Renovating a House Remotely

Back on January 18, I bought a small fixer-upper house and had begun the process of renovating it so that I could add it to my rental inventory for community heroes. My partner and I had cleaned it out. We replaced the windows, including the frames. I was just about to tear out the old electrical system and install a new one when I fell and broke my leg.

During the time I have been stuck at home and unable to lift a finger to do any real work, I didn’t want the house to sit vacant and be significantly delayed in being lived in once again. I did what my best friend said that I should have been doing all along: I hired contractors.

I sent nephews, cousins, and some friends over to check on their work and to take pictures for me. I intervened twice when I thought some work was not being done correctly or to my specs. But most of the work was done quite well.

I saved the electrical work for myself. See, back in the time when I bought my first “Harry Homeowner Special,” (a local reference to an old house requiring significant renovation), I was a poor, newbie teacher barely making enough money to make ends meet. I couldn’t afford to hire an electrician. So I studied and took the exam for an electrician’s license and got one. I kept it current by taking occasional coursework and by doing a lot more actual electrical work on my own homes as well as for friends and neighbors. I even installed all of the wiring in the house that I live in while I was building it, which was no easy feat (my house isn’t enormous, but it isn’t a cottage, either.)

Since electrical work is something I truly enjoy doing and was my first successful experience in a skilled trade, I just couldn’t imagine hiring that work out. I compromised: yesterday, my partner and I went to the house and I explained to my partner what he needed to do, especially when it came to fishing wiring in the walls. A good buddy who is a Master Electrician also joined us for two hours. Believe it or not, you need two good feet for running wiring in a house (as well as two good arms, good eyesight, and patience.) I remained in the basement near the circuit panel box with a fluorescent flashlight helping me see what I was doing. I connected the wiring to circuit breakers in the box following the circuit pattern that I designed for the house.

Unfortunately, I pooped out earlier than I thought that I would, so I had to come back home in the early afternoon. I also got involved in watching response to the earthquake in Chile and the tsunamis in Hawaii.

Today, I plan to return to the house to finish up. I will lay on my side on floors to connect electrical outlets and face plates while my partner will install switches and a few overhead lights that I cannot reach because doing so requires climbing on a ladder.

My licensed master electrician buddy will come by late this afternoon to inspect my work, and then connect it to the power company’s line. We will not turn it on, though, until the county inspector checks it out on Monday. I’m sure it will pass inspection. After all, the work was done right and according to (and often above) the adopted code.

A cleaning contractor will come on Wednesday. I will have my partner bring me over on Thursday evening to check everything out. Provided all is well, then I will begin the process to identify eligible community heroes in need of affordable rental housing, and go from there.

Yes, it can be done remotely. It cost me a lot more than if I did the work myself, but … I did what I had to do.

Life is short: get ‘er done!