Archive for ‘Rehabbing Houses’

March 2, 2016

A Labor of Love aka ‘We can’t let shit go.’

Dealing with all the flooding caused by the City demolishing the house behind Hallie (the duplex we bought from the Landbank in Sept of 2013) had worn us out. I stopped posting about it because it seemed rather hopeless honestly. The more days that past, the more the hard work we had completed was getting ruined. The Land Bank stated we had to prove that they caused the damage and so with that and the fiery motivation that drives me, I set off to jump through some hoops.

After estimates, inspections, our insurance refusing to cover the damage (it was part of the process that was required) and SO MUCH PAPERWORK, we finally met with the City Attorney’s office in May of 2015. It was awkward coming face to face with the Head of the Land Bank, the villain of our story. He kind of reminded me of John Ritter from Three’s Company minus the humor , obviously due to the seriousness of the situation. Both Joel and I agreed though, it was hard to dislike the guy.

I had never felt so much like an adult as I did that day, spouting facts with a cool calmness while assuring the City Attorney that the building could still be saved once the water drained. It was exhilarating and completely freaky all rolled into one. In the end, an agreement was reached.

It was about a month before we received the deed to the adjoining parcel of land where the demolished house had backed up to the yard of the duplex. It was another month before a crew could come out dig up the yard and replace the pipes which did ultimately join the two properties. Another month, for all the water to drain out of the basement and for the house to dry out. Another month after that, dealing with all the electrical getting approved. You get the idea, a lot of time had to go by before it could be worked on again.

I cannot emphasize enough how much Joel completely busted his ass on the upstairs unit. I worked on it here and there, but mostly kept Cam from getting into everything. We did have some help for several weeks, when Joel’s friend, Geoff was in town and was looking to make a little extra money during his stay. (Shout out to you, Geoff!! I was glad I wasn’t helping carry out an original, extremely heavy clawfoot tub!) Our neighbor, Tim was also cool and helped Joel carry in the appliances. (Unfortunately, the new fridge didn’t work and I was helping carry the new one out and a replacement back in.) #agony

Without further ado, here’s the completed 2 bedroom, 1 bath upstairs unit of Hallie.

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November 11, 2015

The Charm of Franklin

We’ve officially been in the new house 1 year. Well, at least had started painting it and had our first meal, sitting on the floor in the living room a year ago today. It was (and still is) a fixer-upper-in-progress. When turned over to us, it was a bit run down and A LOT dirty. We’ve put so much of ourselves in to it, to make it our own. Franklin (who I think of as a girl house, LOL.) still has a way to go, but that is usually the case with a 95 year old house. (It may be older, but the records show it was first sold in 1920. Before I go off on my litany of complaints about how the previous owners did things, let me tell you all about the awesomeness that is, The Craftsman.

I couldn’t find my ‘before’ pic that was worse, but here is the Google Earth pic.

Franklin before copy   Franklin house nov

Before we had officially closed (after the owners had moved out) I had started putting in my free-off-Craigslist stone and planting my end-of-the-season discounted plant stash and it paid off! The front flower beds look fantastic for being around such a short time. We have a garage, but I love parking out front. Walking up these 9 giant steps makes me feel fancy, like I’m about to enter a grand palace. Though I’m usually lugging a baby, with a bunch of stuff in tow, it makes it exciting to be home.

The original 9 foot wooden door was a bit marred up, but nothing several cans of metallic bronze spray paint couldn’t fix! Using this, made even the bits of wood putty and old brass kick plate look cohesive while keeping the natural wood grain.The lovely and spacious porch has only been partially painted so far, but has made a tremendous impact. The historic grey covered up the sloppy and mismatched toned tuck-pointing. The cool mint green makes the house’s accent pieces pop. The aqua blue porch ceiling is happy and relaxing when we sit out and enjoy hearing a neighbor’s band play on a porch swing that a friend was so cool to give us. My plans were that all the painting would have already been completed, but I step back and see all we accomplished thus far and try to be patient. Some day we’ll dig out the orange spray foam that the former owners used to fill in window sill cracks, (instead of replacing the wood ) and put on a slate roof to replace the current red nasty one, but the curb appeal has already been improved considerably.

Now onto the side yard.

Franklin house before side view copy  Franklin house Nov 2015 side view copy

Not as drastic a change as the front, but a much needed one. When Joel’s family came to visit his brothers and dad helped ripped out the chain link fence along the street and put up part of the wooden one. By the next week, Joel had built the back gate and we had the rest of the fence completed, then finished staining it in the Spring. It’s given us piece of mind to be able to let Arden out to play in the back yard (without wandering off!) and to have privacy when entertaining guests.

Lastly, there is the backyard, which was completely void of landscaping aside from a couple trees and some overgrown bushes. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good completed backyard pic, but here’s some snippets. We brought in a trailer load of flagstone we removed from the Dresden flower beds before the sale. (Good thing, as the new owners got rid of the rest of it!) It went to define the outer portion of the firepit, as well as to line all the bushes. More loads of mulch, dirt and bags of stone were brought in to complete the fire pit, build new flower beds and a raised garden.

Franklin backyard before copy Side view of franklin backyard in the summer 2015 copy  Backyard photo from firepit copy While there is still so much we want to work on, like tearing down the raggedy, half-assed built raised deck to put in a pergola and eventually a roof top garden on the garage (some day!) We are extremely happy with our choice to purchase this home and live in this neighborhood. We have met so many pleasant people and become the best of friends with awesome neighbors Christine and Tim down the street, who share our passion for rehabbing houses. We also have a wonderful next-door neighbor, Karen, whose frequently visiting granddaughter, is a fun little girl for Arden to play with. It’s nice to be a couple blocks from 3 parks (The Franklin Park Conservatory, Wolfe Park and Jeffery Park & Nature Trails), and to live around so many beautifully built homes. This is the first time either of us have lived somewhere that we feel like we belong.

April 30, 2015

Today, I made a complete spectacle of myself for one hundred dollars.

chuck norris approved

Let me explain.
We’ve been in contract with people to buy Walmar for 2 months.

Today was the day it finally, officially sold.
The entire process has been such an extremely trying debacle.
We pick up back in January, when we started working with our new realtor. She swore she could get it sold. However, after having it on the market a few weeks her optimisim completely faded and she wanted to drop the price. This was hard for us, because now it was under what it was originally purchased for. An offer did eventually come, of course even lower. The realtor insisted we accept. I declined and countered. I also sent over the receipt of a brand-new high-effeiciency furnace/ac installation after the buyer’s realtor stated that it was old and needed replaced.

Well fella, I rememeber that day very well, the day the furnace went out. Arden was only a few months old. I put her in a furry, little, cream snowsuit to keep her warm, quarantined off in a bedroom with a space heater. I froze my butt off, being upstairs working on an order, while the new install was taking place. It was before Joel. Ironically, he could have installed it for a fraction of the price and time. It cost over $5000. I rememeber it well and no, I wasn’t about to get short-changed over it. For those that don’t know, furnaces last a lot longer than 6 years, more like 25.

The realtor did nothing. She offered no support. She acted like it was her first sale, asking us if we had previous comps for sales in the area. (Wouldn’t this have been done first thing?!) It was at this point we realized once again we were on our own. I declined the buyers requests for new windows (for the few we didn’t replace) and for a new hot water heater. There wasn’t anything wrong with the existing one, they just wanted new. We pointed out that this was why the Home Warranty was being provided. Finally an agreement was reached with the buyers. Unfortunately, they were in a lease and either we could pay for them breaking it or continue paying the mortgage and utilities for the next couple months. So we did the latter.

Fast-forward to today. Our realtor was too busy vacationing to bother to show for close. The guy from the Title Agency was going over the price break-down for what was owed. He obviously wasn’t excited to be dealing with us. I’m sure my reputation of difficulty had preceded me. He explained how we had to have taxes pro-rated, escrow refunded and then he reached the Home Warranty. The price was inflated from what the realtor originally quoted. He argued that I had signed the contract and it was binding. When I disputed it, he then managed to find the counter offer, where I had previously requested a lower Home Warranty (because the realtor had tried inflating it before.) In a split second decision, I explained that I would not be signing the rest of the documents until it was corrected. Let me just say: AWKWARD. They told me the sale would fall through and that I could get sued. I said to get the realtor on the phone and get it fixed. After 10 minutes they came back fast-talking how they indeed managed to talk to the realtor and find a lower warrenty and how I would be refunded $100.

It’s not a huge victory, I know, but it’s my money. It didn’t effect their paychecks. (They probably all met for drinks after work to talk about that crazy *itch they had to deal with.) It’s not okay though. I’m taking a stand on being taken advantage of. (How often do they try to pull that with other sellers that don’t notice?) Afterward, as I called each utility to have them shut off, I could see the invisible ropes of my burden getting untied. One by one, they separated from me until an enourmous, unseen weight was lifted from my shoulders.

I may win my group’s weight loss challenge after-all. 🙂

99

May 2, 2014

Dresden : Week 9 It’s starting to come together!

As promised, I’m back to posting the final weeks of rehabbing the Dresden House. At the time, it didn’t seem like it was ever going to end. Things weren’t going smoothly. The upstairs bathroom was attempting to be worked on, but the toilet kept leaking. INTO THE GREEN ROOM. WHICH WAS ALREADY FINISHED. It was sort-of disastrous. We had JUST REPAIRED the ceiling, now we had to cut a hole to allow the water to escape. It was less-than-fantastic. It’s at this time Joel began to call his skill set into question. It’s easy to feel like you are going to lose your shit when things keep going wrong. I honestly didn’t doubt him for a minute. It’s much easier for me to doubt myself then him. Joel is awesome, end of story, so I figured there had to be something else wrong. FINALLY, it was discovered that the toilet had a hairline fracture. So no matter how good everything else was put together, it was going to be an issue. Fortunately, we discovered it BEFORE the renters moved in, so that’s sort of an upside, right?

Anyway, crisis solved and onto the next project. Here we have the living room. Here’s some photos of this tragedy to jog your memory.

BEFORE:

Karman trashed Dresden, erehabbed livingroom 3 copy

Karman trashed Dresden, rehabbed livingroom2 copy

Karman trashed Dresden rehabbed  livingroom1 copy

Karman trashed Dresden slate entryway copy

Ever heard the term ‘elbow grease’? Yeah, a whole lot of that went into scrubbing this slate entry. I don’t have a good after pic, but you’ll be able to see it on the final walk-through video I took (that I’ll post in a couple weeks.)

AFTER:
For us, this room was one of the more stand-out transformations. The refinished hardwood really sets it off.

livingroom completed. dresden

livingroom front window dresden copy

Thanks for checking it out! I’ll have another room to view next week. 🙂

March 17, 2014

Dresden : Week 8 Bring on the green!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Thought it would be great timing to post about our next room we completed, The Green Room.
Joel has been told before by people that he is very lucky. Lucky to know what he does, to be able to do what he does, to get the jobs he does. It’s a little bit irritating, because it’s not luck at all. It’s hard work. He may have a knack for learning the mechanicals inside a furnace or a car or heck, even my printer. He’s good at figuring out how things work. It takes practice and making mistakes and lots of labor. It doesn’t involve luck.

As a matter of fact, the opposite could be said. After Joel replaced the toilet in the upstairs bathroom (because the renters actually cracked the tank and broke the wax seal (that prevents sewer water from leaking when you flush) it was discovered that we need to do more to the green room than just replace 2 windows and paint. When the tenant got her water turned off from not paying her bill, the pipes froze and they busted inside the ceiling. We found this out after some tests flushes upstairs. With water leaking everywhere, we had to tear out part of the ceiling to find the problem. Word of Advice: it’s good to pay your utilities. Another fun tip, if the temps are going to hit freezing, leave your faucets on, just dripping a wee bit and it prevents the pipes from freezing up and bursting.

Celiing torn out in green room copy

If you look the pipes closely, the 2 greys ends are what is supposed to be connected together.

Pipes burst in ceiling copy

So not only what there this issue, but quite a bit of the wall had to be scraped and patched to remove all the peeling.

Green room patched up copy

Then comes the REALLY unenjoyable part. The sanding. The dust gets everywhere.

Me from sanding the green room copy

AFTER priming and painting, here’s the ceiling where the hole was. Not too shabby.

ceiling pic copy

Here’s the completed room with the floor refinished. So sharp! We super love the new, brighter green! Most definitely a color we will use again!

Green room color copy

March 6, 2014

Dresden : Weeks 6 & 7

I think it’s safe to say that everyone who reads this knows that we had to stop working on Hallie a bit to take care of business at Dresden. (So I may as well take it out of the title!) We have been very fortunate to be able to be granted an extension of an additional 3 months to work on Hallie after Dresden is completed. (So collective HUGE sigh of relief there!) We’ve been busy at work at Dresden as we have a potential renter lined up for April 1st move in. (Let’s hope it doesn’t turn in to an April Fool’s joke!)

Without further ado, here’s what new with Dresden over the last couple weeks.

When the weather was nice (you know that one day!)
Joel worked on framing in the outside portion of the newly installed windows. You can see on this side of the house 4 out of the 5 are completed. It is a such an enormous improvement!

Outside side photo show mostly finished windows copy

Another large undertaking for Joel was running 150 ft. of new water pipes in the basement.

Joel working on pipes in basement copy

water tank line pipes copyWasher hot and cold hook up copy

While they look a bit messy with drips, it actually is helpful during inspection, so the inspector is able to verify that the correct adhesives were used in the process.

Here’s a project I worked on. This hallway was pretty disgusting!
BEFORE

Hallway before lightswitch

hallway before floor to kitchen copy

Hallway closet door copy

Hallway before by bathroom copy

AFTER
Lots of scrubbing, painting (even down the basement hall), a new light fixture and new door.
Prepare to be dazzled! (At least we are!)

Hallway lightswitch copy

Hallway bathroom view copy

Hallway closed basement door copy

Stairwell to basement copy

We have a bunch more projects that we have been working diligently on (and are super proud of!) Hopefully we can get them wrapped up to show you all next week!
Thanks for viewing. 🙂 erin

February 19, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 19 : Interrupted – Dresden Week 5.

So I was supposed to post this last week, but the all the editing was daunting and I just didn’t get to it.
We worked on the master bedroom for several weeks. At roughly 600 sq. ft., it’s A LOT. The master bath is adjoining with another 125 sq. ft. (but we didn’t get to that yet.)

A RUNDOWN OF TASKS: (after removing the trash!)

1.) Completely replaced 4 windows.
(Ripped out old, built new framework, put in new, added drywall where needed, mudded, sanded, put trim back up.
2.) Texturized the ceiling
3.) New light fixtures
4.) Patched and painted. 3 gallons of just the blue paint.
5.) Completely redid corner beading that was shredded.
6.) Painted the ceiling
7.) Painted and reattached the banister that had been ripped down.

Now a mini story in pictures of what we accomplished.

BEFORE:
Original shot of 2 far windows copy

GETTING STARTED:
Joel ripping out old windows upstairs copy

PATCHED UP:
Windows in with drywall, patched copy

TA-DA!
Finished side windows copy

front wall first window put in copy

BEFORE:
Trash filled cubby over by bathroom wall copy

THIS ENCOMPASSES THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ROOM:
Arden painted wall copy

Wall by bathroom copy

built in Dresser copy

Far window by stairs and dresser copy

Stairway copy

JUST A REFRESHER OF THE CORNER BEAD BEFORE:

Corner bead demolished before copy

AFTER:

corner I put up corner bead copy

As you can see, we need to get our mess cleaned up and sand the floors, BUT it’s made HUGE progress!

February 7, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 17 & 18 : Interrupted – Dresden Week 3 & 4.

Hello again, friends!
All 3 of us have been butt-dragging sick this week. I’m excited to start being able to breath again and Joel is excited I’ve stopped snoring. It hasn’t been so terrible that Arden has been having snow days from school, because she definitely needs the rest.
Last week alone, Joel put in 37 hours of overtime. Needless to say, we are hoping to see an end to this extreme weather we’ve been having. We certainly could use some help getting our mountain of work completed and fingers crossed we get some relief soon.

There’s what we’ve worked on the past couple weeks.

THE GRAY ROOM
We started with a bedroom downstairs. The photos aren’t the greatest because I end up forgetting my good camera and just use my phone. Still the transformation is noticeable. Here’s before photos. Filth, excessive scribbles and chunks missing, all over the walls.

DSC_0045 (1) copy

Grey room dirty 2 before copy

After cleaning up a bit, patching, painted and new blinds:

Grey room repainted copy

Between that and the floor getting ripped out, it’s was nice to finally have a room that doesn’t stink anymore.

NEXT: The UPSTAIRS BEDROOM
It’s quite spacious, which is nice to live in, but means a lot of work too. We worked on texturing the entire upstairs ceiling, not because I don’t like a smooth ceiling, but it hides imperfections. Then lots of patch work. Next Joel’s been working on replacing windows. Shown here painting outside trim. Do not try this maneuver at home, it causes incredible back pain.

Joel hanging out window to paint copy

One of the projects I’ve been working on is repairing the excessively damaged corner beading. Seen here, it’s ripped to shreds hanging out of the wall.

Corner bead demolished before copy

If you aren’t familiar with the process, after drywall goes up to give nice, crisp corners, special strips of paper with metal are put in place with drywall mud. Cover that with several more layers of mud, so it looks something like this when dried. Even though it’s super sloppy, it requires a certain level of precision. Put on too much and it takes forever to dry and causes cracks. Put on too little and you risk the drywall/metal corners being exposed after it all gets sanded down.

Corner bead with layers of mud copy

Here’s the wall after sanding. It’s important to get every blemish as smooth as possible, because what gets missed shows up when painted.

Corner bead after mud is sanded copy

We’ve also been working on painting, but I will save that for next week. Hopefully we’ll have the upstairs completed by then.

January 24, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 16 : Interrupted – Dresden Week 2.

Remember that day a week or so ago, when the weather was 40 degrees and that seemed balmy?
Well I took advantage of it, doing some much-needed outside maintenance over at Dresden.
The house is covered in yellow siding, which is unfortunate. I am not a fan of vinyl siding.
I feel like it lacks character, has a conformist attitude and this particular color fades really badly.
I also understand that it hides major flaws easily and cheaply, which is why it’s so popular.
(Joel had big plans for it before I came along, so it’s not like he liked it either.)

This particular color shows dirt something terrible. Not to mention it is positioned under a very tall tree,
which is awesome for shade purposes, but also has a nasty mossy/mold habit of growing on the house. Until Joel is able to replace all the pipes,
we have no water, so power washing is a bit out of the question. I’d also LOVE to get this place painted, so it looks a little more modern, but with sub degree temps, that also isn’t happening any time soon. I needed to work with what I could to make the place a bit more presentable, because honestly, it depressed the hell out of me every time we drove up.

On that particular day, I filled up several 5 gallon buckets of hot water from our house and drove a few blocks over to clean up the outside of Dresden.
The porch was really filthy and I had to scrub it good to remove the grime from out of the grooves.

Front of Dreseden filthy copy

And here’s after:
It’s not a jaw dropping transformation, but it helps.

Front of Dresden scrubbed copy

You may have also noticed the new front door Joel put in. The last one had it’s share of abuse and the decorative windows had (of course!) been broken out.
This one came primed and we aren’t sure of a paint color as of yet, but it looks tremendously better.

My next task was to drag out the ladder and scrub the awning. This thing is a disaster.

Awning dirty copy

It REALLY needs a good power washing, but in the meantime, I scrubbed what I could reach (and fortunately, what is visible.)

Here’s the dramatic difference! The left is scrubbed and the right is not.

Awning difference half cleaned copy

Joel also replaced several of the windows so far. The renter left cracks in most of them, so we are updating them with new. This process is a bit of a pain, as the windows aren’t the same size as the standard windows say carried by Lowe’s currently. To get them custom, they would be on order for a month and cost more. So unfortunately this really adds time to each install as Joel has to get it as close as possible, but build a frame for each window to sit into. It’s sucky, but he does a great job making it look good.

Removed old window copy

Installing new kitchen window copy

Here’s the new kitchen window after being painted.

replaced front window copy

After the awning, I trimmed bushes, raked leaves and cut back the branches that line the property to the right.
All in all, a big improvement!

Front of Dresden 005 copy

January 17, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 15 : Girl, Interrupted – Enter, Dresden.

Several years ago, when a boy and girl met, they each had a house. The boy’s house was bigger, but had been a foreclosure, so essentially a major-fixer-upper. The girl’s house was smaller, but felt like home, so that is where they resided. They did a bit of work to the boy’s house, including tearing down all the cardboard-type panelling that lined the upstairs and replacing it with 65 sheets of drywall (After a work friend who had been staying there split with his wife and punched holes in it). Plus, they installed a new master bath. The couple were crunched for time and cash and wanted to get this place rented out quick. They were new to being landlords and didn’t quite realize just how dishonest and nasty tenants could be. They are learning.

Here’s the video to give you a clue.
It sometimes gets dark, trying to adjust to the light, so please bear with me.
The video is charmingly set to the sounds of Joel installing a new kitchen door.

Here’s a blurry pic of what the kitchen looked like before the renters moved in.

Dresden kitchen before copy

Here’s the downstairs bathroom before they moved in. (Look, no sink ripped out of the wall.)

dresden bathroom before copy

Once we were finally rid of them (it took awhile!) and were out 3 months of rent (back to paying 2 mortgages!) We were handed violations from the City of Columbus for the excessive debris left on the front porch, the fenced in side yard, the garage and the boarded up front door. So needless to say, all rehabbing work ceased at Hallie and and we got started here. Seeing all the vandalism is a bit of a slap in the face to all the hard work we put in previously. Not to mention, we are on a deadline to get Hallie completed by March per the purchase agreement. It’s overwhelming and exhausting and a bit much for us to handle, especially when Joel’s work is forcing him to put in a ton of overtime with all the continual crisis there and I’m well, not as spry as I used to be.

The house is about 85% trashed out (the basement still has some.) We completely cleaned up the backyard, side yard and garage of it’s extensive ‘furniture’ (because they were the most disgusting mattresses and couches I’ve ever seen) and trash. Joel removed all the furniture himself one night (without telling me, until after because he didn’t want me to hurt myself) not to mention it was completely mice infested. A friend of his was supposed to help, but that fell through at the last minute. On the upside, bulk pick-up took the enormous mountain of furniture. So we were grateful for that at least.

IMAG1469 trash out copy

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