Friday, March 28, 2008

Can you hear me now?

Did we talk about how we have no phone? I think we did. I mean, we have a handset that is suppose to receive a dial tone - we just don't have the dial tone portion of the equation. This morning at the crack of dawn I met with a woman (yeah!) who is going to do some cable/phone installation for us. Perhaps this will be complicated, perhaps not. For now, we know we can get phone cable in our guest room/office. We'll go from there. But, we could have cable upstairs shortly. Glorious!!

Things seem to be moving quickly. I have divided the work into Phases to make things more manageable for us:

Phase 1: hardwood floor upstairs, new front door, install stained glass house numbers, paint house exterior, new exterior lighting, new mailboxes installed, phone and cable jacks.

Phase 2: re-frame the fireplace, fix hardwood floors, paint interior, washer/dryer closet repair to fit unit, lights in dining room

Phase 3: Kitchen remodel, refinish hardwood downstairs

Phase 4: Exterior landscaping, fence replacement, deck repair, patio correction/replacement, front fence upgrade

Phase 5: Hall & Master bathroom remodeling


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Let the games begin

In two weeks we should have our hardwood floors installed upstairs! Then, a week from that, the house painted (exterior). Then, a week from that, some interior painting done.
Perhaps by then I will actually have ordered some "real" dressers for us. When we moved from NYC, where my clothes were stored in the closet in the living room, we did not want to buy furniture until we knew we would be staying put for a while. Once that was decided, we wanted to wait to get the hardwood installed. This morning, as I pulled my tights from a plastic bin, I almost lost it. I was all "seriously, can I have a real dresser". Dan's reply "oh, is that what you want for your birthday?". Yes, please, a dresser for my birthday. Um, no. I just want a dresser so I don't have to stack my plastic bins next to my side of the bed. It's pathetic.
I have 5 appointments with handymen on Saturday and one at 8am on Friday (not fun). I may loose my mind.

I expect in the next six weeks we have the following done: exterior house painted, hardwood floors upstairs, actual working phone lines and cable (um, yeah, we plug our phone in outside right now - not kidding), a new front door, some color on the walls upstairs, and a somewhat accurate timeline to get the kitchen installed.
Alas, a picture of the dresser:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Something bad happened . . .

Laziness + demolition = no work completed. I have done most of the demo on the wall in our bedroom. Except, some of it is still there. It's been like a week. I am disgusted with myself.

A side note: drywall in your eye hurts. Somehow, when I was wearing my protective goggles, and mask, and gloves, and overall hazard suit, drywall got in my eye. WTF? Also, when you get drywall in your eye while wearing a suit of protective construction armor, it takes a while to get it out. My eye hurt for about two days. I decided to tell Dan after this pain subsided for fear he wouldn't let me smash things anymore. What would I do for fun then?

I couldn't take a picture as I couldn't really see that well. But, I did find this (which is EXACTLY what it looked like):

James E. Deluge

There is a very popular plumbing company in Washington, DC with an annoying and ear piercing commercial (which thankfully has not aired recently). As bizarre as the commercial is - it sticks in your brain. Its like that Quiznos commercial with the animals that look like rats after a nuclear attack. When it was time to get an estimate to move some of our central air vents, they came to mind. I played phone tag with a technician for an entire day, and finally made an evening appointment to come by. I hurried home from work and waited, and waited. About 15 minutes after he was suppose to show I received a call from someone else, telling me he was given the call since the other guy couldn't make it. Then he asked me what I wanted done and have me a price 5 times what I had received elsewhere. Hmmm. So, they made an appointment to just call me? Anyway, it was highly aggravating. I mean, he could have just said he wasn't coming over so I didn't have to make my bed - geez.

Anyway. . . the search continues.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Making a Renovation Budget

After becoming overwhelmed with all the high estimates for the renovations we would like to do, I have finally compiled a renovation budget. My system is this:

1 - Make an excel spreadsheet listing all the renovations you would like to do and each part of the renovation. For example, our kitchen includes: Cabinets, counter tops, appliances, sink, appliance hook-up costs, cabinet installation costs. It is easier this way to break down the items and see where you can trim costs.

2 - Establish the total amount you would like to spend on the renovation. Deduct 10-20%. This is what you should work with for a budget. Divide the costs among the pieces of your renovation, with a total at the bottom.

3 - The following columns should list your estimates from professionals who will do the work, or prices you have found for materials. This way you can easily see the difference between the costs.

4 - After each section total for the estimates, create a formula to note the difference in the price from your budget (ex: 'sum="contractors price total" - 5,000') This way you can see where you are over and under budget for certain projects.


* Don't forget about the additional costs (ie: contractors % fees) add those in to the total.

* The extra 10-20% you set aside is left for unforeseen costs in your renovations

* Get more than one estimate for a specific job, this way you can see what costs are averaging.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Later Dude!

No, I haven't moved to California - but I am saying "peace" to my not-yet-hired contractor. For now anyway. I am so sick of people telling me "well, this is a high cost of living area" when I am pulling my hair out over an estimate. Yeah, I get it, OK. I lived in Manhattan for over a year - I KNOW what a high cost of living area is. I expect to pay more for my house and my milk, fine, I get it. But, what I don't understand is why renovating a house costs 2x as much in Washington, DC than it does in Nashville, TN. It shouldn't. A 2x4 from Lowe's does not cost twice the price, nor does a granite counter.

Salvation came this week in a nice man named Jorge. Jorge is a painter (who painted our neighbors house and did an amazing and quick job) and came to our house last night to give us an estimate for painting the house and fixing some exterior molding around the windows. He looked at the house, asked about 10 questions, and gave us a quote. Done and done. Then, he asked if we would like to get our own paint to save money and make sure we were getting the quality we wanted. Um, yes. He told us the number and Dan and I looked at each other with twinkles in our eyes, trying to keep poker faces. Sure, sounds good. Jorge then told us he was sorry but he could not start for three weeks. Since we haven't picked a color yet - that is for the best. We showed him to the door and squealed with delight!!! His estimate was UNDER, UNDER our budget. Not only that, but it included extras...for no extra!! I said, oh, and can you paint this gate? Sure, he said - same price.

Another glorious estimate was given by Roy, a hardwood floor guy. He came in 25% less than Dude. Fantastic! This was also under what we had budgeted.

So, it looks like in about a month we could have hardwood floors upstairs, and. . . a freshly painted house!!! Weeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kitchen Inspiration

Since I cannot begin renovating my kitchen just yet, I will post some pictures of what I hope it will look like. The basic idea is: white shaker cabinets (double stacked to the ceiling), black granite counters, vintage latches for cabinets, farmhouse (apron) sink, white subway tile back splash with gray grout, wood floors, and schoolhouse light fixtures. We will also be moving the sink from the corner it is in now to under the cabinet where my green bag is.

Here is what my kitchen looks like now (or how it did 5 seconds after we opened the door for the first time):

Below are the inspiration photos I found:

This guy follows recipes very closely. . .
I wish marble counters did not get stained so much, I love them.

See? This lady looks happy . . .

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Secret

I now know the secret to getting your home renovated quickly: Money! This way, you don't have to shop around for contractors - you just pick the one with the best reputation and go for it. Oh, and you get to pick out the fixtures and appliances you "like" as a opposed to "afford". Bitter much? Um, yeah, a little. Anyway, hiring a contractor is great, but expensive. Also, hiring a contractor in a city is expensive. While a contractor in a rural area would be happy making 60k a year, one in a city wants to make 120k a year. Therefore, we are charged at least double for their services. Hmph.

When all our "charges" were added up for the renovations we want to do, we were looking a smidgen over what we wanted to spend. OK, we can do this. But, no we can't. Because on top of the tally you have to add in the contractors fees - which in this case were 25%. GOOD GRAVY!!!!!!!! I think we may have to be our own contractors for most things. I am also envisioning us not only demolishing our kitchen, but installing the cabinets as well. At this point the quotes for hanging the cabinets cost more than the cabinets themselves, and yes, I am looking at the right numbers.

I have also realized this "project" is going to take a very, very long time.

Another thing about renovations is that you have to worry about what to do with your pets. We have to cats, Dylan and Nina. Since we don't want kitty paw prints on our floors they will have to be out of the house for a while when they are being re-finished. Next week I have to take them to the vet for their shots so we can board them. I think they are going to hate me. I end this post with pictures of Dylan and Nina:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Buy Buy BUY

Home renovations is a combination of all my favorite things: new stuff, shopping, decorating, and breaking things. Glorious! Anyway... I am putting up two new lights in our dining/living area, instead of the recessed lights we have now. I have spent countless agonizing hours deciding which light to put where, how to set up the space and what will go where. This is what I have come up with:

This part of the space will become our "dining room". I have drawn where the light will go (we are having it moved over and it will not swag) and also added a link to picture of the light we are getting. I give myself and "A" for effort with this drawing, although it looks like a gross spider:

This is the light we hope to put there (I could not paste a picture for some reason):

Now, for the other half of the room. This is going to be the "living room" and I will put this light:

Here (this one I get an B for effort and an F for beauty):

The bad news is that both of these lights will be on the same switch unless we really get crazy and re-wire one of them. Perhaps this is an option. Perhaps not. We shall see. Until then I will wait for my lights to come in and clutter up my house. Yippee!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


It's Wednesday. Which means I get to smash down the doorway in 3 days. . .

On another note - I sold the old door on craigslist for a hundred smack-a-roos! People went nuts over it. I'm just glad it will go to a home where someone will love it and not glare at it with disdain everyday.

So, again, I get to smash some sheet rock very shortly. I made a picture to show the areas of destruction. I'm off to get some goggles and a hardhat. . .

Monday, March 10, 2008

One minute you're in, the next you're out!

We have a really strange french door in our bedroom which connects to the front jut out of the house - a 6x5 area with four windows. Kind of like a large bay window. I have no idea why the pervious owner decided to build this wall and put a door in - maybe to make an office area, or a small baby's room? Either way, it makes our room smaller and limits us to one window instead of...five. Big difference. Sadly, I have to admit was have been using this amazing and sunny space as a dumping ground for our luggage and extra bits of crap people throw into storage. But, now we will say "Auf Wiedersehen" to our door so we can actually use the as part of our room, a nice sitting area perhaps or an ultimate fighting ring? No, too small.

Alas, it is time to smash something! Oh, the glory of destruction. The door was installed yet never even unpacked (plastic removed) or painted. It is pretty nice actually. So, instead of smashing it to bits and wasting it, I wanted to carefully remove it and put it up on craigslist for someone else to use. Have I ever removed a door? Nope. Here is the before picture:

Within about 20 - 30 minutes I removed the door. It is actually pretty easy. Just removed the screws from the hinge to the door, remove the doors. Next, remove screws from the door frame and pry frame from wall. You can also remove the screws holding the frame pieces together to break it down into smaller pieces to move easier. Here is the doorway when the door was removed (and all our crap):

This weekend I plan to demo the small wall around and above the door. I'll be sure to take pictures.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


When our washer and dryer unit was replaced last year they gave us a unit that did not fit the space. We removed the door and let it all hang out there. It was that or no laundry. So we thought. After some quick research I discovered we could re-route the dryer vent to the side and then we would gain an extra 4 inches or so to push the dryer back. Here is what our laundry looked like before:

So, on Saturday Dan and I headed down to Frager's and hit the Just Ask Rental department. They have so many great things to rent! I had no idea. We got ourselves a nice appliance dolly and (since we were there) some bolt cutters to detach the grill from our deck. Yeah, um, I guess our neighborhood was not the best so the previous owners chained the grill to the deck. Really, really close to the deck. Which is all fine until your grill turns into a fire breathing dragon and has flames licking the railings. This may be the reason my neighbors grape vines never grew back. Our bad.

We got the dolly back and proceeded to pull the washer/dryer from the closet. This was not as easy as it looked. We both tried it:
No dice. So, we joined forces and after about 15 minutes finally got the hang of it. When we finished, we then realized we had to crawl behind and under the hoses in the back to get to and from the kitchen area. It was ridiculous. Since the unit was out - I took the time to hang some utility hooks so we could hang our mops and brooms and wood splitter up and off the floor. I found my judgment to be remarkably off when trying to hang something straight in a small space. This is where my trusty level came in! Dan punched out the hatch on the side of the washer/dryer and I then re-routed the dryer vent cable thing and -- we were in business. All we had to do was move it back in place.

The problem came in that as we moved the unit back, the dryer cord was slipping back behind the unit. This resulted in my having to climb on top of the unit and tape it to the side. But, every time we moved it - it fell again. Five times of this later:
We finally got it unto place. (Don't ask why my shirt was riding up so much - I was WORKING here people. And, a little plumbers crack - in my case back - never killed anyone.) I was glad my uncanny skill of slipping into small spaces really came into play in this project. All in all, this project took about 2 hours of steady labor. We put the door up and ... it doesn't fit. It partially fits, enough for it to look like this:
Since we are having a new door built anyway - this will have to do for now.

Injuries Obtained

  • Sprained Toe/Foot: 1
  • Blood Blisters: 2
  • Splinters under fingernail: 1
  • Bird Shit on me: 1
  • Eye Injuries: 3
  • Burns: 0
  • Falls off ladder: 0 (this is because we don't have a ladder yet)
  • Headaches: too many to itemize
  • Broken Bones: 0
  • Bandages Needed: 5
  • Electric Shocks: 2
  • Stiches: 0
  • Bruises: way too many