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.
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!