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Well, we certainly can't claim to complete any house projects at world record speed, whether it's a 12+ year renovation of our 15' wide townhouse, or even completing our master bathroom renovation in less than five years. But when outsourcing work, I thought we could count on hired pros to turn things around a little more quickly.

For anyone who has been following along the last several months, back in February we experienced a catastrophic failure of the boiler in our new home, resulting in a house full of frozen and burst pipes, a busted boiler, and even toilets that had cracked. We knew it wouldn't be a fast process to work through the insurance claim and get the house back in working order, but I certainly didn't count on months of little to no action.

It dawned on me this week that for officially half of the time we've owned the new house, it's been without heat, running water, or functioning plumbing. Ugh. But while that's a downright depressing thought, and honestly one that's resulted in multiple meltdowns on my part including a full on tantrum that included a flying pry bar, I am happy to report we've made some progress on this front.

We've officially hired HVAC and plumbing contractors! Yep, you read that right. After a tediously slow process of finding companies that service the area and do the kind of work we need, getting companies out for estimates (and actually showing up for the appointments), following up for estimates, submitting estimates to our insurance company, filing the necessary contractor paperwork with the insurance, and discussing approaches each contractor would take to complete the work until we found one we liked, we're thrilled to report that we've selected pros for each of the two major areas of work and have given them deposits to start the work.

I'm not trying to get my hopes up here, but from what we're being told this week, work should begin within the next week. The HVAC work inside the house has to happen first before the plumbing can start, and the exterior HVAC (digging the trenches in the yard for the new geothermal system) can't start until the contractor hears back from Miss Utility, but even with those contingent items we're feeling excited.

There's a list of items we need to do in order to prepare the home for the work. Some of the items include demo, like removing the tile walls on the outside of the two showers. 

We needed to open up the wall cavities so the plumber can run new lines through these areas. We've knocked these two items off the list, and boy are we glad we're completely re-plumbing the house rather than fixing what we know to be broken and then conducting a leak test. In both bathrooms, the pipes we've exposed that were hidden behind walls were completely busted open, which only goes to show what a giant disaster we would have had on our hands if the pipes had thawed before we could have turned the water off. 

Oh, and remember the downstairs bathroom that was our first "on the fast and cheap" makeover? Well, we've gone from this...

To this...

Talk about disheartening. Even Lulu agrees.

In addition to messy demo that we're doing, we virtually have to pack up the house in order to protect what little furniture we have from the dust and mess of installing ductwork both upstairs and down. We spent last weekend at the house with my best friend from high school and her husband, and after we enjoyed a restful weekend eating, drinking, spending quality time together, and finding creative ways to enjoy a house with no running water or HVAC, they were kind enough to help us stack everything into piles in just a few rooms of the house.

This way we were able to cover each and every item in plastic in order to protect it from the shower of dust and debris we're anticipating as the duct returns and vents are cut into various ceilings and floors.

Our goal here is to keep all of our fabric items from being inundated with the construction debris that will surely be impossible to fully clean.

We have a few closets in which we were able to stash the rest of our stuff, like sheets and towels, and seal them off with painter's tape. I hope it's effective.

While I know it's going to kill Alex that he won't be able to be part of each and every step of the HVAC and plumbing install, he has plans on a lot of progress photos to report back as it's completed. But as far as I'm concerned, I just want the work to start and be completed as quickly as possible. I guess we make a good team here, I'll keep the work moving along while Alex will make sure it's being done the way we want it to be done.

We'll keep you posted on our progress and hope you'll keep your fingers crossed for us. There's almost nothing I want more than to show you photos of finished decorated rooms in this house, but I think we've got a long road ahead of us.

Comments 5


Whitney Kerr
6/18/2015 at 7:33 AM

AWw Poor Lulu's face is priceless in that bathroom photo!

Having experienced a flooded basement in our home this winter, and restoration has STILL not even started, I understand your pain.
Though, it seems you had way more legwork, we used the insurance recommended restoration company and they have been our only point of contact, thankfully.

6/18/2015 at 10:08 AM

Having to tear down bathroom sections you've already worked on hurts some even on this side of the blog. Lulu's face is priceless in that photo.

6/18/2015 at 8:00 PM

Hope they are able to get the job done in a timely manner and to your satisfaction. We understand your frustration with contractors. We had a 110' tree that had been struck by lightning taken out this spring. Out of about 20 companies called, four actually showed up. Of those four, one bid so high that it was obvious that they didn't want the job.

One would think in this depressed economy that these contractors would be highly competitive and trying to come out on top.

There are only two areas where I turn to contractors - trees and the slate roof. Everything else, I'm too much of a perfectionist. Which probably explains why I'll be lucky if I have our house finished before Al Roker wishes me a happy 100th birthday.

Franki Parde
6/19/2015 at 12:42 PM

Ugh! Went through that...Ugh!! Positive thoughts!! franki

6/22/2015 at 3:12 PM

Immediately upon entering your website, the ads burst into noise which is jarring and I have to frantically find the volume off button on my computer. It's intrusive and I've stopped visiting Old Town Home as often as I'd like because of it.

Good luck on your HVAC/plumbing replacement in your vacation house; it sounds like a dreadful project that you'll be happy to put behind you. What will you do to prevent another boiler failure when the power goes off next tie? An automatic generator??

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