I know I’ve been a little radio silent these days. The thing is, we’re just kind of trucking along. With the nice weather, we’ve been working on some outdoor cleanup around the house. We’ve gotten some new furniture, which is mega exciting. We still need to finish unpacking some rooms (I KNOW). So not a ton of blog-worthy stuff, especially compared to a year ago when major things were happening all the time (for reference, here and here is what was happening around the same time last year).
Anyway. I thought I’d share just a few pictures of what’s going on down our long lane, in case anyone was wondering. 🙂
So, first of all, this picture was clearly taken before the weather turned spring-like. So pretty, right??
Aaron did all kinds of work cleaning up around the fallen-down barn. When we bought the property, half the barn was still standing(ish). On one windy day in 2016, she blew the rest of the way down. The next few pictures show then and now shots of the barn remains.
With this nice weather, I’ve also been spending some time digging through all the sheds/barns out on the property. There is lots of trash-to-me/treasure-to-other-people. LOTS. It’s actually been really fun posting a lot of this for sale on various local sites and having people come out and do some “picking.” For fun, I’ve included pics of some of the stuff we’ve found…
We also did more clean up on the South side of the house to ultimately prepare for changing up the driveway. The pic below is taken from the driveway now; there used to be tons of bushes/brush all up in the way. So much better now!
For fun, I thought I’d do a little before and after of the Big Teal Monster. For a refresher on this bad boy, see Week 18 post. So the first pic below shows the built-in on the right side of the photo, in the old kitchen (in what is now our dining room). And the next two show her in all her teal glory in our upstairs laundry room. It’s so fun to see befores and afters, right???
And last but certainly not least, we got new living room furniture! It’s not all in yet, but I couldn’t resist showing you how pretty is. The pictures below show the progression of the living room, ending on the latest, prettiest version.
So that about does it for now. Hopefully we’ll continue to have fun exterior updates for you as we get serious about cleaning up the craziness. There are so many beautiful trees surrounded by little ugly scrub trees and brush. We’re going to focus on getting that ugly outta there to highlight the pretty!!
So when I logged in to WordPress today to write this weekly update, it wished me a happy anniversary. It’s been a year since I signed up with WordPress, which means it’s been a year since I started this blog. Of course, we haven’t been working on the house for a year (if so, then the title of this blog post would make no sense whatsoever). And while the blog started before the work on the house did, what you don’t see reflected in any of those early posts is the full year we spent talking and hoping and planning for what “could be” with this property and this project before I ever got brave enough to start the blog. Because it was a year in before I actually thought maybe just maybe it would really all work out. When it all started, we didn’t have a clue what to expect. We figured it was a long shot that we would hear back from Lettie about the property. Then we figured it was a long shot that she would consider selling it. Then we figured it was a long shot that we would be able to afford it, decide what to do with it, and on and on and on. Yet, here we are — working away at building this dream of ours. And you guys, it’s so fun. And hard. And exhausting. And frustrating. And exciting. And *insert one million more descriptors here.* And even when it feels insurmountable or never-ending or impossible, the thing I remind myself of is how lucky we are. This is going to be our dream home. It’s out in the country with tons of trees and land and space. It’s what we wanted and for every frustrating moment, there are so many ones that are exciting and unbelievable. I can’t wait until we live down this long lane of ours.
ANYWAY. Enough of that sappy stuff. Let’s move on to the exciting things that have been happening out at the farmhouse this past week!
Aaron and I kept working up in the attic on the furnace. We have made some good progress and aren’t too terribly far off from it being ready to fire up. If only we would spend our time working instead of taking selfies…
The siding is coming right along as well. I am so in love with the blue it’s insane. I mean, when all is said and done, it’s going to be a big. blue. house. But — it’s our big blue house and I love it so much.
After the drywallers finished up middle of last week, Paintman Extraordinaire Brad came in and worked his magic. He managed to get just about the entire house painted in a matter of a couple days. He’s finishing up today, which means there is paint on all the walls. It’s like a real house. Now, I haven’t taken many pictures because our colors are rather neutral and it’s kind of hard to see anything but a dirty, empty room in photos. But I tried and have included a couple below. And truth time: after months of the house being in various states of demolition and early stages of getting put back together, it’s really kind of hard to get used to having real life walls that we have to be careful around. Like, these are the real deal walls. Final. Time to be careful!
Aaron and I got started on some tile fun this weekend. We are going to have tile in the entry way, all 3 bathrooms, and the laundry room. We started laying the waterproof membrane on the floor of all three rooms upstairs, so that’s a good start! We have purchased a good chunk of the tile, so pretty soon we’ll start seeing some tile on top of that orange stuff.
And last but not least, last night we got the old maple floors pulled up out of the former kitchen/current dining room. These are the only floors in the house we aren’t saving, so we got them pulled up and got the sub floor cleaned up and ready for the new hardwood floor that will be installed in that room, to better match the rest of the house.
So, there you go. Aaron and I also got all the Ram Board pulled up from upstairs, and we (along with Mark & Mary Kay) got the upstairs floors all cleaned up and ready for refinishing. Eek! Things just keep on a’happening.
Let’s see. What’s new this week…. Many things! Let me tell you.
Block layers were back this past week and got the entire addition and garage block laid. They got a few courses of the piers, which will support the porch, done. Tom went through and back-filled the areas around the piers so the block guys could finish the block courses on those. Then they’ll be ready to be bricked.
On the interior of the house, we got all of the pipes, wiring, and duct work taken out. The wiring was pretty cool, actually. It’s called Knob-and-Tube wiring, and is really quite an ingenious way to run electricity. I mean, it was 100 years old and can be hazardous, which is why we removed it. But of course, in my haste, I didn’t take photos. So you can read a little bit about it on the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors website, as well as on Wikipedia (some of the photos on that entry could have been taken in our house, for real).
Roofers came out and tore off the existing roof, as well as removed the chimneys (yes, plural…there were 2 chimneys and no fireplace) down to below the roof line. They put paper on the roof to seal it a bit until we are ready for them to come back and put the new roof on. Sadly, with the rain we got pretty much immediately after they finished, there were some leaks. But we put some buckets — and in one spot, a big cooler — out until they came back Saturday morning to fix it. So all’s well that ends well! Oh, and speaking of the rain, we got some house wrap around the first floor to help with some leaks as well. And speaking of rain again, our home is now situated in a really lovely mud pit. Don’t come over unless you are prepared to wade through some serious slop.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with family and even got to show off the craziness that’s down our long lane to the out-of-towners. Please enjoy this cute kid picture so you can see why exactly we enjoyed our day off so much.
We finalized all our kitchen and bathroom cabinetry with Helmuth Custom Kitchens out of Arthur. Eeek!!! It’s a big ticket item, but an EXCITING one to be getting done. I can’t wait until there are pictures to show of this.
Back to those chimneys I mentioned earlier…between Saturday mid-morning and noon on Sunday, we got both chimneys completely out of the attic, second, and first floors. I wish I would’ve counted bricks as we pulled them. You guys, it was so many bricks. And it was so dirty. But talk about instant gratification — it was amazing seeing that each and every brick we pulled off was getting us closer to the floor. So – yay for that!! Each section of the chimney removal went the same, so here are a few pictures of the last one we took down.
We spent a few hours yesterday (Sunday) cleaning out the large items from the basement. It was one area of the house that was still very full of stuff (I mean, whose basement isn’t full of stuff), and since once the porch is done, we won’t have an exterior door to the basement anymore, we wanted to clean out the big stuff while we still had that door. There was some cool stuff down there, which we are saving, and some not so cool stuff, which we aren’t.
As of today, Tom and Brad were back at the house doing more work on the exterior. They back filled around the last of the piers, cleaned up some stuff around the house, and started packing sand in the garage. This means we’re getting closer to having the foundation poured in the garage, and then comes framing. Wheeeeeeeee!!
You guys, this is all so exciting. And not just because we are pretty much through the portion of the project that requires wearing face masks, although I’m pretty stoked that’s over. [My poor nose has so many clogged pores from all of this. Ugh. #keepingitreal]. But more so because this means we’re getting close to seeing some pretty major changes to both the exterior and interior over the coming days/weeks!!
Now that Adele is playing, let’s have her sing the soundtrack to this blog post. Because she’s about as exciting as it gets around here! This week was another busy one, except not in an exciting, blog-worthy way. If you recall, last week’s update showed that we got all the lath down, along with the crazy blown-in fiberglass insulation. But we had a lot of insulation clean-up to do. Well, that is what we did this week.
We spent some more quality time getting covered by insulation while we cleaned it up. And Saturday’s weather around here was…unpleasant. And we don’t currently have heat in the house. So, it’s a good thing there was some hard work to be done, because otherwise we would’ve been REALLY cold. And once we got all the insulation piles cleaned up, we then proceeded to fill a shop vac with insulation from the places we couldn’t reach. And then we filled it again. And again. And again. But hey — that nasty insulation is OUT OF THE HOUSE HOORAY!
After that, we spent all kinds of quality time pulling nails. You see, all that lath we pulled down off every wall and ceiling was nailed in. So every place where the nail didn’t come out with the lath, there was a nail to pull. I mean, we’re talking thousands of nails, you guys. But, as of yesterday, all nails are pulled throughout the entire house.
Outside the house, we had block layers come one day last week and get started laying block. They will hopefully be finishing up this week, then we will have more exterior updates to share. We don’t really have control over that stuff, so cross your fingers that things get done soon, before Mother Nature really turns on her wintery charm…
Additional updates: Doors and windows are ordered, as are garage doors. Trusses will be coming in soon. Roof should be off soon as well. We’re in the process of finalizing kitchen design (thanks to Amy at These Four Walls and lots of input from our parents), as well as cabinetry for the whole house. We’ll be ripping out the old electrical, plumbing, and duct work this week. Progress = FUN!
So now, some photos. Nothing we did was super duper photo-worthy, so there are just some random ones here. But I get in trouble if I don’t include pictures, so ask and you shall receive!
First course of block.
Some more block.
The Saturday morning drive to our house was snowy. And a little crazy!
You may think Dad and I got caught out in the snow. NOPE. That is insulation. Everywhere.
Getting the insulation cleaned up…
A view on the short little drive from Mom & Dad’s to our house. Gorgeous!
It was dark when I took these….But those are clean studs! No plaster. No lath. No insulation. No nails.
It’s a miracle!
It was COLD in the house on Sunday evening. We worked with our hoods up!
I thought I’d do a little post here answering some frequently asked questions about this whole big bad project… Have a question that’s not answered below? Let me know and I can answer it!
Q. What were you thinking?!
A. Ha! Good question. Aaron and I have been married for 2.5 years, and together for a total of 7.5 years, and have always wanted to live out in the country. We want the farmhouse and the land and the quiet and the ability to see the stars…and Aaron wants room to have lots of stuff. Sheds, cars, machinery, tools, etc. I’m pretty certain that’s his real reason for wanting to live in the country. But anyway, we have been trying to make it happen to move out to the country for years and years, but kept hitting roadblocks. To find land to build a brand new house on is nearly impossible. To find a farmhouse with a couple acres wasn’t quite as difficult, but it wasn’t easy to find one that we could afford and/or didn’t need a TON of work plus a ton of money to purchase it. So when we first had the idea (or more accurately, Mom/Dad had the idea) that we reach out to Lettie to let her know that we would be interested in buying, if she should ever happen to be looking to sell, it was yet another in a series of long shots. But it was one we were sort of obsessed with from the word go. It’s 4+ acres, beautifully overgrown, with a big old house, near my parents and family, and owned by a family that has long ties back with the Stierwalt family. When this all started, before we had ever been inside the house or met Lettie or really knew what we were dealing with, we had this thought that we would just tear down the house and build a new one. But it didn’t take long to realize that remodeling the existing 100 year old house was the way to go. And the fact that this is all actually happening is a miracle, and makes all the hard work that’s going into it so much easier to bear!
Q. What’s the timeline on this project?
A. As my coworker likes to say, I plan to throw a combined housewarming/retirement party in the house. She’s hilarious. But unless I am going to retire at the ripe old age of 32, that is NOT the plan! We plan on being able to move in to the house in Spring 2016. Obviously we hope everything will be totally completed by then, but if it’s not, we at least want to have it to a point where we can live there while we finish it.
Q. What exactly is lath & plaster, and why is it such a big deal to remove?
A. Back in the days before drywall, lath & plaster were used for walls. And as we set out to plan the renovation of the house, it became clear pretty early on that the existing lath & plaster had to go. It was damaged in many places, plus since we are going to redo all the electrical and plumbing, it just made sense to get everything down to studs for an easier start over. The thing is, removing plaster & lath is not an easy process. The lath is little wooden boards nailed to the wall studs that the plaster is then applied to. Plaster comes down sort of like crumbly concrete. It’s hard and dirty and dusty and heavy. You can read up on lath & plaster here. (yes, it’s a wikipedia link. I tried to find something on This Old House but didn’t have any luck)
Q. Are you doing this all yourself?
A. NO WAY. In addition to all the family and friend assistance we’ve had thus far, and will hopefully continue to have, we have a general contractor. Tom Mumm of Mumm Home Builders is the head honcho for this project, and is making sure that all the big important things, like footings and framing and all that, get done in a timely fashion. We will be doing as much of the work as we can, but it’s good to have someone who actually knows what he’s doing at the helm.
Q. When will fun design stuff start happening?
A. As soon as possible!! Once we get it down to studs, Aaron and co can start the lovely task of rebuilding everything. And THEN we will get to fun design stuff. But some things I can tell you — we are planning on a lovely shade of blue for the house (Certainteed Pacific Blue) with white trim and probably a dark gray roof. We are planning on white cabinetry for the kitchen, with soapstone countertops, and the gorgeous refinished hardwood floors. Do we have paint colors picked out yet? Nope. But we’ll get there, and I promise you will know more about each and every aspect than you would ever want to know.
Q. How many beds/baths will it have when it’s done? What are some cool things that the house will have at the end that it doesn’t have now?
A. The finished product will have 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, plus storage space up above the 3-car garage that could someday be made into another bedroom if need be. We’re going to have a walk-in pantry downstairs. We’re going to have our laundry room upstairs. From the new dining room, we’re going to have sliding glass doors out to a big deep covered porch, which will also be attached to the shallower wraparound porch. One awesome thing that will remain from the original house is that the doorway to the walk up attic will still be accessed from one of the bedrooms. And since one of the questions we’ve been getting is ‘which room is going to be the nursery,’ I will tell you it’s the room with attic access. Our future child(ren) will not be afraid of monsters in the attic! Or he/she will be traumatized for life!
Q. How many bottles of pain reliever will you go through?
So there’s the first set of questions answered. Have more? Put’em in the comments and I can get them answered. The question I ask myself most often is “will we survive this” and so far, my answer is still YES! 🙂
What a week! We are finally at the point where plaster demo has begun. To get to that point, we had to do a whole lot of moving stuff out of the house, cleaning up, etc. I traveled for work a bit last week, and was down and out on Thursday & Friday night with a bad headache, so Aaron and Dad get most of the credit for what happened during the week. What happened on Saturday, though, was a huge team effort and I get weepy thinking about how great our family is to give up so much time to help us on this crazy ride!! Things that happened in the past week:
All light fixtures down and out of the house
The built-in from the dining room safely moved out and stored off-site. We will reinstall this in the dining room at the end.
The built-in and sink/counter-top from the kitchen carefully disassembled, moved out, and stored off-site. We are considering using the kitchen built-in in the laundry room, and we haven’t 100% decided what we’re going to do with the sink/counter-top combo, but I’m sure we’ll think of something!
All bathroom fixtures removed. We saved the sinks and will likely sell or donate them. We saved the tub and plan to clean it up and have it in our master bathroom.
The painted trim from the kitchen, closets, and upstairs bathroom was all removed. We hadn’t removed it in the initial go-round because we are silly. But also because particularly in the closets, the trim was different and didn’t seem worth saving, stripping down, and staining to match. But either way, it’s all gone and we got all the shelving and stuff out of the closets as well.
All doors removed, wrapped, removed, and stored off-site.
All floors covered with Ram Board. This even includes the stairs, which was quite a task.
And then plaster down out of 2 of the bedrooms!
Things will hopefully keep moving quickly. Next up, we’ll be focusing on getting that plaster down and O-U-T of the house. It will be neither fun nor pleasant, but on the plus side, we will have epic arm muscles when all is said and done. Because currently? I can hold the sledge hammer for about 10 seconds before starting to whine. So what I’m saying is we’ll be charging admission to the gun show pretty soon. Also, if you have any aggression that you would like to work out, we have a sledgehammer with your name on it. Seriously. I will write your name on a sledgehammer if you come help us.
Anywayyyyyyy. Outside of the plaster stuff we’ll be doing on the inside, we have a roofer dude coming out this week to tear off the existing roof. We have Schoonover coming out to camera the line from the house to the septic tank (I bet that camera will take all kinds of beautiful pictures) so we can make sure roots haven’t grown into the lines, see what type of pipes are used, etc. We basically want to know if anything needs replaced before we get going on the porch. And that’s the last part of what is happening soon — general contractor will be coming out this week to start on his wee project of a garage, addition, and porch.
In the words of Miss Penny Lane: It’s all happening!
So what didn’t happen this past week? I didn’t take very many pictures. Oops. I mean, it’s hard to capture the excitement of having all the Ram Board down on the floors, because it basically is like cardboard on a floor. And I am far from a professional photographer. And my iPhone is far from a fancy camera. So. Here are a few of what I have and I promise to do better as we get more visually exciting things done! Which will be soon soon soon!
We can actually see the house from the south side of the road now!
Empty kitchen — built-in and counter-top removed.
These are some protected stairs! The rest of the house has the same stuff on it…with far less tape.
Well it’s been awhile since I updated. That’s because things have been moving at a glacial pace, mostly because there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of what-ifs and decisions to be made. But. I did take some pictures of the property and house, which I thought might be fun to share here. You’ll get a visual on the project we’re talking about undertaking.