So Mrs. DIWHY Guy and myself recently bought a house so we could move off base for this assignment. There were a couple of reasons for this one is I was on the verge of a promotion which would effectively increase my rent by 30% with no tangible increase in the value we were receiving. This would have happened since we are a military family and living on base. Another is that we wanted to be able to have a nice raised flower bed in our backyard and I had kept 2 beehives and are looking to expand our small apiary without raising the ire of base housing or our neighbors. The final reason is that the company that managed the housing was attempting to come up with a solution for a way to fix a mildew problem in our base house but their solution was to block off one of the HVAC returns which happened to be ineffective, but they still weren’t motivated to fix it. I know with the stuff that has been in the news about military housing we could get sidetracked talking about all the downfalls of base housing, but that is not why we are here. We are going to discuss some major updates we made to the house we purchased. Our goal is to sell this house at the end of our current assignment, if we don’t it we have a stable rental market here and will be renting the house.
Our house was built in 1978 and you can tell from the wall paper choices as well as the brown porcelain toilet and sink that not much has been updated since 1978. I mean my grandma has a more updated house and she has been in her current house since before 1978. I think part of the reason the house wasn’t updated is because it was a bachelor pad before we purchased it and he had to move about a year after he bought it for work. So we went into purchasing the house with a plan to give it some updates and make it look a little more modern. These updates meant it would be easier to host our friends and keep up with our growing plan. We got the bulk of the work done in 7 ½ days and moved in on the 8th day. It was a week long sprint.
First thing we had to do is purchase the house. Since we wanted to open up a wall that was load bearing we were going to have to pull a permit. How did I know the wall was load bearing? One of the first clues was the wall was running parallel with the roof ridge, which meant it was running perpendicular to the ceiling joists and roof rafters. This was pretty simple for me to see since we have a ranch style house. If you have a more complicated house or roof structure it would be a good idea to retain an architectural engineer. Actually, if you have very little experience it may be a good idea to retain an expert just in case since your house is such a big investment. Just from my limited experience though I knew this wasn’t a truss built roof and the wall was load bearing. On closing day I went to the local building inspector and pulled a building permit since we would be removing a load bearing wall. I also went to the local building supply store and gave them some information to pass onto their engineers so I could get an appropriately sized beam. The main information they were looking for was the size of the ceiling rafters and the span of the opening we were making. So our ceiling rafters were 2×6 and were right at 12’ long. Also, we were opening up a span close to 14’.
Day 0 was only really a half day most at best. It was a Friday evening after work when we got started. On top of that we had to make a couple stops at the hardware store and building supply store. In order to get an appropriate beam we had to join 2 11 ⅞” LVL (laminated veneer lumber) beams together so that we could properly support the roof structure of the house. We picked this up from the building supply store. We also started demolition this day. We didn’t get a ton accomplished on this day since it was after a day of working, but what we did do was remove sheetrock to expose the 2×4 studs on the inside of the wall. This is where a reciprocating saw comes in handy getting the drywall out in larger pieces. If you cut down next to the studs you can get large pieces out. The wall studs are typically on 16” centers, meaning that from the center of one 2×4 to the center of the next 2×4 is 16”. The picture below is basically what it looked like at the end of the day. It is actually from the start of day 1.
The next morning we got to work getting supports put into place so that we could support the ceiling. We supported the ceiling joists by nailing 2x4s to the ceiling joists. We then cut 2x4s to the proper height and drove them underneath the ceiling joists. After we had the ceiling properly supported we removed the wall studs from the old wall. Once this was cleared out we got the beam cut to size and put into place. For a job like this you are going to want a couple of your closest buddies. This beam was heavy. I had two people helping me get it lifted in place, and it was a delicate balancing act getting it into place. Below is a picture from the end of day 2
On day 3 you can start to see the project taking shape I framed in the two half wall that will provide definition to the 2 different rooms. We left a 5’ walkway between the two rooms. I began cutting sheetrock to hang on this day too, but I could not hang most of the sheetrock until the building inspector came and inspected my work. When I reached a stopping point on the wall I moved on to laying the new vinyl plank flooring we were placing throughout the house.
This is the day that I overdid it. I started the morning off in the attic moving the wires for a light switch that had to be moved do to the wall being removed. Well it was hot in the attic and it was only 10 am. I didn’t spend long up there but it looked like I had jumped into a swimming pool by the time I was done. I also, scheduled for the building inspector to come look at the work on the beam and allow us to hang the sheetrock. Then I spent the afternoon pulling up old flooring that was glued down and painting. It did not feel like a whole lot had been accomplished, and it would feel like less would be accomplished on day 5, because I think I caused myself to suffer from heat exhaustion.
I woke up this morning feeling quite bad. I had induced heat exhaustion on myself and almost missed my appointment with the building inspector because I was laying on the floor feeling like a turd. The building inspector gave me the all clear on the workmanship with one tiny adjustment he wanted done which wasn’t even in the purview of the wall removal. He wanted me to add an extra 2×4 spacing between 2 adjoining walls. I didn’t get much more accomplished till after lunch, because I went home and drank a pedialyte and took a nap. Alright, now I was feeling a little better and was ready to get back to work. I spent most of this evening getting the drywall cut and hung. I was about one sheet or drywall short so that would have to wait till day 6 to finish up.
This turned into a whirlwind day getting flooring laid down. We got most of the flooring laid on day 5 lacking about 300 sqft.
Day 6 & 7
I was off of leave on these days so I was having to work at the house around my flying schedule in the morning and in the evening. On day 6 we laid some underlayment down for some of the final rooms and on day 7 it was an all out rush to get the rest on the flooring laid down before move in day. The moving crew (my brother and two college buddies) showed up during the evening on Day 7 and we crushed through the rest of the flooring so we could move everything the next day.
After this week long renovation we still have some work to do. Of course I have to finish the sheetrock so I can get paint on the walls. Being a DIY’er it takes some time to get the wall looking well. In addition to the drywall I have to do some ceiling work including some spackling where we exposed the ceiling joists. I still have trim work to do including baseboards and crown molding. I have some more drywall work to do in our dining room to get the wall looking nice from removing wallpaper (I said many foul words trying to get wallpaper off the wall). This was a great learning experience, as well as a confidence builder for taking on larger projects. If you made it this far let me reward you with some before and after pictures.