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Jesse Blair 05-30-2017 08:10 PM

Full house renovation
I figured instead of filling up other threads with my stuff, I'd just make my own thread. I inherited the house from my father who passed away a few weeks ago, and I'm now trying to make it my own. It's the house I was born in, and was built by my father and grandfather just before I was born. It's basically as it was when it was built in 1986, which is outdated and run down, in much need of modernization and renovation. A few of the things that need to be done are structural, but most are just cosmetic. The front and back doors are rotted out, along with the masonite siding, from improper flashing on decks that were built ~20 years ago, and also not having gutters. Many of the wooden crank out casement windows are starting to rot from having not been painted recently, so those will have to be repaired and painted, until I can afford to replace them with more modern aluminum windows, and replace the siding to cover the gaps that will be left from going with different sized windows. Since I can't find a match to this old masonite siding anywhere, to repair the bottom 1' that is rotted around the sill/deck, I'll temporarily cut it out, replace the sheathing and custom build some 1x12 to recess and flash under the existing good condition siding.

The only other structural problems is a rotted subfloor and likely some stud damage where a water leak occurred at some point in the past, behind the drywall. That section will be removed anyway, since it's a hallway closet that only messes up the flow from the living room to the back bedroom and bathroom. So repairing that should be easy enough, and I can hopefully find an obvious source of the leak, which is likely the shower drain from the upstairs bathroom. The floor joists under the rotted section are in need of replacement or patching, which can be handled at that time too.

So far, over the last week or two, with the help of my mother, who is a pretty able decorator and DIY renovator, we have gutted the living room and kitchen down to bare subfloor and drywall. We also removed a wall that was put up ~20 years ago that blocked off what used to be a wide open kitchen and living room, with a bar. I have returned it to the original floor plan, just in a more attractive and modern look. Walls are almost complete, ceiling is getting a final coat of paint tomorrow, then all that is left in the two main rooms is flooring, crown molding and baseboards, along with new light fixtures, and new outlets and plates. Then I can start building cabinets, countertops, a bar top, and install the new (lightly used) appliances. Once these two rooms and finished and livable, I'll begin working on the new bathroom, which is one of the two downstairs bedrooms, as well as a laundry room (my fathers second wife began the conversion 20 years ago, but never got beyond framing in the walk in shower stall, and moving the washer and dryer in there). The old small bathroom will be turned into a walk in closet, accessible from the new bathroom.

I'll update with progress and pictures as I go, for anyone who might care to follow along. I wish I had gotten pictures of how it was before we removed the carpet and ripped out the wall, to really show how much in need the house was of an update.





sgibby88 05-30-2017 08:54 PM

Following to see the finished outcome. Best of luck

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Pineknot_86 05-31-2017 09:16 AM

Good luck! You will be in for a lot of work with this one.

woodchux 05-31-2017 10:37 AM

Renovation always creates many unusual issues, which is a great learning experience. Thanks for sharing, and post more pics of the progress. Be safe.

rcheli1 06-01-2017 08:31 PM

Looking forward to seeing the finished product!

Jesse Blair 06-01-2017 10:15 PM

Thanks guys. I'm looking forward to seeing it finished too. Only 2 weeks in, and already I'm burned out of the hustle to get it done. I've now finished framing my second pantry, and peeling up the 25 year old vinyl tile floor. What a pain! The fridge will be located to another wall, flanked by the 2 matching pantries, so I have to get under the house and do some plumbing... not my favorite. It'll have to be done again when I start on the new bathroom, but it must be done. Tomorrow I'll probably throw some drywall on the pantry, mud and tape it, and hang the prehung door that will match the new door I got for the other pantry. I'll have my mother and an aunt helping tomorrow, and they both don't mind painting, whereas I despise painting with every fiber of my being... so they will paint the new bathroom and the bedroom, and maybe pull up the remaining carpet in the bedroom and short hallway. Starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully I can have the downstairs finished enough to move down there in the next 2 weeks or so. Still need to run a 220v circuit for the new water heater (old one was gas, and I've done away with all of the gas appliances) and plumb the bathroom and kitchen, as well as remove the hallway closet and patch/repair the subfloor and joist rot. But other than that, the rest is cosmetic stuff that I can continue to work on once I'm moved in. When all of the first floor and the outside of the house is done, I'll slowly start chipping away at the upstairs in my free time. I need to get back to building furniture and get some income coming back in. I've taken some time off over the last month when my dad was in the hospital, and while doing this first labor intensive stage of the renovation.

sgibby88 06-01-2017 10:38 PM

What made you want to do away with gas?

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Jesse Blair 06-01-2017 11:01 PM

I kind of regret the decision now, but the house only ever had 3 things on the gas, which was the gas range, the water heater and an old floor furnace. The furnace doesn't work anymore and will be removed, and the 30 year old range needed the be replaced, and I have someone giving me a pretty nice electric range for free... so that would only leave the water heater. I figured just to simplify paying the bills, I'd just swap over the water heater to electric and be done with it. They came out and removed the meter and capped off the line. Plus I've had a suspicion that there was a small gas leak somewhere, since during the winter, you could smell a little bit of a gas smell coming from the crawl space vents. It may have just been the inefficient old floor furnace exhausting some unburned gas under the house... not sure. Either way, it's gone now. If I ever do decide to get gas again, I'll start over from scratch and do all new lines under the house, so I know it's all in good shape.

I am however considering getting a gas range, or at least a gas cooktop one day in the near future, since I love to cook, and hate cooking on electric. If I do that, I'll just run a line to a point under the back deck and use a propane tank for fuel. Might cost a bit more than I was paying for gas, but not by much. I think the last gas bill was only like $22...

sgibby88 06-01-2017 11:04 PM

Got you. Since I have well when ever we have a power outage I'm glad we have gas. Less I have to worry about the generator trying to handle

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Jesse Blair 06-01-2017 11:09 PM

Yeah, that is one thing I will miss. It was nice still having heat and a way to cook food in the winter if the power went out. But, as I said, the furnace hasn't worked for a while and the range was old and crusty. If I can at least get back to cooking with gas, I'll survive. Our winters are mild, and we MIGHT get one day of snow each winter. If it gets really bad, I'll just have to pull out the portable generator and run some space heaters off of it...

sgibby88 06-01-2017 11:19 PM

I hear ya on that. The north east isn't exactly forgiving at times so I won't take the chance. We have been lucky the past two winters but we are due for a harsh winter soon. We have also had some real nasty storms the past few summers that have left us with no power for a few days at a time. I always told myself growing up that my house will always be fitted with gas since my moms place was electric and when the power would be out for more than a day we would go to my grandparents since they had gas. Needless to say when I moved out on my own I made sure the house was equipped with gas lol. This guy isn't beat

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Jesse Blair 06-02-2017 06:36 PM

Pretty productive day. I finished the trim work on the pillar, just need to throw one more final coat of paint on it, and it'll be done. Not bad looking for some 1x8's, a piece of baseboard and quarter round. Also have a partially hung light that will be above the bar. It's a pretty cool looking light, with an Edison style bulb. I found a really nice LED bulb to replace it, which has LED tubes in 6 filaments, and looks pretty authentic to vintage bulbs. First time I've seen them. Waiting to finish hanging it until I paint the last coat. Also finished framing the pantry, which I thought was done, but I found a few little things I needed to do before hanging drywall. Had to cut a hole to route a wire from an outlet on the shared wall in the foyer, over one stud to wire in an outlet for the fridge in its new location. The downstairs is now completely carpet free, and the bedroom will hopefully get painted tomorrow and be done. It was mostly just moving out and sorting through all of my dads old things. Found a lot of guns... didn't know he had so many.


Jesse Blair 06-07-2017 02:13 AM

Been a few slowish days, but still making a little progress. It's been extremely wet and humid the last few days, and I didn't want to paint in those conditions, or really do much else, since it's been unbearably humid. The bedroom is all sanded, patched up and ready to prime and paint. Ceilings will get primed in the morning, going to pick up a new in the box really cool looking ceiling fan from a guy for $70, and I'll finish hanging drywall on the new pantry. Started on it tonight, but again, humid (and currently the a/c isn't working) and I was soaking wet and tired. I also decided on, and started making flooring for the living room and kitchen. I was a bit skeptical at first when my mom showed me the idea, but it's growing on me. It's 1/2" BC plywood, cut into strips/planks, stained, glued and nailed down, and floor poly applied. With other expenses, the only other option in my price range was roll vinyl floor, and I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Even the lower end LVP flooring I was looking at was going to end up being about $1400 for the two rooms downstairs. For about $500 I can have this plywood plank flooring completely done. Should be good enough, for now anyway. Pity me if and when I ever need to remove it, or get to the subfloor again...

Holes in the wall are access holes for routing an existing oulet in the foyer to power a new outlet for the fridge.


New kitchen light fixture. The existing ceiling fan has always looked out of place in there, and hangs too low and makes the ceilings seem lower than they are. Surface/flush mount seemed the way to go. Nice 17" round LED fixture.


Plywood flooring, first test piece. They are all going to be 7.5" wide, and will be cut into 3, 4, 5 and 8 foot lengths, for a little variation. They will be secured with brad nails and adhesive. Not exactly the color I wanted, but pine isn't exactly forgiving with stains.


Hope to have something of more substance in the next few days. Hopefully I'm only 2 or 3 weeks away from wrapping up the downstairs portion. Then comes outside work, installing new front and back doors, landscaping, new front and rear deck, and generally just making the place look a little better with paint. Upstairs will come last, and will be done at my leisure.

MT Stringer 06-07-2017 05:23 PM

Dang Jesse, that workshop looks a lot like mine. All I can do is walk through it!

About your reno...are you doing any kitchen upgrades? Now would be a good time to add one or more 20amp circuits for the kitchen. Our house was built in 1983, and we have lived in it since 1987. For years, we would have trouble during holiday celebrations with circuit breakers blowing due to numerous crock pots, ovens, etc going all at once. We solved that when we renovated our kitchen. A separate 20 amp circuit was run, and our troubles have been solved. And my sweetie loves it.

Just sayin'.

Looking forward to seeing your progress.

Jesse Blair 06-08-2017 07:01 AM

Haha. Thanks. Yeah, I haven't really done any work in the shop in over a month. I've just been using it to store junk in, and going out there to get tools and cut a piece of wood here and there. Luckily in the kitchen we already have two 15 amp circuits, one on each wall of outlets. I'm about to introduce a third when I branch off of a circuit in the foyer and run the fridge off of it. Never had any circuit issues in the house thus far. I will have to run a new circuit for the water heater though. Not looking forward to it, since it'll have to be in conduit under the house. Not very enjoyable working conditions under there. I'm very glad they went with a 200 amp service when the house was built. Plenty of headroom.

I have a new goal of keeping the overall renovation under $10,000. So far I'm only about $2000 in, and that's pretty much covered the first floor interior. I only lack about $800 to finish the bathroom, and probably another $1000 for molding for all of the rooms. The outside will probably get most of my budget, since it is a wild growing mess. Shrubs look more like trees now, virtually no grass, just weeds and clover, which doesn't bother me too much. No real landscaping to speak of. And both front and back decks need top be taken down and rebuilt. Along with new exterior lights, paint, fascia board, gutters, shutters, and eventually windows, but I won't include those in the budget, since they will probably be a ways down the road. I'll do those at the same time I do new siding, which will also involve removing the old masonite down to the sheathing. Easy time to frame new windows. Also, new a/c unit, unless the old one can be repaired and last me a little while longer. Eventually it'll have to be replaced though. It's a relic.

If it's looking like I'm going to be going over budget, I may have to do what I was trying to avoid and take out another small mortgage. In which case, I'll just borrow enough to get everything done at once and not have to worry about it again down the road. Would like to avoid that though. Just got myself out of debt a few years ago, and would like to not have that looming over my head for the next few decades...

Jesse Blair 06-08-2017 05:44 PM

Finished the drywall on the pantry, framed the door, patched/replaced a large section of drywall in the kitchen that had too many smaller holes to patch one at a time, and finished prep and primed the bedroom.

I'm only bothered by one small detail. The new door frame trim is about 1/4" wider than trim on the existing pantry door. Not something most will notice, but I notice it... Sand it down and paint it tomorrow. You can see one of my test flooring planks in front of the pantry door. I was seeing how the contrast looked. A bit darker than I was aiming for, but for the low price of it, I'll live with it. Should look pretty good for what is only strips of plywood...

Also, how much meat do they leave around the edges on hollow mdf doors? The new one on the new pantry will need about 1/2" trimmed off the bottom, and the door going in the existing pantry will need about 1/4" trimmed off of one side, as it's a bit too wide.



MT Stringer 06-08-2017 06:06 PM

Jessee, only you will know the difference in the trim width. No one else will.

Catpower 06-08-2017 06:32 PM

Jessie, listen to Mike, only you will ever know it, I have spent hours fixing a screw up that nobody would have known there was one

This kind of reminds me of our first house, before we were married I had Jim Walters build the basic "in the dry" house, just framed roofed and sided everything else was our work. That was 31 years ago, and we never had one argument while we were building, if we tried that now I am quite sure blood would spill LOL

We just finished installing the cherry cabinets I built for our current house, when we had it built they wanted $1500 more to go with solid oak instead of melamine, I have kicked myself in the arse many times for being such a tight wad LOL I am so glad I am almost finished with them, and I will get them done in a week or two

Jesse Blair 06-09-2017 08:00 PM

Yeah, I know nobody else will notice, but I will. I have mild OCD when it comes to certain things. Even when I'm making something where fasteners won't be seen, I still want even spacing and everything to be just so. If it's not it bothers me. :grin:

With the help of my mom and my aunt today, we got a good bit done. They tackled the bedroom, got it painted, and all of the windows and trim painted with the first 2 coats of white. They will need another coat, but that's a big step in the right direction. Also got the hallway area primed and ready for the final coat of color tomorrow, and painted the foyer entry door and all of the door frames. I finished up hanging light fixtures and ceiling fans, and finished up the trim work on the opening between the kitchen and living room. Need to slap one more coat of white on that tomorrow and that will be completely done, finally. I've been cursed with ceiling fans though. I returned a "new, open box" unit to a guy yesterday that we picked up for cheap, that didn't work because of what I expect was remote control/receiver issues. And now today I put up the one in the bedroom, and damned if that one didn't work either. I'm not an electrician by any means, but I know I'm not so useless that I can't hook white to white, black to black and ground to ground... I'll take it back down tomorrow and make sure everything is tight and in working order. If it doesn't work after that, I'll be lost... Have another new ceiling fan for the living room that I'll hook up tomorrow, and hope that the 3rd time is a charm. Tomorrow we will have a hired hand, a guy who regularly does demo to come in and gut the old bathroom for us. He is used to doing empty homes, and gutting them to the studs, so I'll have to keep an eye on him and at least turn off the water while he does that. Getting the old tub and toilet out of the way, along with all of the drywall from the walls and ceiling will be a huge help. That was I can inspect and replace anything rotted or damaged, which I know some will be needed.

Not long now. Hopefully at some point next week, we can have everything else wrapped up and I can tackle the final lower floor interior project, which will be the new massive bathroom. Need to put down tile on the floor, finish tiling the walk in shower that my dad started about 15 years ago, plumb and install a new toilet and sink. Luckily the shower is already plumbed and ready, minus the drain hook up. Should be able to tackle that room in about a weeks time.

That purple wall with the doors stacked on it is the one coming out, which will open up that "hallway" a lot. It's also the one with the rotted out floor, just behind the doors. The door on that wall is the water heater closet, and that door will be removed and patched over. It'll now be accessible from the other side, from the new bathroom closet.


Bedroom. I knew better, but was in a hurry... always check your paint color swatches in sunlight. It's not quite what I was seeing in the stores lighting, but it's good enough. The ugly crap around the top is wallpaper border that was apparently glued up with some alien technology adhesive, because we were ripping drywall up trying to remove it. So I told them to just leave it, and I'll put up some 1x10 around the top with a little routed detail around the bottom edge, and will then put the smaller crown molding over that. Will be a bit big for such a small room with low ceilings, but it's what seemed reasonable at the time...


Pineknot_86 06-10-2017 10:08 AM

Looking good. I can partly understand about your converting to electric. My father was an engineer in the appliance industry for over 40 years. Many times he compared costs of gas, LP gas, and electricity for customers and for efficiency studies. Electric was the most expensive. I have a 4 inch gas line in my front yard. However, it would cost about $4k to change over to gas.

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