Monthly Archives: May 2014

Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Save Big Bucks!

If you haven’t visited a Habitat for Humanity Restore Center, you don’t know what you’re missing. There’s plenty of good used construction materials and lots of new things still packaged! You can save a lot of money and contribute to a good cause all at the same time.

Here’s a link to their site. See if there’s a store near you!

Habitat for Humanity Restore

The sinks are in perfect condition and the vanity just needs a new toe-plate. One man's trash....

The sinks are in perfect condition and the vanity just needs a new toe-kick. One man’s trash….

We scored three vitreous China sinks at $4.50 each, a white bathroom vanity for $30, two 30″ bathroom vanities for $100 and two all wood mirrors for $50. In total, these purchases saved our budget $585! Not too shabby. Yes, they’ll require a little work, but it’s worth it. Big plus….since they’re older pieces, all except one item was made here in the U.S.

I have two of each of these. One vanity will be re-worked by Rick so the drawers and door are opposite when the vanities are placed side-by-side to allow for two sinks with each having its own mirror.

I have two of each of these. One vanity will be re-worked by Rick so the drawers and door are opposite when the vanities are placed side-by-side to allow for two sinks with each having its own mirror. 

A fresh coat of paint and new hardware will make it all work together.




Subfloor Is In

Well after a 2 long days of cutting, drilling, impacting, dust, splinters and lots of 80’s Rock N’ Roll the new subfloor has been installed in the basement. Finally we’re starting to add back to this little house. Instead of DE-constructing we are CON-structing. Here is what lies under the subfloor…

Snapped chalk lines to ensure straight and true boards

Snapped chalk lines to ensure straight and true boards

2x4s and foam insulation underneath supporting the subfloor.

2x4s and foam insulation underneath supporting the subfloor.

While this all looks somewhat complicated it really isn’t. Simply measure out your subfloor boards (2x4s) to be 24″ on center so they will line up properly with the floor deck that will get installed over the top of this. Once you have it measured out (be sure to measure twice and cut once!) snap some chalk lines to mark where the boards need to get attached to your concrete basement floor. Before attaching the boards to the cement lay down a moisture barrier such as visqueen. Now, there are several ways to attach wood to concrete. The strongest method would be to use a product called a RedHead. This is an expanding anchor that has a nut on top which when tightened will expand the anchor inside the hole in the concrete. This is recommended for load bearing walls and anything that needs a significant amount of support. We won’t using this method for our floor since nothing in the basement that we are working on is load bearing. Another method is a nail gun that uses gun powder charges to drive nails into the cement through the wood boards. This can work good for small subfloors but wasn’t working out so well for our 2×4 subfloor boards. We ended up using a Tapcon system that worked great. These are also concrete anchors but are driven into the cement using an impact gun or driver.

The easiest way to install them is with a corded drill using the hammer setting (for drilling into the cement), a cordless drill (for drilling through the wood), and a cordless impact driver for actually driving the Tapcons in. First a hole must be drilled through the wood to the cement. Next, using the corded hammer drill and masonry bit, drill into the cement to length that is specified for the Tapcons. Be sure to clear out the hole a few times as the debris from drilling can interfere with the Tapcons. Finally use the cordless impact driver to drive the Tapcon through the wood into the cement. It’s a good idea to countersink the Tapcon a bit so it doesn’t interfere with the floor deck. In this case we also insulated the floor with some R 7.5 foam board. This will really make a difference in the winter time to help keep the floor a bit warmer since it is already lying on the cement floor. It also gives an added quiet factor for your basement if you insulate the floor and ceiling which we will get to a bit later on.

Decking that is laid over the subfloor supports

Decking that is laid over the subfloor supports

As you can see in this photo the floor decking has already been laid over the supports that were shown in the last photo. We also snapped chalk lines over the top of the floor decking so it was easier to attach the OSB sheets to the subfloor supports. It’s a good idea to stagger the floor decking rather than line up all your seams, since this uses a tongue and groove system to connect the boards it also helps with this as well. The decking is attached to the subfloor supports by using a cordless impact driver and some 1 3/4″ screws. Just for some extra support (and to make sure they don’t creak later) we also used a high grade construction adhesive (Liquid Nails) to hold them in place as well.

Well there you have it! Check back in for more updates and thanks for following!

The wait is over so we sent the dough.

When buy a house online through an auction site, all the money is generally transferred via wire. The title company gives you all their bank account particulars, you go to your bank, fill out a form and send them the dough.

Immediately after you sign the document, there’s a giant sucking sound when all that money leaves your bank account and makes its way through the Federal Reserve into theirs. In other words, it’s gone. Bah-bye!

At a traditional closing, everyone sits at a table in a nice conference room, documents are signed, certified checks are given and you get the keys. Not when you buy a house online. It doesn’t matter to the seller that you’ve got a minus sign next to a large sum of money on your account ledger. They want you to wait. Yes, more waiting.

Once the funds clear the Federal Reserve and show up in their bank account, the title company sends an e-mail with instructions regarding the lock box on the door as well as the code to get in. They don’t tell you how long this will take, only that it doesn’t happen ‘instantly’.

Well, that giant sucking sound (that was the dough leaving our bank account) happened ‘instantly’ so what do you think we did?


Didn't Al Gore have trouble with a lock box?

Didn’t Al Gore have trouble with a lock box?

We won the auction! Now what?

Now we wait, and wait, and wait.

After the closing date was delayed multiple times, we realized what was going on. The title company did their homework and discovered that the bank had put the house up for sale before the redemption period was over. That’s right. It was a foreclosure and the bank had possession, but the owner still had some time to pay the dough and claim the house.

We were bummed but we had paid the initial deposit so we hung in there and waited for the time to pass.

However, that didn’t stop us from getting in, snapping a few photos, and taking measurements 🙂 After all, there was planning to do!

Kitchen – The stove and fridge work. Not sure about the dishwasher.

Main bath. Love that light fixture!

Soggy carpet and pad removed! Next, all that spoiled lumber 😦

Nice! Not!

The most money we’ve ever spent online!

I found this house last fall, cruising around on my iPad using the app. It’s pretty nifty if you’re a real estate junkie and want to see what’s up with the market. The price was fair but it did have the three most important things you look for in real estate going for it, location, location, location!

So, we scheduled a walk through to have a look-see, and promptly decided the price was too high. What a mess!

  • The power had been turned off for a long time which = no sump = flooded basement.
  • The drywall, insulation, etc. had been removed from the finished part of the basement but not the carpet and pad. Stupid!
  • The windows were iced from all the moisture in the house and lack of heat.
  • Did I mention the furnace wasn’t running?
  • The garage floor and driveway were a cracked-up mess!
  • The odor from all the mildew was pretty serious even in winter. If only they had removed the carpet and pad 😦 The house would have fared much better.

On the bright side

  • The power was now on again and the sump was running.
  • The refrigerator worked.
  • It had newer windows.
  • 2 x 6 Exterior walls.
  • The attic was well insulated.
  • It had a nice floor plan.
  • It would make a great starter home, not too big.

There were other positives but we couldn’t bring ourselves to pay what they were asking at the auction site. So we waited, and waited and waited. Several months went by and the price kept coming down, the reserve was never met so it remained on the market.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the potential and the idea of rescuing this little house. On a whim, I thought I’d check on it just one more time. It was still for sale and the bank had lowered the price considerably so we went for it and ultimately won the auction. I doubt we’ll ever drop that much money online again! Kind of freaky.

Here's Rick removing soggy, yucky carpet and pad - blah!

Here’s Rick removing soggy, yucky carpet and pad – blah!


No, that isn’t how much we paid for this house.

It’s a movie reference from one of our all time favorites, “Moonstruck”. The scene I’m referring to features Mr. Castorini, Loretta’s father delivering the bad news to a young couple on a bathroom re-do.

Mr. Castorini

It also seemed like a good choice because anytime we talk about home renovation around here one of the questions is, “How much will it cost?” and the correct answer is always, “$10,800.”

So that’s the story behind the title of our little blog. Follow along to see all the work and get ready to be amazed and inspired! We’ve got a great team. I’m not a bragger, but we’re pretty good at what we do. You’ll see.