Well, hello! I won’t even apologize for the five month lapse in posts–what else could you possibly expect from me at this point? Still, I feel the need to check in here, if only because yesterday marked one year since Ben and I first visited the house, and we’ve been using it heavily since mid-August, so post-demo pictures don’t really do it justice at the moment!
September 21 of last year, we went to see the house and I’m pretty sure I was sunk when I first saw the basement door. Yesterday I posted this to Instagram:
In many ways, that sums up where we stand. The house is painted; the doors are crazy (and there was something wrong with the paint and it never set completely–we have to repaint them, so I need to decide if I want to change the color a bit); there’s still trim to be touched up; the roofer forgot to fix that little piece so he has to come back; the landscaping is nonexistent. But still: Progress.
I wish I’d had the wherewithal to blog throughout this process. I have learned so much, and now I’m aching to get to work on another project (preferably with someone else’s money, ha!). About seven months ago, a contractor looked at me and said, “you know, most people start with a 1200 square foot ranch or something.” Forget the deep end; we jumped straight into the middle of the ocean. My only previous experience with home improvement was getting Lee St. painted before we moved in, and replacing the kitchen there with the world’s simplest Ikea layout. There was no demo, nothing moved; it took us one week, with Tom’s help.
Here we went straight to a giant 100-year-old house in need of basically every kind of repair. We had to get a new assessment last week, and I spoke with the assessor on the phone before he arrived. He asked what kind of work we had done since buying it and I started listing it:
-Gutted the kitchen, including removing a load-bearing wall (in a balloon-framed house, yikes)
-Gutted 2 bathrooms and did a cosmetic upgrade of a third, plus a powder room
-Got a new roof (before closing, actually)
-Replaced and upgraded the entire electrical system, including upgrade to 200amp service and installation of a generator
-Took the heating system from one to three zones and replaced all the exposed heat lines; changed out three radiators
-Replaced water lines in basement
-Upgraded hot water heater
-Installed propane lines for stove and generator
-Restored/reglazed all 52 windows
-Painted (deleaded) entire house, inside and outside
-Replaced roof on porch
-Rewired or replaced all light fixtures
-Repaired plaster/rehung ceilings where necessary
-Started work on eradicating several acres of poison ivy
I just kept going and going and when I stopped he just paused and said, “You’ve been busy.” Indeed. It’s been almost exactly nine months since we closed, and aside from the (miserable) electrical work, most projects didn’t get rolling until late April or May. Not bad, now that I look at it all listed out. And of course, now I know the good contractors, so I could jump right in to another project without all the mistakes of bad hires and aggravation of finding the right person. In fact, I have My Guy now, who can do anything and would be the ultimate collaborator on house flips or renovation management–we’ve been half-jokingly discussing how it would work to have me be the homeowner liaison/designer and let him just handle the construction end. Who wants to give us a try?
The kids love going out to the house. Tuck, especially, is in heaven. Tom made him a little wooden ax, and he spends hours in the yard working on trees, playing with sticks, and generally getting grubby. He’s exhausted and so happy at the end of every day, it makes it feel like the whole stressful, costly project was worth it.
Anyway, enough chat from me for now. I know pictures are far more interesting!
A wider view of the outside:
And a reminder of what it looked like a year ago:
And back in the 1970s, with the shutters on (those are coming soon!) via the seller:
Now inside. I don’t have “official” after pictures yet–our carpenters who have done the kitchen are STILL finishing up, three months late. But here are some shots from the last couple weekends:
There will be shelves on the top here, making a kind of built-in hutch in the dining area of the kitchen (this used to be the mudroom):
Powder room Before and Sort-Of-After:
Living room (check out those original cushions on the window seats–those things are petrified!):
The next phase is outside. My Guy is bringing in his brush hog (!!!) to mow all the non-wooded spaces around the house and clear the three or four acres of vines, poison ivy, sumac, blackberries, etc. that currently choke access to the woods and are keeping us from getting a sense of what we’ve got. Next year we will need to repair the driveway for drainage and non-mud-pit purposes. We also want to remove six or so gigantic white pines that block light and views, could endanger the house, and are generally just kind of ugly.
After all that, we will start thinking about an actual plan for the “yard” portions of the property. There’s a great huge front and side yard, and then there will be meadow space on the other side and down from the house after the brush hog work is done. The remainder of the property (about 22 acres, I’d guess) is heavily wooded, so we will just gradually work on carving trails into it and seeing what we see. There’s a little hidden meadow area that I found this summer, surrounded by overgrown (non-bearing) fruit trees, where I’d like to make a picnic area and so forth. That will be the fun stuff!
More soon. I can’t wait to see what everything looks like after the mowing!