Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snow days are very productive

As with any project, the demolition is the most enjoyable and fastest part of the job. Chris and I had off on Monday due to the road conditions so we decided to go to the house to start other work – no point in sitting at home all day. We started off by removing the two walls in the basement that we didn’t want to keep and also the drop ceiling in that area. It took most of the morning to finish that job but we were pleased with the result. Below are before/after pictures.

Our next project was to remove the door frames in the kitchen – fairly easy but very dirty job. After that was complete we decided to remove the half bathroom in the dining room. We have hated the placement of this half bath since we first saw the house. Chris shut off the plumbing at the bathroom (the valve downstairs is stuck) and we removed the sink and all the walls. Removing the studs in this area was actually quite challenging. At both ends of each vertical board there were 5 or 6 nails holding it in place – yikes! Below are some pictures of the process.

We are leaving the toilet removal to the plumbers – but for now you can go to the bathroom and not miss any of the dinner conversation! Also by removing this bathroom the doorway from the living room to the dining room has become wider by a foot – it’s quite nice!

Another wonderful thing about this snow day was that the heating company sent out a different technician to fix our messed up system. They are doing all the work free of charge because it was supposed to be completed prior to our closing. As I write this in the house I’m in my winter coat because for the first time the boiler is not running constantly (we have the thermostats set at 50 degrees F just to keep the pipes from freezing).

Very, very itchy

It was another productive week at the money pit. One of the contractors has been working on waterproofing the basement and should be finished soon. He’s been great and has hauled away all of our debris to this point. The electricians have been working and have replaced all the old, painted outlets and light switches. We also now have a full ceiling in the master bedroom (the previous owner had cut a nice square hole in the ceiling before she left). The tree guy was able to take down three big trees on Friday.

My parents came down for the weekend to help us insulate the attic. Saturday morning we headed to the house early and Mom and I started removing the old, loose insulation while the guys went to the store to pick up new rolls. It took three stores but they finally purchased enough to insulate three quarters of the attic.

The insulation removal was quite tedious work and once the guys started re-insulating it took them no time at all to catch up to us. At the end of Saturday we had insulated most of the one side of attic. Then the fun began…

The weather forecasters had been calling for a bad winter storm for a week. It started out that we were expecting a few inches and on Friday they expected 10 – 20 inches. While we were all working hard in the attic, the clouds dumped 20 inches of snow on the roads. The house that we purchased is on a dead end road – a dead end on one side and a cul-de-sac on the other. This means that it is one of the last roads in the county to get plowed when there is a storm. So here was our dilemma – Tucker is at home in his crate, no neighbors have access to our condo keys and we can’t drive away from the house because the roads are so covered (although we did try this). The only logical thing to do was to walk home…six miles in 20 inches of snow.

I’ll say for the record that the last thing you want to do after insulating an attic all day is to walk six miles in the snow. Once we were out of our neighborhood we walked home on the main roads that had been plowed (but still had about 4 inches of snow on them). We saw several vehicles (mostly plows) and two tractor-trailers stuck on the road. It took two hours to walk home and we were all beyond exhausted when we arrived. Below are some of the snowy pictures of Chris’ car and the house in the morning.

Sunday it took awhile to get moving since there were 23 inches of snow on Chris’ car. We drove most of the way to the house until we came to an unplowed road (we didn’t want to get all three vehicles stuck there). We walked about a half mile to the house to begin the rest of the insulation work. The work was much faster because we had already removed all of the scrap wood the day before. When the day was finished we had a lot of old insulation bagged up, all new insulation in the one side of the attic, insulated pipes, and a big pile of scrap wood. Below are some pictures of the insulation work.

We got another taste of what a great neighborhood we’re moving into. Jim from across the road brought us chocolates and a holiday tea towel and pot holder and Jeff next door brought us delicious cookies and brownies. We could really get used to treatment like this!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Weekend Update

So far, we think the house is off to a pretty good start. This week we got the heating system working (well, not entirely!). There are two heating zones functioning properly, one that doesn’t turn on and another that runs full blast. This is one of the plumbing issues that the contractor will be taking care of later.

Thursday night we started doing some actual work. Chris inspected the attic to determine if we need additional insulation (we do and will probably install it next weekend). I sprayed an enzyme solution in the stinky mudroom to try to remove the dog urine smell – so far it seems to be working well. I also went through the entire house and removed all the items on the walls – picture hangers, nails, coat hooks, etc. Unfortunately, most of them have been painted over several times and it was a chore to get them all removed. Here is a picture of the full amount I removed as well as an example of the lovely paint job on them.

The weekend was very busy. On Saturday Chris installed a couple new thermostats to try to fix our heat issues. We met with the contractor to discuss schedule and the work to be completed. Our new washer and dryer were delivered – we had taken advantage of the Black Friday sales. We also removed the disgusting carpet on the basement stairs and some of the wood paneling. When we removed the paneling we discovered a ridiculous amount of small green beads. You can see some pictures below – the stairs before and after and the green beads.

Sunday was more strenuous work. We removed most of the paneling and drywall that was left in the basement. This included the closets, another part of the stairs, the ceiling, and the bathroom. The bathroom had a double layer of a thick cement board and it was extremely difficult to remove. Fortunately, the contractor showed up this morning to waterproof the basement walls and told us that they would remove our debris – see below for one of the piles (out of three)!

We also removed the kitchen sink and cabinets in the basement. The problem we ran into was that the shutoff valve was leaking with no other means to stop the water. The sink drain had also corroded through the trap. Chris ran over to the store to start the process of fixing plumbing leaks and adding a hot water valve in the laundry room. At this point I started washing the walls upstairs. The owners before us had two dogs and a cat and there was hair and disgusting smudges all over the walls. I was able to finish the living room and dining room cleaning before Chris returned.

We were also able to meet a few of the neighbors. They were all very friendly and seemed glad to be rid of the former owner. I’m sure her 160 lb Rottweiler had something to do with it. Fortunately, Tucker is much nicer!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Welcome to the money pit!

It only took a very long 72 days but we finally closed on the house this morning. If you're not familiar with the house here are some details:

6 bedrooms
3 1/2 baths
2 car garage
1 full acre in Columbia, MD

Don't let the numbers above fool you - this is a fixer upper with a lot of work that needs to be completed but it also has a lot of potential. This is the reason we are calling it the Skocik Money Pit - it just reminds us too much of the movie.

For an example of the money pit in action so far: My parents came down this past weekend to see the house and we were in the master bedroom. My dad went to open the blinds on one of the windows and as he was pulling on the cord the entire thing fell to the ground. At the same time this happened, the cover on the baseboard radiator fell off with a loud clang.

We are planning on using this blog to keep friends and family up to date on the progress of the house repairs - especially since there are so many. With the type of mortgage we have the work needs to be completed by June 7, 2010. Hopefully we'll be able to move in before that but only time will tell.

You can see some "before" photos on our shutterfly site: