Befores and Afters: House 2 is ready to sell, and we are ready to roll!

I wasn’t going to put all our home improvement photos on the blog because they don’t have anything to do with RV travel or living. But…

  1. I’m stinkin’ proud of what we did, even though I whined nearly constantly about having to do it, and
  2. It’s all part of Owning Less. Once this house is sold, we will own no property other than what we’re rolling around in, and both the BFT and The Toad are paid for.

(Confused about why we’re selling another house? That story is here, with a little more here, plus some NSFW ranting about it here.)

It took us

  • 7 weeks (out of a planned 4, and a hopeful 2)
  • more than 60 trips to big box and locally-owned home improvement/hardware stores
  • help from nearly a dozen friends who loaned us tools, garage space, sweat equity, and/or their grown sons who were eager to work for some summer cash (all three former Boy Scouts, and friends to our boys when we lived here)
  • around $10,000
  • and I don’t even know how many hours of our own labor. A million, maybe. We didn’t take many days off.

Witness the transformation of our 1912 Craftsman-style bungalow. She’s beautiful, and awaiting new owners to enjoy not just her charms, but also the best neighborhood we’ve ever lived in — and we’re a retired military family, so there’ve been lots.

Befores are on the left; afters on the right.

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She’s bigger than she looks from the street: four large bedrooms, giant eat-in kitchen, high ceilings, three full baths, 2237sf, detached garage

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The cedar shingles on the west side of the house looked like nothing so much as rotting, crooked teeth. We tore them all off, primed and installed new ones (about 2,000 — all by hand, but who’s counting?), then hired a house painter to paint all four sides plus all the ivory trim.

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Now to the back deck, where there were several rotting boards. I didn’t take truly corresponding photos, but these will give you an idea of the work we did. P.S. Prying up deck boards makes for an awesome core and upper body work-out — and I hope I never have to do it again.

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Lots of geometry involved in rebuilding the steps. I’m thankful Tim and our Eagle Scout helper did the math.

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And then a week later, we finally decided that leaving it with such obvious differences between new boards and old was probably not a good idea…

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… so we painted it.

The carriage doors on our garage showed significant wood rot and sagging. Rebuilt them both!

The carriage doors on our garage showed significant wood rot and sagging. Rebuilt them both!

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Inside of the garage: lots of mystery grime So we swept, vacuumed, degreased, scrubbed, primed, and painted.

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And it made a big, big difference!

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Here’s the front porch, which we’d last had refurbished in about 2008. It showed a lot of wear in the main traffic area to the front door…

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… and there were a few rotting boards that needed to be replaced. It was challenging because they’re made wider now, so Tim had to custom mill them using a friend’s table saw in order to get them to fit.

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Next stop: kitchen. The self-adhesive vinyl tiles we’d put down in 2009 didn’t hold up well. Many shrunk and separated at the seams, which then filled up with dirt.

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The new vinyl flooring snaps together and floats over the old surface, so there shouldn’t be as many issues with expanding or contracting. Helps to have a friend in the business! He told us what we needed to purchase for our particular situation, and then sent his team to install it. Bought them lunch, paid them for their labor, done!

So of course after we put in the new floor, we realized how awful the doors and molding look. Project creep: the struggle is real.

So of course after we put in the new floor, we realized how awful the door and molding looked.
Project creep: the struggle is real.

The only worker/contractor who didn't show up was the plaster repair guy. So Tim the tool man did it himself.

The only worker/contractor who didn’t show up was the plaster repair guy. So Tim the Tool Man did it himself.

Here we go again! Second -- and final -- house is now on the market. Come onnnnnn, buyers!

Here we go again! Second — and final — house is now on the market, a mere 3 months after we closed the sale on the first one.
Come onnnnnn, buyers!

Full list of what we did:

  • Replaced cedar shingles on west side of house
  • Had shingles painted on all 4 sides, plus trim, front porch, and front door
  • Refurbished back deck, front porch, and garage doors
  • Replaced rotting framing on 3 windows and above garage doors
  • Repainted garage interior, and several ceilings inside house
  • Had kitchen flooring replaced
  • Repaired HVAC disconnect switch
  • Refreshed mulch beds on 3 sides of house
  • Repaired cracks in plaster walls in living and dining rooms
  • Fixed like a hundred other pesky small things, like busted outlet covers, cabinet door hardware, window screens, etc., etc., etc.

Sacrifices to the cause:

  • 1 canopy
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of fitness capris
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 1 hoodie

Also, a bird pooped on me on Mother’s Day, and our dog died.

I could have done with a little. less. character building.

Interested in the house? Of course you are. At the very least, we know you want to see the asking price because everybody wants to know the asking price, so visit our real estate listing here. (The virtual tour wasn’t available as of this posting, so check back again soon if you want to see photos of the interior.)

Tomorrow, we roll. First stop: Northern Virginia for a few days, to visit with Air Force, Marine, and Navy friends from prior duty stations. After that, it’s westward ho, with a stop in Chicago on Friday to pick up our younger son for the remainder of our summer travels!

Other posts on this topic:

  1. How it all started
  2. Getting things started
  3. Bye, Lola.
  4. Coping Inappropriately

Owning less: shit’s about to get real

Y’all know we started looking at buying a new RV earlier this year (click to revisit our adventures at the Austin RV Expo, and at the Houston RV Show Day 1 & Day 2), which involved a lot of shopping and gazillions of questions, but then we got an offer on our Texas house, and pulled back a bit to deal with that.

After we closed on the sale early in March, we picked up the RV research again, narrowed our criteria, and got as far as visiting a local lot to take one more look at the top contender before pulling the trigger.

And then the tenants in our Virginia house let us know that they’ll be moving out this summer.

Oh.

Well that means…

… the time is right to sell that house too.

So now that Tim’s cleared his final surgical follow-up (that story’s here), and I’ve completed my semiannual obstacle course of mammogram-doctor-doctor-doctor to make quadruple-y sure that breast cancer is still staying away (which it is, and I’m good to go for another 6 months) we’re rolling out of here in the morning.

Sorry, Maps. Guess you haven't heard that Houston's under water, so we're not taking your preferred route.

Sorry, Maps. Guess you haven’t heard that Houston’s under water this week, so we’re not taking the southern route.

We expect to arrive in the Hampton Roads area on Sunday, with the intention of spending about a month on various fix-ups to prepare that house for Real Estate Show Time.

And that means we’re putting off the RV shopping. Again.

One house at a time, y’all.

One. House. At a time. 

1138 Manchester Avenue is a Craftsman style bungalow built in 1912. Four bedrooms, 3 full baths, detached garage, about 2400sf, great bones and lots of charm.

1138 Manchester Avenue in Norfolk is a Craftsman-style bungalow built in 1912.
It’s got 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, about 2400sf, a detached 1-car garage, great bones and lots of charm in highly desirable Larchmont, where neighbors become family from Day 1.

(If you or someone you know is into buying real estate before it hits the market, this would be a great time to open that discussion. Take a look at the house on Zillow or Trulia, and let’s talk.)

Other posts on this topic:

  1. Getting things started
  2. Bye, Lola.
  3. Coping Inappropriately
  4. Before & Afters

Whether it’s your ass or your RV: the weight of that thing behind you matters

You know how it is when you’ve put on a little weight. Jeans don’t fit, hips bump into things they didn’t necessarily hit before, things just feel bulgy, and you notice.

But you don’t get ticketed or fined.

Those of us who pull fifth wheels have to pay attention to a number known as our GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating): the maximum weight for the BFT and the Toad combined. That includes fuel, food and water stores, and we three sentient beings, in addition to all our belongings onboard, and of course the two vehicles themselves.

In most states, including the one in which we’re licensed, titled and registered, that magic number is 26,000 pounds. If you hit 26,001, that puts you in CDL (Commercial Drivers License) territory, and may subject you to the aforementioned consequences.

This is our most recent weight reading, from March 12. You can see we have no wiggle room here.

This is our most recent weight reading, from our March visit to Castroville.
You can see we have no wiggle room here.

In other words, even if we have the space for a new thing, we might not have the weight allowance, and that’s why it’s so important to keep up with our “new thing in, old thing out” method of owning less. And it’s why we request that if you must give us a gift, that you make it something consumable. Like wine. Or a box of tacos.

Item in: I found this book in the RV park library. I read it more than a decade ago, but I was so damn happy to find something other than the usual bodice-rippers and Reader's Digest condensed novels, that I brought it home.

Item in:
I found this book in the RV park library. I read it more than a decade ago, but I was so damn happy to find something other than the usual bodice-rippers and Reader’s Digest condensed novels, that I brought it home.

Items out: These two things went to the library.

Items out:
These two things then went to the library to make up for it.

That said, sometimes we are given an item so heartfelt and endearing that we must keep it, and adjust our accumulated possessions accordingly. Last weekend, we received our Christmas present from my nephew (long story involving a different auntie), and even though it weighs less than a pound, it prompted me into a highly productive and cathartic Flurry of Purging.

Item in: An adorable Airstream-esque bank, hand-painted by my nephew, Cole, at his mama's shop. We're using it for laundry quarters!

Item in:
An adorable Airstream-esque bank, hand-painted and personalized by my nephew, Cole, at his mama’s shop. We’re using it to store our laundry quarters!

Items out: Three bags of stuff we thought we'd use but haven't since we started full-timing in August. They're on their way to the nearest donation box.

Items out:
Three bags of stuff we thought we’d use, but haven’t, since we started full-timing in August. They’re on their way to the nearest donation box.

Item in: Sassy silver and purple ear cuff, the purchase of which supported a local artisan. There is no corresponding item out, but I've lost another pound this week, and that more than makes up for it!

Item in:
Sassy silver and purple ear cuff, the purchase of which supported a local starving artist here in San Antonio.

There is no corresponding item out, but I’ve lost another pound this week, and that more than makes up for it!