18 Months Worth of Work

Shortly after I put together the last post, documenting the changes we had made to the house in our first year here – we learned two very life changing facts.

  1. While our AC was being repaired in June, we were told the furnace was busted and would need to be replaced or we would all die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  2. In July, I found out I was pregnant!

So most importantly, over the past 18 months, I made this little guy who is already 9 months old (#math) and amazing and all over the place.

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But thats not really why we’re here.

That first discovery led to a whole world of chaos.

How do I make this story short-ish.

A normal person would have just replaced the furnace and called it a day and enjoyed the rest of the summer – but we are not normal.

To be fair, it was impossible to get the upstairs warm enough in winter or cold enough in summer. We were pumping air from the basement, through the huge main floor and upstairs from one undersized heating system and it was super inefficient. And my HVAC husband had other plans.

The boring part of this story is that we’re putting radiant floor heating on the main floor and are able to do that from within the basement. Technically, even that isn’t done – we did the big main room and dining room and most of the time its plenty to keep things toasty enough. The rest of the main floor has another life ahead of it and we haven’t wanted to attach to areas of the subfloor that might need to get replaced in the future. Other boring details – its powered by a tankless water heater, so we use that for all our hot water and some day it will also power heat to the basement. So its a beast, but amazing.

But, that left us without any heating/cooling for the upstairs where we need it the most. So it was time to start tearing the house apart. Literally.

We decided to install a separate furnace/heat pump system (honestly, I don’t even know what it all is) for just the upstairs. There is a furnace upstairs, all new duct work and of course, all new electrical. Goodbye knob and tube. It does heating and cooling since that is where all the bedrooms are so its always comfy for sleeping. We decided that we don’t typically need AC on the main floor because the house stays pretty cool down there except for exceptionally hot days. We may regret this decision when we do a master suite on the main floor but thats an issue for future Kim and Dylan.

So here’s the recap of what’s going on upstairs:

  • Tear down 90% of the walls to redo ductwork to all rooms, all the electrical, and reconfigure the half bathroom to a full bathroom.

Oh – AND we had just finished redoing the porch steps completely. And I am pregnant and chasing a 2 year old around while Dylan is spending all his free time working on the house.

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Goodbye weirdest half-bath ever.

Oh – and everything is lathe and plaster, which Dylan LOVED tearing down.

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We had to lose some really great built-ins, but I’m almost over it.

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Dylan did all the engineering of the new bathroom layout, electrical, ductwork, re-purposing attic space and the kids rooms. That alone saved us tons of money but probably added years of stress to his life. But I can say now that he did an AMAZING job.

View looking in the opposite direction (towards the bedrooms now)

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Spoiler alert – that big blue thing is a chimney and that goes away throughout all of this too.

So basically, this is the end of summer and all demo upstairs stops to focus on getting heat downstairs before we all freeze to death – because if you were paying attention, there is now no heat anywhere in the house, and Winter Is Coming.

And we have a 2 year old and a pregnant lady here. The two year old has been moved into her temporary bedroom downstairs lovingly referred to as the crazy room. Fortunately, she’s not picky.

Ok – so here’s where things get fun. We had to demo the chimney/fireplace because Dylan also wanted to relocate the stairs both to the basement and upstairs to improve the layout and flow. We had never really used the fireplace because it was unsafe. Someday we’ll figure out something besides the plywood inside the mantle that is preventing it from being a giant hole from the living room to the basement.

Bet you didn't know plywood could be so festive.

Bet you didn’t know plywood could be so festive.

But at the end of October, we had our chimney demo’d – which is an unfortunate time to remove a chimney because it’s fall/winter and now you have a chimney sized hole in your roof.

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It was temporarily tarped over – which brought on a great rain and windstorm and made it so that it was raining inside our house. Like – a lot.

And kind of cold.

I think at this point we had a ton of space heaters, specifically for P’s room of course and the living room. But we have a nice open space around the bedrooms now.

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We thought about turning the hole into a skylight, but that was too much money/trouble and it needed to stop raining in my house.

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Now here’s a LONG period of boring stuff, like running electrical, installing the furnace and ductwork, installing insulation and framing in the bathroom and attic spaces.

Oh, and apparently still installing radiant floor heating which looks like this. And yes – I would help Dylan while 6 months pregnant after P went to bed, or at naptimes because thats the only way things get done in DIY-land.

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And then this guy came along.

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So now we’re at March with an almost 3 year old and a newborn and most of our house still torn apart. AWESOME!

I’m really not trying to dissuade anyone from DIY-ing, but you should know its not all fun and games and shopping at fancy lighting stores…we’re almost to that part.

I also stopped taking pictures of the house and only took pictures of a squishy baby. But this is the boring stuff anyway – electrical, bla bla bla. Its real important to a house, but not good for photography.

This is upstairs in June 2016. All open, you can kind of see some different walls towards the bathroom. Basically the boring stuff is done and it’s about time to put it back together.

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By July we had even moved the baby out of our room and into his own room!

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Definitely hung a curtain from the rafters, set up his pack n play and a rocking chair and called it good – for several months.

And throughout this we had to also run new plumbing upstairs for the bath, and new sink and toilet location. And all those pipes have to go all the way to the basement, which meant we needed to open up a wall in P’s current room (the crazy room). So her room now also included this wall.

Bonus points though – the 3 year old now knows that toilet waste goes through the black pipes…which might be true.

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We were responsible homeowners and permitted all the electrical and HVAC and plumbing work – so it had to be done right, and inspected. But I’m pretty sure our house won’t burn down or explode, and that was worth it.

About this time we also ordered all new windows for the upstairs which took several months to manufacture and install (by professionals). There were a few hiccups along the way, but totally worth it. I love windows that actually open and are safe and quiet!

Here’s the old windows in our room.

Hi Jasons!

Hi Jasons!

New windows from the exterior.

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And our really cool, big privacy glass window that will be in our tub/shower. All the other windows are your basic window.

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So FINALLY, middle of October all of this sheetrock gets delivered and hauled upstairs!!

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Thankfully, not by us but by professionals. This next part goes a lot faster because we hired out the installation of all the drywall and tape/mud finishing. It would have NEVER gotten done and I was very over this project.

One guy hung all the walls in 2 days.

Another crew of several guys had it taped and mudded over a week.

You have to know what you’re good at and what problems to throw money at.

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We did haul all the drywall scraps ourselves and P even helped out.

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Then, we spent a frantic weekend priming everything – I took a few days off work to paint walls and get the rooms ready to move the kids back in. We had H in our room again, and P was still downstairs.

And here’s the part where if you’ve been scrolling because this is so freaking long – STOP – and I will actually show you what things look like now (even though its not totally done)

We’ve closed up a doorway in the dining room so we can move the stairs back eventually. I haven’t touched on this much – soon, they will go straight up instead of turn at the top so you come up and there is more head space, and more hallway.

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Here’s coming up the stairs

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And looking towards the bathroom

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And for fun- a quick before:

Upstairs Floors Before

Here’s P’s room, which I love.

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Complete with drill and stud finder still. Real life folks.

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See that crazy hole in the wall? Each kids room has a nook that used to be weird attic space. We moved some of it into each bedroom so the kids have an extra special play space. P already has hers trashed with toys and we’ve had some cozy family story time.

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And H’s room. Also love.

Ok – i just love having real rooms again.

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And of course there are little things like the curtain rod is too thick for the grommets in the curtains I got and the curtain rings I want are on backorder for 3 more weeks. So we tuck the curtains into the top of the windows and call it good. And we need to do all the baseboard and window and door trim. Turns out not having these things has never bothered anyone under the age of 4.

The only change in our room besides the windows was a new light fixture. We haven’t had an overhead light in our room at all, so this feels real fancy.

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Tons of storage space still – we have one whole nice not-scary attic near the bathroom.

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Holly G – if you see this, don’t be offended about your dino print! It’s going up, I just still have walls to paint!!

Yes – we still have to paint the hallway. We painted the floors in the kids room and put down rugs until we do something more permanent. And then we’ve torn off a bunch of stair railing in preparation for moving the stairs, so its totally dangerous up here still.

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You don’t have a special drop from your second floor to halfway down the stairs at your house?

And the bathroom needs to get finished but will be resumed after the holidays at this point. Tile is picked, fixtures are here. The tub is in…and you could even bathe in it if you were so inclined (which, I nearly am after all of this)

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So there you have it.

This project has nearly broken all of us multiple times over the last 18 months. But I can finally breathe. Dylan I think has some breathing room. Our babies are snug in their beds that are warm at night. And I would still do it over again…I think.

This was BY FAR the biggest thing we’ve tackled and probably the biggest project we will ever do at one time. There were so many interconnected pieces that made one little repair spiral totally out of control. But we knew that was a risk when we bought this place.

I don’t know how people blog about their projects while doing them, working and raising kids and trying to have a life. Obviously – I can’t do it all. But I will try to post major updates like this occasionally.

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One thought on “18 Months Worth of Work

  1. I think my favorite picture is that one of P helping carry sheetrock down the front steps. I can’t believe how quickly she’s grown up. Good job getting an epic recap post up! It’s always so much work (well, not as much as the actual DIY work, but still), but it’s so fun to see all the photos and hear the project stories.

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