More home improvements

We finally got around to starting the other projects that needed to get done: tuck pointing, new roof, garage replacement, and side walk repair. While we’re at it, we have also decided to redo the patio. The tuck pointing and side walk repair are finished. The patio is also finished (brick pavers), as is the concrete slab for the new garage. Tomorrow, the contractors begin building the garage, followed by roofing on the garage and replacing the roof on the house.

If you’re looking for someone to help you with your home improvement projects, I highly recommend our general contractor, Goran Veseli of Veseli Design and Build. Goran is also an architect, so he can handle projects from the idea stage through completion. Goran worked with us to remodel our bathroom and we didn’t hesitate to call him when it was time to do this current project. So far, on both projects, he has made everything super easy on our end!

The sub-contractors who did all of the concrete and masonry work are A Kats Construction (at least, that’s what the side of the truck said). These guys are quick and efficient and they seem to do great work.



We LOVED the plans we got back from the architect, but we likely won’t see them come to fruition.  When the bids came in, they were all way outside of our price range – in fact, two of the bids were 3 times our price range.  First, we just can’t afford to do it.  And second, even if we could afford it, the cost is just insane and we can’t rationalize it since we know there’s no way we’d see nearly that much return on our investment.

Now, we’re back to the drawing board.  The architect is going back to the contractors to ask them to rebid it after we’ve done some value engineering (paint grade wood trim instead of real wood trim that would be stained, etc).  I anticipate the bids will still come back quite high, so we’re also talking with one of the contractors to see whether it’s feasible to build out the space for our price range.  We’ll see what he says we can get for the price we’re able to pay.  And, lastly, we’ll start talking with some other architects/contractors to see whether we can add a bathroom and skylights in the existing space without building out dormers.  Ultimately, if the answer is “no” or “yes, but you’ll still have to pay through the nose”, we just won’t do it.

I’ve decided that Chicago bungalows are kind of racket in the real estate market.  Yes, it’s a great house with great bones, but most don’t have the attics built out because it seems too expensive to do that. But, realtors don’t tell you that part. They market the bungalow as “ready for expansion” but never really tell you that you’ll spend almost $100k to build out the attic. (Can you tell that I’m a little bitter and disappointed?)  Don’t get me wrong, I love our house. But, we might have made different decisions had we known how much it really costs to build out an attic.  Maybe.

Making progress on the house?

When we bought our house, we knew we wanted to do some work on the upstairs.  We even brought a contractor through on one of our walk throughs once we had the place under contract!  Once we moved in, though, it seemed like everything started conspiring against us and planning for the upstairs came to a screeching halt.

Instead, we turned out attention to the kitchen because our refrigerator was drying.  Unfortunately, the idiot who installed the kitchen had notched the granite so that it surrounded the fridge, thus making it impossible to get the fridge out without first removing a cabinet (or lifting the counter-top).  It took us a couple of weeks, but we managed to get that taken care of.

Then, the first floor toilet got clogged.  The plumber came out to fix, and we thought we were in the clear.  We should have known better…  The toilet clogged again a few days later, and this time it started backing up into the tub.  Oops!  The plumber came out again and took a look around, and quickly discovered that the piping for the bathroom was done wrong.  So, the next project is to redo the piping in the bathroom, which also involves tearing up the bathroom floor.  Good thing I didn’t really like this bathroom!  On top of that, the tub is cracked, so that needs to be replaced.  OK, let’s gut the bathroom and start over.

Now, back to the upstairs.  We own a 1926 Chicago Bungalow.  The attic space has been completed, and the former owners used part of it as a bedroom, and the other part is a “rec room”.  We decided that’s a huge waste of space, so we’re going to turn the upstairs into a master suite.  We met with a friend who’s also an architect, and he drew a couple of sketches for us.  But, he doesn’t have the time to work with us, and isn’t yet licensed in the city.  Thankfully, he recommended a former colleague who left the firm and started his own architecture company.  When we met with the new guy, John, we liked his ideas, and he seemed like a really nice guy (he had also clearly done his homework because he was thoroughly prepared!).

I’m hoping that we can keep this forward progress moving and get started on the bathroom and the upstairs project soon.  Let’s be real, I’m getting tired of going to the basement to use the bathroom.

Home Sweet Home Improvements

Greetings from our new home in West Ridge! (I’ve blurred the numbers in case you are trying to stalk me.)


Today, I stayed home from work to meet the furniture delivery people and the fence installers.  It feels like we’re actually making progress and soon this place will feel like “home”.

Our old living room furniture was stuff that we had to buy from UIC because Ella destroyed it as a puppy.  It’s been slip-covered for the last four years to hide the damage she did to it and I’ve been counting down the days until we could get rid of it (or move it to the basement).  That day finally arrived!  In addition to new living room furniture, we also ordered a dining room table (we’ve been eating from a Pub Table because that’s what fit best in our condo and it was high enough to keep the dogs from snatching unattended food), and a sideboard.  We’re sorely in need of more storage, so this sideboard will hopefully help us hide the clutter a bit.

Now that the furniture has arrived, I’m not TOTALLY in love with it.  It’s just okay.  We need to move things around a bit, and decide whether it all really “fits”.  The love seat in the pictures below looks much lighter than it actually is.  In reality, the couch, love seat and chair are all a dark brown (mocha).

In addition to the new furniture, we’re also getting a new fence.  I think this is the part that I’m most excited about!  We could have easily stayed in our condo for a few more years, but it’s getting harder and harder to walk the dogs in all kinds of weather, and spend hours at the park with them each week.  The one thing we wanted the most was a yard for the dogs to play in, but since our new yard wasn’t fenced, we’ve still been walking the dogs.  Not anymore!!  The fence guys came today, and began work at 8 a.m.  They continued to work, even when it began raining.  They stopped working at 3:00 p.m., and will be back tomorrow to put up the rest of the fence.  I can hardly wait.  I might actually be giddy with anticipation!