Upstairs Reconfiguration

The official "before" picture

***Day 1 – 12/12/2011***

Well, really, I guess Day 1 was back on October 31st when a trench the length of our backyard was dug out in order to bury the power lines. The next day, the electrician came by to set up the new power lines that would ultimately replace the overhead lines but the actual power company would have to be the one to “throw the switch”. Since the existing overhead lines ran directly across the southeast corner of the renovation zone, it was thought wise to wait until Excel could do their part. Fast forward to December 8th when Mike contacted our contractor yet again and didn’t waste time on being the nice guy. The next day, the contractor was at our house with a change of tune, now saying they could probably start the following Monday doing the flooring and framing even while still waiting on Excel. Fancy that.

With start date all of a sudden looming very close, we scrambled over the weekend to start clearing out the downstairs bathroom and kitchen, which we thought would have to be completely vacated and inaccessible for at least the first few weeks of construction. Part of the plans was to remove the existing roof and ceiling, lay down new joists, and ultimately raise the ceiling height downstairs. We had been dreading the thought of being without 30% of our downstairs living space , part of it including a very important part of our daily lives–the kitchen–but we know to keep our eye on the prize. We got as far as clearing out the laundry closet and the walk-in pantry over the weekend but on Monday I put pedal to the metal and continued packing up the rest of the bathroom and kitchen as well as setting up a makeshift kitchen in my office.

The "before" picture of the kitchen pantry wall

But wouldn’t you know it? In their destruction of the roof and analyzing the guts of it all, they came to the conclusion that it was no longer necessary to demolish the ceiling for their purposes but if WE still wanted that extra 3 inches of ceiling height downstairs, then they could continue with the plan. As I had spent most of the day in contraction-inducing moving and packing mode, I was tempted to say “just f***ing do it”, but then I came to my senses (and swallowed my pride). We went with the plan of leaving the ceiling intact, continue having full access to the kitchen and bathroom, save significant time and money off of the original construction plans, and overall, be on the better end of things. It really was quite a relief but I only say that now after the bitterness of undoing all of my work has dissipated. Pride is ugly, but waste is worse.

Take a good look now!


It's all coming down.

***Day 2 – 12/13/2011***

An exciting day. It started with a knock at the door at 7:30am from the Boulder Lumber company with a truck full of engineered wood that would become the very backbone of our master bedroom. Since snow still covers our entire front and backyard and a very large dumpster now resides in our driveway, pickings were slim as to where to unload all this lumber. That and our contractor was not due at the house until 8:00am so Mike had to get a little creative. I secretly think Mike still wants to be hired as part of the crew.

Got wood?

Today was a groundwork kind of day. The perimeter of our bedroom was done and concrete was poured under the foundation of the house. The remaining roof over the east-facing porch was torn down, surprising us with a lot more light in the kitchen. I’m sure other finer details were also done but they were unnoticed by my untrained eye. It did take a lot of sawing, banging, and nailing though!

The old roof joists exposed

Bye-bye roof

The Christmas lights I put up along the east-facing porch last week before Mike leaned on the contractor were unceremoniously taken down, along with the wreath I ungracefully wrestled into shape for an hour from the Christmas tree trimmings (I am apparently not as artsy-craftsy as I think I am). I suppose I should just put them up somewhere else but… eh–the moment has passed.

No more roof to hang Christmas lights on

***Day 3 – 12/14/2011***

The floor joists were installed and more foundation work continued.

New floor joists!

***Day 4 – 12/15/2011***
We now have a floor! Insulation was put in between the kitchen and the upstairs subfloor and the base of the master closet was framed out. The southern edge of the roof was shaved off in preparation for the ridge beam to be fitted. The house has never looked more streamlined. There is talk of “going vertical” tomorrow so we might see some walls go up!

West side of bedroom where the closet will be

***Day 5 – 12/16/2011***
Well, the floors are in so there’s nowhere to go but up!

South wall of the master bedroom


You won't have to use your imagination much longer!


Even the closet has walls


Another little development is that they cleared out a lot of their equipment and debris from the backyard so it’s looking a lot less like a war zone. Bonus!

***Day 6 – 12/17/2011***
Working hard and coming in on a Saturday! The ridge beam is in and the dormer is up. Plywood has already gone up on the west side of the house. Our next-door neighbors had an open house today so we took the opportunity to check out our house. Yep, this is going to be real good!

Our roof now has a backbone


The third dormer taking shape

***Day 7 – 12/19/2011***
It’s been snowing all day and the contractors were here working hard. I don’t even want to walk to my car in this. At least half the roof is covered with plywood now and they are getting ready to do the other half. I hear they want to be “dried in” tomorrow so we shall see.

Those white flecks would be snow. These guys worked in the cold and flurry/snowy weather all day.


Almost got it all covered!

***Day 8 – 12/20/2011***
The roof is on but they weren’t able to get it wrapped in a watertight seal today. We have another snowstorm coming in on Thursday (same day we travel east for Christmas…yay) so I’m sure they’re anxious to get it tight as a drum.

Just might get a roof on this thing yet!


Apparently, walls are extra.


Inside perspective

***Day 9 – 12/21/2011***
The walls still have not been sheeted but the windows have been framed out. Tar paper went up on the roof and in just the nick of time as the snow started to fall shortly after the contractors left for the day. Since the forecast calls for about 9 inches of snow and temperature highs in the low 20s by tomorrow, a lot of work will be done inside the house while we are gone for Christmas. When we get back, Maxon’s current room will be a bit smaller as we are taking some of his space for the hallway to the master bedroom. Our current bedroom will have a wall enclosing it in a proper bedroom (door and all!). Closets will be framed in both rooms. There is talk of a furnace being installed (not yet functional though). The kitchen will no longer have an awkwardly-placed walk-in pantry and a new pantry will be framed in the southeast corner. We have witnessed 9 working days of incredible progress and now we will be gone almost 11 days. We’ll be relying on any cell phone pics our contractor will be gracious enough to send us so hopefully that will be enough to satisfy our curiosity. We are going to come home to a totally different space when we get back!

***Days 10-17 – 12/22/2011 through 12/30/2011***
Since we were traveling for Christmas, I can’t really say what was done on which day, or even which days were really worked, but here’s a rundown of what we came home to on 1/1/2012:

Fully boarded up

– Dedicated furnace and HVAC for the second floor installed plus some new of the new ducting
– Preliminary framing of closets other bedrooms
– Rough cuts made in the ceiling in the kitchen, dining room, and Melanie’s office/guest room to drop ducts from upstairs HVAC
– A quarter-inch of concrete dust covering EVERYTHING in the house. (Using tarps, my third-trimester behind.)

New HVAC ducts

New hallway leading to new master bedroom

Other side of hallway looking towards front of house


What's left of the old master bedroom


No more nook and pantry. We've just doubled the size of the kitchen.

***Day 18 – 1/2/2012***
– The dining room is finally getting a light switch! The dining room chandelier has been on my hit list since day one but without a switch hooked up to it and no way to get behind the walls on our own, we were very limited to what we could buy to replace it. The replacement has already been purchased and is waiting patiently to be shown off.
– More HVAC ductwork run upstairs. The HVAC guy is not an early riser like the other guys and doesn’t seem to have the endurance either. Let’s just say I’m glad we’re not paying him by the hour.
– The usual framing guy is on a surprise trip to Hawaii. Back-up guy is a whiz on doing trimwork so the outside soffits have been finished off.
– Not to be outdone by the dining room chandelier, we also bought light fixtures for the kitchen. One to go over the new eating area and another to go over the sink.
– Electrician was also here but I can never tell what he’s actually done. Took him all day though!

***Day 19 – 1/3/2012***
A little bit quieter of a day. We got to plan out the lighting layout in our bedroom and where to put switches. It sounds like such a mundane task but it’s quite a responsibility to make sure you’re not screwing up something that should be basic and intuitive. The HVAC guy was the star and it looked like he got the major part of the ductwork connected. Our main contractor was a one-man show today and he finally tore down the old closet in what is now the hallway to our bedroom. It housed our steamer box for the shower so we’ll have to come up with something creative to hide just that part. The roofer also made a surprise appearance and managed to get 2/3 of the roof shingled.

My favorite part of the today is that the dumpster in our driveway has been hauled away. Woo hoo!

***Day 20 – 1/4/2012***
More electrical. More HVAC. More dust.

***Day 21 – 1/5/2012***
The roof is fully shingled!

***Day 21 – 1/6/2012***
Another quiet-ish day where we can’t tell what actually got done. The contractor took care of some odds and ends on the electrical side of things, like rerouting the wires in the old master bedroom to go from one switch to another and threading through new wires for the wall sconces in the new master. The bold exception that is plan to see is that our contractor installed the new chandelier in the dining room and the amazing thing is that it’s actually on a switch. No need for Melanie to stand on a chair to turn each individual bulb on and off!

***Day 22 – 1/9/2012***
Arch put in from bedroom to closet.

***Day 23 – 1/10/2012***
Pantry and eating area framed out. More electrical work and rough plumbing started for washer and dryer. I asked what the plan was for tomorrow since they were calling for snow and they confidently said “exterior work”. We’ll see about that.

***Day 24 – 1/11/2012***
Snow day. Guys hit the road not too long after showing up.

***Day 25 – 1/12/2012***
Sand-blasting the old tar line and old/new exposed brick. Wall shingles are starting to go up! Sounds like all rough inspections will be done on Tuesday and windows will be delivered on Wednesday.

***Day 26 – 1/13/2012***
More shingling. HVAC guy is hanging around. Brickwork patched up outside.

***Day 27 – 1/16/2012***
Pipes rerouted to lay flat against kitchen wall. New pipes for W/D hookup upstairs. HVAC completed to rough inspection.

***Day 28 – 1/17/2012***
All rough inspections done with some minor updates required. Ready to do insulation this week! Additional framing done in new bedroom hallway.

***Day 29 – 1/18/2012***
The big news is our bedroom windows and the sliding door were installed! Also, more fascia work was somehow completed in some nasty wind gusts so infamous around the Front Range.

What I haven't appreciated until now is that the scaffolding and those planks are what the contractors balance on while wielding power tools.


I don't even remember what our yard looked like before this abandoned-lot look.


Oh yeah.


Double oh yeah.

***Day 30 – 1/19/2012***
We are fully insulated! Inspection should be tomorrow and drywall is scheduled to start on Tuesday. I’m sure I’m naive for thinking this but it feels like the home stretch!

South wall of master bedroom


Doorway to the master closet on left and doorway to hallway on the right

***Day 31 – 1/20/2012***
Exterior shingling continued. I can’t remember for the life of me what else happened this day. This is what I get for letting a few days go by without an update!

***Day 32 – 1/23/2012***
Exterior shingling continued. Drywall was hung upstairs and I can’t believe what a dramatic visual difference it makes. It’s still a long way to go until the drywall is “done” though. Much, much more dirty and dusty work is in the near future.

Far end of master closet where washer/dryer will go


Master bedroom dormer


New hallway


What's left of our old "bedroom"

***Day 33 – 1/24/2012***
Not a sexy update kind of day. Exterior shingling continued. The second phase of drywall work started with the mudding. Messy work. The big news is that we have lights again in the kitchen! It’s not the final product but it beats cooking and eating by two flood lights and a bare-bulb lamp.

***Day 34 – 1/25/2012***
Exterior shingling continued. Round two of mudding and patching of the drywall.

***Day 35 – 1/26/2012***
Exterior shingling continued. Sanding and evening out of the drywall mud. Fun little bonus: the kitchen walls have been textured to match the existing walls!

***Day 36 – 1/27/2012***
A fast-moving snowstorm discouraged any more exterior shingling so the woodwork dude moved operations indoors and hung doors for the new bedrooms and installed baseboards in the hallway. Each day just gets better!

***Day 37 – 1/30/2012***
One-man show today. The east side of the master bedroom dormer got a little shingling love.

***Day 38 – 1/31/2012***
We have doors for the pantry! Well, sort of. The frame is in but the doors have been removed for staining, along with the new bedroom doors upstairs. Baseboards and the door trim in Maxon’s new bedroom and the master hallway have been completed with baseboards started in the master hallway. Two of the windows have also been trimmed in master bedroom.

***Day 39 – 2/1/2012***
Baseboards have been installed in the nursery and the remaining closet window and sliding doors were trimmed. Mike and I finally determined all the closet layouts for all the bedrooms, which is surprisingly harder than you think. But if there is one thing we’ve learned during both of these renovations, anything can be done… even if you have to redo it. The big thing today is that the old window has been officially removed from master hallway and the steps are coming soon!

Horsehair for insulation. Things just ain't the way they used to be in the 19th century.

The window has become a doorway.

This is actually a vast improvement of what our backyard used to be like.

***Day 40 – 2/2/2012***
Our closet design from yesterday is already paying off. Master closet more than halfway done!

***Day 41 – 2/6/2012***
Last Friday, was a big snow day (20+ inches!) so no one came in but they came to play today. The master closet has all its shelving and is ready for priming and painting. Additional trimwork was also done.

Master closet

***Day 42 – 2/7/2012***
We had fresh blood on the premises. The painters started priming the new drywall and caulking baseboards and trim but it won’t get exciting for a couple more days when the color starts going up. The kitchen pantry was trimmed and the shelves have been started. The downstairs bathroom now has a ventilation fan, much to the relief of anyone that has to use the facilities while anyone is in the kitchen. And speaking of the kitchen, the switches were finally installed for the light over the dining area and the ventilation fan… both of which don’t technically exist yet. I’m not sure what the details are yet but it sounds like a plan was formed regarding covering up cellar hatch to match the existing flooring while still maintaining a way to get down the hatch. I’ll leave the details to the construction people.

***Day 43 – 2/8/2012***
Pantry shelving is done! The new drywall priming is also done upstairs and the first coat of paint is up on some of the baseboards.

***Day 44 – 2/9/2012***
The nursery has been restored to its beautiful blue color. We went back and forth on whether or not to change the color of the room but at the end of the day, the color is still pretty new to us and didn’t seem worth the trouble to repaint it a different color just for the sake of being new. The master bedroom ceiling and closet were painted but not a really sexy change since primer and white ceiling paint are pretty similar. Master carpenter dude was relegated back to shingling.

***Day 45 – 2/10/2012***
The master bedroom is fully painted. Note to self: Always, always get a sample to put on the wall first. Quality satisfaction: beautiful work. Color satisfaction: to be determined.

***Day 46 – 2/11/2012***
Another working Saturday! Maxon’s new bedroom is mostly painted. We went out on a limb and went with a bold orange color that we are totally in love with. Painter guys apparently don’t believe in primer on walls that have already been painted and are in good condition but painting 5-6 coats is totally acceptable.

***Day 47 – 2/13/2012***
All shingling is done, much to the carpenter’s relief. That is some seriously tedious work. Not to mention this round had him hanging off the scaffolding perched atop of our snowy and icy side porch roof. The hardwood guy, yet another new player, evened out the flooring above the cellar hatch but the entire kitchen floor will be refinished and stained next week. The kitchen is finally getting a little priming love, which means Maxon’s days of painting on the walls are numbered. In other painting news, Maxon’s new bedroom and the new hallway is finishing but both still need the ceilings painted. We also now have some official outlets, switches, and light fixtures mounted upstairs although, like the kitchen, they don’t actually do anything quite yet.

***Day 48 – 2/14/2012***
After busting through Maxon’s old bedroom window to create our doorway, the old master bathroom shower window has been officially removed. Since construction started, we taped towels up to preserve what little privacy was left in the bathroom and without much ceremony, closed the book on it. Today it was framed, sheeted with plywood, and beadboard attached on the bedroom side, leaving a decent-sized shelf on both sides for, you know, all of our precious artwork (or more realistically, dust and drinking glasses). The bathroom side will be covered with new glass tile in the near future. In addition, the master closet now has closet rods and tile has been laid in the corner of the room for the washer and dryer. Tomorrow, the strength of men will be tested in hoisting the washer and dryer up the ladders to put them in their final resting place in the closet. Finally, the balcony floor has been framed so it’s not more even with the master bedroom floor. Downstairs, the kitchen pantry and trim have been painted but we are seasoned veterans so we anticipate a few more days of painting in there.

***Day 49 – 2/15/2012***
The big news today is that the washer and dryer made it upstairs! I opted to not be around for this little endeavor but when I got home from my OB appointment, everything was all said and done and no discernible injuries or dents to be found on the premises. Success! Since busting out the window and door in the brickwork, it left the opening quite jagged and unfinished so some love was applied to it today. Preliminary framing for the steps down in the master bedroom were also laid out. The gas line has been fed into the new furnace so we are just days away from relying on a single gas stove and individual wall heaters to battle the winter cold. Downstairs, the kitchen got another coat of paint. Getting closer!

***Day 50 – 2/16/2012***
The downstairs bathroom closet recently vacated by the washer and dryer has new flooring framed out to bring it level with the bathroom floor. More framing was also put in to enclose the water pipes and will eventually get drywalled. The cleaned-up brick got some new bricks patched in and new mortar applied. And finally, yet another round of touch-up painting both upstairs and downstairs. We might just get this place back in order yet!

***Day 51 – 2/17/2012***
What a BIG DAY! On the electrical part of the project, power has been connected to all the new outlets and switches. Faceplates have been officially mounted and lights installed in the kitchen eating area and closets. The washer and dryer are almost all hooked up. And as a bonus, the banister that has been broken for at least a year has been replaced and reattached, the large gap under the intake vent in living room has been patched with more pine and the new downstairs bath and kitchen vents have been installed. But the most dramatic difference is that the carpet has been installed in the master bedroom! Not only is this the finishing touch in the room, but it also marks the end of the construction zone look we’ve been rocking for 3 months. This is really happening!

***Day 52 – 2/18/2012***
We wrangled a bonus day out of John to finalize hooking up the washer/dryer. To commemorate the achievement, I washed the new bedsheets for the new king-sized bed we ordered! The furniture itself will be delivered tomorrow but I just can’t wait. The rest of today’s effort belongs to Mike and me. We officially moved our furniture and remaining belongings out of our old “master space” into the new master bedroom. I freed our closet shelves of brick dust and sawdust and Mike laid out the new padding and carpet in Maxon’s new room. Tonight will be our first night’s sleep in the new bedroom!

And to think this used to be the roof over the kitchen

A real walk-in closet! (Ignore the hose coming through the window--it's not staying)

We hope Maxon likes the color orange!

***Day 53 – 2/20/2012***
Today is Presidents Day so we didn’t expect to see anyone working but our contractor came by to haul away at least two truckbeds full of tools and equipment. We just might get our yard and carriage house space back yet!

***Day 54 – 2/21/2012***
The kitchen floor is getting refinished with the first two rounds of treatment happening today (last treatment tomorrow), which means our downstairs is in a bit of an upheaval for a couple of days while we are not allowed to walk on it for half a day after each treatment and no furniture for at least three days. Another fun little project: we now have modern, non-rattling doors for the new bedrooms!

***Day 55 – 2/24/2012***
After one quiet day, with the exception of the furnace guy stopping by to install […uh, something for the condensation], our contractor is back on site. We sketched out closet layouts for the boys’ rooms, discussed light fixtures for the master bedroom, and finally have a real handle on the sliding glass door. We also now have beautiful doors for the pantry!

***Day 56 – 2/25/2012***
In typical Guzek Renovation fashion, the birth day of a child is not complete without having something done at the house. While us Guzeks were busy at the hospital, our contractor was able to complete the steps in the master bedroom.

Stuff Left To Do:
– Refinish new/old wood flooring in master bedroom hallway
– Install light fixtures in master bedroom and outside
– Closet rods and shelves
– Drywall, shelving, and flooring in utility closet
– New tile work in master bathroom shower

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4 thoughts on “Upstairs Reconfiguration

  1. Pingback: Here We Go Again! « All Things Guzek

  2. Can you somehow inspire your MIL to make her lighting (and all other renovation) decisions in a similar quick and decisive manner? 🙂 🙂

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