Sunday, May 28, 2017

Buy, Sell, Move, Wreck!

It's been over two months since I found my new house and sold my old house, and a lot has happened since then. While at the new place with the home inspector on April 5, Sister A and I took measurements of rooms, bathroom vanities, and parts of the kitchen so I could start making decisions about remodeling. I decided to go ahead and take out the fireplace and chimney after meeting with my ace handyman, Frank, at the house--the cost was less than I'd feared, and the cost of nice vinyl plank flooring (in a light maple) was very reasonable, so I could replace the old carpet and floor tile, too.

I'm painting the entire interior a brighter, happier color (just one color, with the unfortunate cutesy name of "So Much Fawn"), and painting the exterior trim white, which will go well with the red brick. There are several other small jobs outside, too, including putting up white shutters around one of the windows in front and replacing a busted-to-shit shed door in back. Oh, and the little matter of replacing both storm doors and all the windows. :D Well, I really liked the windows in the old house, so I'm basically taking them with me. And the existing storm doors are crap.

Instead of having Frank build an extra cabinet in the kitchen to add storage, as I first thought, I found a nice 48"-wide buffet that almost perfectly matches my living room furniture. That matters because the kitchen, dining area, and living room are basically one big open space divided only by a pony wall where the sink and dishwasher are, so you'll be able to see the buffet from the living room. We decided that a big white cabinet base and uppers would stick out like a sore thumb.

The money for the patio cover I was planning got eaten up by the buffet (yeah, well, it's a nice buffet!), so that'll have to wait until my next tax refund. And I didn't need to worry about planting a tree over any gas lines running through the backyard because (a) I can't afford a tree yet and (b) the house is all electric.

Wow, I haven't lived in an all-electric place since I was a renter eons ago! Needless to say, that changed my plans for the kitchen a little, since I couldn't exchange the seller's electric range for a gas one. I did get a replacement electric range, though--the existing one looks as old as the house (which was built in 1995) and I'd rather have one with a smooth top for easy cleaning. I'm also replacing the old dishwasher, which I'm pretty sure was used to wake the dead during midnight rituals (I'll confine its use to daytime until it's replaced). I also had to replace the fridge since the sellers were taking theirs (which is fine--it was way too big for me). And, of course, a microwave (theirs wasn't mounted over the stove; mine will be).

The square footage is a little higher than stated in the realtor's ad; the appraisal has it at 1032 instead of 972. That puts it right in the "perfect" range for me, especially now that there's plenty of room in the living room for my bookshelves without the fireplace taking up valuable space. :) I'm going to have Frank put a bunch of shelves in the big storage closet in the hall and more shelves in the office closet; that plus the addition of the buffet in the kitchen should take care of my storage needs quite nicely. Probably someday I'll redo the kitchen cabinets and countertop, but that's far down the line, and it'll do fine as-is for now.

So we did all that planning and I bought tons of stuff from Home Depot, Lowe's, Amazon, and elsewhere: brushed nickel sink faucets, a new tub and tile (the existing fiberglass or plastic tub/surround was old, dinged-up, and generally gross), tub faucet & shower head set, doorknobs for the whole place (brass is outta here), vanities, vanity tops and side-splashes, spiffy vanity lights, a medicine cabinet for the full bath and a pretty mirror for the half bath, updated exhaust fans, assorted bathroom "jewelry", the shutters,  all those appliances I mentioned, new door handle & deadbolt set for the front door, new porch light (again with the brass? ugh!), a 30-inch brushed nickel & maple ceiling fan with light to replace the plain overhead light in the kitchen, and traverse curtain rods (for which Sister A is adapting my existing curtains, bless her pea-pickin' heart).

I couldn't order the new windows, storm doors, or flooring until after I moved in because I needed access to the place for Home Depot's measuring dudes, so all that came later.

Before I could close on the sale of my old house, I had to have the roof replaced--due to age and hail damage, it was no longer insurable. Fortunately, the hail damage was bad enough that my insurance company covered the entire replacement cost, plus the buyer ponied up a little extra for a nicer roof (Timberline HD Laminate, I think it's called), which turned out looking terrific:

Old house...

...with new roof.
Too bad I couldn't take it with me! :D Well, the roof on the new house is only four years old, so that's great, too.

With all the goodies for the new house piling up in the kitchen of the big house, stacks of boxes began to pile up, too, as I pared and packed up my life one more time in preparation for Moving Day. I decided to hire pros this time since Sister A turned 70 in January and my back & knees are shit. Thank goodness for The Little Guys (my moving company) and for Sister A, who coordinated the loading and other last-minute stuff at the big house while I ran around to two different closings (yep, buying and selling on the same day, and all the money moved by wire) and to the credit union to sign the last of a jillion papers.

I'd planned to call Frank as soon as I got the key to the new house, so he could get started on his great big list, but I had to call him a little earlier to reattach the false front on the master bath vanity in the big house that I'd pulled off for the second time (well, it has a dang knob and I had meant to pull open the drawer right below it). He met me at the new house afterward and he and his helper started right in. I had them pull up the carpet first before we brought my bed inside so my mattress wouldn't be showered with all that old dirt & crud. After that was done (while the movers were off-loading most of my stuff into the garage, where it resides to this day), Frank got started taking out the fireplace--and that sucker was GONE and the chimney hole in the roof was patched by the end of that long day. Here, have another 16 square feet--BOOM. :D

(Yes, sister, I know that space was already included in the square footage of the house, but it's not like it was useful space at the time. Now it is.)

Sister A pulled up the carpet tacks (because she can't stand to do nothing), which I picked up gingerly (couldn't find my leather gloves), then we cleaned the kitchen. I think we started putting in shelf liner that day, too, or maybe it was the next--that whole week was a blur of work, running after supplies, and more work. Good thing I was on vacation! :D

By the end of my second day in the new house, this is what it looked like:

One bare-bones bedroom, sans carpet.

Doesn't everyone have lawn furniture in their bedroom?

Carpet and tile gone from living room and kitchen.
Fireplace gone (this was actually two days after the move; I missed getting a shot on Tuesday).

Tile gone.

Bare bones office, sans carpet.

I got to use the shower at my new house for two nights, then Frank cut out the tub/surround with what sounded like a chainsaw, and I've been having to run over to Sister A's place in the next town to clean up ever since.

Thinking through the plumbing...
But it's all going to be worthwhile, as I tell myself whenever all the debris and chaos start to get me down.

I'm not the only one having a hard time, though--my poor cat, Minnie, was stuck in the empty back bedroom of the big house on moving day, then was shoved into a strange bathroom with her litter box and water in the new house, where she sat in said litter box and HOWLED HER HEAD OFF for hours while movers trooped in & out and Frank banged away at the fireplace and chimney. You just can't explain to a cat that this is all temporary, this is where we live now, and it's going to be a really nice home in the end. After everyone left, I let her out of the bathroom into my bedroom (and only that room) where she continued to meow & whine & trill & chirp & howl in distress all... freaking... night, with the added attraction of major echoes now that the carpet was gone and there was hardly any furniture in the place. Lordy, what a night.... It took both of us several nights to finally be able to sleep decently.

After the confusion of Moving Day, I decided to make Minnie a temporary home in the master bedroom closet, which is quite large and has a light. Here's her daytime "prison":

Minnie's closet (she lets me use it, too).
She feels secure in there, thank goodness--as long as strangers stay the hell out. When the TV guy came over the day after I moved in and was looking for existing outlets, he opened the closet door and Minnie shrieked at top volume--scared the pants off him! :D

As soon as the TV guy hooked me up, Sister A and I buzzed over to Home Depot to order the windows, storm doors, and flooring. Actually, I just paid for guys to come measure for it all at that point; it was three days after Moving Day before I could actually order the materials. That put receipt of it all at June 10th--a bit far off, but doable, considering Frank's original timeline (five weeks).

After cutting out the tub and generally wrecking the master bath, Frank put in the new tub and started tiling... and discovered that an entire box of the tile had been damaged. Naturally, neither of the Home Depots here had any left--we knew that because we'd cleaned them out, and the situation hadn't changed. I hopped online, found some in Hobbs, New Mexico, and barreled off in that direction. Fortunately, before I had gone very far down the road, Frank called my cell--he'd gone through the broken box and found enough to finish the tile job, after all. So back I went to make sure all was well and make another supply run.

New tub in place and (below) tile going up.


After making such good progress, Frank started thinking he could finish the interior much sooner than anticipated...if he had the flooring ready, which, of course, it wouldn't be. I'd been living in a construction zone for a week and a half at that point--not that long, I admit, but it sure seemed like a long time, what with all the construction dust & other debris and my poor cat freaking out all day and expressing her displeasure at night (she'd discovered how to open the bedroom door after Frank & the guys had removed all the doorknobs and so spent her evenings yodeling in the echoing spaces). I stewed about the projected delay for a while, then decided last Sunday to find alternate flooring. Let me sing the praises of Lumber Liquidators, people! They had exactly what I wanted (in fact, I like it better than what I originally chose from Home Depot), and in stock for Frank to pick up the following day. Phew! Of course, since that time, it has turned out that Frank was overestimating his revised completion date and the flooring still sits where it sat last Monday. But that's OK--the texture of the previous choice had been bothering me, so I'm really glad I hustled around for a substitute.

Your new flooring awaits, madame.
I added a few jobs to my original list: I'm replacing the shallow steel kitchen sink and chrome faucet with a good, deep cast iron sink and high-arc, brushed nickel faucet, and I bought another little ceiling fan in brushed nickel & maple for the office (just in case that particular style disappears on me before I get around to replacing the other ceiling fans).

In the kitchen, since the cabinets don't go all the way to the ceiling, the ductwork for the microwave's vent would show. We thought about putting a soffit just around the ductwork and painting it white, then Frank suggested putting a soffit all the way across the top of the cabinets, ditto white, which is a terrific idea. It'll look like it was built that way to begin with.

The new soffit will be painted white to match the cabinets.
You'll notice in that last photo that the cabinets above the microwave are gone. They were sacrificed in a good cause, to raise the microwave a reasonable distance over the stove. It would have been way too close for efficiency or safety, otherwise. Frank will put an "apron" (a board) across the hole over the microwave, and he says he can replicate the incised design that's on the cabinet doors. (I hope he does a better job than the guy who tried to "fix" the designs on the cedar front door in the old house.)

Also, I originally had Frank bid on building a wall in the garage between the dais on which the water heater, HVAC, washer, and dryer reside (Sister A's idea) and the rest of the garage so that carbon monoxide wouldn't get into the HVAC unit (because it was missing its air filter door), but I hated the idea of cramping the actual car space and adding another door to mess with. We were in the garage talking about the stupid wall when Frank suggested a closet around the water heater and HVAC--not instead of the wall, but in addition. I jumped on the HVAC closet as a way to avoid crowding the garage with a wall at all. (Sister A thinks I'm wrong, but it's my house.)

Re: that HVAC filter door: The sellers were supposed to have the missing door, which was a small hinged piece of metal, replaced when they got the HVAC serviced. Instead, some bozo screwed a piece of angled metal over it--screwed it very securely into the HVAC unit and into the floor--so there was no way you could get in to change the filter. Ever.

Yeah, who needs a clean filter, anyway....
So dumb.... I had Frank's helper take out the screws and I just set a rock on the base of that angled metal until I can find my hunk of railroad tie, which will fit better. Simple solution.

The screwed-down filter door led to another funny mistake: Frank and his helper framed the HVAC closet so that the filter door--which you couldn't tell was a door, at that point--was partially blocked by the new closet wall. (See photo above.) But they fixed it easily the next day. :)

NOW you can change the filter.
And now the closet has doors (see below). We'll reuse the old brass dummy doorknobs that were originally on the big storage closet inside the house, and Frank will put a vent grille in one or both of the doors.

Nice closet around the water heater and HVAC.
Meanwhile, the tile has been finished in the full bath, including grout (which looked like poop going on):


The edge of the niche is rather rough--that's my fault. Frank asked if I wanted bullnose around the niche, but I guess I didn't understand what he was asking, so I opted for what I thought was a no-frills, "good enough" solution. It'll be fine.

And that brings us up to the vanities. Everything had been going so smoothly for us (it probably helps that this house is only 22 years old, not 70 or 80!) that we were bound to run into a bobble somewhere, but even the vanity problems aren't bad.

The vanity in the full bath has three drawers on one side with sufficient space over them for the sink, but I didn't think about where the pipes themselves would be going beyond "down there behind the door". The pipes in their current position would be centered on the entire vanity (if the vanity were set against the wall to the right, as is usual), but that would have them punching through the drawers. Frank said he could either move the pipes to the right so they line up with the empty space behind the vanity door (a big deal) or he could move the vanity over to the left to align with the pipes and build a little shelf space in the resulting space to the right of the vanity for storage of t.p., rolled-up towels, etc. That would be really handy (and a lot less work!), so I opted for moving the vanity over and leaving the pipes where they are.

New full-bath vanity with first coat of paint, in approximately the position it will occupy. Narrow shelves will fill in the space to the right.

With the vanity moved over to the left, the plumbing will fit through the back into the space behind the vanity's door.
I actually had this done in the bathroom of the little house I had on 26th Street (two houses ago). Minnie often jumped onto those shelves; the ones here might be a little too tight for her, but I bet she'll try it!

In the half-bath, I was going to reuse the existing vanity and just paint it white, but for some reason, I got the measurement for the top completely wrong and it's not wide enough. Plus the vanity is a weird, non-standard width. So instead of trying to order a replacement top in a weird size in the same color/pattern, I decided to buy a plain white vanity off the shelf. It looks perfectly nice, doesn't need drawers, and Frank can replace the boring white vanity top with the one I bought to go in there. Another problem solved.

Substitute half-bath vanity, which will have the same nice top as the full-bath vanity (instead of this white one).
Last Friday, the guys started draping and masking the place in earnest to begin painting soon (Tuesday, maybe?) and I came home to find plastic over all the doors, including the front--loose enough, fortunately, that I could get into the place. But it's been very interesting dealing with these floaty drapes over the weekend.

Bedroom door with fashionable "haunted house" drape.

Back (patio) door and garage door.

Front door draped, too? Really? And then leave me to deal with this for two days??
The place continues to be a mess to live in--here's a photo of the living room at the moment:

Progress or wreckage? Hmm...
But we're getting there. I really sincerely hope Frank can hit his goal of finishing the interior by Friday. It would be so lovely to get settled in my new house...with furniture!

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