Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Moved In

Ten apartments, 4 countries, and 1 year later - give or take - we're in our real-live house! We couldn't be happier. We moved in six weeks ago without incident. We still have some items to take care of like curtains, trim in the back room, and a back yard fence, but we're settled for the most part.

In 19 weeks we went from here

 to here. 

guest room
eventually this will be a tidy office and laundry space 
We're trying to grow some grass so we don't wash away in a mudslide if it rains!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

House Transformation Continues

Our floor was sanded and stained, we have AC and we have appliances. I'm so ready to unpack the juicer and set up the kitchen!

floors - sanded and stained

Next up - last big project before we move in next week is to paint the floor in the back rooms.

T-minus one week until move in

I had my first breakdown last Friday. I was scrubbing baseboard that we'd removed months ago to prime and paint so that we could put them back in the house on Saturday. I was overwhelmed by the cobwebs, the nicotine stains, the grease that covered the baseboards. Even though I've spent the past 3 months removing grime from inside the house, this proved to be too much. I think it all caught up with me. After I called John for consolation, I sat on the tree stump chair and just cried.

It was early evening, so John came home from work and we went to our favorite neighborhood cafe for dinner & a drink before returning to the house to knock out the painting to be ready for the next day.
trim and baseboard to paint for install the next day
writing on the back of trim & baseboard from when the house was built

We've made progress the past three weeks: passing inspections, hanging drywall, painting window frames, building a retaining wall in the backyard for drainage, painting the new drywall with the help of friends, electric is finished, and AC is installed and running.
window painting
new drywall and we painted the back office/laundry/bedroom with the help of friends
retaining wall to keep the flood out of our yard
sweet relief

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So close and so not

The house remodel process has been a series of two steps forward, one step back or one forward and two back, really. I arrived at the house last Monday to meet Ruben the floor guy. He and his crew were going to repair all the Dorothea Lange holes in the floor and patch where the floor furnace used to be.

They were about 30 minutes into the work when Ruben asked about electricity to plug in all the equipment they needed to sand the floors. I explained that we had one outlet that is outside connected to the rickety old electric boxes.
He would need two outlets and lots of volts he explained in technical terms, that sort of went in one ear and out the other. I just knew that we didn't have enough. Then he asked about AC. Well, we currently have the ducts and this...
the spot for the AC condenser that will be installed after drywall. 

If Ruben were to install the floor without AC, we run the risk of the floor "cupping" once we turn the AC on and the floor be ruined. That's a risk we can't afford to take. So the guys worked on repairing the floor and will come back post-AC install. 

In the end, we did have a success that day. Our new electric mast and boxes were installed on the house.  Electricity! Well, not really. We still have the one outlet and all the plugs and lights will be installed after drywall. (Can't wait for drywall!) 

At the end of the week new windows were installed. All the windows except for the front bedroom. Because, you see, if we were to replace those windows they would not meet the egress law which requires a minimum width, height and square footage opening. I'd met with the inspector the day prior and he made it clear that this was a necessity if we replaced the windows. So, I went to the permit office for the third time this week and altered our building permit to read: install replacement windows in house except for front bedroom. 

Our Saturday workday was very productive. Our friend Jonathan and I cleaned and oiled the wooden walls while John and Carpenter Rick build a mini-shiplap wall in the back room. It's our effort to tie in the wooden walls in the front three rooms with the mostly all-drywall room in the back. Oooh la la - continuity. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

10 things I've learned during the house renovation

1. Don't use silicone caulk on places where you still need to paint. Oopsie. (This mistake I made cost us at least 3 hours scraping out and sanding the caulk, replacing with new acrylic caulk and priming.)
2. The holes in the top of the ladder are for tools, so they don't fall when you move the ladder or fall off the ladder while you're working. Brilliant.
3. Trust your gut when hiring for a job.
4. Wonder bars and pry bars rule. I love leverage.
5. Ain't nothing a little caulk can't fix.
6. The house painter says to paint last, the floor guy says to do the floors last, and the drywall guy says do the drywall last. I hire the guy who has the availability to do the job. It all has to be done.
7. I'm so grateful for people who have skill sets that allow them to do things that seem very hard & frustrating to someone else.
8. McCoy's is cheaper than Home Depot.
9. Listen to your mother and don't wear flip-flops on the job site!
10. In order to avoid big nail holes in the trim you want to re-use, pry nails out of the back - don't hammer them out. See below.

Leverage. see #4. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Three months and counting

We have cabinets! We have HVAC ducting & a furnace in the attic! We have a painted house! We've worked multiple 12 hour days! I'm pretty sure we're still having fun.

Remember Bruce who helped us early on? He gave me Sadik the Cabinet Builder's contact info and two months ago John and I met with Sadik to discuss kitchen cabinets. We decided that we would keep the upper cabinets but replace the doors and have new lower cabinets built. Sadik is the man! He went the extra mile more than once. Not only did he build us beautiful cabinets that accommodate our huge kitchen sink (that I love!), he installed them, the sink and our Ikea countertops. In fact, he took the two 8 foot pieces of countertop home so he could cut them for the sink, glue the pieces together and sand and water-seal the bottom of the countertops so that we could install them when he brought them over. He even put on the hinges and handles we bought, surely saving us some marital stress.
John testing to see if the sink really weighs 150 pounds. 
Sadik the Cabinet Builder

We had the HVAC system installed which is very exciting and such a tease since it's in the 90s! Can't wait to turn that baby on. We'll wait for that, however, until all the drywall is finished. Speaking of drywall, we went ahead and had two walls of the the middle room sheet rocked. We miss the wood wall a little bit but since the kitchen is on the other side of this bedroom wall, I think it's the right thing to do to muffle noise and abate cooking odors.
A covered AC vent. 
Wall between kitchen and bedroom. 
We spent all day July 4th working on the house. When we were leaving the house around 8:30, we had to maneuver around traffic getting into the neighborhood to park for the fireworks. I can't wait to walk to the fireworks next year!
Happy 4th! 
Well, Painter Rey is wrapping up the paint job. Not sure how I'll spend my days now or who I'll talk to but anyway...we have a painted house! Yippee! 
and painted. Still needs a little color but we're getting closer. 
Have I mentioned that the whole time we've been working on our house, this bad boy has been going up next door? It's for sale. Who wants to be our neighbor? 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Nearly three months in...

It's a good thing I have experience in endurance events, because this house remodel is a similar process. Every few hours of work preps you for the next work session and contributes to the goal. Every action is based on the results of previous work. And then there's the fatigue. But we push through.

One thing I've learned is that we have to keep moving forward with whoever or whatever trade is ready, even if it doesn't match my original timeline, within reason of course.   For example, we hired the house painter to start even though I thought that would be last, you know, the "icing on the cake" as our painter says. Our painter is our neighbor Rey - Reynaldo - Rey-Rey - King Rey. We've spent many hours together over the past two weeks as he has prepared the house to paint. He's a true 78704 Austinite full of old neighborhood stories about the "speed freaks in the 70s" house, San Francisco Joe's house, he showed us where he was an extra in Clint Eastwood's A Perfect World in a scene filmed one street over from ours, tales of surfing in Central America and many, many more. Stop by sometime and I'll introduce you. He's probably at our house right now!

He's doing a fabulous job on the prep work for the house and we look forward to see the final result in another week.
Meet Painter Rey

Meet Carpenter Rick who helped us on numerous jobs. 
Meet the new Maggie & John. (We did, in fact, watch this recently.)

What have we been up to otherwise? Pulling out chain link fence, visiting my new favorite store McCoy's Building Supply, replacing rotten wood siding around the exterior of the house, getting a windowsill milled to replace the rotten one where the window AC unit was, and tearing down all the sheetrock in the back room to hopefully get rid of the animal odor.
Step 1: locate all the rotten wood - which was made easier because of Rey's prep work scraping the house.
Step 2: Go to McCoy's to find wood siding. 
Step 3: Prime siding
Step 4: Replace siding
I love demo days! See all that drywall? It's about to be gone. 


Home, sweet, home. 
See all pictures here