Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The BIG Project

I haven't had lots of projects to share on this blog for some time mostly because we've been floating around the idea of the BIG project. Back when we were looking to move, we had a list of requirements for our next house but had a very hard time finding them. With one young child and another on the way, we needed three bedrooms on the main floor. So many houses these days have a master bedroom on one floor and the rest of the bedrooms on the other. Coming from a house with a large kitchen, we also wanted our next house to have a large kitchen. We also had a budget. Those three criteria were pretty much all we had but turned out to be impossible to find. We ended up settling on this house which had three bedrooms on the same floor and met our budget but had a small kitchen.

The kitchen is reasonable unless you live in a family where both people like to cook and make things from scratch. The space isn't too bad but by the time we have all the gadgets we use weekly distributed on the counters, there isn't enough counter space to actually do preparations. Our kitchen is also weird that the entrance by the main door is blocked whenever someone has the refrigerator door open and the other entrance closer to the garage is blocked every time the oven door is open. So if you have two people cooking, there is a good chance that one is waiting on the other to either get through with the oven or the refrigerator before you can enter or exit the kitchen. We also have a breakfast nook right next to our kitchen that never gets used other than as a mudroom when you come in through the garage area.

We've talked about fixing these deficiencies but several things have always held us up. When we bought this house, it was right at the bottom of the last recession and the housing market in our area has been on life support. Finally after nearly a decade, it is has gotten off life support and has been moved from intensive care into a private suite. Maybe in a few years it might get sent home but seeing that we live in rural Iowa where the population has been in constant decline for the last century, I'm not holding my breath.

We've always had other things to fix which we have felt were a bigger priority than the kitchen. We've fixed up the exterior of our house turning it from the worst looking house on the street to one of the best, albeit still the smallest. This included new siding, new concrete driveway, new sidewalk, new paint and lots of landscaping. Inside, I have gone through all the bedrooms, basement and communal living spaces and remodeled them with the exception of the kitchen, the hall bathroom and the flooring. The hall bathroom although a bit dated is still functional and with two kids that use that as their main bathroom, will probably wait until they are older or perhaps gone from the house. The floors I'm waiting on doing all at once since we want to do hardwood flooring throughout the house. That leaves the kitchen.

I used to have access to some of the most sophisticated software for drawing up floorplans through my last job. But as time has gone by, software has changed and I no longer "work" for a living, I don't have any working software to use. So last year I bought some cheap software for home design online and played around with it for while laying out my ideas. The problem I ran into is that I found in order to make a kitchen that is functional for our lives, it would involve some major structural issues that I don't think I'm qualified to solve. I will go more into that at a future time but for now, we decided we needed someone more qualified to help us solve those issues so we hired an architect.

We met with the architect a few weeks ago and kicked off the project. He will be designing things and giving us a set of plans which I can then use to hire out some of the work and do the rest myself. I doubt we will be able to get started this year but our hope is to have enough of the work done that we can perhaps start early next year. I'm excited, scared and sometimes not even sure I believe yet that the time has come for this last BIG project. Only the future will tell.


Kelly said...

This is exciting! With my design background (albeit unused in decades) I will enjoy following this project to its completion. Let's get started! :D

kymber said...

Ed - you should have no worries and not be afraid of this project! your kung-foo skills are amazing! that came from jambaloney. we can't wait to see what you do. we know we'll learn a few tricks. thanks in advance.

sending love to you all. your friends,
kymber and jambaloney

Bob said...

Can't wait to follow this project and see how it ends up. We would love to redo our kitchen but also need to gut and overhaul a bathroom and eventually we have to consider how much cash we want to spend and whether it's worth it. So I'll just relax and live vicariously through you!

Ed said...

Kelly - It will definitely be good blog fodder once we get a plan and break some ground.

Kymber - I'm not sure kung-foo skills translate to kitchen remodeling but I'm certainly going to give it a go.

Bob - I'm not sure if it is worth it as far as resale value goes in our very poor part of the country but it will make us happy and that does have a price. Still, I hope to do quite a bit of the interior work myself to make it more reasonable.

Vince said...

I've never done anything like this myself. My proximity would be as the designer of the garden while this was going on inside.
Just plumbing my memories It seems the main issue was the fixing of utilities to internal walls, to or through. Or and, same utilities being send down into the slab, requiring either chasing out. Or more usually disconnected filled and plugged, with new fixings being driven in to new positions.
I think the other nightmare was when one of the walls that needed going was a supporting wall. Very important when the wall above was brick. But since your place is timber I expect removing walls has an even more profound knock-on potential since the wholes strength would derive from it's parts.

sage said...

You seemed to be the perfect person for such a project. May all your pipes align!

Ed said...

Vince - Wood frame construction does make things much easier. Since we want to extend the footprint, there will be quite a bit of work with concrete and support walls but I still think it will be much easier than working with a 200 year old house made of stone which is probably pretty common in your parts.

Sage - May all my pipes align indeed!