Diving In Head First

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The past two weeks have been crazy hectic.  I closed on the house March 16, my mom arrived March 17, my birthday was March 18, and it's been work work work work work (thanks, Rhi Rhi).  My mom was originally going to stay for just one week but I begged her to stay for an extra week.  Because she loves me, she agreed, and she went home this past Thursday.  Then I had a sweet pal who was in Tampa for a conference come stay Friday night with me, which was so so nice.

But enough about me, let's get down to business.

As can be said with most renovation projects, it feels like I'm hemorrhaging money without seeing any real progress.  That's because the important take-care-of-the-house stuff is rarely pretty and fun.

Example 1: Pest Control.  In the words of my bug guy, I had "serious ant pressure."  Translation: a sh*t-ton of ant hills.  He came out one day week before last and spread granules all over the lot, along with spraying along the foundation.  The neat thing about my pest control service is that they spray inside the walls (by way of electrical outlets) so that the poison isn't on the baseboards where my girls can lick it.  Of course, this comes at a price - $450/year.

There were also termites in one of the window sills and signs of old termite damage in other parts of the house.  Nothing major, but I wanted to nip it in the bud, so tenting was required (more on that to come).  $250 inspection fee plus $1,500 for the tenting (not factored into the original reno budget).

The pest control technician also found (skip this part if bugs gross you out) a mild infestation of German and American roaches, which is unsurprising given how gross the kitchen was.  The tenting should take care of that, but the do-dos who put the tent up tented OVER my beautiful azaleas (I was assured this would not happen).

I've contacted the pest control company and will be demanding a discount on the tenting bill to cover the replacement of the plants.  I've got a plant center coming out to give me an estimate on removing the carcasses and replanting new babies.  The new plants will be much smaller than my big, 5 foot tall beauties, but I can't really talk about that now without getting ridiculously angry.

Let's just move back inside the house, shall we?

Which brings me to Example 2 of Not Fun But Necessary Project: Kitchen Gutting.  You watch the TV shows and it seems so easy.  Take a sledge hammer, knock stuff down, put pretty stuff in.  Boom and done.  Except that's not really how it works, you know?  Because with older houses, there's always "Stuff" that comes up.

We found a random guy on Craigslist who was willing to tear down the pergola, shed, and carport and haul them off for $350.  Then, for whatever reason, we sort of kept calling him to do other stuff.  We needed the old appliances hauled off because the floors were being refinished Monday-Wednesday and, obviously, you can't refinish floors that are covered by appliances.  So he took those out.  Except in order to get to the range, we had to remove a cabinet that some doofus had installed in front of the electrical outlet that the range was plugged into.  While he was at it, he took all the cabinets out for $160.  Except he didn't haul them off.  So they sat in a gross little pile on my patio until my mom and I dragged them down to the alley so that the city could give me an estimate of what it would cost to haul them off ($40).

Removing the cabinets revealed a slow leak that had been dripping into the cabinet for God knows how long.  That had to be fixed immediately because, you know, electricity + water = bad idea and they need electricity to sand the floors.  Bye-bye, $135!

Removing the cabinets also revealed some damaged plaster that has to be fixed before new cabinets and a new backsplash can be installed.  Cha-ching - $350, not including the cost of primer (because apparently you have to prime old plaster walls before they can do a skim coat?).

But before that happens (are you sensing a trend?), I have to move some electrical outlets around so that, you know, I can plug in my new stove.  That estimate hurt.  A lot.  The kitchen is going to require around $2,000 in electrical work just to get the appliances able to be plugged in where I need them.  That doesn't include pretty recessed lighting or swapping out any fixtures.

Once all that is done, then I can install my cabinets, which are probably going to be around $8,000, give or take.  Granite is another $2,300.  I figured on about $10,000 for the kitchen, but including the electrical and the new appliances, we're closer to $17,000 (that's 68% of my renovation budget), excluding demo costs and repair work.  Because I need to do that for my sanity.

Project #3 was actually more fun - I got the original hardwoods refinished.

White oak in the living room and the two bedrooms and heart of pine in the kitchen.  There's a bit of darkened wood along one wall, but it will be covered by cabinets, so nothing to worry about there.  Even better, because of the termite tenting, I wasn't going to be able to lay down hardwoods in the master bedroom.  Papa Bear to the rescue - as a house warming gift, my parents are paying for the materials and installation!

My sweet mama worked like a dog for two weeks, often in excruciating pain due to arthritis and the repetitive motions of painting, and seriously, I couldn't have done it without her.  She cleaned the disgusting bathroom (lots of bleach and scrubbing), painted my office and living room, and, most importantly, ripped out the nasty pee carpet.

Never forget.

Y'all go hug your mamas, ok?  They love you, and even after you're out of diapers, they will still deal with urine and feces for you.

Hopefully the next post will be more fun and upbeat, but gosh darn it, the early days of a reno are not fun at all.

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