Friday, July 21, 2017

A First Timers Renovation Story... Part I

It has been quite the radio silence over here. I bought a house and then everything else in my life seemed to melt away. There was no time for friends, food, fitness let alone stepping back and processing / documenting the house buying and renovating process. Luckily I have been taking photos, so I am able to piece together the blur of the last few months. 

Three weeks ago was my targeted completion date. I was supposed to have friends stay with me on Wednesday and Thursday nights. But that deadline came and went, my friends stayed at my parents house, and my house remains full of dust and half completed projects. As I enter my 4th month of living in the basement out of boxes and without a kitchen - I've decided to take a look back and see how my timeline and budget went out the window. Now I'm not saying it's a bad thing - but definitely a learning curve and an exercise in managing expectations. I'm happy where we are at and the progress to date, but I anticipate that I'll be in the basement for another month or so which means I have to shift many other life plans going forward.

So remember back in February when I was really on the minimalism kick and then I bought a house? Remember when I only showed a picture of the outside of the house?... Well, I'm lifting the veil. Looking back, I now see the scale of the project that was in front of me. (In the future I will list out the things I've changed - and this is probably only 2/3 of what I would like to change within the next year)

The other thing, looking back (ah 20/20) is how many things I would have looked at when first purchasing the house. 

Let's start with that list

  1. The Walls and Ceilings - the quality of the walls is extremely important - how well they have been maintained in the past will ultimately guide the cost and the end product of a repaint. Looking for things like dents, holes, patches - but also feeling the walls - have things been painted into the wall already? (I had very rough walls - like pieces of small metal wire and debris were painted into the wall. And the ceilings - when it is light out, you can see everything on the ceilings and it looks quite terrible)
  2. Electrical - I would definitely have electricians come into the house and provide some quotes. I don't think that the cost of the electrical work would have deterred me from buying the house but it is currently 3x my budget and keeps on increasing. I would take quite a bit of time looking at the electrical panel (the size) and (if the basement is open to the joists) how well as where the wires were going. Additionally, I would look at light switches and outlets, and if I would want any of them moved / added. 
  3. Record and Categorize the Number and Scope of the Projects - this is a big one. As I walked through the house, I saw lots of little projects, things I would want to improve / change. If I would have made a list of them, I would have had a better idea of the magnitude of the project. I also would have been able to order things sooner (helping the timeline) and thought about DIY solutions
  4. Quality of the Siding - The exterior of the house is an expensive thing to upgrade, and most likely if buying an older house, hard, if not impossible to match / replace the broken siding. I am lucky that the previous owners kept some extra siding, but there are corner pieces that are broken that I don't think I can find a replacement for. This really affects curb appeal. 
  5. Quality of the Windows -  Windows are quite expensive to replace (because they will likely be custom size) and significantly affect the R-value of the house. Further, I have these awesome recessed windows (no casing) that I love, but it looks like most of the windows in those recessed frames will need replacing which will either cost me an arm and a leg to replace with the cool recessed detail, or I'll have to lose the detail
  6. Exterior Doors - One of the things I will keep my eye on when I look at a house is the quality of the exterior doors, especially if I am going to replace hardware. My back door was an interior door which was moved to the back. And so the handle and the deadbolt were not the same distance from the edge of the door (an important measurement). So while I thought I would just sand and paint the door, I ended up fully replacing it because I didn't want to buy new hardware with mis-matching distances from the edge of the door.
  7. Level of the Floors - this may seem extreme, especially in a 1956 old house, but this can really play havoc on the new flooring. It may also indicate some other structural problems. Luckily mine didn't indicate other structural problems, but it did cause some issues when laying the new flooring. Looking back, I would have likely replaced the subfloor in the areas where I was laying new flooring - but that adds up / may not solve the problem if the 
  8. General Condition of Items / Quality of Replacement Items - This is a big one. My house was really well kept. Like extremely well kept. The water heater was replaced recently, the furnace is less than a year old, the Vacuflow was checked every 3 years. But what I failed to notice is that most everything was done on the cheap. The new furnace, well it's not high efficiency, the vanity light was moved but the junction box was never covered up, the basement's dropped T-ceiling was the cheapest brand, and the foundation was painted with miss-match paints and missing in certain spots... It was good news with the wallpaper which took barely any effort to remove (I removed 4-5 different wallpapers) but for everything else, it means that in the long run I will have to replace it instead of keeping it. I liken it to a mid century dresser, you can get the solid walnut / teak ones, or get the laminate ones. While both look great initially, the solid wood ones can be sanded and refinished, the laminate ones cannot. Which in this house, means keeping less original items, and spending more money.
And now without further ado - here are the listing photos... (aka what I walked around and decided would be a good idea to buy...)
The front door to the left, dining room to the right and kitchen is behind the wall directly in front

Close up of the dining room

Kitchen - view from the dining room, - if you were to turn around right now, you would see this amazing orange banquet dining table

Another view of the kitchen coming straight in from the front door - who has sink that is offset with the window?

The master bedroom - and yes the A/C unit came with the house, and we could not find the original window!

Guest room - what you can't see very well is that this whole room was pepto bismol pink (even the light fixture!) maybe the next photo will help...

Can you see the pink?

Guest room 2 or an office - I am keeping it as an office

The main floor bathroom - needless to say I gutted it.

The basement - nothing is being done to this room. But this is my current living quarters

Creepy basement bedroom - pretty much the first thing I removed. There is still some wallpaper on the left wall - I'll have to dream up some way to remove it

All in all you may have counted correctly (well a few are missing) but there were 8 different wallpapers and 7 different types of tile. I quickly learned that while the house was pretty much 'original' many of the aesthetic updates were done by the owner (hence the debris in the paint). I found extra tile and wallpaper in the garage. Note to self - Be a good DYIer, or don't do it at all. 

And so the transformation adventure beings...