Our Weekend Gig - New Flooring

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Last Christmas, our family got a very special present.

My sister, a mother of three with a newborn baby, and her husband, finally found the perfect house.  After a year of looking, after almost buying a house "just to get into something" - the perfect house for their family became available.  

When we went and looked at the house, we were amazed at how well built it was, how well layed-out it was, and just how perfect it was for our dear little nieces to grow up in.

And the house was just a five minute walk from the Momplex, a bike ride from our own house.

Sounds to good to be true, doesn't it?

Of course it is.

Here's the catch:

The house isn't quite finished.  It's finished enough to live in, but not finished enough to get a regular mortgage on.

Proud Auntie Note: Can you see my sweet little nieces?  I am so thankful they have this beautiful home to grow up in!  Those are the same little nieces you see throughout this blog.

So my sister had to get a construction loan that will convert to a regular mortgage when the house is completed.  In the meantime, she's paying a high interest rate on the full amount of the home.  In other words, every day this house is under the construction loan, she's paying double the interest and no principle.

So getting this house finished up is a top priority for their family.

But here's the problem.

  • My brother-in-law works seven days a week.
  • My sister works full time.
  • My newborn niece has severe food allergies and is very difficult to care for, consuming all of my sister's time.
  • They've called on contractors, but for different reasons, the house isn't being worked on.
  • Things just aren't getting done.

    Meanwhile, the Ram and I have been busy working on the Momplex, trying to get the Momplex wrapped up and Mom moved in.  We are so darn close.

    The Ram and I talked about helping my sister out - they've certainly helped us out quite a bit over the years on our cabin, our house, and my brother-in-law has helped out on the Momplex too - but we both agreed that we just don't have the time to commit to getting my sister's house done on top of our current work load. 

    Well, five months went by .... and they haven't been able to find a contractor, and they haven't been able to find the time to tackle the projects themselves.

    Soooo ..... welll ..... 

    You already know how this story goes, don't you?

    I know, you totally saw that one coming, didn't you?

    One of the first things on the list is removing temporary carpet and installing permanent flooring in the living room.  The rest of the house has finished flooring - it's just this main room.

    Bye bye temporary ugly orange carpet ....

    Under the carpet, the floor hadn't been cleaned for flooring, so we removed all the mud splotches.  Can't have uneven spots under laminate flooring - the joints will pull apart.

    When you do a heated floor with gyp-crete, you border the area with boards in doorways and stair landings, and then fill inside the border with the pipes and gyp-crete.  The Ram ground down the joints to make a level surface for the flooring to float over. 

    And then we went through the entire floor area and checked for any nails popping up or other problem makers.

    Then my sister started vacuuming up the mess we made.  This is my newborn niece with the food allergies.  The food allergies give her a terrible rash and I can only imagine a tummy ache too, so she's held all day.  This is how my sister get's housework done.

    We wonder if the old carpeting with pet stains/hair could be contributing to the allergies because the allergies seemed to have gotten much worse when the moved into the new house.

    Don't worry, we've got fans blowing, doors open, and the kids have been outside for the grinding.

    But now they want to help!

    This flooring doesn't come with foam underlayment, so it has to be layed down first, separately.

    That's the other Uncle J, who also helped out on putting the flooring in.  He's also been helping out with lots of other things too.

    The foam underlayment has a sticker, so you just layer and stick the ends together.

    This foam underlayment is designed for a heat floor, allowing the heat to transfer up, but still giving the floor a little bit of a cushion underneath.

    Baby likes it!

    The actual snapping the flooring down and putting into place went really, really fast.

    It's the 10% at the ends that take up 90% of the time.  

    Helpers don't hurt either!

    But then we got to the fireplace.  What to do here?

    It's hard to see from this picture, but the fireplace is not a straight rip cut on the boards.  It actually varies quite a bit.

    So I used this marking tool to find the pattern of the rocks.

    It's actually called a Contour Gauge - it's $10 at the Home Depot and will save you 10 hours.

    And then trace that pattern on to the flooring.

    I got a whole process down of lining up, marking, tracing, repeating, and this went really fast too.  The Ram took my marked boards down to the garage and jigsawed about 1/4" in from my marks.

    Seriously, how can you not want to rip out old carpet and put in new flooring for that almost crawling cuteness?  

    We had to cut a little loose around the fireplace just to get the flooring to snap in, but it looks really good, and we'll go back and fill any gaps with grout from the fireplace, and the fireplace will look like it was installed after the flooring.

    Then there's just the little section past the fireplace ...

    And it's done!

    I think I've figured out what makes this guy such an awesome DIYer.

    He's fearless.  

    I'm always worried, what if we cut this wrong?  We'll waste a piece of flooring.  What if we start wrong and don't have enough left on the end ... what if???  I'm always questioning myself (I think that's why I love plans and furniture so much!).

    But the Ram?  He just goes for it.  And if things don't work out, he figures it out.  

    My sister and I talked about this too.  If she had the time, she's more than capable of whipping this floor out.  We are all capable.  But it's fear of messing something up that inhibits us.

    I can promise you, there's one piece in this floor that shouldn't be there.

    And you are looking right at it.

    A good carpenter can hide anything, right?

    I believe that's the key to DIYing.  You just gotta go for it, do your absolute best job, over-prep beforehand - but when there's a challenge, don't give up, just keep at it until you get things right.

    And don't forget - it's about the smiles.

    So I guess we now have a weekend gig too.  But you already knew that didn't you?  Darn it, I wish those little nieces were just a little less cute sometimes!

    Have a great weekend!  You know where we'll be!

    XO Ana



    Awesome job with the install. I love the contour gauge you used!

    I wanted to weigh in on one point you made around allergies and flooring. There is research currently being performed (soon to be released) that shows carpet to be as good as, if not better than, hardwood/tile for asthma and allergies. This research shows that carpet acts as a sink for the allergens and as long as there is regular cleaning (vacuuming), the allergens are removed. With hard flooring, you have to clean it roughly daily to keep the allergens out of the breathing zone.

    That being said, I definitely would have replaced the old carpet, but for allergies, hard flooring doesn't necessarily have to be put back in. The biggest thing is to keep the floors clean. A clean floor is a healthy floor.

    You know, it does seem like a house with hard surface floors does have more dust in the air than carpeted rooms ... good point!

    For this carpet, though - it was temporary carpet, so it may have been used even before install, and then the renters had pets, so a big concern was what might be in that carpet.

    I did the same thing when I moved in. While taking it out, we found enough evidence to make us glad we removed the old carpet. Thanks for the response and keep up the awesome work!!!

    Totally understand your dilemma and why you are helping your sister out, but man oh man... I wish I had all of your stamina! I honestly don't know how you all do it. When both houses are done, you should seriously take another vacation!

    I love this! I love how you guys all work together as a family to get the jobs done around there. Very sweet. I love how you, Ana White, the famous Ana to most of us on here, still can get a little overwhelmed with these types of jobs and have reservations at times, yet you still produce an amazing result. And props to the RAM (who sounds a lot like my fearless husband) for just going for it. We all have our roles and that's what makes us strong--together :) Bless you guys!! Thanks for another wonderful post.

    <>< Tamara :0)
    Philippians 4:6

    The new flooring is beautiful! I actually wanted to post a comment for your sister and your littlest niece. Has your sister ever looked into baby carriers, especially the mei tai style carriers (http://www.onceuponasling.com/Meitais.php) and soft structured carriers (http://www.onceuponasling.com/softstructure.php)? They have been a life saver for me with my 3rd daughter, especially for doing housework and going grocery shopping.
    This site has good info about finding the best carrier for mom & baby needs: http://babywearer.org