Lessons Learned

Reflecting on what we’ve worked on so far with our first foreclosure and adventures in renovation, here are some things I learned:

  • You will get a lot done in the beginning, and then it will wear you out to nothing, and then you will wonder how in the world you use to work on projects every day through the night while also working
  • Owning a house means less time for other things in life because you are cleaning it every weekend
  • Bugs/tiny spiders/medium spiders always seem to be able to come into your house from only God knows where…”But I put up all the trim and caulked this whole house!”
  • Paint changes everything
  • Google will help you figure out how to do pretty much anything yourself
  • Landscaping is hard to do yourself if you have an odd shaped yard and it’s overgrown with weeds and you can’t seem to win.
  • You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a beautiful space to live, sleep, and eat in.
  • One bathroom is very difficult to share with roommates/guests/strangers.  If possible, try to find a place with two bathrooms.  This doesn’t matter if you never plan on having roommates or strangers living in your home.

Nine Months Later

Progress So Far:

  • Kitchen renovation is done (photos coming soon)
  • Bathroom renovation is done
  • Dining area shelves are done
  • Bedrooms are painted
  • Baseboard and crown
  • New doors
  • New door handles
  • Electrical
  • Blinds
  • Programmable Thermostat
  • Dishwasher hookup
  • Crown molding in living room

Still Left To Do:

  • Paint awning
  • Finish the laundry room
  • Finish crown molding in office
  • Caulk guest room and office
  • Paint doors with a finish (they came primed white)
  • Paint molding in guest and office rooms
  • Outside landscaping/gardening/weed killing – ongoing since the spring, grass never came out – sod next year in the spring
  • Eventually fix gutter and soffits
  • Find a washer/dryer – I know, I’ve made it 9 months without one, bless my heart 😉 I was hoping I could hold out until Black Friday. But now that it’s almost here, I don’t want to spend the money on it.  Especially if I have other things I need to pay for.

Things that changed:

  • Since working on the house, I have lost the opportunity to buy Home Depot and Lowes gift cards at 7% off on PlasticJungle.  I think they got too big and now everyone keeps buying their inventory completely in less than a second that I’ve had no hope of buying them anymore.  Perfect example of a very important lesson to you all.  If you know of a great opportunity, limit how many people you tell.  In this example, I think it’s because they got broadcasted on TV networks/shows/the news, so game over.  Kind of like how you can never find free stuff at the grocery store anymore ever since the Extreme Couponing show made it known to everyone.  Unless you’re a housewife/husband and can get to the store first thing on Monday or what not.
  • Got my CPA license in the spring.
  • Bought backyard chickens; sold backyard chickens – would I do it again? Absolutely – when I’m a housewife.  Too busy in the winter to be feeding them warm water; and I certainly don’t want to pay for the electricity to have a water warmer out there all winter, especially since as a single girl I just CAN’T eat through all these fresh eggs.
  • Totally lost count of the total amount of money I have spent on renovations.  I don’t know when it fell apart, but I think I have way too much to add up at this point that I’m not even sure how to make sure I counted everything.  I would estimate that it’s definitely at least $10,000.  I need to replenish my cash before I work on anything else!

Paint Aluminum Siding Yourself

BEFORE

No after photos posted yet! I will take some tomorrow.  You will notice the tree that was growing in the middle of the yard is gone.  Ben cut it with the circular saw. You can see the baby stump there!  Instead, we planted a Yellow Bird Magnolia to the left.  It’s still a tiny baby!  I love the south facing windows and the sunlight pouring into the house, so I really don’t want major shade in the front.  The Magnolia tree will get big enough to be some shade for the grass but not big enough to block out sun from getting into the house.

The quotation I got from someone to paint the exterior of this home was $900.  Eek, right!? So I put it off forever, and as time went by, I wasn’t sure if I really knew how to paint siding myself.  What if I really messed it up without realizing?  Well, after a great friend offered to come paint it with us, it fueled the fire under my butt to start searching Youtube videos on how to do it.  It seemed like there wasn’t much out there, other than the fact that yes, you can paint aluminum siding.  PROCEED with caution while power washing.  I can’t tell you what the “official way” to do this is, but here is how we did it:

Paint Colors

1.  Went to SW 1.5 weeks before the painting weekend, looked for a navy blue called “Naval” based off of navy blue door searches I did on Google.  In the store, it looked so dark I thought it was almost black.  So I instead bought a different color that had more purple.  After putting that sample on my door, I realized that the Naval was probably the right color.  So I went back and bought a sample of Naval.  Perfect.
2.  Looked to see if there was a sale on paints at Sherwin Williams. They run sales pretty frequently.  There were none.
3.  A week before painting weekend was actually a Labor Day Sale, so after I went a few days without paint, I went online again to see if there were any sales promos at SW, and luckily one had just started that day!  30% off your whole purchase!  So I went in and bought 8 gallons of un-tinted paint a week early.  I did this because you can’t return tinted paint, but you can return un-tinted paint.  They will tint your paint for free any time.  You just bring your unused, un-tinted can.   If my base gray turned out to be too light, I could make sure to get a darker color for the second coat. And, if I didn’t end up needing all gallons, it would leave me the possibility of returning one un-tinted can.
4. The day before painting day, I went in and tinted half the cans.  I ended up going to the store on the day of painting to get the second coat of paint tinted while getting lunch for everyone.

Washing and Painting

1. Bought Crud Kutter from Wal Mart in the painting aisle.  It is some kind of soap solution to wash grime off your siding.
2. Put Crud Kutter in spray bottle, and set out to wash the siding several days in a row (each day a different side).  Set a day to dry before painting.
3. When washing, first rinse off the siding starting from the bottom up. Do not spray up into the seams of the siding, because you will end up rotting the drywall and stuff that the siding is attached to.  This is the most important thing to be careful about when washing aluminum siding.  Then, spray with cleaning solution bottom up as well.  When rinsing, rinse top down.  The order matters because this is the order that will prevent streaking of dirt and other cleaning streaks.  I used my regular hose with a spray attachment.  Sometimes I put it on Power Wash but I tried not to, so that I can avoid sharp currents of water going up in the seams.
4. Let everything alone to dry for a day or two (make sure the weather will be non-rainy)
5.  Get 5-6 people to help, and have brushes ready and little pails for everyone.  Go to town!!  The more strokes in one spot, the better.  If you get a glob of paint on your brush and only brush a couple times through, you will get brush marks.  You will get less brush marks if you just keep stroking back and for the same spot over and over until you thin it out.  I do it as a really fast movement.  This took about 14 hours to complete and there were four of us, and then five the last hour.  Remember to feed your helper friends : )

-AFTER PHOTO WILL GO HERE-

Door and shutters: Naval by Sherwin Williams
Siding: On the Rocks by Sherwin Williams (a very light gray)
Trim: White
Total cost: $303.36 paint (8 gallons) + $20 lunch for everyone + $10 on 3 jars of sample paint = $316.36 v $900 professional
Good friends: Priceless- be a good friend and invest time in your relationships. People matter most 🙂

Fancy Door Molding

I wanted to test out how to make fancy door moldings.  Well, it’s actually kind of difficult.  It’s difficult because what you pick out at the store looks so different from how it will look as molding over your door.  This is the result:

Daylight

Night Time

I can assure you, when you’re in the molding aisle at Home Depot or Lowe’s, you do NOT see anything remotely close to what you see on top of those doors!  So how do you know what molding to pick? Well, the best way to envision how it will look on your door, is to hold the strip of molding at an angle.  Hold it as if the flat portion is going to be up against the wall like a 45 degree angle.  so in other words, it doesn’t run flush up against the back wall or the ceiling.  It rests to make a triangle with the wall and the ceiling if you imagine looking at it from the side.  So pick a molding that has several different lines.

This is the piece I bought, as well as a second flat piece that looks like this, but I think I just bought a random thin piece of wood that was the appropriate thickness I wanted.  So our molding is essentially two pieces – a crown molding and a flat piece of wood.  The molding goes on top, and to add more height, I added the flat piece of wood on the bottom of it.

Here is what the two pieces of wood look like without paint.

I also bought 6 hooks and spaced them out across two rows of flat pieces of wood.  I wanted it to be a coat/key rack when coming in through the door.  I really hate measuring because it’s so tedious, but I sucked it up and did it:

I chose a very high wainscoting for this area.  I don’t know why, but I thought it accentuates the fancy door moldings because it leads the eyes upward.

Cheap blinds!

I ordered blinds on www.blinds.com.  I had to order 6 custom blinds for various sized windows.  I ordered the 2.5″ slats in Ultimate Faux White.  They are Norman brand, but I just chose that brand because that was the sale that was running when I was ready to order them.  A week and a couple days later, the boxes showed up and Ben put them up in a couple hours.  There was some difficulty drilling into the frame of the windows, because it seems like some had metal sheets.  I would highly recommend buying your blinds on this website if you know someone who is handy enough to put them up.  They come with instructions of course.  I ordered mine “With Valance Returns” because I don’t plan on hanging curtains from a rod, so I want the white valance returns.  You type in your exact custom size that you need and pick whatever brand is on sale as long as they carry the type of blind you want.  I really wanted Faux Wood blinds.  My blinds that came actually look more like Plastic blinds, since the brand with the wood grain wasn’t on sale when I was buying them.  However, I do like that the ones on sale were the 2.5″ slats.  As you can see from the second and third photos, you really get a great view outside and you don’t have as many slats interrupting your vision.  Guess what the grand total was for all six of our faux wood blinds?   Scroll down…

$276.95 with free shipping for six custom blinds.  Yup.  No joke.

White Country Night Stands

Night Stands!

I held off on buying night stands, because they seemed really expensive at $60 a PIECE when you need two.  Well, I’m so glad I did, because it dawned on me one night to search Amazon.com for “End Tables” after measuring for the space I had between the door and the bed, and noticing that a standard night stand would be far too big.  I ended up finding these!

They are even painted to look like faded/old country cottage items.  I love the detail, and also the simplicity.  It’s pretty easy to put together as well.  This is how it looks like:

http://www.amazon.com/Gift-Warehouse-34353-Carved-White/dp/B000EWZ1Q2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349584562&sr=8-1&keywords=white+end+tables

I bought them for $35 each.  A great price considering that if you buy a night stand, you would be spending $60 each but you get two of these for $70.