Progress Report on Building My Son's Loft Bedroom

Wow. Do I have an update for you! But since I have been so busy that I didn't write updates as they went along, I actually will be dividing this into two (or three) updates to make it more manageable to read, and so you can actually feel like you're following along with the project. (We'll just pretend that I wrote this last week and the week before.)

So last I shared, we were starting the preparation for building a loft bedroom for my son. I guesstimated a price after looking up pricing for different equipment we'd need and posted about that.

I was off. I already can tell that it is more than I originally thought, if only because I forgot some things. Obviously. They say you should always add more to your budget when doing construction because things always end up costing more. So that isn't surprising.

The first thing we did, after writing up the plans for how we'd build, was removing everything that was on our stairs. It took some time because that was basically our storage area for out of season things, memorabilia, etc. (The types of things that you'd put in an attic basically.) This is why we first needed to get the yard together and put up our pool, so we'd have room outside to put everything that was on the stairs. And this specifically is why I wanted to do this in the summer, because it won't rain on our things. (Of course, I forgot about dripping air conditioners and some of the stuff got wet and ruined, fortunately, nothing really important.)

Next was the sledgehammering!

I originally thought a sledgehammer would cost me $50 but it only cost $37 at my local hardware store (and no shipping fee then). 

I marked off where on the cement railing we needed to lower it until, so we could put on the floor, and my sons got to work. They first hammered onto the stone bannister tiles to break them off, and then got to the cement below. It wasn't fully cement, at some point there were cinder blocks, and that was much easier to take off. (Once they were at the cinder blocks I took a few swings just to be able to say that I did something.)

The boys got it mostly level (yay for strong teenaged boys!) and then it needed to be straightened out flat enough because a piece of wood was going to be attached there to hold up part of the flooring. The man who owns the local hardware store and I have a good relationship as I've been a good client for years already, and because of that relationship, he lent me his circle saw to cut a level line in the cement. It was a pretty quick job, but it was a ridiculously dusty one. Even with glasses and safety glasses, and two layers of masks, I was covered in such a layer of cement dust. I needed to take breaks very often to clean my glasses enough to see what I was doing. But that was that!

Cleaning up the broken cement and cinder blocks was a pain. I couldn't put anything in garbage bags because it was too heavy and would rip, so we ended up filling buckets (my girls helped with this) with the detritus and then my boys lugged it out to the dumpster. Once that was gone and the floor was mopped it was so satisfying.

I measured the distance of the loft area, and sat down to make serious plans about how much wood I need, exactly the lengths I need them and how many I need of each of those, factoring in also the trap door that we will be making for the entrance to the room, and a ladder going into the room. Making the plans for building was fun. I got to use my math skills, so I could figure out how big to make the trapdoor so that furniture would be able to fit in through it, but wouldn't take up too much of the floor space. (Pythagorean theorum for the win.)  I decided that I'd rather get longer wood than shorter because you can always cut wood but you can't lengthen it. Same with buying more wood as opposed to less- you can use less if you don't end up needing it all, but ordering new wood and paying for delivery a second time isn't the best.

Once I figured out the amount of wood I'd need, I went to a professional builder and he told me I was estimating way, way, way too much wood. I told him I just wanted it to be safe and that's why I was putting so many boards across to hold the floor, and he told me that it wouldn't be any safer and I'd just be wasting money. I had told him that I was posting on a money saving blog how we'd do this, and he said that if I want safety, I'd spend more money on the electrical work needed, but not waste money on extra wood that wouldn't make it any safer. He showed me the loft that he built that holds up a literal ton of equipment with 4 times fewer boards than I'd planned on using, so I said that, fine, I'd use fewer boards, but still spaced closer together than his. (His were 60 centimeters apart, I had originally wanted 15 centimeters apart, and I agreed to lower mine to 45 centimeters apart.)  

So then I needed to calculate the wood once more. I sent the specs to a few different lumber yards and got much higher quotes than I originally thought, especially once I factored in transportation. Turns out a big difference was I had forgotten to factor in 17% VAT which the original price quotes didn't include. The closest lumber yard to my house ended up having the cheapest prices, and in total I paid $585 for the wood and delivery, just a few dollars more than my original estimate.

When I spoke to the professional who was helping me plan my loft about how much I was going to be paying for my loft, my original estimate of $1500, he said that if I hired professionals to do this I would be paying a minimum of $5000, plus more for the AC which I'd included in my estimate. This made me especially proud of myself for doing it ourselves.

So then the wood arrived. And then it started to feel really real.

Next post will have more updates.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I am in awe. I can't wait to see the finished product.

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