Week 3

This is the week you think you might need your head checked because the enormity of what you’ve begun starts to sink in. There layer of dust coating everything on the first floor and every time you think about cleaning it, you realize the next thing you do will just add to it. You haven’t done laundry and are three pairs away from a serious underwear crisis. The dishes are piling up. The dogs are desperately needy. And you are way past the point of no return. People who do this on TV or for a living never show you the dark side of DIY… Week 3 into a demo project is definitely the dark side.

Monday evening I worked on removing screws from the tile backer board in the dining room. It was mostly just a slow and frustrating endeavor because most of the screw heads were filled with mortar. Gah. The idea was unscrewing the backer board would mean a cleaner removal, but instead it made for a wasted evening since one or two screws could be unscrewed and the rest couldn’t be no matter how hard I tried. So I started prying up backer board to see how bad it was going to be and then called it a night — too late, as usual.

Tuesday evening I spent with two of my favorite kids. CK (almost 3) asked some important questions about the renovation process: “What is this little ramp for Aunt Reenie?” (Good question, young man, it’s because the King of Half Ass who used to live here added a second layer to the bathroom tile without removing the first so he had to ramp up this tile to meet it). “What are we doing?” His perpetual question. CK liked inspecting the project and feels that it is basically his project since he helped remove drywall (which of course he calls to mind over and over again). He asked a lot of questions about everything and made Daisy nervous with his running through the house. I introduced him to my favorite DIY show, Fixer Upper, and he was excited by the projects, the saws (that match HIS saws), and was bored by the final reveal and the beautiful details that make me drool. I snuggled a small hobbit, we played with the dogs, and enjoyed ourselves. Sometimes you need hobbit snuggles more than you need to rip up more tile.

Wednesday evening: I pried up all of the backer board in the dining room and started on more screw removal. Now that the backer board was gone, I could get more removed with the drill, but a lot of them had to be pried up and or broken off. Slow and tedious but not unpleasant necessarily. Daisy liked it because it wasn’t noisy so she could hang out with me during the screw removal part and lean over to lick my neck whenever she was so inspired. The deck is looking worse by the day – full of demo trash. This thaw is particularly poor timing because it means the yard is a muddy mess and it doesn’t lend itself to driving a trailer or truck up to the deck to take a load to the dump. It kills me but I think next weekend will have to be soon enough for that. In the meantime, I am that klassy neighbor.

Thursday evening: Kitchen tile demo begins. Once I got into it, it became clear that the backer board is different, the grout is different, and the install is different. After I smashed out the first row, I was able to just pry off the tiles, most of them in tact or partially intact. This makes for much faster going than having to smash them all to bits and then shovel it out. I worked for about 4 hours and got about half of the kitchen floor removal done and more bags and boxes of tile bits on the deck.

Friday evening: Dinner with long lost friend and then home to The Project. Let the weekend insanity begin! I nearly finished removing tile from kitchen floor – late into the night. I managed to get the tile and backer board and screws off the floor under the fridge and get the fridge back in it’s place. The tile under the stove and kitchen island were left and the chaos was bad… time to collapse.

Saturday: Daisy and I met Lindsey and CK and a marvelous photographer at a park in Dexter for a “kids and pets” photo shoot. This particular photographer is amazing and I love her work. She was looking for people to shoot kids and pets and offered a couple free images. We thought CK and his Daisy girl would be awesome. CK was kind of a stinker and Daisy did better than I thought and of course, Melanie got some awesome images. It was a quick half hour shoot and a foggy, beautiful drive home on the back roads for Daisy and I.

The weather on Saturday was amazing, getting up to 57 degrees. It meant I could leave the patio door and kitchen window open for most of the day which made the dust situation SO much better while working, not to mention that it smelled (prematurely) like spring, which is like a taste of heave. Daisy spent a lot of the day running around the yard, another high point for any sort of home project. We even saw a glimpse of the sun after over a week without it. It felt amazing.

I got the rest of the tile removed and a good bit of the backer board removed and screws out. My dear friend Karen came by early afternoon, bringing lunch and work gloves. What a babe. In just a couple hours, we moved the stove to remove the flooring from under it and we finished getting all the tile and backer board and screws out. Hooray!!!

We also busted into drywall on the crooked wall by the bathroom. It is wider at the top than the bottom and I really want to shorten this little foot long stub wall that is just in the way. It is supporting a beam up above so I will ask my structural guy for his okay before pulling it out entirely, but I think it will be doable since I only want to remove a small part of it. This wonky little wall had layer upon layer of drywall, plasterboard, wall paper, the works! On the broader face of this wall is some delicious old shiplap. I decided I would have my dad look at the structural part first, but it is quite likely I’ll pull out the shiplap to use elsewhere and re-drywall this wall once we repair the structural oddities. #projectspiral

Karen helped me add to the trash barricade, put boxes of tile on the front porch, and sweep up the mess before heading home to feed her people. She left me in a much better frame of mind from her company and the kitchen in a better state for all of her help.


The demolition part of this project has felt endless. I’m excited to be finally getting to the part where I get to put the place back together (that’s what I’m telling myself anyway).

Saturday night I hung out with some of my lady friends (after a quick project consult for my sister in law who is in the middle of her own project spiral). Sunday I went to Mass, drank a lot of coffee and did some very necessary reclaiming of regular life things. I threw a lot of dusty laundry in, did a lot of sweeping and vacuuming, ran the dishwasher, and cleaned the disgusting bathroom. Naturally as soon as I cleaned the tub (with the last of the tub cleaner), Daisy rolled in mud and poo outside and needed a bath. Suzie already needed a bath so I dirtied my freshly cleaned tub and got two clean dogs out of the deal. All of this made life seem a little more manageable and gives me renewed energy for the remaining parts of this project. (Close your eyes and imagine the smell of clean dogs and clean laundry. A vast improvement in my life).

Let me also just say that I love the People of Craigslist. I myself have benefited from the “free” section of the site (closet doors, wood, etc) so I figured it was worth a try. I had about 300 tiles in good shape and although I was tempted to keep them and use them for paths and edging in my garden, I did not actually want to haul them all to the barn (so very heavy!), store them, trip over them, haul them into the garden, or ever see them again. I posted them free on Craigslist Saturday evening, complete with photos of how not awesome they are (below for your reference). By Sunday morning, 10 different people wanted them. Sunday afternoon a nice couple came to get them all off the porch. The pregnant wife was so excited to use them in her garden and to get them all for free and I was equally happy to have someone haul them away. Booyah. Craigslist win!

Week 4 Goals:
a) Run electrical for outdoor fixtures & plugs
b) Move electrical plugs / switches to their new locations
c) Cut down remaining pieces of studs in living room doorway and figure out how to put in subfloor across the gaping hole
d) Schedule my dad for half a day of joist bracing
e) Jack up ceiling and brace in attic
f) Pull all staples from dining room ceiling furring strips

Leave a Reply