Renovation Update Week 4

Home Renovation Structural Beams

A view from the front of the house facing the rear windows. The stairs to the second floor are on the left.

This will likely be the last week that our contractor will be here for a while. From the beginning, we’d planned to start the structural work and then take a breather while we save more, plan more, and plan some more. He should be starting back to work for us nearer to the holidays.

The House

All floor joists and the beam that hold up the kitchen floor were replaced and the new subfloor is in. There are two large holes where windows once were, boarded up for the weekend, of course. This floor is solid, and level. One unexpected outcome is that the step up into the back door will be a few inches higher than it was previously. But the cooking oil in the pans won’t all run to one side anymore!

new subfloor header beam

Photo from the living room of the future kitchen towards the back door and new window.

One mistake so far (that I know of): Jason planned for a small portion of wall that will go next to the pull-out pantry. Rather than run the new beam all the way across the width of the house and then add a little wall, he had it end at the beginning of this planned wall. He had wanted to put the light switches on this wall, but in order to support the weight of the beam, the contractor made a massive, solid wood support post. So the light switches will have to go on the outside of that wall, in the dining room.

Header beam support

The header beam support that won’t allow for a light switch.

Personally, I think it’s a great mistake–nothing’s broken, nothing needs to be torn out or replaced. The best kind of mistake to have, really. Jason seemed a little mad at himself, but I think that if that’s his only mistake in planning this huge project, he’s doing a tremendous job.

Jason and his friend finished the drywall in the basement bathroom without having to remove the toilet. He applied the last coat of drywall mud yesterday during the kids’ naps.

Drywall in bathroom

The basement bathroom is nearing the finish line!

We decided to go for a tub surround in that bathroom as it should be quicker than the other options. We also decided on outdoor lights around the medicine cabinet. The ones we chose look  fairly industrial (fitting a bathroom in an otherwise unfinished basement) and, since one will be pretty close to the shower, it was important to us that they be waterproof.

Hilarious side note: If Jason stands in the basement bathroom’s bathtub, his hair is smashed against the ceiling. The people who used that bathroom, who in fact owned the house, were taller than him. 

And I completed some overdue gardening and resuscitated or replaced the flowers in our front planters. Jason was a little too busy while we wer away in August to tend to the outdoors and really, it’s my thing, not his. I love making it beautiful, and he loves how it looks when it’s finished.

Flower window boxes platers

The flowers at the front of the house.

The Kids

We’ve been home since last Wednesday with no plans to leave.  J keeps asking me if we’re going to West Virginia today (every day), but more in an anxious way than a hopeful way.

We had planned to spend some of this holiday weekend visiting with friends and family, but J came down with a cold and then I caught it on Friday. It turned out that a weekend at home with just the four of us was exactly what we all needed. J and P were both touchy, frantic, and aggressive on Saturday. Yesterday they were much less so, and today they are both a bit tired from missing a nap yesterday, but pleasant and pretty calm.

I’ll have to remember that after the inevitable chaos of traveling away from their father, the kids could use an at-home, family-only weekend when we return. 

The Lovebirds

Jason and I are sad to see an end to Phase 1 of the renovation already.

And a little shocked to see our renovation account draining so quickly. We’ve come to terms with taking on consumer debt to finish this project by the end of next year, but we’re not thrilled with it. We still need to sit down and decide what our number is. You know, the number where, when you hit it, you can’t sleep at night because you’re worrying. Everyone has a different risk tolerance, but I know that we have a low threshold for debt. I’d like to stay well south of that number, even if it means putting everything on hold while we save up again.

It’s going to be tough, but necessary, for Jason to work on the house the next two months while the kids and I are home more. We’re lucky to have family nearby with whom we can spend a fun weekend, or even an afternoon.

I am slightly relieved to not have to call and deal with the city parking enforcement office every other week. They’ve now issued two tickets to the contractor’s helper, which means that they neglected to enter my faxed request for a contractor parking variance into their system. Each time I have to call and spend 10 minutes on the phone while the (very nice) lady searches through the faxes until she finds mine, and then cancels the ticket.

There has been minimal confusion between Jason and the contractor, no small feat since they only communicate via phone. All in all, I think this has gone pretty smoothly. So far.


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