The Slow Evolution of a New Home

WP_002380When my beloved and I purchased our “fixer-upper” retirement home last year, we weren’t thinking The Money Pit – we were seeing possibilities. We had a home inspector and a contractor go through the house with us to help us make a realistic offer and figure out what needed to be done. We also carefully considered and budgeted for some other enhancements we hoped to make. Still, with each piece of renovation we started, we found something seriously unexpected  I spent months with contractors coming and going, making decisions on the fly, while my beloved stayed behind in another state finishing up his employment. It was a wild ride!

Fortunately, we could still retreat to our relatively new colonial-style home on 3 wooded acres in Connecticut, which we didn’t truly appreciate as much as we might have. That “old” house had two outbuildings, a partly finished, dry basement, lots of big closets, and was completely up to code. It had a relatively flat front lot and easy access from several doors. (Of course, it also came with a substantial mortgage and tax bill.)

The “new” house isn’t terribly old – or at least, it was built during our lifetimes, in the 1960’s. Apparently there were no zoning codes here then. The house was not completely up to current codes structurally or electrically, much of the plumbing needed work, insulation was inadequate (we’re in Vermont now, at the foot of the Green Mountains), most of the kitchen was in rough shape, and the available storage is still forcing us to cull out lots of “stuff.” Don’t even get me started on the outdated decor, but we focused on the infrastructure, realizing that paint and elbow grease would cover a multitude of aesthetic sins. At least the roof was new!

More than a year (and a considerable blogging hiatus) later, we have sold the old house, my beloved has fully retired, and we are nestling in to our new place – if still slogging through some remaining boxes. Here are just some of the things we, our family, and our contractors have accomplished:

  • P1150247Ripped out the knotty pine walls in the kitchen, living and dining rooms. While we were at it, we updated and moved some wiring, replaced the 2 inch thick rolled fiberglas insulation with 4 inches of blown-in foam, and put up new drywall. We also made a cut-through between the living and dining rooms.
  • Regraded the front and back yards, added a drainage pipe, and cleaned up some landscaping.
  • Corrected plumbing problems in all three bathrooms (including replacing all the toilets and many fixtures.) This also necessitated some floor repair and tiling work.

WP_001989Laying a drainage pipe, Our old toilet graveyard!

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  • Replaced (and moved) a 40+ year-old oil tank and repaired the concrete threshold in one garage.
  • Replaced a degraded septic baffle and had the septic serviced.
  • Replaced the cardboard thickness, noisy garage doors with new foam insulated, quiet ones. The garages sit under living areas and needed the insulation.

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  • Ripped out and completely remodeled the tiny kitchen to: replace outdated and/or non-functional appliances, get rid of poorly installed granite countertops, add upper cabinets, install adequate lighting, and redo the floors (this was necessary since the new layout meant some exposed areas would have no finished flooring.) One part of the counter is being reworked, but otherwise, it’s done – and sooooo much better!

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  • Added an electrical box and ran wiring for my beloved’s wood shop.
  • Added serious structural support in the basement.
  • Painted, painted, painted… over some remaining knotty pine, dark walls, and much heinous wallpaper. In fairness, I’m sure the decor was very stylish wen it was new – it was just way too busy and overpowering for our tastes.

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P1140101WP_002463Before and after shots of the “plaid room”, the “pepto-bismol pink room”, and the powder room. We plan to paint the upper wall in the powder room a soft green.

There are lots of other small things we’ve done, and there are many more we’d like to do: some new windows, deck sprucing, front porch remodel, rework of paths from the driveway to the house, more painting, and more landscaping. There’s more attic and basement insulating needed, and storage rework in the garages and the basement…

But for now, I’m on vacation from remodeling. No contractors, no paintbrushes. This weekend I will unearth my Christmas boxes stored in the basement, and really put my stamp on this new home as we prepare to celebrate our first Christmas here. The old house in Connecticu and the prior owner’s version of this house, are gone – though certainly not forgotten. Still, it’s time to move on and make this house absolutely our own… no matter how slow that process seems!

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This post was written in response to the weekly Travel Theme challenge by Ailsa of WheresMyBackpack: Slow   and  to the WordPress Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone but not Forgotten.  To see other bloggers’ creative entries and get more info on these challenges, just click on the links! 

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29 Responses to The Slow Evolution of a New Home

  1. Pingback: Steve: The Apple (Orange) of My Eye | Ramisa the Authoress

  2. sharechair says:

    Wow …. you are amazing!!!! You have done extraordinary things with your new place. I am in awe.
    I zeroed in on your bathroom right away as I am about to tackle our bright yellow 1959 bathroom. Did you paint the tiles? …. and did you paint the SINK??? It looks like the same sink in the photo, just a different color??? Your secrets…. please!!!!

    Like

    • Thanks for the encouragement! I did use a special epoxy enamel to spray paint the tiles while I had the toilet out, before I retiled the floor. There are kits you can buy to spray or brush this on – there’s a certain amount of serious prep work and masking involved and you need ventilation – it’s powerful stuff! I did paint the sink (and the tub and sink in another bathroom too) removing and replacing the plumbing faucets in the sinks, but those items will need periodic touchups, as the epoxy can be chipped or scratched with wear. I plan to replace the fixtures eventually, but we’re paying for each project as we go, and I just couldn’t stand the colored porcelain any longer!. For the time being, they’re holding up pretty well! I wish you well in your project – take lots of before pics – I wasn’t so good at that! 😉

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  3. You have worked so very hard to create a new home, it’s looking great! I hope you and your beloved will spend many happy days and cozy evenings there. Stay warm!

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  4. Pingback: Travel Theme-Slow | WoollyMuses

  5. I feel your pain. Im about to embark on a second remodel of the same house (built in the 60s). My favorite project with houses I believe will always be designing and building a home. There is no perfect house but you have choices from the very start not just aesthetically but structurally.
    Hope you Christmas decorating is FUN!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is an interesting creative process. We’ve started with very light, neutral walls – and as we get used to the space and decorate a little, we’re adding color… not sure we’ll ever really finish!!! 🙂

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  6. Very creative, you captured two challenges with one post. 🙂 I admire all the hard work you have put into remodeling your home. It is gorgeous, especially the kitchen. Now, it’s time for a break and dig out those Christmas decorations. You deserve it.

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  7. coastalcrone says:

    Husband saw “The Money Pit” and reminded me of it every time I saw a home with possibilities so we are still in our home of 37 years. You have done an amazing job! I wondered what had happened to you as I had not seen posts. Enjoy your new/old home for the holidays! It is lovely!

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  8. ninano says:

    What an impressive achievement. I wish you a nice christmas holiday in your new home.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Looks like you did a really good job!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Steve Hanley says:

    A project similar to what my wife and I have just gone through. Documented in a (hopefully) amusing style in my blog: http://myrhodetrips.com/2014/05/28/the-great-kitchen-makeover-part-ii/

    There are times when you wish you never started. But when it’s all done, there’s a lot of pride to making a house into your home.

    Well done!

    Like

  11. Leya says:

    Much work – but rewarding! I’m sure the final touch from you will make a wonderful Christmas too.

    Like

  12. ledrakenoir says:

    I guess Tom Hanks didn’t assisted on your project – very well done – and thank you for the very enjoyable link… 😀

    Like

  13. Well done on the renovations, and i wish you both a happy retirement. 🙂

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  14. Jeremy says:

    Wow! What a project! I am happy for you. Happy holidays!

    Liked by 1 person

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