Formulating a plan of attack

These last two weeks have been exhausting. On week days, I go from a full day of working at my office directly to our house to clean and scrub it of the remaining filth. Meanwhile, Jeremy works half days and then after lunch, he heads to the house to clean and devise a plan of action for the next month. My goal in these last two weeks has been cleaning the house as much as possible. Cleaning is such a time-consuming chore, but it’s always more fun when friends help out!

The wood floors have been the singular focus of my ire, and their filth seems to know no end. After trying and failing to clean the floors with a dry/wet mop and wood floor cleaning spray, I resorted to a much more physically aggressive plan of attack. With a good old fashioned bucket of soapy water and two heavy duty brushes, Jeremy and I scrubbed every inch of the first floor of the house.

Of course we’ve hit some hiccups already. Our drywall contractor seems to have disappeared even though his task is only half finished and he left some power tools at our place. He also left a bunch of trash bags in back yard, which covered the drain and caused rain water to back up in the yard and creep into our basement. I have resorted to sending him daily text messages that alternate between angry/threatening and friendly/jokey (to keep him on his toes). I’m taking bets on when we will see him again.

There is so much to accomplish in this house, and after spending time here the last two weeks, we now have a list of priorities areas we hope to accomplish in the next month:

Upstairs, our focus for the next month is on updating the electric outlets, installing recessed lighting and ceiling fans in the two larger bedrooms, installing new walls, floor trim and ceilings to replace the crumbling plaster, and building a walk-in master closet! If anyone wants to help demo plaster walls, please let me know!

Downstairs, we plan to open up the floorplan by removing some load-bearing walls. An engineer will draw up the plans for us tomorrow, which we will submit to DC for a permit. We’ve been told the permit process for removing walls is relatively quick (fingers crossed!). Then we’ll work with a crew to actually remove the walls and install beams to hold the weight of the house up (definitely not something we should should do ourselves).

Once the first floor is more open, the real fun begins. In the fall, we hope to design and execute a new kitchen and a small powder room on the first floor. We also want to turn the addition in the back of the house into become a sun-filled breakfast nook. Those dreams are still very far away. For today, let’s focus on the small victories: We have a new roof. We know how to use a shop-vac. The floors are starting to look clean. The house smells much better. Next week, we get an all new HVAC system and upgraded electric panel.

Today is for small victories and biohazards…

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!

You can mop anything if you believe hard enough

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!

Basement in need of a serious clean-up

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!