Journalist, Author & Detroit-Home Renovator

We’re Moving In Sunday! For Reals, For Trues!

Sunday is the day.

When the sun comes down on Dec. 29, we will spend our first night in Matilda. After almost seven months of construction, we’ll finally be residents of Van Dyke Place.

We’re so excited. It’s the best Christmas present ever.

All the work won’t be done yet — the contractors will still be there — but we will be able to camp out and start to make a life in the house. <happy dance happy dance>

Moving all of our stuff in — beds, kitchen supplies, etc. — that’s all the next hurdle to clear.

Hope Stacy Cowley won’t mind a little urban camping when she comes a week from today. She’ll be Matilda’s very first house guest. Can’t wait!

It’s been a chaotic few weeks preparing for this day. (Sorry for no holiday cards this year, y’all; I’m sure you can understand why.) The poor UPS man must wonder what is happening, what with all the packages we’re receiving. I hate to shop, unless it’s at a small local business, so we’ve been having a lot of things delivered so I can avoid having to hit the suburban big box stores.

Did you know you can have a toilet delivered? You can. (That photo below is of said toilet… the Kohler Santa Rosa.)

A 30-pound mirror? Yes, sir.

(I probably should tip the UPS guy next time I see him.)

I’ve mastered the Internet when it comes to home renovation. Sales, delivery upgrades … I’m on it. My credit cards are a little less pleased with this turn of events, but what are you going to do? 

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A toilet! In #detroithouse!

A post shared by Amy Haimerl (@haimerlad) on

Our next house, Karl likes to say, will be an igloo or a yurt. Something that doesn’t have any doors or windows because those things are so #$(^! expensive.

But for those of you who want something a little more house-like, I’d at least recommend buying one with all of its fixtures: lights, toilet-paper holders, towel bars, medicine cabinets … you get the picture. Those things add up so quick. I swear Matilda is bleeding us dry $200 at a time. (But we love her. Hey, in’t that what you parents say about your kids even though they take all your shoe money?)

It’s a lot easier to replace lights and fixtures over time than it is to have to buy Three Bathrooms Worth of Stuff all at once. That’s three toilets, three medicine cabinets or mirrors, three sinks, three sets of hardware, three sets of light fixtures. I’d say a fair estimate is $1,000 per bathroom, ballpark.

Sure we could do it cheaper, but when you’ve already spent uppity-bazilion-dollars inside the walls, you kind of want what you CAN see to look nice. And the $1,000 a bathroom breaks down like this, roughly: $200 toilet; $200 sink (pedestal, so no vanity to buy); $200 medicine cabinet or mirror; $200 light fixtures and hardware; $200 tub. (See what I’m saying about going broke $200 at a time?)

We don’t want to buy cheap stuff just to replace it later — that seems wasteful — so we’ve been investing in good quality products. There have been a few splurges, but mostly just well-made items at a fair value. Still, it’s just best not to open the credit card bills when they come. (lalalalalalalala, I know nothing, lalalalalalala.)

So where does the house stand for us to move in: 

  • As of today, we have running water in the kitchen!
  • There is one toilet installed, but it’s not hooked up yet.
  • The kitchen cabinets are installed
  • The microwave, oven (double!) and diswasher are all installed and working
  • The refrigerator is in place but not hooked up yet
  • Most of the lights are installed
  • Karl’s piano is on site (his Xmas present from me)
  • Electrical outlets and switches all work and have covers!
  • Guest bedrooms all have lights and fans and power
  • Guest bathroom has tile
  • The master bathroom tile work is done

What might still be done by EOD Sunday:

  • Master bathroom tile to be sealed
  • Master bathroom vanity installed, with sinks and faucets
  • Master bathroom lights installed
  • Washer and dryer installed
  • Stovetop installed and working
  • Kitchen island set

Projects still to happen:

  • Gutters
  • Doors painted and installed (currently we only have plywood and the front and back; the side door is the only “functioning” door)
  • Cedar shingles on dormers and east wall bump out
  • Windows trimmed throughout the house
  • Baseboard installed throughout the house
  • Crown molding and ambient lights completed in living room and piano room
  • Installation of powder room — toilet, sink, mirror, light, hardware
  • Installation of lights, toilet, sink, mirror and hardware in the guest bathroom
  • Installation of hardware in master bathroom
  • Counter top for the island; there was a measurement snafu and we had to reorder.
  • Final two pendant lights to arrive (magic Internets!) and be installed
  • Interior doors. All of them.

Then, of course, there are the REALLY big projects still to be tackled:

  • Porch
  • Garage
  • Fence

Let’s think about those come spring, shall we?

2 Responses to “We’re Moving In Sunday! For Reals, For Trues!”

  1. Suzanne Kaebnick

    This is a fascinating history of the work! I’m curious to know if the toilet and refrigerator were working when you moved in! The pics are B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!


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