Home Renovation Update

IMG_7849If someone had told me 6 years ago that I’d be spending a ton of time each year working on construction, I would have told them they were crazy. And maybe I’m crazy for doing it, but it’s something I really do enjoy–as frustrating as it can be sometimes. It’s like a huge Lego project you get to design yourself, and if things go wrong, thousands of dollars are on the line.


This year’s round of renovation has been unique so far. With Milos’s help, we’ve been able to go much more quickly than I’d dreamed possible. That’s super on one hand–we’re getting a ton of stuff done. But it’s also stressful on the other, because that means I’ve had to spend more money than I was necessarily planning on. But hey–when you’ve got an extra set of blacksmith-powered hands to help you, spend the money and say thank you, is what I say.

But it hasn’t all be financial stress. This time through, I’m pretty much going it on my own when it comes to designing the space and figuring out how everything needs to fit together. And let me tell you. that has been a full time job all on its own. I’ve checked out 8 books from the library and done a slew of web searches and phone-a-friends to try and stay on top of things. Framing code. Load requirements. Lumber options. It all seems straightforward enough, but when you start spending actual money and realizing you’re going to be living and walking around in this space, you start wanting to be mighty careful that it’s all done the right way. (Then again, I’ve seen some horror stories online from “professional” work that make me think maybe it’s a good thing to be taking such an active part in this construction project.)

Basically, I’ve been staying a day or two ahead of the actual work that needs to be done–meaning that I figure out what I have to do a day or two before I actually have to do it. Some of it is design choice. How big do we want the new bedroom? The bathroom? Do we want a closet? What size is a closet? How big should the loft be? Where will the spiral staircase go? Will I have enough space to put in a home theater projector? Where? How about skylights–where can they be?

As those who know me can testify, I don’t do well when I’m faced with a ton of choices. By default, I feel compelled to find the One Right Choice, and sometimes that’s just not possible. How wide should the bathroom door be? The bedroom door? How big of a closet do we need? And then you’ve got structural stuff: how to adequately support the loft? What sort of beams should I use? Joists? What material? And on and on and on.

The good news is that we’ve made a lot of huge strides over the past month, despite the fact that the whole family got sick for about 2 weeks of that time. (Yikes!) What is already done?

  • The main floor of the garage has been cleaned.
  • Sister joists are up on the first floor ceiling.
  • Sheetrock is up on that ceiling.
  • The old electrical wiring has been replaced and updated with new fixtures. (Including swapping out the old light switch, was was recessed into the wall and really hard to access–and sometimes you’d put your hand in and feel a mouse scampering away.(!))
  • The area above the kitchen has been heavily insulated.
  • An exterior solar floodlight has been installed.
  • The second floor of the garage has been cleaned out, with a ton of stuff thrown away–including a carpet that stunk so. dang. bad. (Honestly–I think the whole house smelled better as soon as that thing vacated the premises.)
  • The framing for the walls of the bathroom and bedroom has been finished (well–almost).
  • The exterior window frames of the house have been scraped and painted.
  • The woodshed beams got a fresh coat of paint.

Compare that to the original pie-in-the-sky plan, and you’ll see just how much has gotten done. In the next few days, we still hope to completely finish the framing of the second floor walls and install the ceiling/floor of the loft. It’s a fair bit of work, but I’ve figured all the details out, and the material has been bought and delivered. All that remains is to actually put it all together. Can we do it? Yes we can! (And if we can’t, Denisa and I can once Milos has to head home.)

And once Monday rolls around and we have to bid Milos adieu (has it been 5 weeks already!?!), I will take a long break from renovation. (As long as nothing breaks. Oh–and I still have to get that porch light fixed. And I might want to frame the closet. And . . . )

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