plan of attack

we have booked our one-way flights to victoria and are doing this crazy thing where we plan to arrive at our new house — toddler and cat in tow — about ten days ahead of all our furniture. we’re planning to take one suitcase full of essentials like clothes and the mattress for frankie’s pack ‘n’ play and one suitcase full of essentials like the sawzall, the laser level and cutlery. yes, folks, we’ve got work to do!

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our first house was built in 1939 and its previous owners cared for it very well. when we took possession in 2010, there was very little that we had to do, the terrible mudroom notwithstanding. all of our upgrades were certainly worth doing, but save for the mudroom, a few drafty windows and a roof leak last spring, we could have lived here without lifting a finger; the house wasn’t going to fall down around us if we did nothing.

i don’t think we can say the same about our new house. it has also been cared for lovingly by just a few owners (some initial and basic internet research leads us to believe we are just the fourth owners on this 104-year-old house), but the most recent owners were elderly (having owned the house since the 1970s) and deferred a lot of the maintenance in the end. it’s amazing how quickly an old house can go to seed if it’s not maintained aggressively and, in our case, it’s been vacant for a little while as well, the elderly owners having moved to a long-term care facility before passing away recently.

we had a pretty extensive home inspection completed before we decided to bid on the house so we have our marching orders — and we figure it will take five years or so to cross everything off our list. we’ve created a rough five-year plan, leaving off the “little” things (like the fact that every room needs, at a minimum, paint, light fixtures and new window coverings) and highlighting the “big” things (like the fact that the entire back deck structure needs to be rebuilt to keep water from pooling around the foundation).

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welcome to our basement!

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now taking reservations for the murphy bed…

luckily we’re taking this project on with the benefit of seven years’ experience as home owners (and as character home owners, which is its own thing). and what we know from our time in the little bungalow is that it’s helpful to have a vision for the end result before we wield our crowbars, otherwise i’m going to end up wanting to change the things that we do early on before we’re through, which is a giant waste of time and money and easily one of the most annoying things about being married to me.

to that end, i’ve been working on a colour palette! probably the last thing you’d expect would be at the top of my mind as we have drainage issues and roofing issues with which to contend, but we want to do at least a little bit of painting while the house is empty, which means i want to have mapped out all our colours, even if the last wall doesn’t get painted until 2025. i’ll share the palette and my process for coming up with paint colours in a future post. i can envision this place finished fully and i’m so excited.

we’re going to be up to a lot more than just painting while we wait for our furniture to arrive, though. our list for our first two weeks in our empty house is not insignificant. we need to:

  • clean the house: floors, walls and ceilings — there is a really strong artificial air freshener scent, which we’ve been told is masking the smell of cat urine, which is not awesome in general and even less so when you’re moving in with an already-stressed-out cat
  • patch and paint both bedrooms and renovate bedroom closets — i think it’s important that we all have clean, restful places to sleep and get ready for the day even if the rest of the house is pure chaos
  • rent a dumpster and clean the house of contents — we’re now the proud owners of a waterlogged desk, old luggage, a chest freezer, old stove, broken washer and dryer, numerous dated light fixtures, some built-in furniture we don’t want, hazardous waste materials, gardening equipment, etc.
  • replace the washer and dryer, as they don’t work and frankie rose makes for a lot of laundry
  • assess the security of the basement doors and improve — we have two giant doors at the front of the house (handy for removing that chest freezer, old stove, etc.) and an interior door being used as an exterior door with access to the yard that may need some deadbolts
  • re-angle/extend the eavestrough downspouts as a temporary fix/improvement to the perimeter drainage issues
  • connect the internet and assume the natural gas and electricity contracts

our to-do list for 2017 is a little longer:

  • replace the roof (possibly) and eavestroughs, soffits and fascia (definitely — they’re super undersized)
  • add ventilation to the attic space
  • fix the bow in the roof, likely by jacking up a front porch post
  • create a temporary solution to the water pooling at the back of the house — we’ll tackle the actual cause of the problem next year
  • replace the window coverings in the bedrooms since they only descend halfway
  • replace the major kitchen appliances (stove, fridge, dishwasher)
  • remove the hot water tank and install an on-demand hot water heater
  • convert our wood-burning fireplace to natural gas
  • rough-in a natural gas hookup for a bbq
  • convert our electric furnace to natural gas

i hope to squeeze a few “pretty” and budget-friendly projects in and around these very necessary and less fun ones. i’m not sure what they’ll be, but you can bet they’ll involve my favourite tools — a screwdriver, a paintbrush and the laser level, pretty much the only things i can operate while frankie rose sleeps. i mentioned all the junk that was included in the house sale, but there are at least a few things that have potential, including some very old, deep nightstand/dresser-type drawers tucked inside frankie rose’s bedroom closet that are begging for some new legs, new hardware and a fresh colour. how excited am i to have a master bedroom wide enough for a night table?

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