Because this is a home improvements blog now….

So, after we mostly-finished the huge project that was the living room and bedroom in the basement we took a break. A several months long break. Sickness and life meant that it took us a while to get around to the bathroom downstairs. But once we decided to start, the project was done relatively quickly. It helped that hubby took a week of vacation to work on this.

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Where to start? Well, we essentially gutted the room, with the exception of the Bathfitter tub Mom had put in some years back. The cabinet was barely attached to the wall – I’m actually amazed it hadn’t fallen down. Over the course of a couple of weeks, we, and by we I mean hubby because I was really sick for a while there, pulled the toilet, got rid of the vanity & sink, ripped up the old flooring, took down the old, flat mirror, the towel bars and stuff, bleached the room, and painted the ceiling. We had Bathfitters come in and take down the trim around the tub so we could paint the wall (their caulking was not paintable, so it had to come down.) Then I painted the room. Hubby took his vacation time to lay the new vinyl flooring, his first time doing flooring like this. We replaced the ginormous flat mirror with a large mirrored medicine cabinet, which meant that wall cabinet was no longer needed. Then Hubby installed the new sink, new fixtures, and reinstalled the toilet. We ran into a hiccup when he found a leak in the pipes under the sink. So the plumber had to come out and fix that. After that, I caulked everything down. Then we had Bathfitters back out to replace the trim on the tub. The technician went ahead and redid the caulking around the whole tub, even though we had just had that done last year. He was impressed with the job we’d done, and wanted to help us make the whole thing look completely fresh and new.

Anyway. That’s one more major project done. We still have several rooms on our list that need renovation. But, as it is summer time, there are several outdoor projects that need to get done while the weather permits.

Mostly Finished!! … Sorta

The big living room and the bedroom area are done! The fireplace will eventually get a new face and a fancy mantle built around it, and the window will get a window treatment.  But everything else in the big living area has been finished. To recap, we took down the faux 70’s paneling and the textured ceiling. Redid the lode-bearing column. Put some insulation in the bottom half of the walls, and put up new drywall.  Then we repainted the ceiling and the walls, pulled up the old carpet, and scraped up the old tile. Hubby put up new baseboards, and made some custom trim for the fireplace, stairs, and column. We got the sliding glass door replaced, mostly because the dog broke it, and the new french doors from Thompson Creek look amazing! The carpet came in this morning, finishing off the look for now.  I’ve got plans for art work and furniture, but some of that will have to wait.  Anyway, here are some before and after shots of the living area:

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Because we wanted the carpet to flow through the living area into the bedroom, we also had to do that room before today.  So we patched the walls – we are slowly removing the old, defunct intercom system in the entire house – and repainted. Then we put up fresh baseboards and trim around the doors.  Here are some before and after shots:

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We still have some work to do, a few finishing touches, the bathroom, closet and laundry area. But for now it’s good.

This entry was posted in Mi Casa.

Progress

While it is not going as fast as I’d hoped, there has been a lot of progress! The ugly, faux, 1970’s paneling is gone! Upon tearing it out, we discovered their was no insulation behind it! So we put some insulation boards under the new drywall.  The house is built into a hill (it looks like a one story from the front, but a two story from the back), so I don’t know if it’s just all in my head or what, but it feels warmer than it has ever been down there.  I’ve even gotten most of the mudding done.  I only have two more joints to mud and sand, then we can start prepping for paint!

Besides the drywall going up, DH scraped down the ugly textured ceiling. The boys helped with the demo, scraping/washing the ceiling, mud a few joints, and learned how to replace outlets. Diva opted to help out with household chores upstairs instead, which freed me up to work more downstairs. We also had the back door replaced. If you follow me on social media, you saw that Peanut Butter managed to crash through the existing sliding glass door.  The dog is fine. She went through the glass so fast, she did not even get cut up, just a little bump on her head. The door, however, was shattered. So, Thompson Creek to the rescue! Now we have a beautiful French door that opens to the sun room.

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DH also spent a lot of time fixing up the workroom area in the back, getting things organized so it’s easier to find what we need when need it. We still have plenty of work to do. I need to finish mudding & taping the drywall joints. We need to patch the wall and a few spots on the ceiling. Wash everything down, and clean up the brick. Do a few things in the bedroom in the back, the paint, and finally replace the carpet. Then we can work on the bathroom, mini-kitchen/laundry room, and sun room. We still have some reno projects that need to be done upstairs as well, plus the general maintenance around the house. So there is plenty to keep us going!

My lastest YUGE project

So…. We’ve got a large renovation project up ahead of us.  The last two years since we’ve been here, we’ve been working on the upstairs.  Some recent changes in the lives of a couple of our home’s now-former tenants mean that areas previously occupied by said former tenants are now empty and ready to be renovated.  And yes.  I’m being vague on purpose. Please, no one who knows anything about the “former tenants” say anything here.  They’ve requested we keep their lives off the ‘net.  If you know them, you know why.   ANYWAY!!!!

 

So here are the before shots of the big living area downstairs.  I’ll post the after shots when we are done.  Well, when we’re mostly done anyway.

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We’re going to be getting rid of the ugly 1970’s era paneling. It’s a big job. It’s going to take a while. I’ve got BIG plans for the sun room off the back of the house, but that will have to wait until we get enough progress in the main living area and the bedroom to lay down new flooring. And we can’t do the flooring in either room until we fix the walls in the main room. So there is a domino effect that needs to happen, and the main room paneling seems to be the first domino.

We’ll also be using this as a homeschooling experience, and teaching the kids how to do some routine maintenance on the house, and some renovation projects. The youngest has already discovered a love for demolition. He’s helped us tear down one of the sheets of paneling already and is loving getting to work with his hands. The Diva is really more of a supervisor than anything else, but we’ll make sure she gets involved somehow. My oldest isn’t so sure about all this, but I plan to have him help me with some of the electrical work (replacing outlets and switches, nothing major!). It will give him a taste of the job, and maybe help him figure out what he wants to do after high school.

So that’s it for now. It’s alot of work… Not going to lie, I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed out… but it will all be worth it in the end.

New Server!

In the on-going struggle to keep my site off of EIG’s crappy servers, I recently had to move my whole site to a new host. Usually, moving servers is a huge hassle of backing things up, uploading to a new site, unpacking, and weeks of tweaking to make sure things are still working right. This time was different tho. Luckily, I had a friend on the inside (Shout out to SD-Dubs!) at my last host who helped me get out, and get my site moved to a new host so quickly, so efficiently… I’m really surprised at how easy this move went. It went so smooth, nobody even noticed. We didn’t even have any email downtime! Amazing! And this all went down while I was busy with the kitchen renovation, so that tells you just how much my friend helped.

Anyway, now that the kitchen is done, and my site is moved, I’ll probably tweak a few things here and there anyway, because that what all site admins do. Nothing drastic, just a few subtle changes I had planned to do a long time back, but never found the time or energy.

In the meantime, have a look over at the Genealogy section, especially if you are a Yuriar!  I’ve done a lot of work over there.  I still have more to do, but that’s the story of every genealogist’s life.  There is always more research and documentation to be done.   I’m still hoping to get some more work done on my book about the Hardenburgs.  But first, I’ve got to get ready for the next year of Aprendemos Academy.  My oldest is starting 11th grade this year!  Yikes! How time has flown.  Homeschooling through High School has been easier in some ways, and harder in others.  But that’s a post for another day.

Kitchen Renovation

So… The fridge died. It’s was a slow, painful, agonizing death. It started on Mother’s Day, when we noticed that things in the fridge just didn’t seem cool. Se we picked out a new fridge, but on delivery day 3 days later, the new one was damaged. We’d have to wait another week.  Since the kitchen was essentially shut down due to a lack of refrigeration, I figured it would be a good time to repaint the kitchen.  I stink at taking “before” shots, but here’s a pic of the work in progress:

A photo posted by Lorraine Yuriar (@thekytikat) on

Just in case you weren’t sure, the kitchen was a very bright yellow before. With yellow countertops and yellowish-brown cabinets. The purple is actually a Behr Marquee color called Wisteria Blue. It was a longer process than a normal paint job, because of the need to prep and paint various sections of the room in different stages. Normally I can repaint a room in 3-4 days. Prep, ceiling, walls, trim, done. This one took me just over a week.

First to be done was the area behind the old fridge quickly, so the paint would dry & cure before the new one was delivered. Under the cabinets/above the counters was done in between waiting for the fridge corner to dry. Then the ceiling and upper portion of the wall over the cabinets and around the room. Then behind the baker’s rack, since it’s too large to be moved out of the kitchen, and needed to be back in it’s corner before the new delivery date. Finally the rest of the room was done, and the trim completed.

A photo posted by Lorraine Yuriar (@thekytikat) on

Once the paint was done and dry, a fresh bead of caulking had to be put down over the countertops and around the trim. I got a nifty tool that worked wonders, and the result was a caulk line that would make my Dad and Uncle Lyle proud. (The family joke was always don’t stand too still when Uncle Lyle had his caulk gun out, or you’d get caulked to the floor!)

A photo posted by Lorraine Yuriar (@thekytikat) on

In the end, it’s a pretty new shade, that gives the kitchen a completely different vibe. Which is good, since this is where all the magic happens. By magic I mean this is where I geek, I homeschool the kids, the cooking, most of the meals. Honestly, I live more in the kitchen than in any other room in the house. So it was great to be able to give it a make over, but I’m really glad the job is done. Now back to lesson planning and prep for the next homeschool year.

A photo posted by Lorraine Yuriar (@thekytikat) on

Blessed Beyond Comprehension. Part 3.

Quick recap – we were losing the house & almost broke, but we had a place to go and a great realtor who we trusted.  However, we had no showings, a poor housing market, and a bad economy.  But the blessings God had in store for us were just beginning.

Original image from West U Methodist's website.

Have you tithed this week?

One day in late March, a discussion about tithing broke out on my Facebook Debate Club group. While defending the practice to a young man who thought it was all a scam, it dawned on me.  When was the last time we’d tithed? See, we weren’t physically attending church due to various sensory issues and work schedules.  However, we continued to “attend” by watching sermons and tithing online.  We’d usually tithe a few weeks at a time, so I asked Tony to check.  Turned out, we were overdue.  Tony logged in and paid up our tithe right away.

About a week later, we got the phone call we’d been waiting for! Finally, a showing! Considering the house down the road hadn’t had a showing in months, this was great news! I didn’t want to get too excited, but still, a showing!  Two days later, we had three showings in one day.  That night, we had three offers! It was a miracle!

The best offer was for a few thousand more than the appraised price of the house, but the buyer wanted us to pay closing costs.  We weren’t financially able to do so, despite the hefty tax refund that had just come through.  So, at the advice of our realtor, we sent a counter-offer. The buyer would get the house at the appraised cost & pay closing. The total came out to about a thousand more than the buyer had offered.  Then we waited.

Malachi 3:10

Malachi 3:10

The buyer accepted our offer.  Now we just had to wait for our lender to approve the sale, and find out if they would come after us for the $80,000 difference. We had been informed that our particular lender had a reputation for demanding repayment of the difference. This was concerning because there was no way we’d be able to help mom with our part of the bills, pay off the difference, and save anything to try to get back on our feet.  The guys at Advance Short Sale Service warned us that they’d only had one other client with our lender who’d had the difference forgiven.  The most they’d been able to get from our lender was 50% off the difference. So while we prayed for the best, we prepared for the worst, and waited to hear from the lender.

The buyer had asked to close in just two weeks. We still hadn’t heard from the lender, but time was running out to get a truck rented.  So we once again stepped out on faith.  We rented the truck and made final preparations to move to mom’s house on the second Friday in May. God had already poured out so many blessings on me and my family, but He wasn’t done yet.

Stay tuned for Part 4.

Read the whole story:

Blessed Beyond Comprehension. Part 2.

our VA Home  It wasn’t easy to face the fact that we would be losing our home.  Believe me, I fought it.  I begged the mortgage company to reconsider, I applied for work to try to help make ends meet.  The more I fought it, the more anxious and upset I became.  So I prayed.  We prayed then discussed it, and decided to stop trying to fight it.  We decided on a Short Sale, and made plans to move into my mom’s house with her & my sister & brother-in-law.  The instant we came to that decision, a sense of peace filled me.  It was such a relief after weeks of fighting the inevitable. I know we were blessed to have a place to go, but the blessings didn’t end there.

We needed a realtor, and fast.  I knew the woman who had sold us the house was no longer a realtor, but we figured she’d know someone we could trust.  Laurie Wagner had been amazing when she helped us find the house, and really trusted her.  A quick google search found her new contact information, and phone call later we had a referral.

Buck Heffernan was an answer to prayer.  A former Navy guy, and a solid Christian, he had such a calming influence from the moment he stepped in the door.  He let us know what we would need and who we would need to talk to to make this happen. He was a God-send. If you are in the market for a realtor in the Hampton Roads area, I highly recommend Mr. Heffernan.

Thing was, the housing market in our neighborhood was dismal. Not much had sold in the past 2 years, and there were houses on the market for over a year.  We needed to sell quickly.  It wasn’t looking good.  Then the state government enacted the tolls, and the city council made noises about raising the water rates again and other market-killing moves, and it seemed like all hope was lost.  But despite that, I just knew the house would sell.  I felt like we’d be out by the end of April – an impossibility considering the market and the amount of hoops and paperwork we had ahead of us, but still, I just had this peace about the whole thing.  So we put the house on the market and stepped out on faith.

February passed, and no showings.  March was almost over without a showing.  I started to doubt just a little.  I started thinking, maybe June? Hopefully? We kept praying, and trusting God to make this happen.  I researched truck rentals and started packing boxes.  The books were first.  We use LibraryThing to catalog our large book collection, so I used that to mark which books were in what box.  Before long, most of the books and everything else we could live without was packed up. Now there wasn’t much to do but wait.

We’d already been blessed with a place to go and a realtor with connections to make this happen.  But with no showings, things were looking bleak. On top of that, our mortgage hit the 7-year mark and our payment increased. Would the blessings continue?  Was this a test of my faith? Stay tuned for part 3.

Read the whole story:
Part 1

Blessed Beyond Comprehension. Part 1.

What a difference 6 months can make.

Found online somewhereIn January, we were informed by our mortgage company that despite all of our best efforts to reduce our bills to the lowest possible, cut our spending down to nothing but the necessities, and do everything we were supposed to do…  the economy had taken it’s toll on our finances.  We were given two options:  Wait it out until our bank accounts were completely dry and our credit wrecked then go into foreclosure, or we could try a short sale.  (If you don’t know what a short sale is, check out this YouTube video, I’ll wait.)

What a lousy choice. Either way, we would be losing our home.  It had been our home for 7 years, the longest we’d been in one spot in our entire 15 years of marriage!  This was not easy to hear.

For what it’s worth, I meant it when I said we had done everything we were supposed to do. We had worked hard and paid off both cars while the military was providing housing.  When we paid off a car, the payment went into a separate bank account so we could “pay ourselves” and build up a nice savings account.  Our credit was excellent.  We paid off our credit card every month and were never late with a bill payment.  We even planned well when we bought the house, so that our mortgage payment would equal what we knew DH’s military retirement check would be – that way the mortgage would always be paid.  DH got a full-time job at JCP when he retired from the military, and we continued to save what we could.  When JCP started to decline fast under Ron Johnson, DH was a casualty.  He got laid off from his full-time position.  We immediately took measures to cut our bills to the barest minimum possible.  Then several Obamacare regulations kicked in, including the one that effectively reduced part-time hours to 29 a week instead of 39.  DH was able to find a part-time job with Big Lots, thanks to a good friend.  But you can’t support a family of five on 29 hours a week.  So we cut every penny out of the budget that we could, and started enforcing strict energy & water usage rules.  Then the City Council raised our property taxes and our water bill by 10%.

We filed a hardship packet with our lender, and in the process spoke to two different credit counselors & walked them through our budget.  Both were blown away by how tight we’d managed to make our budget, and neither could find a single thing to cut or reduce any further.  We were done for.  We’d already burned through so much of that nice savings accounts, we would be lucky to make it another 6 months.

I can already hear you asking, “But, where’s the blessing in this? You’ve lost your home, you’re pretty much broke, how is this good?”  Stay tuned for part 2.

The Air Conditioning Saga

Ok, so this start way back in April.  You see, we had several hot days and needed to turn on the AC.  But it wasn’t cooling the house.  This is an issue for us because thePinkDiva is temperature sensitive.  If it gets below 68 or above 73 in our house, she melts down.  So, like every year, we called the Warranty Company, AHS.  They assigned us a company to come out and fix it.  I’m withholding the company name – for now – because we may need to take action against them later, so we’ll call this company “Dewy”.

April 8, Dewy sent a technician out who determined that our AC was low on Freon, and recharged the AC.  I paid him the 60$ fee that AHS requires, and he left.  All seemed to work well for a while.  The temperatures dropped and we had to turn the heat on for a few days.  Then it got hot again, and we turned the AC back on.

It didn’t work.  So on April 26, I called AHS again.  They put in the order for Dewy to come back out and fix the problem this time.  Dewy called and scheduled an appt for Wednesday the 27th.  Ok. Wednesday rolled around, and Dewy was a no-show.  Called to find out what happened, and was told the tech couldn’t make it, could we reschedule for Friday the 30?  Ok. Rescheduled.  Friday morning, I got a call from Dewy.  4 of their technicians called out sick, and they would have to reschedule again. They would send a man out on Monday morning, May 3rd.

May 3rd – The technician surprised me by actually showing up.  He went into the attic to look at the unit, and came back down a few hours later telling me that there were multiple leaks in the “Evap Coil” and it would need to be replaced.  He also informed me that AHS had approved the fix, but there would be a $225 charge for things that AHS did not cover, like modifying the duct work and recapturing the Freon.  I asked him how long it would take to get the part, and he told me that he had no idea, that AHS was supposed to send them the part.  We discussed my daughter’s temperature sensitivity, and how much we needed this done ASAP, especially since we’d already had one weekend with temperatures over 90, and were expected to have another hot week.  The technician told me that I would have to call AHS to get things moving faster, but in the meanwhile, he’d dump more Freon into the machine to help it limp along until they could come back to replace the part.  I didn’t pay a dime, because this was all still covered by my initial payment due to the fact that they hadn’t really fixed the AC the first time.

I called AHS as soon as the technician left my house.  I was informed that actually, AHS had authorized the replacement of the entire “Air Flow Unit” and that Dewy was responsible for supplying their own parts, thank you very much.  So I called Dewy ASAP, and told them what their technician had said, how it conflicted with with what AHS said, and how I needed this done ASAP due to my temperature-sensitive daughter.  I was assured they would look into it and call me back.

They never did.

I called again on May 4th, to find out what Dewy had discovered and to make sure they were ordering the right item.  I was told they would look into it and call me back.  Again, they never did.

On April 6th, the AC died again.  With a hot weekend coming up, I called Dewy AGAIN, and for a third time was told they would look into it and call me back.  So this time I called AHS.  While I was on hold, the AHS rep called Dewy.  She came back on the line with me and informed me that Dewy told her they had the right part and would be calling me later that day to schedule the appointment.  I was also informed that AHS had not been notified of uncovered costs, that Dewy would need to do so.  Dewy did indeed call later that afternoon and schedule to come back out on May 11 to replace the air flow unit.

May 11 – A two man crew arrived at my house.  One gentleman was so severely overweight he could not fit into the attic.  He alternated between waddling around the outside unit, the thermostat, and balancing on top of the ladder with his head and arms in the attic because his lower body would not fit through the opening.  I am not lying, and I have a picture of this to prove it.  They were here for the better part of all day, which I expected.  When they left, they forgot to give me a copy of the receipt, and I forgot to ask as the kids were going bonkers.  I realize this was a BIG mistake on my part.  But I clearly remember the receipt saying that they had only replaced the “Evap Coil”.  They also collected my check for 225$.

May 14 – The AC stopped cooling the house again Friday afternoon.  Friday night, I stepped in a wet spot on my carpet just outside my bedroom door.  Odd.  But we thought maybe it was from a wet towel my 5 yr old had dropped when he got out of his shower and went to bed.

May 15 – Saturday morning, the wet spot was now much wetter.  We couldn’t understand where it was coming from, there are no pipes down there, it’s a slab foundation.  We decided that DH would pull out the shop vac and clean it up while the kids and I were at a friend’s party.

Just before we were to leave, GeekBoy goes running through the front hall area, and slipped.  At this point, I was a bit exasperated and was all, “why can you not even walk across the hall?”  But when he protested that he really had slipped, I found a small amount of yellow liquid on the floor.  My honest first thought, “Dammit! who pee’d on mah floor!?!”  But as a bent over to investigate the mess, I felt a drop of something hit me in the back of the head.  That when I noticed the yellow’ish water dripping out of the cieling fan.  Then I saw the two big water stains on the ceiling right next to the fan, and following the wall back to right in front of my bedroom door – directly over the now splashy wet spot on the carpet.

We flew into action.  DH ran out to get the ladder, I turned of the AC, called AHS (thank you Daddy for insisting we get that coverage!), and grabbed my camera and started taking pictures of the damage.  AHS called Dewy and told them to get their rear ends back out here ASAP.  DH found the leak under the unit upstairs and we shoved a towel under it to try to stem the damage.  Then I took the kids to our friend’s house where we hung out till 730pm, because she has AC.

DH said that when the Tech from Dewy got here, got a look at the damage and what was done upstairs…  he just had no words.  He told DH that he was extremely sorry, and that they have a construction crew they work with who would most likely be called out to do the repairs to the house.  We now need new insulation in the attic, a new ceiling in the hallway, a new ceiling fan as the water was running down through the light socket and into the fan, and we are working to salvage the carpet – otherwise they will be replacing that too, but at the very least, it’s going to need a good cleaning.

Also, the tech informed us that they very obviously did NOT replace the “air flow unit” only the “evap coil”.  The water damage was caused by the unit because when the technicians changed out the coil, they not only did not re-install the emergency drain pan, but also ran the new drain line across the attic floor, then up and over some existing pipes.  So the unit was flooding because water doesn’t run uphill, and since there was no emergency drain pan, it was leaking all over the attic, and running under the insulation and out through the hole for the ceiling fan light fixture.

The On-Call Tech did not have the necessary parts to fix this major FUBAR.  He told us to leave the unit off for the weekend and that Dewy would call us Monday morning to set up a time when they would come back on Monday or Tuesday to temporarily fix it so we can run it.  He said that after that, they would need to straighten out the mess with AHS about replacing the whole “air flow unit” and most likely would need to come back again later to do that.

So this morning, I tried calling Dewy since it was 930am and no one from their office has called me yet.  The line was busy.  So I called AHS, and lodged a formal complaint with AHS against Dewy.  The AHS rep called Dewy and was told, “They were working on it.  They needed to order the part.”  The AHS rep decided that considering the massive scope of the FUBAR they had pulled, that was not a “valid answer” and that she would refer my case to a Customer Relations agent, who would call me, to help me get this mess straightened out.

I also called Dewy again at 1126a today.  I was told by their office that they had ordered a new air handling unit for me.  When I asked about what they were going to do about all the damage their technicians had caused, I was given a number and told to call the owner of the company.  I called him at 1130am, and left a message.  We’ll see how this goes.

To say I’m pissed off about this whole thing is an understatement.