About sixteen years or so ago, we moved to the house we are currently in. I’ll spare you the details and just say it was a messy move with lots happening. While most people would have probably renovated the house BEFORE moving in, we just moved in. On top of what was there.

The house (bless it) was built in the 40’s. It had an addition added in the 60’s and a partial ‘update’ in the 70’s. Nothing had been done since.

It was, you could say, beyond time for an update.


70’s styled carpets

When Amanda came to town this summer, we had big plans to do a reno on the living room while they were there. We had plans to demo the place. We had a few contractors lined up and materials purchased. Or so we thought.

There was a bit of a ‘dip’ in the ceiling that we had been told could be fixed with some simple shimming. Since we didn’t know exactly what we were getting into, our contractor advised that we demo the room ourselves (saving a bunch of money) then call him in to see what it would take.

Our original plan was for a simple floor job -rip the carpets, lay new floors. We figured since we were doing that we might as well upgrade with some drywall. We also had a number of other small projects happening at the same time -both inside and out. Not to mention trying to squeeze in as much fun as possible in the short time family was there to visit.


Lovely wooden panels on the walls

We waited until the ‘last minute’ to demo the house -because with two kids and five adults still living there, we didn’t want to completely limit ourselves.

But once the walls were down and the floors were up – we realized this was a bigger project than we had anticipated. A few sheets of drywall and new floors were not going to fix this. It was also a bigger project than we could tackle ourselves.


Demo day!

We spent a good day sorting out the list of things that needed done, attempting to anticipate the supplies that would need ordered and get everything line up.

Then Amanda and co left town and as nice as it was to be done with the demo -the house was in a bit of a state:


No more paneling -but no more walls either!


….or ceiling, for that matter!


Mid-floor removal



Armed with a list of updates, upgrades and necessities -I started making phone calls. Since the walls were down -we decided to update the electrical. The first bid came in just over 10k. The second was similar. Things were getting pretty grim looking. This was just for the electrical -not to mention the repairs to the ceiling, the installation of the drywall, the finishing touches and finally -the floors.

I called just about every contractor in town -a few showed up. With news that left me in tears every time.

The last one that arrived shook his head. “This is bad news” he told me. “See the dip in your ceiling? That is because the pressure of the ceiling is resting on the walls -the walls are bending outward, one morning you will come home, and the roof will have collapsed under the pressure.” I stared. “I can fix it…” he offered, hopefully. “We will just put a big beam across your ceiling like so and add a post right here.” He pointed to the middle of the living room. “Of course, just to get started, I will need 10K…who knows how much this will run you to finish.” And with that he turned to leave… “Don’t forget” he added “Them walls won’t hold the weight forever.” It was a very sleepless night.

We didn’t have that kind of money. Nor did we want a post in the middle of the room. Of course, the alternative was a collapsed roof and smashed house. It was a devastating blow that left me wondering what, exactly, we had gotten ourselves into.

On top of that, all of the electricians were panicking about even working on the house -considering we had asbestos exposed tiles -repeated attempts to tell them we had plans to get them encapsulated fell on deaf ears. No one seemed to be willing (or able) to help.

Would we ever have a home again? Were we completely screwed?

Suddenly all the dreams of a new living room were crashing in, I envisioned waking up with my bed in the living room, sleeping beneath a pile of ceiling tiles and asbestos. There seemed to be no good options…

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