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Friday, May 24, 2013

Um... Is this normal?

Is it normal to have a deep and meaningful relationship with a heating and air conditioning system?  I would bet it is not....but let me explain...

Our Geothermal system went in this week.  You may ask... what is a geothermal system?  It is our new heater, air conditioner, and water heater.  Say what!? How is it different than a typical heating and air conditioning unit?  While my husband could type up a nice detailed explanation for you, I am more inclined to post this video for you to help explain how it works.  :-) I don't know about you, but I am more of a visual person anyway.

Did you make it through the whole video? -it was a little lengthy, sorry.

So basically the system uses the ground temperature, which stays at a generally constant temperature of ~55 degrees, and transfers heat to or from the system to heat/cool your home.

 I think most people can see the benefits of geothermal, but why did WE chose it?  There are several reasons:

1. Currently we have an old oil burning furnace that is likely original to our home.  Oil burning furnaces are way out of date, so it really needed replacing, and we certainly were not going to replace it with another oil furnace. Natural Gas would have been the first choice, however, it is not provided out where our house is located.  Sure, we could have done an electric or a propane furnace but when you compare them with a geothermal system, there is really no contest in our minds.

2. It is SUPER energy efficient.  Compared to an oil furnace, we will save an estimated $2000 a year with our geothermal system.  Even with Gas, its about $1000 in savings.  If you are interested, you can find the cost savings calculator that I used here.
3.We have to replace our furnace AND add air conditioning AND a new water heater, so we really were starting from scratch.  One unit offers, both heating AND air conditioning and with an added part, you can utilize the system to heat your water.  We've been told, in the summer, when you are adding heat to the unit from your house, you basically get FREE hot water. You can't beat free!
4. We live next to the river which provides the perfect opportunity to install an open loop system, which is a less expensive installation approach. 
5.  We sprang for the extra option of being able to control the humidity levels in our your home.  No more dry static-y air for me in the winter! Woohoo!

6. Although the upfront cost is higher than traditional heating and cooling systems, over time, you more than recover the cost.  What also helps is that there is a 30% tax CREDIT for the cost of installing the system.  (And if you are like me and always have to ask your husband which is better - a tax credit or tax deduction?:  the answer is tax credit) That is a HUGE amount of money that comes right back into our pockets bringing the total cost of installation down to a more manageable price.  Not only do we see a tax benefit once but we also get a property tax deduction every year because of our geothermal system! Are you sold yet!? We were.

I think you can probably hear my excitement! And of course not every family is in the right situation for adding a geothermal system to their home.  Again, if we did not see ourselves living in this house long-term, we would probably go for something with less cost up front.  But we anticipate seeing that money back in energy savings.  We have been sooooo happy working with the guys over at Crystal Valley.  They have been great at helping us with the geothermal learning curve.  We really appreciate their thoroughness and professionalism. 

So that's that! We won't kick start the system until probably more like August/September after all the dry wall is know, after the heat of summer is over.  Looking forward to that!

Other exciting milestones from the week:

The load bearing wall came down and the big beam went up!!!

Before: living room looking toward dining room and kitchen

 After: living room looking toward dining room and kitchen

We finalized and ordered our kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanity!

We got the dumpster!... and its filling up fast!

It's been an exciting week! But, if you can believe it or not, we have more demolition yet to do.  Bathroom, watch out, we're coming for you! I'll be back next week with another update! Hope you all have a great Memorial day!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Us!

3 years ago today, one nerd and one future nurse got married.  They looked like this on that day.....

They were pretty happy.  They are STILL pretty happy. 

I have made it a tradition every year to make a photo book of the previous year of marriage.  Now that it's our anniversary, I can start making our "Year 3" book! Since we are such big picture takers, I felt like we had all these pictures, but needed a way to condense them and display them without having them everywhere in our home.  A photo book became a great way to actually use our pictures and for us to keep track of the memories we make together.
Along with pictures from weddings, birthdays, showers, parties, vacations etc... my favorite part of the book is the "Highlights" sections.  Its the place where I make a list of events from the year, some being more significant than others obviously, but things I want to remember nonetheless.  I thought I would share some of these highlights from our 3rd year of marriage:

We became an Aunt and Uncle! Welcome baby Max!

We took a gun safety class

Michael and I ran the County Fair 5K Road Run

I was rebaptized and Michael was a integral part of it

We started looking for a house

I went on a road trip with two wonderful ladies

We had various friends come for visits

We started leading a small group

We took a family vacation to Aruba

We got to visit our friend Peter at medschool where he took us to see the cadavers 

We bought a house

We started renovating our house

Michael's sister graduated from college

We started a blog :-)

We lived it up in Chicago with the Benders

I will likely add some more highlights to the list, but those are the ones I chose to share today.  Michael and I have been soooo blessed this last year.  We are so thankful for our family, friends, jobs, and most of all, each other.  Can't wait to see what highlights will come for year 4! 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Demolition: If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix it!

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it......but I'm pretty sure I just broke it" is what was going through my head when I was doing this:

Yep! I have been a busy girl, ripping and tearing.  Michael was gone all last week on business so it was left to me to get started.  We had to start right away (which I wanted to do anyway) because we are having the heating and air conditioning people out to install our new unit and duct work on Monday (crazy!).  In order for them to do what they need to do, we had to open up walls and rip down the ceiling in the basement.  So that's what I did!

Before Michael left though, we had our first workday out at the house where we shared our first meal together.  A little picnic in the living room. You can say it.  "Awwwwwwwww"

And see that carpet? Well, I ripped that up.  It's gone!
And finding the hardwood underneath was enough to make my week! The plan is to get them refinished so we cannot wait to do that down the road after we patch all the areas where walls have come down.

Anyway, once Michael left for Alabama, it was on! My first target? The nastiest carpet you have ever seen... or smelled.  Ew! The basement carpet had been worn down to the pad and had a lot of lingering animal smells in it. So it had to go.  See the dark area in the picture below? Yeah... that's thread bare carpet.  When I tore that I up, it was like sawdust underneath.  Crazy. 

Here's the before demo picture of the basement:
 And here's the after demo picture:
I did that! I'm so proud! :-) And I had sooooooo much fun! There is something just so satisfying about tearing a room down to the studs.  Speaking of studs... Funny story:

So after I had piled all of the nasty carpet outside, I asked my dad to come over and help me drag it into the garage where it would wait to be thrown into the dumpster that had yet to be delivered to our house.  So he comes barreling over the field and through the creek.  He gets out of his truck, looks at the pile of nasty, stinky carpet and says "You could burn this."  I just look blankly at him and thought to myself, "I don't want to smell this stuff the way it is, and I definitely don't want to know what is smells like when it is burning!"  As I was thinking this he had already gotten into he truck and he pulls out a blow torch (yes, my dad keeps a blow torch in his truck... doesn't yours?), then he starts dragging a piece of the carpet toward the old burn pile on our property.

And this:
 Turned into this:
I just laughed! What else could I do? Avoid standing down wind... that's also what I did. 

So back to business, after tearing out the carpet, I had to scrape the whole floor too to get the pad up.  What a workout!  Then I tore down the ceiling tiles and after that I moved to tearing off the paneling.  I was always just a little afraid of what I was going to find around every corner.  But really I only found a very small amount of mold in one corner, 1 cockroach, and some walnuts.  Walnuts? Yes walnuts, I guess there had been a little critter storing them up in the drop ceiling of the basement and they all came crashing down on me as I pulled some ceiling tiles down.  Like a walnut waterfall!... Except not beautiful at all. And very very dirty.

So demoing the basement was a big deal and when Michael FINALLY came home I was so glad to see him, I made him clean up all the scrap wood that I had knocked down.  :-) What a welcome home party huh? He was a good sport about it but he was anxious to get his own hand in the drywall.

We moved upstairs and this is what we accomplished this week.  Boom:

Looking through the kitchen into dining room

Opposite side of kitchen

Looking into living room from front door 
From living room toward kitchen and dining room

It's already starting to feel more open! There are more walls to be torn down so stay tuned! We also met with a bunch of people to get quotes on windows, siding, hardwood refinishing, geothermal units, kitchen cabinets.  So also stay tuned for more details on those items as well. 

In summery, here is are few things I have learned this week
1. Demolition is fun
2. Demolition is a good workout
3. My new favorite tool is called the "Wonder Bar"
4. I have a favorite tool
5. Carpet burns 
6. I appreciate having my husband around (I kinda already knew that though... it was just a good reminder)
7. The rule that, in renovating, things are ALWAYS more expensive than you think they are going to be, is only true half of the time.  But when it's true, it is too true. :-(
8. Wear a mask. It makes your face crazy hot but it's better than getting the black lung. 
9. Demolishing part of your house is no way to show off your new haircut! 
10. There's no good way to keep plaster from falling down your shirt

Happy Weekend! Michael and I are off to Chicago to celebrate our anniversary!

Friday, May 10, 2013

If You Haven't Heard... We Bought a House!

It's true! After about 5 months we finally were able to close on our house! Here is our House Story:

In October 2012, we decided to start looking for houses.  Now, October is a terrible time to start looking for houses, as we soon found out! Nobody wants to sell and move during the holidays so most people like to list in the Spring.  We didn't care, we were just excited to start looking! We were looking for something old (built before 1940), at least 3BR, 2BR, Garage, Basement, Good location, etc.. But we soon found out that with homes that are older..... sing it with me, "you can't always get what you wahahahnt."
1. Loved it, had a great yard, great garage, great woodwork, but the neighborhood was getting into the sketchy zone, and for the amount of work that the house needed, they were asking too much!
2. Loved it too.  So much charm! But it had radiator heating and therefore it was not feasible to put in Central Air.  No AC, along with having a questionable basement, kept us from making a move on it.
3. Great yard and barn but other than than, it just did not apeal to us.
4. Was the -one that got away- but eventually led us to our current home! This beauty was on the river, it was huge, so much character, great yard and location.  IT. HAD. IT. ALL. But as we sat down to dinner, right after returning home from seeing it, we got a call from our realtor saying that there was an offer on it.  Unfortunately/Fortunately we did not move fast enough and, well, it got away.  But looking back now, we know it was a blessing we missed out on that house.
5. Forclosure....It was just a big N.O.
6. Adorable, but no yard, no garage.
7. Cute Cute Cute house.  A location that just did not apeal to us and a price we just couldn't justify with the work we wanted to do to it.
8. Yikes.  No.
9.  The Winner!!

We had been praying that God would lead us through this process and allow us to find the right home for us and, boy, did He deliver! After losing out on house #4, we felt like no other house would ever be able to give us all the things that house could have.  So come December, after only 2 months of looking, we were feeling kind of disheartened.  We were even discussing the idea of building, which was something we had always been apposed to!
Enter my parents.
My parents were in the process of buying some land and on that land there was a house.  This house:

Oooooh this house.  There had been renters living in it for quite some time now (10ish years) so when the whole family (literally: mom, dad, brothers, sisters, spouses, and babies) went to see what my parents were buying, we did not have the highest of expectations.  We just went for moral support.  But when we got there, all we could see was potential. My parents didn't want to deal with the house, so when they saw our interestest, they happily allowed us to take over that part of the purchase.

We had always been OK with the idea of doing some work to a house in order to get it to where we would be proud to call it home. But Michael, more than myself, was concerned about getting in over our heads with a reno.  Well, I guess it has happened anyway.  :-) This house is a HUGE renovation.  Pretty much completely, it's a "everything must go" kind of reno.   But we see so much potential in the house and can see ourselves living here for many many many years to come.  Don't get me wrong, if we were going to live here only 5 years, buying this house would have been a terrible mistake! But because we can put in the long term work this house needs, I think it was meant to be ours, to give it the love it needs, to be a wonderful home.

I want to share with you some the potential that we saw in the house:

The main reason the house is worth all the time, sweat, debt, and tears, is the property. The property is on the river, on approximately 1 acre of land, and on the edge of my parent's land.  This is the view from the front porch:

Our view of the river

View over the creek and onto my parent's property

The house has two fireplaces!

One in the living room
One in the basement

The main living area has the potential to open up walls and make it more of an open concept layout.

The kitchen is going to get a whole new look! 
Say Goodbye to those walls! 

Hardwood floors throughout the main floor, which includes 2 Bedrooms! 

 The master bathroom is going to get a facelift as well.


More potential in the basement and in the attic.  These renos will come later.  We aren't crazy... or made of money!

 Basement includes room for a family room, game area, bathroom, and bedroom

Attic includes room for 2 bedrooms with built-in storage and 1 bathroom.

Yep its happening in phases! Phase 1= main floor renovations (kitchen, master bath, windows, siding, garage). Phase 2= basement.  Phase 3=Front porch and landscaping.  Phase 4=Finishing attic.
There is so much more to this house and so many plans we have up in our little brains about what we are going to do with the house (i.e. fire-pits, mudrooms, piers, front porch, kayaks, four-wheelers, etc..)! I hope you enjoy the ride as much as we do! Stay tuned! The demolition has already started!