Sunday, March 25, 2012

State of the House Address 2012

So I know it's been awhile since my last post--please forgive me--and I don't even really have much of an excuse. I guess you could say I've just been living life. Suffice it to say I missed documenting  my 1 year "blogaversary" (oh the shame) and the 1 year anniversary of when I moved into my house. Oy vey! I am indeed the worst blogger ever.

So to make up for missing this auspicious time in (my) history I thought I would give an update on the state of my house. This time last year I had just finished painting inside and out, was finally clearing away all the boxes from the move-in, hanging pictures, patiently waiting for my new couch to arrive and preparing for my sister's baby shower. I had also bought a couple of new appliances (a sweet Kitchen Aid dishwasher and an over-the-oven-microwave), installed new gutters, and cleaned up my horrendous backyard. Looking back, I realize now that I did quite a bit up front. Unfortunately that meant I exhausted my "home improvement" budget pretty early on. Therefore, other than buying a lawnmower, adding some weather stripping to the doors and planting a couple of flowers here and there not much in the way of home improvements have really happened in the cottage over the last 6 months.

Thank goodness it's another year and with it comes some extra fun money in the form of a government tax return. Yay for owning a house and getting money back! After paying off a couple of credit cards (Macy's you are the devil) I have a small pot of money to put into completing some much-needed house projects. Number 1 on the list was adding some insulation to the attic. I've known since I moved in that this needed to be done (it was noted in my home inspection) but after a year of ridiculously high energy bills and what is looking to be the beginnings of a hot summer I figured I would go ahead and get 'er done. So, Erik and I made a trip to Home Depot today and picked up about 20 bags of cellulose insulation and were able to rent the blower to install the insulation ourselves for free. We decided to go with cellulose because it is a "greener" option (made of 85% recycled material) and it is more fire-retardant than fiberglass. We also learned that rodents don't like it as much as fiberglass so that's always a good thing.

It took us two trips to get all the equipment back to the house but the set-up was pretty easy and once we got started it went pretty quick (I would say we did all 20 bags in around 2 hours). The process is a 2 person job--Erik was up in the attic blowing  the insulation while I stayed outside and loaded the bundles of insulation into the machine. I have to say that both jobs were quite messy and if you are attempting to do this at home do not ignore the warnings to wear a mask and safety goggles. This stuff is dusty!

My job was to load these 20 bags into the machine (right) while
Erik blew it into the attic

The attic before

Another before. It is recommended here in GA
that you insulate to the R30 mark. As you can see
we were nowhere close with the current insulation.

This paper indicated the last time insulation was blown in was in 1999.
I'd say it was about time for the update.

The machine at work. I unwrapped each bale and broke it into big chunks
which the machine then broke up into smaller bits.

Very dusty job, but unlike fiberglass this doesn't irritate your skin.
I also found it smelled like old books.

The attic after 20 bags of insulation. We are now close to the R38 mark!

Another after shot. So much better!
As you can see from the before and afters there is a significant improvement. I can only hope we put enough down and that we start seeing some lower energy bills soon. Fingers crossed!

Next up on the to-do list (currently in progress actually) is re-grouting in the bathroom shower and gluing back some loose tiles. This is just a temporary fix until we can get together some kind of guesstimate as to the cost of re-tiling the shower and floor because in addition to the shoddy work the previous renovators did (we have discovered rotting boards and some other construction errors) there are several cracked tiles that just look like crap.
Erik working on the tile

Gross rotting wood that will need to be replaced when we re-tile

Luckily Erik is pretty experienced with laying tile so in the end we should be able to do the whole re-tile fairly cheaply. I just need to decide what I want to put in (be ready for some tile selection posts in the near future). Fun, fun, fun!

So those are the top 2 things on the priority list right now. Other things we would like to do in the near future include re-painting the exterior of the house (the guy who did it so I could get FHA approval did a complete shit job but I didn't really have a choice in picking who did the work), fixing some woodwork on the laundry addition, cleaning up the flower beds in the front yard and building some raised beds for the backyard. I would also really, really, REALLY, love to build a patio or deck in the backyard but limited pool of money=only the necessities right now. Boo.

We've had some squirrels scurrying up into the roof of our laundry addition
so we are going to have to remedy this situation. Luckily this portion is not attached
to the rest of the roof so as far as I know we don't have any critters there. 

Broken board under the bathroom window

Dry rot and crumbling drywall under the loose board. Gross. 

Obviously need to fix this. Who knows what happened.

Just a little something the painter left. Nice, huh?

Erik plans on redoing this section of the roof on the laundry addition.
It looks pretty rough.

More shoddy paint work. Le sigh.

Had to sneak a Lulu pic in here. She kept me company  while
we were trying to get the insulation done. 
She brought me lots of sticks.

And there you have it. The state of my house as of today, March 24, 2012. Here's to lower energy bills and a newly tiled bathroom! (I hope!)


  1. If the last installment of insulation was done in 1999, then it’s high time to have a new one. It can certainly be the answer to the soaring energy bills. Most importantly, it can help regulate the temperature so that you would no longer use an AC or heater frequently. And from the looks of it, you and Erik really did an impressive job! Well done!

    @Bea Litterer

  2. Thanks Bea! We have definitely noticed some improvement in our bills since we did the insulation.