Friday, August 15, 2008

and now, my house, she waits. again.

The last time I posted in this blog much progress was being made, excitement was building, and I could really see myself living in the completed house. Here are the latest pictures:

This is the view of the main room, the 'Great Room', if you will, taken from the front double windows. I took down two small coal closets and a double sided fireplace in the middle of these two rooms. I'd planned on putting a wall back up, but once all that was down, I just couldn't. The visual impact of the openness was too great, the light coming in from the five windows too wonderful. So it became the living room and dining room.

This is the opposite view, standing in what will be the kitchen doorway (the wall of studs seen in the previous picture). I'm undecided as of yet if this kitchen wall will be a half wall or a full wall or an open, framed doorway. I'll have to wait until the bedroom wall is moved as planned to actually see what the feel of the kitchen will be. But back to the Great Room, a side note: This room is almost half the square footage of the whole house. This picture came out dark because the room was so bright in real life.

This shot is the progress made in demoing out the old bathroom and two closets, where the new bathroom will go. This view is from the master bedroom, but the wall you see will be a solid wall once my renovations are complete. I took this picture to show you, now that the closets are out, a better view of how big the bathroom will be and that it will also take in the awkward hall seen on the left of this picture.

This is the same bathroom space, but seen from a head on shot of where the dining area will be in the Great Room. Old closets on the left and on the right where the shower and toilet where. The stud wall you see directly in front of the camera is the other side of the awkward hallway--- that's the back of exterior siding. The hallway actually used to be a side porch that was closed in at some point.

Here's another (angled) view. I'm very pleased with the progress being made, but I must point out that its been two weeks since I posted. These pictures were taken two weeks ago, as well.

My contractor tore his rotator cuff in his shoulder at his 9-5 job two weeks ago. Which in turn means that he hasn't been able to work on my house due to his injury. He's hurt himself pretty badly and the verdict's still out on whether or not he needs surgery. It's pretty clear to me, though, that he won't be working on my house any time soon.

I feel nothing but compassion for him and I'm terribly sorry that he hurt himself. But I've also been feeling sorry for myself lately, too, and a bit down in the dumps because, here again, my project is on hold. It's no one's fault, but I guess it's just that we had such a momentum going and everything was gearing up to be turned around quickly and on schedule...

And now, my house, she waits. again.

I guess I should start calling contractors.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Catch-Up Pictures...

Here are the pictures from the last two weeks. I took the liberty of just posting the highlights. That, and I had a heck of a time uploading these tonight for some reason.

View from the main entrance, which will be the view from the foyer when entering the house. With the floors mostly clear and the walls down, you can see straight to the back wall. So open and light...

Looking up in the kitchen to see the underside of the roof. I like all the angles. I wish there was an economical way to open this up, but it's more practical to leave it like it is.

Kitchen: wall with the window. The window will pretty much stay in the same place, but will be taller than this window. You can see there used to be double windows in this room, too. My sink will go under the window.

A semi wrap-around view. Still playing with kitchen layouts. I'll tell you why in a bit.

The little closet juts out on the back porch. I'm entertaining the idea of having a similar closet in its place, a shallow pantry. Notice the 'new' wood and plumbing to the right of it? This is one of the original doorways to the back porch. At some point it was closed in and a craptastic bathroom was built there. There will be a door here going out to the back porch from the kitchen.

This is the top part of the back wall of the kitchen, right above the closet/pantry area. It all pretty much needs to be replaced, along with the back porch on the other side of it.

View looking from the kitchen back to the front of the house. See all the light? and the openness? This is what keeps making me think twice about my kitchen layout. Should this wall become a half wall? It will give me a technically smaller kitchen and less upper cabinets, but it sure would be a nice feature to the house...

My contractor pulled the carpet in what will be the master bedroom. This is the floor. It's pieced with plywood on the left hand side. I didn't have high hopes for it anyway. Moving on...

In the master bedroom, looking towards the back of the house... what will be the master closet and storage for the whole house.

Close up of the back wall in the closet room. A lot of the studs here will have to be replaced, same story as the kitchen. This part of the house has the sill that sits on dirt, and the leaky craptastic bathroom is immediately to the left of this picture, on the other side of the wall.

This is where you learn what I mean by craptastic. I'll give you one guess as to where the toilet was. Hint: look for the moldy, toilet tank-shaped spot on the wall. You really can't miss it. Make sure you note the daylight in the upper right hand corner--- that's the back porch. This will all eventually live in the dumpster, never to haunt my house again.

A close up of the same bathroom, note the baseboards, people! How great does that floor look? Do you think its sagging at all? completely. disgusting. filth.

Since we're on this bathroom kick, let's look at the other bathroom, and where the new one will go back:
From left to right, (before) closet space, doorway/hall/sink, then small room with shower unit and toilet. Lovely.

Two shallow closets were here, side by side, opening into opposite rooms.

This used to be a short hall, closet on the left. Then they closed the doorway and plopped a sink down with a mirror above it.

Turn to your right while standing in front of the sink and you see this, where the shower was. It had to be cut out in sections. Look, ma! No floor below it! Nice plumbing job. Love the wallpaper.

And right next to the shower, in the same little small room, was the toilet.

This whole area will become the house's only bath. I plan on having a bath tub unit with a shower, a long vanity, big mirror, single sink, toilet alcove, and a washer, dryer, utility area behind doors. The whole area is about 10'x 11'.

Head on view of all three bathroom areas, and don't forget this bathroom will also include the hallway that runs behind it:

It may not seem like much, but a lot has been going on since my contractor started. I'm very pleased with the results so far and can't wait to get more accomplished.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Progress has actually been happening at my house! Interior work progress!

I hired a contractor about three or four weeks ago but he had to wait until the Yard Men were done with everything... Then I had to wait almost two weeks to get a dumpster (mainly due to the fourth of July holiday and a mix-up with my order). But finally a dumpster was delivered and my contractor began work.

In the four days he's worked so far he's completely cleaned out all the trash (and I do mean TRASH) that was under the house. A neighbor came over and told him that one of the previous occupants of the house literally threw his trash up under the house, which was completely believable, seeing all the junk that had accumulated in the back yard...

Contractor also has taken the fireplace down to the floor, stacked the rest of the bricks outside in the brick pile and cleaned five rooms of demolition debris, which is incredibly tedious work. He's torn out all the sheet rock, paneling, and carpets out of the three back rooms, begun tearing out one of the bathrooms, and has taken down two dropped ceilings and ripped out two other ceilings. He began taking down the two plaster ceilings, as well, but they're a bit harder and messier to demo out.

He's working on a plan to jack the house up and figuring out where the foundation needs to be replaced. He's been making the existing electrical system safer for all the demo work going on (apparently I had live wires that I didn't know about), and he's been inspecting the wood structure of the house and finding out what studs and such need to be replaced.

Side note here--- the back bathroom that was built on the screen porch was, of course, not added correctly and has led to pretty bad leaking and wood rot. And this is the part of the house with the sills that sit on the dirt, too, which complicates things. Although it is bad, it's not as bad as it could be. And I think it will allow me to add on to the size of the porch, which I wanted to do, since I'll have to replace the area anyway.

Also where a kitchen was, and where the kitchen will be, has some problems, too. But we knew about that. Most of this was expected, we just don't know how extensive the repair work will be until we demo some more.

I have pictures but my laptop is... having some issues. I have to send it off and get it repaired (for free), and also my car died a while back and I had to buy a new one (not for free), which kind of put a small kink in things, too. BUT, work is going on at the house, and will be going on at the house.

It's very exciting. Hopefully soon I can get some pictures up using time on a borrowed computer.

My mother and I solved the how-many-bathrooms-should-I-have and where-is-the-laundry-room-going problems, in addition to the I-really-need-a-closet-in-the-second-bedroom problem. I've said it before, but I think my floor plan is in its last stages of tinkering.

Oh, and contractor estimates the rest of the demo should be completed this weekend. I think it will take a few more days than that, but we'll see how hard he works. Then begins the fixing of the foundation and jacking up the house. And from there on comes the fun part of making it into a house again.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Yard Crew Day 3

The pictures for Yard Crew Day 3 were actually taken today, since it rained yesterday and I worked late. We'll start the tour around the back right corner, looking towards the street.

I knew Tree Man was going to clean up, but I didn't know he really meant 'clean up'. As in cutting back ALL the foliage, weed-eating, and raking. The yard around the house has never been this clean, not since I've owned the house. It's very inspiring. Pay no attention to the overgrown stuff on my neighbors' side because that will be trimmed by me and possibly 'accidentally' killed by Round-Up over spray.

At the front right corner of the house, looking back. See how clean, almost manicured? See how crappy the neighbors' overgrown weeds/trees/plants/shrubs make my house look? It's a triplex and they're all renters. They nor their landlord care what it looks like. But I can take care of that. Maybe fixing up my house and yard will encourage them to fix up theirs... If not, Round Up!

So this picture is back off the left hand front corner of the lot. I'm actually standing under my neighbor's tree. But note how much different my lot looks. Tree Man cut all this back, too, and raked the front yard. Unfortunately, it draws more attention to my sub-par foundation. But that is first on the to-do list.

A few steps closer, looking down the left side of the house--- you can see the whole length of the house and INTO the back yard. Amazing. I still can't get over it. I'll have to find the pictures of this side of the house from when I bought it...

Here we're at the front right corner of the lot, on the sidewalk, looking back at the house. My triplex neighbors' fence is in sad, sad shape. But look at the steps! Hopefully they can be repaired good as new eventually. I would like to build the retaining wall up a few feet so I can have a square front lawn, maybe with a place to put my garbage bin, to the right of the steps.

Across the street, front view of the house. I ride by the house 3 or 4 times a day, now. It just looks so different. You really can see the house, now. It was lost before, but the Tree Man and his crew made SUCH a difference... I think other people are now seeing what I saw when I bought it. A question for you, here: What kind of porch railings should I put back up?

Looking right down the left hand side of the house. Note the brick pile and the lack of bamboo. Note the makeshift foundation. Note all the trash spilling out from under the house. That's the next thing that will be done, cleaning out underneath the house so the foundation work/jacking up and leveling the house, can begin.

Opposite view of the picture above. So clean and clear. I don't have a fabulous view of anything, but at least I can see something now, rather than the house being choked by greenery.

Today when I met with the Tree Man and concluded business, he told me that sometimes he and his crew nickname their projects. And guess what they called my house? The Jungle. Well, it was a jungle, but it's certainly not anymore. This is peeking around the left rear edge of the house.

This is looking, from the same spot at the edge of the house, straight back. Now my lot does not go to the greenery in the back. That's part of a neighbor's lot who let the Tree Man and Yard Crew through his yard to get to mine. Can you see the bent, leaning fence post on the left hand side?

It's kind of hard to see, you might have to click the picture and make it bigger. That's where the fence was, and is what I'm assuming is my property line. Before I put up a fence, I guess I'll have to get the lot professionally surveyed. See my tree? This back yard has so much potential, now. It's just a blank slate, begging to be used.

Here's at the back corner on the right hand (if standing in front of the house) side, at the corner fence post. I think the tree is in a pretty good location, and hopefully now it won't have to compete as much for nutrients and will branch out and shade the yard more.

This is from a guessed vantage point of about the center of my back yard. I roughly measured it out the other day when contemplating a privacy fence, but with tools at hand. I think it's about 28 feet wide and 54 feet long. Or about 1500 square feet, which is larger than my house.

This is from the other corner of the lot, at the crooked fence post. I just can't get over being able to walk back here, move around, and look at the house. It's unreal. But let's focus on some of the not-so-great findings:

The back porch. The poor, abandoned, cut-off, under used, sad, lonely back porch. The floor at some point rotted, and someone before me built another one on top of it. And the siding is falling off, which I anticipated. Actually I knew pretty much that the whole porch, minus the roof, will have to be rebuilt. But, uhmm, look closer. At the underneath part. I believe that's the sill? Doesn't look too great.

Oh, and this is looking at the base of the back porch, at the part that was closed in and turned into a bathroom for Apartment A. The shower is right behind here. It looks like there might be a water issue (ha). If you remember correctly, there was an old, decrepit stove that sat here, hiding this mess. The sill here is BAD. Like, let's-hope-the-rest-of-the-house-doesn't-look-like-this bad. Looks like termite city to me, but I didn't see one. I really don't think the wood should just be sitting on the ground, either...

BUT let's look at the tree again. The tree makes me happy. The tree makes me forget about the scary sill:

So there's my tree, with a little photo-fenangling. See yet another neighbor's house that ends at the side of mine? Yeah. I SO need a privacy fence, pronto.

That's my new yard and lot. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around how different it looks, how good it looks. I can imagine interior changes in a house, and how moving a wall would make a space flow, but there's no way I could have imagined how the yard would look, once cleared. This completely reaffirms my initial attraction to the house, and makes me ten times more excited and encouraged about redoing the house, bad sill and great tree, in all.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yard Crew Day 2

Of course I went by the house today, it was Day 2 of the Tree Man and his crew. There wasn't a whole lot different in the front yard.

I did notice that he ground up the two stumps from the trees in the front yard that he removed yesterday. I didn't realize he was going to do that. The other two stumps he didn't grind because of their proximity to the old retaining wall along the left hand side of the house. Digging out the bamboo already caused a lot of damage and he didn't want to add any more to it.

He's going to come back and spray all this green overgrown stuff tomorrow with something similar to Round Up. He might cut it back some, too. Along this side is where the retaining wall is. I'll have to rebuild it at some point, which is fine because I want the wall higher in the front, anyway.

He cut down the tree along the side of the house too, the one I left when I cut back the bamboo the first time. It was just not in a good location. But what's this I see at the corner of the house? I can SEE into the back yard! It looks like I can WALK into the back yard!

Here's a closer view, at the corner edge there, right by the screened in porch.

And turning a little to the right, we have full walking access into the back yard from the left hand side, all across the back and INTO the back yard lot.

It turns out my lot is a little askew, meaning not exactly a rectangle. At least, that's where the fence posts were. And let me tell you, they are OLD fence posts.

Here's looking down the right hand side of the house. He didn't do any work over here, besides clearing the access into the back yard (there was already a gate here) because most of this just needs to be sprayed and killed. Not too bad.

Here's the view around the right hand corner side of the house.

And closer in, you see what a difference a day has made. It's all taken down to the dirt, with just a little debris left over. There was nothing to save, really. He cleared up to the fence on one side, and took down the fence on the other side, but cleared over my property line by about three feet. I asked him to, so it would be easier to put a privacy fence back up.

Here's the cleared view from the back property line to the back of the house. It looks SO much better and I'm excited about having this usable space, especially since the inside of the house is so small. But the back porch doesn't look too good, does it?

Back here there was ONE thing to be saved, or rather, cleared around. A tree! I actually had a tree in my back yard that I didn't know about. It was hard to tell which trees were on who's property before, but this one is actually mine. It was covered in vines, he said.

And here is today's final view of the back yard. Because that's what this yard project was all about; reclaiming the back yard. I already went today and started pricing putting back up a privacy fence. I'm not sure where on the time line that will fall, but it will probably need to be sooner rather than later, for privacy, security, and just to keep the yard clear until I can really transform it.

I've been thinking lately about paint colors, too. The house on my immediate right is yellow, the house on my left is brick, the house across the street is blue, and the house caddy-corner to me is light green. I was leaning towards a gray, but now I'm thinking... how about plain white? It's historic and clean, and I can punch it up with accent colors... a haint blue porch ceiling, black porch floors, a vivid front door color, and maybe even an accent on the windows themselves (the sashes not the trim).

We'll see. One project at the time, I know.

Tomorrow is mostly clean up and a few things I asked him to do in regards to the yard and lot today when I walked around with him. These guys have been working hard in the heat and dealing with all that mess. Money well earned.