Our Fixer Upper: Phase 1

August 30, 2017

Hey guys!

So I realize this post is long overdue, but here it is! This will be the first of a few posts about our fixer upper. I want to focus on the different things that happened throughout the 6 intense months we spent working on our house, and when I say intense, I mean really intense. Think HGTV fixer upper, drama, surprises, tears, the whole thing. Now that we moved in to the house, we’ve been taking things slowly and it has definitely helped our stress levels and our wallets. The house has had plenty of needs and now it’s my turn to let you in on the scoop of this whole process. I hope this helps you in the future or at the very least serves as entertainment. 🙂

When we started this process we couldn’t wait to get started. We were excited and we felt prepared, and we quickly realized how much this came in handy. Had we waited until the week the house was going to be painted to pick wall colors, for example, we’d be looking at a totally different house. We realized the importance of knowing what we wanted, how we wanted it, and getting it done right the first time.  I remember asking for advice from my brother, who recently went through the process of fixing his house, and he said the same thing. Basically, don’t tell yourself “I guess we can go with this wall color for now and change it later”, odds are, you probably won’t change it later. Have you ever painted an entire room? The entire house? Whether you’re having to pay someone to do it or you’re doing it yourself, it’s a tedious task.  I was mainly the one in charge of painting the doors of the house and let me be honest… by door number 2 (of 12) I was done. I got through it, but it was exhausting! Sure, we didn’t have a lengthy conversation about what color we should paint the doors, but you get the point. Figuring out the color scheme, style and overall feel of the house from the beginning will make things run a whole lot smoother.

Phase 1

So, phase 1 of the process was probably the most problematic and with reason. There were so many obstacles we had to tackle and tricky situations we had to figure out in a timely manner, that a typical day at the house really felt like part of an episode of Fixer Upper. The goal was to fix most, if not all, the issues of the house from the root. We wanted to make real changes to the house, not just make it look nice from the outside (ironically, the outside of the house is far from being done.)

During the first couple of months the house went from looking like an old, outdated house to being completely naked with nothing but the wooden studs holding the house together. The walls and floor were completely ripped out and to my excitement, this house was truly a blank slate. We quickly converted the house to exactly what we wanted. We went from having 3 small bedrooms to having 2 (one with a walk-in closet). We took down a fireplace that took up half of the living area and got rid of the wall between the kitchen and dining/living space, making the space a completely open concept living area. We also replaced two windows with two sets of sliding doors for added natural light. We closed off some doors and windows that really didn’t “belong”, and added doors for the new spaces. Like I said, the house was a blank slate and all of these changes were easier to do since everything was completely exposed.

I’ll let the pictures I took do the talking now.

[click the images to enlarge]


kitchen area

living area

bye bye windows, hello sliding doors!


Expected & Unexpected Issues

So let’s back up for a minute. Before the house became this wonderful “blank slate” I am describing, it was a house that had what every homeowner looking to tear down walls or get rid of “pop corn ceilings” should be aware of, asbestos. If you’re not sure what it is, please google it. I don’t want to get into details of what it is and what it can do to your health if you are exposed to it, but it’s important you know and understand what it is. So we had a test done and every single sample had a trace of asbestos, meaning that every wall, ceiling and floor had asbestos. We were planning on breaking down walls and replacing the floor, so we obviously had to do something about it. We consulted with a few companies that professionally remove material containing asbestos and decided to get rid of every single thing in our home with a trace of it. So that meant every wall, ceiling and floor. It took away a huge, unexpected chunk from our budget, but it was something that had to be done. We had some sleepless nights deciding what to do, but when we finally went through with the abatement process, our mind felt as clear as the house it self.

So we were clear of asbestos, we had a clean house and the possibilities were endless, now what? The house needed foundation repairs, new plumbing and all new electrical work. During those weeks/months, the house felt like (and literally was) a construction zone. We started with foundation repairs and that was the one expense we knew we had to make (houses in North Texas usually have foundation issues). We were also made aware early on that with foundation repairs, you might also need to replace or repair the plumbing in the house. This was an expense we were hoping not to make. Unfortunately, we did have to make it, but honestly we’re glad we did. Following the foundation repairs, we had a plumber check the pipes for any damages and even though there weren’t any apparent damages, it did seem like some of the main pipes were clogged up. I mean, think about it, this house was built in 1960. So we did all new plumbing work… and it was definitely more than we expected, but we managed! We decided it made sense to make the full expense now that the house was getting repairs done all over the place, versus getting some of the pipes fixed now and then having to make surprise repairs later on. The house also got a full electrical update, and a really good one. My husband’s dad is an electrician (yes, to our advantage) and did all of the electrical work. 🙂 The one thing that took me a little by surprise is how customizable the electric work can be. Of course some things have to be done a certain way according to code, but we were able to choose some things we wouldn’t be able to easily install to a new, finished house. We were able to choose dimmed lights in several spaces of the house and even install USB plugs in the kitchen! It also helped that we had an idea of what types of light fixtures we wanted to have in each room. I even bought some of them early on when the house had no walls! In the master bathroom, for example, we installed two pendant lights. For these types of lights, the wires had to be placed in the ceiling, opposed to where they are more commonly placed for a wall sconce perhaps right above the mirror on top of the sink. Luckily, I knew that I wanted pendant lights early on and when the time came to install the wires, I was able to communicate this to my father in law! So electrical work was not an issue, but definitely an expected expense.

So the first phase of this project definitely required a lot of energy, time and money from us. Luckily my husband and I make a nice team. He took care of dealing with all these issues and making sure the jobs were done right and I took care of online shopping (for the house, of course). Together we made sure that every single detail was taken care of on time, because did I mention we had a deadline? We had less than 5 months from the start of the renovations to make the house “move-in-ready”. At first it sounded like plenty of time, but once you get started, you start to realize there is never enough time. Some things went as planned and others really hurt our timeline. We were blessed to have a crazy, hardworking contractor that worked nights and weekends to make sure he got his job done, and didn’t hiss every time we threw a new idea or job at him. He worked diligently and made sure our vision came to life. On top of that our family helped us out with every tedious task we had to take care of to keep the renovations rolling.

I look around the house and find it almost hard to believe it went through so many changes. I hope you enjoyed reading about our first few weeks of the renovation process. I will keep you posted with more information and pictures!

…here’s a more updated before/after picture duo of our guest bathroom. It was originally the master bathroom but we closed off the door connecting it to the (now) guest bedroom and instead opened it up to the hallway. I’ll describe the changes in detail on a later post. 🙂






Thanks for stopping by!

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