June 12, 2016
If you’re up to date with the remodel you’ll know I came home from work one day to my house looking like this;
Bye bye porch
Well my casual little porch remodel has turned out to be, well, NOT SO CASUAL. But that’s why I live with a contractor so moving along…
I’m pretty adamant that we keep with a similar style as I like to maintain architectural detail when working on older homes. I just kind of feel like so many houses look EXACTLY the same, why not maintain the unique differences that set a house apart from the rest?!
So after ripping off the whole porch and putting in temporary (VERY TEMPORARY) supports we had to jack up the house, literally JACK UP THE HOUSE, with a little thing called a …wait for it… HOUSE JACK. Legit, these things exist. So basically you put a huge 2×4 on this jack and lift up the house and then put a beam into place to hold up the house again. I’m giving the abridged version because pictures tell a better story but if you ever want a detailed explanation, I can give it to you – if you bring me a bottle of wine.
First Major beam went in at night... STRANGER DANGER
Side view before Beam 1
Staging and Framing for Beam 2, Also Steve's Ass...haaaay haayyy
Beam 3 and 4 And roof Framing Begins!
Roof Framed in Just in time for the Holidays! PEACE!!!
Well deserved Beers on top of Porch - Soon to be Second Level Porch from Master!
So At this point we are fully Framed in!! Winter came right after the second floor roof went on, we quickly put a rubber roof on top just to get it sealed up and then had to hold off until the warmer weather. The plan is to put a second floor Deck on top of the Main floor Porch so the master bedroom will have sliders that go onto the higher up porch with some killer views. At this point we are still framed in and don’t have decking down yet but coming soon!
The most important part of this project really is a two part issue that was repaired. First, the porch was separating from the house, and was eventually just going to fall off. Second, the second floor living area was cantilevered over the porch which was not properly supporting the living space, so all of the second floor flooring had buckled and warped and was obviously sagging. Once we jacked up the first floor porch and put new beams in, the second floor interior floors became more level – YAY! They aren’t exactly perfect yet, but when we put new flooring down inside we will be able to make the level now that the second floor is not sagging.
Once the main framing was done we poured a concrete slab underneath to provide us with a dry working space where we will stain the floor boards for the porch (the decking that you stand on).
So fresh and so clean! Much better than dirt to work on!
This project is on a slight hold while we took on another one, so stay tuned!!
November 6, 2014
Ok, this may sound strange (like most things I say) but I am OBSESSED with trash picking. I mean, I don’t like rummage through looking for snacks or anything but in the city I live in, everything gets put out on trash day. I kid you not, there is so much awesome stuff (in 30 years I’m destined to be a hoarder) on the curb. I love getting random furniture off the side of the road and bringing it back to life! You can get some really unique stuff, which is generally old and WAY better quality than the ikea crap everyone buys these days.
I was driving down the street and found this amazing piece of furniture that had lived in an old lady’s bedroom for 40 years, and was all yellow and nasty from cigarette smoke but it was this amazing shape – kind of a retro mod style that really grabbed my attention so I HAD TO HAVE IT.
I set up shop in my drive way and got to work. If you want to do something like this (and do it right so it doesn’t look like crap), here’s what you’ll need:
It’s important to use OIL paint with a HVLP sprayer (which stands for High Velocity low pressure). Using a sprayer is way better than a brush as it helps you avoid brush strokes and
keeps the paint going on evenly to give you a factory finish look. Wilbond is important to use before sanding as it takes off all the old lacquer and shine. Then Sanding to make it all smooth and also remove old smells/stains. Dry Dex is a very versatile product you can use all over your house, to fill nail holes, to fix little things that need to be painted etc. it’s an awesome product. You should also wear a breathing mask (not pictured) so you don’t huff all the chemicals.
In the beginning
Remove old hardware
Fill holes with drydex
Spray with primer (white), keep coats light, let dry
Spray with color. OIL PAINT takes longer to dry so be patient!
Add new hardware and BAM! Trash - CHIC!
October 21, 2013
I wish I had a better camera because this thing looks awesome in real life. It’s very sturdy and is made with quality materials so I was super happy with how it turned out. The entire project only cost me $30.00 (but I had a lot of the materials, which are worth investing in if you like this kind of stuff). On to the NEXT!!
I had just opened my office when I got referred by a local attorney to help a client of his. His clients sister had sadly passed away suddenly and he was handling the estate which his client had now inherited. Since his client was out of state and unfamiliar with the area, he suggested she use me as her agent to get the property sold, knowing I’d go above and beyond to get the job done.
Being the bright eyed new entrepreneur that I was I jumped at the idea of getting a new listing in the highly desirable area of Arlington MA, just outside of Cambridge and Boston. This area is not only highly sought after, it’s super close to downtown, filled with architecturally unique properties, rich people, and a lot of buyers on the hunt. The only down side was that with traffic it could take me an hour and a half from my office on the South side of the city to get all the way North. But when you’re young, hungry, trying to build a reputation of doing a good job, and in need of money, one tends to put themselves out there on the corner for the taking, and I did just that.
I had set to meet the seller at the property when she was up visiting and was prepared with area comps, recent sales, price per sq.ft, the listing documentation, a cute outfit and an attitude that I was going to sell the sh*t out of this house. So when I arrived in the area and saw the amazing houses on the street, I thought, pfttt I GOT THIS. Much to my dismay I pulled up to my potential listing and saw that the house was a little, well let’s just say it had “deferred maintenance.” Shrubs were overgrown, window shades were down, grass hadn’t been cut in months, abandoned BMW in the driveway, front door was half falling off, gutters were rotted, and the list goes on. I however am a BELIEVER, I do not give up at first, second, or even fifth glance.
I burned every "before" photo in hopes of selling the place, so here is one after a little touch up.
So I walked up to the front door with my can-do attitude and rang the bell, no answer. I rang again, nothing. I knocked, nothing. Waited, then pounded the door, and heard footsteps slowly approaching. Expecting to see an I love Lucy esq mother in pearls answer I smiled my real estate agent – please like me – smile. As the door opened an older woman smoking a cigarette answered. “Hillary, come in” she said, and I happily did.
From the moment I stepped I wanted to turn and run, I started gagging, but had to hide my gagging as to not offend my potential new client. It smelled like dead people, urine, trash, dust, and years of not opening the window molded into one scent and multiplied by 134. I was about to barf on the seller when she started to explain that she hadn’t visited her sister in 20 years and during that time she had become a cat breeder. Apparently, she kept hundreds of cats in the house that were very “special” and high end, and were the kind of cats that were on the Fancy Feast commercials. On a side note; why does cat food so closely resemble vomit? Like really? Is that necessary? Anyways, my potential client was a wreck because she didn’t realize her sister was living in such a terrible state, the house was covered in things, pictures, furniture, dust, dust, dust, wall paper was falling off, the ceiling was coming down, the floors were stained, nothing in the kitchen worked, and to top it all off, the place smelled as if these cats had taken over the house, peed on everything and then died on the floor and were left there for 10 years. Disgusting doesn’t even describe. It was as if I stepped into an episode of Animal Hoarders and Hoarders and Property Nightmares all mixed into one. I felt myself leaning in closer to my client so I could inhale her second hand cigarette smoke in hopes of masking my need to sprint outside and breath any air that wasn’t laced with cat urine and death. Fortunately, my potential client was so sweet, and as she smoked she pushed her oxygen tank along side her and described her health ailments and how she needed this house sold ASAP to help pay for her medical bills. Never one to leave a person in a lurch I sucked up my disgust and took a tour of the house. As I reached the second floor I was started to accept that despite the smell and cosmetic ailments, the house had good bones, a nice lay out, and potential. This wasn’t a project for the faint of heart, but it could be done, and done well.
The Stairs going up
Dining room after being emptied
And then I had to do it, I had to open THE ROOM. (I often think back on this moment and remind myself that money will get me to do a lot, but I don’t think I could go in that room again for anything less than $100K, also, why did I not take any pictures of this atrocity?). This room was wall-to-wall covered in cat cages, I mean like filled with cages, covered in cat hair, cat rags, cat urine, food, all kinds of nasty. My eyes started watering and I was getting dizzy from lack of oxygen, no joke, I had stopped inhaling and was living off my final breath. As I pushed the seller to show me the back yard I got to thinking, what is my plan? How will I get this sold immediately? This certainly isn’t for Suzie home maker and her first baby, I had to find a contractor or flipper that would look past the disgust and see that this house could be turned around.
About a week later I found him! It was half luck, half he knew the area and knew what he wanted. He walked through the property and in 15 minutes said, “i’ll have an offer to you tomorrow” and he did, and came through the whole time. My client was happy, the buyer was happy because he was in the business of taking drab to fab, and I was happy because despite multiple trips to dead cat world, I had gotten my job done and made my client very happy.
One afternoon just before closing, while waiting at the property for my client to swing by I took it upon myself to look in the freezer which was still functioning. Hoping to find a stray Choco Taco I rashly opened the freezer. And there sitting patiently and kindly wrapped in plastic, were 8 dead cats, frozen for later genetic use… or perhaps dinner.
Pictures of the AMAZING, JAW DROPPING, New house, courtesy of Olde New England Properties. If you’re looking to buy or sell in the Arlington area, I can not recommend Jonathan of Old New England Properties enough! This man is a miracle maker, check out his after shots:
Adorable, added garage, redid exterior
Added a second Bath
Pocket door to living area
You have no idea what a transformation this is!
Love, Love, LOVE!
Refinished the attic and also made some rooms high ceilings
Hello New world!
I am so happy that this home had new life breathed into it! It’s amazing what some ingenuity and hard work can do to make something totally DRAB go to totally FAB.
May 20, 2013
For as long as I can remember I wanted to own my own house. I’m not into drugs, but I might as well be, because I look at real estate like a crack smoking , street walker…Can’t get enough…MORE, MORE, MORE, NOW! So when the day came that I closed on my first house, I was so excited I sweat through my brand new Calvin Klein dress bought specifically for the occasion, pounded 6 cups of coffee (not an exaggeration), go lost 3 times going to the registry of deeds I had been to multiple times before, and puked in my mouth a little. Needless to say it was one of the best days of my life. Seriously, AMAZING. I had worked so hard for that day and it was finally here. I signed the papers, grabbed the keys and ran to my new house.
Having worked in real estate for a while I knew the “buy the worst house in the best neighborhood” lecture pretty well , because I gave it to my clients on a weekly basis. Taking my own advice, I negotiated the price down on the cheapest house in my DREAM neighborhood to what was a ridiculously good deal so I was pretty confident in my decision even though I knew there were things I had to fix.
It’s funny how when you’re shopping around at houses you see all the good things, but the day it becomes yours you suddenly realize all the flaws (kind of like boyfriends, really perfect, until they’re yours, every day). So when I walked up to the front of my new fab-pad, and the front door literally broke off, I thought it was probably just a lucky sign of how smart I was in purchasing this house.
It seemed odd when I walked into the front porch that everything looked more crooked than I remembered it at the walk through. Closet doors seemed off their hinges, shelves were slightly off, and what I thought were “beautiful hardwood floors” were floors that hadn’t been refinished since the year I was conceived.
I didn’t have time for “buyers remorse” and besides, this is what I do, so no regrets here. But I had to evaluate how I hadn’t noticed cracks in the ceiling and separated beams just the morning before. Was I losing my mind? Perhaps… but seriously? And then it occurred to me, the first earthquake in 100 years had just happened in Massachusetts two days prior! And suddenly it occurred to me that my 1903 salt box, bungalow had seen better days.
Let the project-ing begin! Stay tuned, but for now, enjoy (and by “enjoy” I mean “cringe at”) some “before” pictures:
My nasty bathroom... oh dear.
Kitchen, kind of yuck, but i've seen worth.
I hate laundry, this room isn't helping with that.
Pristine hardwood floors!
Don't even get me started!
Right after the 100 year earth quake. My closet totally busted...AWESOME!