Reno. Week 3- We get by with a little help from our friends.

The alternative title to this post was “It’s electric, boogie woogie woogie!” because this week was allll about electric. But instead, I opted to highlight how lucky we are to have such great friends and family who help us with this big project. Plus, a LOT more happened  this week than just work on the electric. Ooooh what a week it was.

We started off bright and early on Monday with the septic people coming by to take out the rest of the logs and the huge tree stumps. The loaded up a few trucks and had the yard cleared before we knew it.

One of the most shocking parts of that whole ordeal was seeing the head contractor riding around in the bucket of the huge excavator. Not for nothing but that just doesn’t seem like the wisest choice! It was even scarier than Seth teetering on the top of that 6ft ladder. Teddy was scared by the whole thing anyway and continued his two day streak of hiding in random places from the loud noises. Here you can see him hiding in a corner of the bathroom behind the toilet paper dispenser. Poor little guy.

The yard was all cleared out in one day and we were left with this GIGANTIC excavator in our yard. This thing is massive. I am not sure if it is the removal of the trees and shrubs or this huge piece of machinery but our front yard suddenly seems so much smaller! It did come in handy when describing to food delivery people where our house was. “It’s the one with the big excavator in the front yard.”

The next day the septic crew arrived with a dump truck full of boulders. These are actually from the lead contractors yard so I guess we are saving some money there? Not everybody just has boulders laying around their back yard. But now we do!


Every time I step outside all I can think of is Shrek:

shrek boulder

So on boulder day we were hit with some pretty terrible news. The septic crew was going to begin building the retaining wall between our property and the street using these boulders. The engineer’s report called for a 6 foot retaining wall. Problem was, the septic crew said that the engineer measured wrong and in fact it was supposed to be a 9 foot wall. I repeat, a NINE foot wall. I knew we were going to have a rockwall between us and the road but I was NOT prepared to be living in a fort! What the heck?! They also said that the engineer made our yard bigger in the drawings than it actually is. So the engineer would need to come BACK out, remeasure and re-do the entire plan. Then this plan would need to get submitted to the Board of Health for approval, etc. etc. So we were looking at a stall of at least 2 weeks. To make matters worse, the septic contractor said that they can’t do a 9 foot wall out of the boulders, it would need to be an engineered wall. Apparently, an engineered wall of 9 foot would need to be 8 feet wide on the base, which would then cut into the part where the septic field was supposed to be. Soooooo… who the hell knows what is going on at this point. We sit, we wait, and we stare at the beautifully useless boulders in our yard.

We figured there is nothing we can do about the septic issue, so we might as well make progress inside the house. I started back at work (teaching at the local High School) for 3 in-service days so Seth did a lot of solo work during the day. He got several of the doors done, including the cool pocket door for Liam’s room. The only door we have left to do is the door to our walk-in closet, which we think we are going to DIY a barn door for. Stay tuned for that project!

And so began the help of our friends and family. My dad came up Monday night and stayed over into Tuesday. Seth and him started trying to figure out the electric. This was pretty much an impossible task. Seth and I had tried to go about cutting the wires as carefully as possible but after several days of dealing with convoluted electrical messes, we had gone a little snipper-happy. I say we out of solidarity but really, Seth was the mastermind. My brother-in-law stopped by at night to try to give us some guidance (he was a contractor for 10+ years). He couldn’t help but laugh at the mess we had made and called Seth, “Edward Scissor Hands” for cutting all of the wires and not properly labeling where they had come from. It wasn’t ALL our fault, but okay, we admit, we messed up here. And apparently we didn’t tape up the live wires adequately enough. This is where being an amateur house DIY-er really shows. At least we lived to learn our lesson for next time (if there is a next time…)!

The men spent the night pondering what the best solution to the electrical nightmare was.  Honestly, I consider myself a smart person, but electrical crap has always been over my head (although, now I am learning a lot!). At one point they decided to call it a night and I figured I was safe to go shower and get ready for school the next day. Well when I got out of the shower I heard the all-to-familiar sound of demo. I left Seth and my dad alone for 15 minutes and I came back out to them ripping down a wall that we were supposed to keep in one piece. Apparently, a lightbulb had gone off and they needed to take down more sheetrock to solve the electrical mystery. All I could see in my tired daze was more mess (captured in this photo of my “patio” as I left for work bright and early the next morning…).

Dad was going to come up again Friday morning (at 5:30am) and do more work with the electrical. So Seth and I went around the upstairs and marked up where we wanted outlets, lights and switches. It was nice to have some say in where these things go in your future room! We could build in outlets up high for the mounted TV’s and make hiding the wires so much easier.

I can’t forget to mention that also during this week, it was Jordan’s 13th birthday! I am still in shock that I have a teenager. It sounds so old! But here he is on the morning of his big day, snuggled up with Teddy. Did I mention that our children are sleeping on couches until the renovations are over? No pressure there….


My dad came up as promised at 5:30 am on Friday. I woke up at that time to the sound of what I thought was the sawzall. I panicked because there wasn’t anything left that needed to be sawzall-ed!! What the heck were these guys up to? Then I realized that Seth had run to Home Depot and my dad was upstairs using power tools unsupervised! I was actually afraid to get out of bed. Luckily, it was just the drill bit hitting nails (because good ol’ George doesn’t take the time to see if their are nails in the studs before he starts drilling) as my dad cut the holes for the wires to go through. Phew! Crisis averted.

I had a fun time that morning helping my dad drill the holes in the studs and snake the wires through from outlet to outlet. We got a good amount of work done, and I only had one close call with getting nasty sawdust in my eye even though I was wearing my safety goggles. Drilling above your head really just sucks.

A friend of ours who is an electrician came by around 4:30pm that day and helped Seth with the electric for 6 hours. It was so helpful and they were able to re-run a bunch of wire, and get power to the master bedroom! We actually had working lights again! Woohoo!


Seth had been up working from 5:30am until 10:30pm. He was completely spent and covered in sweat and sawdust (sort of a tar and feathered effect). We were both ready to crash so Seth decided to go and take a shower. Well here is where the second big problematic event of the week occurred. The water, wasn’t working. It would come on and then run for a few seconds and then kick off. Seth went down into the basement (in his underwear might I add… you have to walk outside to get to our basement…sorry neighbors) and saw that the fuse for the well pump had been tripped. He turned it back on and I tried to turn the water on again. Sure enough, he heard the well pump kick on, click a bunch of times and then the fuse blew again. For some reason, our well pump was not working. Was our well dry?! We had no idea. But what we did know was that we were totally defeated. It had been a one thing after another and as soon as Seth felt like he had accomplished some progress that day, we are hit with yet another issue. Ugh! All we could do was go to bed, filthy and frustrated.

The next morning (7:30am on a Saturday morning) we called a local water pump company. The guy said he would be out in a half hour. We were so relieved. Seth helped him out in the basement (note the pile of stereo wires on the basement floor, that’s a story for another day…) taking the well pump apart.

What they found was shocking. Our well is heavy in iron and I guess over many years of not being serviced, the sediment had clogged up the pipe from our well to the pump entirely.

All the water to our house had to travel through this crazy small hole in this mud plug. Yuck! Apparently these pipes should be serviced every year. Yea, that definitely hadn’t happened in a LONG time. So, we needed to replace the pipes and our problem would be fixed. We also would have better water pressure when all was said and done. So after a few hours, and approximately $450 later (ahhhh! dang emergency rate!), we were back to having running water. Time to shower, brush our teeth, do the dishes, and everything else that we had taken for granted up until the night before!

So that pretty much sums up Week 3. At this point we have all of the doors (except our closet door) done, electric to the master bedroom done, and dates set up for next week to get more work on the electric completed. We picked out our lighting fixtures for the hallway and picked up the ceiling fans for the boys rooms. We have no idea what is happening with the septic, but we have brand new stainless steel pipes going to our water pump. Next week… we start sheetrocking!!! Yayyy!

Costs this week:

Dump Run 8/29: $30

Home Depot (two framed doors, one unframed door, digital clamp meter): $290

Home Depot (lights, electrical boxes, ceiling fan): $374

Dump Run 9/1: $30

Emergency Water Pump Service: $450

Friends & Running Water: priceless (yet again)

Total Cost: $1174



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