Starting my leave in June 2006, I spent two months roughing in electrical, installing insulation, and putting up drywall. The old studs were so uneven, every wall had to be shimmied to make the new drywall flush with window and door jambs. Finally, the place was starting to look like a home rather than a work zone.
For the first six months of 2007, I patched hardwood floors, filling in holes where massive cold-air returns had been and weaving the old kitchen and den floors together with boards salvaged from the foyer. Elsewhere, I removed wallpaper, patched plaster, and refinished hundreds of feet of original oak woodwork.
Shown: Layers of wallpaper hid the living room's plaster.