upstairs reno: demo days

welcome back!

after a few weekends of solid progress, we are officially carpetless upstairs AND my STUDly husband took the pink bathroom down to the STUDs (with help——see below!). there have been a few surprises, both of the good and bad variety.

surprise #1: the hardwood floors under the carpet in the purple room are in terrible shape. we knew there was wood underneath, but we didn't know there would be a huge spot of water damage in the middle of the room with tons of gapping between the planks. i've been taking bids to have the floors repaired and refinished, which would involve a good amount of patching, and it is spen-D. the contractors said it would be cheaper to just replace the whole floor, so i think we'll end up putting down carpet again, which is fine by me for a kid's room (this will be the nursery).

but the question remains: do we tear up the wood or carpet over it? i personally want to tear up the wood and replace any portions of the subfloor that are damaged. that's just my style: do it now because we won't want to do it later!

surprise #2: the tile under the carpet in the blue room looks suspiciously like asbestos tile. my heart just sank when i saw it. there was already a broken piece (eek!) so we sent it and the mastic underneath in for testing.

we just heard back this week that the tile is NOT asbestos, but the mastic contains small amounts of it. the guy we've been working with was very helpful in explaining to me what this means and what exactly might be hazardous. the asbestos in the mastic is only harmful if we rip up the tile and take something abrasive to the mastic to release it as a dust (which we wouldn't do). we were reassured that carpeting over the tile is a very safe option, especially using the existing carpet tacks. when i told our guy that i am pregnant and this is a room kids will eventually sleep in, he said that if he were in the same situation, he would feel very good about carpeting over the tile. that was very helpful. nonetheless, when we sell the house, we must disclose the asbestos in the mastic, so ben and i are going to take bids on having it all removed just to see.

surprise #3: the stair treads and risers are hardwood! this gets an exclamation because it is exciting to me. i was thinking it would just be plywood underneath that nasty carpet.

after a few hours with these tools, i ended up with a few blisters but staple-free stairs.

these will be refinished/painted/a combo of the two. this view is literally the first thing you see when you walk in the front door, so i want to do something special. i'm thinking of a DIY runner . . . something with stripes . . . yes. i think so.

the bathroom yielded no surprises, as far as i know. our friend bert (of bookshelf fame) came over and like a superstar demoed with ben. i am pregnant and not allowed to do such things——even though i do enjoy a good demo day every once in a bit (see this post) my clinic said no way (and with good reason). they have me on a sort of modified rest so i am taking it easy.

my pregnancy-safe contribution was to sweep up and shop-vac afterward. (with a mask on, of course.) i love using the big shop vac. so satisfying.

that's where we stand. and did i mention that i scored a granite vanity top and sink at menards for $57? i did. and i'm very excited about it.

more to come! we move slowly, but we've got a deadline (baby comes in july, Lord willing!) so we will be hustling!

saturday {5.22.2010}

another hard day's work! i bet you are getting sick of these demo photos. bear with me...we are at the turning point. things will start to look different soon.

[image from]

why this picture? because we cut a skuttle hole into the ceiling! ha! ben just rolled his eyes at me. (and then he handed me the wii controller and asked me to beat a mario level for him, which i did. now i'm back!)

ben had to climb up into this odd ceiling space (we have a one-and-a-half story, so we have some strange attic stuff going on) to pull out all the insulation. it looked like poodle fur. i stayed down below and stuffed it into garbage bags. ben cleared the space so we can spray foam insulation, which we have in the kitchen and love! it keeps things plenty cozy.

then we tore down the ceiling in the former bath, to-be closet. ben's mask was very dirty, but the inside was clean. it's cool/gross to see what he didn't breathe in but could have.

and look what fell out of the ceiling!

weird. there seems to be a theme of easter eggs at our house.

then, ben taught me how to place electrical boxes. it wasn't hard. i just followed the incredibly "official" electrical plan we've mapped out. :)
it was a good day.

saturday {4.10.2010}

well, we got the load-bearing wall situation figured out, thanks to my husband's perseverance and dedication! he got the permit from the city yesterday, so we are full speed ahead to make up for some lost time.

but first, a side story. when i came home from work on friday night, i was so confused to see tons and tons of vans, suvs, and cars with trailers trolling around our neighborhood. i also noticed that there was a toilet in the front of our neighbor's yard. what was going on?

it took me a while to realize that this weekend the city would pick up junk and trash from people's houses if they put it all by the curb. and the trollers were looking for treasure! i'm not kidding, people had desks, chairs, mattresses, beds, old christmas decorations, and all sorts of other things out on their front lawns.

so we decided to join in on the fun. we put out three old doors that we had torn down, as well as our very own demo-ed toilet. but this morning, here's what we saw:

a rejection notice. apparently, porcelain isn't accepted into the program. it's okay, we have a dumpster for situations such as these!

anyways, today's work included a trip to cannon recovery (which we have had good experiences with in the past) to look for doors. but we looked at vanities, tile, etc, too.

that last one made us laugh. we didn't have any luck, so we went to order some doors at menards: poplar two-panels with brushed nickel hinges.

when we came home, we pulled a bunch of nails out of the studs to prep for some contractors who will hopefully come this week. then, ben stepped on a nail! praise God that he just had a tetanus shot a few weeks ago. hmmm, i should probably get one of those, too...

saturday {3.20.2010}

more images to tell the tale. God multiplied our time this past saturday. we got the tile floor up in about an hour! at first we were chipping away at the tile and cement layer underneath, but (perhaps because of rot?) we eventually got it to come up in huge chunks.

we also took up the wood floor in the bedroom that will be our bathroom. once we figured out a system, it was fast work. man, did we work hard! it felt good to do that physical labor.

we also had a pretty good system going for cleanup—i loaded up bins and buckets with debris (drywall, flooring, tile, etc.) and passed it all out the window to ben, who took it to the dumpster. that's right, the dumpster is back. hopefully just until june, though!

the last few images are from this evening. ben smashed up a 400-pound cast-iron tub and we transported it out the window. i overheard him on the phone saying that now he feels "good and manly." :)

dust barrier

on tuesday night we put up our zip wall, which means the dust is now contained in that part of the house. so when we go in, we are free to kick up as much dust as we want!

it's kinda cool. you stretch plastic across two poles, and then install zippers to make a doorway. ben was stuck in there until we put on the zippers! ;)

then we got to work. we have an old 5-disc cd player that's all dirty and perfect for such occasions. first, we listened to the used (which is fitting music for ripping down walls and tile). but the next cd was ben folds. not quite ben asked me to see what was next. when we heard the first few notes of "brightest" by copeland, i head ben yell from the other room, "i don't want to shave my legs...i want to rock!" i almost died laughing and changed it back to the used.

the tile came down easily because it was so rotted. yuck.

i shed blood relatively quickly...but it's not from what you might think. i gashed my finger opening the zip wall box! so klutzy.

here we go again!

the first day of demolition—saturday—went pretty well.

we found some lovely wallpaper behind the bathroom mirror.

when we took down the mirror, we dropped it a little—but only a small corner broke. i was thanking God—what if the whole thing had shattered?

i removed the vent and return covers. yuck! as gross as they are, vacuuming something like this is kind of satisfying. {side note: after we finish this remodel, we need to get our ducts cleaned!} then i stuffed them with insulation wrapped in plastic.

we tore off all the trim, casing, and doors. we got the wood paneling off the wall in the front bedroom, too.

we stopped there because we need to buy one of these dust barriers. drywall demo kicks up a lot of dust and we want to protect the other parts of the house that we've worked so hard on.

oh yeah, and we also made a budget and timeline. from the looks of it, we won't be finished with this remodel until mid-june. (which, as someone pointed out, is just in time for us to tackle outdoor projects!) here's to hoping we finish ahead of schedule! :)

weekend update

the weekend isn't over yet, but it has been fantastically productive. ben took friday off of work to work on the house, and we accomplished quite a bit: taking down wallpaper, taking off siding, narrowing tile choices to two for the fireplace surround, picking up roof samples, and other small things. our new front door, garage door, and a window were delivered, too.

kristen graciously volunteered to spend her saturday morning helping me and ben outside. we started tearing off the masonite siding on the back of the house. man, was it hot and humid!

(kristen takes it to the house. literally.)

(and she holds the rope for my man on the roof, while i snap pictures.)

(hanson sisters unite!)

(at one point, i'm sure it was "the lovely white house on the corner.")

(ben takes a sledgehammer to the fireplace.)

(admiring his handiwork. better already.)

(today, three tiles came off the vanity. i heard a crash and this is what i found. this bathroom has to last us for a while, though...)

(decisions, decisions.)

we are going to push hard to get a lot done in the next month. we're finally getting the summer weather here in minnesota, but fall isn't too far off and we want to have the windows, siding, and roof finished soon. then we are going to take a break.

great success!

today we're going to play a game! what in these two pictures is not the same?

picture #1: taken at 9am this morning. study it carefully!

picture #2: taken at 4pm this afternoon. what's different?

yeah that's right. the porch is gone. just to refresh your memory, this is what we have been using it for:

it was a great storage room, but the time had come for us to lose it! it was in really bad shape - broken windows, etc. tearing it down was actually a lot of fun.

dave, klaas, ben, justin, and i worked to move all the house debris to the dumpster. then they did this.

we were amazed at how well it came down! here are some more pics from the day.

the dumpster started like this:

and ended like this:

and praise God for fantastic weather today. He held off the rain, and it was nice and cool to be working outside. we are so thankful for friends and family who sacrifice their saturdays to help us out.

while the boys were working with crowbars and chainsaws, i started raking out our garden. crissy and "favorite aunt patty" came by while we were eating lunch. they scoped out some of the existing landscaping and put in their guesses for what perennials would be coming up. looks like we'll have lilacs, peonies, chives, and some other plants i can't remember. :)

God is so good, and so faithful. today i just felt this overwhelming sense of peace and thankfulness that He provided this home for us. this is our home - we don't have to move out any time soon! what a blessing. something we do not deserve.

i see God's goodness so much in this situation. we've been looking for houses for about two years, and it amazes me that God had this perfect home in store for us all along. i love that God orchestrates these things to be just so. i am a fool to not trust Him and His sovereign grace.

one funny story from the day: dave and i were taking the sledge hammer to some cabinets in the front yard. the activity drew over a neighbor boy and his parents, so we were thankful for the chance to meet them! the little boy was like, "i wanna smash stuff, too!"

we've met quite a few of our neighbors, actually. one family in particular has been especially kind. they told us they have been praying that a young couple would move in and really work on the house. that really touched me. we met another neighbor, too, who told us some interesting news: apparently the last three owners have all divorced. it was so sweet to see ben look our neighbor in the eye and say, "for us, divorce is not an option." i love my ben.

the house is really coming along. on the first level, we've had the HVAC guy, electricians, and clyde (the plumber) come to get us set up. those projects are fantastic and necessary, but they don't give a large visual difference. tearing off the porch was just what i needed to remind me that the things we are doing to this house will make a BIG difference. here are a few shots of the kitchen.

you can see where the sliding patio door and window above the sink are framed in. we're moving along, slow and steady. now i think ben and i are going to go watch zoolander. as a parting shot, here's dave in his zoolander pose:

have a great weekend!

out with the old walls, in with the new!

sometimes it feels as if the tear-down has gone slowly, but then i remember that it has been just a little over two weeks since we closed on the house. we really have made a lot of progress!

this wall came down. it was the wall between the kitchen and the formal dining room with the strangely low built-in. we learned that taking down soffits is a real stinker.

and so did the ceiling. taking off drywall took me forever, but bert just got it started with the saw and tore it down with his bare hands.
we also knocked out a closet on the south end of the kitchen to expand the space. we'll have to reroute some heating and draining elements, but it will buy us about two feet. i'm dreaming of a cozy banquette (with storage beneath!) that would run the entire length of the wall with an oval table pulled up to it...but i am getting way ahead of myself. we need walls first.
we pretty much finished the demolition phase last week, so on saturday, ben and klaas started framing out the walls. here's the workshop, aka our living room.
we also ripped out the french doors that lead out to the back porch. this area will eventually be a mudroom with a half bath. i'm so glad we got it closed up - we had the carpets cleaned this week, and they took a while to dry because we couldn't get the house above 5o degrees! thankfully, the weather on saturday was beautiful and the house warmed right up.

we also framed out the entrance from the former dining room to the living room. this was kind of a point of controversy, because it closes up the flow of the layout...but we pretty much had to choose between a doorway and more cabinet/counter space in the kitchen. we chose the space in the kitchen. hopefully, this won't be a decision we come to regret!

we've been using a program to sketch out our designs for the house. if i can figure out how to upload them, i'll put them up here so you can all envision the final layout!

also, a note about the orange chair in the picture above: someone in our condo gave this to us for free, and it has come in handy for a place to sit because we don't care if it gets dusty. it is known as the "jacob chair " (a LOST reference). one of the first nights we were working on the house, i went into the back bedroom and the only thing in the room was the chair, facing the wall. it was creepy and reminded me of the scene with jacob in the cabin.