Archive for the 'to do' Category

Our Biggest Renovation Yet!

I am so giddy with excitement to finally be letting you in on our plans for the next two years. Starting next July we’ll be taking on a major remodel that includes all three bedrooms and two of our bathrooms. Half of our main floor will be torn up while we live in the basement rec room. Our master plan for the house is to remodel all of it but the bathrooms were the best place to start because they were holding this house back. With our main bathroom having goldenrod fixtures and a faux black marble sea shell shaped and our master bathroom having avocado fixtures with gold accents they are a constant reminder that this house was built in the 70’s. And with each bathroom only being 45 sf we wanted to expand them.

Main Bathroom:
4-30-08 120 copy

Master Bathroom:
4-30-08 114

Looking at the layout of our house the most logical way to expand the main bathroom was to remove the wall between the two bathrooms and double the size of the main bathroom. Then the master bathroom will be moved to what is currently part of our bedroom. This will nearly triple the size of our master bath and allow us to have two sinks and a separate shower and tub. Our master bedroom is very large but taking out that much space would leave the room feel pretty small. To gain some sf back we’ll move the wall between the living room and master bedroom 6 ft to the south which will also expand our walk-in closet to a nice size.


(Click for larger version.)


(Click for larger version.)

The only problem is that we have a fireplace on the angled wall. The fireplace is in a poor location because it is right where the main walkway is around our stair railing so you can’t have anything more than one chair in front of it or you’d be blocking traffic. Add to that that last year we found out that the fireplace is inoperable due to a 2×4 in the chimney and we’ve made the decision to remove both the basement and first floor fireplaces and chimneys. The basement fireplace is operable but is huge, ugly, in a poor location (it angles toward the stairwell wall), and we’re not sure we could save it so it is going as well. Otherwise we’d lose a lot of space for the existing chimney to stay which will be in the middle of our closet. Plus, it will free up a lot of space in the basement for unique storage solution I have planned. Everyone thinks we’re crazy to remove two fireplaces because it will decrease our home’s value but my defense is (1) an inoperable fireplace which is in the main living area isn’t adding much if any value, (2) the dated look and awkward placement of the basement fireplace is not what today’s homeowners are looking for, and (3) the new bathrooms and master closet will add more value to the house than the fireplaces ever would.

First Floor Fireplace:
4-30-08 133

Basement Fireplace:
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**Fireplace Rant**
I have to admit though that I’ve never been a fan of fireplaces. I like that they add a nice focal point to a room but they are so inefficient and drafty it makes my HVAC engineer head spin! You have a huge hole in your house that just dumps your heated air outside people! You wouldn’t leave your front door ajar all winter. Even if you have a damper in your chimney unless it makes a complete seal you’re still letting hot air out. Then you look at how much it costs to run a gas fireplace (about $1/hr) and you’re getting hardly any Btus of heat for your money. Wood fireplaces have cheaper fuel if not free but they take longer to get a fire started and once you have it started you need to be there for a long enough time to enjoy and watch the fire burn out which is not nearly as easy as flipping a switch on and off. Plus they are dirtier and you have to split and store wood. My thoughts were only confirmed when Flannel Man and I moved into our previous apartment that had a gas fireplace. In the year we lived there we never turned it on once. We were meaning around the holidays but that is when our schedules are the busiest so it never happened. I know a lot of other people who are the same way; when they bought their houses the fireplace was a plus and they planned to use it all winter but when it actually comes down to it they don’t use it for more than 4 days a year. If that’s the case they should just stick one of those balloon chimney blockers up there for the majority of the year and just treat the fireplace as decoration.
**Rant Over**

 

Since we are moving so many walls we also need to move, add, and remove some windows. One of the windows in the living room will need to be removed since it is where we are moving the wall to. Similarly one of the master bedroom windows is where our new master bathroom wall will be so it will need to be removed and instead we’ll have two smaller windows on either side of our bed. Another window will be added to future master bathroom to bring in more light and balance out the space. We’re going to keep the existing 6’x3.5’ window opening on the north wall but we’ll replace the window so it matches the rest. It’s always been a dream of mine to have a bathroom with natural light!

Which brings us to the floor. We want to rip out the stained off white carpet and replace it with hardwood floors. But where do we draw the line to have it start and stop? Originally, we were thinking of just doing the master bedroom since that would be the extent of our remodel. But seeing that we wanted the same floor in the hallway and two bedrooms we decided to include them into the project as well. Plus that makes the hardwood “stopping” line a much smoother transition where the entry peal-and-stick (which will be tile in the future) meets the hallway. We’re also going to be sound-proofing all three bedrooms and installing new trim and interior doors.

We’re looking to do everything ourselves besides major electrical and piping. Our timeline is pretty flexible since we can use the baby blue bathroom in the basement (yes we had every 70’s color in our house!). We’re looking to do demo, windows, the main bathroom, and the floors in the first year. Then we’ll finish up the master bath and closet in the second year.

2010 Accomplishments & 2011 Goals: Big Plans Ahead

With 2010 nearing an end it’s time to look back and see what our goals for this year were:

    • Replace the water softener – Done
    • Replace kitchen faucet – Done
    • Seed lawn where the geothermal system was installed and the new dog yard – Change of plans with the dog yard but we did seed the main yard
    • Landscaping, focus on front & fence flower beds – We did a lot with the front flower beds but the fence flower bed didn’t happen
    • Replace garage window & re-drywall the walls – We need to wait on the garage window until we make a final decision on which windows we’re going to use for the rest of the house but the walls are re-drywalled
    • Install shelving in the garage – Done
    • Build the walk-in gun safe Done and done
    • Paint the living room, dining room, and kitchen – Everything but living room is done
    • Get the basement bathroom working and replace the shower surround – Toilet is now working and we’re in the process of getting the shower working, shower surround is now going to stay
    • Fix the garage floor drainage issues Done and done
    • Refinish the dining room table & chairs, make new table leaves – Not done
    • Reupholster dining room chairs – Not done
    • Determine final house design for the major renovations in 2011, draw house in CAD & sketchup – CAD design done and sketchup model started, but the design won’t ever be final until we get closer to the remodel

Of course we ended up doing a lot more than just that this year but those were our goals.

For the beginning of next year we plan to:

    • Build a potting bench for the garage with a sheet metal top
    • Build an island for a the reloading room
    • Add plants to the sparse front flower beds
    • Create flower beds with brick edging along the fence
    • Dig out the flower bed along the back of the house where the soil is too close to the siding
    • Replace rotten garage window
    • Get the basement shower working because it will be our only bathroom for a while…

Then in July we’ll start our biggest remodel to date! Our goals are to:

    • Remove chimney and both the basement and main floor fireplaces
    • Move wall between living room and the master bedroom (which the fireplace is on)

      o Remove living room window that is in the way
      o Expand master bedroom closet

    • Completely gut and expand both the main bathroom and master bathroom

      o Main bathroom goes from 45 sf to 70 sf
      o Master bathroom goes from 45 sf to 130 sf

    • Fix the uneven floor
    • Install 4 new master bedroom and bathroom windows
    • Soundproof the bedrooms as much as possible
    • Finish main bathroom but only rough in master bathroom (which we plan to finish the following year)
    • Install solid hardwood floors in all three bedrooms and hallway
    • Make new trim, possibly for the whole house?
    • Install new interior doors
    • Move wall between living room and dining room
    • Replace carpet in the living room and dining room

We want to go from this:

To this:

And when we’re done we’ll essential have half of our house finished! So what do you think? Are we crazy for doing this?

2009 Accomplishments & 2010 Goals

Wow, I can’t believe 2009 is almost over.  It was a very busy year for us.  We accomplished far more this year than we did last year.  If you remember our goals for this year were:

  • Install seamless gutters with Gutter Glove  Done
  • Dig in underground drains for the downspouts  Done
  • Paint and prime the entire house, this includes the ceilings because we have water stains in almost every room  Halfway there
  • Do some basic landscaping, define flower beds and start planting  Done
  • Make a master landscaping plan for the future, from my last calculations we have nearly 20 flower beds/planting areas around the property  I have some basic plans
  • Create a yard for our dog Sophie?, clear out brush and install temporary fencing, we have to wait for spring to see if this is even possible there or if the ground is too marshy  Done
  • Cut the second garage door back in  Done
  • Install two new garage doors and openers  Done
  • Figure out how to fix the draining issues in the garage  Not done and a big problem right now
  • Install a new propane tank  Change of plans
  • Remove the old oil tank  Done
  • Install a new top of the line furnace and condensing unit  We went geothermal instead but done
  • Change the ductwork in the house to be multi-zone  Not possible with a single heat pump
  • Install and program new thermostats  Done
  • Start building the walk-in gun safe  To do in early 2010
  • Interview architects we may want to work with  May be bypassing this step…

On the whole I think we did a good job!  We stuck to our plan for the most part but did decide to go with a geothermal heat pump instead of a traditional split system.  Either way the HVAC system was replaced.  Plus I think that is a big upgrade.  Compared to 2008 we didn’t deviate much from the plan.

Now onto next year.  Our goals for 2010 are:

  • Replace the water softener
  • Replace kitchen faucet
  • Seed lawn where the geothermal system was installed and the new dog yard
  • Landscaping, focus on front & fence flower beds
  • Replace garage window & re-drywall the wall
  • Install shelving in the garage
  • Build the walk-in gun safe
  • Paint the living room, dining room, and kitchen
  • Get the basement bathroom working and replace the shower surround
  • Fix the garage floor drainage issues
  • Refinish the dining room table & chairs, make new table leaves
  • Reupholster chairs
  • Determine final house design for the major renovations in 2011, draw house in CAD & sketchup
  • Save up for big 2011 remodel (new bathrooms here we come!)

What are your 2010 plans?

20 Months of Home Ownership: A Visual Timeline

With the year coming to a close I’ve been spending some time reflecting on what we’ve accomplished since we bought the house a year and eight months ago. It’s been a whirlwind of projects both planned and unplanned. Our initial goals went flying out the window as everything seemed to be breaking. Yes, that is the glory of owning an older home but it really didn’t help that the previous owners didn’t do hardly any maintenance for 10 years! Even though we’re only halfway though painting the interior our house is actually starting to work (dare I say) smoothly. Every single thing in our mechanical room has been replaced except the water softener (which has been broken since we bought the house & we’re planning to replace early next year). No more waking up to cold showers when the water heater broke or wearing four layers of clothing in middle of winter because it’s too expensive to keep the house warmer. Now I just kick back and relax knowing that I can keep the house at 68 degF without having an outrageous heating bill or taking a long shower won’t deplete the house of hot water.

There is only thing I love more than lists and that’s pictures so without further ado here is a visual timeline of everything we’ve done so far:

2008 Acomplishments & 2009 Goals

I’ve been a bad, bad blogger.  Sorry life is busy.  I have a lot of catching up to do.

Considering that we bought our house in May I feel that we accomplished quite a bit in 2008.  We didn’t get everything done we had planned to do because we changed our priorities.  Instead of worrying about cosmetic things like painting we focused on winterizing our home for the harsh Wisconsin winter.  Here’s what we did in 2008:

All our hard work is paying off too.  We’re on track to use less than 1/2 of the energy the previous owner used last winter at 1/4 of the cost!  (More about that later.)

We’ve put together a master plan for DIY remodeling our entire house and well…it’s a 7 year plan.  Mainly because we’re paying for everything as we go and trying to avoid taking out a HELOC (but we may have to for the kitchen remodel but that is one of the last things we plan to do so we’ll have to see what we have saved up by then).  Our plan is to get the guts of the house repaired first and then go on to pretty cosmetic stuff later (besides paint that is).  So here’s our goals for 2009:

  • Install seamless gutters with Gutter Glove
  • Dig in underground drains for the downspouts
  • Paint and prime the entire house, this includes the ceilings because we have water stains in almost every room
  • Do some basic landscaping, define flower beds and start planting
  • Make a master landscaping plan for the future, from my last calculations we have nearly 20 flower beds/planting areas around the property
  • Create a yard for our dog Sophie?, clear out brush and install temporary fencing, we have to wait for spring to see if this is even possible there or if the ground is too marshy
  • Cut the second garage door back in
  • Install two new garage doors and openers
  • Figure out how to fix the draining issues in the garage
  • Install a new propane tank
  • Remove the old oil tank
  • Install a new top of the line furnace and condensing unit
  • Change the ductwork in the house to be multi-zone
  • Install and program new thermostats
  • Start building the walk-in gun safe
  • Interview architects we may want to work with

So what do you think?  Crazy?  Doable?

Our Summer To Do List

Between all of the matches and kayaking trips we have a lot to do on the house this summer. Besides maintenance and upkeep these are the major projects we want to get done:

  • Re-roof the shed
  • Put gutters on the house and fix the gutters on the shed
  • Put in a new, working patio door in the basement
  • Convert the shop area back into a garage by cutting back in the garage door
  • Re-insulate the attic
  • Paint entire house

 

Re-roof the shed

We’re getting right on this list by re-roofing the shed this weekend. We had bought extra shingles from the roofers who redid the roof on the house before we closed so we don’t have many other supplies to buy to finish the project. I just ordered a dumpster and we’re picking up the flat shovels used for tear off from Papa Flannel tomorrow. Flannel Man and I will be tearing off the old roof and laying down the new tar paper on Saturday and Papa Flannel will bring his roofing nail gun and help us put on the new roof on Sunday. Hopefully everything will go OK because FM and I only sort of know what we’re doing.

 

Put gutters on the house and fix the gutters on the shed

The house currently doesn’t have gutters and never has in the 35 years since it was built. This has caused the windows and doors on the exposed basement of the house to rot from the water constantly dripping on them. By not routing the water away from the house the foundation has begun to settle on one side along with the front walkway which now angles water towards the house. We want to add gutters to the house and run the downspouts underground so that we don’t have to worry about moving the arms every time we mow. We also want to add some downspouts to the gutters on the shed because right now there aren’t any. The water collects in the gutter, falls through the hole where the downspout should be, puddles in front of the garage door, and floods the garage. In the winter time the water freezes and prevents you from opening the garage doors.

 

Put in a new, working patio door in the basement

Because of the lack of gutters water from the roof runs off the roof and hits the house on the two story side. This has caused the wood on the windows and doors in the basement to begin to rot. The patio door is the worst. It is completely rotted out so that it no long can move. When we moved in we discovered that the door was actually open by 1/4″ and also has a 2″ round mouse hole in the corner. So for right now we plugged up all the holes and gaps with expanding spray foam to prevent bugs, mice, and air from coming in and out of the house. I can’t imagine what all those hose did to previous owners heating bill. We would like to replace this door so that we can use the patio sometime this summer.

 

Convert the shop area back into a garage by cutting back in the garage door

The previous owner converted one of the garage spaces into a carpenter shop and then used the garage doors in the shed to park in the winter. They even left garage door on the ceiling so it could be converted back easily. We want to convert it back into a garage so that we can both park in the house and not have to tromp across the front yard in the winter. We’ll have to cut the garage door back in, remove the wall between the two garage spots, and close up the ductwork that was used to heat the space.

[Note the garage door at the top of this picture.]

 

Re-insulate the attic

There was only minimal insulation put in the attic of the house when it was built and over time it has compacted down to only three inches of insulation. There is also evidence of mice living up there in the winter time that have dug pathways everywhere though the insulation. The lack of insulation is most likely the main reason the previous roof was completely shot after only 11 years. There was a lot of ice damming that occurred because of the heat leaving the roof. We want to look into both batting and spray in insulation.

 

Paint entire house

With most of the house having white walls and almost white carpet we’d like to add some color to the walls. We also need to paint all of the ceilings because there are water stains on almost every ceiling from the previous roof. It would be nice to cover up the horrible goldenrod color in the study and the dog blood in the dining room, hallway, and master bedroom. We actually picked up some paint samples last weekend and now have spots of paint all over the house. I think we’re going to be painting the master bedroom first before our new bed arrives.

 

 


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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