The weather was so cold and it gets really windy up on the ridge so we could not do much. We had no heat because the propane tanks were dead empty, we had no water, because the company that winterized the place did not empty the pump tank at all so it froze. The windows which we thought were Anderson, were really Peachtree, a now closed company that offered no parts or replacement windows. The apartment windows were really bad, some didn’t shut and were duct taped to keep the wind out. So we went looking for windows to order. We went to Home Depot and found a wonderful guy named Jeff Kramer,or Kramer for short, who came to the house to help us decide what to get and measure. Because the windows where very tall they were close to the floor. Now the code says up to a certain height the window has to be tempered, which is very expensive. We decided to do two windows to save costs, a solid tempered window at the bottom and a nice regular glass wind out Anderson window on top. That would take about 6 weeks. Deciding on a color was a long process. We decided to have the outside match the garage door color. We ordered a dumpster and hired a contractor to totally gut the apartment so we could start redesigning the place. He took 2 days but did a great job and it was totally gutted including the bad leaking drywall. The roofer came that Monday after we settled. He had a crew of 10 men and they worked very fast. We replaced 9 of the 11 skylights and closed up 3. It was overkill in that house. The roofer pulled off all the gutters so we could paint behind them. I had such a hard time deciding on colors of the house. Its such a big decision and of course has lasting effects, we are stuck pretty much forever with the color. We decided to repair most of the outside board and batten siding because siding the whole house we could not afford yet.
I have a great plumber, Dave Judd, who is also a friend I knew from my Ferguson Days. He knew an electrician, who actually turned out to also work for my main contractor, so everyone knew everyone and I felt safe letting them come into the house when I was not there. That makes such a big difference when remodeling. After going back and forth with Dominion Power convincing them I had two power boxes, they finally turned power on to both parts of the house. The electrical panel in the garage had somehow sometime gotten wet and all the circuits were corroded. Ross, my electrician had to come change that out and move some switches in the apartment. Dave moved all the plumbing around in the bathroom for us and moved the washer/ dryer into the next room, I hated it being in the bathroom. We added doors and took other doors away, reframed and started in on the drywall damage and fixed it up. I never realized how everything worked together and what contractor had to come in and when, but I know now!
In between all that I had to get estimates for tile and wood floors, painters, decided what trim I wanted and order that, and decide lighting, cabinets for the bath and kitchen, appliances, and all the paint colors in and out. I was up alot of nights and early mornings going over everything in my mind. We were going to add a shower pan to the bathroom, the first one was warped, after ordering a new one, that one was cracked. I hope the third one is perfect. That held up the bathroom cause you can’t drywall until that is in.
Meanwhile, I wondered about our septic field and tank. I had no record that it was ever pumped out. I had Stewarts Septic come out one cold day and see if he could find it. I had somewhat of an idea from the town records that it was 50 feet off the main house and then there were cleanouts every 25 feet down the slope to the field. There were 2 visible cleanouts by the house, but where they led we could not tell. We did not have a concrete lid on the tank, no that would have been too easy. After an hour in the bitter windy cold I told the guy forget it, come back when the weather was better. He had a long metal pole he stuck all over the ground looking for the tank. He came back 2 weeks later with a bigger crew. We called the county again cause we still could not find it. Someone finally found the permit for the septic field and said it was 66 feet off the main house. They sent for a camera snake they were going to snake down one of the cleanouts to find the tank. When they arrived, the battery was dead so they had to let it charge first. One of the old timers came along. Thankfully, they never ended up using the snake which would have cost more money. He found the tank right away just by looking at the topography. They dug it up and it was quite full. Disgusting. The truck had to go empty and come back again and pump more. I guess it had never been emptied, I am glad it never backed up into the house. They put a cement riser on it for next time. Just more money…
Had to fight Southern States over the propane tanks, first they didn’t believe I had two sets, two on the apt side and one big one on the other side. Their records said it was buried. They didn’t think I knew what I was talking about. Good Old Boys didn’t think the little lady knew about propane. They actually came out to verify! Then they told me I had to fill them all up and get an inspection for more money since they owned the tanks. And I had to be on an automatic fill plan, so even if I didn’t use much they had to charge me. I didn’t really want them filled, I am hoping to get one big one and bury it maybe by next winter. That way I own it and decide when its filled and who fills it. I convinced them to just fill the small ones on the apartment side. They said they would give me 6 months on the big tank to decide. Since it was a foreclosure. They had pity I guess after they saw the house. The poor contractors working on the inside house were so cold and the drywall was having a hard time drying. After I got the propane it starting getting warm out. Figures. I never had to turn the heat on after all.
Another issue was the crawlspace in the main house. Not only did it still creep me out, it had water in it and the house was uneven like it was sinking. I had a basement crawlspace expert Aquaduct come in and evaluate it. I got him from Home Advisor. He was a nice guy, was not afraid to go down there and mapped out the whole area and told me what was needed. Thankfully there were no rotten beams from standing water, the house was well built. There was a main beam running thru the house that had steel poles holding it up. They were on concrete but were sitting in water and were rusting. He suggested drying out the space with 2 sump pumps and a dehumidifier then adding new poles, jacking up the floor there and then replacing the old ones. Sounded alot like what my dad had said. It was a two step process and was alot of money. They had to dig a trench around the whole space (there were actually three seprate crawl spaces) and add pipe and rocks and get all the water to flow into the pumps. Then they would encapsulate it so it stayed dry. Lastly they would replace all the insulation under the floor that had gotten moist and wet. Mark said worth every penny that was hard disgusting work. So we hired him.
After gutting the apartment, I saw two dead mice. I knew the place had been infested. Dave said in the country, you either have black snakes or mice. You want the snakes. I didn’t care for either really. I called Cropp Metcalfe, we love the owner Tim and his wife Leslie, they are such down to earth people. The technician came out right away to assess my pest control needs. First he sprayed inside and out, had to fill his tank up twice. I figured get the heavy duty inside now because after we moved in I wasn’t going to do that anymore. I had those hopping crickets bugs in the crawlspace, I hate those things, they love wet places. My technician said he hurt his wrist so he couldn’t get down there. Ha ha I don’t blame him. He set 28 mouse traps through out the house. I hoped Boo my dog didn’t get snapped cause he put peanut butter on all of them. He told me that mice didn’t like to live in empty houses. They would probably come back after we moved in. Great news! My cat would love that! He was there about 2 hours, he also knocked down all the wasp nests and mud dauber nests that covered the house. He filled the mice bait houses the original owner had on the outside. He told me another technician would come back in a few days to get the crawlspace and get the traps. Not one trap caught a mouse. But the next technician didn’t want to go in the crawlspace either. I told him it was okay, he could wait until the crawlspace was fixed.
Every day was a challenge. I still had no water or toilets, The pump room had to be totally reconfigured. The winterizer folks had not emptied anything and with no heat everything had froze. We had our water tested in the meantime to find out what kind of water treatment we would need to buy. If there was iron or it was hard, we would have to get a softener so the pipes wouldn’t get corroded over time and spring leaks. We were basically rebuilding the house from the ground up. These were all basic things that needed to be done so I could apply for a mortgage and get an appraiser in there so we could get some money out of the property to fix what else we were bound to find!