Work on the House

I haven’t written much about the work we did on the house, because, quite frankly, it’s depressing and overwhelming for me. I don’t do very well on technical, detailed posts, either. This is not to mention that I had to use the flash on the camera inside the house, and I hate the flash. The pictures of the house in its current state is also depressing for me to look at. People keep saying how much work we have accomplished, and all I can see is how much is yet to be done.

The picture above is our former (and future) bathroom. I’ve mentioned before that this part of the house was an addition. The main portion of the house was built in the 50’s and had no plumbing. The addition was put on (with plumbing) in the 70’s.

At closing, we got the termite report (separate from the Inspection). Based on the Inspection report, we knew that the back portion of the house had some damage and would need to be fixed. It was unclear whether the joists had been affected. We had no idea of the extent of the termite damage until we got the report, and further, when we started actually ripping up the flooring and wall coverings. The termite inspector did not catch the termite damage in other parts of the house besides the back addition.

It took much more work than Bud had anticipated ripping out the tub, toilet, water heater and rotten flooring. Those appliances were HEAVY and getting them out over a rotten floor was a trick. I helped where I could to guide or push things, but I am afraid I did little more than to make myself feel better that I was ‘helping’.

Bud ended up having to rip the whole floor bathroom out. Much of it was rotten and termite-eaten, including the joists. The floor under the load bearing wall was rotten, so he had to put up a temporary brace frame further out from the original wall for the time being. The ‘sill’ that is underneath the frame on one side had to be replaced as well. That, too, was a trick. Bud also had to pick up all of the rotten wood on the ground underneath where the floor had been to prevent further termite damage.

The sellers have paid to have a termite person come out and treat things for termites, as well as put in some vents to vent the underneath of the house, which is supposed to help discourage termites by keeping things dry down there.

My job was to take out all of the rotten, termite damaged wood and burn it. We had a constant burn pile going, even though there was a ‘burn ban’ for the county. We asked our neighbors about the burn ban, and they said, “They know people gotta burn out here. What else are they going to do?” She said they are burning…so we burned too. I just kept an eye on it, and I would also periodically get water from the spring and pour it all around the edge of the burning ring.

Incidentally, there is actual garbage pickup out there every Friday, but you have to buy a special bag for $3.50 a bag. I imagine I will use that for non-burnables in the future. You can also take stuff to their ‘recycling center’ for $16.00 a truck load. If you have lots of recyclables, it costs less per load.

We borrowed the neighbor’s flat bed trailer and got some lumber so Bud could start rebuilding the floor. It was very heavy. The guy at the lumber place loaded it in the flatbed, but Bud (and I) had to unload it. Some of it, Bud had to do by himself. I was able to help some, though.

At the lumber place, Bud was trying to help the guy load the lumber onto the flatbed, and the guy told him, “You just rest. I’m loading it all on here, but YOU are going to have to unload it by yourself once you get it home.”

Bud has never done anything like this before. He spent a lot of time planning in his head, and we did a lot of praying about it, and the Lord came through with the answers. I was so proud of Bud. By the time we left, he had gotten all of the new joists in.

There was one day that Bud was working, cleaning out all of the termite damaged wood, and I heard him call, “Honey, bring me my gun, quick.” A snake had come in through the corner of the house, and was slithering along a board on the back wall of the bathroom area where had been working! Bud killed it. We don’t know what kind it was (Sorry. No pictures). It was about 2-3 feet long, and had a pattern along it’s belly. The back was sort of dark and mottled. Bud had also killed a black colored snake in the stream by our house that was a little larger than that. There is tale that there are copperheads and rattlesnakes here, and we have tried to be very careful.

The chickens have been going through all of the leaves around the house, so that is a good thing. They have killed and eaten anything small, and if there is anything larger underneath there, it is sure to have moved on since it’s hiding place has been disturbed.

The plumber did finally come…the day before we left. It was only ‘stop-gap’ measure to get the cold water flowing in and out of the house, and to make sure there were no leaks. He got water flowing to the ‘new’ kitchen (which we will eventually take out). It would have been useful, had we had it the whole three weeks we were there, however, Bud said he didn’t feel the visit was a waste because he got lots of his questions answered, and knows better how to move forward in planning for the rest.

I was little help with the bathroom. My main work was taking down the walls and taking up the flooring. Bud helped some with that, too. It was hard work! Going up and down the stairs outside to take things to the burn pile, or for Bud to go out and use his saw was hard enough, but a lot of that stuff we carried outside was HEAVY. The paneling had to be broken into pieces to fit into our burn ring. Scraping stuff off the walls with a putty knife was tiring. Then there was lots of bending over to pick up and bag piles of wall coverings.

Each evening, we went to bed so tired and so sore. Toward the end of our time there, I would lay out not only our Melatonin (why I thought we needed it, I don’t know), along with Ibuprofen (He, four, Me, two).

There were hooks, tacks and nails everywhere! I told Bud that if they had owned stock in hooks, tacks and nails, they would have been rich! On the floor, there were several layers of linoleum, and in some cases, there was a layer of plywood over that, and then several more layers of linoleum! After pulling up the linoleum, there were nails to pull out.

On the walls, there was first a layer of paneling. Some of the paneling was crumbling and seemed to be made of sawdust that had been glued into a plank. Other paneling was of a better quality and was more like wood. There were layers of wallpaper underneath that, and in some places, there were old paper sugar and flour sacks tacked to the wooden oak planks underneath. In the ‘old’ kitchen, there as a layer of vinyl on the walls, as well as wallpaper, and we even found burlap bags underneath there!

One of the neighbors suggested that maybe we should just work on one room at a time. We really needed to see what was underneath all of that stuff on the walls, and we had thought of using the planks on the wall for the flooring, so we needed to see what we had. I was also so glad we worked to get everything bare to the wood because so much of the smell was in the wallpaper and linoleum. Where there had been termites at work underneath the wallpaper, there was a load of dirty, dirt-like junk that fell off as I ripped the paper off. It was so gross, especially when I was working on the ceiling.

Here is a picture of the old kitchen (our future ‘new’ kitchen) in progress. Flooring is up. You can see the bottom half covered in vinyl, which is still not off. It has some kind of tar-like backing which is making it very hard to get off.

Someone was asking about the ‘micro-fridge’ that the sellers let us borrow. It’s that black square thing sitting on that white cart to the left. It was a life saver! It was just perfect for our needs while we were there.

Burlap and vinyl on the walls:

By the time we left, *almost* all of the walls and floors looked like this:

This picture does not give an accurate portrayal of what it actually looks like. There are still bits of paper, glue and loads of tacks in the wall. There are places in the flooring that are rotten. This room is pretty good, but in other places, there are gaps between the boards in the walls. Some of the planks are not square, but slanted. We had thought of using those planks for the floors, but we hadn’t anticipated finding oak flooring beneath all of that linoleum, so we are not sure yet what we are going to do.

Our original plan has been to put up knotty pine paneling, similar to this:

That’s the kind of rustic style I’d like in the house, too. Someone asked what my ‘style’ was, and I answered, “Ozark Hillbilly” LOL. I just love it. I wouldn’t mind something even more rustic, though.

Here are some more pictures of our work in various stages:

The ‘new’ kitchen before the bathroom wall was ripped out

Flooring in the ‘new’ kitchen ripped up

Crumbling wall paneling with wallpaper underneath

Cleaning it all up once it was off the wall was a mess!

I took off the linoleum they had on the counter in the ‘old’ kitchen and it was just oak planks underneath

Complete and total yuckiness that had to be cleaned up. It was full of dead wasps and coated with mice droppings on top of the counter, in the sink, and underneath the cabinets

We were absolutely filthy at the end of each day. Not having running water made it difficult to clean up. I kept some Antibacterial wipes in the ‘kitchen preparation area’ and tried to clean my hands each time I had to handle food. We also kept a crock of spring water by the ‘new’ kitchen. Thankfully we could allow water to go down the pipes once it was used.

As I mentioned before, when we first got there, the days were fairly cool and going without showers wasn’t too bad. As the days heated up, we sweated a lot, and we felt quite gross at the end of the day after working with all that nastiness.

The good thing is that we know what we are dealing with, and can better plan things out now that most of the preliminary ‘tearing down’ has been done.

If you have any questions about things I have forgotten to talk about, please let me know and I’ll try to answer. I know there must be things that I have forgotten or not explained clearly.

8 thoughts on “Work on the House

  1. Wow, I’m impressed at all the work y’all HAVE done in so little time….and HARD work! It will come together…just hang in there.


  2. Looks like a huge job, but there is progress. Bud is doing a super job. The floor joists look wonderful in the pictures. I know you are so happy that he knows what to do and how to do it. We purchased some books on building before we started in Colorado. I was forever trying to find instructions on everything. Seems that men have a 6th sense about construction and automatically know how to do alot of things when it comes to building. What a blessing that is. I really hope he took care when lifting heavy objects.

    Enjoyed the pictures and your discussion on everything. Made it very understandable. Sure appreciate getting to see all that you two are doing. It is going to be perfect when you get finished. And it will be such fun to look at the “before” and “after” pictures. Hope you are making a scrapbook that you will really enjoy someday.


    1. Thanks, Aunt Suzanne. I hope Bud will read your comments. I’ll make sure he does. I’m VERY impressed that he did that! 🙂 I guess you’re right about that 6th sense thing. I certainly don’t have it, and I just stand in awe that he was able to figure that out!

      Thank you for reading, and being so faithful to comment. I appreciate each and every one.

      PS: I guess I kind of look at this blog as my scrapbook, but will keep the pictures I took. They are all digital.


  3. Whew! I’m tired just reading about it! I wish we could have been there to help you. I didn’t know that Bud knew how to do all that. If you’re going to put some kind of wood paneling over the wall, then you won’t have to have the walls underneath so perfect before you put it on. I’d have a light going underneath that house if it were me standing on that dirt floor! God surely protected you two. Well you got a lot done in three weeks! Good job!!


    1. I would have loved to have had you there. It was tiring while we were doing it, but I MISS IT!!! (SO MUCH…all of it). Yeah, you’re right about the paneling and not having to get it perfect before we do, and that’s encouraging because it would seem insurmountable.

      I’m humbled by the protection that the Lord gave us while we are there. We prayed for His protection for us and the birds every day.

      Thank you for your comments. I’ve appreciated each and every one of them. 🙂


  4. It sounds like y’all got a lot done in three weeks. And yet, so much more to do! I’m looking forward to hearing more about this little bit of heaven on earth! I love my place; but, I wish I also had friendly neighbors! Well, they’re friendly; but, we don’t visit one another. Still too close to city life I guess. But, I love the land and the house even if I don’t have strength to do what I want to do half the time!


  5. I think you have a really sweet place! I’ve enjoyed reading about it. Maybe the visiting will come later in your ‘hood. Bud and I have talked about how it seems like some kind of alternate reality out there, and I’ve thought about it a lot. Maybe there is really something to your comment about still being too close to city life, but I haven’t really figured out what makes things so different in the country. Regardless, I’ve wished so much to go back to times when things were more simple and uncomplicated and maybe I have found it.


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