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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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This Wall is Coming Down! – HVAC Selection

YOU GUYS, IT’S HAPPENING.  The wall is coming down!!

You may have seen our Instagram post last Friday about the new HVAC system getting installed! We’re going to be writing a series of posts as this project gets completed over the next few weeks, so enjoy the first one!

It’s been almost 2 years since we toured this home on our house hunting trip, and when we walked into the kitchen and saw the living room, we immediately knew… that wall would have to come down.  When we moved in 18 months ago, it was going to be our first big project on the house, with grand plans to get it out before Connor was born in February 2016 (well it was supposed to be March 2016, but he had other plans).

We talked all about our big plans in THIS POST with a new imagined layout.  Here’s a quick summary below.  We wanted to go from this:

To this:

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Shiplap vs. Nickel Gap: Making Your Budget Work For You

This is going to sound weird, but I’m just going to come out and say it; one of my favorite renovation projects so far was the powder room in our Charleston house. Really? A bathroom? And not even like a master bathroom with a waterfall shower and a huge tub? Yeah, really, just a powder room. And I can sum up why in one word: “shiplap.”

Actually it’s really two words: “Nickel Gap”. So what’s the difference, and why does it matter? Well, technically shiplap is a type of board with a rabbet joint which allows the boards to overlap. The bathroom above did not use real shiplap, but it essentially looks like it. Instead we used a method called “Nickel Gap” which is simply spacing the boards the width of a nickel. This method is more time consuming, but can be done for significantly cheaper and yields a similar result.

For the boards, we used 5mm plywood, which is about as thin as plywood comes. At about $13.50 for a 4’x8′ sheet, you can really make a room interesting for cheap.  We bought 5 sheets at Lowes and had them cut in-store to 6″ wide strips lengthwise. I think the guy who did the cutting probably still breaks out into a cold sweat when he hears “Customer assistance needed in the board cutting area… bing bong… board cutting area.” I don’t know if they have rules about a number of cuts they’ll make per board, but he did seven cuts for us. He cut all five of the boards stacked, which definitely saved time, though. I could have cut the strips with my table saw, but I never would have been able to cut them as straight and even as in the store.

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Dueling Desks… Part II

If you’re in the Delaware area, how about this snow today??  I stupidly posted about the snow last week on Instagram, hoping it was the last snow of the season.  ‘Tis not.  Hope everyone stays safe today!  And follow us on Instagram if you aren’t already 🙂

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Did you catch part I of our Dueling Desks discussion??  We talked about our history with home offices and what we were looking for in our forever home with our current job situations.

So after some searching for some good executive desks, I came across an email from Home Decorators Collection.  I still get emails from them, from that time when we bought this hamper and turned it into a trash/recycling system in our kitchen.

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Dueling Desks… Part I

So, what did you think of first when you read that title?  Harry Potter or Howl at the Moon?  I think your answer would probably tell me a lot about you. 🙂

How do you feel about home offices? I have a love/hate relationship with them.  They’re useful in being able to wrangle up a bunch of adulting things like bills and taxes, and give you a work space to take care of it all.  But, really, when it comes to actually working, I just like to leave work at work and not have to worry about the lines ever crossing.

In Maryland, we had an office with two desks that rarely got used.

David and I both worked jobs that allowed us to pretty easily leave work at work, so we didn’t really have much use for it.

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Nerding out about Pantry Organization

We have this hallway/laundry room/pantry off of the kitchen area which was in dire need of some organization. I talked a little about it in this post, including how we don’t know what the long term plan is for it.  To give you a bit of a refresher, here is a zoomed in part of the floor plan that shows what I’m talking about.

The “closet” shown is just a bump-out in this hallway, as it is a closet for the guest bedroom.  The washer and dryer sit next to it, and there’s a little (big?) hidden gem on the opposite side of wall behind two swinging doors, as seen below.

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Connor’s Birth Story

Connor is 1 year old today. I can’t believe it. I just can’t get over the fact that he didn’t exist before that, because it’s so hard to imagine life without him now. He has brought so much joy and a brand new meaning to our lives. It was a year of ups and downs and constant learning from triumphs and mistakes, but that’s parenthood, right?

So, I figured today, on his birthday, I’d share his birth story.  Partly because I’ve been wanting to write it for so long, and this has forced me to. But also, because I absolutely love hearing and reading other’s birth stories (what mom doesn’t??)  I want to be able to remember all of the details about that amazing moment that he entered this world and became our amazingly handsome and precious son.  I wanted to get David to participate in this too, so a la “The Magnolia Story” style (it’s a cute little book, I totally recommend), if you see anything written in italics, that’s David talking.

I bought her that book as a Christmas stocking stuffer, so in a way this was my awesome idea.

So if you’re not interested in a super personal story, I don’t advise you to read on.  I wanted to share it because I think it could be enjoyable and educational for other mamas.  And because at Connor’s one year birthday, and the rest of my life,  I can relive that experience through this story.

I’m not sure she really wants to relive ALL of it…

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