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1914 bungalow project.

Technically this isn't my house, but I've been given free reign to do literally whatever I want. I'm living with people who have a few health problems, and are grateful for someone young and happy to renovate.

The thing is, it's a much larger project than I'd anticipated. There were kittens raised in the house, so all of the carpets are a complete disaster. More or less the whole house needs to be refloored, and I'm interested in wood and tile. My new housemates also have some allergies, so I'm thinking that non-carpet will be best for them. There's some slightly fussy plumbing, as befits a 1914 house. The bathroom needs insulation, which apparently entails a trip into the crawlspace. I'm going to be pulling stubborn weeds out of the yard for a while, but that would likely result in a nice flowerbed and vegetable garden.

What's the best way to dramatically clean a house around people with chemical sensitivities? I've been very conservative about bleach usage, and have been working more with orange oil and vinegar/baking soda. However, due to the cats, there are some areas that need scary amounts of cleaning.

My personal project is a lot of building things and painting. When spring comes, I'm going to be going through the house painting everything, and I think I'll replace the doors and baseboards in my room in favor of wood ones. The window in my room is going to be replaced with a nice French door, and I'm planning to put a porch on what is a roof now. There are some old shelves and a wood door original to the house that I see decorative possibilities in, and new floors are going to be lots of fun to install. There's also a small sitting area in the upstairs that we're seeing as a perfect library space, so more bookshelf building!

This is kind of an insane project, I'm thinking. But it's going to be fun, and it's such a lovely house with so much possibility.

Re: 1914 bungalow project.

Frankly, what you are trying to do can't be achieved in an occupied house. As a landlord for many years, I know it well. The house must be vacated for at least a week. Not only you'll get a chance to do most of the work, you'll also won't endanger the health of the occupants. Use your common sense.

But where will the occupants go for a week? a 5 star hotel comes to mind...or a cruise to China...

You must coordinate the work and the workers. All jobs have to follow a sequence. While the house is vacant, do all the tough jobs first, while some jobs can be done in an occupied house.

Good luck.

A. Spruce
Re: 1914 bungalow project.
RockyChristine wrote:

What's the best way to dramatically clean a house around people with chemical sensitivities? I've been very conservative about bleach usage, and have been working more with orange oil and vinegar/baking soda. However, due to the cats, there are some areas that need scary amounts of cleaning.

The best disinfectants for those with chemical sensitivities would be steam or white vinegar and peroxide.

Steam can be used on any heat tolerant surface. There are two steam machines I'd recommend, one is the SteamFast SF275 and the other is the US Steam ES500. The SF275 is a basic steamer that has a nice selection of cleaning accessories and does an excellent job. At about $100 it is very affordable and a good entry level steamer.

Once you know what steaming is all about you're going to find that a more serious machine such as the ES500 is more what you're going to want. It is basically a commercial grade machine for the home consumer market. At about $600 it is a more significant investment, but this is also a more significant machine that has the ability to keep up with whatever you're doing. I have used a lot of steam machines and these two really stand out from the pack.


White vinegar and hydrogen peroxide work extremely well to sanitize surfaces. They are applied separately and allowed to sit for a minimum of 10 minutes, then simply wipe the surface with a clean cloth. The acidity of the vinegar helps to clean as it disinfects, though you could add a touch of dish washing liquid if you want a surfactant. We use marked generic spray bottles and refill as necessary. If you shop at a warehouse store such as Costco or Sam's Club, both the vinegar and the peroxide are inexpensive.

Special note:
It is important for many reasons to keep vinegar and peroxide in separate bottles. First and foremost is when combined in a closed environment, they create a gas that is damaging to the lungs and skin. This gas is not created when the two are sprayed onto a surface together, only in a closed environment of a spray bottle. Secondly, a mixed solution degrades quickly AND doesn't work as well as spraying the two products on separately.

Re: 1914 bungalow project.

I've been using a lot of vinegar lately, and it's working well. After a bit of work on the carpets, apparently they're in less bad shape than we'd anticipated- looks like most of the damage is cosmetic. I'm still planning to replace at least some of it; hard floors are easier for both allergies and animals.

We're in the process of renting a steamer for the carpets. The one in my room is pretty okay, and really just needs to be steamed. The hallway is beyond repair, but it's a small area, and getting a new floor won't be hard. I'm just hoping I can find a wood that matches the stairs.

Has anyone else had success with orange oil? When it's mixed into the appropriate cleaning solution, it's been working very well and it's one of the few really tough cleaners I can use.

Next project, now that I have a job and therefore income to support my project, is probably going to be paint. I'm taking advantage of some nice weather and need to deal with the baseboards in my room, and I'm actually thinking of stripping the paint off of them and leaving the natural wood to show through. There's also an original door from the house in the attic, and I think it would look much better than the silly new door on my room. And as soon as it's March or so, I get to deal with the flowerbeds and start the garden project...

Re: 1914 bungalow project.

Well, some success. I attacked some of the carpets with 409 Carpet Cleaner Foam, and it helped quite a bit! I'm still waiting on a steamer to deal with a few spots, but thankfully it seems that most of the issues are cosmetic. I pulled up some areas of carpet and didn't find subfloor damage.

It seems that in the course of the drastic remodel the house had about thirteen years ago, some of the floors were a bit odd. The floor in my room and closet is slightly tilted, and I'm not sure how to go about leveling it when I install a nice wood laminate instead of this carpet. The carpet is lumpy in places from where the floor isn't level and the carpet didn't match the floor.

I'm still debating what to do about bookshelves and window frames. My window doesn't have a frame for some reason, and the overall aesthetic of the house really needs window frames. I'd really like to put one in. And I found the wall that'll be strong enough to carry built-in bookshelves and a computer desk, so I just need more money to buy lumber and get working.

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