Our Old House Article

If you are friends with me or any of my family members on Facebook, you probably saw the announcement about our article on AL.com.


Surprise! Actually, it is only surprising for you guys. Ryan and I obviously knew it it was coming. It all started a few weeks ago, when this article on Merrimack & West Huntsville was published. I was very excited to see someone saying something positive about West Huntsville, so I sent an e-mail to the journalist saying thank you and that as a homeowner in the area I appreciated her article very much. I also told her that we were one of those homeowners in the process of renovating (complete with a dumpster in the yard) and that we would be happy to help with any future article about Merrimack.

Well, she accepted our offer and here we are a few weeks later! Not only did Pat Ammons do a wonderful job with the article, but the photographer Bob Gathany did an amazing job with photographs. Here’s a few of the photographs he took from our house.

Merrimack Renovation stairs Merrimack Village reno Merrimack Village Renovation

You can see his photo gallery here.  It is well worth your time to take a look!

We are very excited about this series (yep, there is more coming, not sure exactly what but I’ll let you know).  There is also a second article where we share some things we have learned during this entire process. I hope that others in Huntsville will be encouraged to consider renovating in Merrimack! We love this community and want others to join in!



Home in Progress Updates

Happy Friday guys!

I just wanted to drop a quick note and let you know I have updated our Home in Progress page this week. Most of the “during” photos were taken 3 weeks ago so it has even changed a lot since then! Feel free to check out that page (see link at the top).

Also, here I is a sneak peek of what has been going on this week with drywall!

Ryan and I also spent a little time with wallpaper again. After three months of ignoring the final corner, it is time to finally tackle it!

Hope you all have a great weekend! Peace.






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 – 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!)?



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.