As I mentioned in a recent post, we're currently neck-deep in house renovations and preparing to move in the next 5 weeks. We had a few family members and friends who expressed and interest in what's been happening with the new place, so I figured I'd do some posts about it.
I do love a captive audience.
Let me start off by saying house renovations are not easy, especially when you are doing most of the work yourself.
Anyone other than Bob Villa who tells you differently is lying.
The house we are renovating is the one I grew up in. It was built in the mid 60's, bought by my grandparents back in the early 70's. My family- parents, brothers and I- moved into the home 25 years ago, when the house grew to be too much for my grandmother to take care of on her own.
The plan, roughly, was that we would do some work before Chris and the boys and the dogs and I move in, moving after the kids get out of school, and all 7 of us (and 4 dogs) share the living space for a while, letting the dust settle, giving them time to find a place to move into. With 4 large bedrooms, 2 full baths and 3/4 of an acre yard, there's plenty of room to spread out.
Sounds easy enough, right?
To say the house requires a lot of TLC before we move in is an understatement.
Built into the side of a hill, the house is considered a 'raised ranch' style home, meaning the upper level is the main living area. You walk into the foyer, and the lower level spreads through a doorway on the right that leads to an in-home office. The doorway on the left leads to a large finished area with a dry bar, half bath, fireplace, and more than room enough for several tables, chairs, a pool table, and a ping-pong table. A wide 'hallway' of unfinished basement runs the back of the house and connects both rooms, and holds the furnace and hot water heater, a large workbench, lots of storage and a deep freeze. For many years, the lower level was the perfect place to have family gatherings. Unfortunately, for the last 20 years or so it's been less party-room, gradually becoming more storage for random crap belonging to us as well as extended family, the things we didn't know where to go with after the close of a family business, just…stuff.
I'm learning that, in life, you gather a lot of 'stuff'…and not all of it is yours.
Upstairs, the open floor plan features a kitchen and living room with a vaulted ceiling, a dining room, laundry room/pantry, the previously mentioned bathrooms and bedrooms.
The front yard, or prairie restoration project as we like to call it, is sloped, with a steep drop-off at the road on one side of the driveway. The backyard is a more gradual upwards hill, and unintended reforestation *coughs* is nearly complete. 8 large oak trees, a few random purposeful plantings and a jumble of what-the-hell-tree-is-that's combine with some overgrown evergreen shrubs, a mass of tangled and knotted vines and an alarming lack of grass between clumps of native plants extends from the house out to the fence on all sides.
There's a quarry, now closed, located about a mile away. The house used to shimmy and rattle when they would be blasting, and thanks to the settling of the house, the foundation is cracked in a few places, and the large concrete patio slab is not only cracked, but 3/4 of the concrete settled two inches lower than the rest (apparently this happened years ago- it's been that way for as long as I can remember).
The house is on a septic system, one where the tank is not higher than the house drain in the basement (a big no-no), the drain field runs uphill behind the house (another big no-no) and at some point in its 50 year-old life, the gutters were tied into it, for some inexplicable reason (another big no-no). Those factors, along with the simple break-down of the drain field, resulted in the septic tank overflowing into the basement too many times to count, and in some cases was so bad the water could only just sit until it all dried up. Since the lower level was used for storage… you guessed it. A lot of it was ruined.
Like, boxes stuck to the floor, molded nasty awful ewwww-I-don't-want-to-go-near-it ruined.
Add in a few broken windows that have allowed bugs to get in, a family of mice that made the lower level their cozy home and playground, and a gazillion spiders, and the lower level is a nightmare.
Most of the upper level of the house was partially redecorated several years ago, but the living room and the boys room still had some seriously icky carpeting that was at least 35 years old. The wallpaper was peeling in the main bath, the flooring was warped and swollen and wonky in both bathrooms, and to call the lights in there temperamental is putting it mildly. Then there's the 40-year accumulation of 3 generations of 'stuff' that we have to find places to go with, as Chris and the boys and I add our own 11.5 year accumulations. And, oh, my mom is a ridiculously talented sewer/quilter/artsy crafter. And if you have a sewer/quilter/artsy crafter in your life, you know they have a lot of sewing/quilting/arty crafty stuff just for their sewing and quilting and artful crafting.
A lot of stuff that needs to be organized and condensed and shifted to make room while all the renovating is going on.
So, sounds like fun, right?
Well, kinda. It's an adventure, a learning process, an embarrassment, a sense of pride and accomplishment. It's a wild ride, to be sure, and you lucky readers get to come along with me.
But you might want to bring your gloves and wear your boots.
And a quick note to my mom and dad…a huge thank you for letting me share all the ick and the yuck and the ewww of what we're doing, the mistakes and the blunders and the 'oh shit's. Thanks for setting aside pride and embarrassment and letting me shine light on all the dirty little corners we have… and for all the hard work in helping us get those dirty little corners cleaned, patched, primed, and pretty.
Oh, and for always having coffee and cookies on hand. Cause everything's better with coffee and cookies.