Newest life journey – week one cabin update

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newest life journey
Key to cabin, Photo by slc

Day #2  This key finally opened the locked well-worn cabin door and now I hold the key to my newest life journey!

Today, I pulled thistles, raked and picked up bags and bags of small tree limbs and dry tall grasses before my son-in-law arrived to help with grass trimming around the 3/4 acre property.  He also removed cabinet doors from inside the cabin.  We wanted to open up everything so we could set off a Raid Max Deep Reach Fogger before we left for the day.  Several unwanted creatures live in old, abandoned mountain cabins.  Mice and squirrels have left signs of their visits to my cabin but the most unwanted creatures right now are the black widow spiders; we found two today.

newest life journey
1945 Magazine, Photo by slc

We also found a treasure today: an August 1945 edition of the We The People of North Carolina magazine.  In it are some pretty interesting articles.  One titled “Teachers’ New Salary Schedule” describes “minimum state salary schedule adopted for payment of all teachers next year, both white and Negro.”  A teacher with a graduate degree and two years experience would receive an annual salary of $1,487 which “includ(es) the $120 war bonus.”

Other articles titled “An Overall Picture of War-Time America” and “Federal Spending Down” reflect America’s history back in 1945.  The magazine was in good condition and made for fascinating reading at the end of the day.

Day #3

newest life journey
Permit, Photo by slc

I didn’t get up to the cabin today but I did attend a gathering of Big Thompson Canyon residents to pick up a permit.  The Canyon will be closed October 2nd for winter CDOT construction projects which are necessary to repair damage sustained in the 2013 Big Thompson River flooding.  According to CDOT’s press release the permit will “allow canyon residents living within the closure boundaries access” during the “large-scale closure.”

My cabin happens to be on the other side of the road closure but I was able to get a permit so I at least have limited access through the Canyon.  I can also access the cabin at other times but by a much further route through Lyons and Estes Park.  This closure will cause us to halt most work on the cabin as contractors will charge more to deal with the closure/permit situation.

The Canyon road, Highway 34, will reopen Memorial Day weekend 2018.

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“Do you have the guts to take on a fixer upper?”

Joanna and Chip Gaines begin their hit show Fixer Upper on HGTV each week with that question.  I love their show and others which depict people taking on a fixer upper property and making it into something wonderful.  You might say I’m addicted!

taking on a fixer upper
Photo by slc

So, to answer the question, “Do you have the guts to take on a fixer upper?”  My answer is yes, I do!  This week I successfully negotiated a contract on a fixer upper in the mountains about 40 minutes from my home.

The original cabin with a stone fireplace was built in 1938.  It is a one room structure built on a stone foundation.  In 1989, former owners crudely built an attached two-story addition to the cabin.  This addition was not permitted and later deteriorated beyond livability.  The cabin has electricity but no running water or septic.  It has a primitive outhouse up the hill for the owner’s convenience.

So why am I buying this property?

First, I can afford it and it is a good investment.  The property was listed “as is” for $98,900.  I offered $85,000 and the sellers accepted.  Other fixer uppers we have looked at have been listed around $200,000 with major work needed. Mountain properties in the area typically go for $120,000 and up for smaller lots and cabins.  Once I fix this property up as now planned, we could probably list it for over $200,000.  The financial risk of taking on a fixer upper at this price is fairly minimal.

Second, it could become a source of income.  I am hopeful demolition, rebuilding and restoration will be completed by about August 1st next year.  At that time, I would like to offer it as a Vacation Rental By Owner, VRBO.  The property is near the Estes Park area and I would market it to people who are looking for a quiet place in the woods for their short-term stay.

taking on a fixer upper
photo by slc

Next, the thought of being the general contractor on this project is exciting.  I have already learned a lot from visiting with the planners at the county building department, a structural engineer and visiting websites on codes, permits and even sealed vaults for septic.   Designing the new structure will probably be my favorite part of the process.  I have already drawn a rough sketch of the proposed layout of the new addition.  Fun stuff!

Lastly, I have always (since about seventh grade) wanted a home in the woods.  Since moving to Colorado over 20 years ago I have wanted a  cabin in the mountains.  Since I have a passion for taking on a fixer upper and I have always wanted a cabin in the woods, this one is a pretty good fit.

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My first major retirement/remodeling project…

Retirement/Remodeling Project–You Can Do This!

When I purchased my home in 2013 I did so knowing I would have some remodeling projects to do.  My first major retirement/remodeling projects was changing the 1977 fireplace surround and popcorn ceiling in my family room. Below is the before picture taken by the seller’s realtor…

retirement/remodeling project

My son-in-law who lives about 25 miles away and I removed the painted tile fireplace surround and the painted cedar wood slats above it right after I moved in.  We, or should I say he, removed the side box for wood storage and the drywall above it (with my permission). Then it stayed that way, open studs and all, for about two years.

I began the remodeling project by stripping the paint off of the wooden beams on the ceiling.  This took a bit of time and elbow grease.  A lot of the white paint was embedded in the grain of the wood.  After several coats of Citristrip stripping gel, a scraper and a nail, it was ready to be stained the original dark walnut color.  I filled the beam joints next to the walls with sealant (I used brown DAP window, door and trim sealant).

Next, my son-in-law hung some drywall and cement board for me.  We only had to add a bit of framing as we kept the original fireplace framing.  Then I taped, mudded and textured the new drywall with all-purpose joint compound and a spray can of knockdown.  I had used knockdown in the past to help a friend patch some of his walls.  Easy enough. Painting was next…I’ve had lots of experience with painting and I enjoy it.  It makes such a difference right away.

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Planting seeds and memories

Planting memories
slc

Spring has sprung and so have seeds and memories.  My daughter wanted to start some seeds inside with her five-year-old daughter this spring.  She asked if I would help.  Being an avid gardener since my 4-H days on the farm and loving to spend time with my family, I was delighted to assist.

I bought a 36-count box of the refill Jiffy Peat Pellets, found one of the trays my daughter and I used to start seeds in when she was a girl and I headed over to their house.  My three grandkids, my daughter and I piled into her vehicle (it had the three car seats) and headed to Lowe’s for some seeds.  We carefully selected marigolds, cosmos, cucumbers, sweet peas, cilantro, and sweet peppers.

Planting memories
slc

Once the boys were down for their afternoon naps, we got busy planting seeds.  First, my granddaughter, Jovie, and I placed all the peat pellets in the tray.  Next, my daughter added warm water  and we all watched as the peat pellets expanded as they absorbed the water.  Then we made little indentations in the top of each pellet.  Jovie’s slender little fingers were just the right size to gently place two or three seeds in each one.  She carefully pinched the peat over the top of the precious seeds and now the tray of peat pellets was ready to be covered and placed in a sunny window. Lastly, we placed a heating pad under the tray and turned it on for an hour or so.

Planting memories
March 24, 2017 (slc)

Driving away from their home that day I felt very blessed to have such a loving family and to be able to share my passion for gardening with them.  Planting seeds and memories.

Two days later, I received a phone call from Jovie who excitedly told me some of the marigold seeds had sprouted.  It was supposed to take at least 7-14 days for most of the seeds to come up but the heating pad accelerated that timing.  I told Jovie that she had a “green thumb.” She did not know what that meant so I had the pleasure of explaining it to her.  A new generation of gardeners has sprung. Planting memories.

planting memories
askideas.com

2016 bathroom remodel

Vanity area before (Photo by slc)
Shower area before (Photo by slc)

Reasons for bathroom remodel: tub reglazed by previous owner made it too slick to stand in safely, cracked tile floor grout, granite tile counter, short toilet, old/moldy tub/shower, outdated shower fixtures, short shower head, one unnecessary doorway and hallway, popcorn ceiling, poorly patched walls

Initial Budget:  $7,000        Actual:  $10,500

I started this six-week remodel by removing the popcorn ceiling texture and the shower door enclosure. I used a small garden sprayer to apply water to the ceiling and then scraped the popcorn off.  It was messy but easy. Taking off the shower door was also an easy process.  I saved all the parts and put it up for sale on Craigslist after the Habitat for Humanity Restore turned down the donation.  No takers on Craigslist so I ended up putting it in the landfill. Bummer!

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My first major retirement/remodeling project…

Retirement/Remodeling Project–You Can Do This!

When I purchased my home in 2013 I did so knowing I would have some remodeling projects to do.  My first major retirement/remodeling project was changing the 1977 fireplace surround and popcorn ceiling in my family room. Below is the before picture taken by the seller’s realtor…

Fireplace

My son-in-law who lives about 25 miles away and I removed the painted tile fireplace surround and the painted cedar wood slats above it right after I moved in.  We, or should I say he, removed the side box for wood storage and the drywall above it (with my permission). Then it stayed that way, open studs and all, for about two years.

I began the project by stripping the paint off the wooden beams on the ceiling.  This took a bit of time and elbow grease.  A lot of the white paint was embedded in the grain of the wood.  After several coats of Citristrip stripping gel, a scraper and a nail, it was ready to be stained the original dark walnut color.  I filled the beam joints next to the walls with sealant (I used brown DAP window, door and trim sealant).

Next, my son-in-law hung drywall and cement board for me.  We had to add a bit of framing as we kept the original fireplace framing.  Then I taped, mudded and textured the new drywall with all-purpose joint compound and a spray can of knockdown.  I used knockdown in the past when I helped a friend patch some walls.  Easy enough. Painting was next…I have a lot of experience with painting and I enjoy it.  It makes such a difference right away.

Read more

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