The Ugly – House Leveling, Roaches, & Plumbing

So I started thinking about how I’m going to organize my renovation posts from now on… my first bathroom post was the simplest renovation in the house and required very few decisions and planning, however almost everything else has taken a lot of shopping around and planning… That being said I’m going to split the rest of the reno posts by rooms into multiple topics and once I’m done with a room I’ll give a general before and after.  Actually… not a single room besides this bathroom the house is COMPLETELY done.  (I even fooled you because I still have to retouch up the paint under the sink in the bathroom where the plumbers had to cut open the walls to put new pipes in… and I haven’t gotten around to picking out a new vanity light… or entrance door)

But… before I go on to the pretty/exciting details… I have to go over the not so fun things that came after the bathroom paint job.  Being that my dad used to move houses with my grandpa (Berard Transportation – they don’t move houses anymore though!), he was very familiar with moving old houses on piers and leveling houses.  He suggested we have someone in the Houston area look into re-leveling the house.  It was very obvious in the living room that the floor was sagging in the middle.  The hall bathroom was also way lower than the rest of the front of the house.  We really weren’t sure if we had a serious foundation problem or not but we could see under the house that one pier wasn’t even supporting anything.  Some of the sheetrock in the living room even had visible cracks from settlement. Since my dad was so familiar with these projects he suggested we get this out of the way first because leveling can cause sheet rock to break and buckle as well as doors no longer close shut.  That being said, we knew we couldn’t start our sheetrock repairs or title installation until this was done.  Another issue was that this house was added onto two or three times… the front/original part of the house is on piers and the back and the front porch is on concrete slabs so the portion of the house on piers could only move up depending on the elevation of the back and front concrete slabs.

Our first quote was from a company my dad had known of from previously being in the business… Cherry House Moving.  This quote was just outrageous ($10,000) and something I was not willing to pay for since we weren’t even sure we had a problem.  Before throwing this idea out the window completely we got another quote from All Texas Foundation Repair, $2000-$3000 range to do a small re-leveling job and adding more support (I can’t remember exactly what they did at the moment because it was so long ago!).  My husband (fiance at the time) met them at the house to do the job while I went to Cabo, Mexico on my bachelorette trip.  While they were under the house we found out that the sewage line under the hall bathroom toilet wasn’t even connected at an elbow… so who knows how long waste has just been going straight on the ground under the house… gross!  But on a positive note they did a great job with little sheetrock damage.  Just one patch of the wall in the living room was buckling and needed to be removed.  The doors that weren’t working before suddenly worked!  Unfortunately over the next month the house must have settled again and some of the doors stopped working… oh well… I’m replacing them anyway.

Before going on I’m going to tell you about another problem we noticed the first night… ROACHES… HUGEEEEE ROACHES.  Chandler (my cat) was obviously having a blast with them and delivering them to me…alive.  At first we figured… the lady moved out weeks ago so maybe they just started appearing… no. Not at all.  They kept appearing and they were huge.  I started removing nails that pictures were hung on in the living room and noticed feces from what would have been behind EVERY. SINGLE. PICTURE FRAME. Gross. Gross. Gross.  Then it only got worse. Almost every layer of this house that we pulled back we got a shower of feces and dead roaches.   I got a pest control company to come spray the first week and he seemed scared of this house… kind of made me mad because I wasn’t even as big of a baby as him… yes I was standing there in my pencil skirt and heels from work but you should see me after work over here.  After a month they definitely were disappearing but still spotted a few… since the company had a “no crawlers guarantee” I had them come back and spray again.  The biggest problem since then has just been cleaning up evidence of them.  We also had a bad lizard problem… I asked if they do lizard extermination and they said no but the lizards are only there from the bugs so once the bugs are gone the lizards will disappear too… and he was right!  Another creature living in the house must have been squirrels.  The shower drain in the master bathroom was installed completely wrong.  The PVC pipe came straight up through the floor and shower with no drain cover and a huge gap between the pipe and shower… just open to the ground below the house.  This also caused a pool of water 1/4″ deep every time you run the shower.  The gap between the bottom of the house and the pipe is where the squirrels were getting in and living UNDER the acrylic shower.  When we pulled out the shower I spent a good hour sweeping up leaves and pecans…I’m sure there were a few roaches in there too. Yuck.  So what I’m getting to is that when you look at the before pictures… it was actually a lot worse than it even looked.

Meanwhile we worked on completely gutting the kitchen and master bathroom ourselves.  We also began researching plumbers and contractors.  The plumbing had to come first since they were going to pull up floor boards and tear up sheet rock to run new pipes.  We ripped out the sink, vanity, cabinets, shower, carpet (also carpet on closet walls?), and then linoleum out of the master bath so that it would be ready for the plumbers.  We also took out the sink and cabinets in the kitchen.  We wanted the gas line moved (by the plumbers) from inside the island that we were ripping out to the wall so we did that as well. We got a quote from Pickett plumbing… they definitely weren’t the cheapest quote but we knew they would do a good job so we went with them.  Unfortunately this part was the most expensive BY FAR and NOT EXCITING or PRETTY.  I was so ready for things to start looking good and it seemed like everything was getting worse and worse.

The plumbers started on a Monday and worked for pretty much two straight weeks.  Walls were opened up to run pipes from under the house and also to run vents all the way through the roof.  They moved and added and extra hook up for two sinks in the master bathroom.  Redid the shower completely along with installing a new drain pan.  Took out the old toilet in the master bathroom.  Reran the water pipes to the hall bathroom, kitchen, wash room, and outside faucets.  Took out the old hot water heater that was in a closet in the kitchen and installed a tank-less hot water heater outside the house.  This allowed us to knock down the small closet in the kitchen to open it up even more (will come later in a kitchen post).

Now for your entertainment I’ll show you some of the pictures I took during these phases… “The Ugly”…

photo 1 (2)
Master Bathroom – sink and cabinets gone
photo 1 (3)
Ripping up carpet & linoleum out of Master Bathroom
photo 1 (4)
Master Bathroom Closet – Shower ripped out
photo 2 (4)
Me… “in the shower”
photo 1 (5)
Me… “in the shower”
photo 1 (6)
Master Bathroom old toilet before removing… carpet gone
photo 3 (7)
Master Bathroom old fan and lights
photo 3 (5)
Old master bathroom shower ripped out

photo 2 (5)photo 2 (3)

photo 3 (6)
Plumbers pulled up the floor boards to get to under the house
photo 5 (3)
Master Bathroom Closet with carpet on the walls
photo 5 (6)
Plumbers ripped out the bathroom floor boards – I was probably measuring for future design
photo 5 (4)
Master Bathroom Closet after I removed the carpet on the walls- still needed to pull up the linoleum that was under the carpet on the floor
photo 1
Starting to demo kitchen – cabinets where ladder is removed, cabinets over dishwasher removed.
photo 4
Cabinets over kitchen sink removed
photo 2 (2)
Removed kitchen island and plastic floor tiles
photo 3 (4)
Removed cabinets on wall papered wall (they were covering this old wall paper). Removed Island – that’s the old gas line. Removed the plastic floor tiles.
Kitchen wall where the sink and cabinets were. Plumbers ripped out sheetrock to run pipes and vents. Original shiplap exposed.
Kitchen wall where the sink and cabinets were. Plumbers ripped out sheetrock to run pipes and vents. Original shiplap exposed.

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