Chateau Enginerd: The Builder To Do List

On the Week 2 blog post, we shared the list of items that were still owed to us by the builder. Almost 4 months in, the crew has barely tackled a few of the items, and many we did ourselves to shorten the list and get the ball rolling. The fence is still uneven and needs some adjustments to be cleared off the list. They haven’t been able to argue convincingly that the yard leveling work will ever happen so we are getting bids to pass them the bill later, if it isn’t resolved to our satisfaction. At least the A/C works now! (Install guys never attached the wiring for the unit to the breaker box. Wow!)

For those curious,  this is what is still missing per the contract:

1. Fence and sod.

2. A/C

3. Laundry vent – not working.

4. Railing.

5. Hot water in tub not working.

6. Two doors that close but don’t lock.

7. Keys to side and garage doors. (AUG 1)

8. Repainting of side of house and vent hole close outs. (Painting front door.)

9. Doorbell wire diagram or instructions.  (Looking into this myself.)

10. Master rain shower close out piece.

11. Hang cabinet in laundry room wall between sink and washer. (Done during the weekend.)

12. Steps on the backyard stairs.

13. Cleaning exterior of the house.

14. Broken screen on dining room window. Missing screens.

15. Removing construction debris from front yard.

16. Removing equipment from garage if fence is contracted out.

17. Talk to neighbors about their fence.

18. Installing lightbulbs for the air vents/fans.

19. Cabinet door pulls.

20. The one car garage door has a dent and cut in it that is visible and may lead to rusting.

21. Microwave 

It has been an interesting journey with these build crew and we still have hope and faith they will deliver. My husband can’t get over the door pulls being missing all this time. The money is tight and we are hoping to get this yard under control soon so we can use it more efficiently.

Finger’s crossed. 

Good Bones (HGTV)

After binging on Flip or Flop, Fixer Upper and other demo and remodel shows, I stumbled upon this beauty. Set in the historic neighborhoods of Indianapolis, Mina, Karen and Tad renovate homes that are dilapidated and in rough shape to return them to their original glory. These Two Chicks and a Hammer, with their stupid demolition partner (Tad) pour their heart, soul, grit and creativity into each project. The family dynamics are fun to watch because their love for the work makes it a true joy to watch.

If I had known about this show earlier, I would have incorporated a few of their ideas into the new house. Their staging techniques bring industrial and Victorian styles into the modern times within a modest budget. All their projects seem to ooze a solemn yet vibrant energy that captivate the audience and the buyers alike. Mina’s expertise in home construction and design are awe inspiring and worthy of admiration. She, and her mom, prove women can change the world, one tool belt at a time. Hehe

This hands on, crafty crew will win over your heart and respect. They truly to their jobs for the challenge and not the money. If you build a high quality product and make a difference in the communities you touch, the cash will flow in eventually. Lovely attitude to have in these dark times. This family is proof that the welcoming vibe of the heartland is still alive and well. Their smiles and satisfied looks at the end of each remodel inspire me to do more at home and not sell myself short. True girl power.

Watch on demand now on HGTV.


UpCycled Air Conditioning Unit Pallet Home Decor 

When my builder had the A/C installed the crew left over some copper pipe, the original boxes and the pallets that kept the box structurally sound. Rather than selling or recycling them, I thought reusing one of these as a frame for the collectible hard liquors and wine bottles would be ideal since the house’s decor is a mix of industrial and farmhouse styles.

Sanding down the frame – stain prep.

To protect the frame, I decided to stain it with the leftover product I used for the Master Closet DIY. The color is called Kona and is a Varathane stain + poly mix that is very easy to use with a roller, cloth or brush. After about an hour of dry time, for each side of the pallet, on a clear 70° day, the frame was ready. To install it to the wall, I used keyhole brackets from an unused past project. You can use hooks and other fasteners, just make sure the loaded assy doesn’t exceed weight limits for the method you select.

Originally, I wanted to add wood shelves because the distance between cross members was high enough to stack two rows of bottles in the rack. However, I had a hard time figuring out how to do it without making the whole assembly too heavy for the plastic wall anchors I had at hand. On top of that, I would have needed to cut and sand wood to size, and would most likely need to add a lip to prevent the bottles from slipping. Taking the lazy route was made even easier when I found two hanging wire baskets on sale at HomeGoods that solved all these problems. To keep the assy light, I installed the baskets directly into the wall in between the openings. Ta da!

Finished assy with the wire shelves.

Now that I had the storage solution up, it was easy to place the bottles in the wire shelves and stack them up in the best possible pattern. You could easily make this pallet from reclaimed wood or scraps from your local hardware or lumber store if you don’t have a delivery with these smaller pallets coming your way. 😎😍🤔


10 Quick Updates That Add Charm and Value To Your Home

Our new home felt a bit dull. (See Chateâu Enginerd, Month 2.) The items we asked to be customized where done 95% correctly so we had to finish some items ourselves because the builder was taking forever to get to them. Because of this the house was not move in ready, and well, adding more construction dust to it as we move in wasn’t going to hurt much. Some of these add ons may require permits and expert crews to pull off but they are worth every penny.

1. Remove cabinets and replace with open shelving.

As long as the shelves you are replacing measure the same length and width of the ones inside the cabinets, you will not loose storage space. This is a great alternative to store plates, mugs, cups or glassware that gets used all the time and is meant to be seen. The shelves can be wood, metal or any material combination you can think off, and if you are not sure what matches your kitchen check our HGTV and home good store catalogues for hints. The cabinets should come off in 5 mins or less and may require two people to accomplish.

2. Add cabinetry to the laundry room.

Instead of adding floating shelves or open storage, we installed the removed cabinets to the laundry room on top of our utility sink. Since the cabinets were the same it was a no brainer. Most Pinterest ideas have shelves on top of front loading washers and dryers, with a few cabinets on top of the shelf/shelves. Add a nice light fixture or update to recessed lighting and you can make a laundry room functional and charming. Check Pinterest for ideas.

3. Add Bluetooth speakers to the shower heads or vent fans.


I like to listen to music when I am in the shower and either solution gets the job done. My husband was skeptical but he loves to use the speaker and found practical applications beyond making and receiving calls – which we haven’t tried to do, yet – like hearing TV and radio content beamed from his cellphone. You can enjoy audio books or programming while you clean or complete your grooming routines. Kids will love hearing stories and signing along. Fun for the whole family. It’s a braggable solution too. 😉

3. Install LED dimmable Edison/vintage style lightbulbs.

Costco sells the Feit electric lightbulbs very cheaply and so does Home Depot/Lowes. Makes sure that you get the correct light tone output (some are yellowish some have white light). Pair it with industrial looking mason jar or lamp shades to give it an old school industrial or farmhouse look. They even sell bulbs for desk lapms and floor lamps. Have fun with this idea.

4. Paint rock, tile or flooring to brighten or tie in a room.

Concrete floors can be painted and sealed easily which is a good way to update a garage but did you know you could paint over laminate and wood? You can sand down and restain a floor or you can use special interior paint to achieve a similar result. Some design firms will paint and distress the work to give it an antique feel to it. Vinyl tile is easy to update as well and there are a ton of videos and Pinterest ideas to choose from for inspiration. Check it out!

5. Replace wire shelves with wood.

Change out pantry, linen and room closet wireframe shelves for wood planks. Depending on the budget you can do common board, pine, oak or plywood. Be aware that the harder the wood the more expensive it will get per linear foot. Use contact paper, paint or stain to tie in the look with existing color schemes. Check out the DIY pantry makeover blog post for ideas.

6. Use ship lap to accentuate a wall.

Copyright HGTV/Magnolia Homes

Ship lap is not just for Farmhouse style homes anymore. Make any wall pop in a room by adding wood planks that fit your style. If you don’t have the budget and like the look, you can use ship lap paneling. Vertical or horizontal, it doesn’t matter, as long as you like it. Leave it unstained or paint it bold colors for a unique finish.

7. Replace or add a chandelier in the main entrance area or room.

Chandeliers don’t have to be 8ft tall to amaze guests and find a place in your home. Mini chandeliers are making a splash in the interior design scene and transcend the plain light fixture trend. Use pendant lights when possible if the chandelier is too much. Improved lighting can make a house seem bigger so it is important to choose fixtures that have multiple light bulbs and illuminate the space well.

8. Replace existing ceiling mounted light fixtures with canned lights.

There are a few LED canned light replacements that do not require a can light fixture to be installed; they are self contained units. Ranging from $25+, these lights can make an old school kitchen look modern in a matter of minutes. If you already have canned lights, you can update them to LED and add the color changing fixtures for effect.

9. Revamp the front porch

If you have craftsman style colums around your porch, you can cover them up with real stone or veneers. If you don’t have columns, you can easily add them too. A nice railing in wood or wrought iron can look nice if you need to make sure kids and pets are secured while enjoying the space. In some cases a screened in porch can be ideal to avoid mosquitoes and insect bites. You can also turn it into a four or three season room to help keep the heat or cold out while enjoying the area.

10. Update the mailbox


If your house has a rural or on post mailbox you can get creative with this piece. Get a unique mailbox, like a Star Wars themed one, or wrap the post in stone. Include the mailbox as part of the gate or fence, if possible, to amp up the security of your mail. There are models that include package drop boxes to thwart package thieves. The sky is the limit as long as the box is postmaster approved!

Fixer Upper (HGTV)

If there ever was a show that has inpired me to do my own thing is this one. Chip and Joanna Gaines are a dynamic duo, the married couple we all strive to be. She is the literal beauty of the operation, the looks, hearts and soul of the transformations. He is the brawn, the nothing is impossible if you put some muscle and thought into it. Plus he is the realtor. 😎 They don’t let raising four children and managing 10 projects at a time scare them or stop them. No excuses. Faith and talent sees them through.

Every time they renovate a house my heart grows with love, hope and warmth. From the engineering to the decorations everything is done with great care in the most frugal/not wasteful way. They recycle materials from the torn down houses and use them to build finishing touches that add character and history, honoring the story of the residences they restore for those brave enough to take on a fixer upper. They are inspired by jobs no one else would undertake. These are the kind of people you want to trust with your home.

Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTVs Fixer Upper

Having gone through the experience of customizing a home from scratch, the value of their collective endeavors and enterprising spirit is admirable and, well, awesome.  They move heaven and earth to get you into your dream home as quickly and painlessly as possible, and within budget. I envy their prowess, charisma, charm and integrity. They get it done, Texas style!

Watch all the shiplap and wood glory in HD on HGTV. Binge! It’s so worth it.


DIY Industrial Look Toilet Paper Holders

After scouring the internet for ideas, I settled on a one roll and a two roll solution for our guest and master bathroom, respectively. The designs called out 3/4″ black pipe but we realized the cheaper 1/2″ works well too. However, the real cost differential lies in the galvanized pipe amd fittings vs the common black pipe. The former is almost a dollar more expensive per component than the latter. If you want the effect of the silver vs black you can paint the cheaper elements. Painted PVC works too but requires a little more creativity. Expect to spend anywherw from $15 to $35 dollars USD based on the design and materials at hand.

To build the two roll version pictured above you will need:

  1. Two 6″ black pipe sections.
  2. Two T’s (galvanized shown).
  3. Two caps. (Galvanized shown)
  4. One 2″ or 2.5″ long black pipe section.
  5. Two couplings (1″)
  6. Two floor fittings. (Galvanized shown)
  7. One stained or painted wood board, 3/4″ thick, 14″ long, 6″ wide.

Since the parts screw together it is an easy assembly and the picture will guide you in this process. One floor fitring goes to the wall, the other to the wood (not visible because it is underneath the plank). To secure the assembly to the wall use anchors or wood screws to the stud. Four 2″ screws/anchors are ideal for appearances but 2  diametrically opposed screws will suffice. Mark the fastener locations and drill pilot holes as required. Make sure you attach the wood last to the pipe skeleton and that it is protected to last in the moisture rich environment. Put the rolls on and take a picture. Done!

To build the one roll version pictured above you will need:

  1. One 6″ black pipe.
  2. One floor fitting. (Galvanized shown.)
  3. One cap. (Galvanized shown.)
  4. One 90° elbow. (Galvanized shown.)
  5. One 2.5″ long pipe section.
  6. Four screws.

Assemble components together to form an L shape by screwing/twisting the parts together. Install the L at a slight upwards angle to avoid roll slippage. Make sure the fitting to the wall or vanity is at least 4 inches higher than the toilet bowl rim and easy to reach. (Not too far back or forward unless space restrictions won’t allow it.) Measure vanity wood thickness to select the appropriate fasteners. You can use existing holders as reference or look up paper roll holder measurements online. Locations may vary by toilet size, height and space allocations. 🤓


Down to two boxes…

Moving was not as hard as people were telling me BUT unpacking was HELL. Good news, we didn’t have to trash or donate too much of the stuff; it was worth the hassle of packing it since we now have the time and space for a garage sale. Bad news, now we need to do a garage sale. Hehe.  😂

After six weeks, I am down to two boxes. Whatever I didn’t make, and MrEnginerd helped me install, is safely and neatly in its place. The master bedroom closet was done (check the link for that DIY), the pantry was upgraded (link here), and the toilet paper industrial pipe fixtures are rocking and rolling. So is the new microwave (My beef with Samsung).

Nothing has fallen off the walls. Yay! If it hadn’t been for my engineering guy friends, and one of the gals that came to help, we’d still be weeks behind. The fence is still a contention point but at least it is up and Zach is here with us, enjoying the new construction.

The county gave us permits for the door addition to the side yard and once the mounting structure is down I’ll be able to fully enjoy it. The Hunter Douglas curtains are well on their way and our previous reinbursements were all cashed. (Samsung, ugh, you won this round but that microwave was awful. The new one is amazing.) We even changed the mailbox for one that opens in the back so we don’t need to be on the streetside when picking up the correspondence. Go4Zero!!! 😉 To top it all off the garage and tools are stored and organized so we are ready to go come summer. Even the BBQ is ready to go.

Housewarming palooza coming soon…

DIY Pantry Makeover For $60 or Less!

For those of you not familiar with the Château Enginerd story, our brand new home was designed with a few low cost features that were poorly executed and not to our liking. The wireframe pantry we got, which was small to begin with, wasn’t optimized for storage so we decided to give it a cheap makeover to improve function and style. The finished product was more on the country style side than modern/contemporary but it fit well with the industrial style decor. We gained 44″ x 4″ extra storage space per shelf too which doesn’t sound like much but made a huge difference.

Before. Copyright MrsEnginerd

The makeover required that we reuse as much of the pantry’s existing brackets and rails as we could. To achieve this goal we removed the wireframe catch ears from the back of the shelf brakcets to get a nice smooth surface for the new wood shelves. Because the depth of the shelves had to be 16″, we purchased 3/4″ oak plywood and had the Lowe’s staff rip it for us from a 4 ft x 8ft sheet. Bad idea! The bandsaw ripped through the wood nicely but it chipped the edges of the wood veneer layer. The fix would require a couple of extra cuts with a 100 circular saw blade which would rob us of coveted surface space. Ugh. For the sake of saving time we went another route: Dollar Tree Contact Paper.

I bought a roll for each shelf to cover the sides and top leaving the wood exposed on the bottom. The winter weather made staining it a no go, and since I was in a hurry we opted for this option even though it wasn’t perfect. The only place this strategy bit us was with the top shelf but we had extra contact paper and fixed it! (Flipping the coated shelf works too if you don’t want to cover the entire shelf with the paper.) We screwed the brackets onto the wood with 3/4″ wood screws in two places, 3 brackets per shelf, and added a few Ikea drawers to use the open space underneath the top middle shelf. We had wire baskets too from Ikea but the brackets ate up the real estate we needed to make them fit. 😦

After. Copyright MrsEnginerd.

The cost came to about $50 bucks for a 3/4″ oak plywood sheet. If you get a thinner material it will save you some buckaroos. The Ikea drawers were $5 each and the contact paper was $1 each (we used 5). Shelving brackets can range between $2 and $$$. If you don’t have an existing rail system you can purchase one or find used ones at Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity for cheap!


My Beef With DIY Projects

Creating stuff requires a lot of effort and commitment, not to mention cash on hand and equipment. Many people are led to believe that doing it yourself saves money or that a DIY project should be inexpensive because you are, after all, only paying for the materials required. You’d think that this wouldn’t apply to smaller projects or ideas but if you don’t problem own a glue gun or have a dollar store in your neighborhood it can cost you more to put together that chalkboard jar than to get one from the sales rack at HomeGoods.

For bigger projects, like installing a pergola or chaging out windows, your county or city may require permits and inspections to do the work. In my hometown there are things we can’t legally do unless we acquire a general contractor’s licence. Even my builder had to hire out some of the work per code and local union agreements. You can get a hefty fine for not following protocol from both the government and your HOA. This can add thousands of dollars to your project. THOUSANDS. Not to mention that a licensed and bonded contractor has to offer warranties and protections by law to ensure the project is bonafide, safe and will not fail or cause injury or harm.

Many people get unto DIYing because it can help them save money but the reality is that unless you are a professional or have all the tools required for a job it can actually cost you more long term. Yes you can rent tools but they ain’t cheap! You’d be surprised how many $15 solutions from 4 years ago now cost $25 or more making it a no go even though it sounded good going in. Many IKEA hacks cost hundreds now to pull off because of changes in offerings and materials. Don’t forget that your time is valuable too and hiring someone else to do the job or purchasing already made products may be more cost effective for your particular situation since it lowers your risk of being injured and lose work time. Inexperience is very costly although learning is priceless. Weigh your options wisely.

Anyone can get into DIY and I will always recommend simple projects as a way to keep busy or introduce children to basic craftsmanship and home repairs. However be very careful and cautious using the appropriate personal protective equipment. Follow instructions and research techniques before testing them out. Practice makes perfect so don’t expect your homemade items to be of the same quality and look as those made by the pros. HGTV prowess takes years to develop and many more to master.

Have fun creating!

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