blank'/> May 2014 | NidoBeato

Adventures in Renovating - Electric Avenue

Tuesday was electric day at the new house. It took all day, but Tom and Dave at Guarantee Electric finally got the main breaker box moved, relocated two bedroom outlets, and ran a new line for my refrigerator.

The job turned out to be more involved than they thought, which meant I got a bargain on the price. I've been on the underbidding side way too many times in my own business, so I guess the Universe was looking out for me yesterday because Tom confessed to me they should have charged me twice what they did for this job. Oh well, live and learn.
Everything torn out waiting for new box and wiring

Putting in a new box meant shutting off the power all day, which isn't fun in 90 degree heat. It also reminded me how much we depend on electricity to do the smallest tasks. I couldn't do much all day but watch them work, though I did manage to clean up a few small things I've been neglecting. Like removing the cabinet doors in the kitchen in preparation for demo.

Things are moving along in the kitchen
I also started attacking that huge stack of drywall I finally got moved inside thanks to my son Anthony's help on Mother's Day.

Drywall stacked in the livingroom waiting for me to get to work
Here's how the bedrooms look now.

Guest bedroom with wall framed out awaiting drywall

I started tearing out the weird hotel sink in the master bedroom. Love the bare wire hanging out of the wall with no junction box in sight.

Master bedroom side of the wall

Got one sheet of drywall up to cover the black hole in the wall.

I'm heading back over today to work on framing out that old pantry area and moving the fridge into its new home.







Adventures in Renovating - Stage One Destruction Complete

I'm now just over one week into the new house renovation and have completed the first stage of destruction (read about the BEFORE state here). For those of you who have never lived through a whole house renovation, this is a little of what you can expect.

Diningroom full of destruction debris. Notice the cool wicker desk and chair I scored on Craigslist the other day
It took most of the weekend to rip out the old carpeting in the bedrooms and hallway and tear down the old pantry and leprechaun/linen closet. Halfway through that, this is how it looked.

Leprechaun/linen closet and end cabinet destruction started. Yes, that is a lawn chair and the crappy bed from the spare bedroom I still haven't had a chance to haul off to the dump.

Leprechaun/linen closet --removed walls and doors

The old pantry is history

The doors pulled off the end cabinet
Tuesday was a day of frustration. Lowe's called me on Monday night to let me know my bedroom flooring was in. Then Home Depot called to let me know they would be delivering the drywall between noon and 7 on Tuesday. So I got up early on Tuesday and headed out on the 45 minute drive to the house, figuring I'd stop by Lowe's to pick up the flooring on my way and get to the house in plenty of time for the Home Depot delivery. Unfortunately, when I got to Lowe's, they couldn't find my flooring in Receiving. While I was waiting for that, the driver from Home Depot called me to say he was in my neighborhood so he was making my delivery early (like two hours early). I told him I was in the middle of something and could maybe be there in 30 minutes (providing Lowe's found my flooring and got it loaded in the next 10 minutes). He said he'd try to wait but if he had to leave and come back there would be an additional charge. You're kidding, right? Like it's my fault he's early?

Which leads me to ask--whatever happened to customer service? When I ordered this stuff over the weekend I asked for afternoon delivery. They confirmed afternoon delivery-which, by the way, they charged me $79 for. And the only reason I opted to have them deliver rather than renting one of their trucks and doing it myself was so I wouldn't have the dig up help to schlep 14 sheets of drywall, two sheets of plywood, and 20 2x4s into the house.

So I tell the girl at Lowe's to keep looking for my flooring while I rush back to the house. I made it there in 20 minutes to find the driver dumping the pallet in my driveway. When I asked him to bring it inside, he said $79 only covers curbside delivery. Really? What the hell am I supposed to do now? What if it rains? What if someone decides to help themselves to my supplies? His answer was a dumb shrug. Thanks for nothing.

To add to my joy, the garbage men decided that even though I had meticulously bound and wrapped all the carpeting and debris in three-foot long sections the way they liked, they couldn't be bothered to pick it up. They did however throw it all over the front lawn, prompting the HOA to leave me a nice love letter about cleaning it up. Which prompts my next question--if you can pick it up to throw it around, why can't you put it in the truck?

So I picked everything up, shoved as much into my truck as I could fit and stacked the rest in the carport then ran the load up to the dump. On my way back, I stopped by Lowe's to see if they've found my flooring. They say they have, but it still takes another 45 minutes to bring it up front. Then when they do, the T-molding isn't there, so they have to go back and take another 20 minutes looking for that.

By now it's 90 degrees out and I'm hot, tired, and frustrated. I figure I'll run back to the house and unload the truck then go grab a late lunch. But on the way there the electrician calls and says he's on his way to the house to give me an estimate on moving the electrical box. Fine, let's get this out of the way.

He spends 30 minutes looking over what I need, then says he's going back to the office to work out some numbers. I just finish unloading the flooring from the truck when I get a call from the electrician's boss saying he wasn't comfortable making the estimate so the boss is coming out the next morning. Great, that means not only do I have to come back the next day--which I wasn't planning to do--but I have to be there early.

Okay, by now it's after 3:00 and rather than go grab a sandwich I decide to start tearing out the wall between the kitchen and livingroom. I turn off the circuits and disconnect the power outlets in the wall and yank the first piece of paneling off and then the real fun begins. Roachageddon.

Apparently every roach in Florida was nesting in that wall and they were pissed about being disturbed. Those of you who know what a palmetto bug is can testify that those suckers are big enough to ride. And they fly. And there were dozens of them. It was like a freaking horror movie. I'm scrambling around looking for something to kill them with and grab the first thing I see-the shop vac. I fire it up and play Ghostbusters for the next ten minutes, vacuuming up everything that crawls or flies, along with the three inches of roach poop and eggs in the wall, then run the vac outside and dump it.

By now I've got a serious case of the heebie jeebies. I don't have any bug spray, but there is a bottle of 409 I bought for cleaning, so I spray down the wall then duct tape the thing closed, lock up the house, and leave. That finished me for the day. I needed a 20-minute shower to wash away the creep factor. I did stop on the way home and pick up some bug spray and four tubes of caulk.

I got the wall down the wall down the next day with only a couple of bug mishaps and squirted three tubes of caulk in the cracks. I also finished tearing out the wall between the bedrooms so the electrician could get in there and move the outlets. So here's where I stand now:

Kitchen with the wall down. The room feels so big now

Looking down the hall. I nailed that board down to make sure no more creepy crawlies invade before I can close it up and build the island in that spot.

Looking back toward the livingroom from the bedroom

Master bedroom closet removed

See that wire? Yeah, it has to be moved and I'm not crawling under the house to do it

The new master bedroom closet. Notice the black hole is gone.

The built-in dresser is gone

My lumber stash

I took a couple of days off, but tomorrow the fun resumes.




Closing Day - Huge "Before" Reveal

OK, it's been nearly a week since I closed on the new house. We actually closed two days early--on April 29th instead of May 1st. It was pretty anti-climatic since I had already paid for the place three weeks previously. I was just waiting for the current owners to vacate. In our original agreement, they had said they were leaving all the furniture but the beds since they had inherited a fully-furnished house, but when I met them at the house on closing day, there was nothing left in the house BUT the beds, which I did not want (who wants someone else's cheap, crappy beds?).

Front of the new house

Naturally, the realtor didn't bother to show up, this after calling, texting, and emailing me to be sure to meet her at the house at noon SHARP. We waited around for 45 minutes until she called and said her daughter was bringing the papers over. I realize closing on a mobile home that you paid cash for isn't the same as buying a regular house with a mortgage and all that, but at least show some professionalism. Oh well.

Needless to say, when I got my keys and went inside, I was PISSED. First there was the situation with the furniture and beds. I didn't actually need their furniture since I have my own, but I was planning to give it to my sons, who both need furniture. I certainly didn't want the beds and I know the only reason they left them, along with all the other crap in the shed and workshop, was because they were too lazy to haul them off to the dump. Not surprising, considering the house looked like it hadn't seen the business end of a broom, mop, or cleaning rag in years. In fact, I would bet the word CLEAN wasn't even in their vocabulary.

And that wasn't the worst part. The house REEKED of dog. I mean, like a wet kennel. Why I didn't notice any of this on the two previous occasions I visited the house I can only attribute to the amount of furniture they had in there and the air filtration system. But after sitting vacant for two weeks in the heat, that house was RIPE. I nearly gagged when I walked in.

Now, in case you're thinking I'm being picky, let me clue you in. I have owned six houses, all of them fixer-uppers. In fact, of the six, only two were actually habitable when I bought them. One had been a HUD rental for years, and two others had been vacant for one and two years, respectively. It took weeks of work to get them in some form of livable shape, so buying something move-in ready is as foreign to me as eating at a five-star restaurant.

That being said, I was willing to pay more than I had originally budgeted for this place because it looked move-in ready. The floors in the livingroom, kitchen, and diningroom had been replaced with hardwood. The subfloors had all been upgraded. The electrical (a huge issue in older mobile homes) had been upgraded. The old awning windows had all been replaced with energy-efficient, hurricane-proof sliding windows and the outside walls insulated and drywalled, along with new vinyl siding around the house. The carport had been closed in, insulated, and air conditioned for livable space. I figured all I'd have to do to move in was tear out the carpeting in the bedrooms and paint the rooms. Anything else could wait till I got the time and money.

I was wrong. Let's start with the least offensive room--the livingroom. Looks okay, right?

Living room. The 80s called and want their vertical blinds and track lighting back.
That silver light hanging there is part of a full room length track light.

I HATE vertical blinds. Granted, after owning cats for years, I pretty much hate all window treatments, but vertical blinds are the worst. Despite there being two 40-inch wide windows on the wall and a sliding glass door, the vertical blinds stretch the ENTIRE length of both walls in an 18 x 15 room. And notice they only go halfway down on the sliding glass door. Classy.

The track lighting also runs the length of the room and is not only screwed in, but caulked as well. Do you know how much fun it is to repair ceilings in mobile homes? The former owners were very proud when they informed me they were leaving the track lighting for me. Gee, thanks. Even when it was popular, I hated track lighting. What you can't see are the thousands of nails, screws, and hooks in the walls and ceiling. It took me hours to get them all out and I still keep finding ones I missed. I'm not even going to mention the shit-brown accent wall.

kitchen wall in the livingroom
This wall will be gone since I'm moving the fridge over to the space currently occupied by a pantry big enough to sleep in. One person does not need that much room for food. That will give me a ten-foot long island with enough prep space to keep any cook happy. The diningroom just needs a facelift. The ceiling fan will be replaced with a chandelier since I'm not a fan of fans over my food. I also plan to build in a banquette in that corner and, of course, paint the walls.

Diningroom
Moving into the kitchen, the only thing staying in here are the appliances and flooring.

Kitchen, south wall
The glass marble backsplash HAS to go. Not only is it ugly, it's covered with grease--yuck. As mentioned in a previous post, I've already found a new sink and faucet. I plan to use a piece of Ikea butcher block for the countertops, lose the dishwasher (which I never use--yeah, I'm weird that way) and get a new sink base cabinet. The wall cabinets will also go because they're disgusting inside and so small they're useless.


Kitchen, north wall
This is where my island will go. Funny thing on this wall. They have a little fridge next to the big one that they used for their beer. It looks built-in, right? That's what I thought until I leaned against it and the countertop flew off onto the floor and the cabinet slid away. Nothing was attached. Oh well, saves me demo time.

This is the pantry. It's eight feet long and three feet deep and has a hodge podge of hooks, bars, and shelving covered with greasy contact paper and vinyl flooring. It makes my stomach turn to think of storing my food in there. This will all be cleared out, drywalled, and become the new home of the fridge and a smaller, cleaner pantry. But first I have to get the electrical box moved. My middle son, who, despite growing up in a rotating construction zone, doesn't know diddly about how a house is put together, even recognized that putting an electrical box one inch above the floor in a kitchen cannot possibly be a good idea, much less to code. He's right.

Pantry. Can you believe people actually stored their food in here?

Notice the location of the electrical box. Yeah. Electrician is coming out tomorrow to get that moved.
And then we have the short pantry. I have no idea what this was supposed to be. Parking for your Jazzy? Time out for the kiddies? It's three feet deep, two feet wide, and waist high. Not to mention butt ugly. Useless space.

Not sure what the hell this is supposed to be. Leprechan closet? It only goes halfway up the wall (the top half opens into the hall as a linen closet--see below)
Linen closet over top of the short pantry.

On the hallway side of that short pantry we have a linen closet. Yeah, this is all being reconfigured.

Moving on, I am now the proud owner of what is without a doubt the UGLIEST bathroom I have ever seen in person. It could win one of those ugly bathroom contests they used to have on HGTV when they actually showed something besides real estate.

Ugly bathroom. That disaster on the wall is the former owner's attempt at faux finishing. FAIL!

If you can believe it, it's even uglier in person. Full gut job.
This entire bathroom has to go. Besides the DIY disaster going on on the walls, the vanity doors are the most putrid shade of orange I have ever seen. Medicine cabinet is straight out of every cheap mobile home ever built (there's another one in the master bath). And that mirrored door above the counter? It opens to a combination linen closet/water heater storage that is also open to outside. Because nothing says clean like having your towels providing bedding for bugs and other assorted Florida critters.

In case you're wondering, that IS floor tile on the wall.

All I can say is UGH!
Not only did they stick brown floor tile on the wall, they glued tumbled marble tiles over top of it along the top and and down the side wall as a "decorative accent." (their words, not mine). This demo is going to be super fun. I plan to take out the almond-colored tub--which is only 52 inches long--and put it a walk-in shower with white subway tile. I already have dark wood flooring and plans to put beadboard halfway up the walls and paint the rest turquoise. A pedestal sink will replace the hideous vanity and something will be done with that stupid water heater cabinet.

All I can say about the spare bedroom is I'm moving the closet over behind the door and cutting it down to half the size. It's a spare bedroom--how much closet does it need? Oh, and you can't see it, but there's a built-in dresser that is history, as is the filthy carpeting.

Guest bedroom with the crappy bed I now have to figure out how to haul to the dump

At least it has a nice window

This closet will be moved and that space given to the master bedroom

And last but not least, the master bedroom, which will become two feet wider when I remove the closets on the shared wall.

Master bedroom. Luckily, my new neighbor knew someone who wanted the king size bed. One less thing to haul to the dump.
The former owners decided to build a home office in the second closet in here. Since I don't need two closets, I'm losing the one between the bedrooms, adding two feet to the width of the room, and turning the home office back into a closet.
Closet that will go away. Notice the file cabinet and the dark stuff on the shelf?

The former owners left me a file cabinet and a pile of old sheets that they said were there when they bought the place four years ago. Really? I don't even know what to say about someone who leaves another person's dirty sheets in their closet for four years. Both the file cabinet (complete with the former, former owner's papers) and the sheets went to the curb that day.

Home office closet that will become a closet again.
Notice the black hole on the wall surrounded by a green frame? Funny story. The former owner cut a hole in the wall and built a foot-deep box for his ancient TV (he even offered to leave me the TV). I was speechless. That is, until I tried to get that box out of the wall. I've since invented new names to call him. After removing twenty-some screws and destroying the wall, the damn box still wasn't budging.


The black hole of death in the wall
 My sister-in-law Fran finally found the last three screws holding it in. They had been cleverly spackled over and painted to disguise them. Just in case someone wanted to steal the TV, I'm guessing.

DIY home office that will become the master bedroom closet

Another built-in dresser that will become history, though I'm saving the drawers from this one and the one in the guest bedroom because they're all wood. I'm going to make a bookcase out of them. Stay tuned for that one.

Built-in dresser
Anyone familiar with older mobile homes will recognize the sink in the bedroom phenomenon. Reminds me of a motel room. I'm taking the phone booth-size shower out of the bathroom and moving this in its place.

Because everyone wants a sink in their bedroom
The master bathroom is two feet wide. That's right. Two. Feet. Wide. This shower is two feet square. I won't be taking a shower in there, but getting it out will be probably the least fun thing I do in this house because they glued more floor tile and tumbled marble over top of a fiberglass shower enclosure. Good thing I don't know their new address.

Tiled fiberglass shower phone booth
So there it is in its BEFORE state. That was last Tuesday, and after a full weekend of demo work, it looks completely different. I forgot to take pictures, but I'll do so tomorrow and post them. My sister-in-law is helping me because she's good people and she knows when it comes time to do her kitchen and bathroom I'll be in her debt. Sneaky.

We've removed all the old carpeting, padding, and billions of staples. Tore down that wall between the two bedrooms (waiting for a drywall delivery to rebuild it). Tore out  the black hole box and home office closet. Demolished the two built-in dressers. Took out the pantry, leprechaun closet and linen closet. Removed all the vertical blinds and track lighting and started demo on the rest of the kitchen. Tomorrow the drywall and master bedroom flooring is being delivered and the electrician is coming to tell me how much of a heart attack I'm going to have when he gives me the bill to move that box. If I survive, I'll post the next progress report.