Tuesday, January 1, 2013

House Renovation - The First 100 Days

100 days have passed on the calendar since I closed on my new house. Actual work has only occurred on the weekends and two full weeks of vacation time.  Except for some painting, I have done most of the interior work by myself.

Sanding ceilings
When I bought the place, I knew this project would be close to overwhelming and fairly expensive. I have a good amount of experience with home repairs but most of it was 20 years ago and nearly all my tools have been in storage for the last 12 years. I was counting on the theory of once you learn to ride a bicycle, you never forget. It does not seem to apply to spreading joint compound but I do sort of remember that I never really learned that particular skill.

So did I run into any surprises? Well the water damage behind the kitchen cabinets made them utterly useless and the drywall behind them had to come out as well. I thought I could work with the kitchen for a while but it reeked of mold and had to be the first thing to go. The AC blew up a couple of weeks after I closed. Not really a surprise. It was not looking to good at the inspection.

Just a little roof leak

I then discovered that the popcorn ceilings were spot patched and painted all throughout the house. I thought about re-spraying the whole ceiling but that could have lead to the popcorn falling. If you ever want to remove the popcorn on your own ceilings, good luck to you. It is an extremely dirty job and on a 12 foot cathedral ceiling, just a bit dangerous. Get the popcorn a tiny bit wet and it literally falls off with a quick pass of the scraper. Run into the patched and painted areas and you will wish you had never started removing it. About 1/4 of the living room was patched in some way. The roof apparently was leaking and repaired for years. The 30 sheets of plywood used during the new roof installation were a pretty good indicator of how long this roof had been neglected. If I had not salvaged this house, it would have likely melted and caved in during the next summers rains.

Goodbye moldy kitchen
I took a huge leap of faith (in my own skill level) and decided to remove the soffits above the upper cabinets in the kitchen so that I could put in taller ones. They were built to last and connected to a lot of structural lumber that needed to remain undisturbed. A delicate balance between swinging an eight pound sledge and gingerly using the pry bar to not bring down the roof or split the ceiling. Came out perfect.

So am I on schedule? Even with all the extra work I am exactly where I wanted to be. This is literally a top down renovation. The roof is done. The fallen ceiling in the master bedroom is hung. The popcorn ceiling in the entire house are scraped, sanded, primed, and painted. The walls patched, and painted. The trim sanded and partially painted. The master bedroom still needs a final sanding and painting. If this was an HGTV episode I would be on day two of a five day build. I suspect they have more of a crew than the one I have.

Dad supervising
Drywall jack - Best tool ever

How are things on the expense account front. I expect to drop about $50K on this renovation. So far I've spent $15,000.00 on the roof. I got a quote to do the bedroom ceiling of $1,500.00 so I did it myself for $100.00 in drywall an $170.00 for a drywall jack. Another $500.00 or so in paint, patch, and parts at Home Depot. The new AC goes in next week. Another $3000.00. There will be a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches between now and the end of this project.

Ceiling and walls painted. Just the trim left to do
Coming up next - Tile floors, a new kitchen, and all the appliances. 


  1. Love your 1st pic, I certainly don't miss that sanding of drywall, it's a nasty job, sand for 5 min's & you can't see a thing for the dust on the glasses. Looking good so far, hope you don't go broke soon.

  2. Still one more big sanding and a few small touch ups then finish all the painting. It's starting to look a lot more like a future home and a lot less like and abandoned property.

  3. There's a few rude Aussie swear words I'd have used well & truly by now if I were you!!! I don't even want to know what a popcorn ceiling is - but it's great you've got your dad 'helping'!!!! Congratulations on taking on such a big project AND still visiting my blog!! I'm honoured!!!

  4. @Red - I am finding that "Popcorn Ceilings" are mostly a South Florida invention as my Northern friends never heard of them either. A quick Google search will list an endless array of ways to remove, repair, or install them. It's pretty much like throwing a bowl of oatmeal on the ceiling and spraying it a nice bright white. The purpose is to cut down on the echoing I'm guessing because now my house is like a yodelers paradise.

  5. Just think how nice it will all be when it's done. Where is this house? We lived in Pembroke Pines, about 72nd Avenue, in Boca, and in Davie.

    Been in Ocala 8 years. Just bought a new house - moved out of a 55 + community. But ours doesn't need any work; thank goodness, as I'm not too handy!

    Good luck!

  6. @Lowell - This place is in Stuart. The most important thing is it's 5 minutes from Mom and Dad. I've ventured all around the country and the world looking for my next home but family won out in the end..... for now.

  7. Just looking at your work makes me feel like a slacker. I spent my childhood along with my sisters helping out on renovations. When we grew up, we built a garage for our parents all gathering one Thanksgiving weekend with our spouses. The slab was ready and we had a blast.

    Thanks for visiting my blog today. Come back again.


  8. What a project! I hope you are enjoying the completion of each stage, applauding yourself as you go along.

  9. @Genie - I have found the work very different from my every day working with computers. I had to by a fixer upper house when I was younger. I bought this one just for the fun of making it my own.

    @EG CameraGirl - I have divided each stage of this project literally from the roof to the floor and you can bet I celebrate every little piece as it's completed.

  10. This excites me, I love seeing what someone can do with determination and elbow grease. I personally find the most rewarding part of any reno is sitting back, sipping on the tea (or beverage of choice) and feeling like a million dollars knowing you did the work!

    Nothing wrong with P&J sandwiches, peanut butter is good for protein! :-)

    Cheers and all the best with the reno, I'm excited to see the after shots!

    1. Oh and you're so right about the ceilings, been there, done that and I say never again... as I look up at my ceiling and think hmmm maybe!

  11. We had a popcorn ceiling in the hall (luckily only there) and that's how we removed it -my oldest daughter was glad to help (it was probably a thorn in her eye!)

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