Still Here, Still Renovating



Well, it’s been so long since I posted here and it literally feels like yesterday to me.  We’ve had so much going on between the renovations, the boys sports and scouts schedules and a death in the family, we’ve hardly had time to breathe.  Michael has been working almost every night trying to get the electrical and plumbing done so we could get the building inspector back out to okay things so we could then insulate, have him come back and okay that and then finally be able to put the wall coverings on.  The kitchen will have some dry wall and some ship lap on the walls, and we have a bunch of other drywall to get done in the bedroom as well.


Electrical, plumbing and remodel permits all properly displayed in the kitchen window


Progress on the electrical has been slow, slow and slow.  This is my husband’s first time ever doing wiring to this extent and having to figure it out as you go along can delay the process a little bit.  That combined with some circuits needing to be combined and rewired has caused delays to happen. But, we got the sign off on the electrical this week so now we have the go ahead to finally get the insulation in and the sealant sprays on. Hallelujah!  Michael constantly amazes me with what he teaches himself and is able to figure out.  I’ve said it many times before, but it bears repeating…handy husbands are the BEST!


Another exciting thing is that our cabinets are in!  They are currently filling up our living room as we are working on the kitchen still, but between that and the brand new appliances that also are in, I’m feeling pretty excited about the prospect of our new kitchen.  This one is smallish, but has more counter space then I have had in a very long time and I’m so looking forward to working in it soon.  The cabinets are pretty.  They are a shaker style, simple and clean lines, just my style.  They suit the seaside cottage feel we are trying to create, and since they are white, will brighten up the space a lot.  Yay!  The new lighting that Michael has installed is going to dress it up nicely as well.  I’m very anxious to get the kitchen put together, I’m practically giddy about it!


Zach and James need a good spanking!  They felt the need to carve their names in the plaster on the wall in the entry. Naughty, naughty boys from some history of the past for the house.  So, I did some spackle magic and covered it up the best I was able.  I have spent the last week painting the “den” room.  That’s the one that had the red and cream colored walls (first photo has 2 coats on primer).  It took three coats of primer and 2 coats of paint to completely cover the red.  Yes, that’s 5 total layers all by hand!  UGH!  I have had the help of my “sistah from another mothah”, Diane, for some of it, but all in all I’ve been painting for the bulk of two weeks now.  Did I mention I H-A-T-E to paint?  I’m not that good at it, don’t have a lot of patience for it, nor like it at all.  This is usually Michael’s territory.  But, alas, my house painting Picasso is busy with every other project in the place and so a-painting I will go.  I chose a nice light gray for the walls and white for the trim and it’s looking great! So much lighter then the colonial red that was there before, and I’m loving it.


The hole in the bathroom has grown a bit.  In digging things apart, we discovered that the rot we found from decades of the sink leaking into it extended further then we originally thought.  Gary (or guru, as we like to call him) has come up with a way for us to save the rest of the floor and hopefully the tile as well.  I will have a little problem matching the tile as so much of it was unavoidably damaged in removal.  Some of the row by the shower may have small chips in it, but it’ll do for now.  It’s looking like we may not get it all done by the time we have to move in, but we’ve got to have a working shower and kitchen. We have decided to employ the list of priorities at this point.


Isn’t this a pretty site?  This is the beginning of “exploratory surgery” as Gary likes to call it, on the exterior of the house where the brand new patio French doors are going.  Since we removed the only other door in the house and put in the master bedroom closet in it’s place, we have to get this done before we’re allowed to move in.  Gotta have more then one exit from the house before the building inspector will allow us to occupy.  It’s a long list of work to be done in a short amount of time.  Getting a little stressful, yes, just a little bit.  And I haven’t packed a thing yet, either.  Going to start working on that next week during the mornings and evenings when we aren’t at the house or carting the boys around to their things.  School is done in about 2 1/2 weeks here and they pack a lot in the last couple of weeks of school.  So, we’ll get there, but it’s a juggling contest a lot of the time.


This is the most evil plant alive.  No, really.  This is the lovely poison ivy that is growing EVERYWHERE on our new property.  Michael is very allergic to it and ends up with a red hot rash covering him, most times needing to get steroids to combat it.  We may need to get those goats sooner then later.  You are seeing it making it’s way up the wall right outside what will be our bedroom.  Its the most successful crop we can grow in our little town!


Architect at work here! This the damage from a critter that has spent the last years happily pulling insulation out from under the crawl space and making himself a cozy little abode.  Michael put the rock and board there to try to keep him out, but he just chewed himself a nice new hole to the right of it.  We think it’s a woodchuck as we’ve seen one hustling through the yard, but I’ve not seen one actually chew a building before.  Might be squirrels?  Not sure, but a game cam and a trap may be in order here soon.  Once we get new insulation up under there and new siding, it’s gonna be no room at the inn for this bugger.



This long weekend is going to be another busy one. We’ve spent many, many hours on the last 7 weekends as well as countless hours during the week working to make this a warm, safe and comfortable home for our family.  The work continues, and I’ll try to be better keeping up with posting as I can.  Once we get the bulk of this done, I’ll be able to post more homestead type things instead of just renovation.  Right now, this is all-consuming and there isn’t much else to talk about!  Stick with us, the journey continues.




And The Hits Just Keep On Coming!


Good Evening, All.  The work on the house continues in fits and starts.  We got so much done in three days, and I started to feel very optimistic…then my hubby has to go back to work and can only work on it during the nights.  This is our good friend and godsend, Gary, helping out with the master bedroom closet project.  We got the old one ripped out and the new one framed and the exterior door removed and boarded over.  It was a door to nowhere really, kind of a strange place for it to be.  Not one door to the back acres, but this one located about 5 feet from a 3 foot stone wall drop off.  Someone wasn’t planning that with much care.  We are adding a French door to the living room to gain access to the back of the house, where the plan is to eventually be adding an outdoor kitchen and sitting area.  Looking forward to having a comfortable place to do my outdoor canning in the summer time. Nothing like canning 35 quarts of tomatoes and sauce on a 95 degree day.  Done it more than once, so the outdoor space will be awesome to have.


Bathroom renovations have hit a large snag. For a VERY long time, the water from the sink faucet was leaking down into the sub floor and joists below it.  Oh, someone tried to fix it with duct tape at one point, and when it didn’t work, they apparently just didn’t concern themselves with that annoying little leak.  The depressing story in short is that a large part of the floor needs to be ripped out and replaced, along with a few of the joists.  We haven’t assessed the full scope of damage yet, we started ripping out the rotted boards, which are crumbling like powder in our hands.  The other rather interesting thing is that there are about 5 layers of flooring under the subfloor.  We have no idea why there is so much sub-sub flooring, but it’s creating quite a mess to deal with having all of those layers rotted and falling apart.  What we thought would be a simple shower install has turned ugly, but well, that’s the way it is with old houses.  I think I’ve mentioned this before to you, right?  Once you open up old wounds, you get the horns of the bull. Now, we’re not scared of that type of thing, but we’re also not familiar with how to deal with it all.


Enter Gary.  He’s been such a huge help for us, he KNOWS old houses.  His home is an ancient, beautiful place that he saved from complete disrepair years ago, and it is one of the nicest houses in our town, which is known for its antique homes.  He has been not only an incredible font of knowledge, but he’s very, very handy with tools and can just walk in and know what needs to be done. This is a huge benefit to us because…I mentioned we’re new to some of this, right?  But he patiently teaches us a lot of things and has lent a hand without us needing to ask.  That’s true friendship in my book. And, he’s also the kind of person who expects nothing in return for his kindnesses. A gem of a guy. Oh, and he’s also the crazy guy who handled the very challenging purchase for us as he’s also our realtor.


Handling the paint brush like a pro


The boys have been lending their hand to the reno as well.  I tasked them with chosing their paint colors and painting their rooms themselves.  Now they are 12 and 14, and have never handled anything like this before.  So, I gave them lessons on taping their woodwork and windows, how to use the paint brush, how to roll the paint on in a W first on the wall and then smooth it out from there.  They worked together in each room to get them done.  Now, mind you, as this is their first time doing anything like this, it isn’t perfect.  But they really worked together as a team, stuck to the tasks and over the course of two days got their rooms looking 100% better than they did when they started out!  I am very proud of them for all their efforts, and they feel proud of themselves for having an important part in how their rooms turn out.  They both chose white walls, my youngest wanted a blue ceiling and they look clean, fresh and ready for some posters.


Practicing the fine art of taping


My husband has been working diligently on the wiring for the kitchen.  It’s getting a lot of updated wiring done so that we can have a light switch that actually turns on lights when you flip it, and I can plug more than one appliance in at a time.  You know, pesky things like that.  I, unfortunately, didn’t get a picture of him doing this, but I will.  Keeping up with pictures and the reno has been a little challenging. I keep forgetting to take the pictures during the long days.  My husband has never wired anything like this before, but he’s been teaching himself the codes and Gary has been lending his knowledge and they are getting it done.


My good friend from away asked me today how the reno was going.  I told him it’s going well, but that I am very much looking forward to the first night I’m sitting on the couch with my hubby in our newly wired and painted living room, enjoying a glass of wine, watching the fire in the fireplace and looking out our new French doors to the back acres.  Yep, really trying to keep my eye on that prize when I feel frustrated or completely overwhelmed, which does happen.  The help we were hoping to get from a contractor on some of the projects is going by the wayside because we have to pay $4,500 to take down trees that are dangerous to the house.  Big, old, money-sucking trees and since we have a new roof, we don’t want to take chances with waiting on that.  So, we’re really handling the entire reno ourselves, and we’ll get by with a little help from our friend.