Friends with benefits

Well – the Beatles really nailed it…. I do get by with a little help from my friends (and family).

As you are well aware, our house is a bit of a “project”. We knew that going in. Just as we knew there would probably be a few surprises along the way.

When put our offer in, we were sure the place had an updated electrical panel. But on our final walkthrough, we realized it didn’t. (I’m talking fuses instead of breakers, so not the end of the world). Nothing was said about electrical in the listing, so we must have just gotten confused with on of the many other places we looked at. We figured we’d upgrade eventually and put it on the to-do list.

Well… then the heatwave hit. There were already two window a/c units in the downstairs and we had them working fine. We had a couple of spares from the townhouse, so Dave decided to put one on the second level. Only one problem – none of the outlets in the bedrooms were working. He got it going using and outlet in the hallway (this house has a lot of outlets!) …and then we blew a fuse. Turns out the downstairs a/c, fridge, and upstairs hallway plug are all on the same fuse.

So… we got the fuse replaced, no problem, but we really had to address the issue of the non-working outlets. Dave went around with his tester and tested each one in the house. Almost half of them weren’t working. Now we were a little worried…

Happily, my best friend’s (Samantha) husband, Michael, also happens to be a licensed electrician. So on Saturday they came out to the house. While Michael helped Dave assess the electrical, Samantha helped Dad and I load up the trailer with all the garbage from the greenhouse demolition.

The good news is, in just a few hours, Michael was able to get all but one outlet working (it looks like it’s shorted), and can upgrade our panel to breakers. We’ll probably have to wait until the end of July for that, but we’ve got enough on our plate at the moment anyway.

Sadly, I did not take one picture while they were there. Though Samantha and I talk almost daily, we hadn’t actually seen each other since pre-COVID. It was a great visit that really took a load off our minds.

Sunday, Mom came out to help me strip wallpaper.

We decided to strip the dining room and upper part of the livingroom first, before tackling the stubborn wall in the sunken part of the livingroom.

That went exceedingly well and we didn’t need the new steamer at all.

I don’t have pictures of the stripped dining room but bare walls look pretty much like bare walls.

Finally, there was nothing to do but tackle that other wall. The new steamer was much better. It produced a lot more steam, held a lot more water, and covered a bigger area. But unfortunately, we didn’t get much better results. That green Caribbean wallpaper was just THAT stubborn.

Dave and my Dad had already removed the bottom half of the wall due to some mold we discovered (we knew about some in the house but have uncovered a few other spots). Mom and I looked at the progress we made, calculated the time and effort it would take to remove the green wallpaper vs, demo and rehang…. and well.. what’s a few more sheets of drywall?

You’ll notice a few other things missing from the livingroom. Dave and I got all the hideous carpet out after Samantha, Michael and Dad left on Saturday. Then we were left with that bare “window seat” under the window. Dave and I had been debating what to do with as soon as we started renovations.

For me, it was one of the things I loved about the place. I envision it covered in plants and maybe a cat or three…. But we couldn’t agree on how to cover it. Dave wanted to use the laminate flooring we have ready. I wanted drywall and paint. Somewhere along the way Saturday evening, we wondered what was underneath it. Dave thought it might have been built to hide something (plumbing or ducting maybe?). So we decided to investigate…

Well.. one thing you need to know about this house is that everything was put together with nails. Hanging drapery rods… 3″ nails. Hanging drywall… HUGE ASS nails. Not a screw in sight. And this window bench… you betcha big ass nails. Now that’s fine to hold it together, but it makes taking it apart a bit of a pain.

It took Dave about an hour to get the top off to discover that it wasn’t hiding anything. It must have just been built as a window seat. We sat and talked some more and decided it would be easier to just remove it than try to recover it. It gives us another six inches of floor space the full width of the room. I can always get another plant stand or two.

Monday, we were back there to continue demolition. Both Mom and Dad joined us, and we got some more demo and some small tasks done. The biggest accomplishment of Monday was the stripping of the wall by the stairs.

At the top of the stairs, there was a window that leaked, and quite a bit of mold on the wall. Sadly, that wall was lath and plaster (not drywall), so Dave chipped it all out. the wall was also covered in three layers of wall paper. Most of it came off pretty easy, but there are a few stubborn spots I have to hit with the steamer.

(I’d also like to point out that all this work has been done during a record-breaking heat/humidity wave. We have two a/c units going in the house, but with all the going in and out, the best we’ve been able to do is keep the house at a balmy (and sticky) 25C/78F. )

Now we are mostly through our demolition phase (though I still have to pull up the carpet on the stairs, upper living room and dining room.) In the second picture, you can see our new drywall piled up. Dad bought us a drywall lift, and hopefully on Friday, we’ll start getting that up.

Today, Mom and I will be at the house – just us girls. We are going to give the kitchen and bathrooms a good deep clean to get rid of all that nicotine.

11 thoughts on “Friends with benefits

  1. Araignee

    Wowza! So much work but it’s really starting to look like the cozy cottage I envision it will be some day. I’d kill for that banister. We’ve got ugly wrought iron. How lucky you know someone who does electric work. It’s always the scariest part of a remodel.


  2. You and Dave (and your parents and friends) are making remarkable progress! Such a lot of work, but so nice you can do so much of it before moving in. OUr neighbor across the street is an electrician and he has save us a TON of $$$$!!


  3. WOW! WOW! WOW! You guys are machines to be getting so much done in that awful heat. I’m so glad you had a friend to sort out the electrical. That can be scary stuff. Dennis is pretty good at electrical so we’re pretty lucky there. Our first house was a 110 year old three story with NO electricity on the 2nd floor. He had his work cut out on that house.
    Make sure you’re all drinking lots of water.


  4. Shirley Elliott

    Wow! You and your team are accomplishing so much and in the heat and humidity! I think you will be happy with your decision to eliminate the window seat. You can achieve the same function with a piece of furniture and it can be moved as desired. I am amazed to read how much you have done in several days. Love seeing the progress.


  5. Pingback: Meanwhile back at the hovel… – Wandering Cat Studio

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