The Wall Won The Battle, But I WILL Win The War

I had so hoped to have the kitchen wall completely removed and have a big taaaa daaaaa post today, but things don’t always work out the way I hope they will.

I had asked my brother to help me, but I had things I needed to do before we could get started, and so did he.  So at 2:30-ish yesterday, he showed up at my house so that we could head to the ranch to pick up my sister’s truck that we needed to haul our supplies for this project.  (The ranch is what we call my family’s 20-acre property on the Bosque River where my sister and brother-in-law have built a little cottage where they stay when they’re not traveling around the country for his work.  There aren’t actually any cattle out there.  Not yet, at least.)

That round trip took about an hour.  When we got back to town, we headed to Home Depot to pick up all of our supplies.  That took about another hour.

So we didn’t get back to the house to actually work until about 4:30.  But of course, because of my Wonder Woman Syndrome, I was fully convinced that we could have that thing knocked out in about two hours, have some dinner, relax and bask in our victory, and then he’d be on his way home with the job completed.

Quite honestly, that probably could have happened were it not for all of these electrical wires going through this wall.

removing a load bearing exterior wall 5

I have a fear of crawling around in my attic (or going in there at all), so I asked my sister if I could just kill the power to these wires, unhook everything, wrap the heck out of them, and then shove them into the attic and let Bill take care of them when they get back.  She said that would be fine.

Sounds easy enough, right?  Except…no.  No, it isn’t.

I killed the power, and my brother and I spent about an hour getting everything unhooked, and wire nutting and wrapping all of the individual wires.  (That took forever, because when you’re as paranoid of electricity as I am, you tend to use an excessive amount of electrical tape.  As in, about 10 times the actual needed amount.) :-D

Then came time to shove the wires into the ceiling.  I could get it shoved up in there a few inches, but after that, it wouldn’t budge.

But I was determined that this was going to work, so y’all, I did what I never thought I would do.  I borrowed a big flashlight from my neighbor, put on a dust mask, and crawled into my attic.  The whole time I was gathering the mask, the flashlight, and the ladder, I was trying to give myself a little pep talk that sounded something like this, “Kristi, you can do this.  Kristi, you can do this.  Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m about to do this.  I don’t think I can do this. Kristi, you can do this. I can’t believe I’m about to do this,” and on and on. 

Now I know that lots (probably most) of you are thinking, “What’s the big deal, Kristi?”

Well, I can’t explain why.  It’s just one of my irrational fears.  We all have them, and this is one of mine, kind of like crawling into the tiny crawl space under my house (which will NEVER happen, and you can count on that!!).  It’s dark, and eerie, and I don’t know what’s in there.  Plus it’s hot, and it makes me feel like the walls are closing in on me.  Add to that that I have to be very careful and very intentional about where I step so I don’t fall through the ceiling, all while grabbing onto rafters to steady myself with one hand, holding a flashlight with the other, and crawling over the massive heating ducts that run almost the entire length of the attic space.  It just all adds up to one of my biggest fears.

But again, I was feeling pretty determined, so I pushed those thoughts out of my head, put on my dust mask, turned on the flashlight, and headed up the ladder.  Once I got completely into the attic, I just stood there, grasping onto a rafter, frozen.  My legs felt like they weighted a thousand pounds, and I couldn’t lift them.  So I stood there probably five minutes, just trying to breathe slowly and calm myself.  It worked, and my legs finally started moving.  I made my way to the other end of the attic towards what I thought was the kitchen.

It wasn’t the kitchen.  Turns out I was above the living room.  And there were two massive heating ducts stacked on top of each other blocking my way to the area I needed to be (which was more towards the cramped area where the rafters meet the side walls of the house).

So I made my way all the way back to see if I could find another route.

There was another route, alright.  It was like a little tunnel that was created by the massive stacked heating ducts that ran almost the entire length of the attic from the attic entrance in our bedroom closet to the other end of the house where I needed to go.

attic

I would have had to basically crawl (literally…crawl) through that little tunnel-like area, again only putting weight on the joists so I wouldn’t fall through the ceiling, over three smaller heating ducts, in order to get to the wires.  If my floor plan is accurate (and I think it’s pretty darn close), that would be about 32 feet.

attic 2

I know my limits.  And when just getting into the attic was a big victory for me, I knew that crawling through that tunnel-like space would probably make me panic, and I would be intentionally coming through the ceiling just to get out of there.  It just wasn’t going to happen.

So I got out and we formulated a Plan B.

Plan B was to unwrap everything we had spent an hour wrapping, cut the wires very short, and re-wrap everything so that only a little bit of wire had to be shoved up through the holes into the attic.

Not only did that just waste more time, but one of the wires again just wouldn’t go in far enough.  It was sticking out from the hole about an inch, and no matter what I did, I just couldn’t get it in there any further.

So at that point, we were both pretty tired, and bit frustrated, and definitely not in the right frame of mind to actually build the header and remove that wall.  So we called it a day and I headed to our favorite Mexican restaurant to get us some takeout.  (Because Mexican food always makes things better, am I right?)  It would have tasted even better had it been a victory meal after finishing that wall, but eating Mexican food in defeat is still pretty darn tasty.

Anyway, here’s how it looked after our frustrating day ended.  The boards were removed from the other side.  The wires were gone for the most part.  And one tiny but incredibly infuriating inch of wire still poking out from the 2 x 4 at the top of that wall.

removing a load bearing exterior wall 6

Oh a positive note, I love being in there and seeing all of that gorgeous sunlight streaming into my kitchen now.  I have no power in there right now, and I took this very early this morning.  But during the day, it’s so bright and amazing!!!

So today, it’s war.  Again.  And this time, we will have the victory.

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Comments

  1. says

    i share your fear of attics. my husband keeps trying to get me to go into ours just to check it out. i can’t even go in that hallway when the attic door is open. LOL best of luck today!

  2. says

    I’m not sure I have it in me to remove walls like that but wow even with the studs still there it feels so much more open and light. I guess that’s a preview of the light at the end of the tunnel? ;-)

  3. Lynne says

    You are so BRAVE! And I am so impressed by your courage braving the attic . . totally understand irrational fears of bumping into creepy crawly things in the dark . . onward and upward today! Can’t wait to see your progress!

  4. Karla Hogge says

    My heart rate and breathing were accelerating as I was reading about your attic adventure. I won’t go into our attic and I will never, not even if my life depended on it, go through any crawl space under a house.

    Did you need any permits for all of this work? We want to do similar work on our home, but don’t know whether we need a permit or not and don’t know where to find the information. I looked on our local government website and it talks about permits, but not what types of jobs permits are required for. Are there any general rule-of-thumbs for what jobs permits are necessary?

    Thank you again for sharing your progress on your project. Like everything else you do, I know your kitchen project is going to be spectacular!

  5. Kimberly says

    Wishing you the best and watching very closely so lots of pictures will be greatly appreciated. My mom has ripped out a wall in her house and it is load bearing. She has been living with the studs for over a year because she doesn’t want to pay the contractor $1K to do the work. It is only an eight foot section with nothing above it. Once we watch you do it, her wall is coming DOWN! :)

  6. says

    I do quite a bit of DIY electrical and I also don’t like working on things unless I’m absolutely sure the power is off. In old homes, where things are often wired screwy or the breaker box is poorly labeled, that can be hard. For example, turn off one breaker in my house and the entire upstairs, two stairwells, and most of the basement goes out. I think the breaker is labeled “lights”. *sigh*

    A couple years ago, I invested in a non-contact voltage tester (like this…they have them at Home Depot too: http://www.amazon.com/Klein-Tools-NCVT-2-Non-Contact-Voltage/dp/B004FXJOQO/). It’s a pen-like device that you can hold up to any wire and it’ll tell you if there’s power flowing through it (by beeping). You don’t have to expose the copper on the wire…just hold it up to outside casing of the wire and it’ll beep if it’s live.

    I can’t tell you how much peace of mind this little gadget has given me to turn the power out and know that it is completely out. I even used it recently to figure out that the ignighter on my pellet stove was dead (power on the in wire, not on the out wire).

  7. Syble Mc says

    I knew that wall wouldn’t last long, once you made up your mind. It reminds me of my mom and I. My dad would never allow any change in our house, well he passed away when I was ten. It wasn’t a month later my mom and I ripped out a load bearing wall, all by ourselves. I’m not sure how she knew to put the header beam up, but we did it. She was a lot like you and taught me that I could do just about anything I set my mind to. I’m sooooo glad you decided to take down that wall, it is going to be so nice. From the other post, I think those stock cabinets are just the ticket to get you on your way to your perfect kitchen. That wonderful green finish will make anything look good.

  8. Alta says

    I laughed, I cried, I sympathized. Kristi, you are something ELSE! But seriously, to overcome your fears is such a brave and courageous thing to do; it is very, very inspiring. My admiration for you just grows and grows. You keep going, honey, and before you know it, you’ll have the kitchen you’ve yearned for. And you will certainly have earned it!

  9. says

    I think you should finish out the attic at some point to slay the dragon. :) Hubs put boards down to help him not go through the ceiling. This was after he put his knee through my studio office ceiling. Roops! Hope all goes well today and the rest of the wall practically melts away.

  10. Kim says

    You’re blog is great! I love watching your progress and get inspired by what you do, but I think many times people underestimate the importance of a good writer. Let me just say – you’re talent extends beyond decorating! You are funny and real and relatable and I really enjoy reading your posts – you just never know what is coming next. Thanks Kristi for being inspiring and entertaining!

  11. Krikit says

    Yeah, my stomach was clutched the whole time I was reading this post, I just noticed. You are very brave. Me? Not so much. :P

  12. Kristen says

    You are so brave! I am incredibly clauterphobic and have intense fears of spiders and all other things that move and crawl so I will absolutely not go in my attic. I have informed my husband that is never going to happen, when asked to climb in areas because I am smaller. No. When I was in high school my father had this idea that he wanted to know what was behind this incredibly small access panel he found in their house. Like climb inside the wall, and since I was the smallest he wanted me to. I told him there is no way the mystery will have to remain.

  13. Judi in Tinton Falls says

    Attics can be scary, but crawl spaces are the stuff nightmares are made of. I am a proud, self motivated assertive woman–wait. Is that a SNAKE?????

  14. says

    Jeeze Louise! We built this house 23 years ago and I have never been in the attic…..I understand completely. Crawl spaces forget about it,,,, I don’t go in my full basement unless there is someone else with me. I look at it like this, the attic was not meant to live in, since it has no floor, we live on the first and second floors, and I leave the basement to the cellar dwellers. As long as they stay down there they are welcome to come in out of the cold in winter. I won’t bother them, if they don’t bother me! I think you made great progress, especially with having to run around and pick up stuff. I am looking forward to the next installment. You are like my little soap opera. I just started following you somewhere in the living room so I don’t really know your whole situation. I was looking at your house plan today and the layout of the rooms and I see a master bedroom and bath, and I also see a room called Matt’s game room. Does your home have a second floor? I don’t want to be nosy but you mentioned someone in a wheelchair. Would that be a child, or is it your husband. There is never any mention of him helping you and I am wondering if it his him that is handicapped. Anyway, just trying to figure out the lay of the land, so to speak. See you tomorrow!

    • Genelle McDaniel says

      By clicking on the icons on the top of the page, you can go all the way back to the beginning of Kristi’s blog. You’re sure going to miss a lot, if you don’t back and catch up.

  15. Genelle McDaniel says

    Krisit, you are such an interesting writer. I dare any wall to defy you. LOL. The light coming into your kitchen is absolutely wonderful.

  16. Monica says

    Well,…if you want a job after the home improvement is complete, you could always be a suspense/horror novelist. I was reading with bated breath while reading the scary account of your attic adventure. I felt like I was going through it with you! I share the “creepy factor” with you about dark basements, attics and crawl spaces. Thanks for your enticing accounts and keep your novelist aspirations close at hand.

  17. says

    You’re WAY more ambitious than I would ever think of being – taking out a wall. I need to take a lesson from you and move up to bigger projects :)

  18. Sandy McClay says

    Whoa! I saw that photo and thought….cha-ching! Who would cut into a support beam like that? I see it a lot on the older home revamps on TV…..
    Hope you get it taken care of…:)

  19. Tracy says

    Brave! I don’t do electrical or attics. I know two people who came through their attic and it wasn’t pretty. Be careful! ! Oh, and all that natural light is great!

  20. Erika says

    Hey Kristi
    I wouldn’t want to go in that kind of attic either. I remember going under the crawl space below the house with my dad once. YUCK. When you first see it your like “oh cool” then you notice icky spider webs etc and yeah no long “cool”. Great your brother came over to help you though. When your all done and have your open house you can invite your readers to your house for a huge Mexican feed with food from that restaurant. :)

    You go girl!!!!!!!!!!!.

  21. Patt Butti says

    Well Gal, I can understand your feelings about the attic. I myself braved that very thing. Fell thru the ceiling into my kitchen straddling a rafter. I cannot tell you how long it took to heal the bruises that created, let alone emotional trauma. I applaud your great efforts. I look forward to daily updates

  22. says

    Wow! What a difference this makes! Even unfinished, you can see how much bigger and brighter the room is! I hope you had success and got the rest of the job completed. Big pat on the back! Hugs, Leena

  23. Deborah K says

    This is the first post I’ve read on your blog (I think). I have the same fear of attics, crawl spaces, and cellars. It hasn’t always been that way though. Hm… Gives me something to think on. Anyway, I’m definitely going to read more. :)

  24. Kimberly says

    This is what I have to say the idea of going into an attic like that: NOPE! A crawl space? No way in H-E-double-hockey-stick would I do that! Ok, let me amend: the only way I would even remotely consider doing either is if I had to hide from reanimated corpses should there ever actually be a zombie apocalypse, but otherwise: NOPE! So, I admire your resolve and determination!

  25. Sally says

    I don’t like attics either. I spent hours on one of the hottest days of the year, helping my friends remove slate pieces from an old house from the inside (and also removing the brick chimney from the top down. I swear it felt like it was 105 degrees in that attic…no insulation whatsoever. I haven’t been in our current house’s attic, and have no desire to. I could if I absolutely had to, but I hate having to worry about falling through and I hate ladders. (Almost fell backwards about 12 feet while lifting a heavy half wall section into place to be nailed.You are very brave!

  26. Brenda Pawloski says

    If I were closer I would do it for you, Kristi. I am your size and don’t much like being under a house but do not mind being over a house. I hate clutter so much that I am always packing up and “organizing” things we do not need but can’t part with into the attic. Then after it sits there a few years I start to think about getting rid of it. Not to mention Christmas things, etc. If I were afraid of the attic we would be living with all that stuff around us. However, our dirt crawl space needs a new sheet of plastic and my darling 17 year old son has committed to help me with that.

    Very good call to get rid of that wall that was blocking natural light. It already looks great to me. If you can watch Renovation Realities on the DIY network, many of the shows feature the homeowners doing the demo, dealing with/moving plumbing and electric, fabricating a header, lifting it, finding that it doesn’t fit, and maybe getting it done.

  27. Debbie C says

    I love seeing all that light coming in! I know you are planning a peninsula, but an island with a sink in place of the wall might be nice. To be able to go from table to the fridge in the corner without going around the peninsula and through the work triangle might be nice. I don’t know about you, but I always forget something in the fridge once I’ve sat down to eat! Can’t wait to see your transformation; just amazing!

  28. Jaybird says

    In our 1950′s house, the only storage I have is in the attic, so I have pull down stairs. Hubster put plywood down on the rafters, so I can wander around the entire area that I have boxes in. It’s nice….but it allows me toooooooo much junk!! :^)

  29. Sue says

    Every Superwoman/Superman has their kryptonite! You did great and I’m sure the next hill you come to, you will conquer that, as well! Keep up the good fight, my friend!

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