Not bigger, just better. Reno begins (pic heavy)

wi-sailorgirlSeptember 18, 2010

Things have been moving quickly on our renovation. I hope this pace continues.

Here's what our house looked like Sept. 1 (with our junk on the way to the dump on the patio).

They started by gutting the upstairs, uncovering a few surprises including cedar-lined closets that had been drywalled over (!) and some questionable construction techniques, including that the whole roof was braced on a non-load bearing wall and no headers over the windows. We'll definitely have a better house when we're finished with this.

This is looking into our bedroom, standing in the other bedroom. (Abandoned chimney was in the wall and has been removed.)

They started the major portion of the demo on Monday. Monday and Tuesday were demo and leveling preparing for framing.

By Friday we had three ends up and sheathing on the east side of the roof. The other side of the roof is much more complicated as they have to figure out how to tie it into the existing roof, as well as create another small shed dormer for the bathroom.

This is looking into the new master bedroom. The high ceilings will be so nice, since we had 7-foot ceilings that angled steeply in the old bedroom (severly problematic for my 6'3" husband). It will still be a small room, but I think the high ceiling and additional windows with create a much larger feel. The window in the end, however, is much lower to the ground than I expected and I'm not sure why. I had planned to do built-ins on that wall and put in a window seat, but I think it will be way too low for that. I have to ask the GC about it.

This is looking the other direction into what will be the second bedroom and bathroom. They haven't cut the window holes in that end yet. I find it amazing that it's all going to fit.

Unfortunately the destruction is not over. As you can see from this photos (taking standing in bedroom #2 and looking over to the other roof), the existing roof is sagging quite a bit. Next week they will start removing the ceiling from the living room to add support to the underbuilt structure and reinsulate.

The good part about that is that the textured plaster that is all over the walls and ceiling will be gone. Even if I liked the look (which I don't), those ridges are huge dust collectors. One should not have to dust their walls. Here you can see the texture I'm talking about. Everything in the house is separated by plastic walls: looks like a scene from E.T.

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Wow, it sounds like you have a REALLY good construction company! Congrats on the progress, you are braver than I :)

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 2:17PM
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your house is moving along very quickly!

by Friday your house did look very sad tho...

that is some serious textured walls you have! I'd be glad to be rid of it also.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 3:02PM
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enigma: I don't think I'm brave, just really naive. I truly had no idea how big of a project this was. I'm not sure what I was thinking, that maybe the roof magically was replaced, but I was truly freaking out earlier in the week. I think I was so focused on the end result that I just didn't hear all the stuff leading up to it.

My husband and I just spent a lot of time up there in the space and that window definitely is too low. The plans show it about eight inches higher than it is, which would be much nicer, so we'll talk to the GC about it Monday. I think that will be a real test of how he handles things. I don't think it should be a big deal to move it at this point, as obviously the window hasn't been installed yet, but it will be interesting to see what he says about it.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 3:43PM
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Wow, it is going fast. Your bedroom is going to be great. I totally agree that you shouldn't have to dust your walls. That was some serious stucco.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 4:08PM
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Sailorgirl, please do ask the contractor about that window and ask why it is so low.

With my stained glass window for the bathtub alcove, they were installing that wall last, so I did not think anything about the framing not being low. They said they left it open to give room to remove the old stucco and lumber.

The day they were due to install the window, I went in to take pictures (my habit to document the job for DH), and the hole was up high on the wall, not the 24" off-the-floor that I'd wanted so I could see the window while in the tub. Oh, they said, did you want it LOW.....and so they modified it right away, and nothing had to be ripped out.

Quite possibly in your case, someone framing it in misread the blueprint. I'm sure you have great blueprints since your job is so professionally done. Now is the time to say something, because your use of the room is impacted greatly by it not being as you expected.

I LOVE how swiftly your job is moving along. Thank you so much for sharing it with us here on Smaller Homes!!!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 4:38PM
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Oh my goodness things are moving swiftly and that's great. If I had seen your blue cupboard piece out on your curb I would have slammed on the breaks and did my darndest to get it in my vehicle.

Thanks for keeping us updated with the progress.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 7:07PM
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LOL @ Flowerlady. You and me both. We might have had to duke it out over that piece.

Sailorgirl what a brave undertaking. Looks like you are really going to have a nice remodel. Certainly the height will add to the feeling of space and you really will have more space because of the added head room.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 7:38PM
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Love the pictures. Thanks for the updates!

I read on another forum that you went into the space and thought it was small. From the pictures, it looks like it's going to be a great space! I think you're going to be very satisfied.

I would miss that little tiny gable doppelganger that was there though, it was so cute :(.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 10:28PM
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I too read that you were surprised it felt smaller than expected. Wait until all the dry wall is up....true test and from what I see a wonderful room with tons of possibilities. From my view the room looks huge.

What interesting wall finish, I think the house next door to me is slightly the same. No wonder you are happy to see it go away.

And Chris,Flower....I know you two. You're going think about that blue furniture for days. Of which I don't blame too has some great possibilities.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 6:33AM
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Hi WSG - I have a couple of questions for you. This is a new home for you correct? Have you moved in? Are you living in this home while the work is being done? You call it a "renovation" but wow it is much more than that. I chuckled to read you were "naive," and yes I would have also "freaked" to see a bull-dozer pull into my yard!!!

Was the sagging floor/ceiling a surprise to you? Did you know this was going to need to be done or does it come as an added expense?

Now looking back through the posting, it probably is a stupid question - you can't possibly be living there right? I will leave this in so you can give us an idea of your timeframe (if you don't mind).

I find this fascinating and love the way you say "our home will be better - not bigger." Good for you and good for your new neighborhood!!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 7:41AM
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Thanks for all the nice comments, everyone. It's nice to get confirmation that we're not crazy!

Flowerlady and Shades of Idaho, don't feel too badly about that thing on the patio. I bought it as an unfinished, unassembled furniture thing at Menards about 10 years ago for about $100. I was in a huge hurry to assemble it so I just slapped it together, not realizing that things like drawers are supposed to be checked for square. Then I proceeded to finish it after seeing Martha Stewart do it. I didn't realize I could pick whatever color I wanted so I literally did it exactly like Martha, same colors and everything! Then I waxed it. Ugh, it was ugly. Anyway, the drawers never worked properly because they weren't square. It was irritating. Three people from Freecycle were no-shows (I'm done with Freecycle ... it's too infuriating), so it went off to Goodwill. Maybe someone can redo the drawers to make them work, but I feel for them dealing with that wax.

@ Krycek, those little gable doppelgangers (I love that term for them ... wish I had thought of it!) were the bane of our existence. They caused these miserable flat spots in the roof where snow and ice would collect. My husband had to go on the roof every time it snowed or else we'd have major leaking. No roofer or insulation person could overcome the issue. It wasn't a huge problem until we moved in because the house was mostly used as a summer residence until we came along so there wasn't such a temperature difference inside in winter because they had the heat on a minimum setting.

For everyone who mentioned that horrific finish. It's all over the house with the exception of the kitchen. We thought we had plaster walls, but it turns out it was plaster applied over drywall. I can tell the room they started in because the swoops are super close together. They did it AROUND all the light fixtures, making them very difficult to change out. We painted the guest bedroom first and in a 10x10 room went through two gallons of paint! It wasn't primed (or painted for that matter) and it just sucked up the paint. And every one of the tops of those swoops had to be done with a brush because even the thickest roller wouldn't cover there. I'll so happy to be rid of it although we'll still have it in the back room, downstairs bathroom and hallway.

@ Traceee- We've actually lived in this house for eight years. We always knew that we hoped to stay in the house forever if possible, but at some point we'd need a second bathroom. We thought we'd address that in the future, but having to deal with the leaky roof situation advanced the plan a bit.

We're not living in the house right now, although we were planning to. We moved our bedroom downstairs (to what was the master when we moved in, but we preferred to have our bedroom upstairs and additional living space downstairs) and were going to stay there for all other than the one or two weeks when a portion of the roof was missing. But again I was apparently being optimistic, and completely underestimated the disruption to the rest of the house. They had to rip out the back of the pantry to get the abandoned chimney out and now they are going to run all the electrical, HVAC, etc. through there, so the kitchen is a mess. You can't get to the basement from anywhere but outside so you spend a lot of time going in an out of different doors.

We are fortunate to have a family cottage nearby that we can stay at so we figured we'd just get out. There is limited heat at the cottage though, so hopefully we won't be out here much past mid-October. Estimated completion date is the first week of November, but one of the last things that is being done is the deck, and certainly we can be in the house while that is being constructed.

I think some of our neighbors are surprised that we aren't adding more. In addition to the fact that we are hampered by shoreline and floodplain zoning issues (and therefore it would have been very difficult to add-on out), not to mention budget, we really love our small (1,700 sq. ft. if you include the finished part of the basement) house. We will still have the smallest house in the neighborhood, but I think as far as value goes, we'll be a little more competitive now.

The sagging floor thing was not a complete surprise as our contractor sort of suspected it. The fact that there were no headers over the downstairs windows WAS a surprise. I don't think adjusting for that has affected the budget ... just temporarily slowed them down. The scary part comes this week when they try to tie in the new roof to the old roof and we try to correct the sagging roof over the living room. I'll breathe a sigh of relief if we can get through that part without any expensive surprises. With these old houses (built in 1938), you just don't know what you're going to find.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 10:17AM
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Sailorgirl, my DH says he can always tell where the builders did work on Friday afternoon, or after a cocktail lunch! He has a cape built in 1948, and he has lovingly redone all of it himself...with the exception of the new heating system.

Did you get the window height returned to its proper height?
I know how much a window seat would contribute to the charm and enjoyment of your bedroom.

Hope the weather holds for you, but DH says it is down to the 40s at night at his home, 25 miles NW of Boston. Of course it has been dry. But if this hurricane brushes near the shore area, you may have to contend with rain on your bright blue tarps across those holes in your house.

Seeing blue tarps brings memories of post hurricane roofs down here along the Gulf Coast.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 12:50PM
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I'm glad you're going to talk to the GC about the window. It is much lower than the other ones. A window seat with bookcases will be beautiful! Keep us updated on what happens :)

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 12:57PM
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GC said moving the window was no problem. He didn't have a good reason for why it ended up there in the first place, but as long as he moves it up eight inches I'll be happy. The windows on the other wall will be higher off the floor but they are the max size that would fit in that area (the roof line will extend across the house right underneath them to give the shed dormer the appearance of "popping" out of the roof and break up that big expanse of that side of the house).

Moving it up eight inches should essentially put it at the same height it was originally without screwing up the exterior view too much. And I think if we are able to do built-ins along that whole wall (I'm thinking of oodles of drawers and cabinets for clothing storage) plus a window seat, the difference in window heights won't be as apparent.

It's nice to see my husband, who I pretty much dragged into this project kicking and screaming, getting excited about the new space. The one problem with him going out to the house, though, is he seems to be quick to add things to the plan. They are little things: sound dampening between the bedrooms and the bathroom, ice and water shield on the entire roof, fixing our lousy cellar doors, but I think he forgets that all those little things add up!

We made it through the weekend with just a little bit of rain (although we're actually in Wisconsin, moccasin, so hopefully we aren't at the whim of too many hurricanes except how the impact the weather systems here). The tarps did a pretty good job I think and by Thursday everything should be closed up and I can stop frantically watching the weather every night.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 12:22PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

sailorgirl, Great post! It's interesting to see this process, especially as I live in a 1 1/2 story cottage, too. I love windowseats and built-in storage--looking forward to seeing yours.

(HaHa, I noticed that blue cupboard right away, but I guess I'd have been too late, anyway!!)

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 1:44PM
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Sailorgirl, please come back to the Smaller Homes Forum so we can say how much we love your home makeover. Marti8 found your home featured in BETTER AFTER blog.

And if you are into gardening more these days, we always like to see how to live outdoors with smaller homes.
Marvelous things you did to your home. A real facelift.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 5:38PM
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