Memphis Renovation – 3 Months In

We’ve been living in this renovation for three months.  We have never lived through the building of a new house, but this is our second time living through a significant remodel, and the first time that we have remained living in the house that is being remodeled during the execution of the project.

How has it been?  Demo was jarringly noisy and dirty.  Our bedroom is on the second floor and we kept the door closed to keep out as much dust as possible.  Who knows what was flying through the air at that time; we stayed mostly outside.  We did clean the floors and dust one time after demo started, since then we’ve pretty much given up and accept that we live in a dusty mess.

We spend almost all our time during the day, when we are home, on the side porch under fans.  Actually, we spend the evenings there too, until the bugs drive us inside, and it should be known that we spray for every bug known to mankind, and still they drive us inside.  It is now summer in Memphis and it is hot and it is humid.  As long as the temperatures are in the low 90’s, we can bear it.  An occasional dip in the pool and the side porch becomes almost comfortable with fan moved air on our wet suits (or clothes – I have many times gone into the pool fully clothed!).  When the temperature exceeds 95 the heat index approaches 110, it is unbearable. One afternoon we did retire to our bedroom, where we could sit on the bed under the fan and though the upper floor air conditioner cannot optimally cool since the lower level air is dismantled and the hot air just rises to the upper floors, it works well enough to make things bearable.  We stayed up there long enough to find a movie theater where the air was working beautifully.  Movies are cheap in Memphis. The last time we went (to escape the heat) was a Saturday night at 7:00 pm and it cost a total of $7. We did see a movie that had been out a while, so maybe that had something to do with it.

We have no kitchen. We have no running water on our main floor.  We have our Berkey water filter and we carry water down from our master bath claw foot tub in a pitcher to fill the Berkey; that provides us with drinking water and water for coffee. We do have a toaster oven that works like a dream, but it puts out heat, and we do not want to add any heat to the inside of the house.  We did bring the toaster oven outside on the porch and used it twice out there, but at this point in our first Memphis summer, we do not want to add any heat to the porch where we spend most of our time. Before it became summer, several late afternoons we walked to Kroger’s salad bar and came home with dinner. It is way too hot to walk there now, and it is way too hot to get into the oven that is our car for such a short trip.  Our daughter, son-in-law, and two grandbabies come over for dinner once or twice a week and we barbeque on those nights. Well, Hubby does the cooking on the barbeque; it is way too hot for me to even think about it.  Bottom line, we eat out.  We eat out a lot.  We eat out so often that I’m weary of eating out, and that’s saying something.  The idea of having a nice clean kitchen, with a sink where I can wash vegetables, fruit, and dishes, almost makes me salivate.

We do work.  Our work is mostly cleaning our AirBnB listings and doing laundry.  Did I mention that our laundry facilities are dismantled?  Before the remodel started, we kept our washer and dryer going nearly full time, nearly every day.  With the launch of the remodel, we shut down two of our listings – the two bedrooms in our main house.  However, we continue to rent the Pool House and our little 2 bedroom/1 bath Bungalow.  That means cleaning and laundry.  Our days are scheduled by the amount of cleaning we need to do.  A busy day means starting our work by 11 and ending by 1:30 to 2:00.  Then, there is laundry.  Usually twice a week we make a trip to the laundromat, spend 2 hours or so and come home with lots of clean laundry.  This is what our car looked like as we arrived home with clean laundry today:


Lest you are not duly impressed, that is 6 sets of king sheets and 2 sets of queen sheets (all with double flats), a boat load of towels, our own laundry and our own bedding.  We took over all but one of the laundromat’s oversized washers and 16 of their 20 dryers.  The washing takes less than 30 minutes, and the drying takes at most 30 minutes.  The rest of the time is spent folding it all.  Then it has to be packed out into the car and up into the house in the heat – Hubby does all of the packing and I put it away.  Today a man wandered into the laundromat and Hubby noticed he looked very sick and so engaged him in conversation.  Soon thereafter the fellow fell to the floor.  Hubby hollered for the laundromat attendant to call 9-1-1 and then proceeded to talk to the fallen man until help arrived.  In addition to getting all our laundry done, Hubby may have saved a life.  All in a day’s work in Memphis.

The days when the workers, any workers, show up to do anything, are good days.  On those days, we remain content that we are comfortable enough; we are coping just fine.  The frustrating days are those when no one shows up to work.  Sometimes that happens several days in a row.  Those days we sit out on the side porch, and our half demolished grand old house sits silent, a dusty hot mess.  We think we get about half time work.  Days will go by with no one here, then we raise a stink and the next few days we will have workers here crawling all over each other.  It is the nature of this beast.  There is a lot of work, our contractor has a lot of jobs, and not enough workers.  That said, three months have passed and a significant amount of work has been done.

The structural work entailed new footings in the basement (which involved re-routing sewer lines), and beams in the basement and in the new living area and that is complete. b kitchen beans

The uneven floors have been addressed:  they raised the center of the house as much as they could from the basement, they stripped the floor down to the stringers and using a laser leveled the floors as best they could, and we have a new subfloor that is pretty darn level compared to what we started with.b kitchen from fam room  This view is from the family room with the fireplace on the left and the wall that still has teal paint on it will become our kitchen. The painted window will become the window over the kitchen sink and the other window on that wall will be behind cabinetry.  Through the framing on the right, we can see into the space that will become the pantry and beyond that, the space that will become the half bath.  So, the new space is defined; we can walk in the space and see what it will be.b from island  The above view is from what will be our kitchen island into the new family room. The new walls are mostly framed in.  The electrical is cleaned up and all the exposed knob and tube has been replaced and the work has passed rough-in inspection. The plumbing has passed rough-in inspection.  The natural gas lines, just minutes ago, failed their rough-in inspection.  HVAC work to get the first floor air working (all new ducting, new floor vents, new return) was to start today – it did not.  New windows might be going in this week.  Operative word:  might.

We know that we have original hardwood floors in the front part of the first floor – the part that remains mostly unaffected by the remodel. b orig hardwood Our contractor will test the original floor so they can match it for the new floor to be laced in and to cover the renovated space.  It is one of the main things we plan that will tie the new space into the old space.

The big news is we ordered cabinets last week!  For the first time, that enables us to have some expectation of end dates.  Cabinets should be installed by the end of August. Two weeks after that, island stone top and counter top material should be installed.  Two weeks after that, the project should be complete.  That means we move back in at the end of September.  It’s still a long time out, but we are happy to have a date to hang on to.

2 thoughts on “Memphis Renovation – 3 Months In

  1. Hi Debbie – I enjoy reading about your remodel and move. Such an adventure. I don’t think you’ll regret it. I used to live in Kentucky and I remember that heat! And the hot car! Wish you all the best.

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