The 90’s Beauty Renovation story below was written in April of 2014, we purchased this home in October of 2012. The people who renovated this house are members of an elite squad known as the JSH reno team, Katie and Lane Jones. These are their stories. (GAVEL SOUND)
April 13, 2014:
Since I last wrote a REAL update we’ve been…. busy.
In October of 2012 (it’s now ’14, wow), we closed on a beautiful home on the #2 tee box of a pretty sweet golf course in Jacksonville. When we first moved here we had negative amounts of dollars to our names and staying afloat was more the name of the game. I never dreamed that in less than four years we’d be able to buy a place like this. It is our dream home in every way (aside from the neighbors, which I will address later) and we feel lucky every day to get to live here.
We bought at just the right time because property values in our ‘hood have done nothing but climb (up an average of about $50k from what we paid for our house… in less than two years…), so we are super lucky in that respect as well. Now that we are all happy and settled, it’s tough to remember all of the crap that we dealt with actually getting to this point, but here are some of the highlights.
The house was in great shape aside from cosmetic stuff, so we were fully prepared to do some “light” renovations on our own when we closed. We had six weeks to get it all done while we still had our lease on our other house. We closed October 26th and the goal was to have Thanksgiving at our house. IDIOTS.
This was our “to-do” list and our renovation budget was $20k.
1) rip out & replace carpet in all four bedrooms, living room, and dining room
2) rip out tile in water closets of both bathrooms (Previous owners installed new tile in the main areas of both baths, but because they were super lazy and didn’t want to take up the toilets, the little water closet rooms still had the original 1993 6×6 forest green tile on the floors. NOT cute.)
3) paint master bedroom, master bath room, & office
4) rip out & replace kitchen countertops
5) rip out & replace kitchen backsplash
*note: both the kitchen countertops AND the backsplash were white 2×2 mosaic tile. Let me just tell you that 20 year old grout on a kitchen countertop does not inspire one to prepare a meal on top of it.
6) rip out green tile on both sides of fireplace, re-drywall, retile
7) remove & replace all kitchen appliances
8) remove & replace both toilets
9) replace all interior light fixtures (15 total)
10) rewire fluorescent lights above cabinets, install incandescent
11) rip out & replace countertops & sinks in both baths
12) replace blinds in 8 windows
13) rip out & replace 4 bathroom sink faucets
14) rip out & replace 2 shower faucets
15) rip out PINK cultured marble master bath tub (omg)
16) install new Jacuzzi tub in master bath
17) fence in back yard (*also, because we’re on the golf course, it has to be the most expensive black aluminum fence that they make, and cannot be more than 4′ tall.)
Simple enough, right? WRONG. So, so, so, so, SO wrong. All of this work required a dumpster, so that was our first step. There was a minimal price difference between the small one and the one that you literally could have fit our entire house into, so we figured why not? Get the big one. Well, the problem with that was that it was so big it wouldn’t fit in our driveway, so it had to go on the street.
In hindsight this was no big deal (or shouldn’t have been at least) because the “street” in front of our house is actually still our property. It was supposed to be a private drive that went in front of all the houses that runs parallel to the actual street, but the city made a mistake and paved it, so it looks like a road. Anywho, the dumpster was parked on the “street”, blocking our house, and also probably the sun. It was massive.
Lane and I took absolutely no time off of work since we had already used the majority of our vacation time for wedding and honeymoon stuff. So that meant that we would work 8-12 hour days at our jobs, and come to the house and do back-breaking work until easily midnight every night, but more often 1, 2, or 3 a.m., and then do it all over again the next day.
In comparison to what Lane did, the work that I actually did was a cake walk. He busted his butt, literally broke his foot when the guest bath countertop fell on it when we were trying to heave it into the dumpster, and deprived himself of sleep and sustenance (other than beer) and never ONCE complained. I still don’t think that he’s fully recovered.
Since we did the majority of the work ourselves and obviously had a limited time frame each day to do it, the dumpster stayed in front of our house for ohhhh maybe 5 days? Which to us was an insanely short period of time considering all the work that we were doing. (We ended up literally filling this gargantuan dumpster up to the brim, by the way!) But it was on about day three that we started hearing little grumblings from our new neighbors. Then, one day when Lane was at the house on his day off, dripping sweat and breaking his back chipping out the floor tiles at the foyer, the HOA president comes sauntering into the house to announce that we need to move the dumpster. Lane was less than amused and proceeded to tell him that we’d move the dumpster when we were done with it and not a minute sooner. Please note, the dumpster did not block any traffic, was not in front of anyone else’s house, and was on our property. They just didn’t like looking at it, so felt it completely reasonable to dictate when we needed to remove it. UHMMMM, NO. Despite our better judgment, we hustled up even more, and called to have the dumpster removed several days early to keep the peace with our new neighbors. We kept plowing through the renovations, blood, sweat, tears, and at least 50,000 trips to Lowe’s. And it was very exciting to see it all come together. It was really starting to look like the house that we’d imagined. One of the first big things that we did was have the fence installed so that we could bring Baron over with us when we were doing all the work inside. This was strike number two with our left side next door neighbors.
You know what… I bet I could save time if I just copied and pasted the letter that I wrote to our neighbors after we’d finally had enough. This letter went to our neighbors two houses to the right, the ones immediately to our left, and our HOA president. Here it is:
Neighbors #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5,
Lane and I feel it necessary to make our feelings about our “welcome” to the neighborhood known in no uncertain terms.
We can not express our utter disappointment and sadness in the fact that we even have to write this letter. Lane and I are good, kind people, who have saved and worked relentlessly to be able to purchase a home of our own. Since we closed a mere two weeks ago, we have been subjected to a ridiculous amount of scrutiny, intrusion, and ridicule. What should be one of the happiest and most exciting occasions in our lives has become nothing but a source of stress and anxiety for us.
Our desire to complete renovations in our new home (and consequently increase your own property values), caused an uproar because of the dumpster. As soon as we became aware that its presence was causing a problem, Lane and I did everything we could to have it removed as soon as possible, exhausting ourselves by working until midnight every night for a week to complete our tasks early. We had the dumpster removed three days short of our paid rental period as a courtesy and good will gesture to our new neighbors.
You can not imagine my surprise when during my patching and painting on a Sunday afternoon, I looked out of our window and saw our new yard being inspected with a metal detector and dug up with a garden shovel by our new neighbors to search for a property line. Only then did we realize that there was an issue with our new fence. Though we did everything by the book of the neighborhood’s HOA requirements, the installation and placement of our fence became a topic of discussion and yet another issue on which we were questioned. It is a less than warm welcome to go outside and look to your right to see ladies whispering and pointing to your house, and look to your left to see two men inspecting your yard and avoiding eye contact.
When our yard was being inspected I was visibly upset and embarrassed to think that we had disturbed our new neighbors to the point that they felt it necessary to intrude upon our space to “satisfy a curiosity” as neighbor #4 put it, to confirm that our fence installation and official property survey was correct. In response to my tears, the statement directed at me by my new neighbor was “do me a favor, please don’t feel bad”. I am still unsure if this was intended to be an apology, but it certainly was not. My response to that should have been that I have no reason to feel bad, seeing as though we have done nothing wrong.
Today we arrived at our new home to check the progress of our tile installation and witnessed a man, whom we have never met, walking up our driveway and into our door and foyer. Though the claim is now that neighbor #2 just wanted to get some information for tile installation, we all know that in truth this, yet again, was nothing but a nosey neighbor satisfying another curiosity. Even if he had truly just wanted information from our installers, waltzing into someone else’s home while the owners are not present is not the acceptable way to obtain this information. You wait until we are home, you knock on our door, and you ask us directly.
And as it turns out, unbeknownst to us, neighbor #2 was not the only one to help himself to a tour of our new home that day, as our tile installer informed us that someone else had walked through – over our newly installed and still wet tile – to check out the entire house earlier in the day.
As if that is not inexcusable enough, when we called you neighbor #3, our HOA President, to make you aware of the situation, your statement was “well, there were people there working and the door was open”, as if the people who blatantly entered our home uninvited and without our knowledge was permissible. This is unacceptable. It is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. In addition to unacceptable, it is actually trespassing, which is a criminally punishable offense. How would any of you feel if your front door was open and Lane and I decided that it would be fine for us to walk through your home without your knowledge?
Let us be clear. We are doing renovations that will be complete soon. Our address is not an open construction zone. It is not a vacant home. It is OUR home. It does not matter if our furniture is in yet or not. NO ONE has the right to enter our home, or our yard for that matter, without our presence or invitation. There is no exception to this.
If any of you had taken the time to actually get to know us, you would know that we are good people and good neighbors. You would also know that I have a degree in Interior Design and would have been happy to give design advice to any of my new neighbors, since you all seem to be so highly interested in the interior finishes that we’ve selected for our own home.
We regret any disturbance that we have caused in each of your daily routines. We regret any inconvenience that our rapidly concluding renovations might have caused. But most of all we regret choosing to make a $300,000, 30-year mistake by purchasing a home in an unofficial, self-proclaimed retirement community where we do not feel welcome.
We will be good neighbors, will keep our house and yard spotless, and we will expect that you all respect our privacy and our property lines from this point forward.
Lane & Katie Jones
From one of the neighbors we got a “sorry” notecard, from the HOA pres and the other neighbors, not a single contact since that day. Well, unless you want to count them calling the police to complain about the noise every now and then. Whatevs.
So other than that, the rest of the reno went off (mostly) without a hitch. It came down to the day before the moving truck was supposed to show up and we’d been so busy with the renovation that we had packed NOTHING. And I’m not in any way exaggerating when I say that. We’d packed nothing in our other house. I got home at 9 p.m. the night before the move and packed the entire. house. in one night. Don’t be too impressed because it was absolutely NOT cute. I got about twenty boxes of contractor sized garbage bags and just started tossing shit in. I was so tired that my philosophy was literally “if it breaks we don’t need it anyway”.
Lane had to work the day of the move, so I supervised the three movers all day all by my lonesome. It was a mess, but we got it done. After that, Lane and I continued to work non-stop setting the house up so that we could actually have Thanksgiving here, and despite EVERY kitchen item we had being in boxes the very night before Turkey day, we got it all done and had an awesome time with our fam.
After the holidays, things were getting back to “normal” and we were settling into a routine at our new home. Then in February we got another one of those outrageous power bills and knew from previous experience exactly what it meant. Busted pipes in the slab. Pretty common in Florida since most houses are on slabs and most in the 90’s used copper pipes that get pinholes in them eventually, which basically meant that we’d dumped into the ground (and paid for) about 50,000 gallons of water to the tune of $600.
At that point there were two options. One was to rip up the tile that we’d JUST installed in the master bath and repair only the spot in the pipes that was actively leaking. There were two problems with that. The first was that the tile that we’d installed matched the rest of the master bathroom and we’d been lucky to find JUST enough to do the job left over in the garage. It had since been discontinued, so if we wanted it to “match” when we ripped it out and reinstalled, that meant ripping up the entire bathroom floor. No thanks. The second, and much larger problem, was that the leak detection guy told us that the dude who sold us the house had already had some of these same leaks repaired and that it would likely happen again. I guess the seller didn’t find it necessary to tell us that minor detail of this house in the property disclosure part of the contract? Nice. So if we chose that route we’d just be ripping up floors and chasing leaks all over the house as they popped up. SO, that led us to option two, which was to repipe the entire house.
What all does repiping entail you ask? Well let me tell you. First, all of the pipes at EVERY point where water enters your home are disconnected. Think about your house and how many places that might be… k, THEN giant, giant, gargantuan dumpster sized holes are cut into your freshly painted walls to expose these pipes so that new ones can be connected and run up through your attic. Anyone who has ever had any experience with drywall dust knows that it is nothing to be taken lightly. It gets every.where.imaginable. It is a thin layer of white powder that sticks to walls, doors, floors, everything. So what that meant to us was that a mere six weeks after we’d set everything up, we had to take everything off the walls, pile all the furniture in the center of every room and cover it with sheets, and live through four days of plumbers working nonstop, crawling around every inch of the house and basically destroying everything we’d just done.
I was in NO way prepared for how bad it would actually be, and when I got home after the first day of them working – the hole cutting day – I lost it. Not only was it going to cost $6,000 (after a $20k+ renovation), but everything we’d just gotten so perfect was undone. The third day – hole closing day – we got word that my Dad had just suffered a heart attack, so of course my brother and I rushed to Indiana to be with him. (He had a stint put in and is doing well – he was very, very lucky.) Obviously that was a very stressful time, and heading home I was expecting to return to a complete disaster zone, but when I walked through the door I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was as if nothing had ever happened. Lane had worked day and night to clean up, move the furniture back, rehang all the pictures, even repainted the walls. It was such a special treat and made that difficult time so much easier. I SO did not feel like messing with any of that, and he did it all. It was awesome.
I guess that’s really the last major thing that we’ve done with the house. There are things here and there… Lane built a really cool banquette and kitchen table.
And we did rewire the whole house too. Well, I guess not “rewire” but we replaced all the switches, outlets, and switches/faceplates. They were a gross 1990’s yellow cream-ish color that looked like someone had been smoking in here for fifty years. I thought I could get away with just replacing the switchplates, but I did one and quickly realized that would not be happening, so we spent an entire Sunday replacing every single outlet and every single switch. Looks so much better, but now the baseboards and doors don’t match…. hmmmmm…..
We also installed some in/outdoor carpet in the porch. It was so. flippin. hot. that day.
So that’s it. That’s our house reno journey. And now, the part you’ve all been patiently awaiting… the before and afters!
WOW – what a fun walk down memory lane! That green tub and the tile countertop still makes me cringe. Lots more to come…