Obviously the part of this renovation I am most excited about is the way it’s going to look when everything is finished, but the vast majority of the work on this redo is not just a facelift. It’s slithering around in the attic and crawl space doing electrical, and plumbing. Adding in gas lines and drains. Moving walls around, and coordinating the cabinet makers, countertop people, and tile people (that’s us!) and just generally making sure our house doesn’t burn down.
Because of this we decided to hire a contractor to do most of the work, while we would contribute to save money where was doable for beginner DIY people. (remember the door frames?) This has been the best decision. Having someone who knows what they’re doing and has the ability to do it efficiently and correctly the first time has been worth every penny. TJ Sorensen, our contractor, is awesome. He cares a lot about the quality of his work and has been our guide every step of the way on this renovation. Plus he’s our neighbor, so we know him well and he’s close by when we have questions.
Before we even ripped out the kitchen TJ got got to work in the laundry room removing the, ahem, “drywall” and adding in new washer dryer hookups and outlets we would need. I use quotes because that wall was part poorly installed and patched drywall, part weird little wooden panels, and part what I think may have been bits of duct tape under the paint. Bleh. Aaron and one of his friends spent a couple hours removing the shelves in there, and we sold our old washer dryer, before TJ opened up the wall to get to work. When I came home from work the first day he got started I was like, “Wow! thanks so much! It already looks so much better.” and he looked at me like, I just took out some drywall, lady.
I could probably write an entire post on each little fix and solution TJ worked on but for the sake of time and because I didn’t actually see him do most of it or get pictures, we’re going to summarize. TJ did the slithering in the crawlspace and attic to add in new hookups, new outlets, a drain in the laundry room, a gas line for the new range, and can lights. He converted the sink outlets to GFI, added in wiring for under cabinet lighting, dishwasher, and disposal (!) and also took out the closet in the living room to add more space to the kitchen, which required him to remove a wall, and move the door frame over about 6 inches. All the drywall replacement and repairs were taken care of by TJ and even with that long list, I’m totally glossing over all the things he did over about a week.
While TJ was working on all those things Aaron and I were also making some good progress too. Sam and a couple of Aaron’s friends helped us take out all the cabinets in the kitchen and then we worked on ripping up the floor.
The floor was a bit of a nightmare. On top there was a layer of peel and stick vinyl tiles that were probably only a few years old. These came off with ease, but underneath we discovered a very old layer of linoleum. Some past resident had obviously tried without success to remove this layer because the top part of the linoleum that has the design on it had been peeled off while the bottom half of the linoleum layer made up of cardboard-like substance remained behind. We quickly discovered this was because it was glued to the sub floor with TAR! Real, black sticky tar. I don’t know who’s idea that was, but they apparently didn’t want it to ever come off.
We first tried using a hammer, putty knife and crow bar combo, then switched to using a chisel. After TJ lent us a hammer drill and that worked a bit better but not as much as we would have hoped. We cycled through a combination of those tools before we figured out the bit on the hammer drill was just super dull, so we went and bought a new one that was at an angle that also made it easier to get at the floor. I’ve never felt more like Rambo than when I was using that hammer drill and obliterating the tar-stuck linoleum. After about four days of chiseling away by hand we cleared the last quarter of the kitchen floor in about an hour and a half.
After we got all the nasty pulled out and TJ got a bunch of the inner workings fixed, the next thing was to bring in the cabinets and then Aaron’s mom came into town to help us put down the tile. That’s when things started to get pretty. Stay tuned!