Hi. My name is Andy. This is my first blog.
My intent for this site is to document the remodeling of (what hopefully may become) the Newhouse's new house. This is actually a fairly old house, built in 1882. While it has had several significant updates already (plumbing, wiring, bathroom) it remains a 6-bed 1-bath house with an odd layout. I think this is typical of houses from that era that have been expanded over the years in various directions by various owners. We hope to make it into a more modern 3-bed 2-bath with first floor laundry, which will hopefully be a great place for our twins to grow up (and easier to sell whenever we need to move). I also hope to convert part of the barn into an insulated woodworking shop. I plan to do much of this work myself (or with volunteer help from friends), but unfortunately I simply won't have time to do all of it. So part of the process will be getting quotes from "real" remodelers, and deciding what to do and what to hire out.
Back to the purpose of this blog: Even though we don't have an accepted offer from the seller yet, I've done a lot of planning and research to see what types of improvements are reasonable and affordable. I hope that by writing about the planning and remodeling process here, I can provide a resource for others who might be considering something similar, and maybe save someone a little time googling! I would also like to share the process with my family and any friends who might be interested. I intend to post detailed before & after pictures as we make progress, and share links to ideas/ tools/ resources/ materials/ discounts/ etc.
Here's the very first before picture: the approximate current layout.
1. Clean out the barn (so it can be a storage/staging area for other projects), maybe build a wood floor (over the existing dirt) in the workshop area. I expect the hardest part will be leveling the floor. Then I'd lay down a thick plastic vapor barrier, set treated 2x4's on edge directly on the plastic, and screw plywood/OSB to the 2x4's. I'd space the 2x4's quite closely (12" on center?), and probably use two layers of ply for the floor, in order to support heavy power tools. (My bandsaw is in the neighborhood of 350 lbs, jointer and workbench are each well over 200 lbs. I do NOT want a saggy/bouncy floor, but wood is a more comfortable to stand on than concrete, and much more forgiving to dropped hand tools or workpieces.)
2. Remove all shag carpeting (bathroom, stairs, and 4 bedrooms). I've done this before, so I have all the tools and protective gear necessary. But I do want to get a utility trailer to haul all the old stuff away.
3. Remodel existing bathroom. There's an odd wall right in front of the tub (not shown on map), which would make it difficult to bathe babies or a dog. This wall is there to allow the proper placement of the bathroom door, isolating it from Bedroom 2. We don't need it isolated (keep reading), so we'll remove this wall, and add a door slightly farther up the hallway - this will require you to enter the bathroom in order to enter Bedroom 2, but that's OK. The door we'll add needs to fit into an arched passageway, so I'll probably custom build the door, probably from oak to match the floor. Definitely fun, but time-consuming. Then we'll put new flooring in the bathroom - maybe resilient, maybe tile, maybe heated. Most of this remodeling might be hired out, except for making the door - I suspect that would be a very expensive custom job, and I would enjoy it.
4. Covert Bedroom 2 (smallest bedroom in the house) into a laundry room. Current laundry hookups are in the basement, almost directly below the bathroom, so moving the water and electricity into Bedroom 2 shouldn't be TOO difficult. The wallpaper in this bedroom is probably the least offensive in the house, so we might leave it for now. Floor is wood, but not oak like the DR/LR/hall - we'll probably leave it as is for now.
5. Update Bedroom 3. This will probably be the twins' room, at least initially. The turquoise shag carpet will have already been removed, and we also want to remove the (very tacky) turquoise & pink wallpaper. Then we'll paint the walls some more tasteful color (shouldn't be difficult).
6. Update kitchen. Add a dishwasher! (None currently there). Either replace the electric range with a gas model, or add a gas cooktop. This will require a propane tank outside, but we're sick of cooking on electric coils. Add a vented range hood over the gas cook surface, wherever that ends up. Fridge is old, but apparently functional - we'll probably leave it for now, but hope to replace it soon with a more efficient model. Finally, remove the partial wall that separates the kitchen from the dining room, and replace it with a countertop/cabinet peninsula. This will give this area a more open feel, and increase counter space and cabinet space.
7. Refinish hardwood floors in LR, DR, and hallway. Existing floors are good-quality oak, but stained and somewhat worn. This is not terribly difficult, but it is time-consuming - we might hire it out.
8. "Surface" updates in all main floor rooms: install light fixtures, blinds/curtains if necessary, rugs where appropriate, adding shelves here & there, configuring closet space, etc. We'd furnish the Addition with a sleeper sofa (or at least good air mattresses) for use as a guest bedroom. Both the upstairs and the basement could also be used as guest quarters, depending on where in the remodeling process we are.
All of the above will need to be done before we move in. This will let us use the entire main floor as a living space, and leave the upstairs basically empty, for Phase 2: creation of a "master suite" using the entire second floor. Ceilings are sloped, which makes planning a little tricky, but also presents some neat opportunities for skylights and... hide & seek spots? I'm sure we'll figure out some other benefit to sloped ceilings.
9. We'd start by turning Bedroom 4 into a full bathroom. This is located immediately above the current bathroom, so as with moving laundry, the plumbing shouldn't be too complicated.
10. Then we'd combine bedrooms 5 & 6, and turn the existing hallway into closet space. Something like this:
Finally, there are a few more things we'll want to do eventually, but not necessarily right away.
11. Minor basement updates. Installing a battery-backup sump pump would be a good thing - it doesn't look like the basement floods, and we'd like to keep it that way. Then we'd probably just add some built-in shelves for storage - the basement is small enough, and ceiling is low enough, that it's not really prime living space.
12. Windows are a big one - the current windows are very old, single pane, with external removable storm windows. I first visited this house on a day that was 14F and windy, and the windows were surprisingly non-drafty. But new double-pane low-e windows would surely make the heating more efficient. This could be done one or a few at a time, preferably on nice days in the summer, so living without a window for a few hours wouldn't be a big deal. First priority would be the half dozen windows in general-use rooms on the main floor that open directly outside, rather than onto enclosed porch areas. We might try to get those replaced before the next heating season; the rest could wait a while.
13. Insulate the workshop room in the barn, hopefully before winter. I would probably just to keep it around 50F or so through the winter; enough that I could turn up the heat to work when I needed to, or that it would be tolerable with a coat on for short projects. Insulation and a little heat would also protect valuable tools and wood, by reducing variation in temperature and humidity. I would also want to put in good lighting and lots of electrical outlets.
14. Plant shrub willow along the west edge of the driveway. This can grow extremely quickly, and should provide a wind break and snow fence. There is a lot of research being done on hybrid shrub willow at my workplace, and it's a fascinating topic. I think it would also be fun to plant shrub willow in the shape of a maze in part of the yard, so it will grow pretty densely by the time the boys are running around outside, but we'll see! Other yard projects include buying a riding mower, buying/building a picnic table, making a bonfire pit, and pruning a big maple tree to optimize climbing potential.
15. In the even longer-term future, it'd be nice to put a deck off the back of the house, with a sliding door into the Addition room. The roof is not new, but my initial cursory observations suggest that it's not leaking at all, or disintegrating too badly. Depending on the report from the home inspection and observations over time, a new roof will be on the "eventually" list. I'd like to do metal, possibly on purlins installed right over the existing shingles. Status of insulation in the walls and roof is another big question for the home inspector.
Whew! That's a lot to think about, but it's been fun to plan and organize, and we're excited about the possibility of customizing a house to match our preferences, while keeping some of the unique "character" of the 130-year-old building.