By the time we moved into Tett House – two months later than expected – a LOT of work had been done on the home. It was a mess; but it was also finally functional according to modern standards, and had been brought up to current safety and building codes.
When you move into an interesting and kind of spooky old house that needs renovating, people express a lot of curiosity. Friends and family want to “see what you’ve done to the place,” and it’s a little like being on one of those homeowner shows on HGTV. Everybody wants to see the big reveal. And I get it, because *I* want to see the big reveal! But there’s nothing aesthetically satisfying or dramatic about working on stuff like wiring and hot water tanks. There’s no “feel-good” moment after someone pours diesel down your well.
As a visual designer (Hearth & Gable Interiors), Tett House was going to be my pet project. I had big plans, and a big imagination… unfortunately, due to the clean-up and repair of our vandalized well, and then a costly septic issue, we weren’t exactly left with a big budget. I also didn’t anticipate the anxiety hangover I experienced following that stressful time. After all the major repairs and expenses, I’m not ashamed to say I took a good long break and focused on unpacking, one box at a time. It moved forward at a pace you might expect.
I’ve made peace with the fact that my decorating goals are going to take longer than I’d hoped to achieve. Like, it’s a year later, and I’m only just picking paint colours now. But for everyone who’s been curious to see “Before & After” shots… here they are. The un-sexiest (and most realistic) home renovation reveal ever!
Every room in the house had its walls and floors ripped open like this.
I had so many misgivings about a lighting fixture this size.
Check out that smokin’ hot new electrical panel. OK, maybe “smokin’ hot” isn’t the best way to describe updated writing, but you get where I’m going with this.
Every exterior wall was drilled with holes from the inside and filled with spray foam insulation. Then the holes had to be patched.
Two worlds collide: when foam insulation leaks out of your new exterior junction box.
We insulated the crawl space, too. I don’t remember how much we paid the contractor to go down there, but I feel like it wasn’t enough.
The old oil furnace had seen better days, although the tank was fairly new. We removed them both…
… and replaced them with a shiny new propane furnace with air conditioning. Those ducts are to die for.
Removing the oil tank created so much more living space!
Thanks to whomever vandalized our well, we also had to get a new hot water tank. Can you tell the difference? Neither can I. #everygirlsdream
FLOOR REPAIR: Before
OK, this was kind of a cool project. We had an old stovepipe hole that needed to be repaired. Not that looking down into the basement at our new furnace wasn’t an uplifting experience, we just didn’t want our son or our cat unexpectedly falling into a pit.
FLOOR REPAIR: After
Our carpenter was a magician who found old boards under the stairs and used them to patch the hole.
*Flooring Footnote: The hardwood throughout the house remains pretty raw. Although the original boards are strong and in good condition, the finish is in rough shape. Most of our floors look like this, or worse. Full disclosure: sometimes I’m into it, sometimes not.
WATER SYSTEM: Before
Somehow, we inherited the bad karma of the home’s former owners, and lonely and vulnerable, our water source was a target for the disenchanted.
WATER SYSTEM: After
This baby is on lock-down…
… and our water now comes from the lake, with an elaborate new filtration system, and I never, ever, ever want to talk about that experience ever again. (You can read about it here.)
BACKYARD & SEPTIC DRAIN-FIELD: Before
Our backyard is very simple – gently sloping grass, lots of trees, and one heck of a view. After moving in, one of the few things we were able to enjoy early on was this pretty little fire pit my husband built from a kit.
We spent quite a few afternoons and evenings enjoying a beverage or five with a beautiful sunset.
This year in early spring, sewage started flooding our backyard. We discovered the previous owners of the house had not adequately updated the septic system (nor gotten a permit for the existing tank) and our yard had to be excavated for a new drain field. These were good times.
Hooray! No more pee water in our backyard.
BACKYARD & SEPTIC DRAIN-FIELD: After
The yard has been re-graded nicely, but the newly seeded grass came back as mostly clover… Of the four-leaf variety, I’m hoping.
And this is our fire pit. It’s still dismantled and the grass unmown because my husband threw his back out, so back off, haters.
Well, there you have it: a series of the most uninspiring but absolutely necessary renovations you could ever expect to see. But, I will say this…
Our house is warm and dry in the winter, and cool on the hottest days of summer.
All lighting and appliances run safely on properly grounded outlets and junction boxes, and we have a generator for emergencies.
Our water is clean and safe to drink.
And boon of all boons, our backyard no longer smells like poop.
We’re still working hard to make Tett House our home. I’ve already established some cosy nooks and corners, going from this:
From the moment I saw it, I knew Tett House was my forever home. Every step we take is an adventure, and every new project, a gift.
We are grateful to the following local businesses and contractors for their tireless efforts and support. We truly had the best, kindest, and hardest working people on our team:
McNichols Electrical & Plumbing
Erica Grey (XCG Consulting Environmental Engineers)
Scott Blair & team (Scott Blair Contracting)
WC Gas Works
Comfort Zone Insulation
Thompson’s Septic & Gravel
(To start our story at the beginning, click here for Part 1.)