A Tale of 1 House; 2 Pieces

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. 

Here's our house before all the work began.  It's a great house. It just needs a little definition.  Where's the front door? Yeah, that's just one of the definitions we are working on.

It's hard to capture what this is like at this point, so here's a video tour!  

 

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Let the Demo Begin!! Day 1

Day 1

Here we go!  After weeks and weeks of planning, quoting, revising, praying, and a little playing (Christmas break with extended family was just what we needed!), we have officially moved into DEMO!   

The electricians actually surprised me Wednesday when they came to work!  All the electrical boxes and lights in the two living areas, porch, and kitchen needed to be located, disconnected and removed.  I think they had fun, as it didn’t matter if they torn up the walls!  It looked like a scene from a cartoon when the cord was pulled and it rips up the wall above it.  

A couple of issues surfaced. First, they discovered live wires just hanging in some of the walls - major fire and electrical hazard!  We’re so thankful for the thoroughness of this electrical team! They also discovered that the ‘disconnected’ attic fan, was indeed disconnected but the live wire was just laying up in the attic!  Good grief!!

We have realized over and over how poor our home inspection was. The attic fan issue was clearly a miss by the inspector - add that to the list!!

Stay tuned - we will be posted pictures as quickly as we can! 

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Hate Your Worn Wood Floors?

Hardwood floors are beautiful at first, but can become less than appealing when worn.  

Add to that furniture dragging and accidental pet stains and you have a royal mess to deal with. 

It's easy to hate your floors, when they should be something you love. 

 

Consider the investment it took to install the floors.  Hardwood floors are sold everywhere, but little do we know that it takes a lot of effort and time to prepare each plank until it is fit for building use. Trees are an exhaustible resource. This means they are not simply manufactured out of factories and have to be grown for a considerable period before they can be used. Oak hardwood, for instance, can take as long as a hundred years to mature.
 
Is, therefore, because of this that hardwood is comparatively expensive. Standard hardwood floors cost around $4 per square foot and that's still the unfinished version. Prefinished hardwood floors cost a little bit more, usually at around $5 per square foot.

When buying unfinished hardwood flooring, however, don't think that you're saving a huge deal. Unfinished hardwood still has to be finished and stained before it can truly serve its purpose, so it's an extra expense.
 
If you're looking to install flooring on an entire house or a very huge space, you can save on costs if you buy hardwood wholesale. Another way to reduce your expenditure is to purchase them on discount, which may through hardware store sales or through used wood showrooms. Of course, whenever you buy on discount, make sure that you check the entire woodwork for signs of wear and decay.
 
Overall, while buying and installing hardwood floors is expensive, the benefits definitely outweigh the costs. Hardwood can last generations so you'll no longer have to worry about; just make sure it's properly and regularly maintained and protected well. While concrete also has a similar life, or longer, nothing beats the natural feel that real hardwood affords your home.

Refinishing hardwood floors is something that you can do yourself without paying professionals high amounts of money to do it for you. However, you do need to have time to spend on your refinishing project to make sure that you end up with the effect you want to achieve. Many places that rent equipment have the heavy-duty sander that you need for the refinishing job. To start to refinish hardwood floors, you first have to move all the furniture and take up any rugs or mats that you have on the wood floors. You also need to wear a dust mask so that you won't breathe in the dust when refinishing hardwood floors. 

 CHECK OUT THE SHINE ON THESE FLOORS!

CHECK OUT THE SHINE ON THESE FLOORS!

When we were preparing to sell our last house, we did a new technique, sanding down only the area where our dear old dog had stained the wood, then feathering in the new stain, then renewing the top coat on all the floors.  

Older wood floors can be restored to their former glory when you find out how to refinish hardwood floors. There are many books you can buy on the subject of refinishing hardwood floors and you can also get valuable information when you search online.

Most people do not strip and refinish their own wood floors.  Even if you hire someone to do this, you should know the steps.

1. Sanding

You do need to have a heavy- duty sander that you move gently back and forth over the wood floors. It is best to move in a straight line with the pattern of the hardwood boards instead of going across, especially if the hardwood has a bevelled edge with small grooves. You also have to be mindful not to apply more pressure in one place that in another because you could take gouges out of the floor. 

2. Cleaning

Once you have the initial finish sanded off, you have to sweep or vacuum up the dust and give the floor a light washing. This is an important part of refinishing hardwood floors because the least little bit of dust and dirt will show up when you apply the stain and finish. In the information you have about how to refinish wood floors, you will find out that you should only use a damp mop to wash up the floor. Excess water, especially on the sanded hardwood, will cause stains in the floor.

When you dry the floor, then you are ready for the next stage of refinishing hardwood floors.

3. Staining

You can choose to stain the wood floor in different colors suited to the type of wood. You may want to leave the wood in its natural color.  Always sample your selected stain prior to applying to the floor.

4. Protective Coating

The most common protective coating is polyurethane.  There are several options available at local hardware stores.  The polyurethane coating adds protection to the floor. You can choose a coating that will give you a gleaming floor or one that has a low luster. When refinishing wood floors, it is essential that the first coat is dry before you apply another coat. The more coats you put on, the shinier your floors will be. 

NOTE: If you have pets, it is VITAL to check and double-check for stray pet hairs after applying each coat of polyurethane. 

Refinishing wood floors is a time-consuming project. You may or may not want to stay in the house during the process, due to the initial dust from the sanding and the potential fumes from staining and protective coating.

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5 Common Tiling Mistakes to Avoid

5 Common Tiling Mistakes to Avoid

One thing that many people decide to do when they are remodeling a bathroom is to lay some new tile for a whole new look. There are many people who decide to have someone else do the job for them,

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9 Easy Steps to Winterize Your House Before the First Winter Freeze

Over a quarter of a million homes experience frozen pipes each winter. Not only are frozen pipes expensive to repair, your home and contents may be ruined. In a matter of minutes a one-eighth inch crack can release 250 gallons of water and disrupt your life in ways you may never imagine.

Sub-zero temperatures and cold winds can wreak havoc on your water pipes if they're not protected.

9 Smart steps to take before the first winter freeze this year

1.  Know where the main water shut off valve is to your home. This will enable you to shut the water off to the house should one of the pipes freeze and burst. The quicker you can get the water shut off, the less damage will be done. This will also give you time to call the plumber for help.

Don't skip this.  On 2 of the houses we have purchased, it was a great mystery as to where the shutoff was located.  It's so much easier to find it when the weather is warmer.

2. Find out where the water pipes are located in your home. In most cases they will be in the crawl space under your home or possibly in your attic. Once you've found exposed pipes, wrap them with insulation. The more protective insulation you can wrap around them, the less likely they are to freeze and burst.

NOTE: The best time to learn about your house is during your home inspection when you purchase it. 

3.  In extremely cold temperatures you may also want to use thermostatically-controlled heat cables. These can be wrapped around the insulation and should only be used according to manufacturer's instructions for installing them. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. independently tests and approves these cables; be sure to use only those which have been UL approved.

4.  Take the time to seal up any leaks around the pipes which may be allowing cold air into the area where the pipes are exposed. This could mean checking around electrical wiring which comes through the walls, dryer vents and the pipes themselves. Use flexible insulation, caulk or a can of expandable foam insulation. By blocking as much air as possible you'll reduce the chance of the pipes bursting.

We have used foam wrap around exposed pipes near hose spigots

5.  Disconnect and remove any garden hoses which won't be used during the winter. Turn the valve off to the spigot and drain all of the water from the faucet. 

6.  If you must leave a faucet active for whatever reason, remove the garden hose between uses. You can also put an insulated cap over the faucet to keep it from freezing.

7.  When the temperatures are expected to get especially frigid, leave a trickle of hot and cold water running in at least one sink which is on an outside wall. This may be just enough to avoid freezing pipes. Read my story about what can happen if you don't plan ahead! 

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I remember once in New Orleans, my roommate and I were advised by our landlord to let a faucet drip overnight, as the temperatures were dropping below freezing.  You need to know that in New Orleans, houses were not built to sustain temperatures below 32. 

Frequently pipes are exposed to the open air below houses.  Back to the story.  We lived in the upstairs unit, we let the water drip in the kitchen sink, since those pipes were on an outside wall. 

The next thing we knew, the landlord was calling early the next morning wondering what the heck had happened.  Little did we realize until we went back into the kitchen, that the sink stopper had somehow floated over the sink drain, causing the sink to overflow, water to run across the kitchen floor to a small hole that led to our neighbors downstairs - who now had water everywhere!  Yikes!

Moral of the story - if you do drip your faucets inside, think of this story and do it smart.

8. Allow cabinet doors with un-insulated pipes under it to remain open. This will allow the warm air from the house to heat the pipes and keep the pipes from freezing.

9.  Keep the thermostat to your home set no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit even if you're not going to be home. Then ask family or a neighbor to check on your home periodically while you're gone to ensure the temperature doesn't fall too low.

No one wants to experience a burst water pipe. By getting ready for the first frost youíll be well on your way to avoiding one. 

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7 Low Cost Bathroom Upgrades When You Can't Afford A Full Remodel

7 Low Cost Bathroom Upgrades When You Can't Afford A Full Remodel

Bathroom remodeling projects can be very expensive. Sometimes the budget just does not allow for major renovations to be done. In this case, there are some low cost upgrades that can make a surprising amount of difference in your bathroom.

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5 Easy Ways To Create More Visual Space in the Bathroom

5 Easy Ways To Create More Visual Space in the Bathroom

For bathroom remodeling projects, you have the opportunity to make a completely new space out of your old bathroom. New fixtures and flooring, or small changes like lighting and paint, can make a big difference. 

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4 Common Bathroom Remodel Mistakes to Avoid

4 Common Bathroom Remodel Mistakes to Avoid

Remodeling any room in your house can be an exciting project to take on. A bathroom remodel especially can be exciting, but it can also be a bit daunting to start a new project like this.

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5 Places the Money Goes in a Bathroom Renovation

Remodel projects can be very expensive. Especially for bathroom remodels where the major appliances and fixtures need to be replaced, a lot of money goes into remodeling projects.

But where exactly does all the money go?

Here is a list of the most expensive parts of bathroom remodel projects:

 

1. Labor

While hiring a general contractor to help you complete the work is a smart move and a wise investment, it can be one of the most expensive parts of the project. Typically, the labor involved in a bathroom remodel project will account for 20-25% of your budget.

It is easy to say that you can do it yourself, but depending on how extensive your remodel plans are and how skilled you are, a contractor is worth the money.

On our last Master Bath renovation, the labor cost for our master-artist tile guy was the highest priced item in the budget.  He took what seems forever, but the tile work was perfection!

This is not something you want to cut corners on. You can get bids from multiple contractors to see who has the best prices, but make sure you are using a professional, licensed and insured contractor that has all their documentation and great referrals.

 TILE WORK BY A PERFECTIONIST FROM OUR LAST MASTER BATH RENOVATION

TILE WORK BY A PERFECTIONIST FROM OUR LAST MASTER BATH RENOVATION

 2. Cabinets

Depending on the size of your bathroom or what sort of storage you are planning for your bathroom remodel, cabinets often take up a hefty chunk of your budget. Approximately 15-20% of your expenditures will go to your cabinetry. You can cut down on costs here by choosing less expensive cabinets, or think about salvaging cabinets (check out Habitat for Humanity Restore locations near you at ) or refurbish the existing cabinets in your bathroom.

3. Fixtures

One of the best parts of remodeling your bathroom is getting rid of old fixtures and replacing them with new, and potentially more efficient fixtures. Expect to spend a pretty penny updating your old fixtures, but keep in mind that if you spring for new energy efficient models you can save money overall and possibly even qualify for tax deductions.

Overall, fixtures tend to make up around 15% of the cost of bathroom remodels.

4. Plumbing

Another expensive, but necessary, update for a lot of bathroom remodel projects is the plumbing. There really is no cutting corners here, you need to make sure that your plumbing is correct and in good condition. Another 15% of your overall expenditures usually go to plumbing.

5. Floors and Countertops

When completing a bathroom remodel project, the floors and countertops are often the most noticeable expense. Springing for high quality but expensive materials like granite or marble can really drive your costs up, but that may be worth it to you.

Floors and countertops are likely to make up 20-25% of your overall costs, depending on what materials you use and the installation costs.

All of the other odds and ends, paint and lighting and design items can cost you as well, but they tend to make up a lesser percentage than these big costs. Decorative items are also easier to cut corners on because they aren't exactly necessary to the function of your bathroom.

Remodeling a bathroom can be an expensive project. Be ready for those big expenses and cut costs where it is safe to do so. If you plan carefully and shop around for the best prices and materials, you can make the most of your budget.

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2 DIY Lighting Upgrades

Inside or outside your home, simple lighting upgrades can make a huge difference in the appearance of your home.

A change in lighting fixtures or bulbs might seem like an almost too simple answer to small home renovations, but they can really change the entire mood and atmosphere of your home.

1. Outdoor Lighting

The outside appearance of your home is what you choose to display to the outside world. People driving by, your neighbors, and the people that come to visit you see this outside display first.

Simple and affordable lighting upgrades can make a huge difference. Certain fixtures can dress up and beautify what might otherwise be a simple decor.

Fixtures

Depending on the decor style of your home, there are many styles of lighting fixtures for outdoor lighting. For a more updated and modern look, chrome or metal colored spotlights and track lighting can brighten up your outdoor areas. If you're looking for a more traditional or rustic style of lighting, there are lamps and sconces for literally every decor scheme.

Motion Sensors

For security as well as convenience, motion sensors are an excellent lighting upgrade that every home should have. Motion sensors can be placed at every entrance to the home as well as fence gates and other dark or shadowy areas of your home and yard. Whenever you or someone else walks by or opens the door, the lights automatically come on. This is not only convenient to you, but also adds another level of security to discourage intruders.

Path Lighting

For sidewalks, driveways, or other paths, lighting can be added along the sides for both safety and aesthetics. Simple lighting along both sides of your driveway not only guides vehicles safely to your home, but also creates a beautiful atmosphere and adds character to your home.

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2. Indoor Lighting

In every room of your house, the lighting makes the biggest difference to the atmosphere and dÈcor. Lighting that is too bright or too dim can change the outcome of your color scheme and decorative additions that you have spent time and money working on.

On one of the houses we staged for selling, my decorator and I visited the local Lowe's and picked out trendy, updated lighting options for the foyer which helped put the total look over the top.

Kitchen and Bathrooms

In most homes, kitchen and bathroom lighting is meant to be bright and inviting. In the kitchen especially, the light needs to be bright enough to see everything you need to without coming across as too clinical. Track lighting is one example of a simple and affordable upgrade for kitchen and bathroom lighting that not only lights up a space well, but can also highlight your decor scheme and add a modern or traditional look depending on your choice of fixtures.

Living Areas

Consider using a dimmer for the lighting in your living areas. A dimmer can allow you to set just enough light, and change the mood of the room as needed. Decorative lighting should also not be overlooked. Adding small lamps and spotlights around your house, especially near art or decorative pieces, can really update your home.

Simple and affordable lighting upgrades can change the overall look of your home, inside or outside. 

Our Favorite Sources for Lighting

Wayfair.com

Lowes.com

Costco.com

Houzz.com

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