Reno-vation 911!

In May 2011 my husband and I bought our first house.  We were excited.  This was a big year for us.  Newly married, baby on the way, giving Bella room to play and neighbors to meet and a place to learn to ride a bicycle…

{Yay!  Now I wouldn’t have to say, “Hey, Bella, don’t ride your bike into the parking lot!”}

I was thrilled that we wouldn’t have to bring a new baby “home” to an apartment.

{Noise complaints, anyone???}

Before we closed we would drive by it just because.  We would stop and walk around, smiling like idiots.  Our new house.

{This is such a perfect house.  Why would anyone want to leave it?!  Um… we about to find out!}  

It had hardwood floors, four bedrooms, two-stories (in case we got bored with one), and a brick-front.

The big, bad wolf could huff and puff all he wanted but as long as he was facing the front of our house, he wouldn’t be able to blow this one down!

{Wolves never try to blow down a house from the other 3 sides so we were pretty confident.}

We moved in and started getting settled.  Let’s start making this house ours!  We would say oh so boldly.

It really just needed some cosmetic updating.  No big deal.  We watch HGTV soooo we’re pretty much pros.

First thing’s first.  That red gotta go!  Our formal living room and dining room were a horrible shade of red.  Red is my favorite color but THIS red was horawful.

Our kitchen had vine wallpaper and the crown molding had the same red from the dining and living rooms painted in a strip through the center.  It was cosmetically a hit in 1992, I’m sure.

The family room was straight-up 1970’s judge’s paneling.  Upside, it was the nice kind of paneling.  The wood, itself, was pretty {that’s what she said}.  But the room looked like a cave.

Slight tangent alert: what is it with guys and paneling???  They LOVE IT.  WHY????  This was horrible but my hubs was hell bent on keeping it.  Our real estate agent (also a man) loved it, too.  Blah.

Upstairs, the only thing that needed love was the master bathroom.  It was carpeted and the bath tub had this horrible faux marble slab on the sides, I guess to make it look inviting for the 1988 neighborhood swingers’ club meetings?

We decided to start the beautification downstairs in the formal living room then work our way around {that’s what she said}.

Halfway through the painting of our formal living room, we notice a big black spot on the ceiling of our garage.  Directly above that big black spot is our shower.  Fuuuuuuq.

The base of our walk-in shower was leaking.  Good news, the carpet gets to go!

We put everything on hold downstairs (half-painted room and all) and poured ALL of our money into fixing the shower and renovating the bathroom.  Might as well, right??

What we didn’t do, or know to do being first-time homeowners, was file a claim with the insurance company.  Ooops.

The bathroom was essentially gutted.  Carpet, gone.  Horrible faux-marble shat, gone.  Original, 1986 cabinets, gone.  Ugly tub, you’re outta heeeeere!

Also, we had 2 gaping holes in our garage ceiling and the motors were taken down so that the beams could dry out.  Sweet.

At this point, we had been in our house for less than a year.  In addition to the bathroom leak, one of our HVAC units went out in the dead of summer.  That was a nice, unexpected $5k expense.

{OOOH!  Now I get why someone would want to sell this house!}

Since we were paying for the labor as we can afford it, we’d pay $800 for a few days’ work then we’d go back to saving up.  With a new baby and two kiddies in full time daycare, it took a while.  My husband became very handy {that’s what she said}.  He did a lot himself {that’s what she said}.

B.T.Dubs, not sure about you, but when I see my husband in the throes of a Flip or Flop marathon I’m terrified.  I have no idea which wall is going to be demolished but it’s definitely going to happen.  Ten visits to Home Depot, several obscenities/breakdowns later (mostly mine) and we’re back in business.  But there are plenty of moments where the prognosis is iffy.

Slight tangent alert #2:  Does anyone else feel like HGTV is to men what Pintrest is to women???  Sure, I can bake a 5-tiered wedding cake with hand-crafted sugar petals.  It’s on Pintrest so… I got dis.

Two years later our bathroom is aaaaalmost done, our garage still has 2 gaping holes in the ceiling, our kitchen is just drywall because I got tired of looking at the horrible wallpaper, we’ve replaced the other HVAC unit, our furnace leaked causing our hardwood floors to buckle, our water heater broke and had to be replaced, we had to replace the siding on the chimney because it was rotten and leaking, our formal living room and dining room were painted and ‘done’ but in an attempt to rid our house of the ultra-high gloss, bright white crown molding and trim, I’d decided to go with dark.  Not the right choice.

And then…  In a rare moment, the planets aligned “just so” allowing a left-handed Pisces (me) and a science-minded Gemini (my hubs) to have a “Jinx! You’re it!” moment.

HIRE IT OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!  Finally, we were in a bit of a better financial situation.  Let’s get it done.

In the house beside us lives a very nice, albeit unconventional family; a lovely, older woman from Fiji and her 2 grown sons.  The sons are contractors!  Yay!!!!!

Let me give you a mental picture of the sons.  It will come in handy later {that’s what she said}.

First up, we have “Tommy”.  He’s the oldest of the 2.  Medium height, heavy set, early 30’s.  Gold grill across his front teeth.  Long beard, unkept hair.  Chain smoker.  Heavy southern accent.

Next we have “Frank”.  He’s younger by a few years.  A little shorter than his brother, slimmer build but stocky, under bite accompanied by a lisp, chain smoker, heavy southern accent.  Aaaaand a bit emotional.

For the record, an entire post could (and may) be written about these 2.  Maybe even a reality show.  It would be awesome.

When our furnace leaked, Frank and his crew did the work for us to replace the floors and they did a beautiful job.

However, when it came time to invoice the insurance company, he had a hard time itemizing the invoice.  No big deal.  It’s his work we are concerned about, right??  Nothing an hour on the phone can’t fix, right, baby?

OH!  And timeline.  While they were replacing our floors, we were displaced to a hotel.  What was slated to be a 3 or 4 day job turned into more like 6 days.  Inconvenient but still, not a huge deal.

In addition to the floor, they had to renovate our half-bath that backs up to the furnace.  The water had leaked into the bathroom floor so much that it lifted the toilet off of its wax ring.  That job took longer than expected as well.  By about a week.  But when they did finish the bathroom it was beautiful.

Next up, painting.  We hired them to paint ceilings, walls, trim, pretty much everything.

This is where shat got real.

First up, the timeline.  Frank told us 3 days.  To which my snarky ass replied, “so… three months??”  The hubs laughed cuz he knew I was right.

Turns out, I wasn’t far off.

The timeline thing is what it is.  Annoying and inconvenient but not a deal breaker.  All in all, they have done a great job with what we hired them to do.

In addition to that, we also got some surprises we didn’t realize we’d paid for!

For example, my hubs gets a call one day from Frank: “Hey, uh, you know, we had a little inthident.  My brother backed into your house with our van.  Uh, you know, don’t worry ‘bout it.  You know, we gonna pay for it, you know, to fix it thince it’th practically our fault.”


It’s not PRACTICALLY your fault.  We didn’t grab your van, pull it up the driveway, and into our brick wall.  That one is all you, brotha.

But they fixed it perfectly.  They even repaired termite damage we didn’t know we had.

Next up, I pulled into the driveway one evening, started getting the kids out of the car and here he comes.  Uh-oh.  “Hey, uh, we had a little inthident today.  I’m gonna tell you what happened, you know, cuth I’m honetht.  Uh, we got red paint on your curtainth and on your comforter in your bedroom.  We gonna replath it, you know.  Just tellin you tho, you know.”


At this time I’d like to take a moment to remember those we’ve lost in the process of getting our house painted:

Garage door bricks and dry wall

Several electrical plates

European Pillow Sham


Bed sheets

2 panels of curtains

Coin sorter (Not sure what happened there.  I think it’s best I don’t know.)

Their sacrifice was not in vein.

As “interesting” as it was to work with them, they did a good job.  And they provide my hubs and me plenty of entertainment.

We are FINALLY! able to invite people over and not be embarrassed by our house.  It’s not 100% complete but it’s almost there!!!

The BEST part is that our marriage survived!!!!!!!!!!!  And we’re smarter.  And still pretty 🙂

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