Posts tagged ‘partners in crime’

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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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

January 9, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 14 : Mimi comes to visit!

When Arden was small, she began calling Amy, my long-time friend of 20 years, ‘Mimi’ when she could first talk.
We go way back and have been friends since we were teens, working together at McDonald’s.
This week was very exciting because Amy drove up from Alabama, stopping off to visit us before heading to parent’s house near Cleveland.
Having once lived in Columbus too, (we both moved here in ’99, within a couple weeks of each other for completely unrelated reasons!) Joel and I are always petitioning her to move back. But you know there is that pesky business of having to get a new job and sell a house among other things.
I am forever optimistic though!

As a Hallie first, Amy awesomely went to work with us, ripping up floorboards in the upstairs bedroom.

Pile of wood copy

Pulling out nails is a tedious job, especially having to work by flashlight!

Amy pulling nails copy

Here’s the other bedroom I had already ripped up the boards in and then worked on pulling out nails.

Bedroom floor I ripped up and pulled nails out of copy

Under the painted thin hardwood of the upstairs, lies beautiful, golden brown original hardwood. Yes, it is scuffed and scratched, but none of the upstairs suffered water damage from the burst pipes. So fortunately, instead of having to completely replace everything like the first floor, we can instead just sand, stain and poly. It will save so much money and I can’t wait to see how amazing it will turn out.

The wood underneath copy

Meanwhile, Joel was laying cement board in the bathroom, so the tiling can begin.

Joel laying cement board copy

On Sunday, we waved goodbye to Amy and headed off to do more work at Hallie. It wasn’t all bad, since we enjoyed gloriously warm weather. It is always so much easier to work with the sun shining and not having to be bundled up to our noses. I worked on tiling while Joel was up on the roof doing some much needed repairs.

tile in shower upstairs copy

The day before, Arden was told by Amy that she shouldn’t help (because she was dropped off by her dad from a family holiday get together. She was still all dressed up and I forgot to bring her a change of clothing.) So the next day, Arden took it as a personal challenge that she too, could pull out nails.
And by golly, that’s what she did.

Arden bent over pulling nails copy

At first I would hear her in the bedroom grunting and groaning, followed by the sound of nails straining as they were ripped from the floor. It sounds super funny when you hear it , knowing it is such a little kid. After working awhile by herself, she came in the bathroom to show off her pile of nails. Honestly, I was impressed. I would have never guessed that she would have the arm strength to pull them out. Clearly, I had forgotten that she is indeed my girl, because stubbornness wins out.

Arden holds nail copy

I told her she could have 2 pieces of candy for her efforts, thinking she would be pleased and be done. After we came back from dropping off a load of trash and getting lunch, she went right back at it though. Seeing that I found her work valuable, we negotiated that she could earn 1 piece of candy for every 33 nails she pulled. That spunky kid went on to pull out an additional 139 more nails. When she declared that her back hurt and she was going to stop and go play, I couldn’t have been prouder.

arden standing sassy copy

December 13, 2013

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 12

This week has been a slow one, Friends. I was sick, now Joel’s sick. (This has not been a good year for sickness in our household with Arden starting Kindergarten!) So needless to say not a whole lot has been worked on over at Hallie. Our spirits rose briefly when Joel’s family from Michigan was planning to pay us a visit AND volunteer services for this weekend. Remaining floor removal full steam ahead! (Yay!) But unfortunately are now unable to make it. (Boo!) Hopefully, we (mainly me) are able to rally some energy to get A LOT work done to show you for next week.

About 3/4 of the flooring is torn up on the first floor. I have to say it does nothing to add warmth to the place. While my awesomely-scored-for-free kerosene heater kicked butt while we were sectioned off in the bathroom & bedroom, working in the main areas is another story. Cold seeps up through the sub-floor from the basement and with four open rooms it is way too much to try to heat, which sort of makes it unpleasant to work. You can work up a good sweat if you partake in tearing up the floor, which not only gets a person really dirty, but also makes you feel pain in places you didn’t know existed previously. Not immediately. At first I just felt awesomely strong for doing this task, but later there was a definite possibility I might die and not be able to get off the couch.

close up of floor copy

I had mistakenly tricked myself into thinking that after the boards were all ripped up that the new floor could go down. (Which actually won’t happen until all the walls are repaired and painted.) Instead a million nails still have to be removed. You may feel that I am exaggerating, but one look at this photo (of just the living room) and they do seem to go on forever. So that’s fun.

large floor copy

Let’s take a gander of the upstairs bathroom. Smaller than the first one, but equally as ugly.
The original wooden flooring here is actually in rather nice condition (probably because it was covered up.) Much to my heavy heart’s dismay, we cannot keep it because as Joel pointed out, someone will inevitably overflow the toilet (probably more than once) and it will get ruined. So tiling it is.

upstirs bath copy

The one hidden gem of this bathroom is it’s clawfoot tub. It’s original to the house and is dated 1917. It’s also extremely heavy and it sounded like an elephant playing a tuba when Joel moved it into the hallway. I have ALWAYS wanted a clawfoot tube (they are ridiculously expensive!) So we will be keeping this one to refinish for our future (larger) house. (Yay!) A much cheaper tub will be going in it’s place. So I’m extremely thrilled about this part, even though it will take a bit of work to make it lovely again.

tub upstairs copy

Until next week!

December 10, 2013

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 11

Here’s the long-awaited, semi-finalized bathroom. The floor is dirty and the tub still a mess, but we are all about keeping it real here. 🙂

finished bathroom photo copy

From the last time you saw it, here’s what we did.

1.) Finished tiling and grouted.
I was originally going to use a dark grey grout thinking it would look all creative and edgy. We used the cheapest (most boring) tile possible at $.12 a tile. Seeing the dark grey mortar show through though, the reality was it just really emphasized the flaws. This is only my 2nd time tiling (my first was the huge 2×3 tiles in our home bathroom shower) and while I’m getting better, it didn’t turn out as perfect as I would have liked. Fortunately, the white grout gave it a clean look that was desperately needed.

2.) Put in the sink/vanity unit.
A prefab unit is usually not my thing. I really enjoy finding a sturdy used piece and giving it a make-over. (Like Joel and I did in our own bathroom) As we discovered from renting out Joel’s previous house though, it doesn’t pay to invest heart and soul into a project. No one else is going to appreciate the amount of work that I put into it but me and since I’m not living there, it’s not worth it. $50 on this and done.

3.) Rebuilt the toilet.
So I thought it would be great to save some money and used the existing one. It turned out though that all the bolts that held it together were rusted out, so after Joel meticulously remounting it, it leaked in several spots. He got it up and running now.

4.) Snaking out all the drains.
Once all the pipes were in place and leak-free, it turned out all the sewage drains were clogged (of course!)
So I bit of time and some awful smells later, we are good in that department.

5.) Painted a free chrome light fixture grey.
It is the kind that has the large bulbs that stick out. It isn’t the coolest, but with the additional of spray paint, it really upped the visual appeal. Plus all it cost a can of spray paint. Much cheaper than a new light fixture.

6.) Painted the walls, ceiling and existing built-in shelf purple. I think it’s called Shadow Mauve, but it’s a pale lavender/grey. I picked it when we were painted the bathrooms at Joel’s house to rent, then we used it when we remodeled our own bathroom and now we are using it at Hallie. I find it to be a very relaxing color. Sort of neutral, but not just plain old boring white or beige.

7.) Stripped 4 coats of paint from the existing wooden trim, primed and reused it. This large trim makes quite a nice impact. It sucks to take the time to remove previous paint, but we would shell out a lot of money to replace it (as tall as it is) or using cheaper trim that isn’t quite as nice.

IMAG0716 copy

primed trim copy

8.) The most impressive part of the project by far is the tub. We have had to cut through a tub before to remove it and weren’t interested in doing that again. Instead, we stripped it (I have never used paint stripper in the house before (just outdoors) and the fumes are something, even through a mask. We had to flee the work area for a bit. Joel later stripped it and painted it (with special tub paint.) It turned out amazing!

side view of tub copy

tub inner copy

unnamed copy

All that is remaining in this room is to caulk and clean up a bit and we are onto the next project.

November 30, 2013

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 10

In rehabbing, there is A LOT of dirty work. So many individual tasks that join forces to lead up to an actual completed project. Not really fun to do, let alone write about. They are often dull and mundane. One of these is emptying the house of debris. Vines, broken drywall, busted up flooring, a bevy of tires that resided in the basement, all of it must go in order to make room to start fresh. By doing so, we’ve loaded up and disposed of 10 trailer fulls so far. It is definitely the unglamorous side of rehabbing Hallie.

Trailer of trash copy

Another thankless task would be overhauling the sewage drain pipes in the basement. Unfortunately, a toilet doesn’t just get placed in a bathroom and Voilà = usable! There is this enormous cast-iron pipe in the basement, that was (of course) ripped out by scrappers. (Actually 2 of them were.) This one, similar to the water pipe line debacle, was broken off at floor level, making the task of replacing/fixing it a tremendous pain-in-the-ass.

Hallie the Duplex Week 9 sewer pipe copy

See that black square on the wall? It’s the crawl space. It’s dark and creepy and fairly uncomfortable, especially because Joel is not small. He has bravely climbed in there numerous times to repair leaks in that portion of the pipe. Once one was fixed, another one sprung. It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s fair to say that the bathroom we’ve been working on is almost complete, but we have had to keep you in suspense just a bit longer as all the kinks are worked out.

In the meantime, here are photos from the 1st floor living room.

Hallie week 10 living room copy

Halliie week 10 , windows and fireplace copy

You can ponder to yourselves how we will fix this monstrosity. The ceiling damage was caused by a previous burst water pipe, which caved in both this room and a bedroom on the other side of the wall. All the warped flooring (both original and a layer of laminate) has been removed from this room, as well as a small adjoining bedroom to the right and the dining room to the left. It is safe to say that it is already looking a bit better than what this pic shows since this was taken a few weeks ago. I’m really excited about the windows and fireplace in this room and plan on really making them pop. Until then, hope everyone has a great weekend!

November 22, 2013

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 9 GOOD vs. EVIL

On the nights we don’t have Arden, after getting off work, we usually go out and work on the Duplex until 8:00 p.m. Tiring of working by dim lantern, I hooked up the trailer and brought out the borrowed generator. If you aren’t familiar with hitching a trailer to a vehicle, it’s not very complex, but there are many safety provisions in place to keep it attached to the automobile. The trailer hitch is slid into a fitted slot, which is held in place by a thick metal pin through the holes of the hitch. A metal clip goes over the end of the pin to keep it from sliding out. The trailer then gets hooked onto the hitch, with a clamp and a fitted pin that holds it in place. Finally, lights are plugged in and as an extra safety precaution, a super-thick chain is hooked from the trailer to the back of the hitch that is mounted to the vehicle.



The duplex isn’t located in the best of neighborhoods, though most of the time the streets are dead, especially as the colder weather rolls in. Last night was different though. About 8 guys, teens to men were milling about the sidewalk. Not necessarily together, but enough to notice because it’s uncommon. It didn’t bother me, because it seemed like we’d won people over with our hard work and dedication. Or so I thought. (Sidenote: There is also a fairly strong police presence there.) I turned onto the cobblestone street by the school and was fine. The trailer bumped along rather noisily, so I can’t hardly wait to make it to the main street of Livingston. I approached the intersection of Parsons and then it happened. The trailer made a strange noise and shook the Outlander. There was nowhere to pull over, so I just immediately hop out to investigate. I stare at it in disbelief. The trailer, hitch and all was sliding on the pavement. The only thing semi-holding it in place were the heavy chains.

A woman who works at the hospital, getting ready to cross through the crosswalk as I passed by, comes running down the sidewalk shouting waving her hand. I’m reassembling the hitch, confused about missing parts. A little out of breathe, she hands me the metal pin. It fell out as I drove by her. Which leaves the metal clip that fits over the pin to hold it in place missing. It was secure when I left my house on Walmar. It’s not one of those things that just slides off. It takes strength to push it on or remove it. It’s rounded on one side, so it securely fits over the pin, locking it in place. Which only leaves one verdict. Someone removed it. The lady is kind and reminds me to put my hazards on as cars line up behind me. She suggests using wire, as a temporary hold, but I don’t have any. She mentions that they have a food truck and have to deal with hitches, but I am in fix-the-problem mode and I forget to ask what the name of it is.

I decide on using a bungee cord, hooked and tightly wrapped around, as a temporary fix, just to get it out of the street. I thank her profusely, forgetting to even ask her name, as I hurried to find a place to get out of the way. I pull into Children’s Hospital, but there isn’t an actual lot, just a garage. I end up stopping in a turn lane just so I can give Joel a quick call. He was ahead of me and never knew anything was wrong. I then have to explained to a pissed of hospital security guard that drove up, that I am not just blocking the lane to idly chat on my phone. Thankfully, Joel arrives quickly. In his hand, a locking pin. As in, once it’s on the hitch, the only way it can be removed is with a key. He said that for some reason he felt like he should pick one up yesterday.

Chills much?

It could have been drastically worse. If I didn’t go over the cobblestone, then it wouldn’t have loosened, falling out when it did. Instead, it could have come undone when I was on the freeway. Dragging and swaying at much higher speeds and causing an accident. I’m always calm when shit hits the fan, but this time I can’t help but feel a little freaked out. There are some person(s) that either by a not-well-thought-out prank or sheer asshole-ness wished to cause me harm. Someone I don’t even know. And I’ve got to tell you, that’s very disturbing. On the other side of the coin, there’s the complete stranger, walking to her car after a long day. Being in the right place at the right time to offer her assistance. While I still felt sort-of on top of the situation it was very nice not to deal with it alone. It is times like these that I can’t help but picture the forces of Good and Evil dueling it out.

Well, after this drama, here’s what we’ve accomplished at Hallie.
I though the bathroom would go quick, but I forgot several things. When you are redoing a bathroom that has been completely gutted, you can’t just throw up some tile and call it a day. Up until this point, we were running a hose from the basement. Now, all new water pipes have to be ran. Lots and lots of pipe, because as you guessed it, they were previously ripped out. Charming.

Hallie the Duplex Week 9 pipes in basement copy

Hallie the Duplex Week 9 bathtub faucet copy

Hallie the Duplex Week 9  sink pipes copy

And the tile work I’ve done so far.

Hallie the Duplex Week 9 tile and window

It’s far from pretty, but hoping to pull in together next week when Joel has some time off work for the Thanksgiving.

November 4, 2013

Hallie the Duplex : Week 6

Well, it’s been a busy week and this post is definitely coming in late. We are drawing to a close on the outside. (Thankfully!) There has been a lot of detailed tedious work and I’m ready to be done with the outdoor and get started on the inside.

Brick pillar without mortar copy

Let’s start with tuck pointing.
Here’s the brick pillar with quite a bit of mortar missing. It makes it look run down.

Filling in mortar copy

After mortar gets mixed up, it is inserted like so, into the voids of space. Then smoothed out.
It’s messy, time consuming and sort of like trying to frost a very vertical cake.

Here it is dried. Still looking a bit disheveled, because it needs cleaned up with acid, but you can see a definite improvement.

Hallie Week 6 008 copy

Next up! Joel’s been working hard putting in the glass block windows. To help seal them and also to provide a more finished look, mortar goes on around the outside. It gets scooped up, mounded on and smoothed out. Here’s a close up of a basement window and then a street view.

Hallie Week 6 003 copy

Hallie Week 6 004 copy

New down spouts have been put up, giving the outside a more residential look. It’s amazing how all these seemingly minute parts of a building come together to really give it a sense of completion and ‘home’-like feel.

Hallie Week 6 010 copy

The finished flower bed that extends along the side yard (covering up the old, broken-up cement walk)

Hallie Week 6 009 copy

Here Joel is working on repairing the steps. He fashioned a frame out of boards and braced it. It’s an awesome improvement to the steps, as large parts were previously missing due to the previous metal hand rails that were there being ripped out for scrap.

Hallie Week 6 006 copy

For the finale this evening, we have the new wooden hand railings we built. We were able to use the large posts on the left that were already in place (saving time and money!) Joel deftly crafted a duplicate out of 2 x 4’s. I worked on caulking and painting it this weekend and it looks fantastic! Can’t wait to show you guys soon. Thanks for checking out our progress!

Hallie Week 6 007 copy

October 24, 2013

Hallie the Duplex : Week 5

We’ve been working feverishly around here to get things painted before the weather became chilled. Not exactly expecting winter winds to roll in already, but as I worked on more landscaping last night it started hailing. Always a good time to be had in Ohio!

Here’s what’s new:

Joel removing boarded window

First glimpse inside Hallie. (Audible gasp!) I know, it’s atrocious, but you haven’t seen anything yet! LOL Here, Joel is removing the board off of the kitchen window of the first floor.

Open window

kitchen window removed

Installing glass block.
It’s tedious, messy and oh-so-time consuming! However, it’s much sturdier that regular panes (aka less likely to get broken) and much less expensive, so YAY for that!

Block window in place

It’s absolutely wonderful finally having some light in this place! (Because we still do not have electric (YAY! for the slow moving wheels of ‘the process’.)

Here’s all the windows Joel has installed. (The one things are for dryer vents.)

Hallie week 5 007 side block window view copy

Moving around front, let’s take a gander at the newly painted upper portion of the house. Looking sharp with no boards and some snazzy new white trim.

Hallie week 5 front of house painted upper copy

(Joel used to do slate roofing, so he’s all pulling a giant ladder up by himself to paint the blue. Ohhh, I have a photo here! ->

Joel painting upper front copy

Meanwhile, I’m clinging onto the window with one hand (for dear life!) and painting with the other, because heights MAJORLY freak me out.

Here’s a closer look at the front porch. If you recall from earlier posts, it was pretty nasty. All new wood siding was put in. Joel did a rocking’ job on the trim. And I painted and painted and painted some more. Aside from the random light we need to replace that’s hanging, it’s really coming together.

Hallie week 5 front doors and porch copy

Hallie week 5 005 porch ceiling copy

And last but not least, around back, this lonely door here, got a coat of fresh paint!

Hallie week 5 blue back door copy

There are still SO MANY odds and ends to get done. The entire other side of Hallie is still covered in vines. Wood siding and glass block windows also need put in there. We need new railings out front and in the back, the brick needs filled with mortar in it’s bare spots. And the back upper portion of the house still needs painted blue. We are supposed to have weather in the 60’s next week (so it will dry well) so fingers crossed!

The very best part is that we have gotten SO MANY compliments from the folks in the neighborhood. One older guy that had previously shook his head in disgust when we told him we were going to paint it blue (a few weeks ago) strode by and just smiled and said “I see what you mean, it looks great! The white really pulls it together!’ Then I had another guy inquiring about renting there. He said to his friend “They are out here working every day. Every day! Can you imagine? It’s going to look amazing when they are done. I want to live there. It will be so nice!”

I can’t even tell you how rewarding it is to hear that. 🙂

October 18, 2013

Hallie the Duplex : Week 4

We have water, people! We have water!
You wouldn’t think this would be so exciting until you try to do various tasks without it and see how difficult it becomes.
Combine that with the only usable toilet being Arden’s toddler potty and you’ve got a real mess on your hands.

*Disclaimer: I didn’t mean to pee on the floor, but it’s easy to overshoot when you are practically kneeling.

So this week we had great weather thankfully and with the generosity of Joel’s friend Steve letting us borrow his generator, the power washing was underway.

Here we needed to remove caked on dirt that had been accumulating under the old siding.

Hallie duplex week 4 joel power washing

Over in the front, Joel power washed, but the walkway is the most noticeable. The arrows indicate what shade it all used to be.

Hallie duplex updates Week 4 front sidewalk power washed copy

You can also (sort of) see the 2nd front door that was put on which is starting to do a better job at balancing it visually.
For me, this front is a bit challenging because it has such a huge blank space. It feels like a window should be there, but that would take us a considerable amount of extra time to tear down the drywall and through the brick just to do so. In lieu of that, I made due with 2 bushes, purchased for the low price of $17 a piece. (Fall is a great time for deals!) I edged a flowerbed for it, added mulch and VOILA! It’s looking more like a residence.

Hallie duplex week 4 front flower bed

In the meantime, Joel was spraying the back of Hallie blue. We still need to paint the trim back there white, but it also is a considerable difference.
It finally feels like we are making some progress!

Hallie duplex updates Week 4 side painted copy

Coming up!: I add onto our workload by deciding I need to paint the porch. Meanwhile, Joel is piecing together block windows to install.
Catch you guys next week!
Halloe duplex updates Week 4 Coming up next week glass block copy