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Corwin's house renovation adventure


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So as mentioned in the Buying a house and the games industry thread, I bought an old house and am currently renovating it. I took a year off for parental leave for when my second kid arrives, and some extra unpaid holidays before to try and get the house in a decent state before the birth.


Since I just got me an internet, I figured I'd post some updates as I go along, for the sake of it and because I won't have much game-related to show for a while. With all the moving, I forgot to take some early shots of the empty, untouched state of the house, so in some cases we already removed wallpaper and old furniture, but oh well... 


Renovating is pretty fun in general, although sometimes you wish there wasn't so much to do, and I also had to call upon professionals for certain things like electricity and part of the water pipes work. There's been a few bad surprises (e.g. I thought I could live with the current electrical installation but after exposing part of it it became clear that it needed to be fully redone, or beams in the attic eaten by woodworms and thus having to redo the roof this summer) and a few good ones (e.g. finding massive wooden beams in a decent state under plaster). There's so many things I would look for now if I were to buy another house, it's crazy. I really had no idea how a house was made before, especially an old wooden traditional house like that with walls made of dirt + shit + straw and lots of small beams everywhere.


Just an overview: the house is in a small village in the middle of the german countryside, between Friedberg and Giessen. It's surrounded by fields, rolling hills and forest, which is pretty nice especially in the summer. Bit far from work, but you don't get bargains like that any closer to Frankfurt, and the train takes me to a station about 10min away from home so it's fine. The idea of buying was to stop wasting money on the rent, and if possible to make some profit by renovating and selling the house in the mid-term (like 5-6 years if all goes well, sooner if not). The purchase price was 59000 euro and with the notary/agency fees and such it was about 64000 total.


Also even though I did some handywork before with my uncles and my mom, I ain't no expert and am learning most of it on the fly, from websites, a couple books, and asking my family for advice. Being so far away from them means they can't come and help out much sadly, but at the same time I like going at my own pace and doing things my way, taking time to consider what to do with a room etc. so it's ok.


Anyways, here come a few posts of what I've done so far...

Edited by Corwin
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So I don't have a shot of the kitchen untouched, but here is how it looks about a week after we moved. The kitchen furniture is ours, we bought the whole thing for 500 bucks to some family that was moving out of a flat because we thought its rustic look would fit an old house like that. I since bought a new counter to go on top and to add the extra length to add a dishwasher, and we decided to buy a new, bigger and super efficient/eco friendly fridge to replace that small one.


If you pay attention you will notice that the floor is not straight: the entrance hallway is about 25cm lower than the living room, and the kitchen connects both, so it was sloped with a small 5cm high step to the living room. That sucked. So I decided to flatten it all out to the level of the living room and to add a step at the transition with the hallway. Maybe eventually I'll also raise the level of the hallway floor but not right now.






I started removing the tiles on the ground but figured that the glue under them might contain asbestos so to be safe I just covered the tiles after verifying that they were installed on solid concrete. I used extra-light concrete for the floor because of how much there was to fill and I didn't want to overcharge the house, so it's concrete mixed with polystyrene foam, with a layer of liquid concrete on top of flatten it properly. Messed it up a bit in some places so I'll have to adjust the height slightly (~1cm) with the glue I'll use for the floor tiles.






I redid the wall tiles, and then realized we had to redo the electrical cables and plugs, but thankfully I didn't have to break the tiles again, just the kitchen-special plaster that I had put on the walls to flatten them out and correct the small defects.






That's how much we had to break to pull the new cables in (to make them come all the way there, I had to break the remnants of an old chimney in the attic so we could drop the cables down the conduct and into the living room, then through the wall we reached the kitchen, and followed that beam to cross the room (even though I also wanted to expose that beam, that didn't leave me a choice. Broke quite a bit of the old plaster in the process, so had to fill it back up, which is tricky on the ceiling...


Actually one of the reasons we had to redo the electrical system was that I kept getting slight electrical shocks while applying plaster on one part of the wall. After measuring with a multimeter, there was definitely some current going through where the plaster was still wet. We found a cable deep in the walls going to the toilet on the other side, that was leaking into the wall. Since the electrical installation didn't have any connexion to the ground either (that green/yellow cable in plugs) that meant that in case you got shocked you'd take all since you were more conductive, so really unsafe.






The room is now on pause a bit, as I need to get a plumber to raise the heater's pipes by about 10cm so I can safely add my floor tiles and the edges around the walls. I need to put some basic wallpaper on the ceiling, do the floor tiles, and put some cover on the walls. I also need to cut my kitchen counter up to the proper sizes and to carve holes to insert the appliances etc, but that should be pretty straightforward. I still hope to finish before the baby arrives so we can cook properly (right now we're camping in one of the bedrooms with electrical plates etc.)

Edited by Corwin
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Not too much happened with that one, we just broke part of the wall to bring in new electrical cables for the lights and ring bell and exterior light, and had to open up the wooden covers on the wall to find that cable that was leaking current into the walls. The door in the center is a toilet, on the left leads to the entrance terrace and garage, and on the right is the kitchen (you can see the step/height difference).




I decided to remove the wooden boards on the ceiling though, was too much wood, darkened the room too much and also was in the way of putting a new cable/lamp in the center of the ceiling (the electricians wanted to leave the light on the wall but no way). I'm currently in the process of covering the hole in the ceiling back up with compressed wood (those thick cardboard planks that can be found at the back of IKEA wardrobes and such) and then will wallpaper over it in white.




The plans for this room include filling up the holes in the wall, redoing the wallpaper on the left wall, correcting the scratches and such on the wooden boards as much as possible, to add a cool wooden bench on the right there to store shoes and sit to take them off, and to slightly polish the entrance door to remove some height so it doesn't scratch against the floor when you close it. The stairs on the right is another issue which I'll talk more about when I get to workin on it.

Edited by Corwin
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I appreciate you are sharing this with us. Fun for us to follow your progress and perhaps give you some pointers when needed. But also fun for you to look back on and maybe even use it for inspiration when the odds are against you (so you can look back on how much you've already achieved).

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"That doesn't look too hard, I bet I can do this myself."

If one of you ever sees me writing something aling these lines in this context then THAT is the moment one of you guys needs to step in before I hurt myself (or my neighbours). Godspeed and be safe, Corwin!

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Cheers guys! I'll try to update this thread anytime there's enough progress to show :)



Clement, si tu as besoin d'aide, tu demandes :) Je suis a peine plus pres de toi que ta famille, mais si tu as besoin d'un coup de main sur le gros oeuvre :)


Merci de ton offre! Pour le mois qui vient je pense que je suis bon, vu que je vais calmer le jeu avec l'arrivee du bebe le premier mois. Je saurais bientot quand je dois refaire mon toit avec le charpentier, donc je vais voir quand est-ce qu'il y'aura un trou dans mon planning, si ce sera debut Aout ou apres. Mais ouais, si t'es encore dispo quand les premiers temps dur avec le bebe sont passes et que j'ai un peu de temps pour m'attaquer a un truc de serieux (on a un sol + plafond a refaire dans une piece, avec un escalier a installer en sus, et une terrasse de jardin a daller + murets), je serais ptet bien tenté! :) Je te tiens au courant, c'est dur de s'organiser a l'avance avec l'accouchement et les travaux pros dont j'ai pas encore les dates! Merci

Edited by Corwin
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