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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Remodeling Vagabonds

Well, 4 weeks past the original schedule, but we're finally not living in a concrete dungeon anymore.  I will certainly not miss that dusty mess of a nest.  We're not in my home, but alas, the concrete is covered.  We had to be out of our house while they applied the moisture barrier, so many thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law for hosting us this week, and that I haven't had to make dinner!  Quite nice, I must say.

They laid the wood this week after finally dealing with the moisture issue.  It looks beautiful, too.  I can't wait until they stain it.

Now to pick a color!  We always felt like the floor at the last house (below) was a little too dark.
Floor stain at the last house....too dark??  We thought so.
So we had them put a four different colors down on our new floor so that we could choose one that we like (to be stained next Friday or Saturday), and we unknowingly ended up choosing the same stain color as the old house.

We haven't settled on it, and we'll actually probably end up a shade lighter, but it sure is pretty.  And it looks really different than it did at the old house, maybe because there's more light.

Although, it always darkens up when you add your furniture, rugs, and curtains back.  We'll see.  I'm excited.

I'm tagging along with Michael on another business trip to Prague (which you'll definitely get some updates about), then when we get back, the cleaning and decorating fun begins!!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Flooring Frustrations

The frustration from my flooring project has me wanting to shout more than a few expletives from the rooftop of my concrete dungeon.  Today is the day that we were supposed to be moving back in, and that makes me want to cry because we are so far from that point.

A few weeks ago, when we started this process, I wrote a post about the process of installing wood floors.  Well, knowing what I know now, I added this to that post:

ETA: THREE WEEKS BEFORE YOU BEGIN, GET A MOISTURE TEST DONE WHERE THEY DRILL THROUGH THE FOUNDATION TO GET THE READING, AS IT'S MORE ACCURATE.  YOUR PLANS AND COST MAY CHANGE BASED ON THE FINDINGS, AND YOU CERTAINLY WANT TO KNOW THIS BEFORE YOU BEGIN.  WE DIDN'T, AND IT WAS THE BIGGEST FRUSTRATION AND WASTE OF TIME.

ETA: DON'T WAIT TO GET A MOISTURE TEST DONE AT THIS POINT!!!!!  We did, and it was indeed moist, BUT it never dried out, and we scrambled to figure out what to do about it.  We had already had a pressure test done of the water line and the waste line to see if there were any leaks, and there were none.  So the moisture indicated that the membrane beneath the foundation is compromised, making it perceptually wet.  (A dehumidifier, as the wood flooring installers recommended, would do nothing to solve this.)  That means that we need a moisture barrier applied to the slab.  And if we would have done the moisture test three weeks in advance, then we would have gotten the moisture barrier and had a plan in place on the first day instead of waiting three weeks for it to dry out. WASTE OF TIME!!!!
His art will be forever preserved beneath a layer of moisture barrier.
The hubs spent a significant amount of time yesterday determining how to solve our problem.  Various third party professionals were brought into the mix to come up with a viable solution.  You see, you can't nail the plywood (that goes under the hardwood) into the concrete if you have a moisture barrier (looks like an epoxy glue) on the foundation because it doesn't make it airtight anymore.

And evidently, we couldn't just glue the wood right onto the concrete with the moisture barrier because it's not straight enough.  Nailing the wood makes it straighter, but, again, that's not doable.

So if none of the wood was laid yet, we would have just gone with a pre-finished engineered wood - not what I wanted, but there were some that I really liked the look of.  BUT they already laid the upstairs and the staircase.  (Can you see my frustration yet and see a few more expletives between the lines?)

This morning we finally landed on a solution.  There is an engineered wood that is unfinished that looks strikingly similar to the hardwood.  It's a little more expensive (surprisingly), but at this point, they've got me.  So they're going to do the moisture barrier and glue that wood on top and scrape and sand it just like the rest of the house.

The problem...oh yes, of course there's a problem, is that the wood won't be available for at least another week.  That pushes our finish date another 5 or so weeks.

First world problem, yes, but it still sucks.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Getting My Money's Worth Out Of The Bob

I decided today to literally run some errands.  I had to return a couple of things at nearby stores and to buy something at one, so I bundled the boys up and loaded them into the Bob (Duallie Revolution), and I jogged down there instead of driving.

I used to do that all the time when we lived in Arlington.  Remember when my friend compared me to the local bag lady, (with my stroller instead of the grocery cart) always toting my kids and groceries around?  Well, I guess when winter rolled around, I got out of the habit, then we moved, then I got sick, then winter rolled around again...like it does.

Speaking of, last year when I was in Prague in January, mind you, there were women out there with their kids in strollers all bundled up, and guess what...they were fine!  (Saying this more for me than for you.)  As long as you make sure to bundle well, there's no need to stay inside.  Plus, you can promise hot chocolate when you get back. ;)

Anyway, driving around doing errands with my kids is....I'll just say it...kind of a beating.  For one thing, I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but getting my kids in and out of the car is such a pain in the butt to me.  It's always a big dramatic mess, so if I leave them in the Bob the whole time...no mess, no fuss.  Secondly, if I time it well, they'll sleep in the Bob the whole time, so it's a win-win.

And if memory proves me correct (as well as My Fitness Pal records), then I think I can safely say that the extra five pounds that I can't seem to get rid of was not a problem when I was running all of my errands.

All that to say, I think I just got inspired again.  ;)  Honk if you see me!

P.S. Next school year I'll be downgrading to a single stroller, so holler if you need a double!  I think used ones run about half of what the retail was.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Spindles as Frames


I told you the other day that the night before we were getting our floors installed, we were packing up, and my little Tiger was riding his mattress down the stairs (after Daddy showed him how with the baby mattress), and a very important spindle snapped right in half on the landing.  That moment we decided to change out the spindles while we were at it (dangerous words for the budget while you're remodeling).

So when the floor guys were taking the spindles out, I told them to save them back for me instead of throwing them out (I'm sure they think I'm a packrat by now since I told them to save the leftover wood planks, too).  I had one idea in mind, but that would only require a few spindles.  I really want to redo my island, so I'm hoping to board and batten it with split spindles as the frame on either side.  You'll see...trust me.  ;)

Source: Seibels
Then after some googling, I found this (above) idea for the guest bedroom.  Mine will be a variation of this, but I'm super excited about it.  I already have all of the materials, but now I'm just waiting on the space in my garage!


I was eager to do something, though, so I decided to frame out my vinyl chalkboard that I put up on the door to the garage when we moved in.


It was super easy, too.  All I did was use the circular saw to split it down the middle, sand it, paint it, and nail it to the door.  (I thought about gluing it so that you couldn't see nail holes, but I thought that would be too permanent.)


As you can see in this pic, for the chalk tray, I drilled holes and then screwed it in.  It's not the ideal solution, but I'm kinda all about not spending extra money.  So since that's what I had, that's what I did.

Anyway, I love it.  This will not be the last of the spindles that you see on this blog!

P.S.  If you're in the DFW area and want some spindles, give me a holler!  I have a boat load of them and will likely be throwing out what doesn't get used in the next few months.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wood Floors: The Process And Where We're At In It

Someone the other day was asking me about what the process is to get new wood floors in your home, and I thought that would make a great blog post, because really, I think that people shy away from it because they don't know what to expect.  And it is a pretty long and difficult process, but knowing what to expect makes it bearable.

First of all, finding a good contractor is KEY!  Check references, get different estimates, whatever it takes to feel comfortable with your choice.  We had used our guys at our last house, so we knew they were good.  And when we chose them the first time for our last house, they gave us the most honest bid (they came in lower than the insurance claim).  Their work was amazing, and we loved them.

Once you've chosen your contractor (assuming you already know what you want for your house), they'll schedule you.  Hint: if you schedule it for an off-month (i.e. wintertime), they'll probably give you a discount.  Also, before they come, you'll pack up everything - even stuff on the walls.

ETA: THREE WEEKS BEFORE YOU BEGIN, GET A MOISTURE TEST DONE WHERE THEY DRILL THROUGH THE FOUNDATION TO GET THE READING, AS IT'S MORE ACCURATE.  YOUR PLANS AND COST MAY CHANGE BASED ON THE FINDINGS, AND YOU CERTAINLY WANT TO KNOW THIS BEFORE YOU BEGIN.  WE DIDN'T, AND IT WAS THE BIGGEST FRUSTRATION AND WASTE OF TIME.


The schedule should look something like this:

Days 1-2: Rip out old flooring and put in new flooring, stairs and spindles, if applicable. 
In our first house, this only took one day since it was smaller.  But if it takes two days, you'll need a place to stay that night, most likely.  We didn't stay home because the spindles were off of the stairway, and it would have been dangerous for the kids.  Plus, it was DUSTY!!!

ETA: DON'T WAIT TO GET A MOISTURE TEST DONE AT THIS POINT!!!!!  We did, and it was indeed moist, BUT it never dried out, and we scrambled to figure out what to do about it.  We had already had a pressure test done of the water line and the waste line to see if there were any leaks, and there were none.  So the moisture indicated that the membrane beneath the foundation is compromised, making it perceptually wet.  (A dehumidifier, as the wood flooring installers recommended, would do nothing to solve this.)  That means that we need a moisture barrier applied to the slab.  And if we would have done the moisture test three weeks in advance, then we would have gotten the moisture barrier and had a plan in place on the first day instead of waiting three weeks for it to dry out. WASTE OF TIME!!!!
The night before they came, we were moving our mattresses out, and Levi was sledding down the stairs on his mattress and broke a spindle right on the landing.  That was the last straw with those cheap wooden spindles.  They broke about 4-5 times in the past 6 months, so I was done.  These wrought irons spindles are much safer and just gorgeous!

Days 3-9: The crew doesn't come by, but the unfinished wood sits and gets acclimated to your house.
You can walk on the floor and even get it a little dirty, but you don't want to spill anything on it since the liquid could get beneath the flooring more easily since it's not finished.  You can live in your home at this point, but you won't be having any company for sure. 




Days 10-15: The crew is back, and they do the scraping (assuming you get hand-scraped), sanding, and finishing.  They come back each day to put a new coat of polyurethane (or whatever they're using) and let it dry between coats.
You have to be out of the house completely for this, and it is one huge mess! Dust will find its way onto everything you own that is not sealed in an airtight container.

Day 16 or 17: You can move back in.
Before you do, however, you will be dusting ev-er-y-thing - walls, bathrooms, inside of cabinets, basically anything that was inside.  Then once you've cleaned, you can move things back in.

The few days before the start of the process, we packed everything up (sort of) and put it all in the attic or garage.  There were a couple of heavy things that we scooted into bathrooms.  After they finished days 1 and 2, we moved the mattresses back into the rooms to sleep on.

This schedule, however, is in a perfect world when everything goes as planned.  Of course, with us it didn't.  They found moisture on the foundation in the front two rooms, so first we had to get our plumber out to check and see if we had a slab leak.  We didn't, so now the concrete just has to dry out.
The brownish area is from concrete that they filled in the slab with when they repaired a previous plumbing issue.

The floor guy did a moisture reading, and now he will do one 7 days later.  If it's drying, then they'll wait another 7 days to start the process downstairs.  If not, then we'll have to reassess.  This has added a total of 16 days to our project, doubling the time spent living out of boxes and on dusty concrete.


BUT this was a really really really good thing.  If he would have ignored the moisture, which a lot of contractors will do, then it would have been trapped there and then the wood would have eventually started buckling, and then we'd have to redo that floor.  So having the contractor drag it out another two weeks is a huge blessing because we know that he's doing it right.  And remember what Mike Holmes says: Make it Right!!  Because if you don't do it right the first time, it will eventually come back to haunt you.


So now our process is a tentative 29-30 days (tentative because we don't know if it's going to dry on time or not).  We are on day 4, and it really feels like day 28.  But I really can't complain about it.  I asked for this, and it's a huge blessing that we're even able to do it.  Plus, I really like to idea of making my house right.  It's so going to be worth it.

All in all, I would do it all over again, and I would definitely recommend doing it if you're able.  It adds an aesthetic value to the house that, to me, is priceless.  That said, I totally don't fault anyone for not doing it!  You have to be a little crazy to go through it (twice).

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