ren·o·va·tion[ˌrenəˈvāSH(ə)n]NOUN the action of renovating a building. "This property is in need of complete renovation" · synonyms: modernization - restoration - redecoration - refurbishment - revamping - makeover - reconditioning - rehabilitation - overhauling - repair - redevelopment - rebuilding - reconstruction - remodelling - updating - improvement - gentrification - upgrading - refitting - updation - facelift - refurb
If the picture above scares you, you might not be one who would like to take on a renovation project yourself. This is the scene we faced in August 2018, one week into ripping apart three small bedrooms in the second storey of our late 1800's farmhouse on the west side of New Glasgow. The project was to renovate upstairs, and turn three bedrooms into two. (The other room being done was our youngest daughter's room down the hall).
The house still contains a LOT of plaster and lath, and the removal of those building materials was interesting, to say the least. As we were doing the entire project ourselves (yes, just the two of us!), our intention was to pick away at it, but still finish in a reasonable time. After all, we had some major disruption in the house. Our bedroom contents were moved around, some in the basement, some in the barn, with the bed and dressers put in the second living room downstairs (our temporary bedroom).
When we were packing up the rooms in the summer, we were boxing and storing what we felt we wouldn't need for the next "few" months.....three seasons later, we will now unpack the boxes. Thing is: if we didn't look for those items for the last seven months, do we really need them? I see a purge in the near future....
A lot of interesting items were found during the tearout. Stuffed in the lath walls, we located several boxes worth of paper materials (late 1800's/early 1900's calendars, old magazines/periodicals, a few clothing items, empty jars and bottles, even some broken pieces of glass …. maybe he didn't want her to know he broke that, so stuffed it in the wall?) As the documents covered several years, it is possible it took them some time to complete their work when they originally crafted the second storey.
We didn't throw the documents out, no matter what shape they were in (some of them were almost perfect!) Instead, we put them all in two large, lidded rubber totes, and put them back in a wall in the front bedroom. With them, we put some current documents, and letters we wrote to let them know the history of the house as we know it in now. If anyone in the future is doing renos, we're sure they will find it neat to see those things, like we did.
Although it took longer to finish the work than we had originally thought it would, we are okay with that. After all, we did everything ourselves, including shopping for and carting home building materials; runs to the dump with garbage to clear the hallway; carrying tools and equipment from the barn, to the deck, to the downstairs, to the upstairs (who doesn't have a large saw as a semi-permanent fixture in their bathroom?)
As it became closer to the finish, our goal was to be in before spring (March 20). And we did it! The first official night sleeping in the new master was March 18. So, we feel a huge sense of accomplishment. Working in the heat, shoveling blown out insulation and carrying it down the hall to send to the outside dumpster through a large paper tube attached to a second storey window well.....who doesn't like fun like that?
Having said all that, home renos are not for the faint o' heart. There are a few renovation projects that aren't recommended for you to do yourself (credit to HGTV for this):
1. Repairing the electrical panel
2. Major plumbing
3. Asbestos removal
4. Digging out the basement
5. Waterproofing the foundation
6. Installing a skylight
7. Replacing the roof
8. Stuccoing the exterior of the house
So, DIY or PRO? Consider these points:
1. Do you have the necessary skills to complete the job? (We did; Freddy Dynomite has remodeled many houses and knows the game...)
2. Do you have the time? (We kinda had it, but not enough time to complete the reno in a short time frame; a couple of hours here and there during the week (after work) and more time on Saturday and Sunday, was all we had to offer.)
3. Do you have the tools and equipment? (We did, but if you don't, borrowing from friends or renting would be possible 'cheaper' sources for you.)
4. How do the others in the house feel about it? (In our case, some of us had to really find a comfort level with the amount of disruption...Where did I put that? Did we box that and put it in the barn? Why are all these tools in the hallway!! In the end, I think we learned a lot during the process.)
5. Make sure you get a second opinion before starting, to make sure you will actually save $$$.
Any plans for renovations in your house? Take pictures, make notes! Make the process as enjoyable as you can - if you are living in the house while the renos are underway, keep the vision of the end result in mind as work is underway, it will help you get through it!
"Living through a home renovation is like living in the wild....
You do whatever it takes to survive."
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