We’ve Got Magic to Do

(View from the backyard after burning some of the demo materials)

As I previously stated, Nick and I purchased our first home just over a year ago. We had been toying around with the idea, but had decided that we should wait to save up for a more significant down payment. However, we then found this house. Nick pretty much wanted the property for its garage. Being that he owns 3 (now 4!) cars himself, it was suitable for him to have a fairly new, 4 car garage that is pretty much the same square footage as the home. Seems reasonable right? Sure, why not. Anyways, the exterior of the home was in pretty good shape. New siding, new roof, etc. etc. Then you walk inside the house and this is where the fun begins! We were immediately welcomed by the sweet aroma of stale cigarette smoke. Then, behold a house that has not been updated since the 1970’s. I’m sure you can picture it…shag carpet, wood paneling, styrofoam beams painted to look like wood…it was a beaut! But, Nick just wanted that garage! So we accepted the challenge. We figured we could update the interior with our skills (or lack there of) and make this house our home. 

Demolition began almost immediately. We could not wait to tear up the carpets, the flooring…the walls. We demoed the entire kitchen and bathroom straight down to the studs. Low and behold, the wiring had also not been updated, probably since the house was built. Plumbing needed updating. Cha Ching! Cha Ching! Cha Ching! I felt like I was on the show on HGTV Love It or List It. Every single time they work with a family, Hilary always seems to come across some disaster that would take away from the families original budget. Anyways, this did not get our spirits down. Luckily, between Nick’s technical skills and the help of family and friends we were able to get things done. 

Everything went smoothly until that dark day in October. The day the building inspector from our town showed up at the house stating that we did not acquire the appropriate permits for the work we were completing. Unbeknownst to us, we needed three separate permits (electrical, plumbing, AND building). We were also made aware of the unknown fact that a licensed electrician and plumber would have to complete all of the work being done in the house (even if you were changing a light fixture). And of course we were charged with fines for not having the permits to begin with. Being naive does not get you off the hook. Trust me, we tried! This event proved to be a major set back in our project. If you are not already aware of this, skilled laborers are not really on a timely schedule. They complete jobs on their own schedule, at their own pace. October quickly turned into April before we were seeing any real results. I’m sure you can imagine our frustrations. 

Finally, the interior jobs had been completed. The plumbing was updated, the electrical work was safe and secure. Time to continue on with insulation and dry way. Oh wait…what’s that? You need an inspection for insulation too? But of course you do! Boom, another set back. At this point we getting tired of waiting. Since we both have full time jobs (Nick’s consisting of lots of overtime), we did not have the time nor energy to get things moving. This is when we decided to hire a contractor to come in and complete the dry wall, painting, and flooring. We figured he would get things moving along. Done by the end of May he said! That’s right, you guessed it. He did not complete his sub par work until the end of June. A few more inspections, some more painting, and three rooms of carpet later we were finally able to move! Exactly one year and five days after our closing date. 

So, after my long and detailed story, what have we learned today my friends? First and foremost, NEVER expect your projects to go as planned. Always take into account surprises and hiccups to show their ugly faces all along the way. Secondly, when completing any home renovation, even if it seems to be a minute detail, be sure to check your local building code. You do not want to run into our situation where you are not only set back on time but a lot more money. Lastly, have patience. There were many times I wanted to scream, throw something, I even cried at work. Do not let it get the best of you. Keep your eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel. It will be worth the wait to see the results of your very own hard work. 

I’ll be sure to post more detailed entries focusing on each room and how we turned this 1970’s smokers paradise into our home. 

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