What we are doing:

In what spare time we have, we decided to spend it (and our savings) on remodeling our rowhouse in South Philly. When we purchased our casa it was a 3 story, 5 bedroom, 1 bath that hadn't been touched in 50+ years. It's currently a 4 bed, 2 bath construction site with so much more to do it's hard to believe.

We use this blog to mark progress, say hi to friends and family, rant about the process of remodeling, and try to have some fun along the way.

- Bryan and Christina

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Epilogue | Reveal | Pictures

It's kind of weird to type this, but as of last night (December 8th 2008 to be accurate) Christina and I slept in our third floor suite. Not only that, but the rooms are done* and life can move on to the other 3 months of projects waiting for us.

I won't use this post to rehash the months and months of events that have gone int creating our third floor suite**, that's what all of the links are for to the right. But I am going to post some pictures of the final product along with just a couple shots of what it was like back in late April when we started really getting down and dirty with this project. So right before the demo was done we had something like this on the right.

Which was promptly wrapped up to create one big space that had no more plaster walls, no dropped plaster ceilings, and no closet. Like the picture on the left.

So you get the point. These pics are from previous posts, but it's fun to look back at them from time to time to really remember what kind of rabbit hole we really decided to jump down.

I'm posting pictures of the finished spaces below without much commentary. I think over the past posts we've beat that horse so if you want to know what is what then by all means post a comment. Plus Christina LOVES COMMENTS! Again, sorry for the spotty lens...

Over the past 4 months we've had various paid "professionals" come and go along with me finding out that not only can I create software pretty well, but I think I prefer to create things with my hands even more. I have to say that being forced to learn on the fly various skill sets that you didn't know you could muster up was awesome and something that in the end I'm grateful for.

All of that reminds of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the great exchange between Cameron and the parking garage attendant:
>You guys got nothing to worry about, I'm a professional.
>A professional what?

Of course there's another side to that coin, and that would be that when I took over most of the work, it meant more money in tools, days off of work, material (cause you know you need to learn how to make that mitre cut at least twice) and sanity. We also quickly realized that while Christina's day job as "Senior Designer" means that she's great at thinking up cool looking ideas, someone in the conversation needs to be the practical person saying "yeah, but how to you expect that to work?".

Also, on at least 3 occasions, we really screwed up the order of things which we'll never do again I hope.

A partial list of dont's when doing something like this:
  • Don't paint before the hardwoods are in. Just resist. That's why drop cloths were invented, and touching up paint will never happen.
  • Don't assume that anyone knows what they are doing. This sounds both cynical and obvious, but whatever. Just because you pay a "professional" to do something doesn't mean it's not a clusterf*$k when they leave. It ALWAYS will be. Check on the work before they "professional" leaves the house, and be straight if it's not up to par. It's your money.
  • Don't install plumbing fixtures before you're truly ready. We installed the tub before the window trim was done as well as the baseboards and getting those in was a nightmare.
  • Don't freak out if something isn't installing like you might see on TOH or similar tv show. This is the real world, and you have to be crafty A LOT.
  • Don't make a trip to the ER part of your project. That sucked.
The list of dos are obvious, but the big ones that I'm going to use for every project:
  • If you have to hire out and you're blessed (like we are now with our cement guy) to have that ONE contractor that is great and knows people...go with the guys he knows. We've saved a ton of money, time, and aggravation after we started talking to Joe's various trade guys. All of them have been great.
  • Use Angie's list or something similar for reference only. They tended to be pricey for what we were wanting, but they were a good baseline for prices on that higher end.
  • Get yourself a decent workshop space that you don't care how much mess is created. We just don't have a lot of room being in a rowhouse, but when I did create my shop space it was a lifesaver.
  • If you're completely gun shy about doing something yourself, then don't press the issue. It's OK to hire out. Like I was terrified to refinish the floor I laid down, and instead spent $400 on a pro and it was great. The peace of mind was worth the money without a doubt.
  • Right tool, for the right job. Period, end of story. If you are needing to do something that requires some special tool, or have to nail in hundreds of feet of trim, rent of buy what you need. Done.
So yeah, that's really it pretty much. In all the process was ridiculous, stressful, and tiring. But I'd do it again any day of the week. The pay off was incredible and in the end we have a space that Christina designed and that is ours.

I couldn't sleep last night at all, but I wasn't sure if it was because of the "moment" or if it was due to our new bedroom feeling foreign and like a hotel room at first. I mean new surroundings, new bed...even new sheets and duvet cover. It was a lot to process.

I'll say that I'm ready for at least one weekend away from house work. But then again, I'm addicted to the stuff and at this point I' don't know what to do with my time that isn't either at the Depot or working on the house. Is there anything else left in life!?!

Now for the disclaimers:
* The tub is going to require a "professional" (great) to get the feet fixed so I can hook it back up to the plumbing. The banister is obviously missing spindles still, but that is part of the first floor/second floor renovation slated to be completed by March 2009**.

** I don't call this a "Master Suite" and I won't. I find that term hearkening back to the plantation slave era and I'm not into that. I don't get how and why that term was ever popularized, but it's a pretty crap term if you ask me.

*** That March 2009 date is hard because well...we're having a baby (girl supposedly) on or near April 6th. Yeah us! I tried to find an ultrasound picture to Photoshop with a little tool belt and hard hat, but what we have look like Rorschach tests instead. What can you do.

We have to thank the following friends for their help with this project: Niko, Jen, Graham, Andrea (and Logan!), Cat, Anna (the roman shades and duvet are awesome!) and everyone else who gave an opinion or encouragement. Seriously, it meant a lot to us and we owe you all big time.

So yeah, I guess now we start the next chapter of our house. That's the wrap up of the ongoing electrical chapter, with a hopeful tale of fresh drywall in 75% of the remaining spaces, and even the introduction of a new character to the plot.

It's about to get VERY interesting around here for sure. Cheers!!!

- Bryan


Anonymous said...

It's beautiful! Congratulations on everything!I especially like the lighting. Aunt Marilyn

Quilt Cover Sets said...

Home remodeling can be therapeutic. I like your bedroom.

Shawn Dumas said...

This suite looks awesome! I am so excited for you guys. I'm a long time lurker (2nd time poster) and I feel like I've lived through the project with you. Thanks for keeping us updated and good luck with Phase 2 and the new addition to your family. It’s time to enjoy all of your hard work.

BTW, we are remodeling our home in Philly too (hope to be done in Feb) and if you ever need a subcontractor recommendation, please feel free to email me. Believe it or not, we've been thrilled with all of ours. And you could always come by our house to see their finished work.


Corey said...

Looks great!