The Never-Ending List of Things to Do (2011 version)

Brooke here:

Thanksgiving has come and gone, leaving a wake of chores.  We hold it here and the week before is constant cleaning, followed by a week of family, followed by another two days of cleaning.  Brown and I spent yesterday on the couch, too tired to move except to scrounge the occasional scrap of pie.

One of the perils of owning a fixer-upper is having to justify your purchase on a fairly regular basis.  Every time the family comes over, we take them around the property and show them the projects we’ve completed since the last time they were here, or the projects that are ongoing and will be done by next Thanksgiving.  Also, we ramble.  Brown and I tend to look towards the piles and piles of ivy and yammer on about “outdoor fireplaces” or “granite tiles” or whatever nonsense happens to be front-and-center in our brains as we gaze wistfully towards a future when everything is done

We are renovation prophets: we predict long weekends, moods varying between exhaustion and pure fury, and, eventually, a substantial hike in resale value.

All of this has gotten us to review the Never-Ending List of Things to Do.  These are broken into Ongoing Projects and Stuff we Need to Do.  Links to previous posts have been added where appropriate.

Ongoing Projects:

  • The landing:  Remove the slate and replace it with a permanent brick foundation, and take out another foot of dirt to allow room for a dry stacked stone retaining wall.
  • The French drains: Rip out the crap we have and put in actual French drains.
  • The garden under the Japanese maple:  Finish the landscaping in this area like we had planned before we realized we didn’t have real French drains.
  • Finish the master bathroom: Paint is done, and there is nothing left to do but finish the trim and hang a mirror.  Then write up a nasty, vicious blog post about why Homax paint is the worst home improvement product I have ever used, ever.  Ever.
  • Run a retaining wall at the line between the slope and the lawn:  The lawn has gone dormant for the year and I’ve been dumping earth to build up the difference in the gradient between the slope and the lawn.  We’re thinking a 4″ cinder block retaining wall (with drainage, of course!), and a cosmetic shell of dry stacked stone on the other side.
  • Finish pressure-washing the driveway: In addition to the cosmetic appeal of clean concrete, we’re noticing some cracks that should be repaired before they get away from us.
  •  Finish the fence: I have just gone through the last six months of archives and have realized that there isn’t a single blog entry on the fence. Dagnabbit, those pillars we stuck into the ground are impressive, too.  I’ll have to remedy this.
  • Clean the rest of the bricks of all mortar:  There’s a pallet of cleaned bricks ready to be made into a sidewalk, and a picnic table and several pallets groaning under the weight of bricks still in need of cleaning.  I’ll rent one of the heavy-duty masonry saws for this project.  Later, these bricks will be turned into a sidewalk.
  • Move Stumpwall to the street: Okay, yes, I hate Stumpwall.  It’s tacky and silly and will only collapse into wood waste over time.  We’ve been hauling in into the street every other weekend or so, and a post on Craigslist for free firewood allows it to fly off of the property in a matter of hours.

New projects are those floating around the back of our minds, nagging us to get started on them before our backs go out.  We keep telling them we will get to them just as soon as we’ve made progress on the ongoing projects.  Then, they laugh at us.

Stuff We Need to Do:

  • Renovate the hall bathroom:  This bathroom is dreadful.  It hasn’t been touched since the late 70s.  It’s yellow paint over pink paint over what looks to be wallpaper.  The red clay tile was covered with white boat enamel, which is bubbling.  There’s a leak somewhere in the tub and water might have penetrated the subflooring.  There’s a closet in there which is so poorly positioned that it eats up space.  There is no fan and everything drips like a rain forest when the shower is used.  I foresee pretty much a complete gut job down to the bare studs in this room.
  • Landscape the front yard: Part of the drainage problem is that the house is built on a slope and water runs directly into the basement on its way down the hill.  We need to add some terraces to break up the flow, and stick some drains in the terraces for good measure.
  • Do something with the front walk:  This thing is a hazard.  Fixing the walk so it isn’t a threat to ankles will probably be blended into the front yard landscaping project.

And we’re increasingly enamored with the idea of renovating the kitchen, but this is so far out of the budget it barely counts as a pipe dream.  Every time we host several dozen people for a couple of large meals, we realize yet again how poorly designed the kitchen is.  It’s hard to describe since all of the pieces are there and it should work, but it’s like someone put a puzzle together where the bits that sort of went together were forced into place with a hammer (Brown and I also have a dollar bet that one of the main ceiling supports the previous owners installed is just a jack post covered in a fancy wood housing, so a kitchen renovation might be structural in addition to cosmetic.).

There’s more — much, much more — but I’ve just re-read this post to proof it and I think I need to spend some time in the Weeping Closet with the ice cream.  Happy Thanksgiving!

4 thoughts on “The Never-Ending List of Things to Do (2011 version)

  1. Are you sure you even need a French drain?

    With proper guttering and grading, very little water should be collecting along the foundation. Put extenders on the downspouts to get the water well away from the house.

  2. You make me want to a) have a big old house, and b) know all the things to fix it up. Yet I cannot be bothered to mow the front lawn and my roommates and I plan to put a flowerbed in the only place that gets enough sun to make grass. I look forward to the posts.

  3. Every honest homeowner I have met has a similar list…

    IF we redo our kitchen (again) we are going to “swap places” for it with the dining room. It may just be easier and cheaper to move.

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