Here's to 2010!

Well, a new year is upon us, and it wouldn't be a proper new year without some New Year's Resolutions. And we're talking some New Year's HOUSE Resolutions.

Here are our goals for 2010 (you know I love my lists and organizing)

1. Finish art room

We want to get this OUT OF THE WAY AND FINISHED. Nothing brings me more glee than having a project DONE..although having a space all my own for all my creative endeavors may actually beat that out...
2. Work on the garage

(picture from a photo class my last semester at Mills)

This includes completely fixing the structure (it had fallen off of its foundation and the concrete slab foundation has cracked in the back and falled a few inches below the front)

We'll also then get power to the garage as well. This probably should have been a bigger priority but Chris was AMAZING and let us work and complete (sooooon) the art room. Currently, whenever we have to use power tools we have to run an extension cord from the house all the way to the garage (and we use power tools A LOT)

Lastly we'll replace the leaking roof. Then all Picardy structures will be leak free!


The Kitchen

It still needs A LOT of work. After we got it functional, we sort of "forgot" about it. So, like the art room, it would be nice to check a completed room off the list, especially one that we started about a year ago

The Front Door Area

There's a rumor going around that we didn't have a front door for a few months....well, that's true. Whoops! Replacing the hollow-core front door with a PROPER front door took a little longer than we anticipated (okay a few months). I've gotten compliments from our neighbors on our front door and I'm not sure if they actually like it, or if they're just happy there isn't a piece of plywood up anymore. But, like the kitchen, once we had the front door up and functional we sort of forgot about finishing the drywall and the adjacent coat closet, so it's time to get that done

The Laundry Room

Not much really left here. Just some floor to lay, trim to install and paint, and closet to put the cleaning supplies in and some general clean-up

The Electrical

Chris has rewired almost the entire house, and it's still one of his favorite jobs. We've slowly gone through and replaced nearly all the old knob and tube, and it's time to finish that up

4. Get some HEAT in our house

As you may or may not know, our house gets a little cold, so we'll finally get some proper heat in the house! (no more SUPER layering to stay warm). We'll have to consult an architect during this process to figure out how probable a second floor addition is in the attic (LOTS of usable space, but is the house structurally sound for it, and where oh where would you put the stairs?) because we'll need to put in ducting and venting up there as well if we EVER do a second floor addition (that's like the 5-10 year plan....)

5. Bathroom REMODEL

We have 2 bathrooms, one is gutted with an old, HEAVY tub floating in the middle and the other works, but it's in the back of the house, and is pretty small and mold covered, so we'd REALLY LIKE to get the front bathroom completely done from start to finish!

6. Back joist rot

You may or may not have noticed this strange addition to the back of the house. Not only is it hideous, but it's also pretty unsafe. There's a decent amount of rot that needs to be replaced before we even THINK about tackling how to appropriately use the space (teeny mold bathroom and stinky "animal room" live in the addition)

7. Sewer lateral

When we moved in we knew that there was a bit of a clog somewhere in our pipes in the drive-way area, so during the same time as fixing the bathroom, we'll most likely address this as well

8. Landscape our front yard

(at least we took down this tree that was eating into our foundation and our neighbor's driveway)

The front of our house needs some help. It's got great curb appeal POTENTIAL, but is certainly not there yet. Namely it's the mint chocolate chip painting job the previous owners did that is holding some marvelous appeal up (who doesn't love a mint green house with brown trim?). And our gross, growing in patches grass certainly doesn't do anything to help the situation, so it may be time to rip out, plant, water, and grow a beautiful front yard

9. The Wish List

Maybe we could get around to some of these things.....

Repair the animal room

Structural issues, then the big question of "what the hell do we do with this room?"

Stucco the back of the house

So the addition looks more like the rest of the house and not a hideous red siding blob attached to the back of our house

Work on the TV room

Take down the popcorn, replace the window, clean and paint

Work on the nook

Replace the windows and clean and paint (further down the line we may rip out the ceiling and extend it all the way to the awesome redwood original framing at the tippy top of the house...maybe)

Work on the front room (also known as the game room)

Replace the windows (including the HUGE one at the front of the house), clean and paint, and find a ping pong table for our friend Mr. Trampoline

Address the termite situation

MINOR pressence of termites that should be kicked to the curb sooner rather than later before they do any real, serious damage.

Well, there you have it folks, our goals for 2010. We know sometimes work doesn't necessarily go according to plan, but we sincerely hope it at least stays close to it next year.

Here's to checking things off our lists! Have a happy and safe new year!


Happy Birthday Picardy

Our house is actually over 90 years old, but on this day last year we closed on our FIRST HOUSE! We've now been living on Picardy Drive for a year and we love love love it.

(online courtesy of pointnshoot )

Now for a trip down memory lane (which comes just in time because my fellow renovating chica over at DIY Diva just asked me about how we landed our sweet ass Picardy house :) ) It all started a little more than a year ago.....

Chris and I had batted around the idea of buying a house together for quite some time. Mostly the conversations went something like, "whenever we have a house...." It was something we aspired to, but not something we really thought we'd be able to do for a LONG time. Chris and I are both "working to live" not "living to work" types of people and would rather spend our time doing the things we really love than making oodles and oodles of money (although sometime it might be nice to find a way to merge the two...)

(can you get paid to take roadtrips? If you could, then we'd be RICH)

Then the summer rolled around. I was busy with my last year of school (6 yr plan, don't judge me! :) ) and Chris was busy with work, but we really started talking about ACTUALLY buying a house together. "We're WAY busy," we thought, but why not make our lives even MORE crazy? :) So we started looking around casually, first with the help of my brother who sent us some listings (he has his license, but is more of a developer and not an agent). We made HUNDREDS of dots on a map of Oakland of houses we'd seen and areas that we liked. We started talking about the idea with all of our sets of parents and everyone was extremely supportive and excited for us (afterall my parents built their first house with a one year old toddling around).

Then it came time to get a little serious. Chris' aunt referred us to an AMAZING agent, Jackie Care with Pacific Union (she is truly truly amazing and was SO supportive, informative and determined during our house hunting process) and we really started thinking that buying a house together could become a reality. My dad joined the hunt with us and was really helpful and informative and answered a lot of questions for us along the way.

Pretty soon we zeroed in on an area of Oakland that we liked, Maxwell Park. Jackie was really helpful in helping us find an area that we liked and found LOTS of great houses for us to look at. Chris and I knew from the outset that we absolutely wanted a fixer-upper. We didn't want to spend a lot of money for something we knew we could do better and for cheaper. Chris was interested in persuing construction as a career and my handy-woman skills get me by and I'm really interested in design, so a fixer was absolutely the way to go.

(good thing our kitchen doesn't look like this anymore)

We fell in love with our first house on Rawson Ave. and put in an offer with the help of my dad (we found out that in this economy getting a loan on a fixer was REALLY difficult). We found ourselves competing with another family and ended up losing out. I was devasted. I really liked the Rawson house and I vowed to not look anymore (Meryl...super emotional, making snap decisions, being a little dramatic...who would have thought?)

(I have no idea WHAT you're talking about)

But a couple days went by and my dad and Chris were busy one afternoon and Jackie had a great house she thought we should check out on Picardy Drive, so I went out after class to look at it with her. I fell in love. The street was amazing (all the houses look like little castles and are actually called Storybook Homes), the house was amazing (actually not really, but it had a LOT of potential), so I knew my dad and Chris had to come check it out. A few days later we all went out with Jackie to look at it again. It was an early October evening, still warm out, and kids from nearby houses were running around playing together. I LOVED the neighborhood (Chris likes to joke that it's, "Like 1960s America without the blatant racism," because all the kids play together, the neighbors talk and laugh together...it really has a great community vibe).

(it still makes me swoon a year later...even if it still needs a lot of work)

So we decided to put in an offer. But the house needed A LOT of work...A LOT. Nearly every single room in the house needed to be redone, and not cosmetically redone, but the plumbing and electrical throughtout the house needed to be replaced, dry rot needed to be addressed, a new roof was needed, a strange addition in the back needed to be properly supported, a few rooms would need to be completely gutted...the list went on. Jackie, Chris and my dad all warned me about how much work this house needed, but I was determined to own this little castle. So we put in an offer and waited...and waited...and waited.

(Chris on his hitchhiking trip when he was in college)

It tooks WEEKS to hear back from the bank (it was a foreclosure). Jackie was firm about a level we shouldn't go over to pay for the house because of the amount of work it needed and my dad, Chris and I all agreed that it was really only worth so much, so we had to be patient. About a month and a half after we put in our offer the bank FINALLY agreed to it. The house was OURS, almost. It had had a very recent in depth inspection, so we decided to close in a week as long as a structural engineer could come look at it and we could have a chimny inspection as well.

That week took FOREVER. I was so nervous and excited the whole time. But everything checked out marvelously (well, as marvelous as a fixer can. The good news was that the structural engineer said the foundation was great, which was our biggest concern). So, on December 30th, 2008 we closed on our house, and Picardy Drive was our NEW HOME!

(my what an inviting front door that is)

I fell in love with finding out everything I could about our happy looking home. I read books and articles about Storybook Homes and found out about the architects who made similar storybook streets in Berkeley, Alameda, and other areas of Oakland in the 1920s. I was ready to go. And so, without even owning the house for a week, our projects began. We started ripping down the kitchen, bought a washer and dryer (no quarters necessary!!!), purchased a new front door (because the foot too short hollow-core front door was NOT very exciting...see above photo), and began many other projects.

(breaking a big pane of glass is one of the more fun jobs)

Now that it's been a year I go back and forth about how much we've gotten done. Sometimes, I'm amazed with what we've done, and sometimes I think, where did all the time go because we didn't get anything done! It has really been a labor of love. Picardy has caused many tears, curse words, yelling, and uncontrolled frustration and anger. But it has also been absolutely amazing. Chris and I have learned so much about ourselves and each other and it has been a priceless experience to work together on such a rewarding project together day after day.

(I know, how cheesy is that?)
The process would not be possible without the love and support of our many friends and family members as well, and I am eternally greatful to them all. I started this blog as a way to vent my frustrations about the house and process everything that was going on with it. I thought if I wrote about it and explained it, it would be something fun to look at later, my friends and family could keep updated on what was going on with us (because we have no lives anymore and hardly ever do anything non house, work, or school related) and I might entertain a person or two along the way. So thank you to anyone who is reading this! Our first year as Picardy residents has been amazing, the work has been hard but worth it, and I hope that there is a person or two out there enjoying the process as much as we have!

Here's to a succesful second year!


Attempting to Clean the Attic

The process of getting the roof redone left a lot of debris in the attic

A couple days ago I attempted to clean it all up.

So Chris hauled the shop vac up and I tried to get my vacuum on

Not close and no cigar.

So then I went to retrieve the broom and tried to sweep it all up

This proved to be a successful method on all the flat surfaces

But what about ALL those pesky areas between the floor joists? I was left to TRY and sweep the area up (which was A LOT easier when I was sweeping over dry wall and not lathe and plaster)

And then go back and vacuum the piles up

(I PROBABLY should have used a mask)
3 1/2 hours and a LOT of coughing later and the attic is still a MESS. This will be a LONG process.


Happy Holidays! Now Back to Work

Chris and I were good worker bees over the Christmas holiday weekend. We worked the 24th and 26th, but DID take Christmas day off :) And thanks to our Christmas day movie marathon we only have 3 more movies to watch this year to reach 300

But, like the post said, now it's back to work

Chris finished priming and painting the windows and got the cut-ins done in the art room

He made some serious headway on the shelves for the pantry closet in the kitchen

And he scraped the paint off the glass of the art room back door

Yesterday and today he's been at the Alumni House working on their bathroom remodel. Wish he was here, but he's making extra money while the AH is closed over the holiday, so that's always exciting.

Over the last couple of days I've been working on my art room wall art. As you may remember I was thinking about doing a stencil on the walls. Well, that idea morphed into another. I've been borderline obsessed with the Oakland oak tree for the better part of a year (and have been wanting to do a related art project during said obsession).

(tree at City Hall)

(one of the city of Oakland logos)

So, I came up with the brilliant idea of painting a tree on my art room walls (at least I think it's brilliant). Later, I'll take the picture and canvas frames I hang up, spray paint them the colors of the flowers and leaves of my curtain fabric and hang them from the tree on the walls. I was VERY excited about this idea and was even more excited when it came time to start painting. So, over the last couple of days I drew out my plans for two trees on opposing walls and got to painting

Two coats and some fine tuning later and I was DONE

Now I can't WAIT to build my shelves, move in the furniture, start hanging some art work and get to arting! :)