I feel like I have found my people

word_docJuly 30, 2013

Hi! I currently live in a 3600 sf house, but not for much longer. The house before that was 3000 sf. Before that, 1500 that we put an addition onto and made 2500 sf. I'm sure you can see a trend.

A great thing happened at this current 3600 sf house. It was built in 1977 and has smaller, more defined rooms than many of the "open concept" houses that followed the 1970s era homes. We discovered that we like the smaller rooms better!

Granted, at 3600 sf, this place is not all small rooms, and they are not tiny, but they are definitely not cavernous, as we've experienced in prior homes.

The children have grown up and are in the last throes of college. One graduates in a few days and the other two in the next year or so. I expect them to launch from the nest and all be gone within 2 years.

We have sold our current 3600 sf house and bought a 1940s bungalow/cottage that is around 1980 square feet. I think I squeezed in here just under the gun. We are scheduled to close on both houses on Friday. I am spending my time left here in the big house thinking about what furniture I no longer need while desperately hoping my king-sized sleigh bed will fit in the 13 x 14 new master bedroom (but only because I'm cheap and it's only a few years old). Fortunately there is a big walk-in closet, a thing I have not had in this current house, so the clothes and dresser can go in there. Keeping my fingers crossed.

The new home is a bit of a fixer but hopefully nothing we can't handle. The worst of it is the kitchen, which is much smaller than we are used to--that's not the problem. The problem is that it's kind of awful. I think it must have been redone in the 1980s and it's bad. The other bad thing is the downstairs bathroom, which we are tackling first because, did I mention, my elderly mother lives with us. This will be her bathroom, and she will be occupying the downstairs bedroom as well. So, that has to get done first to accommodate her needs. We will also be fixing a small kitchenette for her in the back porch/laundry room so she can keep her kitchen stuff a little separate from ours (she is way more tidy than we are, so this is a respect thing for her).

I am not sure I would have thought this downsizing thing was a great idea had I not had many months of an almost empty home and lots of contemplation that we basically only live in a few of the rooms. If we did not have to accommodate my mother and the fact that I work from home and have to maintain an office of sorts, I might have wanted to go even smaller. I figure this size is just right--room for future grandchildren visits (rather distant in the future, hopefully), room for my mom, and room for us without being right on top of one another.

It's so nice to see all the normal kitchens that are posted here! I look at the ones in the kitchen forum and while they are gorgeous, they would be overkill for my little cottage/bungalow. I actually don't really prefer granite and I don't need or want anything extravagant. I want it to make sense for the period of the house and not look trendy at all. I can tell already that is harder than it looks.

Anyway, hi! Thanks for being here, small house people! You're great and I have enjoyed reading the threads here over the last few days.

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we just moved into a 1948 bungalow/cottage around 1000 sq ft. , and I too am quite new to the forums. The nice thing about having a new place is the fresh look and fresh start. Isn't it fun considering all the options a new place has to offer? Post lots of photos; I think most of us love before and afters, especially. Looking forward to seeing pictures of your new home and the ideas you implement to make it your own. The gardenweb forums have been so inspiring and educational. I love it here too!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 12:05PM
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Lol, the 80's were a pretty bad era for home trends, imo. I'd take todays granite and stainless ove the 80's style, for the most part. The 70's weren't too bad, with faux brick and avocado green. Personally, I'm stuck in the 50's for trend based design. Not so much Mid Century Modern, but I LOVE the green baths and the chrome in the kitchen! Pink is my least fav color, but even the pink and black baths aren't that bad, lol.

Post pics and have fun with your new home!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 12:21PM
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I'm a newbie here too! Like the OP, this is the first time in many decades that I'll be living in a house that is under 2000 sf (I grew up in a 2-bedroom/1-bath Levitt cape that was probably no more than 800 sf, if that; but even as a teenager it felt claustrophobic and that was with only 3 people in it, LOL).

I too am not in the "granite" fan club. Our current house has Corian and I was planning/hoping to put engineered quartz in the next house but as luck would have it, it already has Meganite (Corian knockoff) so there's no financial justification. The quartz would have been purely for the no-maintenance aspect. The upcoming house also will have NO tile floors (hate grout and the back/legs hate a totally unyielding surface).

The upcoming (technically speaking, it's the being-ripped-apart small house as we speak; we found many issues that were hidden by the sellers and now must be addressed before move-in) house also has a basement which is approx 600 ft of finished space. I don't count that as living space though, because my allergies are not fond of basement environments and, like the OP, it will be reserved for a play area for future grandchild. ;-) In the meantime I can use it as a storage area for things that are rarely used, like holiday decorations etc. Don't plan to ever use the attic because (a) it is entirely taken up by the central air system and (b) I am the unsteadiest person in the world on any kind of ladder; a 2-step stepstool is my limit, LOL!

word_doc, I too am convering one of the bedrooms into a really big closet, because the bedroom is too small to fit everything. The closet room is 10x12; it originally had 2 windows but we removed one so as to afford more wall/hanging space. Elfa will be going on the walls and in the original closet (sans doors) and there is room enough in the center to put a freestanding laminate cabinet in which to store the bit bulky items like queen comforters and blankets that don't fit on any shelves. I already have a beautiful Silestone countertop (no sink cutout) that can go on top of it - so I'll still have my "dream" engineered quartz counter, except that it'll be in a closet instead of a kitchen, LOL

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 6:37AM
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Welcome to all the newcomers! Our house started at 1400 square feet, and two additions later, we're just about 2000. But our original rooms are small so it still feels like a small house.

I think about moving to a smaller house all the time, just because we too live in about 3 rooms here.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 3:25PM
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Welcome Newbies. So glad you have come in. I am drifting in and out as I can. My husbands illness takes up a lot of my time. Love that both of you are making the smaller house move. We DO love pictures and to bounce ideas around. There are many here that have overcome difficult situations in our smaller houses with some help from the group.

I was reading your comments about the 80's and thinking am I so old I do not even remember the 80's?? EEEEKKKK For the life of me I can not picture an 80's kitchen right now.

I am not a granite fan either. This is not to say my style will be liked by many. I am the crazy one of the group. Snicker.

I am dashing off. We are having a big time storm roll through here and I would like to get our dinner fixed just in case we loose power.

Again Welcome.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 7:58PM
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I, too would like to welcome the new folks!

Word Doc, I am confident that your king bed should fit in that size room. We had a king bed in our 11.5' x 12' bedroom, though it was not a sleigh bed. But we also had two dressers on the wall opposite the end of the bed. I imagine you are in your house by now. How did everything fit? We, too, had a parent sharing our home for some years. It was a rewarding experience. I got to know my father-in-law, who turned out to be a wonderfully witty and intelligent man. It is great that you recognize your mother's needs so well as to give her a separate kitchen.

Chris, I remember 80s kitchens as cream-colored laminate cabinets with oak lower edges with router-ed edges that you used to grab to open the doors. My doctor's office still has them.

I live in a 1675 sq ft 1978 ranch. Three summers ago we remodeled our kitchen using a set of used cabinets that I got from Green Demolitions. The finish was well-worn already, so I lightly sanded them, re-stained them a similar whitewashed stain, then my husband put on three coats of polyurethane. Our carpenter/general contractor did the rest. That included a replacement window, a new skylight, a new wall between the kitchen and the family room, and removing and moving soffits. The next year we went to put in built-in bookshelves in the living room and learned that we had a major foundation problem in the front of the house. We ended up adding six foundation jacks under the living room, foyer, and garage and pouring completely new living room and foyer floors after hiring an engineer to design a foolproof system to keep our floor from falling if the dirt underneath washed out again.

Right now, I am in the planning stage for replacing the main bathroom. The tub has apparently been leaking for a long time, and the floor is rotted. Jim, our carpenter/general contractor, saw the problem when he was in the basement and warned us not to step on the floor near the faucet end of the tub. I have a used vanity waiting in the garage. I have decided on a sink and faucets and shower material. We have to pay off the emergency new roof we put on at the first of this year, so it might be next summer or later before we can do this job. I am now thinking about flooring. I am like Helena2013 about not liking hard tile floors, but am not sure what soft flooring to consider for the bathroom. We have an elderly dog who uses the bathroom when he has to pee when we are not home. We keep a pad down for him, but he may splash or miss a bit sometimes, so the surface need to be nonporous and bleach-able. Any ideas?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 11:57AM
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Sorry, I was getting a strange pop-up message when I tried to post, and did not know that the post was going through.

This post was edited by nancy_in_mich on Wed, Aug 7, 13 at 12:29

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 11:58AM
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Sorry, multiple posts.

This post was edited by nancy_in_mich on Wed, Aug 7, 13 at 12:31

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 11:59AM
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Sorry, Multiple posts.

This post was edited by nancy_in_mich on Wed, Aug 7, 13 at 12:33

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 12:01PM
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Sorry, multiple post.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 12:19PM
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Nancy I have thought about a pee pad in the master bath walk in shower area for our dogs should they be left inside too long. Just leave a door open. Any misses could be washed down. since your dog is already trained to a pad he might use it in the shower.

I am loving the new vinyl we had installed. I am using my carpet shampooer to wash it. It does have soft revolving brushes. I do not think they are even stiff enough to scratch the vinyl. I use vinegar in the water to wash with and do not rinse.

I might be afraid over time vinyl might absorb a pee odor. not sure if you can bleach it either.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 6:31PM
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Hi again! Thanks for the welcome. Alas, I am still not in my new old smaller house. We are having drama with the closing of our house (the one we are selling) and I believe I have hit the stage formally known as "Put the house back on the market and tell these people to shove it." But I know better intellectually and logically, so I try to keep my head down and my mouth mostly shut. Alcohol would help. Or probably drugs. Alas, I have neither. I'm going to have to make do with a long hot shower and then curling up in my bed with a highly entertaining and absorbing book. It's been pouring rain all day and that's just perfect, too.

I vote for vinyl for the dog problem, Nancy. There's all kinds of ass-kickingly good vinyls out there now. It's usually a sight less expensive, and honestly I prefer it to the more expensive stuff. If you go with tile, make the grout lines as small as possible because that's where the pee is going to settle, and it soaks into grout, which is porous. People say they seal it and that solves the problem but I've noticed that grout usually wins the fight against anything done to it to try to protect, clean and sanitize it.

OK it is time for me to make a call and hear yet another frustrating update. Gah.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 3:28PM
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word_doc, I feel your pain! I was hoping to be able to move in around Labor Day but there is no way that's going to happen because the new/smaller house has turned into the Money Pit due to "things discovered". In addition to the unexpected replacement of the ruined oak flooring under all the w2w carpet, plus unexpected window replacements, plus moldy attic insulation (hidden under plywood "flooring"), we discovered vinyl/asbestos tiles under the laminate kitchen flooring. Had to have them removed because prior leaks from kitchen sink/DW had make them bubble up and the subfloor beneath was starting to rot. Add "replace kitchen flooring" to list. Latest debacle was when I decided to peel off the cheap aluminum-foil stickyback "backsplash" in the basement kitchen, only to discover wet black-moldy drywall behind a big section of it. Water coming from the main bathroom directly above (which I had not planned to renovate until next year.. now must be at least gutted in order to fix leak and replace all wet framing/insulation/drywall in the finished basement area below). My budget has gone into catatonic shock at this stage.

Also am dealing with carrying 2 homes, as the current house also supposedly had a buyer but now doesn't. The stuff of which nightmares are made, as you know!

On the flooring issue, I cast my vote for sheet flooring (either vinyl or Mannington's new and excellent fiberglas product called Sobella) over tile and grout. Having had tile, even with the thinnest groutlines imaginable, I have determined Never Again.

There is a very good vinyl product called IVC Flexitech which is even more amenable to difficult situations than most. That will be going in the to-be-gutted bathroom as well as in the gets-hot-as-blazes-in-the-summer greenhouse room eventually.

I chose the Sobella for the kitchen and heavy traffic side hallway because it is thicker and more cushiony than any of the premium sheet vinyls. It runs about $25/sq yd (if you haggle, LOL) for the material in my area and so is not the cheapest option but IMO looks like the best.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 4:31PM
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Ugh, closings. NEVER happen as expected! We bought the cottage FSBO and with a home equity on our old house so there wasn't even a bank involved and it STILL took a few months longer than planned! Luckily it was a FSBO (for sale by owner) because the lawyers were trying to make an ever loving mess out of things-when we got the contract back with alterations our lawyer was about to send it back with his own...we called the seller and spoke to him and worked out a deal that the lawyers would NEVER have considered. I guess the seller was getting pretty frustrated thinking it was us making demands when it was our lawyer without us knowing, same as his was doing.

Helena, sounds like you'll have a wonderfully finished home when you're done!

When we bought the cottage we kept the old house somewhat furnished since we knew we'd find problems as we did the work on the Cottage and wanted a "go to" in case we couldn't live through whatever renovations we found we needed to do. We managed to keep staying there through the bedroom (down to studs) and hallway (floor out, rework some plumbing, take down some drywall) renos , but we did the living room (new flooring from the joists up, down to the studs) before we moved in.

Now we're renting out the Old House. We were going to sell but since it's almost paid for and we bought it pretty cheap, we figured we'd make a little money on it instead. Keeping it around (unrented) for a year after we closed on the Cottage also made moving a lot easier (even from one small house to another, we found we still had too much stuff we had to sort through, since we had a big garage with an attic at the old house!!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 1:40PM
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How awful Helena. Sounds like you have your work cut out for you. Are you taking pictures along the way so you can look back some day and show everyone how you made a silk purse out of a sow's ear?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 10:14PM
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Chris, I am thinking that is the right choice, too. Toby goes on a pad, but I worry about splashes. Since we have a tub now, it just hasn't dawned on me that the walk-in, curbless, barrier-free shower will be the perfect place for his pad! I am thinking of using the Swanstone ADA shower pan with a trough drain on the outer edge. It is impermeable, so I could just pick up the pad, rinse the shower floor, and wash the pad. I just hope the drain grid is not a barrier to Toby like a cattle guard is for cows!

Word_Doc, has the closing of your old house been scheduled yet? You are smart to use comforting measures to get through this difficult time. Sometimes, by the time you get through all the BS, you don't WANT your nice house to go to some buyers! Hope things are improving.

Helena, I am so sorry for all of your discoveries! At least with our "new" house, ours have been spread out over seven years, to make the carrying costs of the previous house and the repairs of the new house more bearable. Our new bathroom can wait, too, as long as we don't step in just the wrong spot and cave in the rotten floor. There is this desire to finish paying off the foundation repair and new roof before gutting the bath!

But you are finding it all at once, all connected to current projects, and all in need of getting done. I send along a swarm of real estate fairies to find you a new buyer, as that seems to be what you need most!

Thank you all for your recommendations on flooring. I have sat many (cumulative) hours in that little room, looking at the tiny lines of cracked grout between the small tiles and thought that big fat grout lines that a person could dig out, clean, and re-grout would be so nice. Between great big honking tiles so there would be very few of them! I cannot imagine re-grouting this floor. It would be days of scraping out the grout between the little tiles. Luckily, the floor is rotted underneath and has to come out. I am not sure why the floor is so rotted. I think it started before we owned the house, because I know I have not let the floor get wet, DH does not, either. DH's dad's caregivers had no choice but to get water all over when showering him, but they cleaned it up quickly. He was only helpless for three years. Jim, the contractor, says it is mostly at the head of the tub, where the water connections are at. Anyways, as much as I love basket weave Carerra Marble floor tile, I am thinking that it is impractical (porcelain at minimum) and that grout lines are, too. Unless Jim will do epoxy grout. I will have to ask.

My joints like the soft stuff, though.

I have looked at the IVC Flexitec and Sobella online. Flexitec's Planet, Marble line looks promising, and has a 20 year warranty. The Techno line has a gray and white swirly color I like that has a 15 year warranty. The pictures at Sobella leave something to be desired, but several do look promising. Once we have the shower material nailed down, I will look at those floors in person. No sense in settling on colors now when the product lines may change before our project starts! Thank you for the recommendations. Any other ideas are welcome. Anyone seen rubber flooring? I am still thinking that a bathroom might should have water-resistant flooring.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 11:30PM
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Nancy, the Sobella pictures don't really do the product justice. Neither do the ones in the printed catalog. What amazed me was how much thicker the Sobella OmniHD (which is the one I chose) is than the Congoleum AirStep which was the other one I was considering. I went to a flooring dealer who had both of them on display and it was really noticeable.

The Sobella OmniHD has a 25 year residential warranty and also a "Gotta Love It" Guarantee, which Mannington describes as "Live with it for 30 days and at the end of that period if you decide you don't love it for any reason, we will replace it with a Mannington floor [materials only] of the same grade and equal value."

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:31AM
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martia8a, yes I'm taking photos AND videos too, LOL

The latest thing is that when I went there yesterday evening to meet yet another person for a floor estimate, I noticed that there is an odd smell in the master bedroom (not in any of the other rooms in the house). The floor guy noticed it as well but neither of us could pin down exactly what it smelled like. It's not spackle because other rooms have even more of that, and don't have the odor. All the other times I've been there have been while work was being done and thus doors and windows open; but the house hasn't been accessed for a couple of days recently.

This room has a 2-foot cantilever (later addition) and I did check outdoors beneath it but there are no plants or other odd things that could be causing an odor from under there.

When they were pulling out the old window a few weeks ago I noticed a strong smell (most resembling poop, to be honest) coming from the area of that open wall and asked one of the workmen what it was but he said he couldn't smell anything. Then the new window went in and the smell went away (or so I thought); this odor doesn't smell like that, though. The flooring is down to the plywood subfloor and I'm wondering if I should tell my contractor that I want those pulled up to make sure there isn't anything nasty (mold? mildew?) beneath. That particular room is over the finished part of the basement, other than that 2-foot cantilever.

What I'm afraid of is that if once the room is finished (walls/floor/ceiling work done) and I still can detect the odor, how would I investigate it without ripping everything out? Except via ripping out from the exterior. The house will eventually need to be re-sided (from wood to vinyl) but I wasn't planning on that for a few years, after the last paint job starts deteriorating.

I have multiple allergies and am really sensitive to odors and fragrances, so this is a big issue for me.

To make things even worse, last weekend the house just down the block from this one went on the market for $25K less than I paid; and from the exterior and the photos, it looks to be in far better shape than the one I bought. Looks like the same size as well. Very upsetting. :-(

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:43AM
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Helena, don't worry about that house down the road. Pictures can lie. Our house was on the market around the same time as one down the road (not when we bought it, years ago). I've met the woman the bought the one down the road, and she said she wished they had bought ours because it would have been less trouble than theirs. Come to find out, they basically had the same problems as we did, although some personal problems got in the way of them finishing their house. Our house was on the market before we bought it fsbo (the listing expired) and the listing agent as well as the brother of the PO (long story, but basically the Po lived downstate and had bought it for his brother to live in after a divorce, so we never met the PO, just his brother and his brother's ex-wife) both thought it was in great shape. Uh, no. You can see what we've been through on our blog, I don't want to make this a mile long post with the pics, but we've had a LOT of issues too. But, we knew we were in for the long haul when we bought it, our first house gave us the gift of many "learning experiances" in regards to what lies beneath, lol.

Hang in there, if you really like your house, it will be SO worth it in the end! We're not there yet, but at least most of the really big stuff is behind us (except maybe some more foundation work, hopefully a bit later rather than sooner, lol). Oh and rebuilding the laundry room...but that's a current project so hopefully in a few weeks I can say THAT is behind us too!

Here is a link that might be useful: cottage blog

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 9:35AM
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Helena, you might want to have the workers look into that overhang area. In my old house, the bottom of a cantilevered window had rotted out. Someone had just used unfinished particle board there! Critters could climb in there and live, dig a little more and get right into the basement. Maybe there is something dead there in the overhang, or water infiltration in the overhanging cantilevered part that has caused rot. Your are certainly right that now is the time to find out what the smell is.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 12:27AM
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I just found this forum.

I live in a 923 sq foot house that was built in 1953. We bought it because it was cheaper than rent at the time. Now it's waaay cheaper than rent.

It has needed a lot of work for quite a while. Haven't the funds to do anything major. The kitchen has never been remodeled which I am glad of. Love old 50s kitchens. Needs repair in several places but I like it with my vintage pans and pressure cookers.

The other parts of the house have never been modified either. When I can I will fix but preserve the original look.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 3:20AM
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Helena and word doc,
How go the renos? I feel for you as my house has also been a money pit. A lovely one but a pit nonetheless. DH is handy so I'm sure it's kept our costs lower. Since we purchased19 years ago we've fixed the roof, replaced the patio ceiling, painted exterior 2x, replaced the roof, a/c, water heater, solar panel for said water heater, slowly dug up old tiles in kitchen/ f.r. and had wooden floors installed, replaced some of kitchen cabs when we picked up new used appliances at habitat 7 years ago, updated rest of kitchen in feb after d/w leak (idaho, finally replaced all the 80s cabinets! ), replaced all 3 toilets. 3 lav sets, regrouted my shower 3x (after scrubbing last night at 11 its next on list for universal access conversion), replaced doors, windows, garage door, light fixtures, 3 pool pumps, 1 filtration system, countless sprinkler heads...we took out a second for roof and windows and lived with slightly odd (charming and eclectic l convinced myself) kitchen and floors for about 5 years. Never mind my erratic landscaping efforts. Its been a process. May all your unexpected repairs be manageable.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 9:08AM
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Helena and word doc,
How go the renos? I feel for you as my house has also been a money pit. A lovely one but a pit nonetheless. DH is handy so I'm sure it's kept our costs lower. Since we purchased19 years ago we've fixed the roof, replaced the patio ceiling, painted exterior 2x, replaced the roof, a/c, water heater, solar panel for said water heater, slowly dug up old tiles in kitchen/ f.r. and had wooden floors installed, replaced some of kitchen cabs when we picked up new used appliances at habitat 7 years ago, updated rest of kitchen in feb after d/w leak (idaho, finally replaced all the 80s cabinets! ), replaced all 3 toilets. 3 lav sets, regrouted my shower 3x (after scrubbing last night at 11 its next on list for universal access conversion), replaced doors, windows, garage door, light fixtures, 3 pool pumps, 1 filtration system, countless sprinkler heads...we took out a second for roof and windows and lived with slightly odd (charming and eclectic l convinced myself) kitchen and floors for about 5 years. Never mind my erratic landscaping efforts. Its been a process. May all your unexpected repairs be manageable.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 3:40PM
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pictures you guys!!! all this hard work and no before and afters? still following this thread and wanting to see pictures of all your new houses and the work you are doing. It is not difficult to start a new thread.... subtle hint
looking forward to seeing what you all have been up to.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 2:05PM
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wordie89, would you believe two MORE issues???!! I am ready to start banging my head against a (naturally still unpainted) wall...

New Issue #1: There is a basement kitchen in which the prev owners had stuck up some contac paper instead of a backsplash. One day about 2 weeks ago I decided to pull it off (why not); started at one end, pulling slowly, and suddenly about midway through it revealed black mildewy moldy soft sheetrock underneath. Another "get in touch with the contractor" moment. Two possibilities: the other side of that wall is the plumbing end of a tub/shower combo; directly above that wall is the first floor bathroom. Contractor comes over several days later, cuts into black etc wall which of course is all wet inside but further up than the basement bathroom. Yep... leak from upstairs. The bathroom that I *was* intending to wait until next year to renovate, due to $$$ issues. And what's in that area? The completely tiled tub/shower area. Now the puzzlement is that the tub has not been used for 2 months and yet there is fresh water damage beneath. Turns out there is a leak in the water supply line going to the bathtub and thus water constantly dripping. It's a case of "can't get to it without ripping out half the bathtub area" and so that's $cheduled for Thur$day.

No flooring anywhere yet. Just plywood subfloor.

New Issue #2: I did get the new heating baseboard in last Thursday. Mentioned the odd smell in bedroom to plumber in case they found anything. They did. When they cut one small section to re-route part of the baseboard, there were piles of acorn tops, seeds etc, near the (filthy) insulation which was covered with mice AND rat droppings. Rodent caches. Disgusting and of course a health hazard.

Called contractor, saying subfloor has to be taken up and this stuff cleaned out. His recommendation is to remove it by opening up the (finished) basement ceiling beneath instead, because the subflooring does support the nonbearing partition walls. And naturally we have to figure out where they were coming in from outside. It may well be an old (i.e., not current) infestation but still...

There are about 8 oak trees in the yard,so plenty of food for rodents. :-( Never had oak trees before now I wish I didn't! Three of them have to be cut down as soon as I can afford it, because they overhang the house on the opposite side. Problem is, the one that overhangs the house on that bedroom end belongs to my next door neighbor so I can't do a thing about it and I can already see that it drops branches, leaves and acorns all over my side yard right outside my bedroom. There is a window right there into the basement room beneath too.

Living room floor refinisher is supposed to begin work tomorrow (rescheduled from yesterday). Contractor to do bathroom ripout (leaving only the toilet, as I can't afford more right now), rodent debris ripout, cantilever reconstruction, range hood installation, and window trim installation on Thursday. Hopefully, the rest of the finished flooring MAY be able to be done sometime next week... waiting for a call re materials and installer scheduling. But am not holding my breath.

Not even going to get into my choices (all bad) regarding the replacement of the old aging on-borrowed-time septic system.

Btw, that house down the street is already under contact but since it was never put on MLS I have no way to find out what it sold for. It was less than 2 weeks from first day on market to when the Under Contract sign went up.

Other minor issues: The garage still reeks of dog; I have to hold my breath every time I walk through there which is how I get in and out 99% of the time; there have been 2 problems so far with the operation of the security system; have to rip down a small section of kitchen wall because I mis-measured for the (ordered) new refrigerator by 1" which makes it 1" too small (wall is not plumb and I measured only at eye level and not below it, duh); and the property is still loaded with weeds intermingled with all the plantings. I finally got the front yard done but the backyard, which is larger, is worse. I found several weeds that were taller than I am, LOL!!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 7:01AM
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Helena2013 YOIKS! Nasty surprises. But thank goodness you discovered them and will get them fixed. I don't imagine living with the mold would have been healthy. What can you do about the dog smell? I've read that when it permeates the concrete it just stays. Any pics?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 11:09AM
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No pics yet because nothing's been able to be "redone". Still plywood subfloors, no appliances, and a ripped out bathroom. I realized yesterday that the refinished floor has areas that are duller than others, so now I need to get the guy back to recoat. It didn't show up until the floor was fully dry and starting to "cure" but it's very noticeable. :-(

The entire finished basement has to be ripped out (walls, ceiling and all insulation) and the floor and all the framing disinfected. Environmental companies don't do this and not many pest control ones do either. I've gotten estimates ranging from $4400 to $9600 for the same job. It involves guys wearing chemical suits, respirators, extractor fans, disinfectant spray, the whole 9 yards. The neighbors will no doubt be appalled at the goings on.

Then I have to get an electrician in to examine the visible wiring for damage. I'm sure there will be some.

Haven't been able to address the garage floor issue because the old refrigerator is sitting there waiting for my son to arrange to remove it, which apparantly is a more complicated scenario than hosting the Olympic Games. Nobody rents a truck with a power liftgate, nobody we know has a trailer hitch for one of those tow-behind things, and none of his friends have time to assist. When the rest of the house gets painted, the walls will be sealed with BIN first. I realized that the garage floor is actuallly painted (the grey stuff) so I may be lucky and perhaps a good scrubbing with Mex will help. (TSP isn't allowed to be sold in our state)

I have to say, the rodent stink is just as bad as the dog smell. Different but equally disgusting.

This has been a huge financial sinkhole. What should have been no more than $35K in renovations has already surpassed $65K that in outlay to date, and there is still another $40K committed to (and necessary) but not yet done and paid for. In the end this house will have cost me $100K more than its selling price and neither the house itself nor the area justifies that number. I could have bought any of a number of houses listed at that level over the past 3 years which would have gotten me more square footage as well. And fewer problems!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 6:27AM
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p.s. Sorry, I realized something I wrote was confusing: "..the walls will be sealed with BIN first" refers to the garage walls".

I did ask my painter how much to BIN-seal all the interior house walls as part of the painting and it would be an additional $1200 which I can't afford on top of everything else. So I may have to settle for BIN-ing just the garage walls and (if I can't afford to rip out the walls and ceiling of the master bedroom, which is probably the case) the master bedroom. Doing the master will probably be another $250 or so on top of the rest of the job. I have severe allergies and can't do any painting myself, unfortunately.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 6:33AM
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Oh dear, Helena! I feel for you. It is so disheartening to spend so much money on other people's messes and not gain anything for yourself in the process. My last house was the money pit in a lot of ways, but this house has needed fewer, but more expensive repairs. I do feel great every time it rains, now. I used to go around looking at the ceilings and hoping not to find stains from leaks. Now I am confident that I won't see any and it feels great to know that if I ever got around to the needed ceiling painting, we could do it with confidence now.

Is the basement gut due to the rodent mess under your bedroom floor? Is the mess found more widely in the floor between the basement and the first floor than just your room? Or is the basement smelling of the rodent smell, too?

Just keep telling yourself -"When I go to put this all back together, at least I get to choose the colors and textures." One thing that you can do to cover your floors until you can afford the materials that you prefer is to make floor cloths using some of the better cloth painting tarps. Get ones just a bit smaller than the room, then paint the cloth with colors and designs to match your decor. At least it will cover the subfloor and reduce the chances of getting slivers.

Here's a wish that you find no more issues to cost you more money in your nice little house!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 1:03PM
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Hi, I'm back with a depressing update. Unfortunately, I am still in the 3600 sf house (HELLO....hellooooo...helloooo, helllooooo) just knocking around. The sale from last month fell through about a day after my last post.

The house went back on the market the next day, but we also went out of contract with my bungalow.

On the positive side of things, we had an open house a few weeks ago and have a contract on the house again. The negative side of that is that the buyers' house has to sell first. They listed it the day after we accepted their offer. I am not holding my breath. However, their house is in the best part of town, is adorable, and I've often driven by and admired it. Perfect curb appeal. The inside is too cluttered and makes the house read small and could use a good stager to tell them to remove, oh, I dunno, THE FURNITURE IN THE SMALL BATHROOM? It is a smaller house and it would be fine to have it as cluttered up as it is for just living, but all the furnishings and wall photos and stuff on the counters and on top of the fridge just draw attention to the fact that it's not a large house. Boy is it cute, though! Anyway, maybe something will happen, who knows.

We've still had showings even after going under contract, so that's good.

The bungalow is still on the market. Unfortunately, a house across the street had something happen to it, not sure what, vandalism maybe? Some of the windows are boarded up. It would have made me keep on driving if I had not originally seen the house before. I am still interested in the house if we can just get this one sold, so we'll see.

Helena, I am so sorry for your mounting troubles. I hope that's the extent of it and now you can just get to fixing what needs it, even if it's a little at a time. I know that's no fun, though.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 8:32AM
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word_doc, so sorry to hear about the cancelled sale! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you with the new buyer (and their potential buyers). No buyer on the horizon for mine yet. :-(

Nancy, yes the basement gut it because of the rodent infestation. I won't know the full extent of the problem until tomorrow which is when the crew is coming to rip everything out. Going by just the ceiling in just that one room, and the fact that there was evidence of rodents on the top of the kitchen cabinets in the next room over, the assumption is that they were everywhere in the basement and probably for a long time (years). Once they get in, rodents can go everywhere within the structure.

They are going to have to take out the two exterior-side walls in my main-floor bedroom as well, because the same smell appears in that room every afternoon when the sun starts hitting the west wall and warming it up. No doubt because the fiberglass insulation is saturated with rodent pee and who knows what else. Of course that will further delay the installation of the flooring which will be the same in all 3 bedrooms plus the hallway (got to get the new drywall and insulation up in that room before the flooring can be done).

Once the furniture is in, there will be no place to move it out to, in order to change the flooring and so the final floor needs to be done at this stage. The bedroom in particular has a wood frame bed and will be getting my one new-furniture indulgence (really more of a necessity, according to my back, LOL) of Pure Latex Bliss mattress and box spring. These are MUCH heavier than any innerspring mattress and so once it's in place, there it must stay! (obviously these are not intended to be 'flipped', LOL)

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 1:57PM
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word_doc, I don't suppose you like your buyers' cute little house well enough to consider abandoning the bungalow and buying it instead? When we sold our house two years ago, we came close to doing a swap-with-added-cash, since the couple who bought it were downsizing and we were expanding. Honestly, the only thing that kept it from being feasible was that their larger house was on a very busy road. Just wondering, since you mentioned you've always admired the buyers' house and like the neighborhood it's in.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 11:05PM
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I probably would consider it, but it's in our current city and we are moving about 100 miles east for my husband's job. It's actually a really cute house and would probably totally work for us except that it has the same problem our current place does--100 miles too far west.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 7:17AM
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I probably would consider it, but it's in our current city and we are moving about 100 miles east for my husband's job. It's actually a really cute house and would probably totally work for us except that it has the same problem our current place does--100 miles too far west.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 7:18AM
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Word_doc, I'm one of those weird people who believe you will end up where you're supposed to be at the time you're supposed to be there. This will all work out. Keep your chin up and stay positive. Wish you luck.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 11:16AM
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I'm so happy to have found this forum. We are moving from a 2600 sq ft suburban home to a 1450 sq ft Cape Cod in a bohemian urban area. I'm excited, but panicked about the space (and the heating/cooling as it is a Cape and we plan to use the upstairs as the master). Glad to know there are others out there.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 5:26PM
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