Category Archives: reconstruction

the basement story

so good news. the basement is no longer the source of my anxiety. tho there is still quite a bit that needs to get done down there – for now it’s livable. which means all of the crap that was upstairs/in the future nursery is now down stairs. yippee!! and since i was too full of anxiety to blog about the basement reno’s as we went, i’ll tell the story of the basement retrospectively. here goes:

once upon a time we were looking for a house to buy. part of our criteria was a great basement space that we could one day finish into livable space. we found that in bungalowhutch.

here’s what she looked like in her glory ardie days…

the view from the bottom of the stairs

looking back towards the stairs

and here's what she looked like after we demo'd most of the basement and primarily used it for storage this past year.


then came the start of the remodel as we tore up the old concrete floors.

just in time to update the plumbing and re-route a few lines.

so we could lay some nice, new, and level floors

next we updated all the havac (putting it up in the rafters) and added air conditioning (after last year's summer - one of the most exciting parts of the project!)

next came the framing and all new electrical (this is the view looking back towards the stairs - the bedroom is in the back right corner and the bathroom in front of it. the laundry in the back left with utility and storage closet along the left wall and the rest is open space.)

and added a new egress window into the bedroom

drywall (took FOREVER) but eventually went up!

the whole basement got a nice shade of dolphin gray sprayed on it.

floors were installed!

along with doors and trim

same view from the bottom of the stairs (as the first picture) in her "finished enough" state

looking back towards the stairs

living/office area

the end. (for now.)

so there you have the quick and dirty version of what’s been going on in the basement for the last eight weeks. i’m sure it would have been much more entertaining if i had kept up with the blog and shared the funnies as we went along, but alas, the picture recap will have to do. we still have a million and one things to do down there, the biggest being the bathroom. but, since all i care about is being able to move our junk back down there to free of the soon to be nursery that was causing anxiety attacks, i’m happy as a clam.

stay tuned for my next post where i’ll debate the chinese nail lady’s thoughts v. the chinese gender chart when it comes to the gender of the passenger…


the real deal – home renovation tips from my favorite experts

so we have these good friends. we’ll call them maggie & john (’cause that’s their names). and they’re the real deal when it comes to home renovations. in fact – we probably wouldn’t have gone the whole home renovating route if it hadn’t been for seeing their amazing work over the last few years on various homes in the area.

maggie & john’s most recent project is incredible. they bought a beautiful old home in west wash park. and it required a LOT of vision and even more work. i’m not sure i could have ever gotten past the hot pink walls with shiny black trim, the mounds of junk treasure they inherited due to the owner being a certified hoarder, or the fact that the only bathroom in the house had a message from the owner written all over the wall that said, “this room requires a large wrecking ball and an even larger bank account.” she was insane, but right. i suggest you read more about the hoarder and their incredible transformation over at HousetoHome.

so – seeing as they are the most expert home renovators i know. i asked maggie to share some of what they’ve learned along the way. thanks maggie!!

When my dear friend asked me to do a guest post on home renovation, I wasn’t really sure what to say.  I’m certainly no Mike Holmes (though my husband, John, seems to have a lot in common with him).  Then I remembered home renovation has more or less been my life for the past 5 years.  While that certainly doesn’t make me an expert, I can probably impart a few thoughts on what we’ve learned along the way.  So here are my slightly-better-than-amateur opinions on what I think you should know before you take the plunge into the wonderful world of home renovation.

Know Your Budget…and Finances

The absolute first thing you should do is figure out what you can get a loan for.  Banks are no longer handing out loans like candy to kids in adorable Halloween costumes.  Interest-only loans are now a thing of the past, conventional loans require more money down, FHA loans are going to require an insane amount of documentation (and many trips to a fax machine) as well as an increased amount of fees to pay, and extra scrutiny is placed on  anything and everything you never thought mattered.  In fact, scrutiny is the only guarantee in the lending world today.  On that note, it’s important to think not only about where your down payment will come from, but also how renovation costs will be covered.  The rules around things like home equity lines and rehab loans have changed, so do your research before committing to a purchase.

Most people diving into home ownership know that budget is important, and have likely devised one.  But to expand on what you have already thought about, I suggest making a detailed, line item budget.  How much do cabinets cost?  Light fixtures?  Plumbing parts?  Hourly rates for an electrician?  Drywall?  Do your research, and talk to someone more ingrained in the industry if needed.  This is the number one reason I married someone who works in the construction industry…I mean, what’s more appealing than someone who can quote you the per unit cost of bathroom fan varieties?  So yes…devise an accurate budget, and then multiply it by 1.5.  Chances are that’s what you’re going to wind up spending.  Those Home Depot trips add up, you know.  Set your budget, and stick to it.

Know What You Want

It sounds logical, right?  Maybe, but diving into the world of home ownership, and particularly old-home ownership, can be overwhelming.  First ask yourself what type of old home you want to buy.  A cosmetic flip?  A full-on gut job?  Somewhere in between?  The level of effort and cost involved in flipping a house can vary drastically, so think about what level of effort and dollars you’re comfortable with and focus on those types of houses in your search.  Also?  The more extensive the renovation, the longer it will likely be until you can move in, so plan accordingly.

Next, think about the neighborhood you prefer.  Even the goombahs on Property Virgins know this, because it’s important.  What are the “up and coming” neighborhoods in your area that you can get in for cheap today, and sell for a nice profit tomorrow?  What neighborhoods are most conducive to your lifestyle?  Quiet and family-oriented, or walking distance to all the hotspots?  You know what you want.  But be flexible – sometimes that gem of a house may be in a neighborhood you initially wouldn’t have considered.  Or the style of house you thought you couldn’t live without (i.e., bungalow, Four Square, row home) might not exist in the right neighborhood.  It’s all about trade-offs.

Once you’ve figured out these details, re-visit your budget and ask yourself if what you want aligns with what you have to spend.  Renovating a home is fun at any budget, so it’s ok, and likely necessary, to shift some of your priorities – think of it as an iterative process in order to get the most of what you want for the price you can afford.

Know What You’re Capable Of

Once you’ve narrowed down the type of house you want, it’s time to be honest with yourself and identify what you really know about home renovation.  Chances are, you’re not an expert.  That’s ok, as long as you have a plan for those areas you may not be as knowledgeable about.  Here’s where I must dust off the old soap box and address the DIY vs. Contracting Out debate.  In this era of DIY home blog overload, so many people have become obsessed with DIY-everything.  This is great, in a way.  It has made people more resourceful, and often more budget-conscious.  But sometimes it’s better, and more sanity preserving, to hire the expert to frame out your walls or to just buy that charming little vanity at Lowe’s rather than lose your mind (and spend more money in the process) trying to re-create the overpriced vanity of your dreams you saw at Pottery Barn.  Not that I would know anything about that …The point is: before you sign that contract on the home in need of major renovations, know what you can tackle yourself and then identify what will need to be contracted out.  Or purchased, for that matter.  Remember, renovating is not as easy as TV and blogland make it out to be, so do your research and devise a game plan.  As my wise father always says: “Proper planning prevents piss poor performance!”

a vanity from lowe's - not everything has to be diy!

Know What You Can Commit To

Home renovation is time consuming.  I would go so far as to say home renovation is a lifestyle of sorts.  Ski season (or the like) may suffer.  Should you choose to dive into this world, know that you have a lot of late nights and exhaustion filled days ahead of you.  Instead of going to the new restaurant in town with friends or cajoling in the mountains all weekend, you’ll be high fiving your husband over things like drywall installation on a Saturday night.  Again, not that I would know that first hand or anything…

Tearing down walls and installing a new kitchen doesn’t happen at HGTV speed.  Like a budget, you can pretty much multiply the time you think a task will take by 1.5 or 2 to get the true time commitment. Think about the other commitments you currently have in your life, and ask yourself where your home will fall on the priority level.  If it’s not in the top 3 for at least the timeframe in which the bulk of renovations will take place, you may want to consider looking at turnkey homes.

Also know that you will likely hit a period of time known affectionately as the renovating slump.  You’ll get to a point where your home is finally livable, so it’s easy to put off the 23902 important, but not crucial, things still on the to-do list.  This is when you have to find ways to keep the enthusiasm going.  Set daily and weekly house project goals, but balance them with the occasional lazy night or weekend mountain adventure (assuming you live in Denver, of course) as a reward.  Try to do something every day, no matter how minimal, just to keep the momentum going.  It also helps to have a partner (personal or business) to challenge you.   Finally, complete as much as possible early on, and before you actually move in.  It’s not easy, but knowing about this inevitable slump and the tips that have helped us will hopefully make it easier to overcome.

Know (or learn) Patience

Ahh, patience.  Such a virtue, yes?  And one that I have struggled with all my life.  However, renovating 3 homes in the past 5 years with my husband has taught me a thing or two about patience.  Such as, learning to live in a construction zone (you think you’ve seen dust – try again).  Or, spending days on end desperately trying to remove 5 layers of wallpaper that had seemingly been super glued together.  Or, spending hours with a hand sander on paint covered stairs, only to produce barely detectable progress.  Or, attempting to repair 100+ year old trim through endless rounds of wood glue patching, sanding, and painting.

repairing 100+yr old trim? not fun, but definitely worth it

Again, nothing takes as long as you originally planned; typically things take twice as long.

This is why patience is crucial.  You learn to embrace dust, and maybe the Shop Vac.  You accept that nothing happens overnight, and as corny as it sounds: home renovation is a journey.  You can’t just snap your fingers and have a picture perfect home overnight.

Instead, you celebrate the small victories.  Like actually having a counter to set the Coleman stove on so you can cook Easy Mac, even if it means you still don’t have, um, normal appliances.  Or having a functioning bathroom sink upstairs in which to wash those Easy Mac dishes, because the kitchen sink still hasn’t arrived.  Or appreciating that while you may have successfully salvaged 120 year old trim, pieces of it will remain unpainted for months.  It’s ok; as hard as it is for the perfectionist in me to admit.  You have to give yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished, not beat yourself up for what you have left to accomplish.  Know patience, and you’ll know that someday your home will be “perfect” (qualifier: you will never not have a to-do list, though).

our makeshift kitchen while we patiently awaited the real thing.

I commend anyone that pursues the home renovation route.  For someone who has a soft spot for old homes, I love hearing about other people that preserve a little piece of history.  As overwhelming as it can be, if you go in prepared, it’ll be one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever done.  So, go forth and renovate!  And start a blog, so I can follow your adventure.

Bonus tip: Know the location of your local Home Depot.  Or Lowe’s.  Or whatever your home improvement store of choice is.  Regardless of the brand, you’re going to be spending a lot more time there, and driving to and from there, so location, as always, is key.  Trust me on this one.

thanks again maggie!  don’t forget to check out their amazing before and afters over at HousetoHome.

exhausting day of work

yesterday was a long, hard, grueling day of work. (for mr.hutch and his mom. i was hard at work on other things.* oopsies.) and their efforts paid off my friends.

i actually have mixed feelings about writing this post. i am not the most humble of humans and i don’t like when other people get to say, “i told you so.” tho i’m very excited about the work done today, if i write about it, the tilemaster (aka my dad) will be able to say those very words. and that is very unexciting.

i suppose i’ll suffer for all you faithful readers.

so. since we moved in, something that has been driving me absolutely BONKERS (poor mr. hutch) is all the freaking dust. EVERYWHERE people. partly due to the fact that we just moved in on top of the construction zone (i wouldn’t recommend that), but also due to the dungeon.

and by dungeon i mean the basement of bungalowhutch (not the place i use to make out with boys in h.s.) in case you forgot, it was “finished” when we moved in. wanting to capitalize on the demo stage of the remodel, we ripped it all up knowing someday we would remodel down there. the space became a giant pile of dust just that continually floated upstairs to haunt me on my pretty new cabinets, appliances, floors, clothes, toothbrush, you name it!! think plaster, cement, dirt, and nastiness. YUCK!

the dungeon, pre-dungeon.

when the tilemaster was out here at the beginning of january. he looked at me and firmly said, “you have got to get this basement cleaned up before you move in or everything is going to be constantly covered in dust and you are going to be miserable.” he said it one hundred times to be exact. it actually reminded me of how this whole mess started bungalowhutch came to be, when mr. hutch said 100 times, “don’t buy a house while i’m gone.”

and just like that time – this time, i didn’t listen. and i’ve been miserable living in dust since.

(there. i said it. you can say “i told you so.”)

the dungeon as of 10a in the morning.

look at that nastiness just crumbling off the walls. yuck!

hello dust piles making my life miserable. you are about to be annihalated.

so… i’ve been living in miserable dust…until the greatest day of bungalowhutch – the day the basement didn’t give me an anxiety attack when i walked down there!! my m-i-l & mr.hutch worked their hineys off ALL day today cleaning up the dungeon and making it into a usable dust free zone (where we can do laundry and it won’t get dirty upon simply removing it from the dryer).  this is such a blessing to bungalowhutch and tho it’s probably boring to you, it is SO exciting to me! yahoooo!!!


tada! basement as of 10p!!

dust free and dust proof!

just for my slower readers….i’m really really really excited about this. so thank you mr. hutch & holly!

now it’s time to shop for a washer and dryer – what should we get!?!?!!?!?!!



*i was hard at work working on the blog. duh.

effects of turning the dungeon into a shiny sparkly basement? or the effects of having a luny wife...

effects of seeing shiny sparkly basement? or being a luny wife...

i’m in love and other random thoughts on a friday

i am absolutely in love with our new house. renovation after move-in is so much more fun than before move-in. sometimes i like to just sit and stare at the kitchen. (if you come over and find me in that state, please don’t bother me, i’ll be done in a minute.) i just keep thinking over and over again how glad i am we chose to do the whole renovating thing i bought a house that needed a lot of work while mr. hutch was out of the country despite my whining along the way. now the house is EXACTLY how i want it. no boring builder boringness.


i'm almost as in love with the house as i am with this man.

mr. hutch’s mom’s flight got cancelled (don’t worry, she comes today!) so we had an impromptu dinner party with terrell (mr. hutch’s “little brother”). i cooked in my kitchen and it was orgasmic (can i say that or will you stop reading?). and terrell was the best first person to have over for dinner ’cause he kept gushing about how great everything was.


first cooked dinner at bungalowhutch. milestones baby.


remember when i held that painting party and we were going to get all the painting done? most of the walls still look like this.


"this is the new look." just practicing if we in fact never finish painting...

sorry to confuse you dad.

my dad messaged me yesterday after reading the blog.  he was so confused about what was happening to that back wall in the kitchen. i explained it’s about what was not happening – finishing the painting. i really only wanted to get paint on the walls to see what all the colors looked like. the fun part. apparently you’re supposed to edge first, but that isn’t fun, so i didn’t do it. anyways – with mr. hutch’s mom in town this weekend, i’m thinking we’ll finish up that painting party. and if it doesn’t happen this weekend – i’m just going to tell people it’s the new look. so don’t ask about it when you come over. deal?


also – you should know oscar is loving his new home and neighborhood. in fact, i just found him half way down the street making friends! (oops, left the gate open. don’t tell mr. hutch). here he is enjoying the yard:


oscar the construction mop - i found a screw matted in his hair the other day.

oh and finally. i created a belt with a holster so i can carry this around with me.


hello friend, i'm not even sure how well you dust, but you smell so good!

we moved in without actually clearing the dust away from all the construction and surprisingly everything is still covered in dust. so my new strategy is to have this on hand at all times (again, don’t be alarmed if you come over and i’m wearing this on my hip). and just so you know – this stuff smells soooo good and i love all things smelly.


i guess the moral of the story is i’m strange, don’t be alarmed when you come over, and happy friday! if you don’t live in denver, you probably should. it’s 60 degrees today!

mysterious men in the night

so. we’re definitely over the deconstruction of the house and super excited about the reconstruction of it. we took down a lot of walls as you may or may not have noticed. then we made their insides pretty with some new electrical stuff and some shiny new plumbing. and now it’s time to put the walls back up! in the house renovating world, this is known as hanging drywall. there, you learned something.

so we toyed with the idea of doing this ourselves. i said, “we need to do this ourselves so i can blog about it.” he said, “you can’t quit your day job to blog we don’t know how to drywall.” way to rain on this blog’s parade mr. hutch! after bickering for awhile about trying to learn how to do it v. pay someone to do it, we decided to go with the latter. turns out you don’t just literally hang up the drywall. go figure.  you have to mask, prime, tape, mud and know how to walk on those metal stilts to reach the ceiling. it was this last skill i wasn’t sure if we could master. better leave that to the pros.

so we made some calls. and the next thing you know, we had walls! just like that.

i like to think of the drywallers as mysterious men that came in the night. mostly because i’m weird, but also because they were like ghosts. we never saw them, never met them, we have no idea who they are. all we know is we told them where we lived, we hid a key, and now we have walls. (i just had a weird thought – what if they hid stuff in our walls before they hung the drywall….it makes me want to rip them down and find out. like i said, weird.)

i’m really bummed we never saw them. i was really enjoying getting to know the people acutally doing all the work our helpers like alex & robert. but what really bummed me out was something else. one day i went to the house (they were about half way done yet no where to be found) and there were those metal stilt things i was telling you about taunting me in our living room. boy would i have liked to see someone wearing those (again with the weird!) but alas, our mysterious drywallers never gave me the privilege. btw it took a lot of self control to not try on the stilts myself! clearly i’m maturing after my lack of self control with the christmas card incident.

so without further ado – check out our new walls!

let's refresh our memory - before the mysterious men of the night came

and just like that - we had walls

check out the new ceiling!! i can only imagine the talent on stilts that must have taken

a non pink wall in the bathroom - talk about progress

omg – i’m a horrible wife and blogger. i forgot to tell you that tho we hired the mysterious men for the drywall. my man with the help of a great friend (thanks andrew!!)  did the hardibacker in the tub surround (the word hardibacker makes me giggle. anyone else immature like that?) anyways. not really sure what the stuff is, but according to the picture i took of his handy work, it is a wet area cement board that has a superior moisture and mold protection. i like to think of it as drywall for the bathtub. anyway. he worked hard. real hard (while i watched hulu) and did this! go teamhutch mr. hutch go!

hardibacker - hehe.

tile wars next people…