First Day of Demo!

Well we closed on the house Tuesdays, Wed I was by myself at the house and I got just  little work done tearing down the drop ceiling in Beth’s bedroom. But today was super productive. I had Daniel, Megan, BJ, Thomas and me all working most of the day. We almost filled the dumpster.

Thomas started on the pile of concrete bags and empty paint cans. He moved, all by himself, 3780 pounds of concrete today. It was quite the workout!. The drive way looks so much bigger with all the junk gone. I can’t wait to get that van towed away!


While Thomas was working outside I started pulling up all the nasty pee stained carpets. They were so old and thread bear that they came up easily. But thanks to all the spills and/or pee the pads were all stuck to the wood floors. Megan got there just in time to work at scraping the pads off the floors.


I then spent the rest of the day (when I wasn’t helping the boys with their projects) slowly lifting up all the tack strips and pulling all the staples out of the floor. I’m still not done, it will keep me busy for awhile tomorrow too. But I did take a picture just to prove that I was actually doing something, not just following the kids around with a camera.


Once Thomas moved inside the house he tackled a wall in the kitchen that I wanted removed. Megan jumped in and helped for a few minutes before she had to leave for work. I love this picture of them both going at it. By the time I grabbed my camera Megan was cowering in the corner, just a little scared of Thomas with a crowbar. I made her jump back in for the picture.



Bj was nice enough to come over and help even though he had school last night from 5-10pm, then he worked from 10:30pm- 6:00am, he was at the house by 10am with no sleep. He worked until 3, then only got a couple hours of sleep before he had to head back to work all night tonight.

Him and Daniel removed the very heavy cement washtub in the basement then got to work in the bathroom gutting it down to the studs.  The only thing we’re saving in the bathroom is the bathtub, hopefully it will survive the renovation.

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When it was time to start tearing out the ceiling BJ got out the heavy gear. He had his firefighter gear in his car and thought that it would do a better job of protecting him from the falling cement ceiling than having no gear at all. He looks so official in his uniform!

The kids were amazing today, they all worked hard and kept at it until we finally called it  a day. The dumpster is 3/4 of the way full and we still have a full day of demo tomorrow.



Some more outdoor pics

This is not the prettiest time of year to be buying houses. Who knows what flowers will pop up this spring and the yard is bound to look nicer once the grass fills in and there’s some color. Plus the tree in the backyard appears to be a flowering tree, maybe a Mimosa or something else.

I already told the kids the garage is mine. Finally I have a place to store all my furniture for the booth. Megan, Daniel’s girlfriend said she would just go through the garage looking for furniture she can use in the house. Smart girl that’s what would I do too.


The driveway’s a little rough but I don’t see that really causing any problems. We’ll set up a little seating area in this nook. The back yard is completely fenced in so Lil’ Ann will be coming with me to help with the demo and keep me company. Also I’m hoping the house won’t feel as spooky if she’s there to bark at everything.

IMG_3910The house is being over run by ivy. Which I LOVE, but sadly Dan says we have to tear it all down. It has ensconced the chimney and is growing through the soffit into the attic. Since it’s actually damaging the house I guess it has to go. There is actually a window under all that ivy, I’m guessing there will be much more light in that room once the ivy is gone. Speaking of soffits there’s not too much work that needs to be done on the outside of the house since it’s all brick. Except for the soffits, storm windows and garage door. Those all need to be scraped and painted. That’s the last thing on my to do list. Oh and maybe some new hand rails, those 2 x 4’s don’t really match the style of the house.

IMG_3914And finally…I love this last picture of the house. It has a face! Two eyes and a mouth. She looks a little sad right now, but I’m sure once we get her cleaned up she’ll look much happier.

IMG_3917We close on Tues and the dumpster is being delivered on Wed. I’m dropping Thomas off at COSI Wed. morning then heading straight to the house to get to the work. My first day working on the house and I’ll be all alone, unless Dan can skip work and come demo with me…The next post about the house will be after the reno starts!

The first day of Spring

And it is only 43 degrees, brrr… unless you’re working out in your yard, then you may build up a little bit of a sweat. I was motivated to clean up my flower beds because I bought myself a present at the antique mall today.

The antique mall where I have my booth is like my very own room of requirements from Harry Potter. if there is something that I am pining for eventually it pops up in one of the many booths at the mall. When I go in to restock my booth I will walk down just one or two aisles on my way out. Even while walking through such a limited part of the mall I happen upon treasures that I have been searching for.

Today’s treasure is something I’ve been talking about for a few months now. But I really didn’t think that I had any hope of finding one. Until I walked around a corner at the antique mall and right in the middle of a booth I saw a claw foot cast iron bathtub! Yay, I think I squealed when I saw it.

I love having two strong boys to help me move things around. Because this tub is HEAVY!


BJ tends to get hurt at my house, so I don’t know why he is the one walking backwards through the rock garden.


I’m not sure if that will be its permanent home, I’ll have to watch it for awhile and see how I feel. Whenever it does find it’s final home then I will start worm composting in it. I think I need to clear out some of the other yard junk around the tub, the tub put me over the maximum amount of yard junk for one area. No worries I have plenty of other areas to spread it to.


The back story

Who lives in a house that is in such bad condition? We all had different theories about the previous owners. I had seen a google earth image of the house that had 4 or 5 work vans parked in the driveway so I imagined a house full of immigrants that were in the construction business. The kids were pretty sure it was a drug den. Dan just thought it was an old red neck. Whoever it was I imagined they were not very happy about their house being foreclosed. One day I tried to go to the house by myself to get some measurements and I was so terrified that I was going to be murdered by the axe murder hiding in the basement that I only lasted about 3 minutes before I had to run out of the house. Because, ya know, whoever lived there before still had keys!

Besides the bad condition inside the house there was one very bizarre clue left in the yard.


Why was this broken down van left behind? There are no plates and 4 flat tires. Then when we looked inside it was completely full of hazmat materials. Cans of paint, blacktop sealant, stain, fire extinguisher, oxygen tank, propane tanks and that’s just what we could see on the top of the pile. There are no seats in the van, just a lot of leftover construction materials. So part of our demo includes getting rid of all the stuff inside the van then having the van towed to a junk yard.

Another bonus that was left for us is a pallet of cement bags that have been left out in the weather for who knows how long. Which means they are all now solid cement. Thank goodness Thomas has spent all this time working out and building up those muscles, he’s gonna need them!


These items have added to the mystery of the previous owners. But the other day I was finally able to catch the neighbor letting her dog out. I went over and chatted with her for a bit about her cute dog, who is always excited to see us and runs along the fence whenever we’re over at the house. Turns out the dog used to live in our house but when the previous tenant left he couldn’t afford to keep the dog so they took him. No wonder he gets excited when he sees us, maybe he wants to come home.

And then I asked her what the deal was with the house, who lived here before? Turns out none of us were even close. A woman owned the house and her partner lived with her. And they were hoarders! Well that explains everything, no wonder the walls hadn’t been painted in decades or the carpets were so gross, they couldn’t even see those things because the house was so full of stuff. The five vans parked in the driveway were just more things they were hoarding. The neighbor said it made a (very ugly) privacy fence that blocked out all the other stuff that was in the back yard.

Recently the woman died and her partner couldn’t afford to keep the utilities on or pay the mortgage so he was eventually evicted and the house was foreclosed. Then the bank had many dumpsters of stuff removed (including some of the storm windows, I think) and 4 of the vans removed. Why did they leave 1 van and a pallet of cement for us to deal with? Instantly the fear of returning thugs has disappeared. I am no longer scared in the house and I am much more comfortable with the kids living in the house.

I’m so glad the back story was as benign as it was!

Basements and attics

I have always loved attics, when we were looking for houses years ago I dreamed of finding one with a drop stair and a usable attic. Sadly our bungalow/ cottage/ cape cod style house has no attic just slanted walls in our upstairs bedroom. We did, however, have a crawl space that we were able to make into a pretty awesome fort that the kids spend many years playing in with their friends.

The new house has what could be an awesome attic if it was going to be my home and the kids were still little enough to enjoy a secluded fort. I would totally spend my weekends tearing down plywood to fit through the small attic access so we could lay a floor. My kids would have loved having all this space to play in. But the kids are now 23, 21 and 16 and while they do still share my love of secret forts its up them to create those spaces now.




So on to the basement, since this 1400 sqft house is a ranch it has a pretty good size basement. You can access it through the kitchen or through an exterior door in the backyard. Perfect for small parties they may have.


I envision getting a ping pong table and a dart board for this area. Along with some couches and a stereo. Instant party!


This corner could some day be framed out for another bedroom if needed, but in the mean time I thought we could gather up all the weights that I find lying around my yard (this is a complete mystery to me, if you search around all of our outbuildings, gardens and yard spaces you will find a never ending supply of workout weights. I don’t know why.) and set up a workout area. It might not get much use until BJ and Thomas are in residence but who knows.


That sink will come out during the demo and that area will become the laundry area. It will be nice that the kids won’t have to drag their laundry over to my house anymore. I love those built in cabinets to the left. A little paint and they will be awesome.


More built in cabinets under the stairs.


And the basement even came with a 3 piece bathroom. Well kinda… there is a shower and a sink and a toilet, but it’s definitely not a traditional bathroom.


Those old shower tiles are awesome and they all seem to be in good shape, no broken tiles!


I love the little nook with the toilet and I love that toilet seat. How cute is that flower on the lid? The funny thing about the toilet nook is the door and wall don’t go all the way to the ceiling or floor, much like a public restroom. A little awkward if you’re having guests over. 🙂


This door goes into the workshop.


This is a great workshop with custom made workbenches and shelves. It will be a great place for the kids to work on small projects. Hmm I wonder if that will ever happen?


And look another door on the other side of the workshop.


Which goes into a cold storage room. This house has everything!


The basement also needs some work, all the loose floor tiles need to be removed and all the ceiling tiles need to come down. I’m sure there is asbestos in both of those so that is a job that needs to be done very carefully. Next I am going to power wash everything. and finally I’ll get out my paint sprayer and paint all the walls then paint the floors. When I’m done it should be a clean, bright and very usable space.

I wonder if my vision of the basement space matches up to what the kids have planned?

It completes me…


Beth really tries not to be just like me, I’m sure it’s not cool for an almost 21 year old to be anything like her over 40 mom. But try as she might she just can’t escape all of my influences. She saw the house for the first time this week and after walking through it and squealing with delight she said, “this house completes me.”  And I know exactly what she means because that is exactly how I feel about the house too.

When Thomas and I first walked in with the realtor, that we had never met before, he didn’t know what to expect from us. This house was a foreclosure, it is not in good shape. There are falling down ceilings, holes in the walls, a bathroom that needs to gutted down to the studs. Carpet stains that look like blood and plenty of animal urine. He said that he shows houses to a lot of people that want a fixer upper but when they see what that means they leave without even looking at the whole house.



Not me, I fell in love! All of the door knobs are glass door knobs, most all of the lighting are antique fixtures. There are built in cubbies and cabinets in almost every room. IMG_3832



There are arched doorways and nice solid wood doors throughout the house. I didn’t see the stained carpet only all the hardwood floors underneath. None of the wood trim or doors have been painted, how awesome is that?



There is so much light coming into the dining room with all those windows, even if only half of them work. That’s still more openable windows than you would have in a new build.



Yes the windows are old and several of the cranks seem to be broken, but the outside storm windows are wood, and actually hinged to the house so they can easily be opened up.


The kitchen cabinets are seriously dated, but they are sturdy and built well and only need to be cleaned up and painted. The yellow Formica may not be for everyone but I kinda love the vintage feel it gives the room.


The kitchen layout does have me a little stymied. Where will I put the stove and refrigerator. How much should I change it to make it more useable? I’m glad I took so many pictures so I can start planning what we will do.


One week away from closing then all the fun begins.

Dusting off the blog

It has been almost 2 years since the last blog post that I have written. Long enough that I couldn’t remember how to log in to my blog or even what program I used to use to write my blogs. Thomas and I are starting a new adventure and a friend suggested I should blog about it. I love the idea of documenting everything we’re doing but I’m not sure if I’ll have the dedication to take the time and write about it. We’ll see how this goes.

It’s funny how I have shared different interests with each kid. When Daniel was still living at home we watched a lot of cooking shows; Iron Chef, Anthony Bourdain, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Man vs. Food. Mostly shows with exotic foods and chefs that travelled around the world. Then when he left for college I never watched another cooking show, it made me too sad to watch them without Daniel. Beth and I watched Project Runway and Americas Next Top Model again not shows I ever watched without her. Thomas and I also have our favorite shows, we love car shows; Top Gear, Fast N Loud, Counting Cars if we had the space we would buy an old car to rebuild together, sadly we don’t have the garage space for that. We also like auction shows, house flipping shows and renovation shows. Thomas has also been the kid that has had the privilege of living almost his whole life in a construction zone and helping with the many never ending renovations we’ve tackled in our very old house.

So on to that new adventure…I am buying a house for us to renovate. While I really want to flip houses this first one is for the kids to rent. At first Daniel, Megan and Beth will live in the house. Then in 4-5 years when Thomas is ready to start at the Police Academy him and BJ plan on kicking the other kids out and moving in.

I think I need to clarify my previous statement that “I am buying a house for us to renovate.” I have been wanting to do this for years, recently I started looking at house online and stumbled across the house we are now very close to owning. I didn’t mention any of this to Dan until the night before I had set up a showing, it was just an idea I was throwing around and I wasn’t really sure where it was going to go. Dan couldn’t go see the house with me but Thomas and I fell in love. OK maybe I fell in love and Thomas was quietly stoic. Dan did go look at it the next day and agreed that this was an amazing deal and a house with great bones. Yes, it needs a ton of cosmetic work but structurally it is very sound. Without one word of complaint or objection Dan worked out the financial side of this endeavor and made it happen for me. I love that about him, instead of pointing out that our house is practically condemnable due to unfinished projects he just lets me go into something that is a little bit crazy.

I do have a big picture plan; Thomas and I will do all the work we can on this house (with a little help from Dan when his expertise is needed) and within 2 months it will be move in ready. Then I think we should move in so Thomas and I can gut our kitchen and bathroom and finally get our house finished. That idea is very dependent on our financial outlook at that point, but that’s what I’m hoping we can do. About the time we are done with all that the kids leases we be ending in their apartments and they should be ready to move into the house. And if all of this goes as planned then the next house I buy will be a flip and we can finally make some money from this new endeavor.