Making Plans


December 8, 2014 by Sarah

We have been feverishly making plans and are pleased to say that work on the major renovations has commenced.
yuuussssssssss, yusssssssssssss, yussssssssssssssssss.
Prepare for a super long, but amazing, catch up post!
I showed you all my initial plan for changing the layout of the second floor, although a little rough around the edges, it showed the main idea.
Craftsman style house plans
Since then changes and more changes have been made. The latest version:
Craftsman style house
Of course this will probably change another 10 times between now and completion.  My latest version features the addition of a TV and fireplace next to the clawfoot tub and a walk-in curbless shower. 😉
We were very busy getting the last several weeks getting our final estimates and signing paperwork with our lender. If you are a local interested in home improvement funding, including special loans for energy efficiency look into neighborhood Energy Connection (NEC) .
We have signed a contract with the same roofer that we used at our last house to give us a brand new roof and gutters. However, it remains to be seen whether or not they will be able to complete it before spring 🙁
The Official Short List of the Many Things We Need to Get Done Sort of Soonish:
  • Demo lower back porch, remove exterior stair case, new footing, and new frame for back porch, new deck
We aren’t messing around with this. Our GC, Verus Builders, is doing this for us. In fact, they have already started even with the brutally cold temps.
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IMG_20141112_173358 IMG_20141113_164004 IMG_20141113_164012 IMG_20141113_164028 IMG_20141113_164040
Back porch
The old porch was completely removed.  The holes for footings were dug, inspected, and then filled. Posts went up after they cured, and the upper sleeping porch was raised up about several inches!
Porch footings
Now an elephant could jump on this porch and it wouldn’t budge a cm.
Back porch frame
  • Demo entire upstairs
It always gets worse before it gets better…at least that is what I keep telling myself. I never understood how some people love demo.  I would much rather be building something then taking something apart.  We started doing this ourselves and it was really slow going…really slow…Even just removing all the furniture out before starting the demo was an ordeal
We originally moved all the upstairs living room furniture in by using the back exterior staircase.
St. Paul Haus Exterior Rear
Luckily this time we didn’t have to do that since we had a great, wide staircase just waiting to be opened up for furniture to fit down. 🙂
boarded up staircase
 Adrian posted some photos on the FB page which seemed to draw up a lot of questions and amazement.
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It was actually pretty easy to cut and pull up that floor (Adrian did it in just a couple hours while I was at work). We save most of it to use for flooring patches later on.
Opening a staircase
 It is so amazing having this staircase open. It already feels like a brand new house.
We started the official demo by pulling out the cabinets and appliances from the kitchen.
Kitchen demo
Some of the cabinets will be saved and used in the basement.  The sink base was in terrible shape, warped and stained by years of water damage, so we didn’t save it.
 Adrian disconnected the sink drain, and the most foul smell ever escaped from that drain. OH MY GOD, TERRIBLE. We plugged the drain immediately, but I am not sure it helped.  I am still nauseous just thinking about it. yikes.
Plumbing demo
If the smell from the drain wasn’t enough, I accidentally turned the gas on for about 10 sec on while moving a cabinet. I hate the smell of natural gas, doesn’t everyone?  I am happy to report that we are alive and well and did not get blown up.
All the rubbish (I love the word rubbish. I want to be British just so i can call my trash rubbish) is going through the sleeping porch and down the exterior staircase into the dumpster.
Several arguments arose over the best way to remove the trim without damaging it which led to us giving in and paying our contractor to finish the job.  You win some, you lose some.  In the end it was the best decision for us. This is where we left it before the contractors swooped in:
Now the upstairs currently looks like this:
Still some demo left to do.  That bathroom for one, and essentially the entire floor in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Framing walls upstairs

To be done by Verus. The new layout calls for changing lots of the doorways to make it function as a single-family-home.  They will start framing tomorrow. Unfortunately,  some major structure issues were uncovered and the framing will be a little more involved than we originally thought it would be.  Several LVLs (big ass joist things) need to be added to distribute the load of the room properly.

Check this out:


Yes. That is the original pitch of the roof, and that is where the back dormer was very improperly added on to.  It could have been worse, but it will be an added cost to make sure everything is fixed up properly.   It will be like magic seeing all those LVLs in place.

  • New electrical upstairs

Tim, our electrician, (Tim Kunkel Electric, LLC) came by already and turned off the power upstairs so we have been working by the light of a work lamp powered with a really long extension cord. Good times.  He has been working on switching out electrical from 2 services (one for each unit for the duplex) to 1 service.  This meant upgrading the panels and bring in the electrical company to change the feed outside.  The upstairs will have all new and up to code electrical.  This is a real big job especially when running into stuff this is:


That my friends is a great example of how to NOT wire something.

  • New plumbing upstairs
Again, none of which we are doing ourselves.  completely new plumbing will go to a clawfoot tub, walk-in shower, vanity sink, and laundry hookups. The plumber also needs to correct several code issues regarding the main stack and venting.  This is also another big job.
  • Insulation
A combo of closed-cell polyurethane spray foam and cellulose, done by contractors.
  • Drywall, drywall, and more drywall
The part of the project when it actually starts to get better rather than get worse.  We will certainly be getting our own hands dirty with hanging all the drywall, but like we did for the kitchen we plan to hire out for the taping/mudding. I think we will rent a drywall lift this time.
  • Finish work
Hanging trim and doors, patching the hardwood floor, tiling the new bathroom, building a railing for our new stairway, building closet organization systems, and lots of painting, of course. A million and 1 more projects.
In the mean time, the office, guest bedroom, living room, and basement are now all jam packed full of shit from upstairs.   oh fun fun fun fun fun fun. Isn’t it exciting making plans?!

16 thoughts on “Making Plans

  1. Maureen says:

    Sounds like a whirlwind of excitement!!

  2. Lory says:

    An amazing transformation

  3. Stephanie Jacobson says:

    That’s awesome guys, keep up the great work!

  4. Stacey at Dohiy says:

    AAAAAH, so many things to say, like “Yay, posting!” and “Do you like your contractor?” and “AAAAAAAH LOOK AT ALL THE STUFF HAPPENING!” <– coherent commenting

    • Sarah says:

      I know!!! I have been really slacky on the posting recently so it was a BIG one. And yes I love my contractor. Highly recommended. You can barrow him for your upstairs too if you want 😉 I CANT wait until the framing is done. It will be so cool to see the new rooms take shape.

      • Stacey at Dohiy says:

        I am exTREmely keen to talk to your contractor (after you are done with him, of course). We’re trying to find someone who is willing to work with people who intend to do part of the work themselves, and so far, I’m mainly finding snooty builders who show me lots of pictures of completely finished greige rooms. Nothing against greige, it’s just that I can do greige all by myself.

        • Sarah says:

          I hear you. I don’t think many contractors are used to clients wanting to do part of the work themselves and it really throws them off. Are you going to hire a new architect? I wish we did just to make things a little easier. It is going fine without but lots of changing and remeasuring and moving doorways around, etc to make it work.

          • Stacey at Dohiy says:

            Well…we don’t really don’t what to do about the design part. We’re thinking we’ll find the right builder and be guided by that person on what will work rather than the other way around, but that might be just because we were burned by the last design person we worked with. *sigh*

  5. […] our second floor renovations, we are using funding programs through the Neighborhood Energy Connection (NEC). They work with […]

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Sarah&Adrian @ StPaulHaus

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