First Things First


After acquiring the property, we had three main objectives in the first few months.

1. Take measurements
2. Formulate a plan
3. Clean out

 In order to start planning for the renovation, we first took stock of what we had just purchased and took measurements.
Blaine noting dimensions of the existing rooms

Penciling down more room dimensions
Blaine’s notebook

In the process of taking dimensions and surveying, we found that the center of the house was sagging about 3 inches lower than the exterior walls of the house! Further evidence of this was seen on the french doors in the breakfast room. They had been cut at an angle at the bottom to accommodate the sagging floor.

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the french doors were about an inch shorter on one side than the other.
We explored the house from top to bottom and found non-functioning plumbing, atrocious wiring, and lots of spiderwebs. At this time we didn’t know that knob and tube wiring was running throughout most of the house.
Existing atrocious wiring
Lots of spiderwebs were in the basement
A quick look under the front porch revealed decades of untouched spiderwebs and moonshine apple juice jugs
Pondering what have we just bought!?

Despite the zeros stacking up quickly in our renovation budget spreadsheet, we also noted charming original touches such as functioning hot-water radiators, built-in cabinets with old wavy glass, solid wood doors and original molding, which were all things we would try to preserve and reuse.

Original hot water radiator in dining room

Corner cabinet and original laundry chute door shown on wall
Original wood trim

Next, we went through several iterations of the house design using a construction software. Our goal was to preserve the general layout and charm of the house, but update it with modern amenities and also plan for the long haul.

When I say plan for the long haul, for example, we designed the den so that it can easily transform into a bedroom when we’re older and can’t walk upstairs anymore.  We planned to add a shower to the downstairs bath for this reason also.
First floor plan
On the first floor, expanding the size of the kitchen will be the biggest change. The existing kitchen was galley style with a breakfast nook at the end of it. There was also a separate dining room.
The kitchen area will no doubt be the heart of our home, so we wanted to design it to be welcoming for guests with plenty of seating and lots of space for socializing.
The location of the dining room remains the same. The new kitchen will be L-shaped with seating at a center island, and it will also be open to the dining room.

Upstairs, the major change will be eliminating one of the four bedrooms to make a master en-suite bath and closet.

Second story plan

Simultaneously, as we were dreaming up the new house plan, the things in grandma’s house were removed by the help of her immediate family.

Her house was filled with antiques, furniture, books, moth balls :), etc.

We found groovy glasses and other things…

My sister helped sort through books

Once most of the stuff was moved out and we had space to work, Blaine and my dad addressed the sagging floor problem.



Jacking up floor from the basement
The floor had to be raised >3 inches in some places to level the house
A basement post lifted off the ground after jacking
Over 2 inches was added to this basement support column
Naturally, a result of jacking up the floor was that some of the old plaster on the walls upstairs started to bulge, crack, and crumble.


Plaster coming down in dining room area after leveling the house
 This started our transition into the demo phase.

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