Monday, August 29, 2016

The Plan for The Dump

In the last post I wrote I explained we did not have much luck with housing. So when our current home came on our radar I was excited about the possibilities. I wrote about what sold me on the house in THIS post. I had all these ideas, but then God showed up and showed off and in ways that only He can, He started assembling a team to help us with this project.

Steve and myself are not DIY type of people. As much as we would love to be, we just aren't. Now I can do small decor DIY projects, I enjoy that, but we aren't the Fixer Upper type who get kicks out of rehabbing a dump. So we knew if we were to do this type of project we would need to buy the house cheap enough that we could pay the professionals to put it back together.

Before we even had a contract on the house (we were dealing with the bank so everything took longer) we already had a gentleman who is heavily networked in the construction industry in the Dayton area as well one of the best Architects in all of Dayton helping us out. They both happen to sit in Salem's pews every Sunday and helped take this project to the next level. We got connected with amazing sub-contractors and the architect helped us with the plans for the home. I had a few ideas, but it is amazing what the professionals can come up with. Both of these guys have been a huge asset. Then came along Mr Ed (I mentioned him in the demo post HERE) who has been a huge help with the demo process and I am pretty sure will keep hanging around this project to make sure everything is going smoothly. To save money, we decided to do the General Contracting ourselves. Since we are newer to the area, all these guys have been great. There have been many other people who have been a huge help in this project as well.

Here is the original sketch of the home from our architect.

The front door is in the middle of the home. Upon entering there was a large family room/dining room to your right. The kitchen and another dining area are in the back of the house, divided by a long wall. The back right corner is a mudroom with a 1/2 bath. The garage is cut off from the pic but on the right side of the house.

The left side of the house is where the bedrooms and bathrooms are. Heading down the hall, the kids bathroom was the first thing on your right (with a hall and linen closet first) and our master bedroom and bathroom are in the back corner off the right side of the hall. Both of the kids bedrooms (one for boys and one for girls) are off the left side of the hallway, in the front of the house.

We did not have a sketch of the basement, as it was pretty much one open room with a utility room in the middle.

You can see all the before pictures in THIS post.

Here are the final plans (which ended up even changing last minute) This set of plans have some of my measurements for kitchens and bathrooms on it, so ignore the pink.

 Since I do not do any sort of photo shop to note the changes on this image, I will explain the changes we made. First, the whole wall in the middle of the right side of the house is gone. We went back and forth on whether to vault the ceilings or not. The plans above are for the vaulted ceiling and there is a double sided fireplace in the middle of the room. After many discussions, we decided not to vault the ceiling. At first I was dead set on the vault, but after the wall was removed, I was pleased with the feel of the room. 8 ft ceilings are very common in this area, and we would not get our money back out of that project, it would have only been for personal preference. Steve was very open to doing it if I really wanted it but after considering our budget, there were other projects I would rather spend the money on. So the fireplace is not longer in the middle of the room, but is now on the one wall in the living area (bottom right on wall that backs up to garage). I want the fireplace covered in ship lap (possibly ship lap on the walls on each side) with a hand-hewn wood mantle. We also have a few hand-hewn wood beams taken out of a barn from the 1800's (a guy from church owns the barn). We are considering doing a beam down the middle of the room (where the wall came down) and a column with these beams. It would add some character to the home.

The kitchen

I am really excited about our kitchen. I have wanted a white kitchen for over 10 years. We are building a wall where there is currently a railing for the basement stairs (stairs will down behind the wall with the stove top/oven). We thought about a 6 foot wide window in the kitchen, but had to take it out for costs. We are doing a few reclaimed wood open shelves on each side of the sink to keep the feel more open.

Our island is 8.5 feel long and can fit all 6 of us! We concealed the microwave in the island and this allows access for the kids to get into the microwave without climbing up on the stove (which they are known to do).

The cabinets are white shaker. I really wanted quartz but it was significantly more than granite so we are going with granite. Laminate is still common in this area, but counter tops are the one place I am asking Steve for more of a "splurge!"  The granite option below is my top option right now but a local granite store is doubling their inventory the week after Labor Day so we are going back then to see about any other options. They said they are bringing in a lot more white options.

The Bathrooms

The bathrooms are an area we changed the most. We kept the 4 exterior walls of the bathroom area the same but reconfigured the whole inside. The BEFORE shows the kids had a hall and linen closest and our side had a tiny bathroom and walk-in closet.

The AFTER you can see we kept the 4 exterior walls and centered the middle wall. The kids and the master bathrooms are almost identical, just flip-flopped. Double vanities separated by a packet door to the toilet and shower area. Kids have a shower/tub combo and we have a walk in shower. We had one plan for the shower which now needs to change. We had a onyx shower kit picked out that was super easy for cleaning. But our width of our room ended up being 10" longer that we want to make sure we use, so now we are looking into a tiled shower. There are a few configurations we are working through now.

Vanities will be white shaker style as well.

The bedrooms

The bedrooms are good size considering the size of the home. We did have to reconfigure closets considering we lost our linen and walk-in closets. Also the architect suggested moving the kids doors to the end of the hall and angling them to provide more privacy and allow for a new linen closet.

On the AFTER the dotted lines are the old walls and the darker solid lines are the new ones.

So this week after the framers finished we realized they made a mistake. They left the boys room door (bedroom on the right) back in the original position (near the closet on the right side of the room) and closed in where their door was planned. It is more of a hall to the girls room in the bottom left. We decided we like the mistake better than the plans and are staying with it. It allows more privacy for the master bedroom as we look out our room we now see a wall instead of into the boys room. Another reason for moving the boys door was we didn't want them peaking out into the main area after they are supposed to be in bed at night. We are now putting in a sliding barn door that will cover the hall when closed, so leaving the boys door as is works just fine.

The Basement

We went back and forth about finishing off the basement but ultimately decided to finish it. Since there are only 3 bedrooms upstairs and we often have company, we decided to put a bedroom and bathroom in the basement. We will still have a very large unfinished storage area (middle top). The basement is 2100 sq ft, people are always surprised by the size when they walk downstairs. The room right next to the stairs will be the kids play area. The smaller closest area off the playroom is going to be a special spot for Payton to have an art room.

The narrow bottom part of the room will be left wide open for kids to play and ride their scooters. We are staining the concrete and leaving the ceiling open. Above the joists there is cool looking wood that goes with the rustic look we are going for in the basement. The left side of the basement (out from the bedroom) will be a TV area and the recessed area will be finished in barn wood for Steve to display all his dead animals (aka hunting trophies). It will be the man cave.

The exposed ceiling

The Exterior

We are focusing on the finishing the exterior next Spring. My idea is to paint the brick white, add black shutters and if budget allows, build a covered front porch. New windows for the whole house come this week, that will make a huge difference a well!

The back deck will be replaced with new wood and metal railings. 

Next up, framing is complete. Wood 2x4's never looked so beautiful to me!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Our 2-year house hunt

Here is the back story to our housing journey. Check out the previous posts for the details of the home we just bought.

This would have been our driveway.
Two years ago, we were praying through God's direction to move to Ohio. I love homes so I started looking at housing right away and stumbled upon a home in pre-forclosure. Through crazy connections, we ended up walking through this home during one of our visits to Ohio 2 years ago. We got to know the home owners and discussed doing a short sale. The short sale timing was not the best for the current homeowners but my heart was set on that home. This started an 18-month journey with this home. We tried buying this home on a few different occasions, and obviously it never worked out. We would think the door was closed, but then a few months later it would open again. I just knew we would end up with the home. I prayed bold prayers for this home. We walked the property many times praying over the home. We brought contractors, and appraisers and anyone else we could through the home to get a game plan for renovations and updating. For 6-months I daily drove by the home (it was 2 minutes from church) and prayed over it and our housing. It has a covered bridge for a driveway, so it became The Covered Bridge Home. The kids got tired of driving past this home, but I wanted to give them an example of circling a prayer. We didn't just throw a prayer up every now and then, we were diligent in praying for this home. We would pray for God to provide and protect. As much as we wanted this home, we trusted He knew things we didn't know and He has a plan. We had a rough experience with the only other home we had owned in Bradenton, FL and we didn't want a repeat.

I was sure this house was in God's plan for us! Looking back I clung to this house more than I realized. In October we thought we lost the house for good and it was emotionally very tough for me. I couldn't drive by without crying over it. But a few weeks later the door was opened again and I had hope. Well February this year the door was shut for good. Someone else bought the home and technically they should have not been able to purchase it (it was sold by Fannie Mae at this point they have some stipulations on who can purchase one of their homes in the first 21 days it is on the market).  We put our highest bid in (well over asking price which is unheard of in this area) and were outbid. This time I was not only sad but mad.

There was another home only a few minutes from church that we put 2 offers on over a 5 month period. The home was somewhat updated by the previous owners but we felt like it was over priced for the size of home without a basement. We offered $20k under asking price both times. First time their counter offer was way off. The second time we offered 5 months later, they didn't even counter and felt like their response was very defensive to why their home was worth the listing price. It was such a weird situation. Ironically they finally sold that home 7 months after our initial offer for only $5k more than we had offered. They had already moved out of the home and paying 2 mortgages so it didn't make sense to us, but looking back it God had another plan, that is why that home didn't work out, as oddly as the whole situation was.

We looked at many other home. One house had dog poop in one bedroom and cigarette butts on the floor of another, and we had a scheduled showing for this house that was not a cheap house by any means. A decently priced home for this area. I usually knew right away that all the homes we walked through were not for us. The covered bridge home and the one we put the 2 offers on, were the only options we really considered.

Looking back, I believe not getting the covered bridge home was the start of my grieving process of leaving KC. I am a forward facing person and we knew God called us to Dayton so we packed our family and moved. My focus was moving our family, finding a home, getting kids adjusted and settled in school and making relationships here. I was busy doing life and didn't take time to reflect on the sacrifices we made leaving the only place that felt like home for Team Southards. Sacrifices often don't feel good, quite frankly they can hurt. The whole house search process was frustrating because housing options was a constant reminder of how different I feel from this area. I had only known new Florida homes (bright, white and open) and new Kansas City homes that had a similar feel. I wasn't used to low ceilings, choppy floor plans and little windows. Since we wanted a few acres for the kids, our options were even more limited. There are homes more similar to what I prefer in this area, they are just in neighborhoods. Home prices are cheaper here than anywhere else we have lived, so we really stuck to our guns about wanting land for the kids.

In May we found the home that we would eventually purchase. You can read all about that home HERE.

A few of the lessons I learned throughout this process. Just because we say "Yes" to God and follow him (for us it was leaving a place we loved and moving our family across the country) that doesn't mean everything is going to easily fall in place and be smooth. Humans are often guilty of wanting things to be "easy." I assumed since we were obedient that God would take care of the details and it would be on my timeline. I remember nursing Stetson in the middle of the night as a newborn over 2 years ago and looking at houses online (while were praying about the decision to move). I felt God spoke to my spirit and told me that He would take care of the details of housing, I need to seek him and trust him. That was easier to do in the moment sitting in a place of comfort. That was more challenging as we have lived in a temporary place so long yearning for a place to call our own and unpack our boxes (we have boxes still unpacked waiting to be moved after almost 2 years).

The second lesson is we don't and sometimes won't understand God's decisions and plans. I had to come to a place that I trusted God even if the house we ended up with wasn't as good as the covered bridge home to me. There are so many details I will never know, but I have to be ok with that and I choose to still trust God's goodness. There are pro's and con's of the home we ended up with compared to the covered bridge. Quite frankly, I would rather have the covered bridge home, but I am not angry about it anymore. I am so grateful we have a home that we get to make our own.

So that is a reflection on the housing journey we have been on for 2 years. We are neck deep in renovating now. We weren't looking for a project, but we got one and it is fun to get to pick everything out for a home! We spent about 1 month doing demolition and just this week the framers were in and out in 2.5 days the house is starting to be put back together! More updates real soon!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Demo Day

The past few weekends we have spent doing demo at our new house. I have had a lot of fun knocking things down. We are thankful we aren't the ones putting it back together! We will let the professionals do that. We are so so thankful for all the people who have come out these last few weeks and have been a huge help! Here are some pics to show the progress.

First day of demo was the morning after we closed and Steve had a crew of guys cutting down trees outside. The kids started on the dark paneling in the basement.

First indoor demo day

Family room looking into dining area. Walls down!

The view from the other side of the wall, looking from dining area back into family room. Love those 6 ft windows! Make our 8 ft ceilings not feel so low.

70's kitchen is gone! Cabinets were in very good shape, some are going to basement storage and some are getting painted and going into the laundry room.

One large square that included 2 bathrooms, a master walk in closet and hallway/closet have all been opened up to one room!

Here is the after of all 4 areas above opened up completely. This will become 2 bathrooms.
Basement - pictures are from different angles but the paneling is gone and walls are removed.

End of bedroom hall - looking into what will be master closet. The kids doors are being moved to the end of the hall and a linen closet is going in.

The Master closet is taking over the girls bedroom closet and will be added on to make a walk in closet, since our old walk in closet will be part of the bathroom. Purple carpet unfortunately didn't make it.

Some more random pics of the helpers for our different demo days.

As the days went on, I was upgraded to a larger sledge hammer. I had to prove myself worthy.

Mr Ed is leading the charge for the demo. He retired from the construction industry and has been a huge asset! Don't let the amazing smile fool you, he is quite the salve driver :)

Our biggest injury only a few hours into our first day, 8 stitches!

My in-laws were in town the first weekend and were a huge help!

The framing should start this week, be back soon with the plan for putting it all back together!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Our Fixer Upper

Team Southards closed on a home in Ohio! What an almost 2-year journey this has been. We never imagined it would take so long to find a home here, it has been quite an experience. The home is a complete fixer upper, in fact if I would have seen this house 2 years ago I would thought this was a great opportunity for someone else, but we aren't renovation people and this house is a dump!  Well, we now own the dump.

I started a post with all the details and lessons we have learned these last 2 years, but it is taking awhile to finish up. (One of those posts you actual put thought and reflection in to). So I am jumping ahead to this house and will finish that post later.

The home was a foreclosed Fannie Mae property. The back story is the home was built in 1973 by a retired cop. It is a very solid built, brick wrapped home. Everyone who knows homes and has walked through this home talks about how solid it is.  The gentleman and his wife who built the home, took great care of the home (inside and out, we are told it had the most beautiful flower gardens) for over 30 years, until passing away and leaving the home to their son. Unfortunately the son was not able to maintain the home and the bank took it back at the beginning of this year.

Listing picture
I saw the home listed for a couple weeks before we even looked at it. The first picture on the listing was not very appealing. Being a Fannie Mae home, the pictures were poor and there were no pictures of the property. There was also no sign posted in the front yard. I believe if there was a sign in the yard, the home would have had more traffic. People would see the property and be interested in the opportunity. The listing price was also in a range that those who could afford that price, could not afford the amount of money needed for renovations.  There are many brick ranches built in the early 70's in this area, so this home's listing could have been easily seen and quickly passed over. I did that a few times, before I started looking further into this property.

When we finally walked through the home, I was so excited! A few of the selling points for me. Those front windows you can see in the picture are 6 feet tall! All the windows in the house are very generously sized. There is one wall dividing the kitchen and the living area that I knew we could take down that would allow for an open floor plan. I could stand in the kitchen and see the whole front and back yard. The property is 4 acres but is narrow so it can all be seen from inside the living area. Looking at the google maps picture, the road is at the very bottom of the picture and our property runs along the tree line. Our home is set between 100-150 yards off the road. We own the whole woods behind our home, to the top of the picture.

I also had a vision to vault the ceilings in the kitchen/dining/living area. We are waiting for quotes this week to find out if that is a reality or not. I would really love to vault the ceilings but not at the expense of breaking our renovation budget.

Besides the property, the open concept potential and the windows, the last selling point for me was walking into the mudroom. The garage and mudroom were added in the 80's. Very few new homes have such a large mudroom, let alone a modest ranch built in the 70's. For a family with kids, this is amazing! In our current rental we have been in since moving to Ohio, the door from the garage is right into our family room/kitchen area. I hung 3M hooks trying to find temporary systems for our family, but half of them have fallen down and we have a constant battle with back packs, shoes and jackets in the winter. The mudroom had me sold.

It is a 2300 sq ft ranch with a full unfinished basement that we plan on finishing and adding a bedroom and bathroom for guests. There are 3 generous bedrooms upstairs. The boys will be sharing and the girls will be sharing.

I will do another post soon with renovations plans, and finish up more of the whole housing story. But without further ado, here are the before pics of "The Dump" (the bank did clean the house up before they listed it, so it isn't as bad as it could have been)

Looking out from house to front yard - trees are full or leaves now, this was taken a few months ago

View of backyard from deck

Front room to the right when you walk in front door. Those are the 6 foot windows! Gold shag carpet

Looking back towards the front door

Kitchen on the back side of the front room wall

The door to the right is the mudroom/laundry room and the railing is for the basement stairs

Looking towards the kitchen from the 1/2 bath at the end of the mudroom. Garage door to left and door to backyard to the right.
Hall towards bedrooms - left of the front door
Girls room with cherry red carpet

Boys room with avocado green carpet

Kids bathroom complete with a blue tub and blue carpet!
Master bedroom

Master bedroom with Barney purple carpet!

Master bathroom that is the size of a postage stamp. I do not think someone could enter the tiny shower to the right while someone was going to the bathroom
Full unfinished basement with a shuffle board
I am happy to say that almost EVERYTHING will be stripped out of this house! Demo started this past weekend!