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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Gettin' the Stink Out of the Basement

Remember when the basement looked like this?
So stinkin' scary.  And when I say"stinkin,'"  I mean, seriously, it was stinkin' bad!  Some of you know, you smelled it.  For others of you who never got the pleasure... well let me tell you - It. was. foul. 

The renters that lived in the house for 10 years before we bought it had a number of dogs.  And these dogs had obviously peed in the basement many times.  You can even see the stains in the carpet in the picture above.  We thought maybe that when we ripped the carpet up (you can read more about that here), it would take care of the problem.  Nope! Not one bit, actually.  So all summer we have been avoiding the basement like the plague, but soon we will be moving in and we are going to need that space - for laundry and storage - and someday, for lounging. 

So what did we do? Well, with the help of Steve, we developed a game plan.

Step 1: Grind the concrete floor to remove the rest of the carpet pad that was still glued to the floor.  


So last weekend we invited our friend Cory over to help Michael grind the floors.

 We rented the floor grinder from Four Star Rental - the same place we rented the ditch witch. 
So while the girls were upstairs painting the ceilings, the boys were down stairs grinding down the concrete floors.
Here is how it looked mid-grinding.  

Then Michael swept the floor and even mopped it a little to ready the floor for the next step.

Step 2: Paint the floor with an odor-blocking sealer. 


 Now that a thin layer of the concrete floor was sanded off, along with the urine stained carpet pad that was still stuck to it, we were ready to paint it.  We used Kilz Odorless Primer.We chose oil-based instead of latex because Michael had read online that the oil-based is better for sealing out moisture in addition to sealing out the smells.

The Verdict:

It worked! So far, we have not been able to detect any of the old urine odors!!Woo hoo! 
And the floor looks so much better too! Bonus!

We are so so so encouraged! For about $200, we got this space back from the depths of smell hell.

Cost Breakdown:

Renting the Concrete Sander: $120
4 Gallions of Kilz Primer: $80
Not having a basement that smells like urine: Priceless

Now we can build the walls for the laundry room and eventually frame out the rest of the basement to finish out the space.  But that is down the road a bit.

This weekend will be a busy one for us - Sanding and priming the trim.  Guys, there is seriously so much trim.  So much.  Who was it again that volunteered to paint their own trim? Oh yeah.  That was me.  Idiot. (Not really, I am fairly confident we are saving a ton of money. Possibly even a butt-ton.)

The siding guys just finished siding the house today, so look for a photo update from us in the coming days! 

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Monday, September 23, 2013

What To Do When Your House Gets You Down.


You know the worst thing about hiccups?  You never just get them once. 

Well we have had a case of the house renovation hiccups.

Hiccup #1
 We thought we would try to quickly paint the ceiling using our new paint sprayer.  We neglected to back roll after we sprayed because we thought it looked really good and had covered well.  But once the paint dried and with the light coming through the windows you could see some serious paint lines.  
 The Peanut Butter (aka- for curing the hiccups): We repainted the ceilings using rollers... and a little bit of elbow grease. 

Hiccup #2
Our kitchen knobs are the right color - an oil rubbed bronze.  But the hinges somehow got ordered in brushed nickle.
The Peanut Butter: Hinges are going to be changed as soon as the ORB hinges come in.

Hiccup #3

This little cabinet door in our kitchen holds spices and is located next to the stove.  It actually pulls out and is a drawer.  However, the knob shape and placement make it seems like it would open out like any other cabinet door.
The Peanut Butter: The door actually had a scratch on it from the manufacturer so we are going to replace the door face as well as change the knob to a bin pull to coordinate with the other drawers in the kitchen.  

Hiccup #4
After hanging new drywall and priming everything, we noticed the walls were really rough.  And there was a visible texture difference once the wall was painted.
The Peanut Butter: We have to do a "quick" light sanding of all the walls.  To do this, we are using medium sand paper on a pole sander.  But I actually don't use the pole because I like to be able to have more control and feel my way over the wall to find the rough spots. 

 Hiccup #5
Before our bathroom vanity was installed completely, this upper cabinet that sits between our sinks was just sitting in the corner of our living room.  I saw it and thought, "oh what a sad little outcast of a cabinet."  Then I realized, that "sad little outcast of a cabinet" was going to be installed in my bathroom! Hmmm.. that was not what I had envisioned.   What I was envisioning looked more like this.
The Peanut Butter: Michael and I took that picture home and played with a couple of different options of what to do with it.  In the end we decided that we would replace the upper part of the cabinet with one door. We also decided to have the door face incorporate the shake panel so that it tied in more with the lower part of our vanity, which the flat panels did not seem to be accomplishing.  Also, now that the cabinet is properly installed and has crown molding on the top, it doesn't look so much like an outcast!

Hiccup #6

Look at our door! We just installed that this last week! I simply a-door it! ;-) (Couldn't resist).  So where is the hiccup? Well I circled it to help highlight the issue.  Those are wires for our lights.  What you can't really tell from that angle, and what we didn't realize until after the door was installed and we held my lights up next to the door, was that the wires were about a foot too low.  Shoot! 
The Peanut Butter: Unfortunately, this would have been a much easier fix had we not just installed the door.  But Saint Steve strikes again and he fixed the problem for us, cutting through the house wrap and foam board that we had just installed to raise the wires up.   

So with these little issues, it is easy to feel discouraged at times.  Each issue individually is not too big of a deal.  But when you add them all up together, it can really get you down! Especially, if it adds up to more money and more work (see hiccups 1, 4, 5, & 6).

So what do you do when your reno morale is sinking fast? 

  1. Write a Blog:  I love writing this blog! It helps me to organize my thoughts, gain perspective, and vent, when need be.  It also helps me to be on the look out for things that are funny and memories I don't want to forget - and it will help me to not forget them! And I love hearing your words of encouragement! It means so much to me that you are coming along with us on this journey.  I sometimes feel like we have a big cheering section rooting us on toward the win.
  2. Take a break:  Most of the time, we don't mind the house work because it is exciting and we feel accomplished when we get a job done, but other times it feels never ending.  Our trip to North Carolina was a great reprieve from all the house work.  At the time of planning that trip, I had some hesitation about leaving, feeling like our money and time were being taken away from the house, would it be worth it? Yes!! It was worth it! 
  3. Make the work fun:  Fun = people. We have been so blessed to have had so many offers to help with the house.  From family to friends, you have all been so generous, expressing your heart to come alongside of us and share in this journey.  We only wish we had more to do so we could have more people help us.  (Did I really just say that?) On Saturday we put this into practice.  Our friend Cory was helping Michael in the basement (more on that in another post) and our friend Beth came to visit from Lafayette and helped me re-paint the ceilings. 
    Having a good time... and painting too
  4. Add perspective to your situation.  Perspective can be added in two ways.  One way, that we really enjoy, is to bring people over to see the house.  We love showing our friends and family what we have been working on.  Having fresh eyes and fresh reactions to the progress helps us re-experience our house and re-appreciate the journey we have been on.  Another way we keep our perspective is to remind ourselves that this is all temporary.  Temporary in a sense that there will come a day when we look back fondly on the time we had renovating, and temporary in the sense that we can't take it with us.  No matter how perfect my kitchen is, I can't take it with me.  No matter how beautifully comfortable our home is, we can't take it with us.  Our home will, hopefully, be functional in helping us care for and entertain our family and others.  This house, the stuff that is in it, it's just stuff.  And that is where I'd like to keep my perspective, that in my life, the important things are relationships: with God, my husband, and others. 
 We have had an exciting week! The whole back side of the house has been sided and the rest of it should be done this week! Will there be pictures next time I post?! I guess you'll just have to stop by and see!

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Movin' On Up

The weather has finally turned cooler allowing us to turn our attention toward fall-ish things. Apples, pumpkins, sweatshirts, falling leaves, scarves, football (if you are into that), lattes and the list goes on.  It is  one of my favorite times of year.   And, more than any other year, I am so glad it is here!... because, this fall, we get to move into our house!

Yes, we have an official moving date.  Mid-October here we come!!

So, ready or not, we'll be moving! There is still a lot to do but we feel like we are making progress! Here's what still needs to be done:
  • Hang the new front door (this week) 
  • New Siding on the house (starting this week!) 
  • Trim on the main floor (starting this week!) 
  • Paint all the trim (starting this week!) 
  • Install electrical outlets and lights (starting this week!)
  • Finally get rid of the smell from the basement (this weekend!) 
  • Lay tile in the bathroom (starting this weekend!) 
  • Have the gravel for our drive delivered (end of September) 
  • Get the kitchen countertop installed (beginning of October) 
  • Paint (ongoing) 
  • Get our ducts cleaned and boot up our geothermal system (Mid October)
  • Get one last coat of sealer on the floor (Mid October) 
  • Move in!! AHHHhhhh (Mid October)  

Who knows if we'll get it all done or if we'll be barging in on my parents for a little while!... hoping we won't have to! Don't worry Mom!

So gearing up for the last leg of this reno race, it has been a busy couple of weeks. Luckily, I had some time off that I spent helping Steve preparing the outside of the house for siding and the inside of the house for trim. Which meant, windows! 
I was surprised how fairly simple it is to put in windows.  It really doesn't take very long, it just takes some fiddling. Fiddling with these things:

Shims.  That was my job! I was the shimmyer! Steve would prep the outside and I would help make sure the window was level and straight and secure.  We had a pretty good system going after installing 10 windows together.

The main level windows were a cinch.  Once we got the house wrap on, the window installation went pretty quickly.
It wasn't until we had to go up that the process got a lot more complicated and a lot scarier!

Because there are a total of 5 windows more than 10 feet off the ground, we had to enlist the help of scaffolding.  Dun Dun Dun....
 Now, I don't know if you have ever been up on scaffolding before, I hadn't, but really, it is not the most pleasurable experience.  I would not say I am afraid of heights but it did take a while for me to get used to the height and working on the wobbly surface. 
 In the picture above, we were working on getting the old siding off,  and so we were having to yank and pull on the siding to get it off.  It was a workout for my sense of balance, that was for sure.

In the picture below, we had finally gotten all the old siding off and had nailed down our foamboard and house wrap.  We were ready for the window... or as I called it, my escape route.  In that picture we were about 18 feet in the air. 

I was still not quite comfortable with the scaffolding yet, as you can tell from my halfhearted smile. It also didn't help that we were combatting some unhappy little creatures after knocking down their homes:
No stings.  Thank goodness.

Another challenging window to put in was the huge front window.  (Hello view!)
 We got a couple of extra helping hands in order to install this bad boy.  It was super heavy. 

From there, we moved up to the dormers on the roof.  Remember those almost 100 degree days we had last week?  Well this is what Steve and I were doing:
 Although we were over 20 feet in the air this time, I felt much less nervous.  I don't know if it was a gained comfort level with scaffolding or the fact that Steve built us a platform to work off of, but I was much more comfotable working up there.

Hand on the hip and everything.  Queen of scaffolding?

The window above the sliding glass door was the last one to go in.  And now our house looks like this:
 We are really looking forward to updating this picture once the new siding goes on! Stay tuned...

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ya'll, we went to North Carolina!


That's how North Carolinians get your attention.  Ya'll, we went to North Carolina over the Labor Day weekend and it was fun! 

We have two beautiful friends named Brittney and Emily.  After Purdue they left for North Carolina to get their master's degrees in order to become occupational therapists.  And we couldn't wait to go and visit them...

They were just the most gracious of hostesses.  And we had a wonderful time! We even had a surprise at the airport when our friend Peter surprised us by joining us on this trip! Those sneeky characters thought they would just omit the fact that he would be there for the weekend too.  I don't think I stopped smiling all the way out of the airport!

The first night we were there we rented bikes and explored their campus. 

Now, this may come as a shock but.... I didn't remember how to ride a bike.  I know, I know.  "It's like knowing how to ride a bike, you never forget."  Well that's wrong.  You can forget how to ride a bike.  After probably more than 15 years of not riding a bike, I forgot.  But it came back quickly... kinda.  I only fell once.  And Emily said I fell very gracefully.  Thank you Emily, you are a very, very kind and gracious woman.

The next day we drove to the coastal town of Beaufort. 
 Loved the beautiful homes and this amazing Revolutionary and Civil War cemetery. 

While we were there we rented some kayaks
And we also enjoyed the water.
We also enjoyed some chocolate chip cookies in the water.  A chocolate chip cookie flotilla? Yes Please!

But the main reason we went there was in search of the wild ponies that lived on the island. 

And that's about as close as we got.  They were way out on the marshy area and we were too scared by the possibility of getting bitten by snakes to go out to where they were.

Oh well. The island and the scenery were beautiful nonetheless. 

The next day we spent some relaxing time around the girls' apartment.  
~Killing ginormous bugs.
~Making pretzels.
~Fixing appliances (Although it looks more like disassembling appliances, Michael and Peter switched the handles and hinges on the fridge for the girls to improve functionality) .
~Catching window frogs.

And that night we went on a walk in the rain at a local park.  We walked among the most amazing trees yet talked about how Maple and Sycamore and Apple Trees are some of our favorite trees in the world.  We played word association games.  We closed our eyes and named the things we could hear.

It was wonderful to be with old friends.
 ....and to be with each other.

Then we went back to their apartment again and ate some amazing pan pizza and played some favorite games from college: succotash and telephone pictionary.  I think that was my favorite day for the simplicity of it.

The final day was bittersweet.  We said goodbye to Peter at the airport and set off to see how Raleigh could entertain us before our later flight.

We visited a great farmer's market. 
I could turn down the lackluster apple cider but I could not turn down freshly squeezed lemonade.  Yummmmm......

We even had time to stop at a place called Defy Gravity.  An indoor trampoline "park"?
We had a great time jumpin' and bouncin' and laughin' and huffin' and puffin'.  Its a workout!

Then sadly we went to the airport.  And even more sadly our plane was delayed and we had to rebook a flight for 6 in the morning the next day.  But we finally made it home and eased back into work/life as usual.

House Update:
This weekend we finished painting the ceilings and bathroom.  And this week I will be helping Saint Steve finish up the house wrap and window installation so that the siding can go on... soon soon soon! YAY!

Countertops are being measured this week! The shower base was poured! Things are happening people! Things are happening.  

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