Sunday, April 27, 2014

Do it yourself, they said. It will be easy, they said.

So less than one week into homeownership, we've discovered our first less-than-pleasant surprise. Huzzah!

Hermione's contribution to today's work.

As I wrote about in the last post, we were happily and successfully removing carpet from the upstairs. I knew some of the harder parts, like pulling up the staples, were yet to come, but I was feeling good.

Then we tried to take the carpet out of the closet.
The house came with this lovely built-in custom closet system (I know, poor me) which is AWESOME. However, it was of course installed on top of the carpet, with a very tight fit, and attached in about 37 places. We couldn't get the carpet out from underneath it, and even if by some miracle we managed to wiggle those pieces out, there would be no way to install the new floor there. It would have to come out.

That was the last time Brett smiled for the next hour.

After dismantling it in every way we could see, Brett spent ages yanking, wiggling, hitting, and otherwise attempting to persuade a tower of shelves and drawers to move. No luck. This went on for at least half an hour, when I finally heard a very loud tearing sound, and the whole thing came loose. Yep - we had missed a screw. It had been screwed to the wall the entire time, and Brett just finally yanked hard enough to pull the screw loose. He's my He-Man.

After that the rest of it came out with moderate ease, but it was pretty time consuming.

You'd think we'd be done then, but oh no no...

There are two decorative columns at the top of the stairs. These, too, were installed on top of the carpet. They were also screwed to the stair wall in such a way that we had to take off all the trim from the wall in order to get to the brackets that were holding them on. In order to remove the last two 6" squares of carpet, we had to take apart two walls!

The dreaded decorative column in its native habitat

Then a run to the dump to get rid of all the pulled-up padding and carpet - I'm thrilled it's done but that took another chunk of time out of the day.

Once all the carpet was up, the padding pulled right up and the tack strips popped off pretty easily with a crowbar or cat's paw.

This bit was actually pretty satisfying. At least, for the first twenty minutes.

That left only ... the dreaded removal of the staples. We were deterred from trying to shortcut the whole endeavor by using a floor scraper - people warned us that would damage the subfloor. Apparently there's some kind of specialty tool for staple removal, but we didn't have one. So Brett and I spent half the day on our knees, ripping staples out of the floor one by one with pliers.

I hurt everywhere.

The saddest part is we didn't even finish (although we're past halfway), so we're going to have to face it again one of these days. Probably not tomorrow, though. My fingers need to heal.

Subfloor with staples removed. The result meets with Hermione's approval.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My New Favorite Thing Ever: Removing Carpet

Why did nobody ever tell me how satisfying it is to rip up carpet?

We couldn't work on removing the curved drywall piece today, since the previous owners are still working on clearing a few things out of the kitchen. (We suspected they would not be thrilled to have everything coated in drywall dust.)

Instead, we thought the easiest way to stay out of their hair would be to start working on the second floor master suite. The carpet up there was old and stained, and had spent the better part of a decade absorbing pet dander. Plus, it's interfering with my vision of toasting my delicate tootsies on radiant-heated wood flooring every morning.

The Interwebs assured me that pulling up carpet was going to be easy, so I therefore assumed it was going to be a horrible, awful chore. Imagine my surprise to discover that for the most part, it actually is quite simple - and actually fun!

First we cut into the carpet near a corner, which let us slip a pair of pliers underneath and yank. The carpet pulled away from the staples in the corner, and with just a little tug a huge swath of it came up with this lovely ripping sound. I felt that odd sense of satisfaction you get from peeling sunburn.

Anyway, from there it was just a matter of yanking and ripping, and occasionally cutting a new notch to rip from a different angle. It's moderately heavy work, but it goes so fast and is so satisfying!

We did run into some problem areas around the closet. We have an awesome walk-in closet with a built in organizer system (hooray!) but since it was installed on top of the carpet, we're going to have to figure out how to extract the carpet from underneath it. I hope we don't have to dismantle everything!

Brett tries to look tough after falling on his butt into a pile of carpet.
The bandana is his impromptu dust mask - if he robbed a train, we should definitely have more money.

So except for that area, the carpet is removed, rolled up, and ready to haul away. Next up will be removing the pad, which I think will also be fairly simple. Apparently the tough part is the last step - removing the zillions of carpet pad staples that remain in the floor. One site suggested using a floor scraper, so we'll see if we can borrow one or make a Home Depot run.

The other issue - though I expected this - is all the dust, dander, and lord knows what we kicked up in this process. I am basically allergic to air. Pollen, dust, dander - if you can breathe it, it will probably give me an itchy throat and a spectacular case of hives. So understand that I liked this SO MUCH that I'm telling you how awesome carpet removal is despite the fact that I basically had to hook myself up to a Benadryl IV to do it.

And now I shall pass out in a blissful allergy-medicated coma, and dream of the sound of ripping carpet.

Carpet pad exposed, with a roll of removed carpet

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Demo Begins

We closed on the house Monday afternoon ... and Monday evening, we started demo! Ok, so patience isn't exactly one of my virtues.

The first piece we removed from the house

Step one: Remove the '70's-esque curved breakfast bar, complete with wood paneling and harvest-print wallpaper. Seriously, what was this thing even for? It's not deep enough to use as a bar. Apparently someone thought it was awesomely decorative.

(So decorative, in fact, that they drywalled a curved piece onto the ceiling to match. Guess what's coming down next?)

It's actually been tricky to figure out in what order to do things. Once we take each step, I feel like I can see what should be next, but it's hard to see the whole outline in advance. Brett's better at it, but we still don't have a clearly laid-out plan. We might make one this week. Let's see how organized/motivated we are.... I really just want to bash stuff with the sledgehammer. I will not comment on how that may or may not relate to my work day.

Here's how it looked at the end of the night:

Breakfast bar, top and cladding removed.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

We bought a house!!

After precisely eleventy billion years of searching, we bought a house!! On Monday, we finally get the keys to our 1901 fixer-upper on two acres on a little island in Puget Sound. As you can see just from the outside, there's plenty of work to do!

 Frankly, I'm not even totally sure where to start. We have one month before we have to be moved out of our rental, and in that time we're hoping to remodel the kitchen, refinish the floors and walls, and modify the downstairs bathroom. It's a good thing we don't have other huge commitments during that time, like jobs, serving on nonprofit boards, taking care of our dog, visiting our family 2,000 miles away for my father's birthday .... oh. wait. Right.

It's going to be a whirlwind month (and we're not even starting on the biggest projects yet!) And as first-time homeowners, I know we're going to find lots of surprises along the way. We're going to think of it as a grand adventure ... and not, y'know, two busy people desperately trying to remodel a house with no time or money.

Stay tuned for more exciting (or, er, terrifying) before pictures!