If you’ve been hanging out here over the last couple of weeks then you know that my mom hired me to tackle the remodel of “the little house”. On the lot beside us this little place (all of 500 square feet) has gone through many “renovations” since my Grandpa built it. It was built for my Grandpa’s dad and then it also housed my Grandma’s dad for awhile. Way back then it didn’t have running water and was as simple as you can imagine: just a 300 square foot box with a dirt floor basement beneath it. Literally decades later my dad and brother dug a septic, a well and added a bathroom, a closet and a bedroom, insulated it, sheet rocked it and gave it new siding and shingles and added a little kitchen. They also poured concrete in the basement and carpeted the floor down there to increase the living space. I remember several friends and family living here on and off over the years (including my brother when he was first married) and then my dad lived here for the last ten years after my folks’ divorced.
There is really only one thing you need to know about my dad to completely understand the state of this place: He doesn’t care what anything looks like, he doesn’t like paying bills, cleaning is not his strong suit and the man apparently believes that Everything can be fixed with spray foam. EVERY. THING. Hence: eight inches of foam board glued to the walls, windows bulging with 6-8 inches of spray foam around them and absolutely everything is still covered in cat hair from a cat that’s been gone for many years. Last year I helped my dad build a new house and get moved over there. Since then my mom purchased this place from him and has been in a conundrum on what to do with it ever since. Its a terrible location: you are literally on the top of a hill, without a tree and totally on display to the road. (Neighbors joked that they could sit on the road and watch tv through the big window on the front of the place and they weren’t really kidding.) However, it is here and it simply wouldn’t take much time or money to fix it up a bit and it will always provide great storage and a place to stay for family or guests and, if worse comes to worse, mom could always rent it out.
So, my mom has hired me to do it and I am SO excited to get to work! The first thing I did was get all of the dimensions and put the house in Home Designer to get a better idea of the space. (You can always just pick up some drafting paper and draw it all out with a pencil and ruler.) Then I determined the work involved and took two weeks off from my day job to tackle it. From there I figured out as best I could a timeline.
Joe and I have a lot to do in the spring and plans covering every weekend from here for another two months so I won’t be working on this little place on the weekends unless extra time suddenly appears before me.
So, that gives me only ten days.
- Monday: Uninstall the kitchen sink/counter, upper kitchen cabinet, bathroom sink/counter, bathroom mirror and all of the lights. Take down all of the foam board, remove all of the outlet face plates and start taping/mudding the walls.
- Tuesday: Finish taping and mudding the walls and install a new recessed light above the shower in the bathroom.
- Wednesday: Cover the plumbing in the bathroom with a soffit. Cover all of the ceilings with foam ceiling tiles.
- Thursday: Prime walls of the entire house and paint the front door and fix/paint the brick molding and trim.
- Friday: Install all three of the new overhead light fixtures and paint second coat in the entire house.
- Monday: Rip up all of the carpet and vinyl flooring and get a good look at the horror that is going to be the wood floor in the main room, tackle whatever needs to be done and (hopefully) do first coat of paint on it.
- Tuesday: Install the vinyl floor tile in the bathroom, hall and bedroom and paint second coat on the wood floor in the main room.
- Wednesday: Build the upper kitchen cabinets and install all of the lower cabinets as well at the vanity and mirror/light in the bathroom. Stain all of the cabinets and do first coat of poly on all of them and first coat of poly on the wood floor.
- Thursday: Build the kitchen counter tops, stain them and then install the kitchen sink. Do first coat of poly on the counters, second coat on the cabinets and then second coat of poly on the main wood floor.
- Friday: Do second coat of poly on the counter tops and use leftover ceiling tile to create a backsplash behind the kitchen sink. Trim out the entire house.
I’m tired just looking at that! The reason I’m sharing my plan in such detail here is I wanted to show you my thinking on why I do some things first etc. First thing is always demo (of course) but most folks would assume that I would be ripping up the carpet then too but instead I’m going to use the carpet as a drop cloth to catch my sheetrock mud and paint splatter. It doesn’t make any sense to work from the bottom up in a remodel! ALWAYS work from the top down. I’m not taking the flooring out until AFTER painting is totally done.
The first thing I’m going to do when I go over there is turn the majority of the breakers off for the the whole house. (I’ll be working during the day so I’ll have enough light to see by.) It’s easy to get going during a project and start uninstalling a light before realizing that there is still power to it! First thing I always do is figure out which breaker I can leave on that will give me an outlet to charge my power tools by and then turn the entire rest of the house OFF. (Always double check though before uninstalling any electrical fixtures, I love this little power checker that I got on Amazon.) I also put a little piece of tape on those breakers that are “do not touch” such as the furnace and the well etc.
There are other things I’ll be doing too of course, the blinds and/or curtains will need to be installed at some point and I might just install the lights then too because my mom will probably be with me then. (Anyone who has ever installed a light fixture knows that a second set of hands can really help!) I also want to build a place to hang kitchen utensils along the back wall above the kitchen sink and I need to build a removable shelf/unit to go over the pressure tank in the bathroom to cover up the ugliness. And since we’re mentioning ugliness that whole corner of the bathroom that is the pressure tank, well and water heater is just plain awful, I need to put a door on that or something! I spoke with my best friend/cousin the other night (she lived in this little house over seventeen years ago!) and she said she might have that first Thursday off from work and, my goodness, I hope she comes over and helps me paint! (I WILL beg and bribe with beer if I have to.)
Foam ceiling tiles because: I just can’t handle the thought of mudding and taping another ceiling in my life. But I’m doing this for another reason as well: The ceiling in the main part of the house is not sheetrock, it is actually particle board so mudding and taping it will most certainly have some very mixed results and, if my time is worth ANYTHING, then the cost of buying styrofoam ceiling tiles and gluing them up instead will be well worth it. The ceiling in the “addition” (the bedroom, bath and hall) is sheetrock though so I probably will be mudding and taping those ceilings.
Overall budget in my head is around $2,000 and all of that will be basically spent before I even start. (This price does not include blinds for the whole house but we will need to get those eventually too.) I’ve learned time and time again to do everything in my power to get every possible material I could need BEFORE I start. Nothing slows you down faster then having to stop working to go and pick out and purchase a material.
There is only one guarantee about any remodel or renovation though: tell the house your timeline and it will laugh very very hard at you. My next post here on the blog will be the actual time line compared to this one 🙂 How did it go you ask? Well, there are ALWAYS going to be things that are out of your control: the point of a plan and timeline like this one is to have a reference of the work that needs to be done. It is about staying focused and tackling (as safely and as best you can) those things that ARE in your control.
There will always be days in a remodel when you had planned to do one thing but you simply can’t that day – nothing will teach you flexibility faster then a remodel! You need to be capable of changing focus and pace in the blink of an eye, “I can’t do that? That’s totally cool – I’ll do this instead!” So long as you are always making progress then today, is a good day.