PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: We get to live in our house!

Howdy Strangers! Long time, no type. Please forgive the lack of updates the past two weeks. Things have been a little crazy with scrambling to get final inspections passed, packing, moving, living on a mattress on the floor for a week, and staying with my parents for a few days.

We can officially say that most of the chaos is over (hopefully)!!! If you follow me on Facebook, you probably already know that we passed our FINAL building inspection last Thursday! What we didn’t know is that the City of Huntsville Engineers also had to come sign off on the property and lot as well. Their job is to make sure the property is not hazardous and building debris is cleaned up, so we scrambled Thursday night and cleaned up crap from the yard and decluttered the porch best we could. Thankfully, the engineers were found of our quick clean up and have their stamp of approval on Friday. Yay!!

I was beginning to think their was no actual CERTIFICATE with your certificate of occupancy. Major bummer, right?!?! Imagine me stomping my foot like a four year old crying,” I want a certificate, dang it!” ūüôā

Well, our lovely piece of paper came yesterday!


We have spent all of this week waiting for Huntsville utilities to come turn on the power. As of this afternoon we are fully powered, complete with a working HVAC unit. Seeing that turned on for the first time was pretty freaking exciting! Electricity has never looked so good!!


Currently, our house is kind of a disaster zone, but we are so excited to be sleeping in our home tonight.




Thanks for all of the encouragement over the past year! You guys ROCK!


P.S. this post is coming from my iPhone. Please forgive typos and spelling errors ūüôā



Today: MOVING (kind of)

Quick post! Forgive spelling errors and run on sentences please ūüôā

I’ve been saying for the past two months or so that Memorial Day weekend was the goal (goal = do it or die trying). Well, it’s happening…


Kind of. We have busted our butts the past two weeks getting stuff done. Honestly, mine and Ryan’s to do list went pretty well.

We finished up the final sanding on the floors and then cleaned. and cleaned. and CLEANED.

hardwood_sandedThen came stain! We decided to go with the first color we tested – Dark Walnut by Minwax.


It’s just a nice, dark, rich brown color, and we LOVE it. Ryan really wanted a dark, almost black floor, but then I reminded him that he didn’t do the sweeping/swiffering. I do that, and we are NOT having black floors. All I would see is Bella’s hair and dirt. Um, no thank you! So we settled on a dark brown.


I will do a post in more detail about how the finishing floors process went for us. I can say that sanding is the hardest part. Second is just being patient and letting it dry. More on that later though!!


Dad helped create my vision for the mantle! I just gave instructions, and he did the work while Ryan and I worked on insulating the attic.

Here’s the mantle before he got started. Just a weird bump out in the dry wall.


By the end of last Saturday our mantle was starting to look pretty snazzy. You may have seen it on Facebook or Instagram.


I have had lots of people ask about leaving the colors at the top. Right now my plan is to paint it white or gray. I really just want the mantle to be the focal point, and I think all of the bright colors distract from it. Who knows what I will do. We will just have to wait and see!

We rented a insulation blower from Lowe’s last Saturday and knocked out insulating the attic. Ryan suited up for the occasion.


Doesn’t he look spiffy? ūüėČ

insulation_Ryan-in-atticI stayed downstairs and speed-dumped 60 bags of insulation.



It took a little longer than we planned largely because we ended up having to go buy more insulation. The little chart of the packages of the insulation was a little off. Or maybe we just have more insulation than we needed to pass code (not a bad thing, hello lower energy bills). Speaking of energy bills….


Thermostat! Boom! Our house now has two, woot woot! We have two seperate units for the house, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. Our house is right at 2,500 square feet so it is a little too big for one unit to heat and cool efficiently.

Sadly, the HVAC unit isn’t on yet. Here is what did not go well the past two weeks.

One, getting our plumber to show up and JUST FINISH IT!


Ryan and our plumber officially hate this sink by the way. I LOVE it and will probably need to tell Ryan everyday for a good three months how much I love it because installing it was a pain. I think it looks great in our powder room!

Another issue was getting the gas looked up and the gas meter installed. It took FOUR weeks to get the gas guy back out to hook up the stove and water heater. FOUR WEEKS! We also weren’t able to get the gas meter installed until yesterday. So, we were not able to pass our gas and HVAC inspection in time for the weekend.

No gas/HVAC inspection = no building inspector = no Certificate of Occupancy. 

Womp. Womp. So, we are moving 98% of our belongings into the house this weekend and camping out at the condo for a few more days while we wait to get the final inspections done. Hopefully by next Friday we will be sleeping in our house!!

Well, I am off to finish up the last of the packing and clean! Have a great weekend.


Operation: Certificate of Occupancy (and I have $21,000 to make it happen)

When our building inspector was out a few weeks ago, one of the main questions Ryan had for her was what EXACTLY is required to receive a certificate of Occupancy (aka ‚Äď the city approves that our home is now safe to live in- yay!). Believe it or not, you can actually be fined and eventually arrested for living in your own home without a certificate of occupancy. Crazy, right? Thankfully our whole house does not have to be pretty or finished to move in. Here are the basics for us to get our certificate and move in:

  • A finished and functioning bathroom with sink, toilet and bath/shower.
  • All walls must be finished (dry wall, paneling, etc).
  • All electrical outlets, junction boxes and receptacles must be covered.
  • All water areas (bathrooms and kitchen) must have water proof flooring.
  • There must be a food prep space.
  • There must be one bedroom.
  • Handrail on the stairs
  • Handrail on the front steps to the porch
  • Dead bolts on all exterior doors
  • Attic has to be insulated.
  • Stair treads must be replaced

That’s the bulk of what is required by the City of Huntsville.

We have a few other things on our own list. We want to have the hardwood flooring downstairs sanded & refinished, have the house cleaned and primed for paint, install window casing around first floor windows and doors, and finish the kitchen except for back splash. I think the house will still feel dirty even after we clean and a nice coat of white primer will make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. No MORE RAINBOWS!


Now here is the real kicker. We have $21,000 left in our construction loan to make it all happen. Yep. You read that. $21,000! Did you know the average major kitchen remodel (new flooring, cabinets, counter tops, appliances, and back splash) in 2012 cost close to $50,000. Um, yeah, not happening. We are going to finish a kitchen, a bathroom, living room, dining room and bedroom for $21,000.


Is it even possible? Yes. At least my spread sheet says it is. My spread sheet also says I have a lot of work to do! Ha. I promise to share the details as we go. Maybe you will be inspired to take on a budget friendly renovation of your own.

Without further ado, meet our budget plan.

Refinish hardwood
Living room fireplace
Drywall & labor
Molding & trim
Vinyl Work (just wrote that check!)
Plumbing labor
Plumbing Fixtures
Tile & Flooring
Counter tops
Grant Toal

This should be fun. Snug is the nicest word I have for it. Stay tuned! Hopefully we can make this work! Do you guys find it as absurd as I do that you can be ARRESTED for living in your own home? Do you guys have any experience in snug budgets? I would love any advice people have to give! Is there anything else we should add to our pre-move in list? Am I missing something completely obvious (and don’t say finish the whole house!)?



Good week: We passed and I won!

Boom!! We passed our final framing and insulation inspection yesterday!


Wahoo!! Bring on the dry wall! Actually, we are probably two weeks away from being ready for dry wall. Ryan and I made a pretty lengthy list (37 items if you want to be exact) of tasks that need to be completed before dry wall arrives. Most of it is small things, like cleaning, furring out a few walls (that means making them flush and straight), framing closet doors, more cleaning, putting up bead board in places, and oh wait, more cleaning!!!


We also want to have Cooks FINALLY come back and install hardwood in the downstairs bedroom and wood planks on the walls. In case you are new, you read about our termite drama here, here, here and here.

Other good news, I won my battle with Lowe’s this week! Since it took over six weeks to receive our second batch of correct windows, I asked for compensation. Okay, so asked was more like demanded compensation. Reality is, not having windows for six weeks means we couldn’t finish insulating, so we couldn’t have our building inspector come out meaning we could not move forward with dry wall.

Adding a month to our time frame = one month of rent, one month of storage unit, one month of porta-potty, one month of two utility bills, and one more month of a dumpster. It all equals out to a solid chunk of money each month.

I knew from the get go that I wanted Lowe’s to provide¬†compensation¬†in some form of fashion that equaled a month of our, what I not so fondly call, “living-in-two-places-expenses.” Well, Lowe’s called me this week and offered a whopping $250. *Insert angry face and stomping of feet* I probably don’t have to tell you, but that is much less than what I had in mind. So, I put on my big girl panties, called the Lowe’s manager, and I spoke my mind loud. and. clear. It is kind of a big deal. I am not one to complain, throw fits, or loose my patience, so it took all I had to call and fight. After I let the poor manager at Lowe’s have it, I waited (and fumed).

Low and behold, I freaking WON!!! Ryan and my dad are both shocked! I got what I wanted plus $50 and it is in CASH! Not free windows. Not a gift card, but $1,050 cash. Hurray! Victory is mine! Next time you need someone to negotiate contracts, just call me. ūüôā¬†Apparently¬†I am awesome.

That money we are getting back from Lowe’s is allowing us to HIRE PEOPLE to hang and finish dry wall. PRAISE THE LORD! Now that we are on the let’s-get-moving-and-buy-the-dang-sheet-rock-already train, we are spending a lot of time cleaning. In fact, you can see the floor again downstairs.



We also have vinyl guys at the house wrapping the new windows and patching holes in the vinyl exterior. It is looking better even after one day!



Well, that is a wrap for today (Wrap…vinyl wrap…get it?!) Har har har. That was terrible, I know. Thanks for tolerating me folks. What is new with you guys? Has anyone ever won a small battle and felt like they conquered the world? That is pretty much how I felt. I may or may not have called myself Madame¬†Conqueror all week….



The Waiting Game

Howdy! Long time, no see. The past two weeks have flown by. Can you believe it is the middle of February?? Seriously. Last week, we celebrated my mother’s birthday (I won’t tell you how old because she would kill me), Ryan’s 28th birthday and then I spent the weekend with 130 teenagers on a church retreat. I am pooped!

While time seems to be flying by, house work has been a little on the slow side. We have been piddling around while we wait on our second round of windows to come in. I have grown very impatient during this process. Without windows, we are almost at a stand still. Thankfully, they will be delivered tomorrow and will be installed on Friday. Fingers crossed that this time everything is correct!!! Another mistake will cause a major melt down by yours truly.

Two Saturdays ago, Ryan and I finished insulating the kitchen ceiling. If you follow me on Instagram or on Facebook you probably already knew that.

Insulation-finished_kitchen Insulation_kitchen-ceiling-

I am very grateful Ryan has no fear of ladders!! I stayed securely on the ground during most of this process. I handled all of the cutting of material, while Ryan secured it in place. I did help out a little on a step ladder when needed though.


That is my “use-my-head-because-my-shoulder-are-burning-method.” Works well in a pinch!! Our supervisor Bella was a major slacker though….

Insulation-finished_BellaDon’t be fooled. The dog has her own dog bed and chair at the condo; however, insulation makes an excellent¬†substitute¬†in a time of need!

To insulate the kitchen ceiling, Ryan and I continued to use the roll in insulation. We used a combination of R-13, R-19 and R-30, depending on how much space we had to work with. Hopefully our building inspector won’t give us grief about it.


Whose ready for a real ceiling?! ME!!! We have to wait for sheet rock and finishing until after all the insulation is in and our building inspector has approved and given us the go ahead. We are hoping to have her back out next week (after the windows are installed and we can finish insulating).

Another exciting progress report – the front porch!


Our front porch is STRAIGHT. and LEVEL. and has NEW decking. No more risk of falling through. We have amazing friends who offered to help us for a few Saturdays, and we put them to work outside. Didn’t they do a great job?


You know what is the only bad part of a brand new porch?


Unwanted yard art!! Oh well. Luckily our neighbors don’t complain about our “signs of progress” as I call them. The toilet and refrigerator in the yard? Just a sign of progress friends!! ūüôā

What have you guys been up to??

Have a great week! Peace.


Building Inspection: Passed. Immune Systems: Dead

Well guys, there have been worse weeks and there have been better weeks in the Saffell house. The past week and a half have been a doosey. The good part is that we passed our building inspection (Yay!) which gave us the go ahead to start insulating. *Woot Woot* The bad part is a few days later Ryan came down with¬†Bronchitis, and then I came down with a stomach bug. Boo! I think our bodies held out just long enough to pass…and then they just gave out! Ha.

Ryan is still trying to get rid of the last of his cough, and I thankfully kicked my stomach bug after 24 hours. ¬†We are getting back into the swing of things this week. ¬†The good thing about insulation is that it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort or muscle power, two things we are still gaining back after being sick.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably know I was a little bit excited about our purchase on Saturday…


I believe pumped was the word I used actually. I was this weird person at Lowe’s at 9 o’clock in the morning skipping down the insulation aisle. Batts, R-Values, Rolls, OH MY!

Okay, that joke was probably funnier in my head or said out loud. Imagine me dancing and singing “Batts, R-Values and Rolls, OH MY!” to the tune of “Lions, Tigers, and Bears, OH MY!” Anywho, we bought our first round of insulation which is enough to give us a pretty good start on the first floor (our task for this week). I started working on that Saturday (pre-stomach bug, I promise I was not rolling insulation and puking at the same time).

Insulation_living-room Insulation_front-entry

Why yes, that is a shiny new window. We have six new windows….out of the fourteen we ordered….more details later….Dad stopped by Saturday afternoon to finish pulling some wire and cable and pitched in on insulation, too. Of course, Bella had to supervise and give kisses.


Tori preferred to be more involved in quality control of the material itself.


So far we can’t lay a piece down without Tori trying to sleep on it. I guess that is better than her trying to eat it though, right?!?!

Ryan also started working on the front porch last week. And by working I mean tearing it down.


So happy to see that thing porch go! That porch was proof that paint is not always the answer. I wish I could go back in time and tell the previous owners to PUT THE PAINT DOWN!


So, that is where we are this week. Have any of you guys been sick lately? I hope not! It is not fun. If you were one of many who wished me well or checked on me, thank you very much! What are you guys up to this week?



Kitchen Ceiling Update (aka Proof our friends rock)

I mentioned earlier this week that the structural beams in our kitchen are in place thanks to help of some of our friends. Well, when the guys installed the beams nice and level we realized just how much the roof has sagged over time.


Notice those small blocks above the beam? The ones that get progressively longer from one side to the other? Those are to accommodate the sagging. It was noticeable before, but you slap up a level beam and BAM! Holy-crooked-moley-batman!

Our friends suggested framing up a new false ceiling (lower than the current room but still vaulted) so we when we finished the ceiling with sheet rock or bead board we would have a nice level, even surface. Thankfully our friends also offered to come back the next Saturday to make that happen! So grateful. Honestly, my first thought after they pitched the idea of a false ceiling was, “Well crap, Ryan is going to have to figure out how to do that all by himself because I can’t help on a ladder. I’m sure it would look better, but Ryan is going to hate me.” Ha. What a relief when Ryan said they were offering to come back again and help. Whew. Ryan doesn’t hate me! ūüôā

Here is our new “false” kitchen ceiling in all its glory.

Kitchen-ceiling-done kitchen-ceiling

Please forgive the night-time, Iphone photos.

You know what is not glorious? A leaky roof…and we have one.


Thank you, Mom, for giving me Granny’s giant bucket/pail/thingy-bob. It makes for a great rain catcher when the roof leaks. The good thing about still having all the walls and ceilings open while it rains for five straight days is that you can easily spot the leaks! We have a roofer coming out tomorrow to take a look.

With the kitchen ceiling done, we have officially completed our list for the building inspector, and we are hoping to have her back out tomorrow! We will keep you posted.

I also have updates on some window drama to share. For those of you who live in Alabama, are you as sick of this weather as I am? Blah! I think I am forgetting what the sun looks like… Thanks for stopping by and reading! What have you guys been up to lately?



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 ūüôā

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? ūüėČ 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! ūüôā

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!