and painting. Not a huge task, but definitely something that needs to get done.
The other issue we are facing right now is no weekends. We work regular 9-5s, but every Friday night for the last 3 months we have packed up the car and driven to Bethany Beach to help my parents take on their latest project – which needs to be finished ASAP, before the first renters of the season come! The Beach House is a typical one-story beach bungalow, but the upstairs was a finished space, complete with a pitched roof (6 feet at the peak, much lower elsewhere!). When the roof needed to be replaced this year, I (naively) suggested we raise it too to make the space bigger and more livable. You can’t blame me for the addition of the bathroom, though – that was all dad’s idea. The new upstairs area will be 6 feet high at the edge of the house, with a now 12-foot peak. It is going to be amazing, but it has been a lot of work, and it means we can’t all fully focus our energies on the new house until at least the end of June – and considering we are hoping to move in mid-August, that impacts our timeline significantly.
Somehow, though, I know it will all work out.
Sorry for the delay on publishing part 2 of the photo tour!
The previous owner of our house was a doctor, and from what I read online, she was a great one. I am not sure when she stopped practicing, but the age of the telephones and systems indicate it was quite a few years ago. The office was added on after they bought the house in 1950, and it runs alongside the front bedroom and wraps back around the front of the house. There are two examining rooms, a half bath, a waiting room, and a back room with was either an office, or maybe a larger exam room/surgery?
I am no architect – I will leave that to my dad. But since we haven’t had a chance to properly survey the house, here is my attempt at showing you how the rooms are situated. They don’t “flow” very well right now, due to the walls that actually do exist (just not on my drawing!) – my biggest peeve (besides the tiny kitchen) is that the dining room is on the left side of the entry, between bedrooms, rather than on the right, “public” side of the house.