Monthly Archives: April 2016

Busy Week


daughters bath almost finished


Whole old window cut out


windows going in!


final product


poor guys delivering appliances


new window up close

Today started off just awful.  The fire alarm went off in the apartment around 7 AM.  Its this high pitched buzzing sound that hurts the ears.  My dog Boo was panting and freaking out running around the apartment, I think the noise reminded him of his electric fence days.  Justin was concerned cause the firetrucks started showing up but I jumped in the shower, I was not about to leave the apartment for the day without a shower!  The sound continued for about 20 minutes.  I had to be at the house anyway at 8 AM for my windows to arrive.  As I was walking out the door with my full cup of coffee and Boo on the leash, he was still panting and freaking out so he ran ahead and yanked the leash so hard my coffee flew through the air and broke and my key bent in the door.  I REALLY need my coffee in the morning.  I can’t wait to get out of this apartment.

When I get to the house, the painters are there, my window guy is there and my contractor is there to install the vanities in the bathroom.  The window guy is an installer that works for Home Depot.  I had him do a few things for me in the beginning and I found him to be aggressive and cocky, expensive and I didn’t like him, but the salesman at Home Depot told me he was the best installer they had so I kept him.  He is also the one who took a long time ordering in the first place.  Anyway, he starts yelling at my painter, asking him if he was the one that repaired and caulked the trim around the windows cause now it has to be torn down to get the window in.  He even asked the painter if he was also a carpenter and if he needed a job cause he would hire him.  I thought, what nerve that guy has.  I asked him what he was doing.  I told him the painter was not the carpenter and I was told by the Home Depot Salesman that sold me the windows no trim would be affected they were just replacement slide out-slide-in windows.  The installer said he upgraded them for me to get me a bigger window and now the trim would have to come off, but he would do his best to keep it intact.  Steve was there to get his vanity installer started and we were just discussing the window install.  Steve asked the Home Depot installer if he was using spray foam installation or the pink stuff.  The installer got all huffy and said this was how he did it and if I didn’t like it get someone else.  CRAZY!  Then I was discussing with Steve how we would have to alter our inside trim for the windows now.  The new window is not flush against the drywall there is a ledge that would need to be added.  Again the installer got a little huffy and said he told me that would be the case and he was supposed to do the trim in the first place!  I thought no, I would never hire this guy for that he must have assumed it.   Steve quickly exited, because he could.  I had to stay with this whackjob all day.  After Steve left the installer told me not to ever hire two contractors to work on the same day.  I just let him go on and on. I really was starting to get a little freaked out about his attitude.  I didn’t want to say anything cause I wanted my windows done right and this guy knew where I lived and could burn my house down later!  I felt sorry for his helper he was yelling and insulting him all day, I noticed the last guy that came during measuring of my windows was gone, I am sure he quit.  No one would work for this guy.  Home Depot kept calling me all day to ask me how it was going.  I did not say anything cause I am sure it would have gotten right back to him and then he would go nuts.  At the end of the job, and I must say he did do a good job, he brought me the paper and told me that I would write what a great installer he was and give him a 10 cause if I didn’t he would not get a job ever again.  I just wanted him gone, so I wrote that he was neat and clean and was on time.  Which was true.  Then he asked if he could hunt on my property some time and if I was interested in flipping houses with him.  I said NO.  Nicely of course.  I found out later that he did not leave all the hardware like cranking mechanisms for the windows, and he was supposed to put all that on the windows.  Plus he didn’t caulk around each window, he told me I was going to have to do that.  I called his manager finally to inquire if this was my job and to send some more hardware.  The manager said he is coming out Monday to finish the job cause I told him I didn’t want that installer anywhere near my property again.

Another glitch in the day was that my cat, Waldo went missing.  My mom was the last to see him around 4:30 am when he came in to eat.  We were letting him go in and out through the garage a bit but he always stayed close to home.  He was gone about 24 hours when I remembered someone said Waldo would try to find where he lived before.  I could not imagine he would make the trek back to Woodlea because I never brought him from Woodlea to the new house, he had been staying with my mom far away for the months we were at Wegmans.  I was so worried he was eaten by something, but I contacted the people that bought our house and asked them if they had seen Waldo.  Sure enough, they said a cat meeting his description was sleeping on their deck the day before.  I kept running over there all day to try and find him but i knew he was probably hunkered down somewhere sleeping.  I finally went back around 5 PM and shook his bag of food.  I was about to leave when my old neighbor Suzanne came out and we were chatting awhile when up waltzes Waldo!  Now he is locked in the house at night while we are not there.  There has been so much activity during the day he is afraid to go out anyway.

The painters spend all day caulking the house, every board and batten board is caulked, and every gap filled in.


Pre painted



In the middle of painting



Front all painted


The back painted

I am so anxious for them to start.  Finally, they decide to paint Sunday morning.  They cover all the windows and gutters and around the roof and start spraying!  they have to do a primer first all over the the paint. At first I was worried how it would look, but I must say I think it looks great.  The first day the whole thing looked green but after they painted the trim it looks awesome.  They are going to do the doors next week if it ever stops raining.

The appliances all arrive, and I paid them $20 each to bring everything up to the apartment, the range, the refrigerator, the washer and dryer, dishwasher..  Poor guys were huffing and puffing but they knew what they were doing. I had to remove the railing from the stairwell to get it all up.

I have been painting like a maniac to get it all finished, the ceilings, the trim, the closets, the rooms it never ends.  Luckily for me Sherwin Williams had their big paint sale all of March and now April one weekend.  Did you know you can stock up during the sale then bring it in to tint later?  That’s my plan.  I hired Let’s Roll painting to do two rooms in the main house that my daughters are going to live.  They have really high ceilings which I am not going to attempt to paint.  I need everything painted before the carpet goes in next Wednesday.

I found out there are actually 2 snakes, they come out at the same time.  Thats gross and one will have to go at least.  I do not need baby snakes.

Next week I need to coordinate the final coat on my hardwood floor, all the appliances installed, the countertops installed, the plumbing installed, the lights and fans installed, the baseboard installed and doors and window trim and final painting and carpet installed oh and a final cleaning…I am praying it all gets finished in time for us to move in.  Only He knows if it will happen!






The Countdown Begins…

I am sorry I am so long in between posts but I have been so busy.  The last 30 days of a renovation is the hardest time with coordination and final touches, etc.  I literally am up early and fall into bed at night.  I have printed a calendar for myself to count down the move.  I had to push it back by one week because of the granite coordination.

On top of everything happening, we had another trip to take for a whole week and I was stressed about leaving my son and pets and all the construction, etc.  Thankfully, my wonderful mom decided to come up and camp out at the house and supervise the work and the pets!  We have a cat and dog and her dog as well. She is such a blessing and I don’t know what I would do without her.  She would run to the apt during the day to shower and check up on Justin.  The only thing working at the house is a laundry sink and toilet in the garage! He had school and tennis and had some college visits as well! Luckily we have had good weather.

My son says it looks like nothing has been done for weeks.  HA! He has no idea the behind-the- scenes that have taken place.

First I had the hardwood floor sanded and stained to match the winding staircase.  Omars did an amazing job.  They only did 2 coats of poly and said they will come back for one final and buffing when I am ready and all the contractors are finished.  Right now I put paper down to cover most of it.  They also installed laminate for me in the mud room.  I decided to cut costs and not tile that area.  We also agonized what floor to extend down the hallway, either tile, hardwood or laminate.  I am so glad we picked the hardwood it looks great I think.

The tub for the girls bath and all the faucets and toilets and shower valves, etc. were all delivered.  My crawlspace guy told me the washing machine pipe was leaking in the crawlspace.  I had to have that fixed before my girls bath could be plumbed and checked for leaks.  My drywaller, Wilmer, was running around all over the house to fix last minute items for my tile man Elmer to come in.  My outside trim worker, Oswaldo, finally made it around the whole house again to fix last minute wood rot.  I have not gotten the final bill on all that but I hope it’s not as expensive as just siding the whole thing, which is what I am wondering if we should have done.  It just wasn’t in the budget right now.

The cabinets for the bathrooms and apartment kitchen were delivered. The day we left for our trip the installer came.  We didn’t get to see the final placement until we got home!  I was dying to see if the wood I picked matched up okay with the floor.  In the picture my son sent its didn’t.  In person it looks pretty good!  The week before the trip I finalized the granite order.  I picked something kind of wild for the kitchen but I think it will look good.  It has sapphire blue tones in it, I love blue personally and I think the granite is gorgeous.  I will probably do a white quartz in the main house.  So I went a little crazy in the apartment…  Also I totally forgot I have to get knobs for the kitchen.  I can’t even open the doors without them really.  And the installer was all ready to put them in for me!  Now I have to order knobs and put them in ourself.  Rats.

While we were away the plumbing was finalized in the girls bath in the main house and the washing machine pipe fixed and the drywall finished in Georgi’s room (we took out one whole wall of closets) and Elmer began with the tile.  I didn’t realize how long it takes so I had to push back the granite measurement again.  It is going to be cutting it close.

A side note to everything that has been going on, Mark has been sick.  He had childhood asthma and now it seems to have returned.  WebMD says it can be brought on by allergies, pollutants, stress and age related lung capacity decrease.  He has all of the above!  It has been really hard on everyone.  During the whole diagnosis period, he swore it was the house making him sick.  I am sure the renovation dust and dirt the former owner left behind does not help, but those things are not permanent.  However, it became such an issue I finally thought I am just going to fix the apartment and put it up for sale.  I am not going to spend the next 30 years with Mark complaining he can’t breathe.  We went away for the week and Mark did not take his medication because he figured he wasn’t at the house and would not need it.  That turned out to be a mistake because he still had asthma while we were away!  That proved it was not the house.  He is somewhat resolved now that his asthma is caused by the air everywhere.  So that was a blessing we went away I guess, even though it was rotten timing.

Tomorrow the tile should be finished, and the windows are coming!  Also, the painters are supposed to show up and scrape the rest of my rotten paint and caulk. They are so far behind due to the weather and waiting for all my rotten wood to be finished.  The house looks so dreary from the outside with no paint.  I can’t wait to get a first coat on at least. The vanities are being installed this week and the appliances are coming Thursday, just in time for the granite measurement.  Also, I have finished painting the baseboard trim and that is going up.  My plumber is coming when he can, to install the toilets and shower valves. My electrician is coming next week to hang the lights and fans.  Alot is happening these last weeks!  This weekend I plan to totally clean the apartment and have it ready for carpeting.   I can’t wait to move in.  Wegmans shopping center is so loud and even though it’s nice to walk to shopping and eateries  I need a peaceful nights sleep.  The constant traffic and trucks bringing supplies to Wegmans is getting soooo old.

Another side note, we are adjusting to the wildlife.  The wasps and bees are everywhere, I guess they had free range of the house for so long and we have eliminated all their nesting places they are still hanging around looking for a new place. There was a huge hive in the upper corner of the back of the house.    We have killed so many already.  Some are honey bees and I don’t want to kill them but they are in our metal railing and I think in one of our porticos.  I don’t want the painters getting stung so I called our Pest guy to come again.  Maybe I should call a beekeeper…I have had 3 contractors tell me we have a black snake living right out back, once it was hanging from the fence.  I have yet to see it and hope I don’t.  Also the other night two wild turkeys were outside our garage gobbling so loud my cat came flying inside.  One worker swears he saw a bob cat out back?  This wildlife is gonna take some getting used to.  But its nice to hear the frogs at night. I love that sound.


Kitchen cabinets in


Laminate in the mud room


finished hardwood down the hallway


Ferguson delivering my tub!


Girls bath almost finished


my poor house after powerwashing more wood rot replaced


apt bath almost finished

A Long Process

I have not had time to write another blog I have been so busy.  I just finally had the water plumbed and a toilet and sink put in. Woohoo!  No more trips to Food Lion!  We had to install a whole new pump tank and water filter.  We have not put the softener in since we need a place for it to flush itself once a week, we need a drain put somewhere.  The water tasted awful in the beginning, but after alot of use it tastes pretty good.  I am still going to have it tested somewhere when I find time.

The apartment has high ceilings in the family room and bedroom, so unfortunately I didnt want to take on that painting.  Painting is soooo expensive!  I cant imagine all the money I saved thru the years painting myself.  So I paid to have those rooms painted and will paint the rest myself.

We couldn’t afford to have all new siding put on the house, so we are fixing the board and batten around the whole thing.  Because there were no gutters for so long, the house is really rotten.  Right now its looks like it has bandaids all over it.  Oswaldo, my carpenter, laughs when I thank him for coming back every day.  I also ask him if he is almost finished and he laughs at that too.  If I didn’t laugh I would cry I guess.

It took me a while to decide on an exterior painter, again a huge expense.  We had to get on it though because we wanted all the trim painted before new gutters went up.  It took me over 15 samples at Sherwin Williams to pick a paint and trim color.  We finally decided on an eggshell trim and Chatroom house,  funny name for a color but I think it will be nice.  I had to find a color that coordinated with the garage doors, the windows, the roof and the trim.  Its not easy.  I could have gone with white, but thats the color now and I dont want to be reminded of the way the house used to be.  Plus it might look dirty after awhile.  I tried yellow but apparently they will not make an exterior paint with any yellow color cause it fades so fast, they will only do gold tones.  I could not find one I liked.  I thought about painting the whole house the color of the garage doors and have white trim, but that would make it look like a big brown barn.  So Chatroom is sort of a gray green color.  Not too dark not too light.  I am anxious to see how it looks.  You can use the Sherwin Williams app to take a pic of the house and add your color, but it never looks totally right and the lighting makes a huge difference.  I tried calling a color consultant but they never called me back so I took that as a sign that I should just decide on my own.

When they came to power wash the house to prep it for paint, they used so much water the well ran dry.  Just another problem…  Also the power wash exposed the extra rotten wood hidden behind the paint.  The house looks so bad right now I almost feel sorry for it. My plumber said I shouldn’t power wash cause the paint is the only thing holding the house up.  Sad but true.


new Garage bath!


Floor ready for staining in apt.


decided to take hard wood down the hallway in apt


another view of apt floor


The original garage bath

We are still cleaning up debris around the property, the owner had so many cars and junk stashed everywhere.  There is an abandoned Ski Nautique boat still hidden behind the pine trees.  Justin took the key right out of the ignition.  We have made endless runs to the landfill with rotten wood, drywall, flooring, and one run was just screen that was all piled up in the side yard under a bunch of trees.  I cant imagine what that was used for.

The wood floor is in and waiting to be sanded and stained to match the winding staircase.  The Great White Tile room we call the bowling alley took me an entire day to clean.  The curtains which hung there probably from the 80s were thrown out and under them I swear had never been cleaned.  I had to hand clean each tile and trim around the room with magic sponges to get all the grime off.  I went thru at least 10 of those.  But it was cleaned to my standard.  We are going to store all the furniture there until we finish the apartment and the rest of the house.  We did find out from a neighbor that has been there from the beginning that the garage and the house were separate buildings.  They found the space in between was a continual wind tunnel so they decided to close it in.  I can’t imagine what that cost them I have to get to the county to pull the permits for the property at some point.  The tile job alone must have cost a fortune.  We are slowly making our way to the main house for renovation.  But we still have to wait to get a mortgage before we can do much more renovation.

I went to 2 granite places and absolutely love Eurostone in Herndon, they are amazing and organized and have so many selections.  If you ever want new countertops, go see Tracy there.  I am not a fan of granite, but its the cheapest so for the apartment, it’s good enough.  Can’t wait to see how everything looks at the end.  We are suppossed to move out April 30 but I panicked and extended it another week, just in case everything does not pull together.  I have made a calender of what has to happen and when for April and I pray it all works out.  I cannot stress if it doesn’t, I have to rely on the Lord’s timing.  But I am getting anxious.  I wake up every nite at 4 with things I must not forget.  I am exhausted.  Mark is too, he has to get up and go to work, I get some leeway.

The listing I had sold in one day with a qualified buyer and my seller was very motivated and that has been a blessing.  It would be nice to get at least one listing a month!  But I will not stress about that, I have enough on my plate right now.  I sometimes feel like everything is moving so slow. But everyone is working as hard as they can to get into that apartment.  I also am renovating my daughters rooms in the main house and their buddy bath so they have somewhere to sleep when they come home.  They are upstairs and away from things a bit, they at least will have renovated rooms and  a bathroom but will have to come to the apartment to eat when they get back from college.  Georgi’s room had closets along both sides of the room one was cedar, the other one  wasn’t so I had one side removed to make it look like a room not a storage place.  It has a lock and key I think the owner kept his gun collection in there.  Megan’s just needs new paint and both will have new carpeting.  Time is ticking on their arrival so that weighs on my mind too.

When I called Home Depot about window delivery because it had been 4 weeks and they said it would take 6, I was shocked to learn they had just ordered them.  That was not what I wanted to hear.  All the nightmare stories you hear about Home Depot are true, do not special order anything if you expect it in a certain time.  I really don’t know who to blame and either do they since no one knows what the other one is doing in that place.  I dare not blame my installer since he does have to come install them and I want it done right.  It is just one setback I have to deal with, I hope they come by April 20th, the new date they set and before we actually move in.


some of the screening left


back of house siding was awful


after powerwashing



poor house after the power wash

I am not sure how much longer I will write this blog, it’s all just renovation now, nothing exciting.  I will probably post before and after pics once the apt is all finished! And then of course once we get in, maybe have a get together for all who enjoyed my journey!