DIY Revolution: Step One – Tackle the Upstairs

We closed in September 2012 on a house that we could not live in safely.  We needed to move towards livability ASAP, so we could put our other house on the market.  Two mortgage payments was not something we wanted to tackle long term. But where do we begin?

The decision was made to complete the upstairs, so that we could move in.  The plan was to live primarily upstairs, while we continued working on the rest of the house.  Step one on a project like this one, DEMOLITION!  We started taking it all down.  It was a family affair and EVERYTHING needed to go.

We are incredibly blessed with an amazingly supportive and helpful family. So many people stepped up and helped us with our massive project. We will forever be grateful for all their input and hard labor. As demolition progressed, we knew we needed some form of organization, so that everyone knew what was going on.  People were coming and going at all hours of the day and night. We were rarely all at the house at the same time to discuss the day’s agenda.  The following list became our project map.


If you completed a task, cross it off the list.  Realized we need supplies, write them on the list.  Came up with a new idea, write it on the list. I loved this list! (Which is why I took a picture and documented it for all eternity.)

Shaun, being a Master Electrician, started with rewiring the upstairs.  No old cloth wiring for us.  We hired a friend of ours to put in the new heating and cooling.  Goodbye boiler and radiators. Taking out the radiators meant there was lots of drywall work to be done. We replaced all the windows.  We moved from room to room, project to project.  We worked every day at an insane pace.

Doing a project of this size with children is a whole separate animal on its own.  Sometimes we had a babysitter. Most of the time the kiddos were with us and we just made it work. It is amazing what you can accomplish if you are determined.

We tried to make the most economical choices, without compromising on the final product.  We decided on hardwood floors for upstairs.  Our first instinct was to buy unfinished and do the whole process from start to finish.  After a significant amount of research and trips to Home Depot and Lowes, we found that installing pre-finished hardwood was the best plan.  I was not involved on this project because the kiddos could not be around all the noise.  We played outside while a crew of my amazing family members went through and installed hardwood through the entire second floor.  We were getting closer to moving in with every passing day.

I would like to remind you how the upstairs looked when we started.  In case you missed it.

The completion is quite a transformation.

On my birthday, December 20th, 2012, we slept in our new home for the first time.  The upstairs was done and we were going to make this work as we continued on our journey.  It was a haphazard move to say the least.  I am thankful for every person who packed and moved boxes. I am thankful for every person who loaded and moved furniture.  My mom described the arrival at our new destination as the circus coming to town.  Who knows what our new neighbors thought.  Here are a few pictures from our first night.

More DIY stories to come in a few weeks!


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