The digs

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Removing wallpaper borders and painting ceilings

Not a hugely productive day today, but I did get some important things done, with the help of my mom.

We painted the ceilings of the living room, and it looks really nice!

living room ceiling

There were cracks in the ceiling, so they had to be mudded and retaped, and then we primed the ceilings and painted them white. It looks beautiful now.

Then I ripped down the pig border from the kitchen. It was a long, frustrating process, but we found that the best method was:

1) spray with Dif

2) scrape with a paint scraper/putty knife to get the top layer off

3)spray with water and peel off remaining glue

And now the kitchen looks like this:

kitchen without borders

I call it “Kitchen Without Borders.” It used to look like this:


And the other wall, before:


Same wall, after:

hole in wall

Goodbye, pigs!

pig border

Seriously, WHY would you put that in your house?

And here is the progress on the guest room:


Adam made a good point-- that the pictures on the blog don't convey one of the biggest changes in the house, the smell. When we first bought it, you could barely stand to be in it, but now thanks to lots of cleaning and painting the floors with Kilz, it's starting to smell like a house!

As far as expenses go, I had to spend $51.14 on more painting supplies today, which means I've spent $4231.19 so my far. Eff my effing L.

So, that’s everything we got done today. I’m really, really looking forward to getting some color on the wall next weekend. I wish I didn’t have to work all week! I just want to paint!

Speaking of working, I’m starting a second job tomorrow, which means blogging and doing work on the house will be few and far between. But such is life.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Busy week of remodeling

Well, it has been a busy week, not only in my personal life but also with house-things.

First, my dad cut a hole in the wall of my kitchen.

kitchen window

living room window

It’s going to be a bar-style kitchen table, once it’s done, and I think it’ll really open up the space.

Mid-week, I selected all my paint colors, and purchased the colors from Sherwin Williams. The cost was $382.39 for all the paint needed for the interior of the house.

We also had an additional key made up for the house ($2.65), plus a Flex Joint Knife, painter’s tape, and Stain Killer ($49.89).

However, I returned the heat gun and paint scraper I bought from Walmart last weekend because they didn’t work (-$30.78).

But then while I was at Walmart to return the stuff, I bought a bunch of painting supplies ($40.00).

Last night I went to Home Depot to pick up a hot water heater ($232), a new toilet ($138), a water filter ($66.48), smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detector  ($13.35 and $17.78, respectively), a hose for the washer and dryer or something ($14.49), and a “Cop Vac Tee,” whatever that is ($8.57).

Now here’s the doozy. I went over to Lowe’s after that, and found a nice dishwasher in the “Scratch and Dent” section. I have been wanting to go to the local scratch and dent place, as I’ve heard great things, but the stupid place is never open when I’m not at work. And this was a $700 Bosch dishwasher on sale for $419, not including my dad’s military discount.

SO I decided to get the dishwasher, and since I was already spending a bunch, I decided I wanted this beautiful Whirlpool Stainless Steel range, which was priced at $499.

Except the cashier made a mistake when ringing me out, and I only ended up paying $830.50 for the pair, which was 20% off. Sweeeeet. Except Adam’s really mad at me because he thinks I should get lower-end appliances to stretch my budget further, so I’m sort of torn. And I have to spend an entire week being torn before I can check out the scratch and dent place in town next Saturday.

As for work done: Today I taped for painting, then primed the walls and ceilings of the living room and hallway, and also painted the floors of two of the bedrooms with Kilz to block the delightful cat urine odor that perfumes the house.


Here I am painting.

My dad dragged me kicking and screaming back to Lowe’s, where I bought another $24.47 worth of stuff, which included light bulbs, a ceiling box, a solder adapter, a plastic sump check (because our previous one was the wrong size, and a flex-a-spout. Then I returned the old sump check ($-6.21), and it was back to work with me.

We pulled the old range out, and found some fun stuff lurking underneath it.



dirt behind stove

And here is what the guest room looks like with the subfloor painted. We did that to block the odor before we install carpet.


And, a before and an after of the living room



Tomorrow I have to paint the ceiling in the living room white (it’s only primed so far), and prime the office/small bedroom, and hoooopefully I can start painting the living room the final color.

Whew! I got up at 7 AM to go to the gym, too, so that explains why it’s 8:45 PM and I’m ready for bed!

Oh, and my expenses have now ballooned up to $4180.05, leaving me with less than $900 left to finish the house. I'm pretty much screwed.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Odds and Ends

I neglected to tally up my expenses from the weekend in my last post, so I figured I'd do that now.

First, I bought a work jacket ($29.99):

and a nail puller($4.99):

The nail puller was invaluable for removing the staples that the previous owner of the house used to tack the carpet to the floor.

Then, it was off to Walmart, where we purchased sponges, mops, cleaning agents, a paint scraper, a heat gun,

scented candles, a sander, and a Brita water filter. The total was $99.37...eeep!

Aaannd today my dad picked up some 2x4 studs and a "flexspout" from Home Depot. I'm not even sure what the latter is, but these things cost me another $31.24.

$2396.47 is the new dent in my budget.

After work today I rushed over to Sherwin Williams. Those stores close at 6, and when I came in at 5:45, the clerk was pretty rude. I told him I was picking out some colors, and he said, "You know we close in 15 minutes, right?"
"Yes," I told him. "Your hours are inconvenient for people who work. But don't worry, I'll be fast."
I chose some chips, just in time for the clerk to say, "Ma'am, you know we close in 1 minute?"
"Yes," I responded. "I'll buy these elsewhere tomorrow," and whisked myself and my paint chips out the door triumphantly.

I took the paint chips home, and agonized for close to two hours over different shades of tan, green, and blue (I'm going for neutral earth tones). I'm terrible at making decisions (as I write this I'm debating swapping "Sleepy Blue" for "White Truffle" for the guest room), and I often rely on input from others for such decisions. Unfortunately, Adam is one of those "Whatever you think, honey" decision-makers, which I was NOT finding helpful. His only real input was "Nothing purple or yellow. Oh, and nothing girly." Great.

Anyway, after much deliberation, we did finally choose some lovely (albeit innocuous) colors, and we are ordering them from Sherwin Williams tomorrow.

I really, really hope they look okay up on the walls.

By the way, because a couple people have requested that I do so, I'm adding a Donation button to the blog. Every penny counts and will go towards improving the house and making it livable. :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Another day of working: cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning

Despite Adam and I spending all day working on the house today, with help from Adam’s friend Tristan, I felt like we didn’t accomplish much.

Adam and Tristan cleaned the basement some more and took screws out of the ceiling. They also cleaned out the sump well and ripped down some framing. “The basement’s completely done now,” says Adam.

Meanwhile, I was upstairs scrubbing the cabinets in the kitchen and bleaching the walls in the kitchen. I also spent a lot of time pulling staples out of the floor. Then I scrubbed the wood trim, and the rafters, which had gotten some ceiling “stuff” on them from our ceiling-fixy guy.

Not the most productive day, but it all had to be done.


This was the kitchen yesterday. There is crap everywhere, obviously. There are no other surfaces to put stuff on.

And this is the kitchen after an extreme scrubbing today:


Not sure if you can tell the difference in the photos, but I thought it looked a lot better.

Here is the freshly-scrubbed, freshly-ceilinged, freshly-patched living room:

living room


For reference, here is what it looked like when we first bought it:

living roomceilingceiling


As you can see (or maybe you can’t, it’s hard to tell in photos), it is looking better. All we need is a bit of paint and some laminate flooring and the living room will be set.

Hopefully the painting will commence this week and we will be one step closer to move-in!

Prepping for Paint

Well, we got some stuff accomplished yesterday.

First, we scrubbed the walls with bleach, and then with TriSodium Phosphate, to clean and prepare the surface for painting.







Master bedroom before:







So armed with masks and gloves, I scrubbed down those suckers. Here is the result:


Not perfect, but definitely better, and ready to be painted over.

In the meantime, my dad, Kim, Alex, and Erica had a fire going outside.


They were clearing the brush out of the yard. This yard needs tons of landscaping, as you can see:





Mulligan patrols the perimeter

Hopefully we will be more productive today. I am housesitting, which means I’m not really able to post from my blog, and I almost threw in the towel with blogging last night when I discovered that Google disabled my AdSense account and took back my $80 in earnings from advertisers. As you can see, I have signed up with several new ad providers, but I am still fist-shakingly angry with Google. Grrrr!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Making Progress: Basement Completion

Well, our friends Rachael and Justin came by on Wednesday and we officially finished the basement.



As a reminder, this is what it looked like just a week ago:


Adam has a big plan for a Man Cave in the new space in the basement. It will include a pool table, a dart board, a poker table, couches, a TV, a refrigerator that is only allowed to have beer in it, a well-stocked bar, and a mannequin named Ken to be the bartender.

2 bags dry compound mix  $20.50

TriSodium Phosphate $9.96

5 Gallon Pail of Joint Compound $13.26

1 Gallon Pail of Paint $19.98

Mesh drywall tape $6.85

Goggles $3.29

Mop $11.99

Floor scrubbing brush $17.49

Sponges $4.29

Propane $14

Plumbing supplies, painting supplies, electrical supplies, more joint compound $314.27

Money into the house so far: $2230.88

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day 2 of the Basement Battle

So today was our second day of battle against the basement. It went pretty well. My friends Rachael and Bob came to lend a hand, since Adam injured his ankle at work a couple weeks ago and still isn’t up to doing much. We have a very motley crew, between Adam’s ankle, my dad’s broken ribs, and my being a midget (being 4’11” is a handicap, not only physically but mentally. You have no idea how many “Lollipop Guild” jokes I have to endure daily).

But anyway, despite the Mötley-ness of our Crüe, we accomplished a lot. Bob was tearing out walls and ripping down ceilings like King Kong, and Rachael jumped right in and grabbed a sledgehammer and started swingin’ like a pro while I lugged trash barrels full of basement out to the dumpster.

So you saw what the basement looked like “before”:

basement, gross, water damage

And this is what it looked like after a few hours of work yesterday:

basement, water damage

As you can see, we got about 1/3rd of the basement cleared.

And this is how it looked after working for a few hours today:

basement, cellar

We got all of the floor ripped up, buuuut the dumpster company only dropped off a 10 yard when they were supposed to bring us a 30 yard. So this was what happened:

dumpster, containter

Not cool. We could have gotten it all done-- especially with our awesome helpers there being all helpful and stuff—but we had no more dumpster left for rubbish disposal. Big bummer! So now we have to get another dumpster (um, hopefully at no charge since it was their screw-up), and then spend another few hours picking up the last of the debris and putting it into said dumpster.

By the way, here are some of the pigs that adorn the border of the kitchen:

pigs, wallpaper border, kitchen

Definitely, definitely, need to get rid of the pigs. Sorry little pigs.

The only expenses today were:

-lunch for the crew

-paper towels

-toilet paper

which brought our running total to $1795.

Oh, but Adam found a new Budweiser pool stick in the basement, so that's gotta count for something.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day 1 of Remodeling: Diabolical Demolition Project

Today was our very first day of Working On The House, and I am happy to report that we got a lot done!

When I first arrived, I quickly ripped up all the carpet tacks in the house while I waited for my dad to arrive with supplies. I still need to find all the staples in the floor (from the carpet pad…uuuugh) and pull them up.

carpet tacks, carpet, floor

Then, we moved onto the Scary Stuff. The first and biggest project that we need to tackle is The Basement. I have never seen anything like this (although that doesn’t mean much). From what we can tell, the previous occupant of the home finished the basement, and then when the area was hit with historic flooding last spring, the occupants failed to run a sump pump, causing their finished basement to be buried underwater. Shortly after that, the home was foreclosed upon. The result is a sopping mess of particle board, carpet, sheet rock, mold, and two-by-fours, and it all has to be removed. It is so smelly and gross that you have to wear an uncomfortable breather mask to be able to work down there.

So without further ado, I come bearing photos of the carnage.

basement, stairs

*cue Jaws theme song as we descend the Stairs of Doom*

basement, floor, mold

Here is the room at the base of the stairs. 2x4s were placed on the floor and then particle board and carpet were laid on top. This is the result of them being flooded. Ick.

basement, floor, mold

This was after we knocked down the rotting wall.

hot water heater, basement

insulation, basement

This is the insulation that we had to pull out of the walls and throw away.

sheet rock, basement, flood damage

flood damage, basement, mold

This is looking across the basement. It looks like this 3 bedroom house was converted to an off-the-books 5 bedroom. The “room” on the far end of the shot appears to have been a little girl’s room. We found toys amidst the rubble, and princess stickers on the wall. Very sad.

basement, flood damage, water damage


So now you’ve seen the diabolical nature of our water-damaged basement. We were able to clear out about a third of the debris in about half a day, so we are confident that we can get this done quickly. It just sucks right now! The majority of the day was spent shoveling sheet rock and wet wood into a trash barrel, and then schlepping the heavy barrel up the stairs, through the snowy yard, and into the dumpster, and then back to the basement to get another load, while my dad tore up the floor and hit the walls with a sledgehammer.

We were, however, pleased to discover that there is a beautiful cement floor and wall underneath all the debris!

After it got too dark to work (we still don’t have electricity…boo), my dad and I went Lowe’s, where I proceeded to spend almost more than I make in a week. FML.

Here’s all the stuff I bought (and thankfully I got 10% off with my dad’s veteran’s discount):

-PlexiGlass to replace the basement windows that were missing when we bought the place ($13.48)

-3M Respiratory Masks ($17.88)

-Dehumidifier Condensate Pump ($69.30)

-Latex Window Glazing ($5.65)

-Frigidaire 25 Pint Dehumidifier ($127.80)

-1 1/4” Plastic Sump Check ($5.26)

-1/3 HP Pedestal Sump Pump ($70.18)

-MX Cold Weather Glove [for Adam] ($17.97)

Then, we went to my favorite place, Ocean State Job Lot, for a few more things:

-Women’s Leather Work Glove ($3.99)

-Mechanix Women’s Work Glove ($8.99)

-Glade Scented Candle ($3.49)

That brings the running total for costs beyond purchase price to $1754.99. I am paying every last cent by myself, so, definitely feeling the pinch. Ouch. Luckily I have been able to borrow all necessary tools and implements from my dad so far!

Tomorrow we venture back into the gloomy depths of The Basement. I will report back with “after” pictures…if I don’t get eaten by a mold monster or something.