After doing a wrecking ball of a job on the downstairs, it was time to move on up and let our hammers continue to do all the talking. Unfortunately, they had A LOT more to say on the second floor than we’d originally thought.
In hindsight, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as it’s a running theme. In home renovation, nothing is ever what it seems. No matter how meticulously you plan, everything will cost waaaaay more than anticipated and take waaaaay longer to complete. I don’t know why this is, but let’s blame it on the cosmos or something otherworldly. It just is. This, for example, is how I ended up showering outdoors all hot summer long. This is why I beg, implore, NO MATTER how cool/fun/exciting home renovation seems, know that it is a down dirty business and will try to suck every last drop of marrow out your sweet bones (or bank account, whatever).
Not to get all down on it, either. At the end of this project, (project seems a funny word for something that has utterly, unmistakably taken over my + D’s life), we’ll have a home built from countless hours of personal labor, customized down to the littlest details. We’ve picked out everything, from the toilet to the sewer pipe. We’ve watched transformations take place that at some points didn’t seem possible. BUT it has not been without its fair share of stress, worry, arguing and downright panic. I still haven’t totally figured out how it all balances out yet. There’s this constant question lingering in my head “Is/was this worth it?” To be determined.
I’ve mentioned the cold terror of water in one’s home, and the rotten, mold-spewing destruction it will inevitably lead to if not taken care of. Welp, the second floor of our future home may as well have been the frying egg of the late 80s anti-drug commercials. Bitch was a soggy waffle on a Monday morning; a deranged addict slumped in a dumpster begging for a savior (too dramatic?).
The roof was the primary leak. Cute story, August 2011, a mere four months before we purchased this beaut, was recorded as the wettest month EVER in Philadelphia. This means a shitton of water was flowing through here. Cue dilapidated ceiling.
I don’t really know what we thought about the second story going into it. I mean, we knew that we wanted to reorganize it via shifting rooms around. Originally, the upstairs counted as 3 bedrooms, but one was so super tiny, I don’t think a bed could even fit in it. (This was the moldy-wall-trashbag-filled room that you couldn’t walk in). Another bedroom doubled as the hallway (awkward). The third bedroom was a triumphant "normal." I’ve mentioned the bathroom.
Right, if there’s not a sink included, I can’t get down (except I really can, because we don’t have a bathroom sink yet!) So, we ripped out all the interior walls/framing, like this:
Might have noticed we had to board up all the windows, too. I think pretty much every single one of the 14 -- no wait, 19 if we’re counting the basement -- original ones was broken. Which made this a haven for alley cats, bored teenagers and anyone else brave enough to venture inside.
Oh yeah, during all the demo, we ripped the blue 50’sish veneer off to reveal mottled brick below. That didn’t really work out either, sigh, but another time, babe.
Which reminds me: Home renovations can be spotted a mile away -- especially an extreme eyesore like ours. All the bustle of activity means money is going in, and there are some out there who’d like a piece of it. We had 3 known break-ins over the winter, when the house was in this extreme duress. Once, someone slithered in through a small basement window by knocking out the wood board. They didn’t seem to do much but poke around with a flashlight, which got left behind. There really wasn’t anything to take, as we were taking all our tools home at the end of each day.
Except one day, when we were just too tired/lazy and decided to leave the brand-new, in-box, mighty shop vac. We did our best to hide it in a corner underneath some wood debris JUST IN CASE. Oddly enough, that happened to be the same night someone broke in through the back door (which wasn’t a door at all, but heavily boarded up) and stole it. It still sort of burns my biscuits because it’s like, HOW did they know we left a single item behind on that day???
I’m nearly positive people were poking around a lot more than the 3 times we actually noticed it, but after the shop-vac was stolen, we spent nearly an hour each day overly securing all the windows and doorways. Because, ya know, some had to be opened up each day to let some light into the house. The joy of it all.
BUT getting back to the destruction of the second story. After we ripped out all the interior walls, we realized, thanks to all the damaging water, half the floor had to be ripped out.
And then so did the joists. Which is like, insane.
You know how I’ve kind of promised this is like, the batshit version of home renovation? After half the floor was ripped out, we pulled out the other half because that was pretty much ruined, too. We used cobbled together pieces of plywood to walk around on, because you know, we still had work to do up there and all. Can’t let a lack of FLOORING get in the way of our big plans.
Once everything was ripped apart, our super-talented friend Linnie of Sullivan Building and Design drew up a floor plan. This was a certain light at the end of the tunnel; a visual to grab onto amidst all the heaping debris.
This put us into February, two-and-a-half months of demoing in. Let me tell you, that is a lot of damn trash. Do you know how expensive trash can be? I have a receipt for every $40 ton taken out of here. So far, we’ve taken out the weight of TWO adult humpback whales. (I love that visual). And paid for every bit of it, too. That didn’t even complete it though, because you know, I still haven’t spilled the beans on the basement.