This past weekend, my mom and I did one of the craziest things we've ever done...all while Hubby Blue was busy saving someone's life.
This is mostly a story about home repair and one gigantic DIY project, but the fact that my hubby is a police officer plays into it slightly. Plus, I think this story gives you some idea of just how crazy I am, and it's partly just funny, so here goes!
I, with my mom's help, pulled up 750 square feet of hardwood flooring. No, that's not a typo.
My mom and I have done a lot of crazy things (like rolling a solid concrete 200-pound birdbath out of an estate sale and through the snow one year...walking 26.2 miles of a breast cancer walk without any preparation or training whatsoever...sifting through bin upon bin of candy just to pick out the pink pieces for the pink candy buffet I just had to have at our wedding...snorkeling in Mexico when one of us can't swim, ahem...crafting loads of fabric-covered Christmas ornaments and lining them up all over my house a few years ago...), but THIS, this is probably the craziest thing yet.
A couple of months ago, my mom made me aware of a little phenomenon known affectionately in our house now as a "demolition sale." This amazing event takes place in a house that is about to be demolished or totally remodeled. A company comes in, prices everything that's of value, and "budget-savvy people" (read: poor, cheap, or on-the-hunt-for-a-bargain!) like myself line up at the door, race inside at 9:00 am, and run around grabbing tags off things like chandeliers, light fixtures, towel bars, sinks, and hardwood flooring like it's a freaking shopping spree. You then take your tags to the man at the cash box, he adds up what you've bought, you pay (cash only), and then you get to work removing what you bought. I went to one in this big, beautiful old house a couple months ago and scored an amazing chandelier for $90 (I found almost the exact same one at Home Depot for close to $400), some bathroom accessories like towel bars and toilet paper holders, and some great light fixtures. It was great.
Well, at these demolition sales, they sell EVERYTHING, and I mean everything, out of the house, including the hardwood floors. I had heard of this before, that it's possible to remove hardwood flooring without damaging it and then install it again in another house. When I realized I could buy oak flooring for 40 cents a square foot (and that Home Depot sells it for around 4 DOLLARS a square foot), I was all over that. I googled it, watched some videos online, and this past Saturday, showed up at a demolition sale with my crow bar, my brother's truck and my mom!
I'll back up and explain that I asked Hubby Blue what he thought about this, and he said he was onboard...except that he works Saturdays. I was pretty sure I could handle this on my own (the video makes it look so easy after all!), so he gave me his blessing and I was off.
So my mom and I walk into this house that is crawling with construction-type workers, and we announce that we're here for the floor! The guy at the cash box asks where our tools are and how we're going to get it home and my mom explains, like a boss, that WE have a truck. We later wished we had acted like idiots and told him we were going to put it in the trunk of our car. Anyway, my dad stopped in to look it all over, reassure me it was a good buy, and get me started with some cuts along the edges. There were 3 bedrooms and a living room (like I said, 750 square feet), so we started in a bedroom because the living room was pretty occupied.
We got right to work and started pulling up pieces of flooring from the first bedroom and felt like it was going pretty fast! And not that difficult! Various people stopped in to watch or comment that "this is a really big job" and "wow, that's a lot of work," (really?) or ask how our knees were holding up, or gawk at whether we'd really be able to do this. Anyway, we finished the first room at about 10:30 and we thought we were doing pretty awesome! It's only 10:30! We moved onto the second bedroom and again, we did pretty good! I whacked myself in the head pretty good in that bedroom and still have the bump to show for it. My mom told me to slow down and take a break, but there was no stopping me! Had to keep moving! Had to keep pulling floor! We continued, finished that up and decided to try the hallway coming out of the first room.
This was the scene of injury #2! I was trying to get a piece out and put my finger under a board when suddenly I dropped it, trapping my finger underneath. I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO LOSE MY FINGER. I thought clearly enough to get my finger out, but then...I THOUGHT MY NAIL WAS GOING TO FALL OFF. I had a nasty cut annnnnd no band-aids. I was bleeding pretty bad, so I decided I was going to need to go buy some neosporin and band-aids. I took a 15 minute break to find a grocery store, and by now it was lunchtime and I was pretty hungry...but there was no time to stop! (Do you sense my craziness yet?) I got back, and it was time to attack bedroom #3. We got in here and realized my dad had cut all along the one side of the room because of where he thought the floor had started (hardwood floor is laid down in one direction and the pieces all fit together tongue-and-groove style. You have to pull it up in the same direction.)...but it was the wrong side. So, here, we had to pull the trim off the wall first, hack away at the first few rows until we could get going, and THEN start removing good pieces. We got through about 2/3 of the room when I looked at the time, knowing we only had until 3:00 to get all this wood up and out. We stopped there and decided to start the living room.
We got out to the living room and again, realized that the cut side was the wrong side of the room. So again, we removed the trim and got the first few rows out before we could get going. This room was twice as big as any of the bedrooms, so it was a lot slower going, plus, there was this other bozo trying to take out some built-in cabinets in the corners who kept asking if he was in our way (yes) and could he borrow our crowbars (no). Just kidding about that - the borrowing part. :) Hubby Blue called me for the first time that day at this point, at which time I informed him that my mom was SUCH a rockstar that she was going to have a permanent bedroom in our house. He didn't really get it, but seriously. He kept asking me how it was going, and I just kept saying, Jessie Spano-style, "I have no time! There's not enough time! I have to go!!!"
Anyway, time is ticking by and we're moving faster and faster, and our pile of wood is growing bigger and bigger, and my mom and I looked at each other and said, "I don't think all this wood is going to fit in the truck." We started carrying some of it outside, and sure enough, it was never going to fit. We finished pulling up the floor in the living room, during which time, the man running this sale asked me where my husband was. I explained he was at work, but not what KIND of work, and he joked that it was REAL convenient that he was working! I just sort of laughed and kept going, thinking, if only you knew...
So we finished pulling up the flooring in the living room, got it all outside, and piled it rather haphazardly into the truck. We realized that it was piled SO high that it was in danger of spilling over the edges, but thankfully, my brother is the boy-scout type and is always prepared with straps he keeps in his truck. So we strapped those puppies down, using the rusty nails (good thing I got my tetanus shot last year) that were still in the boards to keep the straps in place. I know, I know...doesn't make much sense when you're using the straps to hold down the boards but also using the boards to hold the straps. I don't want to hear it.
It was now 3:15, and the sale-man had given us until 3:30 to finish. He wasn't going to be there on Sunday but said we could come back on Monday to get the rest. Keep in mind everything we pulled out in the bedrooms was still in the bedrooms. We were worried he wouldn't actually show up on Monday and that, um, there could be a wrecking ball crashing in on all my beautiful wood on Monday, so we carried two rooms-worth out onto the front lawn and left it there. We'd have to make a second trip. Who know 750 square feet of flooring would take up so much room?!?
So we've got all these long pieces of hardwood floor sticking out of the bed of the truck in every direction when we start out on the trek home. My parents' house was only about 20 minutes away, but when you're going 20 miles per hour, it takes a lot longer. The icing on the cake was when I had to jump out at a stoplight on a very busy intersection to push all the pieces back in and make sure nothing was about to fall out. Bizarre, I tell you. It's a good thing Hubby Blue wasn't there to tell me how unsafe this was.
So we're pretty exhausted at this point, dreading the fact that we still have to go back for the second load that is still on the front lawn, when I checked my text messages. Hubby Blue had just sent me this: "Just did CPR on a woman. She's still alive." Melt my heart, why don't you! I was justttttt about getting angry that I was killing myself pulling out this floor by myself, but Hubby Blue was saving someone's life! Hubby Blue is exactly the kind of cop I'd want to show up if I was having an emergency - he's just that good.
Anyway, we got back to my parents' house, unloaded the wood into a monstrous pile in their garage, took about a 15 minute break, and headed back to the demolition sale. By this point, the whole house had cleared out, so we backed the truck way up to the pile in the yard and proceeded to load up the rest. A few minutes into the job, two kids, maybe ages 4 and 6, come up to the house next door and look at us curiously. Yes, kids, the circus has indeed come to town. Then, they decided to SIT DOWN on some patio bricks and WATCH US. Oh my gooodness, it was hilarious/embarrassing. Their mother showed up a little later and hurried them into the house and shut the garage door, as if to say, "Come along, kids, those are what we call 'poor people.' We go to the store to buy OUR flooring. Don't hang around the gypsies, and close the door so they don't steal any of our stuff. And go give that old lady a quarter and maybe this can of soup." It didn't help that, simply by chance, my mom and I had both worn jeans and orange t-shirts...kind of like we had a uniform. We were like a crew...dressed conveniently in jail-bird orange.
Our second load was packed much more carefully and securely because we were actually going to head out to MY new house with it. We made it all the way out there without incident, unloaded it into the garage (thank goodness it was almost dark...I didn't want to deal with questions from new neighbors about what the HECK we were doing), and called it a day. And here I had planned on being able to paint and wash walls that afternoon. Think I over-planned my day a little?
It was 8:00 by the time all was said and done, 9:00 by the time we got done eating dinner (the first real meal I'd had since 7:00 that morning)...we'd worked for a full 12 hours. My mom is seriously one-in-a-million. Don't know WHAT I'd do without her and can't think of anyone else who would have helped me out like that. I owe her BIG TIME!
But back to the back-breaking work this all was...what for?!? I'll admit, I read more than one facebook status that day about drinking mint juleps and watching the Kentucky Derby and wondered if I was living my life right! My mom and I really killed ourselves working that day (and I think there's a lot more hard work where that came from), but I think I'll be happy with the end result. I was able to get all that hardwood floor for a mere $260. To buy that much flooring brand new would have been in the $3000 range, so I felt it was a good buy! I feel a certain amount of pride in doing things like this, being smart with our money, and accomplishing such a huge task. Plus, salvaging it means that it won't just be thrown away with the rest of the demolished house. I wasn't so sure the next day when I had to start pounding the rusty nails out of it...but I'll have to get back to you on that part.
So, crazy? Yes. Craziest idea ever? We'll see...there's still a lot of work to be done at our new house! You never know what kind of trouble my mom and I will find next... BUT, all I can think now...is that we better have one BEAUTIFUL floor for this. :)