Tuesday, December 13, 2016

DIY: Behind the Walls - Building an In-Law Apartment From Scratch

After the ceiling beam fiasco, we revisited our inspiration, reestablished our resolve, and refocused our efforts to get caught back up.  Getting electrical, plumbing, and HVAC installed and functional was our next objective because we knew they were the only things standing in the way of hanging sheetrock - and I could smell progress.
But, even with a renewed hope in completion, the "Behind the Walls" season of this renovation was dreadfully long and painfully costly. Emptying buckets of money between the wall studs, floor and ceiling joists, and pouring it down the crawlspace week after week really wore on both of us.

I think this phase was especially defeating for us because we had just completed an 18 month long money-bucket-emptying party on our side of the house (termite damage, new floor joists, insulation, updated plumbing, new kitchen...etc) and still didn't have any "after photos" to show for it (hopefully coming soon).  It really is amazing how much work goes on BEFORE the sheetrock actually goes up.  And by amazing...I mean exhausting.

 A peek behind the walls:
Red and blue money:
Square metal money:
Pink fluffy money:
More pink fluffy money:

  So, on our side we were are still living with bare drywall, trim-less windows, and sheets for doors - classy, I know.  But, in the East Wing we had to carry on. We couldn't stop for a season, wait until our nocturnal 5 month old decided to get with the program, or take some time to catch up with business orders.  We had to just keep moving forward.

And it was taking for...ev....er.

I'm the finish gal. I like to design the finishes, choose the finishes, apply the finishes, rearrange the finishes... and I wanted it all finished - yesterday.  Along with waves of impatience and frustration, there were waves of hope and encouragement.  I stopped daily to stare at my inspiration poster and thanked the Lord for the strength to endure.
As I write this out it it's starting to sound like all we did was stand around doubting ourselves, but that was surely not the case.  We worked. Really. Really. Hard.
I don't say that to toot my own horn. I say it for you...who put your blood, sweat, and tears (and money buckets) in to the work behind the walls - Only to have your friends and neighbors come over at completion and say, "That's a lovely paint color" or "The sofa goes nicely with the trim."

We can't hold it against them. They don't know any better. 

They weren't there when you were covered in filth, exhausted, and out of money, just longing to get to the point where there were walls you could paint with that  "lovely color".   They can't see the other 2/3 of the ice berg, lurking beneath the surface. 

But we can - because we've been there. 

And it was terrible.

But, we conquered it. 

So, here's to us! And to completed renovations everywhere!
Now, before I get to wild here, I have to admit that we're still cruising through the house renovation tunnel (chucking money out the window), but we can see the light! That light is the glow of a completed project, shining proudly and urging us to continue.
When we face this beat up old farmhouse and wonder what it will take to see our dream complete, we feel that glow and remember we made it through from start to finish.
 It was just one project - but it was a big one!
That apartment was truly built from scratch. I taped, mudded, and sanded every drywall seam that is now invisible to the naked eye. Mr. Steady ran every foot of plumbing line, joined every connection, and installed every valve that mysteriously allows for functional sinks, showers, and even a washing machine.

 And if we don't go back and revel in that, we will forget.  All that work is hidden behind the walls and if we can't tie the end to the beginning in hindsight, we will stay stuck in the middle of our current projects and lose hope.

So, even if your renovation was small - you finished it. Celebrate!

And, if you're not there yet, let us shine our celebratory light in your direction so you won't have to navigate in the dark!
 We looked to other DIYers, renovation blogs, forums, books, and even TV programs (Fixer Upper and This Old House are our favorites) to find tips, tricks, and ideas...but, mostly for encouragement.  To see that it could be done, it had been done, and we would soon join those courageous enough to face renovation - in victory!

So, this is our time now, to pay it forward.

Stepping off my soap box now...
We managed to save a few buckets of money by covering all the plumbing labor ourselves. What better way to test the accuracy of YouTube videos and blog tutorials, than trying it yourself.  Honestly, that is the only "training" Mr. Steady had - no joke!  Fortunately, he's kind of a freak...In a good way! He is a very quick learner and completely undaunted by the unfamiliar.

And when the real plumber came to run the gas line, he commented on what a nice job the "plumber" did.  *Swish!*

You probably noticed the Pex Plumbing Manifold in the photos above. I will write up a post just on that system for you and link it HERE when it is ready.  We were very happy with it and can't wait to share more with you about the installation process.

In contrast, the drain lines (4" PVC) were all run under the house. That meant we had to fit a round Mr. Steady in a square access hole - a tricky process.
And messy.
But, he did have help: 
Really, what good is a 7 year old in a construction zone if you can't send her halfway under the house to run pipe fittings to her Dad? Right?

 Overall, the behind the scenes work is a dirty, exhausting, mess of projects.  And I'm mighty glad to be on this side of the story. But, it's part of the journey, nonetheless.  And we are so grateful for the help, prayer, babysitting, meals, hugs, and encouragement we received that allowed us to forge through. Jehovah Jireh!
How did you get through your behind the scenes work?  Were you brave enough to take on a trade or wise enough to hire out? 
We'd love to hear your questions, thoughts, and comments!
From our home to yours,
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