Bye-bye contingency

You might think to yourself, “Self, we are gut renovating this house! All new electric, plumbing, insulation, HVAC–everything’s in the budget! That means that unlike on all those HGTV shows, there won’t be any surprises to wipe out our contingency, right?”

Wrong. Oh, how very wrong a person can be! You think you’re gut renovating your house, but as we are learning, there is always more to gut. #moretogut

First there were the floors. Grossly warped and uneven, they sagged so much in the middle of the house that you could roll a golf ball from one corner to the center. So naturally, one of the biggest priorities in the budget was “level the floors.” Now, “level the floors” in contractor speak means “level the existing floors, which we presume were once level but have, over the last 150 years, become un-level.” However, what our contractor discovered once he exposed the floor joists and framing was that these floors were very likely NEVER level (just poorly built), which meant that leveling them was not really…er, how you say…possible.

The only solution was to rip out all the old joists and rebuild both the first and second floor from scratch. Utterly brutal on the contingency, but these floors are going to be level as f*&k. Here are some pictures of the transformation (apologies for the poor lighting – we can mostly only go after work, when it’s dark):


One day we walked in the front door, and saw the basement.


And from the basement, we could see the front door!


Soon the new floors began to be installed.


And to hold up the second floor while allowing for an open concept first floor, this TOTALLY BADASS steel beam!!!


Once the (very level) subfloors were down, it was clear how un-levelly the house had been built.


But now it’s starting to feel like we’re getting somewhere! All the floors are level, the support columns are reinforced, and this house is going to be STRONG.


And upstairs, they’ve even started framing the walls for the bathroom, closet, and bedroom.

It’s incredible to see things coming together. And while I’m happy that the house is going to be so structurally sound, the steel beam, new floors, and all the other reinforcers and supports that we didn’t know we needed have eaten about 75% of our contingency. It’s pretty scary.

But to end on a high note, did you wonder what we did with all that amazing 150+ year-old wood? We kept it! Our woodworker took it and is going to make a few special things for us – I love the idea of putting the old house back in the new house.


He sanded the middle one to see what it looks like – isn’t that beautiful? It’s tight-grain pine.


2 thoughts on “Bye-bye contingency

  1. Becca says:

    Oh yes, that steel beam stays (it will be covered by the ceiling, of course). It is essentially the house’s backbone, and I firmly believe it will be there even after the human race is obliterated.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s