Our House Renovation- The Trap Door

Budgeting for a renovation can be really tough, it’s so important to include a “buffer” in your budget. Unexpected things come up during renovations, especially in old houses. Our house was built in the 50’s when those scary floor furnace gates existed.

Remember, they looked like this:


But when I was little, they looked like this:


Seriously, my great grandma had one in her home in Maryland and I was so scared to walk to the bathroom because I had to jump over this thing on the way.  I mean there was no way I was walking over it. There was also a stairway that lead to nowhere. It was probably storage but we never really knew. As a kid, that’s really scary…anyway…back to the house.

When we did our walk through before closing we found a lovely “trap door” as I like to call it. A piece of plywood put over the square in the hallway that use to house the floor grate. It was conveniently covered by a rug during the showing. We took the plywood up and this is what we were left with:


We figured with all the construction going on in the house, it would be a good idea to buff the wood floors after everything is done to get them looking nicer. But when we uncovered this, the only way to fix it is to put new wood down, sand down all of the wood and refinish it to make the new wood look the same as the old wood. Sand and finishing floors is always messy and usually requires you to basically move out of the house for a few days because you can’t walk on the floor.

This was one of those “we may as well” decisions because I hadn’t moved into the house yet. It’s much easier to do it now than do it after I move in. Those “may as well” decisions are when you need that buffer in your budget, because they will come up. Sometimes it just makes sense to add to the current renovation than addressing it later on.

So we leveled out the subfloor to be even with the rest of the floor and installed new wood. 206218_10100107430106157_3725368_n

The good thing was that I got to choose what color stain I wanted the floors to be throughout. And we found out why the floor in that room was painted white, the previous owners’ pets used that room as a bathroom and saturated the wood floors. I’m glad we redid the floors, GROSS!


The “after”


Almost can’t tell it was there! The existing boards were all long single boards so it wasn’t possible to “feather in” the boards as we normally would do, without taking up all the wood in the hallway. That’s why you see the line, but overall, a huge improvement!

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  1. If I knew then what I know now, I would have opted out of buying a house with vents on the floor. All the central vents are in the floor–except for the basement. I would LOVE to do what you have done, but it would require major reno to move all the vents to the walls–where in my opinion is where they ought to be. You did a great job! If I were a visitor, I would never have know that you there was a “seam”.

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