Saturday, June 25, 2016

Walls of Warmth

Wow, it's steamy out today so in honor of the sweat equity that I am still finding myself working on, today's post recounts what I was doing at just about this same time eight years ago. I'll say it again. Eight. Years. Ago. I can't believe it's been that long. I'm soooooo thankful we're way past that stage in our home reconstruction process.

In July eight years ago, we were actually getting to a really exciting place on the house. Installing insulation! Insulation isn't exactly fun to purchase but the significance of that step precluded a more exciting process--drywall! Ha! I'll save that tale for another time.

We were finally ready to cover up all the wiring, plumbing and structural beams in the walls--in hopes to never again see what that looked like post-plaster and lathe removal. Our house was getting closer to looking like something you would want to live in.

The walls were starting to take shape and as you can see all the windows were open and we had a large circular fan blowing because it was July in Nebraska and that means heat and humidity. (you can also spy a magnetic dart board hanging from the drywall jack--sometimes you just need a fun break to pass the time until it's time to quit for the day!)

And what do I get to wear?

A lovely and insulating layer of long sleeves, jeans, hat and gloves. Oh and a respirator to keep from inhaling fiberglass.

Although the job was hot and sweaty, it really wasn't too difficult. I spent days working my way around each room and each wall cavity stapling batts of insulation from floor to ceiling. By the time I was done, you couldn't see much else other than wall after wall of craft paper with the John Mansville logo on it.

Despite the scorching July weather I could still envision cozy winter nights at home thanks to the hefty layer of warmth I was helping add to our home. A bit of security and a solution that would reap benefits down the road no matter the temperature outside. And with below freezing temps really only a few months away, I can still appreciate what this job does continue to provide and also protect us from the outside world.

So the next time you are looking at your own walls, remember that there is a lot going on behind them and hopefully plenty of the stuff that keeps you warm!

Friday, June 10, 2016

"THE" House Project

"THE" House Project began in February 2007. I refer to it as "THE" House Project because that is what the folder on my computer is named that holds all of the photos taken related to this ongoing project. It got named "THE" House Project because just prior to that, a completely different house was originally being considered as our house project and so a folder was named "Yellow House" to contain the initial photos of that house. Here is a shot of the exterior at the time:

Thankfully this house was not purchased and did not become "THE" House as two stories and many more rooms and surely many more problems to deal with would've inevitably arose and I just can't imagine we would get to the conclusion of that project in the same two-and-a-half year time frame it took to complete our one-story bungalow. Therefore, a folder to contain photos of our current abode came to be "THE" one to keep adding to.

Recently it has been brought to my attention that there are folks out there who do not know the stories behind our house and what it took to get it where it is today and those stories are worth telling. Here is a before and after view of "THE" house:

Here are few shots of the inside transformations:

I show these because not only do they show dramatic comparisons but it puts some perspective on how far we have come from our original beginnings. However, what before and after shots fail to show and as HGTV, DIY Network and countless other TV networks and reality shows certainly fail miserably to illustrate are the true realities of tackling projects like this without the help of big budgets, work crews, contractors and numerous other tradesmen.

I have to point out not in arrogance but in truth that between me, my husband, and some generous help from friends and family, we did not hire a single person to do any work (aside from brazing the refrigerant lines of our AC system) to accomplish the results above.  And don't assume that the friends and family were any of the tradesmen mentioned above. While some had construction skills and knowledge, the extent in which they could help was still often limited. So when we say "we" gutted and renovated our 100-year-old home, it is completely true. No contractors. No electricians. No plumbers, HVAC specialists, drywallers, painters, architects, drafters/designers, framers,--you name it, we didn't hire it done. We did it. Ourselves.

Now the point was not to do it ourselves for the sake of pride. While it certainly did result in some satisfaction, it was done primarily out of financial advantage. From the house purchase price to labor fees and supply costs, we saved a ton of money. What we traded in dollars we made up for in time and effort. Two-and-a-half years of time and effort to be exact. From the time we started to the day we moved in, during the days in between, we worked hard and often. Sounds like craziness to many--and they are probably right. But now that we are on the other side of it, we can certainly say that the results are worth it.

What the before and after photos also don't show is the financial foundation that keeps us free from any sort of home mortgage. Does that seem worth it? I have my doubts that it does for some but it was the right decision for us. And I am thankful for it. Is it an mansion? No. Does it need to be? No. It is so often just enough for us--no more, no less--? Absolutely.

So, as this journey continues for us in renovating and living in our home, may we remember how far we have come and what that means for our future no matter what "THE" projects is.