My Before, During, and After Story, Part 2

November 16, 2010

electrical, framing, house history, kitchen

Over the summer, we gutted our kitchen and dining room, and replaced the entire electrical system and water supply system. Read Part 1 of our story here.

Redoing the electrical system in this house was harrowing, but not as harrowing as in 2007, when I had replaced the living room and bedroom wiring– for now I knew what to expect. The wiring was probably installed here in the 1920s, judging by the knob and tube system and the hardware used. It had been added to over the years– very piecemeal– and by the time I opened a wall in 2007, it was a disaster. Wires were bare, chewed by mice, spliced with tape… and every once in a while, we found a buried junction box when we opened a wall.

Hidden Junction Box

An inaccessible junction box is a code violation and fire hazard.

Crazy Old Wiring

Because I could find no electrician to assist me, I studied at night and rewired the house by day. I even learned to install circuit breakers in the service panel. The electrical inspector praised my careful, meticulous work. It remains one of my proudest accomplishments. It’s a good feeling to be able to install a new electrical outlet anywhere you want just because YOU CAN DO it. I also installed Ethernet wiring in the living room, with plans to add additional lines and jacks in the bedrooms when we renovate that area of the house.

Wiring 6


Laying wiring in the dark dusty attic was an agonizing ordeal, however. The hardest part of electrical wiring is squeezing into all sorts of ikky places to run the wires.

My husband worked on the plumbing system. The plumbing in the house, as with the wiring, was not original to the structure. It was a hodge-podge of old and new, good and bad. The old copper pipes had lead soldering. Copper was too expensive to buy for the new lines, so I did a lot of research and opted for PEX. Many new houses have PEX plumbing. I like it because there are no joints in the wall cavities, meaning no  destructive leaks in the wall and floor cavities. The PEX is crimped at the water supply at the fixture (such as the sink) and at the manifold in the basement, near the water heater.



PEX is also very pretty! lol


And of course, with all the walls open for months during the summer, we had bats visit us from time to time.

Planning and creating the laundry area was the most difficult part of the new kitchen. There just wasn’t room for it anywhere. Previous owners had created this awkward, tiny, dark hallway for the washer and dryer. The appliances were opposite each other, with the back door between them. You can imagine how very awkward this was. I removed this partition, which opened up the kitchen entirely.

Partition Wall2

I had no reciprocating saw, and the sledgehammer wouldn't bring down these stubborn beams. I resorted to a roundhouse kick, Chuck Norris style, and they split and came out!

We finally decided to wedge the laundry room between the back door and a window. It’s “OK,” but it was a compromise. I’d much rather have a separate room for laundry, but we have no space for that.

Mary Poppins Renovates

The new laundry area is behind Mary Poppins here, near the back door.


Eventually, I'll install bi-fold doors here.

Stay tuned for more of the story. I put a lot of effort into my new kitchen window and sink– this was to become the focal point of the kitchen, and I was so happy with the results!

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3 Responses to “My Before, During, and After Story, Part 2”

  1. Lin Says:

    I still can’t get over that you guys did all that by yourselves. I’m very impressed! And even more so with the flying lamp! 🙂

  2. Marg Says:

    That is a great story and we too are impressed by all your hard work and you got it all done so we are so proud of you.
    I am writing mainly to answer some questions about your cat that you say is losing weight. I certainly would take him or her to the vet. It could be something like kidney failure or thyroid problems and both of those can be treated very easily with medication and fluids.
    Also they can feel the cat and see if he has an tumors. That is what they did with Fuzzy. I had no idea but he was sick a long time.
    Does the cat eat at all??
    It is worth a trip to the vet just to see.
    I am sorry to hear that he or she is sick. Keep me posted but do try to take it to a vet.

  3. Jean at The Delightful Repast Says:

    Well, I could certainly use your talents around here, Rebecca. I wanted to have our electrician back to install 2 new outlets in a bedroom and in my office, but after the kitchen my husband was fed up with construction (and remains so to this day!), so …