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Archive for July, 2009

My husband and I are of the kind of people that care about quality but don’t want to spend a lot of money for it. Sometimes, getting good quality for a fair price is possible, sometimes it is not. Here are a few experiences that I have made over the past year and a half.

The kitchen remodel:

  • Pulling out 2000 staples took a lot of time and finger strength but yielded a high quality birch floor that would cost quite a bit. Check that for the rest of the house minus the staples but plus glue. Paying someone else to sand and refinish the floors was the best money we spent. Go with the local small companies and ask if they have a cash discount. We got 10% off. Heard about it from our neighbors so ask your neighbors.

    Birch floors in kitchen after removing 3 layers of flooring and 2000 1" staples.

    Birch floors in kitchen after removing 3 layers of flooring and 2000 1" staples.

  • Kitchen cabinets: Go to your local ReStore. At certain times of the year they get over loaded with cabinets. We got ours on sale for 250 dollars. They were not cheap cabinets in their youth. Plywood construction instead of particle board and solid doors. New knobs and handles from Restoration Hardware make them look like very good cabinets.
  • Kitchen Sink: wanted an apron front sink with two basins, because we will not have a dish washer. Could have spent 1500 dollars on something like that but opted for the 300 dollar Domsjo model from Ikea plus the faucet for 70 dollars. (Prices have gone up a bit since we bought it) Built our own base because we didn’t want bad particle board ikea cabinet. As of today, that sink has seen some use and gotten scratched a bit. If I spend any more that 300 dollars on it, I would be very unhappy about these scratches but I can accept them as a sign of a well used sink.P1020480
  • Countertops: Again Ikea birch countertops 169.- for an 89″ length. Our floors are birch so it fits very nicely. Countertop has to be maintained but so does any butchertop countertop. It has taken on  a nice patina and shows that we do live in our kitchen.
  • Stove: 150.- plus 25.- delivery. It is a 1950’s Kenmore gas stove with a integrated griddle or big burner for canning pot. Probably cost less in the 1950’s but sure cheaper than a new stove that size. Cooks food well and even has a child lock for the knobs.

    1950's Kenmore stove. Burners fully hide for extra counter space.

    1950's Kenmore stove. Burners fully hide for extra counter space.

  • Fridge: we bought the fridge brand new because we wanted an energy efficient model. Buy a small fridge and keep it full, instead of a big fridge that is empty. It saves you money over time. Plus you eat fresher foods since you don’t have enough room to store them forever.

So we spent about 1700 dollars on these above items. In my book, that’s not bad, especially since I didn’t get cheap, badly constructed items, have diverted things from the landfill, have restored the orginal beauty of my home and don’t feel bad about a scratch or stain.

Also:

  • Bought “light” prairie style futon off of craigslist for 80.-, bought upholstery fabric from an outlet store (SR Harris) and made my own cover in the color that I wanted. 40.- so 120.- for a nice looking couch that fits our small house
  • Light fixture in dining room. $2.50 on 50% off light fixture sale at ReStore. We were only on our bikes that day because we were on a bike tour vacation. Since we knew we would be through the town on our way back with our car, we paid for it and they stored it for us for free.
  • Buying things on ebay. Check out the Buy it Now Only section. Then you know your price and you don’t have to put yourself through the anxienty of bidding. But sometimes bidding is fun, too.
  • Shop the curb: we “bought” both our cat trees on the curb. That type is usually expensive with real tree limbs and nice carpet. The cats don’t care.
  • Salvage things for your own home. Don’t just dumbster things you are tearing out. A lot of time you can reuse that 2×4 or that sheet of plywood. We salvaged the picture moulding, stripped and refinished it and put it back on the walls a bit differently. If you don’t want something, but it is in good shape, give it to someone that can use it. I gave away the doors and trim from our upstairs because they weren’t original to the house.
  • And if possible, you can try to recycle building materials that can’t be reused. You local dumpster company can probably give you some info on that.

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A new doorbell

Last week, I finally found a cute vintage doorbell on ebay. We’d been looking on and off but nothing was just right. And then this one showed up. I waited to bid on it until the last minute but nobody had bid on it anway. It came in the mail last Friday and here it is:

P1020837

All original copper doorbell

Copper doorbell hanging out with all original copper mailbox

Copper doorbell hanging out with all original copper mailbox

It feels good to make progress on the little things.

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The dumpster came on Friday. We got to work pretty much right away. Hauling the big stuff out the window in the back and only carrying small pieces in a garbage can down the stairs. We finished the north side of the roof on Friday and were pretty pooped, covered in itchy rock wool, black dust and roofing debris. I have never been so dirty, I had to scrub my skin with rough soap to get it off. A.’s dad came and helped us on Saturday. What a difference that makes to have another person. We finished tearing out the rest of the walls and insulation in 5.5 hours and got it all in the dumpster.

Revealing the roof rafters completely and seeing all the rot at the ridge has got us thinking again hard about our choices.  It hardly seems like a good idea to sister to these rafters and rely on the half rotted connections to hold up the new rafters. Tearing off the whole roof and rebuilding a new one seems like the only sensible thing at this point. And here we are again: If we do that, we might as well add that extra foot and go to a 9/12. An 8/12 roof will not give us enough clearance to be able to get a building permit for occupied rooms, such as bedrooms, since 50% of a room must have 7 feet or more. a 9/12 would solve this easily. And then we run into the bathroom ceiling height once again. According to city code, the bathroom is supposed to have a continuous 7′ feet ceiling height. So we are talking dormer again. I guess we’ll be off to get quotes next week for a framing crew. If any of you know a framing only crew in Southern Wisconsin, please let me know. We need a crew that will frame the new roof and sheath it in as little time as possible.

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Because we are trying to do things in the right order, hooking up the boiler is the first event in the chain of things that lead to a new roof. As of this morning, the boiler is hooked up to the storage tank, and work as started on connecting the water supply in and hot water supply out. We will not try to install the radiant heating system this year and just keep our furnace for another winter. When the boiler can take over for the domestic hot water supply, we can take out our old water heater and take out the chimney. 

 

Boiler and storage tank

Boiler and storage tank

 

Boiler loop connected to tank

Boiler loop connected to tank

 

 

 

Simultaneously we started disassembling the attic. Removed all trim and doors and gave them away to somebody lucky over craigslist. Started to remove wood panelling. It’s half inch plywood so we’ll keep it for now to see if we can have a use for it down the road. Also disconnected most electricity to the upstairs. A bit of a headache since it appears that the main supply runs off the old knob and tube, which still feeds our ceiling lamps in downstairs bedrooms, dining and living room. What we have found so far as electricity goes is quite scary. 

 

Demo in attic

Demo in attic

 

Electricity mess

Electricity mess

 

Bottom of rafter

Bottom of rafter

Good bye closet

Good bye closet

We might be ready for the dumpster and total tear out soon. But before we order the dumpster, we still have to remove toilet and sink and cap of pipes for now. For all we know there might not be a separate shut off valve. Need to finish plumbing in boiler and installing exhaust pipes. The list is getting shorter.

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