The Realities of Remodeling

There’s a lot that goes into a remodel to get you from the ugly before picture to the glamorous after.  While there are a lot of exciting moments, there will undoubtedly be some roadblocks.  And boy oh boy did we hit the roadblocks the last few week (hence the lack of blog posts).  To put it lightly, the last two weeks were not fun.

Now I promise not to get all Debbie Downer on you with this post, because quite frankly, I’m not a huge fan of reading people’s “woe is me” stories.  But, in an effort to accurately depict our remodel process, I didn’t want to just gloss over the hiccups we encountered.  So while there were days last week that made me want to pull my hair out (which you will hear about), we tried to make the best of the situations we ended up in, adapting our plan of attack as necessary.  Ready for a wild ride?

Problem #1: The Window

It all started the weekend after Halloween.  We planned to remove the existing two windows in our kitchen, and replace it with one new one, all in one day.  My awesome uncle came over to help us, and all was well in the world.  We got the old windows removed, framed in the opening for the new window, and were getting ready to test fit the window.  That’s when we realized our first mistake: we bought the wrong window.  I felt like an idiot.

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As it turns out, we accidentally bought a “replacement window” instead of a new construction window, with the difference being there was no nailing flange on our window.  Basically, the window we bought was good if you were literally just replacing the glass panes, not the entire window frame.  But then….we realized that my uncle was basically an old house baller, and he helped us build a new window frame/jamb thing (really technical term, I know), by reusing the jamb from the old windows.  Super awesome.  We were so excited.  Especially since it cost us exactly zero additional dollars.

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Well, in our excitement about salvaging the old window frame (and because it then required a different installation than a new construction window), we got ahead of ourselves and forgot to flash the window sill.  In reality, the window is probably installed the same way as every other window in our house, but we want to make sure we do everything right, so at some point here, we have to pull the window out and redo it.  We actually may buy a new window (a new construction one this time) when we redo it, which is a bummer since we’re spending money we didn’t want to spend, but we know it will be about 300 times easier, plus the flashing is more straightforward.

Problem #1 Silver Lining: We were able to find a new wood window that’s double hung (as opposed to single hung), which will be easier to clean, and we’ll be able to stain the wood to match all the other windows in our home.  Major bonus.

Problem #2: The Pot Filler

Before selecting our plumber, I met with 5 different plumbers (4 of which were strangely named Mike). I talked through everything I wanted to do with each of them, and they all said it was all easily done.  Except it wasn’t.

On Tuesday morning, he was scheduled to come out to do all of the rough-ins for our kitchen & half bath.  When he arrived, we walked through the project, and just as I as about to leave, he found two major issues.  First of all, my pot filler was going to be on an exterior wall, which meant it couldn’t be installed.  In reality, it was 100% my fault for not realizing it sooner, especially since I know you can’t put plumbing like that on an exterior wall (since deciding to include a pot filler was a happy accident of sorts, I didn’t put too much thought into the rest of it).  Regardless, I was bummed that it wasn’t going to happen anymore.  And I was a little irritated that none of the other plumbers caught it while I was talking to them.  After all, if the issue had been caught earlier, I could have figured out a way to make it work.  But, like I said, my fault.

Problem #2 Silver Lining: We saved a chunk of money by not buying/plumbing the pot filler?

Problem #3: The Toilet

Even all of the plumbers I met with said all of the work we wanted done could be done, we knew the venting for the toilet could be an issue.  When our plumber arrived on Tuesday morning, I found out that the toilet venting would be easy if we just flipped the location of the toilet and the sink.  Easy peasy.  I was pretty excited to have avoided that headache.  Until later when I was at work and realized that by flipping the layout, we would actually have to move a wall, or else the door would open into the toilet.  And when we moved the wall, our entryway would get smaller, and we’d lose storage space.

Problem #3 Silver Lining: In the end, losing storage space was a bummer, but saving major $$$ by having easy access to toilet venting won us over.  And we were happy the bathroom itself was able to work out.

Problem #4: The Hardwood Floors

This was the biggest issue we faced last week.  And this was the issue that was hardest for me to “see the silver lining” in.  When I met with the plumber Tuesday morning, I told him the bathroom floor was fair game.  He could cut into it wherever he needed, so long as he stayed within the bathroom.  Well, I came home over lunch to check on everything, and I was met by a BIG. GAPING. HOLE. in our wood floors.  In our entryway.  And in our kitchen.  Yet surprisingly, the bathroom floor remained untouched.  You guys, I swear steam was almost coming out of my ears…I was so mad.

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I had to rush back to work for a meeting, and on the way back, I tried telling myself it would be fine because we had to patch another area.  But I couldn’t get over it.  I had been so specific about where exactly he could cut.  And he cut everywhere but there.

Problem #4 Silver Lining:  There was a small silver lining to this problem.  Since they basically destroyed any and all wood in the entryway, we decided to just tile that space.  In reality, tile is a better material since we’ll have wet boots and coats and whatnot.  But that doesn’t fix our hardwood hole in our kitchen….

Thankfully, after the week we had last week, the universe decided to throw us a bone this weekend.  We are tearing down a wall between our kitchen and dining room, one we assumed was load bearing.  Well yesterday, as we disassembled the wall, we learned it isn’t load bearing at all, which means we can return the $60 laminated beams we bought, AND we now have way less work to do.  YES.  On top of that, we made a run to the Habitat for Humanity Restore yesterday, where we found the perfect antique door for our powder room.  And it was $30.  Which is awesome.

So, what do you take away from all of this?  We’re making progress on this kitchen of ours, and remodeling is not all fun and games.

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3 Responses to The Realities of Remodeling

  1. Michelle says:

    Wow! You guys have really been through the ringer. I’m impressed with you ability to see the Silver Lining in each scenario. I’d be piping mad about my wood floors! Cannot wait to see your progress and the end result. I’m sure it will be soo worth it.

  2. It seems like we all have that uncle who’s really good with home reno or electronics. Haha! At least you were able to salvage the situation and install those replacement windows without having to buy new ones.

  3. Rolf Matchen says:

    I wonder what was going through that plumber’s head that he did the exact opposite of what you said. Weird.

    Home reno is definitely not all fun and games. It can certainly be disheartening to look at midway, but it would be all worth it in the end. Cheers!

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