Renovation Backstory: The Beginning of Phase 2

In June of this year (2012), Jason and I celebrated 6 years in our current home. 

Gutting basement renovation

Gutting the basement. Our faces are only that clean because of the respirators, hats and eye protection!

Jason (and I, pre-children) has been busy these many years working on Phase 1, the pre-contractor phase, and just recently took out the last bit of knob and tube wiring!

Until now, we (mostly Jason) have:

  • gutted the first floor and basement
  • repaired and waterproofed the basement
  • replaced 6 windows
  • painted the exterior
  • laid a new concrete patio
  • replaced the sewer stackpipe
  • removed a crumbling chimney and relocated the hot water heater
  • laid bamboo flooring in two rooms on the second floor
  • completely renovated the 3rd floor to add another bedroom, insulation, new wiring, heat, and a skylight
  • replaced the entire garage roof
  • repaired the remaining two chimneys, and relined one
  • dug out and repaired a nasty indoor plumbing problem
  • replaced most of the studs in the 1st floor kitchen

But earlier this year I asked my husband to hire a contractor. It was February 13th and we were celebrating our Quit Smoking Anniversary (also 6 years!), and I’d started feeling resentful toward our house. Our children are getting older and more active, our parents are visiting more (which we want!), and we were cramped and uncomfortable in our current space.

Jason works a solid full-time job and then also teaches at a local university 5 months of the year, as well as being a hands-on dad and keep up a couple of his favorite hobbies. He’s busy, and has a hard time fitting a complete remodel of an old house into his schedule.

He was surprised, and not too receptive right at first. But I explained how I felt, and we talked more, and I definitely pushed it a tiny more than a tiny bit. He became receptive, and later, relieved that we had made this decision to free his time and that there could be an end in sight. And there started what feels like a long journey to now.

We started working on house plans while gathering referrals for contractors. Jason interviewed 3 or 4 contractors, one of whose names he saw on the side of a van, I kid you not. Not a lot of helpful referrals for contractors out there!

One was clearly more competent and we eventually hired him after waiting a frustrating amount of time for the others to get back to us with any sort of estimate. It certainly helped that we had been in, and loved, a house that he did, and that several of my former co-workers and a friend highly recommended him. We did have to wait a while for him to start, but that just gave us more time to save.

While thinking about hiring, we had to figure out how to pay for a renovation. Our first floor is gutted. All drywall/plaster/paneling gone, all non-load bearing walls gone, most wiring ripped out. Part of the kitchen floor is even ripped up. And there’s structural damage to repair, which we recently found out may mean rebuilding an outside wall.

Not to mention we’re planning to replace the staircase, convert a 2nd floor kitchen into a bedroom, and gut and replace the 2nd floor bathroom. I estimate we’re looking at $40,000 byt the time all is said and done. And that’s assuming Jason keeps up the grueling pace of completing some of the work himself on evenings and weekends.

We re-vamped our budget to save every penny we could. Then we took out a Home Equity Line of Credit. Our goal is to pay cash for this renovation. But we’d also like to complete it as quickly as possible and the interest rate on our HELOC is very, very low. If we need to use it, we at least have the option.

Between savings and the HELOC we are a little over halfway to what I think we’ll need. Here’s hoping that Construction Junction has some very useful things for us over the next year!

And now the structural beams have been ordered and Phase 2 construction should begin next week.

Now I just need to figure out how to get a two year-old and four year-old to nap through hammering!


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