Friday, November 29, 2013

A Week's Worth of Work



A week ago yesterday we closed on our new house.
And what a week it has been!

The Quick-Read Version:


  • Thursday we closed.
  • Friday we pulled out all the carpet.
  • Saturday we started on tack strip and staple removal.
  • Sunday I went down by myself (Blake had to work on a presentation for work) and I spent some time picking paint colors, visiting a friend, and pulling tack strips.
  • Monday we got all the upstairs tacks and staples completely out.
  • Tuesday we rented a drum stander and and edger to sand the floors and Blake started sanding.
  • Wednesday we  did the edging and pulled the remaining downstairs tack strips and ripped out some parquet ties.


The Long-Read Version: 

I told you about pulling the carpet.  
That was kind of invigorating.  I felt strong and capable of anything.  It feels so nice to get that nasty stuff out of the house, so good to see that hardwood floor.  

Then it's time to get out the small stuff.  
That's kind of deflating.  Its hard to get staples out of hardwood.  They come out of other wood pretty easily, but hardwood got its name for a reason.  And the staples are old so they break off a lot of the time and then you have to get out the vice gripes to grip onto this tiny smidgen of a staple left. It is time consuming and tedious.  
The tools of my week.  

But I did like getting out the stack strips.  I would take this tiny pry bar and hammer it underneath the nails or staples holding it down and the pry the tack strip up.  I don't know why I liked that, but it kind of put me in a trance and I got to feel accomplished during it.  Plus like I mentioned before, I was craving some alone time since having two kids, time to just let my mental stream of continuousness roam, and this was that time.  
That day we had a flooring guy come and give us an estimate on refinishing our hardwood floors.  (We had two more scheduled to come give us one on Monday.)  
He quoted us $1,600 to sand the floors.  And it would have been $2,400 in total if he sanded, stained and finished the floors.  
At this point we weren't sure if we would have someone do it for us.  We (mostly I) were nervous we could ruin our floors if we did it ourself.  


Sunday I went down by myself.  And I really enjoyed picking out paint colors.  I walked around the house with a cup of coffee and just looked it all over.  
I was really surprised that most of the colors I had picked out while in Iowa, just looking at a computer screen photo of our house, actually turned out to be something that looked good in the space. 
Not every color worked, but LOTS of them did.  
If you'd ever watched me pick out paint colors in the past, you'd have seen me waver over the smallest differences in tones, staring them down in every light for like a week before making my choice.  So I couldn't believe I was making decisions so quickly and with such authority.  
So I have all the colors picked except our bedroom.  That one is special… so I am gonna give myself some time and lots more paint chips for that one.  I also think it will help to see our floors done for that one.  
I'll show you my choices soon.  
That day a friend stopped by and brought me some soup.  It was so good to see her again.  Also, it was fantastic soup, and great to eat something warm.  We don't have our microwave there yet, and the fridge that is there doesn't really get cold, so we've been living off of PBJs while working... warm soup was a real treat.  
After she left I got down to real business and pulled more tack strips and tons of staples.  The staples in our doorway were all pounded down over themselves, so that was fun.  (Read with a HUGE overtone of sarcasm.)  

On Monday we really hustled to get all the rest of staples and tack strips out upstairs.  
Garbage bag of tack strips 

On our hour-and-a-half drive down to the house that morning we really talked through the idea of doing the floor ourself.  Blake had refinished the hardwood floors at our first house (he did this before we got married, I wasn't around then.)  And my parents have refinished a number of hardwood floors.  So they all kinda talked me into it.  My parents' best guess at what we would spend to re-do them ourselves was $700.  
That's a HUGE difference.  
So we decided to go ahead and DIY.  
We figured we could use the savings on appliances.  That really sold me.  
We knew we needed to get the sanding done while Blake was around.  He only has this week off from work to help me here, and MAYBE a weekend or two before we move.  So we HAD to get the floor ready for sanding FAST.  
That also included getting rid of that awkward built-in.  



Once we pulled it apart we learned that the fluorescent light at the top of it was "wired in" by threading an extension cord through a hole in the ceiling.  Brilliant.  *head shake*  That's why they invented building codes.  





By the end of monday we just barely got it to that point, but we DID!  
We got back, put the girls to bed and watched YouTube videos on how to sand floors with a belt sander.  
(If you don't know much about sanding floors, there are two kinds of sanders.  The belt sander is better but easier to ruin your floor with if you do it wrong!  So it felt risky going this route, but we felt like we could do it.)  

Tuesday we went to Menards and rented the sander and edger.  Our plans were nearly foiled for a moment there because they won't let you rent those with a debit card (or cash); only a credit card.  AND we don't really use credit cards.  I do have a Target card.  But I hadn't even activated the one I have in my wallet.  So I had to quick call and activate it.  And then they almost didn't let me use it because I've never bothered to change my maiden name on that one, so it doesn't match my drivers license.  (Geez, why don't I take care of that already!?)  Eventually they said "Okay" and we got our sander!  Man, that was a close one!  




Then we got back to the house and practiced our skills on this silly parquet floor that was in the dining room.  (It used to have a carpet inlay in the center, I guess that was cool there at some time.)  
Once we went around a few times we said, "Okay, lets do this."  (Well... Blake did, because he knew we were burning daylight.  I was a nervous Nelly and wanted to practice all day.)  

Blake ended up being elected to do the work.  He was more confident and his practice runs were better. So he got to work.  




While he worked, I pulled some more tack strips and a couple small carpets I forgot to get before (they were hiding in closets downstairs.)  (And MAN were those carpets smelly!  Sheesh!  …Those ones didn't smell like animals.  They just smelled ancient and mildew-y.)  Anyway, after that we broke for lunch and decided I better go order our appliances now before the sale ends/and we are out of town.  Blake told me to go have fun.  I don't find these kind of moments fun.  (He was trying to help me by saying that.)  Once I got to Lowe's I almost had a nervous break down. 
I really like to make careful decisions.  And I really like to buy stuff cheap.  Buying new appliances terrifies me. 
I had already read tons of reviews and made the call on what we want a while ago.  But once I was in the store I felt near to tears trying to pull the trigger and spend that kind of money.  And I was there by myself --- not ideal.  I wanted Blake there with me to say "Yes, that sounds good, do that." 
And then I wasn't sure if we should get the extended warranty.  
I tried to call Blake but he couldn't hear me calling him while he was sanding.  And I was getting more nervous about what I was doing.  
So I called my parents.  My head started spinning while talking to my dad.  Then my mom called me back and talked through her thoughts and I started to pull it back together. 
So I finally got up the nerve to go find a worker and order. 
It was really easy. 
He told me I was making good choices.  That may be his job to say but... he said these ones are good sellers and good brands, etc.  And I told him I based it on the reviews and he seemed to concur that's the way to go. 
The delivery date was backed up till after we were out of town, so I ended up scheduling it for two weeks out, thinking I may not be back in town until then. 
I felt better once I ordered them. 
We went with just a fridge and a dishwasher. 
The fridge there doesn't work well.  And the dishwasher looks like one of the first dishwashers ever made.  It's missing buttons and the inside is moldy.  (I know I could clean it but, overall, it's just looking done.)  
I didn't go for a stove now because I really want a gas stove, but right now there is no gas supply behind it.  So we are gonna see what we can do in the future to get gas back there.  And I'll live with the stove there for now.  Actually, of all of the appliances that came with the house, it is the nicest. 

We are hoping to pick up a used washer and dryer set tomorrow that we found on craigslist, to save some cash on that end. 

Anyway, back at Lowes, I also had to get a shop vac while I was there.  And that had to many choices involved too!  But eventually I just picked one.  Blake likes it, so I did good!  

We had a 10% off coupon for this transaction that we got from the post office when we registered our change of address.  (Nice!)  (You have to get that in person at the post office in the change of address packet.  You don't get it if you change your address online.)  So that was a good savings.  

Anyway...  This all took me so long that I just had time to grab a Little Caesar's Hot and Ready Pizza for dinner and bring it back to Blake before I had to get back to the girls.  
Blake opted to spend the night at the new house and work as much as he could.  
He did so great!  I'm so proud of him.  Sanding floors is no joke!  
I thought taking carpet out was work --- not even close!  

Wednesday I came back down and we started getting the edges done.  
Technically we did this wrong.  We should have been doing the edges in between the different grits of sanding paper on the drum sander.  But oh well.  You live you learn, and I think we got it looking right anyway.  Even if we didn't get it perfect, we don't care since we saved $1,400 on sanding ourself!  
We only spent $200 renting the sanders and buying the sand paper.  Pretty good if we do say so ourselves!  
Anyway, I was the first to really use the edger since Blake was just finishing up with the drum sander.  
I was terrified, so scared to ruin the floors.  So Blake turned it on and showed me it's not scary.  And then I started on it.  
The edger is a back killer!  You have to either sit, kneel, or squat to use it.  And none of those feel right in the moment.  I ended up looking kind of like a running spider going up and down the edges of the room.  The thing is HEAVY and slightly unwieldy.  You have to control it or it will control you.  It's exhausting!  I did one room with the coarsest grit and then had to lay down and pant like I ran a race.  

Eventually Blake took over the edging for me.  (He's mindblowingly awesome!)  And he nearly broke his back all day long.  
While he did that I got the last of the tack strips up from the downstairs.  I couldn't really believe all the tack strips were finally gone!  

And then I started pulling those parquet tiles from the old dining room.  
Those were surprisingly smelly!  I think the animals peed on those too!  Where did they NOT pee?  And they also smelled old and musty.  
They were unsealed wood, so I think that's the main problem.  
I'm hoping the last bit of parquet in the other room doesn't smell.  It looks sealed, and is also not really near a door --- which makes me hope it was less peed-on.  We are gonna leave that in for a while (til we are ready for a bigger reno job) --- so *fingers crossed* it's not part of the stink.  
Anyway...  Somehow I was able to get all that dining room parquet up relatively quick.  (So glad because it will help the house air out.)  I found it kind of entertaining getting these out.  They had to come out sort of like a puzzle.  After all the tapping of the pry bar under there, I realized I sort of felt like I was playing that "Don't Break The Ice" game from my childhood.  Only I really wanted to break the ice!  

It kind of looks the same, like the tiles are still there, but that's just the glue.  

And by then Blake needed help doing some edging since it was sooo much work.  
So I took a turn and did the final grit on most the upstairs.  
With a finer grit it is easier to use, and it goes a lot quicker.  So I got that done with less panting.  But it was still kinda crazy work.  

But we got done with just enough time!  
We had the sanders rented up to 5:00 pm and we got done at 4:30!  
Our bedroom all sanded, and the new shop vac.  
The sanded hallway.
You can see there is a stain that wouldn't come out in the bathroom doorway.  
That may dictate our floor color palette a bit --- to find something that will hide the stain.  

We returned it to Menards.  And with that our house stuff was done for the week.  

And then with Thursday came the time to drive 3 hours to our Thanksgiving in Galesburg.  We showed up to dinner looking pretty rough... not much sleep, lots of driving, and not enough time to make the drive by dinner.  But we got there (Blake may have driven nearly 20 mph above the limit most of the way)!  And time with family is good.  

On Black Friday morning, Blake and his dad went to Menards and Lowes a couple times get a lot of sale items that we need.  Gotta love that those stores sell exactly the things that we need for this kind of work on the Black Friday sales!  



On Friday afternoon we took our girls to their first movie in a theater!  We went to see "Frozen."  What a cute movie!  And I really enjoyed the experience.  At many points the girls were fighting over who could sit with me.  So I had two girls on my lap, but I just snuggled away and it was good.  Ruby only needed two breaks during the whole movie.  I say that's not too bad for a 16-month old!  And Jasmine loved it.  





Anyway, tomorrow Blake is gonna drive back to Champaign with his dad and while there they are gonna buy a used washer and dryer from off of craigslist.  And drop the Black Friday stuff off!  And then they need to go back to Menards again to get some other stuff from their 3-day sale!  (Menards much?)  
They have some vinyl sheet flooring on sale for $0.47/ft that we are gonna put in the sunroom.  It is 12 feet long so we don't want to have to drive that across the state, just across town.  So they are gonna pick it up there in Champaign.  (It's a three day sale, I just hope it doesn't run out of stock.)
 We had a hard time choosing what kind of flooring to use in the sunroom.  I kinda forgot about vinyl sheet.  It seems like our best choice.  We don't want carpet.  The room is wood so anything wood or wood-look would be way too much wood.  We didn't think ceramic would be good since the room is likely to be cold in the winter.  So when vinyl sheet came up, I got really excited!  It fits all of my criteria.  

So yeah, this week has been a HUGE week.  
We've driven tons and aren't done yet!  
After the shopping we have to go back to Iowa.  
And once there I should start packing!  YUCK!  I hate packing.  
I need a better attitude.  I should think of it as "Yay, this is going to the new house!" 

So that's where we are at!  
I hope this post wasn't too boring...  
I couldn't even really get into it all.  It would just be too long.  
But I actually have been enjoying all this.  
Well… sanding the floors… I'm not sure about that one --- but actually Blake really did most of that so… I can't complain at all.  
And $1,400 saved is SOOO worth it!  

Next I have to pick a stain color.  I'm feeling kinda stuck.  Because you know me and color --- obsessed with perfection.  But I'm hoping to nail down a choice soon.  

I'm not sure when I'll be back at the house next.  
But I have to work on the floors (by myself) and get that done in time to move in!  Eek --- just a little intimidating!  But I press on!  

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