On Breaking & Entering, Theft, & Vandalism

They say one of the fastest ways to blow your budget & timeline in a renovation is to change the design midstream.

I would say those people would be correct. At least when it comes to the timeline part.

This past weekend, very little happened to move the kitchen forward. The whole – Hey lets totally change-up every single cabinet from the original plan and do it differently! Oh and you need to figure it out before the end of June because the counters are only on sale in June! Have fun!! – thing.

Well I did find floor.

You may have noticed that, while most of the kitchen has the original hardwood, there is a giant gaping hole.


It would seem that this area used to be the old staircase down to the basement (back when the real kitchen would have been down there). You can see the old joists frame out what would have been the stairwell. You can even see a gap in the brick wall where a support would have been and the dark shading on the brick where an old wall used to be.


While cool, it doesn’t do much in the way of providing a solid surface to sit my stove on. Need. Floor.

I’m ok with putting plywood under the sink cabinet but the appliances could – theoretically – be moved out to clean under them. Or so I hear. I’ve never actually moved an appliance to clean behind it but my mother has, so I know it can be done. If I were to (hypothetically, of course) move said appliances, wouldn’t plank wood floor look nicer than plywood? I think so.

One can’t just run to the Depot and grab a box of 100 year plank flooring though.

Where to find it??

Why a house slated for demolition, of course. {enter craigslist, stage left}

Funny story.

Turns out, “salvaged” flooring is really just code for “come demo my house for free and you can have whatever you want.”

{Hey, if it works for getting people to come take giant bushes off  your yard, why wouldn’t it work for demoing your house?}

Saturday, as we roll into this very neat, well-kept neighborhood, the bright noon sun shining, I kept my eyes peeled, counting the house numbers so I don’t accidentally drive by. Well it rapidly becomes obvious that there is no possible way I could miss this house.

The hole in the house where the front door would have been is sealed up with a piece of mint green wood paneling from the den. Leading up to the house, every single one of what were likely brick pavers have been taken. The walkway and sidewalk have been reduced to a 4″ deep moat of dirt that surround the house. The porch is held up by 2×4’s, which look more like toothpicks compared to the stately pillars that once would have stood there.

The 100+ year house looks more like carrion than home.

The earlier text conversation with the property’s owner prepared me a little for what I’d find:

  • Me: Sorry for all the back & forth. Coming down from Newark is just a hassle. Saturday good for you?
  • Owner: Fine. I won’t be there.
  • Me: Ok. Just help myself?
  • Owner: Yep. Be careful.

I think the “be careful” was the tip-off.

So by “I salvaged some floor this weekend…”

I should really continue saying – by entering an abandoned house, ripped up the foyer flooring – leaving massive holes & the joists completely exposed – and peaced out.

It kind of felt like breaking & entering, theft and vandalism… 

But I totally had the owner’s permission, so it was ok.

I found it interesting though that no one in the large, rather expensive-looking neighborhood said anything. Not a sideways glance. Not a curious, “Hey whatcha doing?” No slow drivebys from the cops. “Don’t mind us! Just helping myself to these fine-looking 100-year-old floors! Bang! bang! bang! bang!! Nothing to see here!”

Oh the things I’ll do for free floor.


Speaking of which, hope I took enough! (I might not have.) (Old tongue & groove is a real PITA to take up, by the way.)

This entry was posted in 1st floor, kitchen. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to On Breaking & Entering, Theft, & Vandalism

  1. V. says:

    Hey there. Stumbled upon your blog while looking for a matte sealer for brick and I’ve been sitting here for the last two hours reading your posts. You and I are so alike! Maybe not our pasts (no wasband for me), but our presents… wow. I bought a house in 2011 and I’ve been renovating ever since. No kitchen? Me either! When I read your line about putting bushes on Craigslist if you dig them out, I knew I had to post. I’ve done that! It worked! 13 trees removed with a bobcat for free. Anyway, you are not the only girl out there busting her ass to make her house a home. You have company with me! I’ll be following you (in an interested comradery way, not a creepy stalker way).

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