Friday, October 10, 2014

Let the Renovation Begin!

A post by our guest blogger, Andrew

In February, 2012, Margo and I went to visit our first house with our new realtor Maggie in Maplewood. We had taken a few trips out by ourselves and gone to some open houses, but this was the first time we were really serious about things. We’d looked online and emailed  Maggie a few listings that had caught our attention. At the very end of that first email we included a link to a house that was well over our budget and that appeared to need a ton of work. But it was charming and old with lots of character -- all things Margo and I prize above most everything else when it comes to houses -- and so we wanted to see it. I included a comment to Maggie that said “Way over budget, but this may be our dream house.” When we arrived out in Maplewood, it was the first house on the tour. “Let’s see if we can get you the dream,” Maggie said.

We pulled up outside the house for the first time, and somewhere deep inside us, both Margo and I knew we’d end up there. The family who had lived there had moved in in 1968, raised their family there, and clearly had a love for the place. They had not, however, done much updating. The basement was partially finished and appeared to be straight out of the 1960s. The bathrooms were even worse. And the kitchen. My god, the kitchen. Linoleum floors, no doors on the cabinets, refrigerator jutting out into the doorway, a stove that must be 60 years old. Margo and I walked around the house in a daze. “It’s over budget - by a lot,” we said. “The kitchen and bathrooms all need to be gutted - that’s a lot of money,” we continued. “That siding on the outside is horrible.” So we left, shaking our heads, and went to see around 20 other listings over the next few weeks.

But the house had worked its magic on us, and we were smitten. Then they lowered the price. Then we made a low bid. And then it was ours.

There’s little doubt that we knew what we were getting ourselves into. We had bought the Boo Radley house (or, “the worst house on the best block” if you work in real estate). But its charms were many: lots of bedrooms, an old wood-paneled library added on in the 30s, a big lot with a circular driveway. We moved in and couldn’t believe our luck.

We quickly set to planning the renovations, though, and realized that the budgets would be big. We wanted to start out slowly. “The second floor bath has to be first,” we said. But the third floor bath also needed to be done, and it was directly over the 2nd floor bath. “Okay, so the two baths first.” But then the real pain point seemed to be the kitchen, chopped up into a small kitchen and an unusable breakfast room. “Ok, then kitchen first,” we said. But the baths were directly in line over the kitchen, so it wouldn’t make sense to do the kitchen without doing the baths.

By the end of it, we’d decided to wait and someday try to do it all at once. That day was this past Monday. The total project now encompassed:
·         Third floor bath
·         Second floor bath
·         First floor half bath
·         Kitchen
·         Mudroom addition

We’ll chronicle the renovation from start to finish. While perhaps not as interesting as Margo’s Barcelona entries from the origins of this blog, your guest blogger Andrew will attempt to bring all the joys and frustrations of this 3-4 month (we hope!) project to light (including lots of pictures). The demolition began on September 29. More soon.


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