...because home doesn't happen overnight.

The Underdog needs some major electrical upgrades.  When Handy Hubby discovered that fishing new wiring between the cinder block and plaster of the exterior walls was nearly impossible, the plaster came down to allow for easier access.  Since then, HH has been busy framing up all those naked block walls with 2″x2″ treated lumber.  Well, actually they are ripped 2″x4″s.  HH was appalled by the realization that 2″x2″s cost over $3 each while 2″x4″s were priced less than $2 each.  To save money {which usually means ‘to make more work and add time to the project’}, HH bought the 2″x4″s at the lesser cost and decided to rip them in half into 2″x2″s with his table saw. Essentially, he got two 2″x2″s from each 2″x4″ {after cutting them in half longways} bringing the cost of each 2″x2″ to 95¢ – well below the $3 off-the-shelf price tag.  Gotta love Handy Hubby.

So, he’s been putting in long hours measuring, cutting and framing the past few weeks.  Here’s his progress…

With a heat index over 100°F most days, HH was sweating his you-know-what’s off working in the unair-conditioned Underdog.  That is, until someone with a little more common sense {ahem, me} mentioned cranking up the A/C unit in the window left by the previous owner.

HH defended his decision not to turn the window unit by saying he was afraid of what nasty stuff might blow out of it.  But after talking to a neighbor, he learned that the unit hadn’t been run at all in the last few years.  Sure enough, when HH checked the filter it looked brand new.  And that’s pretty much the only ‘brand new’ thing we’ve found in the Underdog. Handy Hubby finally gave in and turned on the A/C.  Although it’s not powerful enough to really cool the entire house, HH was feeling more comfortable.  It was one of those, “See, I told you so” moments for me.

Anyhow, with framing underway, our cousin-in-law/electrician has started running new electric and cutting holes for overhead lighting…inside and outside.

In other news, the contractor we hired to manufacture and install the ridge beam that will support the roof above the vaulted ceilings in the great room started work this week.  Contractor?!  I know. That sounds professional.  I do feel a little hoity toity just typing it.  But creating and installing a major support beam is beyond our DIY skills and it would be very stupid and irresponsible of us to think otherwise.  That means HH has been home in the evenings this week for the first time in a long time.  The boys and I have really enjoyed eating dinner with him.

So, that’s the latest and greatest on the Underdog.  HH and I have been trying to nail down flooring {metaphorically speaking, not literally} for the house.  There are so many options that it’s difficult to choose just one or two!  But we’re having fun looking at all the different tiles, engineered wood, and concrete stains.  I’ll let you know what we decide!

images:  Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



Poor naked little underdog! Heheh. We’ve been looking at flooring too.. interested to see what you guys decide!


What are your thoughts on bamboo flooring? I have heard mixed reviews.


Your updates just make me smile. Good for you! :-)


I always see things going back up as signs of major progress – so, looking good! :) And I know what you mean about feeling grown-up/hoity-toity using professionals. My husband is a general contractor so I never say “my contractor did that” – I just say “oh, Jon did all the renovations”. But for this new house, we’ve hired an architect to design the floorplan and help us maximize space. When I say “we’re just waiting on final drawings from our architect” – it makes me feel hoity-toity. We’re not fancy enough for an architect! Surprisingly, she is really affordable. Good luck with everything, I love seeing the progress! (I am also doing updates on my website if you want to follow along…a 1922 bungalow…currently without a bathroom or kitchen. :) )


looking great! interesting how your walls have a ‘necklace’ of bricks near the top…wonder what that’s all about!

are you attaching the studs to the walls with screws/adhesive/both? I see some little dark rectangles behind some of the studs, and i’m curious about what those are. are the boards running parallel to the floor attached to the wall or to the floor or both? can you tell I’m plotting to install drywall in our basement ;) shhhhh…..

My husband and I decided to rip down our own boards to make battens for our garage’s siding (board and batten), too. It’s amazing how considerably cheaper it is to do it ourselves, and I had to laugh at your comment “To save money {which usually means ‘to make more work and add time to the project}”. It’s so true!

Smart on cutting the wood in half. This is so fun to watch and see how much you are doing yourselves.


I am really enjoying seeing your house progress! Can’t wait to see how it turns out!


A.K. – We really haven’t looked into bamboo too much just because the samples I’ve seen at the stores we’ve been in are too stripe-y for my taste. That’s not to say they’re bad, just not what we’re looking for aesthetically.


Handy Hubby really needs a new nickname — all of the work on this house has shown his skills are beyond just “handy”! You both are amazing and inspire me to not be intimidated by projects.


I started out attaching the studs to the block with concrete screws (tapcons). This was very tedious though, because you have to pre-drill with a hammer drill every hole. I shortly moved over to using a powder actuated nail gun (Hilti and Ramset are well known brands). It uses small caliber charges to shoot a nail into the block. Sounds intimidating but it’s not. It worked perfectly and saved a ton of time (and $). I also laid a bead of construction adhesive on the back of each stud. The black rectangles are composite shims. The walls aren’t perfectly plumb, so I had to shim them a bit. I used composite shims since they’d be against concrete. Hope that helps!

By the way, if you’re planning on doing this below grade, like in a basement, be sure to use a vapor barrier!


Thanks, I appreciate the info…shims would definitely be in order here, too, nothing is plumb…keep up the great work!


I am also in the midst of a basement remodel….and I am super confused about the 2X2 usage….is that to save living space? Why is 2X4 usage more common? We have a tight corner at the bottom of our stair where 2X2 might give us a bit more clearance….


Kelsey – We’re using 2X2’s to keep the room dimensions as close as possible to their original measurements…and we didn’t want to creep in on floor space. We need every inch we can get!


Has Handy Hubby ever thought about starting his own blog? I’m sure all of the other aspiring HH’s out there would love to hear from him – especially mine ;). Handy Hubby seems to know his stuff and has some great problem solving ideas.


This is the not so fun part, but I’m sure you’ll be loving the final results………….looking good!!

PS: Hope your design school projects are going well (I’m also in the course at Sheffield).

check you guys out!!! This is awesome! Can’t wait to continue to see the progress!!!


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