The Ten Year Plan: Year Eleven

With the holidays, we decided to take some time off of working on the house to recharge. So now is as good a time as any for me to post our annual work roundup and reckoning.

Something interesting happened this year. The whole idea with creating a Ten-Year Plan was to make a list of projects we could work on that were not tied to all the work that really, sensibly, should happen when we actually redo the floors in the house. It was a bunch of projects that were independent mostly of each other and of other major projects.

We figured it would take us 15 years or more to get to where we could do the big stuff, so we needed something to do in the meantime that wasn't just going to get ripped out. The name Ten-Year Plan was really just a weird joke about Soviet planning announcements and our Cold-War childhoods. We were working our way through it, on track to hit our target of about 15 years before we could do the big floor-related renovation (which would have been in about four more years).

Then last year my mother was hit by a truck while crossing a street (she is OK, thank goodness, but we were very scared there for a while). And while she was in the hospital, my dad and I had some serious conversation about my parents living across the country, and whether they could move to California. Realistically speaking, I am not going to live in New York again, and as they get older they are just going to have more of these things (though hopefully no more trucks). He'd been thinking it would be nice to retire where there is no snow, and San Francisco is one of their favourite cities, proximity to daughter aside.

We talked some more about it this year, so that was a plan. The housing market in small-town upstate New York is a little different from our bubbling market here, so the way to make it work was to plan on their moving in with us sometime in the near future. Fortunately, that same bubbling real estate market that makes it impossible to buy a house for less than a million dollars helps when you want to do things that will involve capital improvements to your house.

We are very lucky: we have time. My parents are not yet retired (I'm not that young; they just really love working) and we won't need to be ready-ready for them for a couple of years. So if things go on their inevitably slow way as they always do, we will still be done when they are ready to move.

So this is the last year of the Ten Year Plan. It feels a little sad to let it go, but for future project planning I will try to come up with something else suitably vaguely named so people can write me scathing email about how bad we are at project planning.

So, shall we talk about poor project management? Let's do.

  1. Paint exterior of house (2003)
  2. Finish living rooms (2008)
  3. Foundation replacement (2014)
  4. It sure is looking pretty impressive there, with everything crossed off and all, isn't it?

    The very last thing to do on the foundation was putting the siding on the house. So we took some samples and sent them off to a mill, and a few weeks later got a truck of siding. With the help of friends we primed all of it (mostly) at least once.

    We installed the building paper on the walls around the house and under the deck. Just barely in time for the first rain storm of the season. At the front bay, we had to install plywood as a spacer. And then the paper was done. It even passed its inspection, which is always nice.

    Then we started the long and tedious process of installing siding all the way around the house. With flashing for all the millions of holes in the walls. That's also been inspected and passed, so we can call the foundation and related work done.

  5. Remove Fright Box under house, redo plumbing (2005)

  6. Redo upstairs bath and add half bath under stairs (2011-2015)
  7. Well, we did not finish the bathrooms. We are close, but stuff is moving slowly (also we ended up taking off two weeks for the holidays because we were being realistic about what we could get done). Let's recap, shall we?

    We put blocking in the walls, and did some work on framing.

    Then we spent a bunch of time working out how the drains would work (SPOILER: WRONG). And got started on installing some of it. Some of which was wrong, and would later have to be replaced, yay. We fitted it around electrical stuff.

    I prepared a takeoff of what we would need for supply plumbing (I was off on a lot of stuff; lessons learned).

    Noel wired the downstairs bathroom light and fan. Then he spent a bunch of time wiring up the new upstairs subpanel. Then he ran conduit to the main panel, installed a box in the basement, and we rethreaded all the wires into the box, and threaded wires to the subpanel. He even wired in an outlet for the hall. Then we installed the hall sconces, which are reproduction gas fixtures. Eventually we put up the rest of the paneling around the subpanel.

    We reinstalled the old bathroom paneling in the hallway.

    We did some more demo. And removed more paneling in the upstairs bathroom. For good measure, we de-pinked a door for the downstairs bathroom.

    We installed part of the downstairs faucet.

    Then we got to reinstall a bunch of drain lines where we didn't read the code right.

    Then we started installing the upstairs toilet. This required some framing and some fiddling before we had a wall that would hold the tank.

    Then we got to spend a bunch of time puzzling over where drains would go.

    We took a bunch of time off to work on the siding, then Noel finished wiring the upstairs bathroom lights and fans.

    Then we got back to work on the drains.

    We demoed the floor upstairs to get ready for our new tile floor, and got started on installing the supply lines in PEX. Then I drew on my art school training and did a lovely concrete preslope with a sand-cement concrete Noel mixed in the kitchen.

    There was more drain work. And yet more. And had a totally sucky weekend involving a lot of water in the crawlspace and one mashed hand. And after a really dramatic failure, we finally passed our drain inspection.

    We started installing drywall on walls where there's nothing that still needs inspection.

    Still to come are getting the vanity for the downstairs bathroom, having a sink fabricated, and waterproofing. You just wait, it's going to be riveting.

  8. Remove chimney, replace furnace thing(2005)

  9. Install gas fireplace in living room (to be done sometime in the future, on the next plan)

  10. Re-roof (to be done in 2015)

  11. Insulate crawlspace and attic (to be done in 2015)

  12. Remove fake wooden panelling, stabilize plaster, and repaint all rooms (2015, probably, for the hallway plaster)

  13. Block air infiltration around various doors (we just gave up on this)

  14. Replace window sashes (to be done in 2015)

  15. Strip ugly pink paint from as much woodwork as possible (ongoing)

  16. Remove linoleum from floors/refinish wooden floors (to be done in 2015)

  17. Remove the concrete driveway extension into the back yard (2005)

  18. Related landscaping/gardening (to be done in 2015, but never finished, obviously)

  19. Repair front porch/re-rebuild front steps (2005)

  20. Repair side porch, remove steps, and turn into a conservatory
  21. We didn't turn the side porch into a conservatory, but we did have a contractor come and fix it up and put a fancy new surface on it.

    They started with demo. For some reason, the previous owners laid OSB on the porch surface and painted it, and by midsummer this year it was starting to get dangerously saggy. There was a lot of wood rot, some of which we'll have to address later when we have money to deal with it.

    We did get some nice new stairs.

    And a sensible new plywood floor with waterproofing and a tile underlayment. And fancy black and white tiles laid on point, which will look great some day with houseplants.

    Noel installed plywood, building paper, and siding all around, and it looks great. I put in a brick landing.

  22. Draw detailed plans for the Day of Glory (not only done, but almost ready to be submitted to planning and the historical advisory board)

Actually, that wasn't that bad, in terms of guessing what we could get done and making a little forward progress every year. I'd feel more lazy if we didn't have regular jobs outside of doing this and fairly full lives, as well. Not to mention my having a stroke last year which really jacked up our schedule on many levels.

posted by ayse on 12/30/14

2 Comments

Thanks so much for your honesty in home improvement! I read so many blogs that gloss over the hard parts and then when I'm in the midst of it, I feel like I must be crazy! I too have an older house that needs a ton, and some days it is so overwhelming. Because of reading your blog, I got the guts to have a pretty big year: this year was a new foundation, new pex plumbing/drains/water heater, and a new bathroom.

Thank you so much, I know that working on a house is so time consuming, and then you go the distance to write for us too!

Thank you for this! I always look forward to your year-end wrap-up/forward planning posts. Sad to see the Ten-Year Plan go, but I look forward to the Vaguely Named Plans of the future!

May much good luck come to you for building successes and safe, comfortable, eventually retired parents.

Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

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