Evaluating & Setting Major Project Priorities

Walking into a house which you’ve bought sight unseen for the first time can be a scary experience.  My husband and I were all in and no matter what, we had to make this move work.

Being that he was transferred and was set to work immediately, I knew that it would be up to me to make the house a home.  That isn’t to say that I make all the decisions.  Hubby and I are partners and we have daily discussions about “what’s next?”

Being that we’ve only been here a week, the dust from the move is finally settling and we’re tightening up our suspenders to get some work done.

If I had money out the wazoo, I would completely gut this house to the studs and start over but there are many redeeming qualities to this house.  First of all – it’s old.  I LOVE old homes.  The original part of the house was built in the early 1930s.  There are a lot of gems to old homes but sadly too, there are usually a lot of problems that come with an 80-year-old house.

Original wood floors.
I LOVE THEM…  *but*

Whoever installed the central air conditioning system literally hacked the wood floor in areas where they installed the duct work.  I have not crawled under the house yet to see if they sawed through some of the floor beams but my best guess and intuition says they did.

IMG_1060 *SIGH*

Let me just say this:  The original work to the house is amazing but the “improvements” by former owners have been slipshod…and I’m being nice.

You can see where they literally took plywood and tacked it on top of the floor boards.  I found out why.  Because whatever they did under the house compromised the strength of the floor.  There are very weak areas where your foot might actually break IMG_1056through – and in fact, mine did.  Yeah, that’s my size 7 imprint.

Wood Grain Tile

Style Selections Natural Timber Chestnut Glazed Porcelain Indoor/Outdoor Floor Tile

The other thing is:  There is no subfloor or insulation that I can see.  In fact, I think I see earth where they left bigger gaps.

Evaluating:  I love the wood floors but some areas of the house are simply not safe to walk on without a lot of care or attention.  I don’t want to live like that!  Floors are HIGH PRIORITY.  I will repurpose the floor wood elsewhere.  Insulation and a subfloor are necessary for home efficiency.  Hubby and I agree that wood grain floor tile is the way to go.

Cost-wise:  High end in my book, but well worth the cost.  At the time of this post it is $3.89/sq. ft.

Our plan is to buy two to three boxes from different lots per pay check until we have enough to complete the project.

Why different lots?  Well, because we aren’t buying the entire floor at the same time so there might be color variations between the lots (if I’ve got lady readers, think of it like buying the same lot color for a knit or crochet project).  When we begin to lay the tile we will pick from an assortment of lots so that any color variations will be throughout the project and look like we meant to do it.

The majority of the windows in, what I call the “formal side” of the house are also original.  You can tell because there is a very cool wave to them – not the perfect glass that is mass produced today.

The glass is sound but the sashes around them are not in very good shape.
All of the weight and sash cords are gone.

Evaluating:  There is really nothing energy-efficient about these windows.  I’m settling on the fact that they will have to be replaced but my intention is to keep the old glass in storage because they could be used as replacement panes for the buffet.  It’s a project that must be done but it’s also a project that can wait until the higher priority items are taken care of.

Cost-wise:  All the windows are going to have to be piecemealed by room and determined by my budget.

I may have mentioned that our well water is coming out orange.  It’s not nearly as bad as a week ago when we got the water working after nearly a year of no occupancy.  The well head actually runs clean but the water is picking up sediment from the pipes.  So whether we spend $30/month on town water or use our free well, it’s going to be orange because of the pipes.

Best guess:  Pipes are galvanized pipe and probably about as old as the house.

There are a few fixes that we can do but we’re evaluating our options right now.  But just to give you a hint of things to come:  If we relocate the kitchen to another part of the house then the water pipes need to be moved too.  That’s when we’re going to replace with PVC or PEX – which is also low priority right now.  The floors come first.  

A band-aid solution is to buy a water softener (average $400+ and salt) and add a home filter (approx. $300) so we can feel confident with drinking and cooking with the tap water.

Call me crazy but this isn’t as high up on my priority list as you might think!
I’ve got running water so I can flush the toilet.  I can take a shower (even if it kind of smells like iron) and honestly, between the pets and my water consumption plus cooking, I’m using (at most) two gallons of bottled water a day.  At 75 cents/gallon it’s less than buying a cup of coffee.  I can live with that – for now.

The built-in buffet
I am so excited about this piece!

It is old wood and old glass.  I love the fact that there are some nicks in it but on top of being one of the jewels of this house – it’s going to be a fairly inexpensive fix.  I need to strip the old, tired varnish and sand it down.  It’s really dark stain but I’m hoping it will lighten up a bit.  If not then what I can strip it down to will determine the color I will be staining the wood molding throughout the house.

IMG_1059 IMG_1057Evaluating:  It’s not high on the priority list BUT it’s something that I can immediately work on; I won’t be in the way of the other projects, and I don’t have to spend a lot of money.

Cost-wise:  I will need varnish stripper, sand paper for my mouse, some elbow grease and a lot of determination.  All-in-all it’s not a high price to pay for a built-in piece.

I will write further on the kitchen project.

Right now, it’s small.  It works.  I will live with it…for now.

Needless to say – it’s not high on my priority list at the moment because I can effectively cook in it.

Visit Bathroom Issues to see what I’m planning there.

Something finally going our way!  It’s a metal roof with about a 50-year life to it.  In my records search of the house it was installed less than 10 years ago.  We’ve already gone through some pretty heavy rain and there is no indication that it leaks so I can scratch that off my list!

If you’re on a similar journey or want to follow along, please join my email list and you’ll get updates of new posts.

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2 Responses to Evaluating & Setting Major Project Priorities

  1. Vicki Warner says:

    Meredith – you have a lot to keep yourself busy and out of mischief! Very interesting post, and I hope you’ll manage to get the floors done really soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meredith L. says:

      Hi Vicki! Thanks for stopping by. As important as the floors are – we are actually looking at plumbing fixes first. At least we’re not falling through. LOL All good things come in time, right?


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