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  • Writer's pictureChristine Shuck

Big Movement!

Updated: May 3

We have had our ups and downs, especially with Covid, and it slowed our progress and savings rate significantly on getting started with Cottage East. That said, we finally had the funds to pay for the demo, porch rebuilds, and more this year.

Concrete Front Steps

But let's start with a great big improvement we made last fall to Cottage East, replacing the front steps.

The old steps were not easy to use. One measured six inches, another seven, another nine, and the top one - nearly 12 inches in height! Just walking up and down them was difficult, and I knew we needed to level things out. One of our neighbors works in concrete and we asked him to pour the new stairs. He did this in, what, October 2022? I think that's right. In any case, they look great!

Yard Work

During the past two weeks, I've also been working on the backyard of Cottage East. Overgrown, filled with weeds, rubble from earlier demo work where the former owners simply dumped plaster into the back yard, and trash from folks walking through the yard. It was a mess!

As of late last week, here is a 360 degree view of how it looks...

Demo of Interior

Last year, we began the demo of the upstairs, tackling it much as we did Cottage West some eight years ago. Here is the blog post (Demo last year )and pictures from that. You can see how it looked when we first bought Cottage East in 2017 as well, crumbling wall and all.

So why didn't we just do this all ourselves? Three reasons. One, it was twice as much work as it was before since Cottage East is over twice the size of Cottage West. Two, we didn't have a truck to haul everything like we did before. And three? Demo when you are in your late 40s feels a lot different than demo in your 50s. Frankly, between all of our other responsibilities - work, maintaining the two short-term rentals we already have, and family - this task was better off being farmed out to someone else.

I got some quotes and ended up hiring a friend. He is also my team member on my Thursday night pool league. Adam runs Total KC Home. If you are looking for help with construction, demolition, and so much more in the Kansas City area, I suggest contacting him directly.

Yesterday was the day and I was incredibly excited. Finally the rest of the demo that we had started last year would be done AND everything cleaned out! They started in the basement since we had a bunch of furniture and appliances that needed to be moved out of the main floor so the demo and cleanout could be done. They cleared the last of the HVAC and old ventilation, various cabinets work benches and plenty of piles of dirt and stuff...

I bought the guys pizza for lunch and they worked hard all day.

By the end of the day, the interior walls and ceiling on the main floor were done.

The 20 yard dumpster is absolutely FULL and we still have more inside that needs to come out.

There is only so much you can do with lath and plaster, and old wiring and plumbing in place. It's hard to visualize architectural changes of any kind. Having the house cleaned out and down to the bones means a clean slate for what happens next.

For example, I had planned on keeping the layout the same, with just a few small alterations, but once the kitchen was demo'd, I realized that was impossible.

I have already purchased a wall oven and microwave combo for this wall, but now that the lath and plaster are all out, I can see that the positioning of the stairway on the wall means that simply won't work for it, not at all.

And since I don't want to take up a ton of space in a relatively small house with a full-size stove, I am now considering using this space on the west side of the house for the kitchen instead...

I had originally planned on using this space for a laundry room/pantry/coffee bar on the left and a half bath on the right.

With the walls down and the space open, I can see it might be better to reverse the plan and put the half bath and the laundry room where the old kitchen was instead.

What's Next?

Once demo is complete, I'll show you the upstairs, where there are three bedrooms and a bathroom. It's a mess right now, so...

After we have finished the demo, our contractor, Adam, will likely start working on the front and back porches next weekend. The front porch needs railings, the back porch, as you can see from the photo below, requires a complete rebuild.

At one time the porch extended across the entire width of the back. A year or so after we purchased Cottage East, we had pulled most of the brick facade off (both long sides) and there was just brick on the front and back of the property. The siding contractor said they would remove the rest of the bricks and were in the process of doing so (and stacking them on the back porch) when the porch crumbled and fell. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

After the porches, we are having the gutters cleaned and gutter guards installed, so we don't have to deal with cleaning them each year. We also need the three exterior doors to be re-hung properly, and trimmed out.

Inside of the house, my husband and I still need to assess the floors, and plot out the wiring. We will call in contractors for the foundation issues and likely need to add additional supports in the basement.

In addition, we will add a privacy fence to the back in order to discourage folks from walking through the property and leaving trash (and other unmentionables). I will finish clearing the insidious vinca vine from the ground and hopefully level it out more.

In other words? We still have a long way to go.

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