Sunday, February 27, 2011

There are no small projects and the American Standard

We've been a little slow with our updates the past week or two.  Partly because life is just busy, partly because we are in the process of planning and selecting products for the new master bathroom, and partly because there are no small jobs.

SMALL JOB (defined):  In our minds a job that can be done in less than half a day. 

None of the bedrooms had ceiling lights when we moved in.  Andy managed to add one to the master bedroom with only a few minor hurdles, so when he tackled the project of adding ceiling fans to the guest bedroom and my office he thought it would be a small project.  BUT, you must remember that there are no small projects or at least that's what we're starting to discover in our lovely 1964 home.  The location of the ceiling fan in the guest bedroom was directly under the vent work for the air conditioning unit in the attic.  After tearing the HVAC system apart for a temporary relocation he was able to feed the wires, cut the holes in the ceiling and wall for the new switches and get the fan hung.  The project was back on track.  BUT, there are no small projects and as we are finding out in greater detail the previous home owner liked to "tinker", or at least that's the kindest word we can think of.  The electrical work was in but somewhere in our not so logical circuitry there was fault.  When Andy wiggled the wire in the bedroom the hall lights went out and they aren't even on the same circuit.  Andy was able to trace the system, find and fix the problems and we now have two working ceiling fans with wonderful switches.  Small job turned into 2 day job.

New fan in the guest bedroom.  We started to take the border down.  In case you can't tell -- it's tennis rackets.  I realize that this is an older house but pink flowers on the border in the master bedroom and tennis rackets in another bedroom -- when was that ever a good idea?

New fan in office.

Wonderful switches that allow separate fan and light control with a dimmer.

Goodbye American Standard (small project #2):

On one of our many trips to Lowe's in the past month we bought a new toilet to try out.  All of the toilets need replaced eventually, so we got one to try in the guest bathroom to see how we liked it.  Last night Andy suggested that we work on this (small) project and replace the grey American Standard toilet from 1963.  Neither of us expected the toilet to be original to the house and Andy was quick to do the math and calculate how much it had been used (47 years = a lot of flushes)!!  Needless to say it had a good life and it was time for it to find a new home!

 Please ignore the flowered wallpaper -- I do!

In 1964 they used copper plumbing and what we think is a cast iron flange.  The problem is that the flange is rusted and too high for the new toilet. 

After a good bit of research it was determined the best option was to remove the old flange (Andy got to use his beloved Sawzall) and up next we will replace it with a new (lower) flange. 

This small project is still in the works .... TO BE CONTINUED....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Water problems and a few random pics

Since we moved in we have had some serious water problems.  We noticed low water pressure and inconsistent hot water the first day.  The low pressure is annoying but the inconsistent hot water made us both miserable.  In the middle of winter we had to take showers using only hot water and even then you would go from scalding hot for an instant to freezing cold for the rest of the shower.  I was a miserable human being to be around after a shower like that -- it's a good thing I have to drive over an hour to work becuase at least by the time I got there I was worth being around.  After tons of research and two plumbers we decided to take the domestic hot water off the boiler and install a free-standing hot water heater.  Thanks to some assistance from KCM we were able to get a great deal on a new type of hybrid hot water heater from GE that uses a combination of heat pump and electric and uses about 50% less electricity than a standard hot water heater (about $300/year).  Click here to see the website.  A plumber came last week to help Andy hook it up and we were both able to enjoy nice hot showers for the first time since we moved in!

 Prepping for installation.

 Newly installed hot water heater.


We also set up a growing lamp in the basement and started some seeds in the hopes of having a vegetable garden this summer.  

 Grow, seeds, grow!

 Now we just need to get rid of our not so friendly or afraid live-in deer or I'm afraid our garden will be gone before it ever gets started.  They sleep in our yard, eat everything in sight, and don't even leave when we take Kodak out.  Two of them even stomped and snorted at me when I tried to scare them away.  They won -- I was scared.

We were able to get a chimey sweep to come clean and inspect the chimneys. Andy got a new axe for his birthday, so he chopped some wood and made our first fire.

 Lumberjack Davison

Here are a few more recent pics of the house.  We really are getting things unpacked.

 Living room.

 Bookcase in living room.

 Dining room.

 Family room.  Eventually the wood paneling and beams will go, but it's pretty far down the list.  We don't spend much time in this room.

Guest bedroom (officially open for visitors).  We'll try to get rid of the tennis racket border first!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Master Bedroom

As you can see in the original house photos the color scheme in the master bedroom needed some help.  The master bathroom remodel and closet relocation is scheduled to be our first major renovation so we don't want to spend money on paint and flooring until the bathroom is finished.  With our old bed and quilt (brown, blue, and green paisley) the colors in the bedroom would make me start to twitch if I kept my eyes open too long.  Not to mention that the lovely pink flowered curtains cast an awful pink tint out of the bedroom windows at night.  Something had to change!  Even Andy was fed up the the curtains but the master bedroom was the only room upstairs without blinds in the windows.

We took down (and happily trashed) the curtains and hung blinds in the windows.  A few weeks later we bought the curtains and shears.  They still need hemmed but are much better than the original.

New blinds.

New curtains and shears.

Getting rid of the curtains brightened up the room which actually gets decent sunlight, but the room was still dark without a ceiling light.  Without the old curtains I though I could handle a fully lit room so we installed a ceiling fan and light.
New fan.

As part of the move we planned to get a new bed so that the old bed could move to the guest bedroom.  The new king bed arrived at the end of January and we couldn't be happier.  King beds really are huge (but wonderful)!

 New bed and bedding.  The dog was free with the deal :-).  It almost goes with the carpet....ALMOST!

And then the weekend after the bed arrived the wallpaper border had to come down.  A new steamer made short work of the border (we actually found 2 borders when we started to remove them).  

 Bye-bye border!

Good-bye ugliness. Just imagine matching curtains!! 

 The room actually looks bigger without the border.  If I lay in bed where I can't see the carpet the room doesn't seem so bad anymore.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Projects 1, 2 and 3

Project 1: Paint Basement Floor

We completed our very first project the day after we settled on the house.  The basement floor was painted grey many years ago and in need of a touch up.  The previous owner also had a french drain installed around the perimeter of the basement before we settled and the new concrete they placed was unsealed.  A friend recommended that we paint before we move or it would never get done and so we did.  Thanks DG for the great tip on timing and product!

Until recently when we got most of the boxes unpacked I told Andy that the basement was my favorite room in the house.

I highly recommend this project if your basement floor is in need of a facelift -- it was the best $100 project we did so far.




Project 2:  New Dishwasher

The old dishwasher was from the 80s and literally leaked through the sub-floor and into the basement and was connected to the drain via a garden hose.  

We can't take credit for doing any work on this project, but the new dishwasher was a great addition.

Kodak thought he needed to be in the picture.  The dishwasher is a KitchenAid model and we love it.

Project 3: New Heat Pump 

Again, we can't really take credit for doing the work, but it was another major improvement in the first week we lived here.  The house was retrofitted for air conditioning but the unit was in disrepair and had exceeded a reasonable lifespan.  We wanted to take advantage of the electric provider rebate and tax credit so the unit had to be installed in 2010.  We currently have hot water baseboard heat and an oil burner but it came highly recommended that we consider installing a heat pump so that we would have electric heat as a backup.  I don't have any good pictures of the system but it came with a wonderful new thermostat and compared to the dinosaur that it's beside you can see that it was a huge improvement.  We still use the old one for the baseboard heat, but that analog clock isn't long for this world.  

Friday, February 4, 2011

Original House Pictures

I've been wanting to setup a blog for the new house but have just been too busy to get it started.  It's a work in progress (of course) but here are some of the original house pictures from one of our first showings this fall.  I will try to post some of our recent improvements in a few days.

Front of the house.

Back of the house.


 Basement (the work benches really go along the far left wall).

 Possibly the worst kitchen ever.

1st floor powder room.

 Family room (those lovely beams are Styrofoam).

 Dining room (complete with scones :-) )

Living Room.

 Master bedroom (yes, that's teal carpet with a pink flower border and matching curtains).

 Tiny master bath (pink tile and pink flower wallpaper -- GAG!)

 Bedroom that will become my office to work from home.

 Guest bedroom.

 Smaller bedroom that will be home office.

Guest bath.