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The Curse Rears Up Again

October 13th, 2014

It’s been a LONG time since we’ve done a major home improvement project, for a few different reasons. One, we simply don’t have much time. Two, we’re undecided as to what exactly is going to happen here. Three, did I mention we just don’t have much time? Four, there is what we call the “Morris Curse” in that projects always take five times as long as you think and cost ten times as much. That being said we’ve been wanting to get our oven hood vented to the outside for a long time. Venting the hood outside is extremely important for indoor air quality. Cooking produces fumes that are not good to breathe, so if you’re cooking, have that vent going! Don’t worry about losing heat, worry about getting pneumonia, stroke, ischaemic heart disease, COPD and lung cancer if you don’t vent it outside. I’d say it’s well worth losing a few pennies of heat to not be breathing cooking fumes. This is especially important if you use a gas range which causes pollution from the flames. Any kind of cooking produce acrolein fumes that you shouldn’t breathe as well as fine particle pollution, so if you have an electric range don’t think you’re off the hook, you still should vent your range hood outside to keep your indoor cleaner.
kitchen redo 1
There has been big discussions around here revolving around remodeling the house or building a new one. Every small project we tackle has us leaning toward the second option. While installing our new powerful range hood we came across several issues, first one being the very spot we wanted to instal it had four studs stacking to form a support beam – GREAT. So we decided looks weren’t as important as fresh air so venting it with two elbows off to the right side would work. Oh well look at that, another group of studs. So we decided to vent it to the left.
kitchen redo 2 (1)
What did we discover with this option? Oh yeah a gas line. You can imagine our thoughts when we saw this. After a little searching we discovered it was and old line that was disconnected – whew.
kitchen redo 1 (1)
While tackling this project we also found a HUGE nest of insects underneath one cabinet, not sure what exactly happened here – but they are those bone beetles and I found some dog kibble there. Being that we don’t feed dog kibble, I’m guessing perhaps the previous owners kept their kibble in this cabinet? We also found that part of the wood paneling had been eaten by some sort of insect – great. There also seems to have been a time when water got in this corner of the house, not sure if it happened a long time ago and was fixed, or perhaps it’s just lots of mouse urine judging by the rather larger number of old mouse nests we also found – DOUBLE YUCK!
kitchen redo 2
With all of our setbacks we’re still working on getting this crazy thing installed at 8:30pm on Sunday night (so much for a quick project). We ended up having to use two elbows to get the vent in, so now we can’t cover the vent pipe. It’s a good thing I don’t mind the industrial look, and pollution free air will make up for the less than perfect look! I also now have four outlets in the kitchen, super awesome. Before the stove actually had to be plugged in above the countertop (crazy I know) and two outlets didn’t work, so I had to unplug the stove or my over the sink light if I wanted to run the blender or mixer. I’m debating whether or not I want to take the time to paint the kitchen, it’s pretty sad as far as a paint job goes. As you can kind of see in this image, the area above the stove hood wasn’t painted previously, so there’s a square of rather grease stained drywall paper. You can also see the outlines of where the upper cabinets and other things that were hung on the walls – decisions, decisions.
kitchen redo (1)
As we do projects like this we keep adding things to the list of reasons it’s probably not a good idea to sink more money into this current house. There are those times when remodeling can be more costly than building new, we’re still looking at things around here, but we may have reached the tipping point. At least we’ll be breathing clean air while our discussions continue!

Have you tackled any home improvement projects lately? Any setbacks?

13 Comments to “The Curse Rears Up Again”
  1. Marina on October 13, 2014 at 6:32 am

    Funny, we have a similar curse when it comes to projects in an old house. I am not sure that is a Morris curse, more like the old house owner’s curse.
    We have never built new, but I can see that it could be tempting to do so. Sounds like you have a true New Englander up there, with surprises at every turn.
    Our ‘top of the list’ surprise was in our first house, built in 1806. We converted a small powder room next to the kitchen to a shower bathroom, and found that the rather unsettled sheet rock behind the toilet was just a pizza carton with spackle on top.
    Can’t blame the 1806 builders for that…
    Good luck with your decisions, I am sure that if you decide to build, we will all learn a lot from your careful planning.
    We are in the process of deciding how/when to go solar here, it is beginning to make sense numbers wise.
    Decisions, decisions…

    Reply to Marina's comment

  2. Sherri on October 13, 2014 at 8:01 am

    We decided to replace the tiles in the mudroom and half bath last year only to discover the toilet had not been attached properly and had been leaking for years. The subfloor was completely rotted, they had not installed a moisture barrier and our house was sitting directly in the dirt. So, we also had a found a huge termite infestation. We are remodeling the kitcjen now, it’s not half as bad!

    Reply to Sherri's comment

  3. whit on October 13, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Oh no! I am sorry that a simple project like that became such a nightmare. It’s so completely frustrating when something simple turns into such an ordeal.

    We are having the same issues with heating. Our house’s major source of heat is wood, but hauling wood a couple times per week from 100 feet away and carrying load after load up a flight of steep stairs, usually in downpours and always in the dark is getting extremely old. We called an electrician to see about baseboard heat, which usually goes under the windows, eh? We thought we had it made, it would be a simple project because we have an extra fuse and the gauge wire needed for the project running too it already. Turns out code states window sills have to be 12 inches from baseboard heaters and we don’t have the clearance. Ugh! Another project on hold for now. We’re to the point where we think moving again might be easier than fixing this old thing.

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  4. Maybelline on October 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Remodeled my kitchen summer 2013. Love it. Home ownership is a constant remodeling/repairing/maintaining project.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  5. Misti on October 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Ugh, home renovations are a pain! They certainly do take a lot longer and usually do cost more than initially planned! I would loooooove to do our kitchen but that’s not in the cards for awhile.

    Reply to Misti's comment

  6. Sarah on October 13, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    This all sounds very familiar. I always say any small change in an old house is just like pulling the loose thread on a sweater.

    Reply to Sarah's comment

  7. PennyAshevilleNC on October 14, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Whoa! We need to vent our stove too. Keep putting it off, but your reasons for going ahead are compelling. Maybe we WILL get to is this winter.
    First up for us is building a murphy bed for our basement/guest space.

    Reply to PennyAshevilleNC's comment

  8. Victoria on October 14, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    We are having that same question/angst around here! Is this a “fixer-upper” or a “tearer-downer?”

    We haven’t decided yet, either, but we know we need a new roof, new kitchen floor & subfloor, etc. etc. etc…

    Reply to Victoria's comment

    • Susy on October 14, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      After finding wood boring insects we pretty realized it was a “tearer-downer”. After figuring up the cost of new windows, new insulation, new drywall, new doors, new roof, changed rooflines/floor plans…..

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. Chris on October 15, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    We’ve partly renovated an old house and built a new house too. Both can end up costing the same depending how much rennovating needs doing, or how much you have to borrow to build.

    The house you have is already on borrowed money. What renovating that old house means is, you’ve got a roof over your head and can tackle small projects as funds allow. What building new means is borrowing lots more money at one time, and having to change your lifestyle rather drastically to pay it off.

    Not having time now will mean having even less time later, the more money you have to borrow. That is what we discovered by building new. It gets the whole construction phase out of the way so we could get on with our lives, but it also meant we were locked into working set hours that could never really change for several decades.

    If both could end up costing you the same, how would you like to be able to pay it off?

    Small renovating projects can be put off if bills are clocking up one month, but a large mortgage to build an entirely new house cannot be put off. That’s what we learned from our experience.

    I would only build new again if we had land with no dwelling, and so it justifed the cost of building. If I already lived on site with an existing dwelling that was in reasonable shape, I’d opt for renovating. The meaning of a house has become what it enables me to do, not necessarily if its in perfect shape. Because I find they rarely are, even when you build! ;)

    Reply to Chris's comment

    • Susy on October 16, 2014 at 11:57 am

      Yes, those are the things we’ve been considering and we’ve been discussing our options and looking at budgets and funding. Thankfully we’ve been financially responsible for a long time, so we don’t really have a mortgage on this place. We can pretty much build new or renovate without incurring too much as far as interest charges are concerned. If we would want to borrow to construct quickly we could easily pay off the amount within a few years.

      Our biggest concern with remodeling our current home is the health problems we are both experiencing from what we think to be a mold issue. Foundation and drainage issue are probably causing this problem, as well as less than perfect construction that is allowing lots of moisture to get into the walls from pretty much everywhere. As we remodel we have found that essentially we would have to redo absolutely everything because too many shortcuts were taken in the construction of this current place. No doubt a few indoor air and mold tests will be the key that determines our final course of action.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Chris on October 17, 2014 at 12:17 am

        If its a mould issue, then that’s what will force a quick resolution. A healthy environment is paramount. :)

        to Chris's comment

  10. Jeannette on October 16, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    I recently spent the summer with family after selling our home and I believe they have mold issues. I’ve realized that I’m quite susceptible to mold so I know how it can wreak havoc on the body. Noone else seemed to be as bothered by it as me but then again I have Hashimotos so my immune system is sensitive. I hope you guys get it figured out…we’ve been looking for a homestead property and debating back and forth on building or buying existing. Due to my sensitivities I had to rule out older properties that looked like they may be problems and had to kiss my farmhouse dreams away. We’ve ended up with a 13 year old house but are still doing all the indoor air quality tests. I never want to feel as bad as I did because of mold!! I really hope you get it all sorted out..there’s no room to mess with ones’ health. If you discover mold you may want to look into supplementing and really making sure you’re immune system is up to the task of fighting off mold. It can create such an imbalance of good vs. bad bacteria/yeasts. While I was stuck in the moldy house my naturopath put me on ultra mfp…

    Reply to Jeannette's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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