We have finally reached the most important milestone of our rehab project. We have moved into our new home!
(pause for long applause)
This past month has been one of the most brutal of our rehab year. This is evident by the fact that we haven’t even had time to post one single update despite a lot of significant events going on. Most people understand how much time and energy is involved in getting one house packed up and ready to move and many people do this while maintaining full time jobs and raising kids. But this becomes a lot more arduous when combined with extended job hours and a renovation project operating at max speed. The past 5 weeks have been a tired and sleepy blur of work, sweat, and stress.
There are many things that still need to be done on the house. Our rehab project will most likely extend another full year to completion (somewhat). We had to be realistic about what we could accomplish in the 4 weeks leading up to the move-in date. At the very top of this list was anything necessary to make the house functional – like a working kitchen and bathroom. To have a working kitchen you need, like, you know, an oven. [Edit from Amy: Or, in the case of bathrooms, a toilet.] Over the past year we have been keeping out eye out for appliances and developing a general idea of what we want, but now it was finally time to make the decisions. [Edit from Amy: Something we all know doesn’t come easy for this family….or at least for some people in it.]
I spotted our oven at Home Depot while walking through the appliance section on my way to some other department. It was exactly what we had been looking for and the price had been drastically reduced. [Edit from Amy: Otherwise we would have NEVER been able to afford this oven. The sale price was still a splurge on our part.] It has a gas stove top with a double oven. We have also ordered a range hood, but we are still waiting for it to arrive.
The sink was another lucky find, this time from Craigslist. It works perfectly for what we need because it offers some storage, a small amount of counter top space, and doesn’t need to be built into other cabinets. For the near future we will have what is called an “unfitted kitchen.” This means it will utilize mostly freestanding furniture and appliances rather than the standard built in cabinets and counter tops. We are doing this to save money and also stall a little until we know exactly what we want to do for something more permanent. [Edit from Amy: Actually I would love to create a more permanent unfitted kitchen eventually swapping out our more utilitarian items with other interesting antique pieces.] Remodeling a kitchen is a huge undertaking and we didn’t have the time to devote to that while also worrying about the rest of the house. [Edit from Amy: Not that we didn’t try.]
The sink is a perfect example of how something so seemingly simple can take so much time. Several holes needed to be located to accommodate the plumbing, the top piece needed to be adjusted and leveled, and I was finally forced to trim the floor boards and patch the monster hole in the floor. [Edit from Amy: All the holes in the floor will be covered by cabinets/appliaces….eventually.]
On a related note, it was very difficult at first to get back to work and make messes at the house after just refinishing the floors. For a couple days I found myself treading very lightly, afraid to do anything that might damage all my hard work. I eventually put paper down on all the heavily trafficked areas and got over the fact that the floors might get a little dinged up. [Edit from Amy: We are over that by now.]
To complete the kitchen appliances we also bought a new fridge and dishwasher – both similar to what we already have in our current kitchen.
Many more details about the kitchen to come in a later blog post.
Another small, but important, item on the to-do list was to clean up the hardware on the back door and install a new deadbolt lock. [Edit from Amy: Meaning that for the first time we actually had a KEY to our house. So weird. ]
There was a large batch of partially rehabbed windows sitting in our basement just waiting to be reglazed and painted. I wrapped these up and installed them. Most of these could be installed relatively quickly because I had already done the sash cords and weather stripping months ago. These nine windows represent the very LAST interior sashes to be renovated. LAST. It’s hard to believe. (I do still have seven storm windows to completely rehab, but I can wait to do those until there is a more convenient time).
The only windows that had not been previously re-sashed and weather stripped were in the master bedroom. I had forgotten how long this process takes! In addition, I had to remove a piece of trim to access a stubborn weight pocket and that removal caused some plaster to crumble to the floor. Ugh. More plaster repair!
Speaking of plaster repair… There were two areas that didn’t get finished when I did the rest of the house because they weren’t in rooms that were getting floors refinished. These rooms (the vestibule, downstairs bathroom, and bathroom closet) had been already undergone the repair adhesive process, but had not been repaired with the joint compound.
Foolishly, I thought I could do these areas in no time. When will we learn… everything takes twice as long as you think it will. Also, I didn’t really enjoy plaster repair the first time around. The second time wasn’t much better, although I am getting better and faster at it.
I spent an entire evening pulling out old trim from our storage shed to remove nails, sand, and do basic repair work.
My initial thought was that it would be great to get all the old trim and baseboards back on the walls before moving in, but then Amy reminded me that this was not really high on our priority list and that this time might be better spent on other things, like packing and moving…
[Edit from Amy: Thus far it sounds like Joe is doing all the work, and mostly, he did do the rehab house work this past month. I was the self designated packer. I spent weeks slowly going through every belonging that my family-of-four owns. There were little mountains all over our house. Some destined for the landfill, some for Goodwill, and much more for consigning.]
We knew we were going to hire professional movers to handle all the large items, but we were determined to move as much of the small stuff as possible beforehand. [Edit from Amy: Hiring movers was really the best thing ever. After all the work we’ve put in I was not in the mood for a move, and neither was my back. We did try and make as many trips as possible with boxes and small items beforehand to keep our costs lower.] This meant more than a dozen trips back and forth with the old pickup truck to unload countless boxes and tubs. Speaking of boxes… Being a teacher has to be one of the best jobs for finding moving boxes.
One of the biggest jobs that needed to completed before moving in was the plumbing finish work. Before that could happen we needed to have sinks, toilets, faucets, and tiling. The toilets (or commodes, stools, whatever you want to call them) were some of the easiest items to purchase. We made that decision in about two minutes. The sink and upstairs faucets were one of the first items we decided on about a year ago, but just now had the money to purchase.
The bathroom tiling was a job that we had always intended to do ourselves. We have previous experience with tiling and by this point in our rehab we were pretty much ready to be done with contractors. BUT, the reality of a looming deadline and the end of our summer “free time” meant reconsidering this plan. Also, we were very blessed with sympathetic family members who offered to help by paying for the tile to be done. This was obviously a tremendous boost for us and we were so thankful because the renovation train was starting to lose just a little steam. The tile guys were able to fit us in on short notice and were great to work with. We will wait to do a full reveal of the bathrooms until they are more complete, but here is a special sneak peak of the upstairs bathroom…
After the tile work was complete we had very little time to add beadboard and other small things which had to be done before the plumbers could start. One project that we had been putting off was the rehab of the original clawfoot tub. That project will be a separate post, but here is a picture to give you an idea of what Amy was facing…
This needs to be cleaned, sanded, repaired, and painted before the plumbers can finish the installation job.
All month we have called in for extra support from family and friends to watch the kids, borrow the truck for extended periods of time, and neighbors helped with heavy appliances (thanks Allen and JC!). Amy’s mom and family friend Patty surprised us by cleaning EVERY window in the entire house! That job alone took several days, but it made a HUGE difference in the look and feel of the house. [Edit from Amy: These ladies are very meticulous and did a much better, more thorough job than I would have ever done, especially in the hurried state we were in. Check out these clean windows!]
In addition, her dad and family friend Bill painted an extra coat of primer in the master bedroom. It looked so much better after that second coat and was probably something we would have never had time for if we had tried to fit in ourselves.
Amy and I are exhausted. I don’t remember the last day that wasn’t packed from beginning to end with work, rehab projects, or moving boxes. But, we’re in! We still have so much to do, but for the first time in more than a year, there are no deadlines.
We will do another blog post very soon with more details from moving day, pictures of rooms with lots of boxes, and our first thoughts on living in this house.