Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Before We Move In - An Update

We have owned the house for more than two months now so I think it's time for a List Update. We've gotten a lot done which makes me very happy. New stuff is bolded. About half of what is left I plan on doing in the winter and then the rest in the spring.

Before We Move In:
  • fix grading around the house
  • trim South tree
  • trim back tree
  • remove bush from that tree
  • weed everywhere
  • trim front bush
  • plant a privacy fence between us and the trailer
  • replace trim/weatherstripping around back doors
  • replace trim/weatherstripping around garage door
  • replace gutter elbows 
  • add another gutter downspout
  • clean out gutters
  • patch & fix siding
  • silicone around nails on roof by chimney
  • replace the basement windows
  • epoxy in foundation cracks
  • replace fire alarms with smoke alarms
  • replace water heater this will be done next week!
  • replace furnace this will be done next week!
  • replace air conditioner this will be done next week!
  • replace water softener? add iron-out system?
  • have our well water more thoroughly tested
  • get the septic system cleaned out
  • replace all the old iron pipes with PEX tubing  this will be done next week!
  • fix bathroom sink drain
  • insulate well pump pipe
  • replace screws in electrical panel
  • fix crawlspace support post
  • soffit venting in attic?
  • update electrical...all the knob & tube is out so we are...50% there?
  • fix up porch
  • replace broken living room window
  • replace missing screens and fix the hole-y ones
  • replace locks..we did the front door, so 50%
  • replace shower head
  • put handles on the linen closet drawers
  • put handles on kitchen cabinets & drawers that need them
  • take down bifold doors
  • take down kitchen door
  • take down front door screen door
  • replace porch screen door
  • refinish the front door
  • refinish the painted doors
  • install a door knocker
  • get a garage door opener for the car
  • make nice looking landscaping beds on either side of the porch
  • add window boxes?
  • paint all the rooms in the house
  • remove the shower doors & make a few other bathroom fixes...we are 75% there
  • powerwash the house

Here's the Current (as of 9/25) To Do List from the original post on September 25th:
My Current To Do List (all of these are ASAP items. PRESSURE!):
  • call furnace companies to set up estimates
  • call water heater companies to set up estimates
  • call a septic clean-out company
  • call Pella about replacement screens & the broken window
  • call a plumber about various plumbing fixes
  • call about getting the water tested more extensively
  • buy a fridge
  • buy a dehumidifier
  • buy an ice maker
  • pick out a new stove
  • decide how we want to change the locks and doors situation so Dad can do it
  • order the replacement garage door opener for the car
  • go to a local nursery about the plants for the privacy fence see below
  • plant the bulbs
  • find out how close to the property lines we can plant this one has turned into finalize where the property line is because the neighbors are contesting with an old survey. FUN TIMES!

Let's also update with the current To Do List* for this week:
  • call the well company to find out how deep the well is & ask about any necessary maintanence
  • call insurance agent about switching to the better plan since we have made all the necessary fixes
  • find scrapper to pick up all the metal and pay us a little somethin' somethin'
  • pay the Nicor bill for the house
  • research stoves & pick one
  • buy an ice maker
  • follow up with the realtor for the neighbor & the survey company to clarify the property line
  • copy the front door key
  • research cast iron tub sealer
  • buy supplies at Home Depot, Farm and Fleet, & Dollar Tree or Goodwill
  • give the check for all our money to Mom & Dad so they can give it to the HVAC guy when they are there overseeing his work (thank you for doing that, Mom & Dad!)
  • find a hotel for Mom & Dad to stay at since they are there for both days of work next week
*I have only posted the house-related parts, the real list is almost double this :(

Oh my, the busy-ness of my current life. I'm looking forward to my day off of work this week because I will get a lot more of this list crossed off.

Home ownership!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dreaming & Scheming: The Kitchen

We have big plans for the kitchen, and once we move in it will be the first big project that we tackle.  I'm very grateful that the kitchen has been useable while we are there on weekends while we work on projects, but once we live there full time I want my Dream Kitchen. We both cook a lot and I am ready for a kitchen that has exactly what I want. BONUS it'll have a window in it! Actually 3! (Our current kitchen does not have a window.)

We plan on using the old cabinets as storage for the garage workshop.

Big changes:
  • The wall separating the kitchen and dining room will be gone
  • Expose the brick chimney that is under the plaster (I know it's there because I can see it in the basement and attic)
  • Create an island next to the stove that comes out into the current dining room
  • The counters will come out another 6 inches or so into the dining room (and but up again the window frame)
  • There will be counters to the right of the stove and next to the door in the breezeway (currently there is just the one stretch of countertop on the east wall)
  • There will be a window bench under the window in the dining room (my version of having a couch in the kitchen)
  • The laundry nook will also be a pantry
  • The dining room will have built-ins against the wall that links it to the living room
  • And here's the controversial one, but I've thought about it a lot and read about people who have them and I really think it'll work for us: no upper cabinets, instead we'll have open shelving (it'll primarily be just for the daily dishes & glasses and anything else that goes up there will just get a rinse before we use it)
I have once again used my friend Paint to help illustrate The Plans.

I have a feeling once we live in the house plans will change a bit (I want to tape out the island on the carpet and practice walking around it, for example), but that's where they stand for now. I can't wait!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Weekend Update #5

This weekend we:
  • took 100+ pictures of the west view during the sunset
  • took down the 3 old fire alarms and replaced them with smoke alarms
  • re-keyed the front door locks to be the same key
  • cut off the bolts from the breezeway railings
  • fixed the bathroom light switch wiring
  • planted 156 bulbs (Narcissus, Scilla, & Muscari)
  • filled in some holes in the yard
  • killed 200 Box Elder bugs (my new archnemesis) by hand, one by one
  • spread diatomaceous earth inside & outside the house to try to kill more Box Elder bugs
  • put more netting on the gutters
  • raked more leaves into the compost pile
  • cleaned the breezeway windows
  • tightened the front railings as much as possible
  • spackled the bathroom
  • got more caulk (remnants from the shower doors) off the bathtub
  • got mildew off of the grout 
  • disconnected and removed the water heater
  • removed the AC piping
  • took down and carried out the furnace!
  • cleaned up the basement because it was a dust factory
This was taken out the basement window. I love our basement!

And thankfully we, again, had both sets of parents and two brothers helping us this weekend!

In about a week we are having all the major work done and we are almost ready. We just need another day of hauling some things out of the basement and cleaning up a bit to get ready for 2 days of workers being in the house. Also we should probably try moving the old air conditioner into our Big Metal Pile.

I have lots of projects that I want to do that require the house to be heated, so I am really excited to get that all set. So once that's all done you should start seeing projects like:
  • painting the bathroom
  • stripping the paint off doors
  • staining doors
  • painting every room in the house


Next spackling project:

My only guess is that they had a very bored dog that lived in here?

The water heater is gone now:

During the furnace take-down:


Just to remind you, here's the before:

And resulting Dust Factory:

Now for pretty views:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Weekend Update #4

This weekend we actually got work done!  I even had Friday off so I got 3 days of wonder.  And again we are very lucky because we had both sets of parents, a brother, & a nephew helping us work. Without them we would be so very far behind (not to mention paying people buttloads of money to contractors & electricians). Thank you Wonderful Family!

This weekend we:

  • mowed our 1+ acre lawn (most of our 5 acres is not grass)
  • winterized the outdoor water spigot
  • cut up branches into firewood
  • cleaned out gutters & put on some leaf-guard netting
  • sealed the cracks in our foundation blocks
  • finished taking down all the old ducts
  • carried all the old ducts out from the basement and into the Garage Metal Pile
  • took out all the old returns (good God I could not imagine a more terrible job)
  • took down half the old furnace (did I mention that the house has no heat?!)
  • installed a new sill plate on the (person) garage door
  • disconnected all the old knob & tube wiring & took down the old fuse boxes (an important step towards normal [aka better & less expensive] house insurance!
  • made some electrical updates to quickly replace a little bit of the knob & tube (at one point there was only 1 working outlet upstairs...not even any lights)
  • took out some of the basement clutter
  • cleaned the basement windows inside & outside
  • raked some leaves to start our compost pile
  • came up with a new plan for the guest bedroom (for once we combine 2 of the bedrooms into a master suite)
  • took back a bunch of garbage that we found around the property with us (yay for no more ugly garbage pile in our driveway)
  • trimmed tree branches that got in my way as I was mowing
  • cleaned the bathtub & tile
  • scraped out the old caulk
  • took down the glass shower doors (I have [mildly] major bathroom plans for next weekend!)
  • shut off our water as we left on Sunday (did I mention we have no heat?!)
Never fear, we have somebody coming in 2 weeks who will install a new furnace, air conditioner, completely redo all of our ducts & returns, install a new water heater, & update all of our plumbing to PEX tubing from old, rusty iron pipes & valves that no longer work. I don't think I'll ever take heat and hot water for granted ever again!

Now for pictures:
The matching Worker Guys taking out some knob & tube

The knob & tube is gone!  The knob & tube is gone!

It used to look like this:

No more shower doors:
I like showers with doors, but not with tubs. With tubs there's all sorts of crevices to clean, plus Corey couldn't even really get into the shower with the doors there.
Here's the before:

I also took pictures of the caulk removal, but it was gross and you can't really tell that it's gone in the picture. So I'll save you from that.  Here, however, is a gross before picture (and even this is after 1 cleaning attempt the first weekend we had the house) of our tub:

And just to gross  you out further, here is the before before pic, the day of our closing:
Don't you just want to take a bath in this?
Here it is after I cleaned it:

And after Corey gave it some oomph:

Much better! It's a cast iron tub, so we're looking into resealing it so that it'll be easier to maintain from here on out. Man I can't wait for hot water!

Let's go outside for a bit. Guess which side I cleaned!
And the view from inside

Before tree-trimming:

And After:
Ah, now I can mow under this tree.
Some high-up tree-trimming (of dead branches) in progress:

 Look! Now that the corn came down we have neighbors!
Can you even see their house in this picture?

 Our corn is still up though. 

Compost bin!

 And back inside. Everyone, please go get your ducts & returns cleaned because this is what is inside of them:

The view from the bottom of our basement stairs Before:

And After this weekend:
We're almost there, folks!

I can't even begin to explain to you how hard it was to get those returns down. I just, can't.

And because I can't get enough of these two, here's more:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Canning & Tractoring

I'm a bit behind on these updates.  We haven't done much the last two weekends.  One weekend we bought a tractor and spent a day canning apples & some jam with my sister in law.  The other weekend we went to an out of town wedding and didn't even go to the house.  Here's some pictures:

We bought a John Deere 400 tractor that was made in the late '70s or early '80s which means it has a good (aka fixable) engine (apparently they actually 'don't make 'em like they used to'). We plan on using it for mowing our lawn and plowing our snow, but down the line there are other attachments we could buy to do some other things as well.

This was also the first time I used my trailer hitch!

Fast forward two weeks later and we actually got to use it!  It was very fun, it reminded me of when I went snowmobiling before I could drive:

I plan on doing a whole update on the canning day, including a step by step tutorial and recipes, but that will have to wait for another day. But for now, here is a picture of the fruits of our labor:

We made raspberry jam, cherry jam, applesauce, apple butter, and lots & lots (long story but we actually made a quadruple batch when we only intended to make a double batch...) of apple pie filling. It is all VERY YUMMY! And worth the 3 hour drive home that started at midnight on a worknight...