Before, During & After - Attic, Gas Meter, HVAC, & Roof

I don't know about you, but I am a sucker for Before & After photos. It doesn't matter if it is weight loss, home remodeling, city infrastructure, painted toenails....I just love to compare before to after. If you add a little DURING in there for good measure, well you had me at "How'd you do that?!"

At the end of February, 2015 we downsized. We bought my Mother-In-Law's house from her at a time when she had moved to assisted living and the cost was quickly draining her assets. MIL and FIL were the first owners of the split level home that was built in 1967. Yes, that makes us owners number 2 (for those who are counting). Other than regular maintenance, replacement of the carpet once or twice, and adding a concrete driveway to the home, nothing else had been updated....NOTHING. Visiting the home through the early years of our marriage while the folks lived there, I could never imagine what could be done to the awkward-ass house. But guess what, we were going to have to put my thinking caps on, because there was no way I could live in the house as it was. Lucky for me, I had a very creative contractor, Sean Thornton, and he and his helper, Jason Shepard, were willing to take on the challenge. We had some rough pencil drawings, but basically, we built it all by ear.

We paid fair market for it, but her house was in need of a major overhaul. What started with a budget of $80,000, quickly grew to $130,000. Go big or go home. I'd love to tell you we installed top of the line everything, but we did not. Thank you to Ikea, Home Depot, Lowe's, and a lot of creative ingenuity we have been living in a home that is very nice.

As anyone who has remodeled a home will tell you, it ain't cheap. Buying a house, taking on a remodel of said house, and still owning the house you are leaving adds a special brand of stress. 2 mortgages and 1 HELOC (Home Equity Line Of Credit) is NOT recommended for even my worst enemy. In addition to the financial toll it took, it took a physical and emotional toll as well. I gained a good 20 pounds during the ordeal and it put our marriage to the test.

Remodeling is NOT for sissies.

All that being said, it is over 4 years behind us and we are still here. The big house finally sold and we have lived in the smaller house for long enough for it to need some sprucing up.

Time just flies by whether you are having fun or not.

Enough words, let's see some pictures!


Project 1 - February, 2015: Add REAL attic access in the second story hallway with pull-down stairs. Also add REAL attic access in the carport as well (not pictured). We had to do this first so that our chosen HVAC people (HIGHLY RECOMMEND ERIC AND HIS CREW) Total Comfort Systems

could more easily install the heaters. We installed our upstairs system in the upstairs attic (pictured) and our downstairs system in the closet in the carport.

A note about attic access: I guess folks in the 60's were smaller and more agile than folks of today. Why in the hell is attic access in mid-century homes SO difficult to maneuver? It is like it was an afterthought of the builder. And in this split-level to not have ANY attic access over the carport....makes no sense. But it does now!

Pictured L - R Top to Bottom: 1.) Blurry shot of previous attic access in the master bedroom closet, 2.) Additional shot of previous attic access located in a guest room closet, 3.) The new upstairs hallway attic access with pull down stairs (you can see our attic located heater and duct-work) 4.) Hallway attic access closed, as it is today.

Project 2 - March, 2015: Relocate a DANGEROUSLY placed gas meter. I'm not sure what the builder was thinking in 1967, but to place a gas meter against a house ON a driveway that has a steep drop off on one side and the house on the other side makes no freaking sense. Every time anyone drove into or out of the driveway they were just a slip of the steering wheel away from catastrophe! However, keeping said gas meter in that same place until 2015 makes even less sense. But I digress....and bitch.

Below, from left to right, top to bottom (pictures are copyright dated 2016, but they were taken March, 2015): 1.) The gas company employee who came out to inspect the oddly placed gas meter around the end of February 2015, 2.) The oddly placed gas meter in all its glory, 3) guys digging the hole, removing the gas meter, 4.) The posts were put there to protect it. You can see how many times they were hit, 5.) The beautiful hole and pipe, 6.) Getting ready for the pipe to meet the house, 7.) Close up of the pipe under the front walkway, 8.) The machinery had to dig a hole across the street (the neighbors love us), 9.) It took a hell of a lot of gas employees to pull this off. They had the street filled with their vehicles, 10.) The whole from the driveway, 11.) The finished gas meter relocation.

Project 3 - March, 2015: Remove the old big-ass hvac unit and replace with 2 (one for upstairs, one for downstairs) regular hvac units and relocate those to the side of the house.

The house before was equipped with a big-ass package/all-in-one hvac unit. That takes up too much space, is loud and just an eye sore in what would become our patio.

Below left to right, top to bottom (the images are copyright dated 2016, but were taken in early March 2015):

1.) The lovely eyesore big-ass package hvac unit, 2.) The removal of said big-ass package unit left what became the new crawlspace entrance, 3.) The pipes and wires in preparation for the relocation of the hvac service in the form of 2 units, 4.) The finished project.

Project 3 continued:

Now that you've seen the outside before, during, & after images of the great hvac replacement, let me share what it looked like inside the house. You see, we replaced all the duct-work in the house. We decided to go from floor vents with duct-work in the crawlspace, to ceiling vents with duct-work in the attic. Why? Because floor vents bug me.

Consider these floor vent cons:

1.) You are limited in furniture placement for fear of blocking a vent,

2.) They are hard to keep clean (try sweeping your kitchen floor and avoid the floor vents) which causes your air ducts to get dirty,

3.) They don't make sense with the distribution of air in a home if you follow the fact that heated air rises and cold air falls. Granted, in the winter months when the heat is in use the heated air will rise. This is the only time that floor vents make sense. Since I'm in Nashville, Tennessee, our coldest months don't last long. But keeping the house cool, being the hot-natured gal that I am, is the most important thing to me living in this hot and humid climate.

Although I live in Tennessee now, I grew up in Texas. Floor vents aren't common there. Ceiling vents are more common. But here in Tennessee, they love 'em some floor vents.

You will see what kind of destruction this causes. Of course, replacing the entire HVAC infrastructure should only be done when you are gutting a home. Also, BEFORE the new roof is done as well. The HVAC professionals will more than likely have to "get up in there" and possibly remove part of the roof structure to get proper placement of the unit and duct-work.

Changing the HVAC infrastructure of a home is not cheap. But we have lived here for 4 years now and I'm so glad we spent the extra money.

Pictures from L-R, T-B: 1.) This is the carport closet where the downstairs heater was placed. Here are the materials we housed until the job started, 2.) The downstairs entry coat closet before they put the hvac return in, 3.) During the installation in the downstairs entry coat closet, 4.) Upstairs master bedroom closet (which later became my bathroom...that will follow) where they ran hvac lines from the downstairs entry coat closet up into the attic, 5.) Our downstairs bathroom/laundry room became a crossroads of hvac piping from outside the house, 6.) This is a view of the inside downstairs basement-y bedroom where the exterior pipes and wires (see above grid)came through the wall into the house, 7.) Another shot of the pipes and wires going along the downstairs basement-y bedroom which then led again to the downstairs bathroom/laundry room, 8 & 9) Images of the attic hvac duct-work over the carport (notice the light...the decking was removed during roofing) and a shot of the duct-work through the attic with roof decking off the house.

Ugh...reliving this...oy!

Project 4 - End of March into Early April:

We completely re-roofed and re-decked the entire house. The decking the in-laws had installed when they replaced the roof was entirely insufficient in thickness. We learned that this split-level house was built according to codes of the day with 24" on center stud/truss spacing. Today, most residential properties are built 16" on center. What that means to folks remodeling old homes: be careful of weight distribution. In regard to roofing, the old decking, which is sufficient for 16" on center is 3/8" thick. As stated before, the house is 24"on center. This means that 3/8" thick roof decking makes for a "smooshy" (technical term) roof. We upgraded the decking and installed 3/4" OSB to make for a better roof and weight distribution for the roofing shingles. Do you, dear reader, really care about all of this? Probably not. But this post is to remind myself of all the crap I learned JUST by remodeling this old house.

By the way, if you need a roofer in Nashville, TN area, I highly recommend Mark Keefer Roofing. Fair price. Good work.

That is enough infrastructure before, during and afters. Stay tuned for more colorful BDA's.

That is all. Carry on.

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