Jeremy and I have made incredible progress on the house since my last update. After two solid weeks of cleaning the place (and feeling like we hardly made a dent) we moved on to a more immediately satisfying activity…knockin’ down some walls ! On HGTV, everyone always goes nuts for demo day and now I understand why. You literally just knock everything over, pull all the nasty stuff off the walls, and hammer to your hearts’ content. While those home improvement shows may have prepared me for the fun of destroying a home that someone once loved, it did NOT properly prepare me for the reality of a home with plaster walls.
Plaster was the building material of choice before drywall was invented. It was the best method for creating walls, but it was incredibly time-consuming and labor intensive to install. You had to frame the room with studs, then nail hundreds of wood laths to the studs, then slather on the fresh plaster mixture. It lends older homes a distinctive character that was lost when drywall was invented.
All I can say is thank GOD they invented drywall, because plaster is a b*tch to remove. We are doing the same process in reverse. And since the plaster has been dry for 100 years, it literally crumbles into dust as we remove it (side note: plaster dust makes for a nice dry shampoo alternative…even though I’m exhausted my hair has never looked better). We prepared for the activity by buying crowbars of varying weights and sizes, and covering the floor with a big construction blanket. Jeremy plopped two plastic bins down on the floor to catch the falling debris and it worked like a charm!
After about 10 hours of smashing the walls to bits and yanking thousands of laths and nails off the studs, our home is coated in a fine layer of dust. BUT we can see the vision of our master suite coming to life. And we feel so accomplished about how much work we got done.
The reason we are doing this insane thing is that we are taking some space from the largest bedroom to build a walk-in closet. Apparently people didn’t own any clothes 100 years ago because the closets that came with the house are teeny tiny–this is our solution to create storage space. And honestly, it feels so good to punch this house. Jeremy and his friend Harry literally karate kicked one of the walls in, much to their delight. And our friend Sydney showed up to help shovel up the rubble and ideate our dream closet.
We also pulled off the horrible fake wood paneling only to reveal even worse plaster below. We will refinish the walls with drywall in the coming weeks, so anyone who wants to try putting up new walls is welcome to help! We took a class at Home Depot so we are basically experts and can show you how it’s done.
In the meantime, we plan to frame out and build the closet, re-wire some electric outlets and put in recessed lighting in the next few weeks. Oh and did I mention we are getting our HVAC system this week!? No longer will we toil in filth and sweat….only filth! Here’s to smashing our way into week 3 of home ownership!
Our house is empty of all the junk! A crew of 6 men and two women worked a total of 88 hours (including 8 truck-filled trips to the dump) to empty the home of 50+ years of possessions, douse the bathroom in bleach, sweep up the dirt, and dust off the cobwebs. And WOW what a difference it has made. If the home looked like this the week it was on the market, I am positive it would have had multiple bids that drove the price up. If you’d like to know how much these services cost, I’m happy to share!
The cleaners were able to sanitize the bathroom and kitchen, which is a great start! However, they simply were not equipped to provide the deep cleaning services that the house so desperately needs, which is where we come in. I started the slow process of cleaning every surface in the house on Wednesday night. I’m cleaning windows, door trim, window trim, floor trim, floors, around electrical outlets, in shelving, counter tops, cabinets. If you can see it, I’m cleaning it. This is how I felt:
I bought one of everything in the cleaning aisle at the hardware store and got to work. I think it might take 100,000 hours to clean this house but I’m determined to do it!
Meanwhile, Jeremy got to work ripping up the carpet in the upstairs bedroom. It was smelly and filthy and not a good look. In just one day, he removed the carpet and pad, and with it, he removed most of the horrible smells emanating from that space. I will post the after once we mop up all the dust.
I’m realizing that our basement will need a serious deep clean from a company that cleans up biohazards. I won’t go into the gory details, but it doesn’t seem safe for a civilian to breathe in the air down there, and basic home cleaning services are not appropriate for what lurks below. Luckily a family friend works for a company that specializes in cleaning out the homes of hoarders, and they are on the case! Keep your fingers crossed that they can get the job done in the next week!
Jeremy and I have so many things to think about that it makes the mind boggle. I keep telling myself to hold on to the small victories and just go day by day. For today: the top layer of grime has been scrubbed off, the carpet was removed upstairs, the drains work in the back yard, and there is no longer a hole in the basement door! Even better, the roofers started to rip off the old broken roof and replace it with one that keeps rain out of our bedroom!