The one-year anniversary to-do list (or the “crap, people are visiting soon!” to-do list)

As we approach the year anniversary of owning the old rowhouse, I have this running list in my head of things that I want to have finished by the time we pass the year mark. But which date to set as my totally arbitrary deadline?

We closed on the old rowhouse on October 28 of last year. After renting back to the previous owner for a week or so, I think we started working around November 2nd or 3rd, demolishing the old kitchen and the kitchen/dining room wall. But we didn’t move in until December 10th after finishing our living room, bedroom and kitchen.

The urgent to-do list really comes more out of necessity. Namely, it’s about guests! My family is coming up here the last weekend of October so my brother can run the Marine Corps Marathon. And Rachel’s family is coming up for Thanksgiving again this year — though we’re promising them there’ll be no plaster demolition or 8-hour days of hard labor for 6 days straight like last year. We’ll get to relax and enjoy the house and have Thanksgiving dinner in our own house this year, like we were hoping for last year before the delayed cabinets killed that dream.

So what’s hopefully going to get done in the next two months? Let’s break it up into “must get done before October 28” and “want to get tdone before Thanksgiving.” Bear with me for this super long post. This might be more for me than anyone else — want to organize all my projects.

Gotta finish by October 28

Upstairs bedroom – This is the one thing that’s a must-do — it’s the room where people gotta sleep. Right now it’s a half-finished, dusty mess, but things are coming along. Three of the four walls have been skimmed and primed, an electrician will be selected tomorrow, and I’ve got a drywall guy ready to go on the ceiling once the electrical is finished. Once electrical is done, I can buy new baseboards and trim and install ’em. And repair the plaster on the 4th wall and call the drywall guy to do the ceiling. I think we could be wrapping this up inside of two weeks, depending on the availability of the subs. We still need to pick paint colors for this room too. The door and window trim, baseboards and walls will all get painted.

Bedroom 2 half-primed
This is about how it looks today. Need that conduit to go away before I can fix the plaster and finish the last wall. 

Wanna finish by Thanksgiving

New stud wallDownstairs sleeping porch

I built the new stud wall last weekend that’ll cover the brick wall where the bricks turned to powderv. I’ve since sealed the bricks so they won’t erode any further but there’s no way to make them look better without a seriously skilled mason and lots of money. So wood and drywall to the rescue. The ceiling is still exposed, waiting for electrical work. We’re moving the existing ceiling fan to the center of the ceiling and putting in 2 can lights on either side, and adding a socket on the new stud wall I built. Once the electrician finishes, I’ll do the wall and get the same drywall guy who does the bedroom to do this ceiling. I’d also really like to get the baseboards, trim, and window trim installed.

Upstairs sleeping porch

After working in here all day today, it’s almost tolerable. There’s more I’d like to get done before Thanksgiving, but it’ll probably have to wait. I put in the new stud wall on the south wall a few weeks ago and finished mudding last week and was just waiting to sand. Today, I sanded all the joint compound, primed and finished painting. This may be it before Thanksgiving, other than trimming out the windows which are still bare and unpainted after install almost a year ago.

Finished wall
After building new stud wall, insulation, putting up soundboard and drywall August 22nd. Finished the drywall and painted it Sunday night — no pics yet.

The floor is still uneven and looks like crap with old linoleum tile missing in places, but I don’t think we’re going to address that until I tear the entire floor out to the joists and put in a new subfloor and floor, raised up to the level of our bedroom floor so the transition between the rooms becomes seamless. (Part of the long-term vision of this being an extension of the master bedroom with a walk through closet and master bathroom — which is why I painted everything in here today the same color as the bedroom.)

The ceiling is still exposed to the joists, waiting on a solution for my insulation dilemma. I’m leaning toward spray foam insulation but I haven’t gotten any estimates yet. Once we do that, we’ll get the electrician back to do some overhead fixtures before deciding whether or not to do a beadboard or drywall ceiling. I don’t think we’re going to get to either the ceiling or the floor before Thankgsiving. I’m ok with that.

Front garden northFront porch railing

I’m getting all the lumber this week to build a total replacement front porch railing that’ll match the existing one and therefore stay in sync with the side railings and the other front railings on the block. They have a distinctive look with narrow ballusters placed close together, and we didn’t want to lose that. But I was thinking today that my father-in-law might like to work on this project with me over Thanksgiving, so I might end up saving it until then. I also want to get back out and finally paint those pedestal caps and column caps out there that I stripped back in the summertime.

Skylight realignedSkylight

Good news, the skylight is basically done! The roofers and carpenter came back two Fridays ago to re-set the skylight that went in crooked. I can’t say enough about Springfield Roofing for coming back and helping to correct what was basically the carpenter’s mistake, for no extra charge. The carpenter came back yesterday and finished the drywall. I’ve just got to get up there and sand the joint compound, prime and paint. Might finish all of that Monday night.


As I’ve mentioned, I’ve got tons of work I’m waiting on an electrician to do before I can finish some key tasks. I’ve got two good estimates from electricians that I liked and will make a decision tomorrow. One thing we’re going to do is get a new panel with new breakers and rewire the whole thing. That’ll give us more room for the future and get rid of the code violations that are in there right now.

That’s about it for my one-year list. Ambitious? I can hardly believe it’s almost been a year in this house. It’s really flown by, but maybe we’ll reflect on all that — and look back on all we’ve accomplished — another time in a another post.

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