Because who doesn’t love a massive and laboriously compiled list.
1. Staircases are a completely valid basis for a house purchase.
2. There is being cold during the winter, and then there is living in an old house.
3. It is not a given that water lines run in the walls. They can, in fact, run up next to your microwave.
4. Nobody, I repeat, NOBODY thinks UFFI spray foam is a good idea.
5. New clothes are nice. New to me antique rugs are nicer.
6. You don’t know the meaning of the word excitement until the day you turn on your new plumbing for the first time, and it doesn’t leak.
7. Ain’t no party like a demo party.
8. There will be something you love that you want to put in your house and the house will want absolutely NOTHING to do with it. So you won’t put it in. And the house will be happy.
9. My personal fulfillment is directly measurable by the extravagance of my chandeliers.
10. Everyone who ever renovated before you is an idiot.
11. But you are definitely not an idiot because you definitely 100% are doing it right. Probably.
12. You will surprise yourself with the amount of squalor you are comfortable living in whilst rooms are being renovated.
13. The house is never, ever, ever actually done. And you will know this deep in your bones.
14. Your house will make you laugh.
15. Your house will make you cry.
16. Straight, level, and square mean nothing in old houses. Parallel is king.
17. After a solid six months of ugly work you will gaze upon 25 hours of painting ahead of you and rejoice. Because it’s easy and satisfying and immediate.
18. Duct tape and vapor barrier is a perfectly viable temporary insulation measure.
19. Discovering hidden original details like windows and trim will cause almost as much incoherent screaming as the army of spiders living under the sink.
20. Carpet padding reveals a multitude of sins.
21. I value my collection of tools almost higher than my collection of plants.
22. The house gets new presents more often than my husband or I do.
23. When you accidentally damage a wall while moving furniture around for the 900th time, you’ll feel like you kicked a rabbit and apologize profusely to the house.
24. 60% of the way through every project is when you have absolute, unshakable conviction that said project will never, ever end.
25. Pulling 12/3 wire around corners is an Olympic sport.
26. Having a “crawlspace” does not actually mean you can crawl in it.
27. So. Much. Water damage.
28. The second floor windows don’t look that high off the ground. Until you have to shove nasty carpet out of one.
29. Something, somewhere in the house will require hours of dedicated, tedious scraping. And you will do it. Because that is love.
30. If you think a room can’t get any uglier, wait until you start demoing the walls.
31. Tearing down is easy. Rebuilding is hard.
32. The siren song of doing “this one thing real quick” is magnetic and irresistible and fraught with danger.
33. Money. Old House. Social life. Pick one.
34. “Is the house done yet?” is about as welcome a question as “How much did you pay in taxes last year?”
35. The house has an opinion. And you’d better listen.
36. Old houses have ghosts. But I don’t mean BOO ghosts (usually). I mean ghost outlines of original features like mantles and sinks that some insane home owner ripped out before you. That fact is actually more terrifying than real ghosts.
37. Paint the very underside of your crown molding. It looks way better.
38. Old houses can stand a LOT more fanciness than new houses. Adjust your tastes accordingly.
39. If you have your historic windows, guard them with body-flinging, top-of-voice-shrieking tenacity.
40. Good storm windows + restored wooden windows offer better insulation and life span than new vinyl windows.
41. Plaster rooms are much more fun to sing in than drywall rooms.
42. Plaster holds heat in the winter and helps keeps things toasty.
43. NEVER use heat guns in, on, or around the house. Fire is bad.
44. Invest up front in your heavily used tools like drills, pliers, and paint brushes.
45. When you have to buy a specialty tool, buy the cheapest one you can find. When that breaks, then buy the best one you can find. That way you’ll know you use the tool enough to justify the investment.
46. Houses have a LOT more doors than I originally realized. Especially when you have to put back 60% of them because SOMEONE took them out.
47. Open concept and old houses go together about as well as oil and water. Just don’t do it.
48. 100 year old chimneys most definitely need to be inspect and/or restored before put to use.
49. The only way to get crispy molding that looks like it was cut in with an artist’s brush is to actually cut in with an artist’s brush.
50. Diagonal cladding under the siding is part of the structure of the house. Don’t remove it.
51. Shiplap is not the same as tongue and groove.
52. Old houses LOVE to be decorated for the holidays.
53. You can’t have an old house without delightful little quirks and details. Embrace them.
54. The craftsmanship is unmatched by anything we see today. Without glue and composites, things were built from solid wood and were made to last.
55. Being fully immersed in and making progress on your latest project is your very own personal amusement park of thrills.
56. Everything takes a four times longer and costs seventy-seven times more than you think.
57. One does not simply re-roof in a weekend.
58. 3/4” Pex tubing does not bend nicely around corners.
59. Every piece of clothing you own is just “one quick project” away from becoming work clothes.
60. Smashing your finger with a hammer will make you swear profusely. Every time.
61. There will be certain tasks that – for some inexplicable reason – drive you immediately in to a blinding rage within ten seconds of starting them (do NOT ask me to set nails with a nail set).
62. 100 year old oak is HARD. And will happily break all the screws you try to drive in to it.
63. Vinyl siding often hides tales of tragedy and sorrow.
64. There is definitely, definitely lead paint (it’s fine. Just don’t breathe it in).
65. Stripping paint off wood is an exercise in how quickly you will drop your perfectionistic ideals.
66. Paint cans accumulate at a rapid pace. Which is alarming because nothing is actually finished enough to paint.
67. The lack of sound travel is both a blessing and a curse for spousal cross-floor communication.
68. There are windows on ALL SIDES of the house. The result? MORE PLANTS.
69. Renovation is like limbo: one part of the house is pristine and gorgeous. Another part is a completely exploded catastrophe.
70. You literally cannot comprehend the amount of crap you will haul out of the house during demo. It doesn’t LOOK like that much when it’s all up on the walls.
71. If the cat can go in the crawlspace unsupervised, the cat WILL go in the crawlspace unsupervised.
72. Do not buy light fixtures for a room more than six months before you need them. Unless you are looking to start your very own lighting store of “almost but not quite” light fixtures.
73. Nobody is in love while drywalling a ceiling.
74. Respirators are based on your head size. If you have a big head, you need a big respirator (not that I would know this from personal experience or anything.)
75. One room will be full of junk during the renovation. Always. Accept it.
76. When you find a good pry bar, buy multiples. Don’t buy a different one. Because then you’ll always be stuck with “the bad prybar.”
77. Tiling takes exponentially more time than you anticipate.
78. Whatever tool you need while holding a precarious position is always at least six feet away.
79. In any project there is a doer and a runner. Choose wisely.
80. Exposing the infrastructure of your house to the elements is a proven alchemical method to conjure rain storms.
81. Few things are more satisfying than the click of a properly greased mortise lock.
82. Cover your air registers before demoing a room.
83. The plumbing aisle of the hardware store can be strangely romantic.
84. One piece jump suits are great for demo. You can drop them outside when you break for lunch and all the dirt stays with them.
85. If you don’t make time for your house projects regularly (even just 30 minutes at a time) they will not get done.
86. If you have a cat and are also painting, the cat will end up with painted whiskers.
87. Take lots and lots of pictures through every step of the process. So you can look back years later and only vaguely remember doing those things.
88. Whenever anyone offers you anything old, say yes and take it. You can decide if you want it later, but if you take the ugly, useless stuff for years, one day they’ll give you something SERIOUSLY amazing.
89. If you salvage a door, make sure you take the striker plate too.
90. Don’t try to stain fir. It is a soft wood and will not take the stain well.
91. When using denatured alcohol, never pile up your rags (they can spontaneously combust). Instead, burn them on concrete or store them in mason jars full of water.
92. Home renovation projects are gold mines of double entendre.
93. The Property Valuation Administration Office at the local courthouse may have an old picture of your house. Maybe.
94. If you want to throw extra insulation anywhere, throw it in the attic.
95. Caulk every single joint in crown molding. It will separate in the winter and look dreadful otherwise.
96. In the evening when you’ve worked all day, sitting and looking at what you accomplished feels better than most mind altering substances (untested theory).
97. “This room has too many outlets.” Said no one ever. Always add more than you think you need.
98. When in doubt, ear plugs.
99. Old houses are a bug. Once you get bitten, you’ll want to save all of them.
100. The act of saving, restoring, and living in my house is the most deeply nourishing endeavor I have ever undertaken.
101. I would not ever for one second trade this house for a different one.