The Dark Obstacle Course I Call Home

Living through a remodel has been interesting to say the least. It all started with a huge hole in the floor and mortar dust everywhere. Back when we were excited about this remodel and progress was quick. But it’s only gone downhill from there. Now we’re living in shambles and progress has slowed to a halt. If we can ever bribe our electrician back into returning to the “jobsite” I’ll let you know. Let me describe the state of our house right now.

We’re parking outside because both the garage and the shed are full of stuff. In one stall of our garage is the green drywall, cement board, and plywood. In the other is the pile of old stuff we wanted to give to ReStore but they wouldn’t take. In front of the storage shelves there is the main bathroom tub and toilet, lighting for both bathrooms, the massive tile saw I bought off Craig’s List, and other random tools. There is no clear flat path to the vehicles outside so maneuvering and stepping over things is required. Bringing in groceries is especially fun.


Similarly our screened in porch is where we’re storing a wide array of 2×4’s and massive pile of regular drywall. Probably not the best spot seeing as we never got around to covering the drywall with a tarp and it’s rained a number of times since we moved it there but nothing has gotten wet yet. **crosses fingers**

Inside the kitchen island is covered in full size floor plans and elevations I drew in CAD. The outlets in the island are littered with extension cords to power the many areas we don’t have power. They create a nice tripping hazard in the busiest room of the house.


Underneath the overhang of the island is our electrical storage area. It looked like this for 0.2 seconds before we realized we need to buy twice as much stuff.


The dining room looks like an episode of “Hoarders.” It started out looking organized (below) but it’s since spiraled out of control.


The living room only has half of a floor right now so the couch and chair are not directly in front of the TV. Sitting this close to the TV just can’t be good.

The room has no electricity so one of those kitchen island extension cords powers our TV and the floor lamp in the corner. If you want any light you have to climb over this maze of stuff to reach it. In an attempt to organize things I put all of our screws, nails, caulks, and foams on the built-in bookshelf.


The other half of the living room, master bedroom, and two former bathrooms have no floor, electricity, or insulation. The massive hole in the attic where the chimney was is dumping cold air into the space like it’s a walk in freezer. We tried to cover up the space by laying batt over it but we need to get that drywalled stat!


We tried to keep the study and guest bedroom nice by leaving the carpet in there for now. The idea was we could close the door and forget that our house is a mess but for all our good intentions it hasn’t really worked out that way. The attic access hatch is in the study closet so that room is also cold, full of tools, and littered with small pieces of debris people bring in on their shoes walking back and forth. We also ended up storing the boxes of our bathroom stuff in here because it makes things easier to find if they are kept out of that black hole that is our dining room. In the guest bedroom where we’re sleeping right now we put the boxspring and mattress on the floor because our four post bed frame would take up too much space. Both of our nightstands and dressers are also crammed in here.

It looks nice in these pictures because this was our first day of moving in here. Right now the freshly washed pile of laundry is on the floor because I haven’t taken the time to fold it yet and there is no good place to put the clothes anyway. Living out of a stack of boxes in our closet sucks. You can never get the same number of clothes back into the box as there was orginally because things got shuffled around. Then you’re left with a pile of boxless clothes and the only answer is to wear those first so they can spend their days in the laundry basket instead of on the floor or the top of the dresser. Plus with the cold weather I had to dig out some warmer clothes and now I have two big bins of winter clothes blocking Flannel Man’s dresser. I need to take control of this situation soon!


Then there is the basement…you know the only place we have a working bathroom…which has no electricity and tools scattered all over the floor. Down there we’re also storing all of the tile, grout, sink, faucet, showerhead & valve, towel bars, shower curtain rod, and mirror. The new recessed lights are in and wired up but the power for this space is feed from above (aka. our master bedroom) so our electrician jerry-rigged up a temporary solution. He wired the basement power to an end of an extension cord so that we can plug it into one of the extension cords from our kitchen. So to turn on the basement lights you have to balance your way across the open floor joists until you to the temporary piece of plywood laying loosely on top of the of floor joist next to the wires. Make sure you don’t step on the ends of the plywood or you’ll be falling through the floor! Then you turn around and tightrope back to solid flooring, go down a flight of stairs and find your way through the maze of tools and storage in the basement to the bathroom. Needless to say we rarely use the overhead lights because it’s such an ordeal for something as simple as turning on the lights! Instead we put a desk lamp on the floor with an extension cord to the unfinished side of the basement where we still have power. It works OK. Just enough light to keep you from stubbing your toes but as soon as you turn the corner to the bathroom it’s still pitch black. Luckily, the basement bathroom is on it’s own breaker so we always have lights in there. Taking a shower in the dark would have been horrible!


To make things even more interesting we have booby traps hanging from the ceiling for you to smash you’re head on. The remodel style recessed lights need to be able to pull out in case you ever need to access the wiring. The electrical inspector needs to see them hanging from the ceiling and we were having a hard time getting the flimsy feet to hold them in place without really pounding them in. We were afraid if we did that we wouldn’t easily be able to get them back out for the inspector so we had to leave them hanging from the already low ceiling. It’s hard to take a picture with no lighting but they are directly in front of the door when you walk into the basement and in the hall to the bathroom (bathroom door on the left).


You have to plan ahead when you think you might have to go to the bathroom. Because the “holding it” dance is pretty hard to do when you’re running down a flight of stairs and feeling around in the dark for a desk lamp. We were so spoiled before with bathrooms on the main floor and light switches!

Then you get to the bathroom. Ah yes the baby blue bathroom. I know the color doesn’t sound as offensive when you consider we used to have an avocado and harvest gold bathroom. But at least those bathrooms worked when we bought the house. The only thing working in the basement bath when we bought it was the faucet.


Both the toilet and the shower were broken and they had been for some time. Not wanting to waste money on replacing fixtures that we’d tear out in a few years when we gut the bathroom we attempted to fix them for the time being. A whole toilet replacement kit and a shower valve piece later and everything was up and running. The only problem: they weren’t running very well. When you flush the toilet you have to hold the handle down for a good 7 seconds before the bowl is empty. Very annoying. The shower valve well that’s a barrel of fun each morning trying to solve the where-is-the-right-temperature-water puzzle each morning. I feel like Goldilocks. You see when you turn on the shower it’s always either too hot or too cold. So you adjust the dial but the water temperature doesn’t change adjust again still the same temperature. Repeat 5 more times, get frustrated, and crank the dial all the way to the end where the water is scalding/freezing. Then repeat the process only in the other direction. Eventually find the ¼” of space on the dial where the water is actually mixed. Rejoice and finally take your shower. The best part is this ¼” of mixing area isn’t always in the same spot. Here’s a very simple diagram showing you what I mean:


So there you have it the truth about living through a remodel and it’s not glamorous. I think I’ve had more stubbed toed, bruised shins, and hit heads since we started this remodel than I’ve had in my life before this remodel. It could be worse though we could have no shower and be showering at a gym or be living in a 400 sf garage.


10 Responses to “The Dark Obstacle Course I Call Home”

  1. 1 Sarah @ { rad: renovations are dirty } November 14, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Oh man.. this post had me laughing. Not at you… but with you (?!) since I can relate all too well! Ah, the mess and inconvenience of renovations…. it’ll all be worth it in the end (hopefully anyway). 😉

  2. 2 Kristy November 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    We can also relate to this one! Fortunately we don’t have the darkness issue but definitely have stacks of building materials, tools, fixtures, etc., etc. throughout the house. The most “toe stubbing” thing in our house is the large stack of crown molding in the middle of our kitchen door (it’s too long to fit in the dining room only!).

    I hope the remodel picks up steam again – I can’t wait to see how it turns out! Good luck!

  3. 3 Kyle November 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I remember for over a year having giant stacks of hardwood flooring, baseboard, casing, tile and drywall, usually coated in a layer of dust in my living room. One day, came the turning point. I finally noticed the construction materials gradually getting used up faster than new materials were accumulating.

    Soon you guys will have amazing rooms instead of a construction zone. I’m really looking forward to seeing it unfold.

  4. 4 Lindsay November 14, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    It sounds like you guys are having fun 😉 I am an interior designer and my hubby is a realtor, so we restore old houses from time to time… I totally understand how you feel!! Take deep breaths and know when it is all done, it will be beautiful!!

  5. 5 kit @ DIYdiva November 14, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Ah, it’s so true that the reality isn’t always pretty. It’s an adventure though! And will be so worth it when you’re done.

  6. 6 Mike @HA November 15, 2011 at 10:19 am

    You’ll get there! We were in that lul for a long time but we’ve made some real progress lately and progress brings motivation. Luckily we’ve been able to contain most of our mess to the basement but I can relate to piles of junk everywhere and one receptacle for 1000 sqft!

  7. 7 steenbean18 December 1, 2011 at 1:07 am

    We had the same problem with our shower (the temp issue). We popped the valve cartridge out of the adjusting knob, soaked it in vinegar, and stuck it back in. It was my dad’s suggestion and it worked great!! In our case, it was a calcification issue. You might try it in yours since it’s a cheap/free option and might help! Even if you just replaced the valve, it’s not that expensive.

    • 8 Robin December 1, 2011 at 8:32 am

      Thanks for the tip! Yes the valve cartridge is new but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other calcification issues. Se have extremely hard water and the previous home owner broke the water softener by not maintaining it and then never replaced it.

  1. 1 We Have Real Floors and Everything! « 3 acres & 3000 square feet Trackback on December 13, 2011 at 2:56 pm
  2. 2 Huston We Have A Tub! « 3 acres & 3000 square feet Trackback on January 19, 2012 at 8:02 am

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This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
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