Celebrating our successes, Part 2 – recent project list…

Upon review of my lists, I think the previous list was more a “had to get it done to keep the place standing” kind of list (roof, tuckpointing, electrical, windows, front porch repair/rebuild) with a few “nice to have because it makes my life more pleasant” projects thrown in  (painting, fireplace reno, window trim, landscaping).

This Part 2 of completed projects is in the “nice to have because it makes my life more pleasant” category.  Well, with the exception of our most recent project – that one was mandatory.  And – fair warning – while not graphic, our last completed project might make the faint of heart a bit queasy just thinking about the subject matter – you might not want to be eating when you get to the bottom of this post.  With that out of the way, let’s get to recently completed projects:

New fireplace windows – our old fireplace windows were single plate glass in a non-opening frame.  In the winter, these windows had a thick layer of ice on the inside.  During the day, the ice would melt and run down the wall.  Finally, we saved up our money and had in-swing, opening, energy efficient windows custom made and installed. We also hired out the woodworking – because the angles needed to accommodate the in-swing window so it would open flat against the wall – were a bit of a mind teaser.  Anyway, we love these windows in the winter and the summer.  The summer breeze coming in from the open windows drops the indoor temperature by 3-4 degrees.  The windows look great too!

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Garage – Tad finally got his garage after 15 years!  We stained the floor, installed a sink with hot and cold water, organized the tools in a newly procured tool chest or two, had some nice steps made for the entry into the house, and finished the multiple wood doors.  Tad still wants to finish the interior and we need to get our yard tools and miscellaneous stuff better organized – so it still remains on the To Do List – but we don’t have to scrape the snow and ice off of our cars in the winter and that makes us feel special.

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Addition – the addition came about as a result of the garage project.  If we put in a garage, we wouldn’t have had access in the future to replace or repair the rotting porch and stairs to the basement on the back of the house.  I painted this thing purple 15 years prior – thinking we would be ripping it down soon.  Little did I know that it would be purple for a really long time.  I liked the purple.  Our neighbor was not a fan.  There were also multiple broken windows from golf balls, wiffle balls, crab apples, etc.

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The stairs were skinny and steep. I fell down these rickety stairs a number of times.  The photo here also looks like you are descending into the pit of despair.  In retrospect, it was a bit of a pit of despair.

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We added a 2nd bathroom, laundry room, mudroom, stairs to the basement, additional kitchen space (so I could have a dishwasher), a “sunroom”, and a new outdoor courtyard.  This first photo below is the north side view of the addition.  Pictured is the new bathroom and laundry bump out with garage in the background.

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Below is the south side view of the addition that includes from front to back the sunroom/stairs to the basement (3 tall windows), mudroom (3 high windows), and garage (door and 2 small windows).

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This is also a north side view of the laundry room and sunroom on the left, mudroom in the middle (with the french doors), and garage on the right – creating the new courtyard (as we like to call it).

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Radiant Floor Heat – I would say that this probably goes on the list of Best $ Ever Spent  – we love it. I think Hanna the cat is also very happy with this feature – she knows where all the “hot” spots are.

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The Big Dig – the basement was your typical old, low ceiling kind of basement. We used it only for storage because it was yucky.  Then, the addition happened and we added a basement under the new addition.  In the middle of the addition project, Tad decided that we needed to dig out the dirt pile in the front of the basement for our new utilities area. We hired Tad’s teenage nephew, his nephew’s friends, and Tad’s 10 year old niece for the dirt removal – I think it was the hardest money they ever earned.  We had to use a jack hammer to remove the dirt!  This picture is the only before picture I have of this area.  You can see where we had just started digging down 2 feet or so…

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A year or two later, we wanted to dig out the middle part of the basement to match the floor and ceiling height of the new addition’s basement.  It was weird.  It still had low ceilings and you had to step up a couple of feet to enter that area.  Anyway, one digging experience was enough for us – and the relatives refused to help despite the offer of a raise.

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So, we had that professionally dug down and an appropriate foundation added.  It was the quickest project ever – 10 days from start to finish – impressive in my opinion.  For an unfinished basement, we think it’s pretty nice.

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We do hope to finish the basement at some point in the future.  In the meantime, we added a wall treatment on the stairwell wall going down to the basement – so, I can say that there is one small piece of the basement completely finished…

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Kitchen – I think this actually came before the final basement dig phase, but after the addition.  Tad and I did most of the work.  We gutted the space, removed a wall, replaced the subfloor and ceiling joistsran electrical, insulated, hung drywall, tiled the floor, tiled the walls, and painted.  We think our work is as good or better than any professional out there – and it passed inspection!  This project made a huge impact on the look, feel, and flow of our house – it was a bit shocking but in a really good way.

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South Side Yard – the back half of the sunny south facing side yard had been dirt and weeds since we completed the addition/garage construction.  I thought about what to do over there for 2 years.  Finally, I just did it and got it done!  It is lovely.  Vegetable planting troughs, sedum, strawberries, hosta, irrigation system, flagstone path, and a dry creek bed/drainage swell.  See all the details here.

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Then, the front part of this South Side Yard looked overgrown and unkempt in comparison to the back half.  I cleaned it up, cleared the weeds, relocated the flamingo, reorganized the stepping stones, and replanted the plants.  Check the whirlwind garden organizing session here. 

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North Side Yard – the north side yard had also been just dirt and weeds since we completed the addition/garage project. We had plans, but 2 years later it was still dirt and weeds (we live in Denver so that is ok as long as the weeds don’t grow completely out of control).  Well, one evening we were across the street at the neighbors having some wine and looked out towards our house.  Oh my, it was not pretty – we were so embarrassed by our side yard that we got on that landscaping pretty much the next day.

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The Google maps people caught me on camera doing some of the manual labor – alone – no help in sight.  Want to know more about gabions?

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Anyway, a year later the final detail was complete – Tad finished his pitcher’s mound and home plate on the 4th of July!  Yes, we have a pitcher’s mound and home plate in our yard – and it is almost regulation.

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Sidewalk and steps – our front sidewalk and steps were cracked and uneven from tree roots and age.  It drove Tad crazy.  We opted for new concrete with slightly exposed aggregate. The exposed aggregate looks old even though it is new.  I like that and it’s nice to have pretty, flat concrete.

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Shade – we recently got some shade after a review of many options out there – see the review of options here.  We went with the custom made horizontal, roman style shade that is retractable.  More pictures and the final install story here.

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Sewer line replacement – we received the dreaded letter from the City of Denver.  They had scoped the main line, decided we had a problem with our sewer line, and told us that we needed to fix it.  The proof was in the picture – pretty green dye indicates a not so pretty problem.

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We were totally stressed thinking that we were going to have to dig up new concrete and sod to fix this – despite having put in an entirely new sewer line when we did our addition.  It didn’t make any sense.  Come to find out, there was some clay pipe still left – that connected our new sewer line to the main city line – and it was in the alley.  So, it was a huge relief that our concrete and yard could stay intact.  Once the relief passed though, I wondered why we still had clay pipe if we paid some plumbers a boat load of cash to replace the sewer line a few short years ago.  Tad could not provide an answer to my question.  I finally accepted that we had to do this despite the unanswered question.  We got several bids.  Serious sticker shock ensued.  Tad negotiated.  It was done in a day.

I want to put this last project behind me.  I want to move on to the next as quickly as possible.  When people ask what the last house project was, I don’t want to have to discuss our sewer line.