Archive for the ‘Status Update’ Category

Slow Progress

We are proceeding with this giant remodel project very, very slowly. That means we end up doing things like this: The new landscaping and gravel next to our deck.P1050642

Or this larger area below our deck that’s also landscaped and rocked up.P1050643

It’s pitch black in these pictures, because it’s 9:30 on a workday and we’re still working on our way-behind remodel. Blegh.P1050644

The bright side is that I’ve found and started using; a pretty helpful free project schedule creator. I have a background in project scheduling, so it may be more technical than a typical DIYer would prefer.


It allows you to color code tasks (so I can tell what I’m responsible for vs. Michael) and you can just drag the bars to change them. The bad news is, we can really tell how slow we’re progressing.


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When we last talked about the deck, it looked like this:

We left the wood banded together, and we tarped it right after it was rained on. That ended up working very well to reduce shrinking/weird warps. The bad news is that the wood was incredibly heavy, and in some cases even slimy. Blegh.

We have been working on the deck for several months, and we’ve had a lot of progress. I’m sharing pictures, but I’m not going into a lot of detail about how we completed this job, mainly because we do not feel comfortable teaching or showing anyone else how to do this 🙂

Emma helped whenever possible, true to form. Her especial talent during this job was dropping her toys into the footer holes.

Since those last few photos, we’ve finished installing the tin roof and started work on the electrical. We still have the deck railing, stairs, and staining process left to complete. Maybe we’ll finish in late November…just in time to enjoy the fire inside 😀

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We’re substantially changing the outside of our house this year. This includes adding a roof to our deck, replacing all the exterior doors, replacing the windows, painting the siding, replacing shingles, repairing concrete, and landscaping. We’re working on all of those things at once (to a point). I’m only price-comparing shingles right now and still just researching concrete repair options, but they’re all cooking along.

The window project;

We’re replacing all but one of our windows (The tiny middle window in the picture below will be centered and re-sized to match the other two). Replacing the windows is one of my favorite projects, because once I picked them out and ordered them, my work was done.

A three person crew from Hullco came out to install 10 of our 11 windows. They showed up at 10 and left at 4; and all of those windows are 100% done. It’s nice having something started and finished in the same day!

Here’s the front facade after:

Someday it will look like this:

Here’s the difference from the inside:




Once Hullco was done, we waited two days and Window World replaced the behemoth in the living room.

It took them less than two hours, and voila;

Holy cow, Batman; something got finished in 4 days and didn’t leave a mess.

Well, we do still have to replace that front window… and install an egress window in the basement… but we’re done for now!

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There has been more deck progress! We talked about it here, but that was just to say the deck was partially gone. (Thanks Jimmy)

Here it is more gone.

Check out the giant cave that the previous owners’ dogs left. This is now our tornado shelter.

After removing the deck, we still had a lovely 7 inch thick pad of concrete. Michael stubborned his way through a section of it with a sledge hammer (stubborning is a verb that Michael is adept at; it takes qualifications).

And then decided that a jack hammer (called demolition hammer by all the rental places) would work a few months more quickly.

We got a 4 hour rental for a 70 pound demo hammer from Home Depot for $56 after tax. They had hammers as small as 11 pounds, but those are not intended for 7 inch slabs.

It took Michael an hour to go from this…

To this:

That’s the same amount of time it took for him to sledgehammer off the first section. PS: If it sounds like Michael did all of the work… that would be because he did 😀

In other news…

We also got the deck lumber order. It was entertaining/terrifying to watch the forklift navigate over the fence, budge forward 3 inches, and then duck under the power lines.

Tada! Our Deck:

The wood is still banded together, and we tarped it right after it got rained on. We’re hoping to delay as much shrinking until after installation as possible.

Our next steps are to clear the site, shorten the ledger board, and dig and pour the footers. Then it’s deck party time 🙂

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Refinance for the Win

As I straight-up bragged about in this post, we’ve finally paid our mortgage down to 80%, which means no more $81 per month PMI.

But our mortgage company refused to cancel our PMI (we didn’t have a 24 month payment history). We may have qualified in 8 months… The appraisal fee they require, plus PMI til then would be about $1000.

Which is why we refinanced … at 2.875! The refinance cost us $1885 (appraisal, title costs, etc), but we’ll break even in December. Our payment is about $400 less, and the savings over the life of the loan will be about $15k.

image from

That’s phase 1 done, now we’re on to brightening up the garage.

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Phase 1 Complete!!!

We have some awesome news.


To highlight the awesome part…


Our mortgage is finally paid down below 80%! Technically, it’s 79.997% 😀

We’ve requested that the mortgage company cancel the monthly PMI ($81 I wouldn’t mind keeping). I’m really hoping we accomplish this before the June payment. They have the option to decline our request, but we have the option of refinancing :}

That completes our ‘phase 1’ of the remodel. Now we can start real stuff!

First up is the exterior; siding, doors, windows, shingles, and a deck roof. And an egress window. And sealing the driveway. While we’re saving up for those pricy projects… we’re planning a minimum-budget touch up for the shed and the garage; aiming for more organization and less brown paneling 😀

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The 2nd floor is finally done!

To remember the good-ole days, here is the 2nd floor when we moved in;

A shot of the awkward half wall during demo;

Here’s a link to what we were aiming for.

We removed a wall, ripped up carpet, dry walled over the paneling, built a $90 built-in, removed the popcorn ceiling texture, switched the ceiling lights, painted, built a railing, covered the concrete in paper-bag flooring, re-installed the crown molding, changed the electrical boxes, and painted some more.

And here it is:

The view from the basement (prior owners’);

And Current;

Here is the cost breakdown for our 280 sq. foot room:

Drywall: $145

Primer: $40

Paint: $60

Paper Bag Flooring: $80

Built-in: $90

Railing: $25

New Ceiling Lights: $75

New electrical: $30

Total: $545 (ouch, how did it add up to that!?)

Covering this room in $2 a sq foot hardwood would cost more than that, so we’re satisfied enough.

Then there was the great furniture shuffle.

For the first time, my books are no longer double-stacked on garage shelves. It’s awesome! It went from two of these…

To legitimate shelves!

Now I have room for more books 🙂

One of my favorite things is how well the Pink Floyd Canvas turned out in the room.

I also love the new view into the basement (better than a wall of paneling!)

There is still work to do, but it will happen later. The windows, interior doors, and 4 of the exterior doors will be replaced after the PMI is dead. That will include the fogged slider door, the garage door, and the window in this room.

Your days are numbered, 70s brown door with no trim :}

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