Renovation Log: Day 33

***I started the first part of this post back around mid-May – yes, it took me this long to finish it.***

On a scale of 1-10, (10 being a panic attack), I’d say I am a 8.95.

Back when I thought tearing apart the whole first floor (minus my beautiful handiwork in the dining room) at the same time and thinking that the timeline of 3 weeks to complete the plumbing, electric and mechanical work would actually happen, I was at a level 2 – anxious, but optimistically excited!  Now, 6 weeks later, after having been sequestered to living in the master bedroom/bathroom, the boys’ room and guest bathroom, I have learned that my optimism far surpasses reality.  Hubs is the pessimist of the group; we really complete each other. 

I’ve been trying to figure out how best to tackle the blogging aspect of this renovation.  There is so much I want to tell you and as I walk through my house construction zone I think of these great one-liners for future posts, BUT by the time I get a makeshift dinner made for the boys served on a kid-sized-card table at the foot of my bed – then tackle cleaning up some of the dust and debris to control the OCD demons – then doing dishes in the bathroom sink on a vanity that hits just above my knee – then playing outside because we can’t play inside (thank you Spring, for FINALLY showing up along the northeastern seaboard) – then bath/bed time – then ‘okay Ashley, you can totally write a blog post’ time comes the mental and physical exhaustion.  A few texts to the Hubs and a ponder at a visit to Pinterest that is quickly shutdown by the Sandman and I’m off to dreamland.  Then it starts all over again the next morning.

Progress is taking place, but a few life events with the contractor and the original plumbing Charlie-Foxtrot made for an extended timeline.  Without the help of our incredible in-laws and neighbors, I’d be at a level 11.6 on the stress scale.  I’ve always been a huge proponent of community and this is exactly why.  My in-laws have made us dinner twice a week, let us do loads of laundry and have put up with my stubbornness and “nope, I’ll do it myself” comments.  My neighbors let me borrow their oven for frozen dinners and volunteered to take the boys out to the farmer’s market one morning and gave me free reins to their truck and laundry room – seriously!  Such a HUGE favor!  Without them and all the patience I can possible muster this would have been a terrible idea.

Where do we stand now?  Now that I think about it, I don’t think I even told you the whole scope of our renovation.  We are redoing the kitchen, half bath, living room, moving washer and dryer to the upstairs and creating an actual laundry room, hardwoods and tile throughout, 7 new windows and 1 new door.  So the next posts will look something like this:

  • New Office
  • New Kitchen
  • New Living Room
  • New Laundry Room
  • Renovation Log: Day 66 – It’s complete

That last bullet point is a very optimistic thought.

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Very optimistic indeed as of nearly 2 months ago. Today, I logged back in to finally give an update.  It’s now day 97 and so much has happened, yet so little.  I could give a lengthy recap of all the details, but in an effort not to live through it all again – and to not slip into a PTSD flashback – and to get you back up to speed with where we currently are, I feel a bulleted summary will suffice:

  • May 26 – Had the laundry room ceiling literally fall on my head.  Called contractor to ask him what the hell was going on in attic, why he was no where near completion, and how he “passed” an inspection with a capped vent line in the attic only to have him call me some colorful words, threaten to take me to court – wait…take ME to court?! and tell me that I was the one causing all of the delays.  Hum…okay, you’re fired.  (Turns out the jackass wasn’t even licensed!)
  • May 28 – Called county chief residential inspector to ask why an inspection passed with a sealed vent line in the attic and drywall already covering plumbing.  He came out and after 10 minutes of walking through my construction zone, apologized profusely for allowing one of his inspectors to pass the work and revoked our approval.   Recommended I start with a new contractor and that he’d be the one to personally re-do the inspection when the time came.
  • May 29 – Started calling contractors.  Moved in with in-laws because living in the house was unbearable – mostly on the emotional scale.
  • June 16 – Flew to L.A. with the boys and the in-laws to meet up with my Mom and step-Dad, my sister-in-law and to all welcome together the Hubs coming home for good!  We decided to rent a vacation house and go to the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland!  While there, my Mom wanted to help share a small detail about some exciting news from the Hubs’ and my fun little adventure in Maui.  That trip turned out to be very productive – in the reproduction realm!  We’re expecting our first baby together!  My Mom wanted to do a gender reveal for us while in Disneyland and managed to have Mickey Mouse tell us and our entire family that we’re expecting a boy!  Yes, 3 BOYS for this Mama.  It was a great trip!
  • June 24-ish  – After 4 weeks and 7 contractor walk through explaining the whole terrible nightmare of the horrible, very bad, no good contractor, we still did not have a contract written.  We had quotes come in ranging from $37k to 96k why such a HUGE disparity?!?!?!worse yet, no one could start working until September.  We needed to get back into our house, so we decided to become the head contractor and hired an electrician and plumber to come in.  Luckily for us, we were able to take some time off work to get things moving.  We decided to throw the bathrooms into the scope of work, because well…why not, right?!  Really though, I made a stand alone claw foot tub a necessity for pregnancy success.

Today, July 22 – The electrician, our wonderful, super, amazing electrician has fixed all of the errors and completed the electric work.  Every wire was straight and stapled appropriately, every light fixture was hung to meet my OCD standards and he was done in record time.  Along the way he provided very helpful recommendations, was super easy to get along with and trust worthy!  The plumbers ran into so many problems with what the previous horrible, very bad, no good contractor did that everything had to be ripped out and replaced.  Thank God that we found some amazing plumbers that are empathetic, professional and know what they are doing!  If you’re in the Northern Virginia area and need any type of plumbing work, we HIGHLY recommend Marines Plumbing.

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Chris and I demo-ed the bathrooms, hung two windows all by our selves and framed out the master bath entry and half wall near the shower talk about power couple!  Very nerve wracking cutting a hole into the side of our house, but we did it!  The windows add so much beautiful natural light to the bathrooms.  Chris and I studied lots of YouTube videos for how-to’s and best practices.  We found a friend in Tim Carter of Ask the Builder.com.  Tim is so great, he walks you through projects and gives you all of the encouragement you need to tackle a DIY project.  If you’re having a bad Monday, just watch this video series – even if you aren’t installing a new window!  This 4 part demonstration is just what we needed for the whole project!

Ta da!!!

We’ve done a lot and still have so far to go.  I am excited that I now have something to actually blog about – besides frustration. Things are really starting to take shape, so stay tuned!

A few end notes:

  1. Total Cost: oh man…TBD.
  2. Biggest Lesson Learned: I know this lesson has been taught before, it was even taught to me before I contracted with a ‘contractor’ – check with the state board of licensing BEFORE signing a contract, check references and only pay for work as progress happens.  I learned a very expensive and painful lesson on this one.
  3. Best Tip:  Listen to your elders and see above.
  4. Most Favorite Part:  Having my family back together (to include our new addition!) and embarking on this DIY adventure together.

Cheers!

-A.A.

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