Well, we've officially "had" the house for two weeks today. Of course, Mr. E just moved his last load and dropped off his keys a few hours ago. I really feel for him in all this. I can't imagine leaving somewhere you've lived for 30 years and deal with sorting through all that stuff. But, I am convinced that this is a good move for him because we've found some...very interesting living conditions during the demo phase.
On June 7 we did a walk through with our contractors. Turns out we're all a little more overwhelmed than originally anticipated. Partly because there was still so much freaking stuff, but also because as the piles started being moved we uncovered some of those "interesting living conditions" I was referring to. Nobody will say it out loud, but it's straight up scary to be in the house right now.
To stay within budget, the plan is to salvage as much as possible on the exterior and interior of the house. However, most things like cabinets, carpet, wallpaper, etc. have to go (for sanitary reasons in my book more than anything) so we're looking around for places we can save.
Unfortunately, there aren't many.
First of all, we may have to replace all the sub-flooring if we want hardwood throughout the house because some of it is rotten and it's only rated for laying carpet. And with a toddler, two dogs, a cat, a husband who works at a tire store and a baby on the way, I'm going to be stubborn about this and say absolutely NO CARPET will come back into that house. Diva moment.
The ceilings are a toss up because they're popcorn and may or may not be able to be scraped. Add a few spots of water damage here and there and we started talking about all new flooring and all new ceilings downstairs. Ouch.
Then we got to the windows. Originally they didn't look so bad and we talked about replacing just a few that were beyond repair. After further inspection, we realized there's a lot of moisture in between the glass on most every window...and that can't really be fixed. So, we started talking about what kind of replacement windows to get. Because the house has such historical charm, I really want to stay with real wood, but vinyl is more practical and cheaper. With 25 windows this is definitely going to be a budget buster no matter which route we go. Decisions, decisions.
A few more things here and there and we realized the house is just going to take a lot more TLC than we might've thought. It has to be done. I get that. But flooring and sheet rock are not nearly as fun to pay for as new built ins or fancy back-splashes. Square one people, we're just trying to get back to square one.
So where do we save? We work.
Michael's grandad brought a ton of farm equipment to the house to start clearing the lot. It was so overgrown you could hardly see the house, and you certainly couldn't walk through the backyard without getting that Heart of Darkness vibe. Michael kept saying the house needs "a good shedding" and boy, that's what it got! They cut limbs, sawed bushes, massacred trees - anything to make the lot navigable so people could actually get to the house to work on it.
To illustrate my point, they pulled a BOAT and a 1965 Studebaker CAR out of the backyard that I didn't even realize was there. Michael's grandad is the proud new recipient of the Studebaker (he loves antique cars!) and we're just happy to see it go since it doesn't actually have a motor.
They pulled vine and vine of poison ivy off the sides of the house. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about ivy growing on the side of a brick house, but not the poison kind. Plus, Michael is terribly allergic. One morning I referred to him as "poor Daddy" and Alice repeated it for the rest of the week. Haha!
It was honestly like an exhibition for a few days. Every time I dropped by to check on progress there were at least 3 other people just there to gawk. I don't blame them. Gawk away. This house is about to win the Most Improved of the Century award.
Michael's grandad and grandmother came every day for almost a week and put in a full day's work while Michael and his dad would join them around 5:00. It took several days, but the improvement was really impressive. I felt pretty lousy that I couldn't do much to help, but heavy loads and machinery are not really my forte. Plus...pregnant. Thank goodness for a strong husband and a willing family!
The last week was mainly focused on trash disposal. We're on massive red dumpster #3 at this point with no slowing down in sight. There are trailer loads of scrap metal in our driveway that we plan to take to see if we can get anything for them (every little bit helps!) and the inside of the house is just so dirty. It's probably not super safe for me to be in the house because of all the rat/squirrel/dog feces and the state of the carpets.
A portion of the carpentry crew came and pulled off all the rotten siding from the house. We're replacing it with Hardie siding which will require minimal upkeep going forward - which is one thing you'll learn we are ALL about. They also cut new cornices and installed those. It's funny - both Michael and I said we would never pick something like that out, but for some reason the little ornate details just fit this place and we love them.
While we've all been waiting on the last load of Mr. E's stuff to disappear so we can get inside for real, more family and friends have come to help do what they can to get us started. I'm so appreciative to them for volunteering and saving us some money because I'm practically zero help in making this house our home right now. Maybe now we can afford to replace all the windows. :)
About the author:
Andrea is an Alabama girl with a love for travel, tea and books. She is mommy to daughters, Alice and Eleanor, and wife to Michael. Together they are tackling a fixer-upper to make it their home for years to come.