It seemed like a good idea at the time

Home sweet money pit

Adam and I bought our house in December of 2007. It had been on the market for over 100 days, and come down about $100k in price. (I know this seems impossible today, but the house earned it’s lower price with 100% weird drop ceilings, cheap wood paneling and even shag carpets – plus the attractive pink color we all know and love so well. But it is a great house with a great layout in a great neighborhood with great “bones” so we figured we could live with (and eventually fix) the paneling/drop ceiling/shag carpet issues.

Drop ceiling, wood paneling

During our initial home inspection we were told to keep our eye out on a few things. The cast iron sewer pipe had to be replaced immediately. (They did that before we moved in. It literally shattered into pieces with one blow of a hammer. Thank goodness it wasn’t in use!) The roof probably only had 10 years in it. (We replaced the roof about 8 years ago.) And the wood surrounding the windows was rotten, and needed to be replaced before water got into the walls and made a serious issue of damage and mold.

Our house has, depending on the way you count, 36 windows. We replaced six of them with new construction Anderson windows when we did the attic project and brought that area down to studs. Several of those are on the porch, which is an entirely separate construction mechanism and disaster (and is a 3 season area, so not as critical). That leaves us with 25 crappy windows to attend to. They’re so bad that several of them cannot even be closed all the way.

The familiar face of the living room

After we finished the attic project, Adam and I agreed that our next major project would be the windows. There would be no other projects permitted to take precedence. (Well, we finished the floors and Adam is working on bookcases, but those were smaller in scope.) Then this summer, I got enough free time for a few weeks to actually tackle my gigantic backlog of things that need to be done. (So big.) And on that list was “find a contractor for the windows”. So I called up the guy who did the attic project, and lo and behold he was available in a few weeks and his quote was exactly what I was expecting, and I know his quality and reliability. So we paid the first third, ordered the windows and congratulated ourselves on taking care of this albatross hanging around our neck for a decade. While we were at it, we figured we’d also take care of the living room. It was in desperate need of love, with the worst of the drop ceilings and the cheapest of the off-white wood paneling. Plus insufficient outlets for a 21st century family. It’s an annoying project, but not a big one for a contractor to add onto existing work.

So much space!

The reality really started hitting the weekend we needed to completely clear out the living room. I don’t know about you, but I’m not what you would call a minimalist. My house doesn’t exactly have room to easily host all the furniture from another room, especially not stuff like the couch. So we crammed coffee tables in corners, pretended passageways were walls for the entertainment set, and decided that our couch was ready to be someone else’s basement crash couch (it’s very comfy, but also very badly faded at this point). The rest of house felt full to bursting as the dining room echoed strangely.

Wow, that wall paper!

Suddenly I realized – Adam couldn’t work in the dining room while they were doing demo on the living room. At least temporarily, he needed to move to the attic. And then the reality started really crashing down on me: every room in the house would be disrupted for this project, sequentially. We might have two rooms out at the same time. (Right now both the living room and the dining room are unusable.) During a pandemic. As the good weather begins to turn to unreliable weather. With midday really noisy sections. While EVERYONE IS HOME ALL THE TIME. AND WE CAN’T GO ANYWHERE ELSE.

Even our outdoor space is messed up


Anyway, I’ll be glad when this project is over. (Anyone want to take bets on when that will be? It was supposed to be a 4 – 6 week project, and it started September 15thish. I’m thinking it’s done by Thanksgiving….)

My mom has been on my case about not providing an album with updates, so I’ve attached a link to the album below. I recommend you enjoy the pictures like “cat in a dusty room alone” and “view of porta-potty from dining room” or “what we found in the walls this time”.

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

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