Holiday Fun: Christmas, Kitchen Beams, and Inspections

Hello! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas full of family, friends, food and fun! I hope Santa was nice to you as well 🙂

Holidays_saffellsWe were both blessed to be able to have time off work to hang out with friends and family. We were also blessed to get a butt-load of Lowe’s gift cards, house related gifts, and some other fun goodies! Ryan thought it would be funny to wrap my gifts in house-wrap this year.


Tori and Bella enjoyed have some extra nap and cuddle time as well.


They have a rough life, can’t you tell? Now, something pretty much as exciting as Christmas: Beams in the Kitchen! We spent the Saturday before Christmas working on beams. You can see my inspiration for vaulting the ceiling here. Ryan and I have been saving some of our salvaged lumber for this project and were very ready to get it off the floor, out of one of our numerous piles, and up to the ceiling. Here is our final before shot!


We started the process by deciding what height we wanted to mount the beams, which ended up being the highest spot we could reach while standing semi-safely on the ladder. Have I mentioned I don’t like being on ladders? Like, AT ALL?! I prefer to be safely planted on the ground or on a small step stool. Beyond that is outside of my comfort zone. Thankfully Dad was around that Saturday, so he took my spot on the ladder and I got to eye-ball for level! Hurray!

We had just enough old 2 x 4 lumber long enough to install beams (each beam being two 2 x 4s) on three of the six rafters. Ryan then went about determining the angle of the rafters so we could cut the end of the beams accordingly. With our angle determined, we used the miter saw to make our cut.



Because of the angle, the miter saw would not cut through the entire piece  of wood, so we just finished off the cut with a circular saw. We made the same cut on the other end of the lumber, and ta-da!


It’s a hot look, I know. It was cold that day, if you couldn’t tell from my apparel. With the beam ready to go up, I handed it off to Dad and Ryan to put up.


We used a level to make sure it was nice and straight. Sorry, no photo! The old 2 x 4s aren’t terribly heavy, but anytime you are holding something over your head it gets heavy fast! Ryan simply propped the level on top of the beam for me to read from below. With the beam level, they secured the beam with our framing nailer. We love our nail gun!


Actually that is just a hammer. Not our beloved nail gun, but the nail gun did get a work out that day! I think Dad even wants one now.


We decided to double up each 2 x 4 to create a “beefier” look. Beefier is totally a design term, right? 😉 We put the second 2 x 4 right next to first beam, nailed into the rafter and the beam so it was well supported. Wa-La!


The first and second beam – CHECK! Who needs Christmas presents when you have rustic beams installed in your kitchen?! Not me. Santa can come every year and just bring me some really cool, rustic beams! Haha. We were able to get up all three beams in one afternoon. For anyone wanting to add beams, it is a three person job: Two to hold and one to hand up tools and supplies/check for level.

We also took care of installing a new door knob and an actual dead bolt on the front door. None of our exterior doors when we bought the house had actual dead bolts! Scary, right?!


We decided to stick with door knobs instead of handle because 1) it is what was on the house when we bought it and all the original door hardware are knobs and 2) it is easier for little hands to open handles! With little people in our future (not right now – just to clarify- but one day, sorry Mom!) we decided that knobs would be better.

Now, let’s talk inspection. Here is where I kind of loose my Christmas cheer. As you may have read last week, we passed our HVAC, electrical, and gas inspection. The day after Christmas we passed our plumbing rough in inspection. Yay! Then, we had our building inspection the following Friday and we did NOT pass. *Womp womp* The building inspector inspects framing and the overall structure, and she gave us a list of things we need to do before moving on with finishing. We weren’t surprised by any means, just bummed. She just confirmed that we HAD to do a few things we weren’t exciting about spending time and money on…like redoing our entire set of stairs to bring them up to code.


We knew they weren’t up to code from the get-go, but we were going to leave them be if we could, just to save time and money. Thankfully our gift cards we got from Christmas covered the bulk of the material we had to buy to make changes to the stairs and some other things! If you bought us a Lowe’s giftcard for Christmas, congratulations, you are helping us replace the stairs! 🙂

I will share later about the other things we have to do. I hope you all have a very Happy (and safe)  New Year! I will talk to you guys next year!




Nail Gun Love: Framing & House updates

Happy Christmas Eve! Let me introduce you to latest member of the Saffell family.


This is our latest purchase in the tool department. We have only had it about two weeks, but I can already tell you it is making life so much easier! Everything is SO MUCH FASTER with this bad boy. Ryan has thoroughly enjoyed breaking it in the past few weeks.


Our carpenter is currently out of commission because he cut his hand while working at another job. Does it worry anyone else that our carpenter cut his hand on a saw?! Well, with him out of work for a week or two, Ryan and I have been taking care of a few more framing and carpentry tasks ourselves. One was framing the master bedroom closet.

Master-closet-framed master-closet

Finishing the closet also required sistering some of the wall studs so they sat correctly on the new header below. Hopefully the arrows in the photo help explain what I mean.


Of course once we were finished, Supervisor Bella had to come and inspect our work.


Thankfully she passed our work! In all seriousness, we are very happy to have the electrical, HVAC, and gas rough in inspection all taken care of! Such a relief to have three inspections out of the way! We CANNOT wait to start insulating and closing up walls!! We still have to pass our plumbing inspection, which is set for Wednesday (day after Christmas) and our building inspection. Fingers crossed those both go well!!

The other day I mentioned briefly that Ryan dug a trench for the electricians to run power to the house. What I did not include is a photo of his hard work.


If you are thinking, “That sure looks like a lot of work,” you would be right! Ryan was such a trooper and did it by himself while I was out Christmas shopping with my grandmother and cousins. He made sure to let me know at every chance how sore he was. 🙂

Another few new additions to our house include a new back door…..


which is 36″ wide instead of 30″ like our other exterior doors. Hopefully no more squeezing in appliances or furniture like we had to with the stove!

We also have a new electrical panel…



and it is in our dining room. *Womp womp* It was the best location for us to easily access it without it taking up storage space in my pantry. We thought about putting it in our guest bedroom, but we figured if the power goes off and we are upstairs in our bedroom, the less we would have to fumble in the dark the better! So dining room it is. I really did not want to give up storage space in my lovely walk in pantry. An electrical panel would totally kill my walk-in pantry dreams! Here is a few pictures I am using for inspiration for the pantry.


pantry 2

*Sigh, wipe drool* I cannot wait! Back to the electrical panel. I plan on hiding it behind some sort of hinged picture frame or mirror so it is not an eye sore. I will be honest and say the panel is a little larger than I was anticipating, but Ryan is pretty excited about the giant electrical panel.

Another thing Ryan is excited about is our surround system in the living room. My Dad is putting in for us as a house-warming gift. What an awesome Dad, right?!


While it is a nice gift for us, I think it is just as much for Dad 🙂 Heaven forbid we invite my parents over for a movie and not have surround sound!! Haha. My Dad is kind of techy, so his standards for TV watching are a little higher than mine, ya know, the “artsy-fartsy” type! 🙂

Well that’s a wrap for today. There is more to share, but I need to start cooking and wrap a few more gifts! I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! Be safe traveling! And a little bit more nail gun love. It is not only handy for framing, but Christmas crafts as well!


Peace and Blessings.


Give thanks for progress!

I hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving! Ours was full of food and family, both which I love! I also hope you ate just as much as I did and regretted it today when you put your blue jeans on. If your pants weren’t snug today you didn’t eat enough. Moving on.

We keep trucking right along with progress at the house, but before we jump into the fun stuff, can I just tell you that I hate Day Light Savings? Have I mentioned that yet?!

I HATE DAY LIGHT SAVINGS! We now work on the house by construction light and head lamps, in the evenings anyway.

For one, getting off of work at 5 and it is already black outside is just DEPRESSING. Two, it is not fun working in the dark! Third, my head lamp apparently does not like the way my head is shaped because it refuses to stay put.

Since we are running on temporary power, we have two extension cords running form the utility pole outside into the house. From there we have a multitude of surge protectors, extension cords, and construction lamps. Everything that requires power has to come from those two extension cords. It makes for a fun game of musical extension cords!

Now that I have shared my feelings about that, lets move on to something more fun…like a new header between the dining/stairs and the kitchen!

So I know it is dark and hard to see, but this view is from the dining room looking into the kitchen. It is now nice and open! The header passes the stairs as well so it is now completely open at the bottom of the stairs as well.

We also have framing for the pantry started.

Remember the other day when I mentioned the floor was not level? Well, the entire room was out of square. Like someone built a cube and then twisted it, squished it, and called it a day. How is it that the newest room in the entire house can be in such terrible shape?!

I also whipped up this really rough sketch of the kitchen. I get so excited just thinking about it! I dream of storage and counter space!

So it is only one wall of the kitchen, but still exciting. I love the vaulted ceiling even as is, cob webs and all!  Did you notice the new window sizes above? We ordered windows last week! Woot woot! I will share more soon on what type of window we decided to go with.

Our carpenter and plumber have made progress upstairs in the master bath. I showed you the shower the other day, but here is a reminder.

It is pretty large, 4’0″ x 4’0″. We also now have a proper doorway from the master bedroom…

as well as a water closet (toilet room, whatever you want to call it).

We also have water lines for the vanity and a spot laid out for the claw foot tub.

Another exciting fact, we have ELECTRICIANS starting next week. Ryan will not be doing all of the electrical work after all. We were able to secure a small personal loan from a different bank in town which allows us to hire electricians. HURRAY! We are excited to say the least, but electricians starting means we had quite a punch list this past week. One of those was reorganizing everything in our salvage room so the electricians could actually, ya know, walk in the room AND reach the walls. Electricians are so needy! Gosh. Just kidding.

Reorganizing means our closets upstairs are now being put to good use!

Give thanks for closets, and all the stuff in them! Yes, I am thankful for my rainbow of original wood trim and moldings! They make my heart happy.

If there is one thing at the house I am struggling to give thanks for, it is this thing…

The dumpster. *Sigh* It’s back. Hopefully for only one or two more rounds. *Fingers crossed*

Ryan and I spent last weekend framing the wall in the living room that will one day house a fireplace, mantle, television and built-in bookcase.

Ta-da. Newly framed wall! We had to re-frame the wall because it wasn’t deep enough to house electrical outlets and all of the mumbo-jumbo that goes with a TV. Isn’t that what you call it, Dad? Mumbo-jumbo? 😉

Last update for tonight.

In case you live under a rock or just haven’t noticed, it is fall. During the fall, trees lose all of their leaves. We have LOTS of trees; therefore, we have BAJILLION LEAVES. That’s right, BAJILLION. Like more than a trillion!!

Those two pictures were actually taken a week after our kind neighbor raked the leaves. All of them, about six hours worth of leaf raking!

That is our leaf pile (round 1). Our neighbor rocks. End of story.

So that’s the update at the Saffell house. What is new with you guys? Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? Do you have a bajillion leaves to rake as well? Maybe just a million? I also found out the other day that I have a small following in Wisconsin (Thanks Diana!), ha! That was fun.

Thank you so much for reading! I enjoy sharing this adventure with you! Peace and Roll Tide.


I’ve been framed: Framing update part 2

Framing work has continued over the past week (yay!), so how about some photos, hm? If you said yes, just keep scrolling. If you said no, this blog may not be for you 🙂 You can see part one of framing progress here.

Dude. You may not be able to really tell in the photo above, BUT the crooked wall upstairs is significantly STRAIGHTER.  It’s not perfect, but by-golly it is a heck of a lot better than it was. I will try to get better photos to demonstrate the almost-straightness we have going on. Moving on.

NO WALL! I think I hear angels singing…oh wait…that’s me singing…not really angelically…

By far the most exciting progress this past week was removing the wall between the stairs.   We are continuing to make progress with more tedious and time consuming tasks, like scraping wall paper, pulling nails and removing vinyl flooring.  If you live in the North Alabama area and ever complain of boredom, just swing by our house. I can fix your boredom issue 🙂

What do you have going on this week? Our carpenter won’t be back until Wednesday this week, so there probably won’t be a lot of progress this week. I will be sure to keep you posted though!

*Construction loan update – we were supposed to close a week ago from Friday, but no go. The person who did the post work appraisal is not certified to do this type of appraisal. Grrr. The bank has to send another appraiser out before we move forward. BOO! I am ready to get this party started. 

Thanks for reading and for your encouragement on our journey!

A week in photos: Framing Progress

Framing has officially begun! There are no longer just massive stacks of 2 x 4s and 2 x 8s laying in the living room (seen here and here), but actual-real-life walls going up, walls coming down, and floor/ceiling joists being appropriately supported. I could go through every photo explaining exactly what this is and that is, but that would quickly get WAY too long, so for the sake of your time (and mine), how about just pictures of progress, hm?? A picture says a thousand words, right?

If so, here are all of my words for this week.

So that’s the recap. Our carpenter is slowly making his way down the to-do list. Working with an old, existing structure is much MUCH much more time-consuming than framing for new construction. None of the walls, floors or ceilings in our house are straight or level, so that makes his job really fun 🙂 By fun I mean slow, frustrating and at times pain staking.

Ryan and I are taking a weekend off from working at the house to help with a youth retreat this weekend, so we won’t have anything too exciting to share next week. Ryan did manage to tackle one of the biggest-final-demo-the-end-is-near projects last Saturday. Want to take a guess what it was? It actually took a lot less time than we anticipated.

What are you doing this weekend? House work? Break? Counting down until fall gets here? Yea, me too!! Have a great rest of the week.


Teaser photo: Here is what’s happening

When I posted this teaser photo the other day, I could barely contain my excitement!! Ryan actually sent the photo to me during the day, and I almost squealed at work.

I might have let out a really soft squeal, quietly stomped my feet and performed a very small happy dance in my chair.

Ok, I did do that. No shame here.

Here’s the scoop – we had a carpenter/framer start on Monday (non-termite related). Can you say YAY?!?! We had originally hoped to schedule him to start on the 20th of this month, but due to his schedule (other projects and a vacation) he wanted to start two weeks early. However, we aren’t closing on the construction loan (aka source of money) until the 15th or 17th, assuming there are no hiccups as we proceed, so we were hesitant to say yes. We explained the situation to our carpenter, and he was fine with us paying all of labor cost at the end if we purchased all of the supplies up front.  DEAL! With that settled and contract signed, Ryan began frantically went to a local lumber yard to set up a homeowner line of credit, that way we could buy the supplies and have thirty days to make a payment. Not to worry (Mom), if there is a delay on the construction loan we have enough money in our wallets to cover the costs, but hopefully we won’t have to come out of pocket for it.

The carpenter will be here for two weeks and is doing all of the following:

  • Interior framing for new walls
  • resolving a few structural issues in the attic (old attic = not even close to code = kind of scary)
  • Creating two openings in a load bearing wall
  • Reinforcing floor joist on second floor under future master bath
  • Re-sizing windows in the kitchen and laundry area
  • Re-framing back exterior door to accommodate a 36″ door (it is currently 32″)
  • Vaulting the kitchen ceiling (Woot woot!)
  • Replacing the treads and risers on the stairs
  • Replace existing porch decking

I think that will keep him busy for 2 weeks, don’t you? I will actually be really impressed if he gets it all done in two weeks!!

When I got off work Monday and walked into the house, there were piles of stuff EVERYWHERE!

SO EXCITING! It was one of those, “Wow! This is really happening” moments for sure. Even though Ryan and I were both excited, Bella and Tori seemed less than impressed.

I am really excited to see how quickly work progresses from here. It’s crazy, just over the course of two days so much has happened! It is amazing how much more is accomplished when someone is working on your house 8 hours a day, everyday! Ha.

So yea, that’s the big news for the week – Framing. Here is a peak of our new entry area for those who might be curious.

Okay, so maybe you can’t imagine it yet, but it is going to be pretty awesome, slowly but surely.

Lastly, construction loan update – the appraiser is coming to walk through the house today with Ryan to put together the post work appraisal. This is the last hurdle in the construction loan process!! The post work appraisal must be higher or equal to the amount we are borrowing plus the amount we payed for the house. Say a prayer, cross your fingers, find a four leaf clover, pet your lucky rabbit foot and whatever else you do when you want things to go smoothly!

What do you have going on this week? Have you ever walked into your living room to find piles and piles of lumber? Do your dogs not share your excitement for home improvement? Bella is still interested, but Tori would rather just take a nap 🙂

Thanks for reading.