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The Major Renovation: Life in a construction zone as we enter the home stretch

Four adults, one child and three dogs.  nder one roof.  In a house that is a still a construction zone. In a perfect world, the work would have been done by now. Alas, a perfect world this is not.

Day 50:  Finishing touches on the cabinets

Monday May 25

Still recovering from the 11-hour road trip, picked up our dog from the kennel in the morning. She needed to be able to establish her dominance in her own domain as early as possible.Meanwhile, the contractors installed the back door and the cabinetmaker was taking care of some finishing touches in the kitchen. It was a hectic morning.

Besides installing shoe molding around the kitchen cabinets, the cabinetmaker also installed the re-worked linen cabinet in the bathroom. Except for a little more tile work, the bathroom is now finished and we have tons of usable storage. Best of all, we have now paid him in full, signalling an actual end to one of the phases of the renovation.

linen cabinet
The re-worked linen cabinet– downsized, reoriented, but still lots of useful storage space.

The other major accomplishment on Monday was the installation of a new back door. Wood paneling completely covered the old door and did not let in any light.The back landing was dark and depressing.

One of the first projects I tackled as a do-it-yourselfer was installing a pre-hung exterior door. I always assumed that I would eventually replace this back door myself. After seeing experienced contractors take most of the day on this task, I am glad I left it to the pros. Now our back landing is flooded with light from the laundry room and the new half-lite back door.

framing rough opening for back door
Preparing the opening for the new back door.

main hallway and back door
The view from the front door towards the new back door. Picture was taken at night, so you cannot fully appreciate the amount of light now let into the house….

back door
The new back door

Day 51:  Electrical

Tuesday May 26

On Tuesday May 26, the contractors continued applying mud to the transition between the old and new walls.  It will take many more coats to blend everything together. They also installed the new electrical sub-panel in the basement. Where we had a six space panel previously, we now have 24 spaces. This abundance of space means each kitchen plug is on its own circuit. Not only does this exceed code, it also means we will probably never pop another breaker (something that happened with anger-inducing frequency in our old kitchen). Plus we have plenty of room for future growth

Day 52: HVAC

Wednesday May 27

Two of the three contractors were on another job, leaving one guy to work alone applying additional coats of mud. Meanwhile, the HVAC guys returned to finish installing the in-floor heat, which they roughed in at least a month ago. They are also installing radiators in the laundry room and bedroom on the main floor, and in the bathroom, workroom and storage room in the basement.

The in-laws have started to settle in, and all the dogs get along okay. Not bad considering everything that’s going on right now.

Day 53 and 54:  We’re in the Home stretch

Thursday May 28 and  Friday May29

The end is near. By “end” I not only mean the end of this renovation but also the end of our savings. On Thursday, the walls were primed and on Friday, the first top coats of paint were applied. The tiles were cut and installed for the baseboard in the kitchen and the hallway. The washer and dryer have been moved to the laundry room giving us more storage in the family room. The punch list is shrinking. The contractors hope to wrap up most of the work by the end of the first week of June.

And the end doesn’t come a moment too soon as our money is running out. Having money left in the bank as “seed money” towards the addition and garage is a pipe dream. We will be saving towards that project from a starting point of zero.

I did manage to get some cash flowing back our way this week as I returned some unused materials. However, I also managed to spend most it on some new items.

At least we haven’t taken on any new debt, unless you count a “six months same as cash” purchase from Home Depot which I will pay off during the interest free period. That’s something to be thankful for.

The punch list

We should be getting the counter top this week, which will allow the contractors to finish tiling the back splash and for us to finish moving into the kitchen. Most of all, I’m looking forward to using our oven again, rather than relying on the grill or the microwave.

And I still have to install the shelves and rods in the closets upstairs. I also want to replace the ivory switches and plugs with white ones to match the trim. Plus I want to hook up the satellite in our bedroom and the guest room, which means the tedious job of wiring up the QuickPorts. And we still have to shop for window coverings because one of these days, I’m going to forget to change clothes in the walk-in closet or bathroom.

Yes, the end is near, but for every major item we tick off of the punch list, another small item pops up.  But at least we will be getting relief from the constant out-flowing of money.

This post contains content consolidated from 2 posts originally published May 28 and June 1, 2009. Revised 2018


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