Holidays Under Renovation

December 1, 2011

Can you believe it is December 1st?  Aside from a freak Nor Easter in October, the weather has been down right balmy by New England standards.  We are lucky too because not only is the front not finished, but the office is all torn apart down to the studs.  I am hoping the insulation fairy will have it buttoned up before the real cold weather begins, but I wouldn’t want to rush things…

I have been getting some questions lately along the tune of “how do you live like that”?  So I thought I would provide you with some tips for Enjoying the Holidays while living in a construction zone.

Tip #1 – Take cleaning right off your to-do list.  Chances are as soon as you’ve got the place spotless someone will decide to saw up something or rip down something and coat everything with dust and sawdust.

Tip #2 – Invest in a blindfold and walk around the house.  After you bump into a few sheets of blueboard, trip over a ripped up floor and knock over some fixtures you will be so grateful to have your eyesight back that you might not notice the mess (for a day or two).

Tip #3 – Stop entertaining.  Better yet, deadbolt the doors and shut the lights out even when you are home.  This will discourage even the pop-in visitors and that way no one will ask any questions.

Tip #4 – Go on vacation.  When you can’t have a conversation with your spouse without arguing and your life has become a giant to-do list… it’s time to take a break.  Preferably somewhere else!

Tip #5- Ignore #3 and have a big party.  It’s a way for you to give back – give guests a parting gift of appreciation for their own homes that they aren’t living your life.  Priceless.

Tip #6- Imbibe lots of Spiked Eggnog

Tip #7- Try not to work with power tools while practicing #6.

Tip #8- Focus on those less fortunate (war, famine, disease) and you will realize how insignificant your renovation project is in the big scheme of things.

Tip #9- Always look backwards, never ahead.  Focus on what you have done.  Invite over friends that will say “Wow, you’ve really done a lot since I’ve been here!”   Never think about all that is left to finish or how many years lie ahead of you to get there…

Tip #10- Don’t stop believing that in the end it will have all been worth it.  Did I mention the eggnog?


Happy Anniversary – one year…

September 20, 2011

Well it’s been ONE YEAR since we packed up and moved all our belongings and embarked upon our old farmhouse restoration project.  I really don’t feel like we have accomplished all that much, maybe because nothing feels “done”…  It is encouraging when friends visit and they say they can’t believe how much we’ve done… I am usually tempted to hook them up to a polygraph…

Here is the LIST of our (work in) progress…

  1. Managed installation of new septic system on sellers dime.  Chased contractor around in fall and in spring (seeding).  Contractor reneged on loaming and seeding leach field.  Chased lawyers around.  Finally got remaining $ to finish project.  Timeline:  Sept 2010 – Sept 2011.  Lesson Learned:  Avoid septic escrow holdbacks at all costs!  If you find yourself in that situation insist that your lawyer hold funds (this really saved us).  Finally, never go with the cheapest bidder.  Unfortunately we were stuck with the sellers choice…
  2. Installed gutters to try and redirect water from basement.  Helped somewhat (tip of the dampness iceberg down there)
  3. Installed new windows in living room and dining room
  4. Rebuilt wall under beam.  Still waiting for pocket doors and T to sheetrock.
  5. Hired contractor to jack up basement and rebuild stairs.  He showed up twice.  Chased contractor via phone and in-person.  He sheepishly apologized but never finished job.  Gave up and T finished the supports.  Had another carpenter rebuild stairs.  They are now level.  Yea!
  6. Removed one squirrel, one possum, one snake and lots of mice.
  7. Gutted front living room – removed gas stove that was never fully vented.  Updated wiring.  Soundproofed ceiling.  Rebuilt back wall.  Living room is partially blue-boarded.
  8. Gutted hallway.  Removed lots of mouse debris (poop, skeletons, pee).  Re-insulated and rewired.
  9. Installed two new windows in hallway – much more light coming in.
  10. Paid neighbor to remove pine tree in front of house.  Paid landscaper to put in walkway and fill, loam and seed front lawn.
  11. Framed up area for half-bath under stairs.  Pulled plumbing permit.  Working on pipes in basement.  Should be roughed in soon.  Thanks Dad!
  12. Disconnected baseboard from areas that are gutted.  Bought new baseboard to install.  Need blue boarding done first…
  13. T got distracted by building a massive shed.  That needs roof and doors/windows, but it is coming along…
  14. Removed defunct second chimney from the attic down to basement.  Gutted exterior wall.  Bought new slider in April…still waiting for it to be delivered…
  15. Dug out sump pump area in basement so the pump is lower than the floor.
  16. T put in at least three concrete footing to replace undersized or non-existent supports
  17. Hired neighbor to dig footings for front bay window supports, tame back jungle and plow area for garden.
  18. Gutted front bedroom wall in anticipation of 2 new windows being installed…still waiting for them to be put in…
  19. Gutted exterior wall in downstairs office/study.  Replaced ugly window with more appropriate sized one to match others in house.  T needs to knock down that chimney so we can rewire and insulate that room.
  20. Hired contractor to replace the front siding with Hardy Board.  Contractor having intense personal issues and does not show up to work.  Waiting about a year to finish front windows and five months on siding.  Lesson learned:  do not mix friendship and business.
  21. Put cover on well!!!
  22. Cut up dead tree by stream
  23. Took time out to build a duck house and predator proof cage and raise four baby ducklings into adults.

It looks like it is going to be another cold winter folks!  As of right now there are only three rooms in the entire house that are untouched.  So much for one room at a time… although we are focusing on doors, windows and insulation.

Our goal this year was cleaning up the front of the house.  I don’t know if we are going to make this due to circumstances out of our control (aka mia contractor), but we are still hopeful…  It has been a busy year!

Making Progress…

August 21, 2011

Now that the basement projects are underway we also have started putting up blue board in the living room.  Now when I say “we” you know I mean the royal we — aka T and my Dad.  I told my Dad the other day that he is hands down the best contractor we have and believe me we have a few…

Anyway, I thought I would show you the ceiling – a real ceiling.  Walls to follow I am sure…

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