It’s PIIIIINKKK!!! My house is painted pink!!!

I give up on trying to call this color coral, it’s absolutely pink and it’s ALL OVER MY HOUSE! That’s right, y’all, Berrybrier is finally painted! It’s been a journey – a rough journey – to get here and I’m so glad to show you this today! My house finally looks like a home, like someone loves it! Remember what it was like when I bought the property? Partially blue with a white corner and lots of flaking paint, it hadn’t been updated in 30 years. I saw a very similar picture to this on the listing and instantly knew this place was my house, my future home. It’s a good thing I’m totally crazy, because normal people don’t fall in love with exteriors like this!

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After a disastrous painting journey and a failed complaint to the CCB (they referred me to small claims court, which I wasn’t ready to endure), I finally found a painter and now the house is complete! After almost a year of looking like a hot mess, the new paint is just like the first bite of birthday cake. I’m giddy about it!

Berrybrier | Fall House 2017

A new roof, a dormer, new paint, and this place is starting to transform. The color is bold, but I adore it. California born and raised, winter is always a bit hard for me. I miss greenery and color as the cold and rain stretch through April in Portland. When I was trying to decide which color to paint the house and which color would work best with the green aluminum windows, I knew the most important thing I wanted was to come home and smile. I wanted something that would stand out in the fog of grey that tends to descend over Portland in October and give me a little sight of oopfh! And boy did I get it!

Berrybrier | Final Paint.jpg

Now every time I arrive home, it’s hard not to grin. Even on the greyest day, this house stands out! I know this is a bit intense for a lot of people out there, but for me, I’m happy to make a splash. And the neighbors are just grateful that it’s painted and done! The house looks like I always imagined it would, happy and bright! The color brings out the character of the house and now even the little dormer looks like it always belonged!

Berrybrier | Painted Side.jpg

You probably noticed above that I didn’t end up painting the garage… the garage is a whole other project. The longer I live here (it’s been over a year!) the more I realize is wrong with the garage. It’s leaking and needs a roof; of the 3 additions on it, at least two need to be knocked down; and it needs new siding on at least one side. I’m chipping away at it, but it’s a long ways away from painting! But that’s next year’s (… or the year after’s) project. In the meantime I’m just going to get all googly-eyed about the house! It is just such an amazing improvement!

Berrybrier | New Paint

The front porch used to be a bit sad looking with faded & dirty blue paint, string lights plugged into an outlet above the door, moss creeping up the steps, and dual handrails slapped together. There was a lattice panel on the porch and the original 4×4 post looked a bit dinky compared to the rest of the architecture of the house.

Berrybrier | Original Porch

I still want to paint the steps and install a new railing, but again, one project at a time! I’m just happy with how this is looking now! The lattice fell victim to an evening of frustration at DIY and now the porch is sided, prepped for a future bench I want to build under the existing mailbox. I installed a new light fixture which I picked up from Lowe’s for under $20. I will probably switch it out of something a bit bigger down the line, but for now it’s a great improvement. I put one of those new dusk-to-dawn light bulbs in and it’s just amazing. I leave for work in the mornings at 6:42am and it’s often still really dark out. I love being able to leave the porch light on and not stress about wasting electricity all day, since it turns off on its own as soon as it gets light outside! The other big change was the front porch post. See how chunky and substantial it is? SO MUCH BETTER!

Berrybrier | Painted Front Porch

My painter had a friend who did small carpentry project like this and thank goodness, because I have too many projects. Although I think I could have done this easily myself, it came down to timing and I didn’t get it done in time. So I sent the guy this crazy marked up picture and $250 later I had a new post! I try to do as much as possible myself, but there’s also a threshold to the time I have to dedicate to all the projects. Hiring this out made sure it happened before the painting was complete.

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The back of the house has been a truly huge transformation. The old roof was peeling off a bit and the hobnob back stairs led straight into the garage. The kitchen was dark and dreary due to the light blocked by the falling-down porch roof.

Berrybrier | Exterior Back Original

The back garden is still a mess, but this view is much improved!! Removing the back porch and exposing the original concrete steps was one of the best free ideas! The new roof did wonders to spruce up things, but a fresh couple coats of paint on the flaking exposed siding really did the trick! I do need to pick up some porch and floor paint and give the steps a nice prep and painting, but I’m debating jackhammering off the top step, so I’m waiting to paint. Yup, just another project to add to the list. For now, plopping a couple of new plants in some pots I already owned dressed things up. I also replaced the door with a old half-lite door my neighbor Erik found for me on craigslist.

Berrybrier | Exterior Back

Overall, I’m so happy with this before and after! It’s hands down the biggest transformation at Berrybrier and one of the most important! I’m so excited to come how to this everyday and I’m sure the neighbors are psyched to see this change! I’m just obsessed with how much lighter and brighter it is here now.

Berrybrier | Before and After Paint.jpg

In case anyone else wants to paint their house pink, the main color is Sherwin Williams 6324 Mellow Coral, the white trim color is SW 7012 Creamy, and the grey-brown foundation (which I almost didn’t paint!) is SW 7048 Urbane Bronze. I’d highly recommend them all if you want a fun colored house that packs a punch! Despite the struggle to get here, in the end I’m just so happy this place is complete!

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Bathroom Progress – Plumbing and Electrical!

After demo’ing the main bathroom at Berrybrier I’d been ping ponging between my house and my cousin Kristen’s basement for showers and sleeping. In the midst of all the other chaos going on at Berrybrier: the new roof, electrical work, the extremely invasive floor rehab, and the exterior painting fiasco, the bathroom plumbing was completed! I hired a plumber to do the rough in plumbing only, figuring it couldn’t be all that hard to install the fixtures so I might as well do that part myself. Also, I’m cheap frugal.

The rough in was no small job though! It involved new toilet, sink, and shower locations as well as running new pex lines from the main house inline. He also installed a shower surround which is part of my grand scheme to eventually demo this and flip the location of this shower to the other side, giving me a master bathroom. (There’s a floor plan here if you want to see how that could work.) But that’s a project for years out. For now, My crazytown bathroom seriously needed a new floor plan! See how the wall is recessed starting at the mirror? When they installed a larger bathtub, they stole 10″ of space from the room behind it and moved the plumbing back. There was an electrical fuse box at the top of the wall though, so they left that part in its original location. They didn’t build a proper new wall though, so it was a bit of a nightmare of sistered in framing pieces all crazy. The mirror makes the bump back a little difficult to see, but if you stare hard enough at the below it comes together, especially once you notice the mirror is crooked!

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Before the plumber could install the shower surround I had to rebuild this wall and make it more stable. It wasn’t structural, but I didn’t trust the existing hobnobbed-together framing. I chose to reframe the wall at the original location, removing ten inches from this main bathroom and gaining the original 10 inches in the half bathroom off my bedroom that desperately needed some extra space. I also needed to fur out the wall on the right side of this bathroomto hug in the shower surround which was 48″ wide since bathroom was 52″wide. I psyched myself up about reframing this wall for several days, talked about it a bunch with Erik (my contractor next door neighbor who saves me from my own stupidity), and rented a framing nail gun and air compressor from the local Tool Lending Library.

The electricians had begun working on the house this week and when I got home the night I planned to frame the wall… the electricity was off in the house. Arg! I was mad, because there was no way I could frame a wall in the dark without any electricity. No!! I needed to get the wall built that night so the plumber could install the shower surround onto it the next day! This is why renovation is stressful! You’re juggling about ten different schedules.

I stormed around the outside of the house ripping off the old cable cords the painters had refused to remove and pulling the lattice off the front porch rail. I could see Erik who was working on his house peering out his dining room window at the crazy lady yanking off the lattice in a bit of a rage nextdoor . He knew my plan was to reframe the wall that night.  I finished ripping off the lattice and went inside my house where I’d left my phone. I picked it up and read a text from Erik, “I thought you were building that wall tonight?” Simultaneously I heard a knock on the kitchen door. I opened it and there stool Erik, toolbelt on and drill in hand. “I came to help frame the wall!”

“I don’t have any electricity! I can’t do this in the dark!” I said. He didn’t falter, “Let me go get my battery powered light!” Within a few minutes, the whole bathroom was lit up by a surprisingly small light. But then my rented air compressor didn’t get to a strong enough pressure. Erik went and got his air compressor, but that didn’t work either. Maybe it was the nail gun itself? Or the fact that we were running it off of an extension cord that ran from Erik’s garage, over the fence between our houses, and through my backdoor?

So with that off the table, we turned to screws and his impact driver. But then he said I’d bought the wrong kind of screws and ran over to his house where he had better ones. And then he cut all the 2x4s with his circular saw using his foot as a stand in about 2 seconds. Then after watching me drive in one screw, he said, “Why don’t I do the next one? I’d let you continue, but I think we both want to finish this tonight…” And then my neighbor built me a wall while I stood outside the bathroom and watched. So… he’s a nice guy.

I don’t even have a picture of my newly framed walls because it was crazy dark the night the wall got built and the next day the plumber arrived to install the new water lines and my new shower surround right in front of it. So if you look closely at the picture below you can tell which 2x4s look newer and those are the ones that make the new walls.

Berrybrier | Shower surround.jpg

The plumber even put in blocking for my new sink as well as getting the necessary new pipes for my new plumbing locations. He also reworked the vent pipes and an outside gutter that was draining into my sewer line. I didn’t quite expect butt ends of copper pipe to be the rough-in plumbing, but I put “figuring out how to cut pipe and install water shut off valves” on my list of things to stress about later. Overall, I paid him $1178 to move all this around which was a pretty good deal for this extent of work. I’ve heard of people being charged more than that just to move a toilet! I’m lucky to have basement/crawl space access to all the pipes, allowing for an easier install.Berrybrier | Plumbing Rough In.jpg

You can see in the picture of that the shower pan was full of water too! It had to stay that way until the plumbing inspection, which of course was two weeks out. It got pretty gross!

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And because, literally nothing goes smoothly during renovation, when – two weeks later – the inspector came through, he walked into the house and saw some coats, vacated the house, and failed the inspection. Apparently although the Portland Bureau of Development Services states in numerous places online and in pamphlets that inspectors can review unoccupied residences without a representative of the owner, by “occupied” they really mean is there can be no personal belongings on site. At the time I was living at my cousin Kristen’s, but I hadn’t removed all my personal belongings from the house! I called the Bureau and begged them to reschedule my inspection without a two week wait. Luckily, they understood my interpretation of their rule and rescheduled the inspection for two days later, provided a representative of the owner was on site.

My angel cousin Kristen volunteered to wait at the house for the inspection since she typically worked from home on that day. The inspection sheet was supposed to come out at 8:00 that morning and provide a 3 hour block of time when the inspection would take place. I checked at 8:00am. I wasn’t on the list! I called the Bureau in a panic. Every day I didn’t get an inspection was another day I couldn’t live at my house!

Again, I lucked out and got a very sweet member of the scheduling department who told me my previous help had gone through 4 out of 5 steps to schedule my inspection, but failed to actually schedule it. However, they were able to squeeze me on the existing job list that day! Woohoo! So the inspection happened and it passed on the condition I open a mechanical permit for my new vent fan.

Then the electricians went in and installed the boxes and wires for a new sconce, can light, and vent fan! All of a sudden the room was coming together! I was so excited to be able to take the reins and start knocking out the rest of the work in this room myself!

Berrybrier | Sconce Location.jpg

And with that I was one step closer to having a bathroom! Wouldn’t it be nice to shower in my own house again?

Painting Blues

Ages ago, I talked about trying to decide which color coral to paint the house at Berrybrier. The windows when I bought the house were aluminum clad exterior / wood interior windows. The aluminum exterior was a dark forest green with slight blue undertone which dictated my color choices on the rest of the house. In the end I decided on coral and dove in whole-heartedly with no looking back! I was attempting to schedule the exterior painting around the same time as the bathroom demo, new plumbing, electrical work, and roof replacement. So I was a little busy and things were a little crazy!

I was stressed and stretched thin; but my mom was in town and she volunteered to interview painters while I was at work. It was a huge load off my chest! Unfortunately it turned out that painters are extremely difficult to find and extremely flakey. My mom finally found some people after a few weeks: a married couple with their own painting business. The lady called me about 4 times to schedule a time to meet to sign the contract. This should have been the first weird sign. But the house looked terrible, my mom thought these people seemed good, and I was ready to paint it pink!

Berrybrier | Roof

The woman came over one night last October – a hot October – to sign the contract. It was the very end of painting season in Portland and she wanted to get started ASAP. I was all for it; I couldn’t wait to see the house all in coral. We walked around the house and discussed various things that night: exactly what I wanted painted the white trim color and what I wanted pink, some trim repairs on the back of the house, prep work needed, and payment. We also discussed timing, since the dormer was still being built, the roofers were still at the house, and the electrical was just beginning to get started. I had bought the paint – Sherwin Williams Emerald – during a big yearly sale, so that had been taken care of. The painters were charging about $4500 for the labor for the job which felt like a great deal. They asked for 50% upfront, which was pretty standard with how I was paying most of the various workers on their projects at Berrybrier. The painters were going to start the following week. I ponied up.

The first day of that week, the electricians shut off all the power at the house to do their extensive work. I probably should have guessed that that would happen, but I wasn’t expecting it since they hadn’t told me specifically to expect this. I found out later they didn’t think I was actually living at the house during these renovations! I had to call the painter and let them know that if they needed power to do their work (they did) they’d be delayed three days. This was an issue because the days were getting colder and wetter quickly. We pushed three days which brought us to a Thursday am start.

The plumber started his work in the bathroom that Wednesday. It was supposed to be a half-day job, the water was off at the main line to the house. Of course, with Berrybrier, nothing goes as planned. The plumbing needed another half-day’s work and the plumber wasn’t available again until that Saturday. This meant no water for the painters’ sprayers. I called the painters again, I asked if they could use water pulled from a hose from the neighbor’s house. They refused, saying they needed too much water for that and would rather push their work. That was a little annoying since access to water is access to water, but they were understandably annoyed at the situation. And I was too. This was convenient for no one! However, they were able to work on the house as soon as the water was turned back on. They planned to start work that Sunday and complete as much as they could on the house in the week of sun that stretched out. I was called out of town that weekend, last minute. I was excited to get back and see the progress on the house!

I returned home the following week, mid-week. Nothing had changed at the house. It did not look like anything had been touched on the painting. I called the painters confused. They told me they had found out they were having twins and were in a state of shock. I had not realized the woman was pregnant when she had come over to sign the contract, so this surprised me. It also frustrated me since we’d been discussing our tight timeline to paint the house. I’m all for mom and pop businesses, but it’s also important for these small businesses to be professional. The real bummer? This no-show thing soon happened again and again.

Several times they promised to paint, several times they didn’t come. I was majorly stressed as my insurance company demanded the house be painted by the end of November. Finally, they got it to the stage where the house was primed and the painters agreed to write my insurance company a letter assuring them the house was painted and water-tight. Thankfully, the insurance company agreed that this was sufficient and extended my painting timeline to October 2018 (a full year extension)! But we were still pushing to paint on the sunny days that fall. Unfortunately the painter still rarely showed and his team of painters were non-existent. One person was trying to paint the entire house in a couple of days. This person also decided to spray all the trim and then brush all of the siding. And then he never showed up.

The painters then refused to fix the window trim on the back of the house and refused to remove the silly little old alarm speaker on the front of the house. They refused to clean up the excess cable wires that were all over everywhere. They weren’t doing basic things like filling the holes from the old stair railing (dime sized holes!).And they continued to not show up when they promised to.

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Other brand new things like the smooth, new electrical pole on the side of the house were painted, but covered in drips. It looked terrible and definitely not like it had been done by a professional!

Berrybrier | Electrical Tube Drips.jpg

On December 9th, after the painter again did not show up. I took a hard look at the house. It looked terrible and it was increasingly clear in the areas that were “complete” that the prep work was insufficient. Some of the areas that had been primed had sticky oversaturated spray in places. I was extremely stressed, upset, and felt helpless. I talked to my neighbor Erik, he walked around the house and agreed the painters weren’t doing a good job. I sent them a text and told them not to bother coming back to the house, but I’d like to settle up a return of some of my payment. Of course, they fired back that I owed them an additional $600.

Berrybrier | Oversaturated Spray.jpg

I had some painters Erik worked with come look at my house that week. They were shocked by the condition and pointed out a lot of things I hadn’t even noticed before. They said the house would now be more work to properly paint than before. That blow added anger to the stress and exhaustion and unhappiness with this project. Combined with a non-functional bathroom, ripped up kitchen, and way too many other projects to count I was a pretty big mess.

Berrybrier | Flaking Paint.jpg

I had another painter, this one referred by my Uncle Scott’s Uncle Dan (a local contractor) over to take a look. He concurred, the house would now be more difficult to paint than before the other guys had started their work and created this mess. Cue the tears and feelings of loneliness and utter despondence. Daniel’s post on the renovation of the side of his house sums up these renovation feelings oh too well! It was a very low point and the house looked horrific.

Berrybrier | Flaking Eaves.jpg

Winter was already here; my house was covered with papered windows and oversprayed trim. It was an extremely obvious and embarrassing way to leave the house for the winter, but there really wasn’t an alternative. So gutters covered in plastic and patchy front paint and overspray it was!

Berrybrier | Fall House 2017.jpg

Even the snow did not make the house look any more charming! Passersby would jokingly ask if I’d changed my mind on which color I wanted. I’d taken a house badly needing painting and made it into a roadside attraction horror. It was mid January before I took all the plastic wrap off the windows. I didn’t have a ladder tall enough to get to the plastic wrap on the gutters… so that got to stay through August the following year!

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My sister moved into Berrybrier in January 2018 and that March helped me patch the trim over the window and back door where ripping off the porch roof exposed cut up mouldings. This was a small improvement, but every little bit of progress counts!

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Meanwhile I submitted a complaint to the Oregon Certified Contractors Board against the painters I’d hired and tried to focus on the hefty list of other things I needed to work on. The painting would have to wait until summer 2018 and there was nothing I could do about it. This was a HUGE life lesson and a really unfortunate loss of a significant amount of money. But overtime, the stress reduced, the anger faded, and I’ve accepted it and moved on. Because there really isn’t an alternative is there? Have you ever had huge issues with professionals you’d hired? What did you do?