The Wall is Down!

Since the load bearing wall removal is finally complete and now we’re just working on the furnishing and room design, I figured I’d do a post summarizing all of the posts and work we’ve done over the past few months. Plus, I like being organized and having things in one place, much to the annoyance of my husband, but who still reaps the benefits of this trait anyway.

We started with this mess of a never used room:

And are now here, to a beautiful, open, family room:

It’s definitely been one big labor of love!  The scouting and planning work went on for about 6 months (we had big decisions to make while taking care of a baby!) and then the actual work started in late April 2017, and became livable in July 2017.  The long timeline to this was mainly due to the fact that we are DIYers and did large portions of this project ourselves, while both having full time jobs, and a crazy toddler running around the house.  So while the length of time sounds crazy, it was what we could manage while also keeping our sanity.  I would go into budget details, but figured I won’t advertise to the world how much money we’ve spent these last few months.  If you’re really curious, whether because you’re a nosy person like me when it comes to these things, or just would like to plan your own project, send me a message and we can chat!

So below are all of the posts that we’ve done summarizing the work we have done to plan, design, select contractors, and execute our project.

1. The beginning!  Thoughts and planning:

This Old House

2. The work begins! HVAC design and selection:

This Wall is Coming Down! – HVAC Selection

3.  Choosing an HVAC Contractor and the installation:

This Wall is Coming Down! – HVAC Installation

4. Planning and designing the load bearing beam:

This Wall is Coming Down! – Engineers, Contractors, & Beams. Oh My!

5.  Demo of the old wall and installation of the new beam!

This Wall is Coming Down! – Demo & Installation

6. Some more details about HVAC, electrical, and drywall as the project went on.

This Wall is Coming Down! – HVAC, Electrical, & Drywall

7. DIY jobs like molding, recessed lighting, and painting.

This Wall is Coming Down! – Recessed Lighting, Molding, & Paint

8. Flooring – the final touch!

This Wall is Coming Down! – Flooring

9. The REVEAL!

This Wall is Coming Down! – The REVEAL

10. Planning out the design ideas (my favorite part!)

Family Room Design Ideas

So that’s it!  All about the our load bearing wall removal project!  It was quite a journey, but we’re happy to have it behind us.  I’ll be concentrating on furnishing and decorating it over the next few months, and maybe we’ll eventually get to those built ins too!  But for now, we’re enjoying our open family room, and can’t wait to have family and friends over to enjoy it!

If you have a friends or family planning on doing a project like this, feel free to send them this post as a resource!! We hope it helps out others so they may not have to go through all of the headaches we did!

This Wall is Coming Down! – Recessed Lighting, Molding, & Paint

For the last few details of the wall removal posts, we just wanted to go through some of the finishing touches on the room.  Starting with the electrical and recessed lighting:

The room is pretty large, and we knew it would be our main gathering area in the evenings after dinner.  It’s so large though, that for it to be properly lighted, we would have had to have way too many lamps, and I knew that just one ceiling light on each side wasn’t going to cut it.  We wanted some lighting that was soft (cue a dimmer!) but lit the area evenly and well, so we (I, haha) decided on recessed lighting. The rest is David’s department, so I’ll let him do the talking:

We didn’t realize how many decisions we had to make on the recessed lighting in the room. How many? What size? How far from each other? How far from the walls? How far from the beam? Should we treat the room as one huge room and space evenly, ignoring the beam? Or is it two separate rooms? It was a lot more difficult than we expected. There is so much conflicting advice online. One thing became pretty clear though, since the beam is not exactly in the center of the room, ignoring it to space the lights would have looked very strange. One row of lights would have been very close to the beam.

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This Wall is Coming Down! – Flooring

This would have been an easier job if I weren’t particular about our flooring.  There I go, making things difficult again. 🙂  The existing wood flooring in the formal living room area was still in pretty good condition, but my need for consistency won over the opportunity of reusing or refinishing.  The carpeted area in the family room was trash from the day we moved in.  It had a huge stain on it in the main walkway from the previous owners, and it was always embarrassing to have someone over and see them look at it.

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Family Room Design Ideas

I almost titled it “Living Room Design Ideas” but really, it’s a family room.  It’s going to be a place where David, Connor, the dogs, and I will spend a majority of our day while we’re at home (either that or the kitchen), but also where we welcome and have our friends and family congregate and enjoy each other’s company. It’s going to be ALL centered on the family in our home.

Last week we revealed the (almost) finished room HERE.

So before I get back into the not so exciting details about flooring and electrical, I figured I’d do a fun post of what I’m probably going to spend the next 2 months doing: designing and shopping! 🙂

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This Wall is Coming Down! – The REVEAL

Well, after about 3 months, we have a habitable room again… sans furniture!  Many months of planning and preparation allowed us to get here, and David and I trucking through the final touches after the contractors were finished have finally given us the big, beautiful room that we had always hoped and planned for when we bought this house.

Wanna see?

Here’s a reminder of what we were looking at before. From standing in the kitchen  we used to see this:

And now, we see this:

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A Growth Chart for our Growing Boy (and a discount code for you!)

I’d like to interrupt the “regularly” scheduled wall removal posts for a fun little DIY project. Don’t forget, there’s a special discount code for you readers at the bottom of this post!

We’re pretty close to being done the living room, but we need about 2 Connor-free days of work to finish the flooring.  I’d so much prefer to use a vacation day to get this done while Connor is at school so that we can enjoy our weekends together as a family.  Like this past weekend, we had 3 busy but fun filled days together going to the local coffee shop, hanging out at University of Delaware Alumni weekend, going to the farmer’s market and library, seeing good friends at a going away party (we’re going to miss you, Adam, Janet, Keira, and Cameron!), and a local town’s fun day out (Yorklyn Day).  We were thoroughly exhausted but wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

So before we can finish up the living room, I decided to try and finish up this small project over the weekend during one of Connor’s naps.  It’s been something that I’ve been trying to finish ever since Connor turned 1 year old back in February.  We were pretty religious about taking weekly (ugh!) and monthly progress pictures for him for his first year, but then decided to give ourselves a break after year one to just check in once in awhile. Man, was that a commitment.  But the output was priceless!  Here’s a glimpse:

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This Wall is Coming Down! – HVAC, Electrical, & Drywall

Hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Thank you to all of our armed forces who sacrificed their lives so that we can enjoy the freedom that we have today <3  I read something in the news last week about the National Moment of Remembrance that I probably should have know about before, but I hope everyone took a moment to think about the importance of this holiday.

What. A. Project.  The end is near, you guys!  Yet, not near enough.  Sorry for being so silent these past few weeks.  We’ve been posting over on our IG about some progress here and there, but life has just gotten in the way.  Surviving through the days lately has been our motto.

The good news!  The contractors are all done! (Well almost… apparently there is a rule that you must have a smoke detector in every bedroom before we’re allowed to close out our building permit, but eh, minor details.)  And now the rest is left up to us to finish.  So here, we’ll just detail out some of the rest of the things the contractors had to take care of before they handed it over to us.

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This Wall is Coming Down! – Demo & Installation

We recently covered the HVAC selection and install, and also the design of the beam. Now it’s time to get to the good stuff… demo & installation!

We were so excited for this day. DEMO DAY!  When we were planning this project back before Connor was born, we had originally planned to do all of this ourselves.  Taking a sledgehammer to some perfectly clean drywall?  Does it get any better than that?

Side note…Does anyone else like Brooklyn 99?  It’s one of our guilty pleasures. Demo is probably the most fun part of any project (with the exception of sitting down once you’re done and enjoying the finished product), so why would we pay someone to do it?

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This Wall Is Coming Down! – Engineers, Contractors and Beams. Oh My!

The HVAC Portion of getting this wall down was a large part of the project, but there was still a lot more planning that needed to go into it. It became obvious to us pretty quickly when getting quotes for the structural work that choosing a contractor was going to be hard. The quotes were all over the place, with the main difference being the size of the beam. We received quotes for everything from a 11 3/4″ x 5 1/4″ beam to a 18″ x 7″ beam to span our 21′ distance. So how do we know if a beam is big enough to support the weight or if one is overkill? How were the contractors coming up with the beam size? How can we choose a contractor when we don’t have a standard beam size?

To get the beam size, the contractors were going to suppliers and providing measurements and answering questions. The supplier would then tell them the size of the beam necessary. The main things that are important to calculate the load on the beam are the:

  • length of the beam
  • height and length of the floor joists the beam will support
  • number of floors above the beam
  • the type of attic (truss or stick framing)
  • many other factors

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This Wall is Coming Down! – HVAC Installation

Did you check out our previous post about how we got started on this wall removal and the HVAC issues we ran into?  If not, you can check out that post here.

After months of scoping out HVAC contractors, and working out the details on the job, we narrowed it down to two contractors.  We finally had two quotes and had to decide between the two.  Here was the situation:

Contractor 1 – Lower price.  Skeezy, not so knowledgeable salesman. National franchise. Daikin HVAC system.  12 year parts and labor warranty. Pneumatic Arzel dampers. Could do the job soon.

Contractor 2 – Higher price.  Very knowledgeable and friendly salesman. Small company. Trane HVAC system.  10 years parts and labor warranty. Electric Honeywell dampers. Could do the job soon.

See the issues?  Decisions, decisions.  As engineers, we care deeply about getting the technical details down before we make a decision, and if your company doesn’t have a knowledgeable salesperson employed, than we’re either not going to go with you, or we’re going to ask you to bring in the engineer/owner/designer of your company so we can ensure that we get good details about the quote.  With contractor 1, after the first meeting, we pretty much told them that the owner needed to be there at our meetings to answer our questions, because we couldn’t handle the sales guy. The sales guy knew about their HVAC systems, but didn’t know anything about re-routing duct-work, and that’s what we contacted them about in the first place. With contractor 2, we did most of our decision making with the sales guy and only brought in the owner when we needed to nail down some very specific details.

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