Category Archives: The House


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The goal of our restoration/remodel project is to create our forever home, but we don’t just have all the time in the world. At some point we actually have to move in to the house we are paying the mortgage on. What does that mean in real life? It means that we can’t just focus on one project. We have to make the house realistically livable so we can move in, even if that means we are sleeping on air mattresses. We are currently living 30 minutes away from the house with my incredibly awesome and accommodating parents. The commute is getting old.

The master bathroom addition is the main project, but to live in the house we have had to fix up the kitchen, drywall and paint a bedroom, and do a million other little things. My dad has been a huge help keeping the work moving forward as I run off on tangent projects.

Last weekend I tackled a massive project, sanding the wood floors to prep for refinishing. I discovered that 60 year old carpet glue is a force to be reckoned with. It will gum up sandpaper in nothing flat and will not even budge with 26 grit paper. I had to use an adhesive remover. I used Sentinel 747, which worked great. I spread it out over the affected areas and let it sit for an hour or so. And then I did what I rented a floor sander to avoid. I got down on my hands and poor knees with a belt sander and sanded the entire room by hand, carefully scraping and sweeping away the gum in between passes with the sander. Once that was finished, I slowly groaned, got to my feet, and straightened up. The floor sander completed the job with passes at grits 40, 80, 120, and 180. The floor is going to be amazing! But boy was I pooped. I rented the sander at 0700 and got home by 2400.

After all of that work, we decided we needed to be able to walk on the floor for the next few days to complete other projects. Remember, the goal is to make the house livable. We decided the public washroom needs to be completed. When we move in, we can live with one shower, but we definitely need two toilets. We have three teens and a pre-teen after all! So my job this week is to complete the washroom. I spent yesterday building the vanity. I found a dirty old board out in a shed. I cleaned it up and ran it through my new planer (Yeah!!). I suspected hard wood because of its weight, but it transformed into a beautiful board right before my eyes. You may be able to help identify the wood. I was thinking oak at first, but it feels heavier than oak. Maybe hickory?

We also found an old enamelware metal bowl for a vessel sink. I successfully cut a drain hole using a diamond bit and guide. We also decided to use some corrugated metal for the back splash. It feels weird thinking about finishes when the rest of the space is so rough, but if we want to move in, this must be done.

At times it is frustrating jumping from one project to the next. It may actually be nice to see one thing through to completion this week. Unless of course, something else comes up!

We Got Keys!

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The house is officially ours! We sold our last home in 2006 so we feel like brand new home owners. We went into the house for the first time on our own to really evaluate what needed to be done. We already had a plan on what we wanted to do, but it’s hard to really know the scope of work without punching a few holes in the wall. We had a small toolbox there, but none of the stuff we will really needed for the job. All of us took a turn punching holes in a wall, which by the way, is a fantastic feeling. We pulled up carpet and pulled up a bit of the kitchen linoleum. Here is where we stand.

The walls were built with a plaster board. At first I was confused, because it was covered in paper like drywall, and was in sheets like drywall, but was clearly not gypsum. I did some research and found that in the 60’s they came out with a product that would allow people to plaster their walls in sheets. Drywall had become more popular during WWII, but plaster was still considered primo. These sheets were like drywall, but filled with plaster. So today it feels more like concrete than drywall, but you can still easily punch a hole through the wall and tear it off. Conclusion: no problem to demo, but may take a little more time than standard gypsum board.

The carpet in the extra room, which I will call the suite from now on, came off pretty easily. Boy was it dirty under the pad. Years of dust sifting down through the carpet and pad. Underneath is a fantastic pine plank floor. There is some glue residue from the carpet, but no big deal. The majority of this wood will be lifted out for use on other projects. We will then tile the bathroom portion. Conclusion: as expected.

The carpet in the master bedroom was a different story. Under the current carpet we found the original carpet. It was worn threadbare, but still sticking hard to the pine floors. It was glued down and has a rubber like backing which does not want to come up. We researched and found a product called Sentinel 747 that we are going to try. Conclusion: this is going to take a long time and will be hard labor.

The linoleum in the kitchen is not glued down as thoroughly as it could be, which is good, but it is still a pain like any linoleum. Underneath is a 3/8″ plywood sub floor. Under that is the pine floor we are reaching for. We don’t know yet if they just screwed the plywood down or also glued it. We bought a heat gun to help soften the linoleum as we take it off. Hopefully the plywood isn’t glued. I would love to be able to lift the pieces whole so I can use them to patch the chicken coop and dog house. The condition of the pine remains to be seen. Conclusion: As expected, labor intensive work. Still some unknowns.

The chimney stack rises through what will become the washroom. It is currently covered in plaster and we want to expose the brick. Whoever plastered it did it right, steel mesh and all. Break out the pneumatic chisel. Conclusion: with the right tools, it shouldn’t be too bad. Hopefully the brick is in good shape.

After completing the evaluation, we took the next day to plan and make a list of things we needed. So last night was a Home Depot night instead of a work night. But tonight starts the real demolition. May our hammers swing freely! #DemoDay

The Current Layout

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Right now the north side of the house, on the main floor, features the master bedroom and another room, which they advertised as a bedroom. It doesn’t have a closet, so technically it’s not a bedroom. The current owners placed a little wardrobe in it to count as the closet. The master bedroom has a long shallow closet with sliding glass doors on the east wall, which abuts up to the extra room. We considered using the extra room as a dining room, but that just didn’t work. And with the weird bathroom layout I spoke about in my last post, we decided to open a door through the east wall and turn the room into a master closet and master bath.

Here is the master bedroom facing the closet

And here is the room facing northeast

So now the problem is having a bathroom for guests. We don’t want everyone walking through our closet to get to our bathroom. We also don’t want people to have to go down to the basement. So if we knock down some walls and resize some things, we have figured out a way to create a small washroom and still have room for the master suite. I’ll talk about how I did the layout in my next post.

Back to the Drawing Board

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We did the final walk through of the house today and I took some additional measurements. My original plan for master suite project is not going to work. I forgot to measure the windows the first time through and the window is not centered in the room like I assumed it was. That’s what I get for assuming! That cuts into the closet way too much.

The window on the back wall is also a problem. It’s bigger than I thought and in my original plan it was going to be in the shower. It’s still possible but way too risky dealing with water. So I am going back to the drawing board to reconfigure everything.

My plan for the washroom and master toilet are still intact at least. The current bathroom has a really weird diagonal sink and jog to the right to get to the bath. The chimney runs up through the bathroom on one side. So I will rework everything and come up with a new plan. Wish me luck!

Here is he current weird bathroom.