Monday, October 3, 2011


Today our HVAC contractors began installing the furnace and a/c unit!  They should finish with the ductwork tomorrow.

We ended up going with a Carrier Infinity 96% efficient furnace (so tiny - like 1/2 the size of our awesome 50's model)

and Carrier 17 SEER A/C (holy cow that's big!  We're planning to put a deck on the back of the house, so we werent' too concerned with placement at this point - it'll have to be moved eventually). 

We also added a whole-house air cleaner (HEPA) by Aprilaire.  Since the house was not built with A/C, they needed to add a couple of cold air return vents on the 2nd floor, as well as a couple of new supply registers.

My mother in law was wearing gloves in the house today, so I'm glad this is getting done!  Apparently not a moment too soon.
The electricians start next week!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quotable Quotes

First of all, the few commenters were right about the electric. BUT, that's because it turns out that even though the knob and tube is only on 4 circuits, it's wired to almost every light fixture and outlet in the house. How is that even possible? Who knows. But we do need to make the house safe, so we'll probably move forward with the rewiring. It will encompass the basement, first, and second floors (minus the kitchen, since we'll be gutting that next spring if all goes according to plan).

So far we've gotten 3 quotes (waiting on 2 more) that range from $7,500 - $13,000. Yikes. Just a leeeetle over our $3,000 off-the-cuff estimate.

On the bright side, the heating and air conditioning should come well within our estimate. So far our prices have ranged from about $6,000-$8,500 for similar systems (from what I can tell). None of them will be able to heat/cool the 3rd floor efficiently, so we'll have to decide whether to live with the baseboard heat and window a/c up there, or to put in a ductless heating and air unit for the 3rd floor. I suppose it depends how much that'd run us! One HVAC installer quoted $3,300 for that, which seems excessive. If we can keep it closer to $1,500 I think we'd go for it.

I'm hoping that we'll have all of the quotes in by the end of this week and decisions made next week. Then it'll be moving on to refinishing the floors...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Finding Contractors

I joined Angie's List today - hopefully it'll be worth the $23 for the year. I think so. There seems to be a lack of info on Pittsburgh businesses. In Atlanta, Kudzu was a pretty good option for us.

I used a coupon code from to get 40% off! I am always up for a deal.

I spent naptime looking for hvac and electrician recommendations. Time to get cracking on this stuff!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Step 1: Pre-move checklist

Over the last week, we've hammered out what we'll be tackling pre-move. It's not much in terms of dealing with things from far away - just expensive! I expect these will cost $12-15k total.

Heating & Plumbing
  • Our inspectors found a gas leak in the gas... thingy. So that needs to be fixed. We'll ask them to do that when they
  • Install a new furnace. We'll get a few different quotes, but if anyone has information on great furnaces, please leave a comment!
  • Heat and cold air return registers - currently these are in the floor on the 1st floor, with only one GIANT gaping register for cold air return. We'd like to move these into the baseboard, and add cold air returns so we can patch up the floors and make the areas more useable.
  • Add central air conditioning to the house
Electrical Updates
  • Replace the old knob and tube wiring with updated stuff. If need be, we might update to a 200 amp service, but I'm hoping we can make due with what we have. We'll see what the electrician says. Hopefully this won't cost too much, but we're budgeting $2k to be safe
Refinish Hardwoods
  • This is going to include patching the floors where we move the heat registers. It won't include the kitchen - I'm not sure if there is hardwood under the linoleum in there. We'll deal with that when we renovate the kitchen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I'm having some trouble with my template, so I'm just testing things out here. Carry on.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Home of Our Own

We closed on a house this morning, up in Pittsburgh! We'll be moving after the baby arrives - in mid-November. We're very excited about the house and being closer to family.

The house is a bit of a fixer, and we have BIG plans for it. But we're not planning to do much with it until we've lived there for a bit, so we can get a feel for what will work best for us. I'm sure my home blog will be getting some action in the coming months, so go ahead and add it to your RSS feed if you are interested in keeping up with our renovations!

American Four Square, Built in 1924. Brick with a slate roof.

Entrywy - original door, mouldings, and stairs

Living Room - Original windows, light fixture (I think), and decorative (for now) fireplace with built-in shelves. And POCKET DOORS!!!

Dining Room - Original plaster walls, mouldings, side windows. The back window was replaced with a giant vinyl monstrosity. I envision French doors going out to a deck in its place.
1950's retro kitchen, complete with pink speckled laminate countertops, pull-out stove, and probably the first ever dishwasher (also in pink). I see a gut reno in our very near future!

Up to the 2nd floor:
Bedroom #1 - will probably start as a guest room,
turn into a nursery, and then back to a guest room.

Bedroom #2 - Joseph's room, and hopefully someday Baby Girl will join him
for several years when they are both sleeping through the night.
The Bathroom. Yep, there's only one... for now. Do you love the sage green and pink?
Even on the ceiling? I thougt you would. The tub and toilet are still pink. Whee!

Bedroom #3 - The Master. I hope it'll fit the king sized bed that I have planned for in my head since I was pregnant with Joseph. There are hardwoods under the carpet.

Bedroom #4 - AKA the future master bath. Ooooh, yeah, baby.
And up to the third floor (yup!). I envision it starting out as a family room - housing my craft stuff, the office stuff, and probably our lone TV. We think it'll morph into a bedroom for one (or both) of the kids in future years once we finish the basement.

Up the stairs...

Nice storage closet on the landing!
The back side of the room from the stairs

And the front side. It's very bright up there from those windows,
and two huge ones over the stairs.

And down to the basement

Towards the front of the house... our realtor thinks this was the "original summer kitchen"

Storage Room #1 under the front porch

Storage Room #2 under the porch - I wonder where that door came from... hmm.
The future family room... tall celiings, relatively dry and open. I'm in love.

The "Pittsburgh Potty". For some reason the 'burgh thinks they have the monopoly on these things. We had one in our old house in MN (built in the 1890's. We called it the "emergency bathroom". Haha.
And finally, the exterior:

The front porch - beautiful beadboard ceiling, and they already have the hooks in place for my imaginary porch swing. Yahoo!

The parking pad... we are hoping against hope that there is enough side yard to put a one-car garage in next to the house. Envision that bottom glass block window as the door to the garage. Cross your fingers.

The back yard... South-East facing, bright, relatively large, and mostly flat.
It's a freaking miracle in Pittsburgh.

The back porch. More awesome beadboard. This could become part of the kitchen (enclosed) or just get connected to the future deck. Not sure yet. Either way I'd like to spiffy up the part underneath and make it look less... yucky.

So there you have it - our new house! Hope you enjoyed the tour.