One of the most glaring cosmetic issues with our house was the carpet. Except for the bathrooms and kitchen, the whole house was carpeted. (Actually, even the master bathroom had a carpet scrap sitting on top of the vinyl flooring.) We're not carpet people. Much of the carpet was somewhat worn, and the colors were not to our liking.
We peeked under the vent covers, and discovered that the original hardwood floors were still under the carpets in the 1954 portion of the house. In the 1990 addition (the back 1/3 of the den, and the master bedroom), the carpets were laid directly on top of the OSB subfloor.
We decided that refinishing the hardwoods was our first home improvement priority. If we could get that done before we moved much furniture into the house, it would make our lives much easier--not much stuff to work around, and we wouldn't have to worry so much about the sanding dust getting into things. We will eventually lay new hardwoods in the den and the master bedroom, but that project is lower on our priority list. So until we get there, we're just going to live directly on the OSB subfloor. Because we hated the carpet that much, and were that eager to get rid of it.
P had to go back and finish his afternoon at work after closing. I swapped out the locks on the doors, and then couldn't resist removing a test strip of carpet. We knew there were hardwood floors under there, and that they had probably never been refinished--leaving us plenty of wood to work with. (Hardwood floors can only be refinished a hand full of times before needing replacing, since you sand off part of the floor boards and lose thickness each time.) But we didn't know whether they were in good enough condition to be worth keeping. Had there been accident-prone pets in the house? Sloppy housekeepers? Could we really assume that the floors were in good condition 55 years after they were first installed?
So I jumped the gun, and without waiting for P on this momentous occasion, grabbed the carpet knife and started slicing out around a vent. Once I had a bit of wiggle room, I pulled the carpet several inches off the floor, and started slicing toward the wall. I didn't know how much carpet padding had survived the years, and I didn't want to risk scoring the floor boards.
Much to my relief, the floors were in good condition! The finish was a little worn and had carpet padding had left marks in it, but we had expected to find as much. There was a bit of water damage around the front door and near some windows (probably where plants were kept), but nothing that wouldn't be easily fixed by a basic refinishing.
We try to be pretty scrupulous with health and safety, and 40 years of under carpet dusty is just sketchy. Especially in the living room, where the carpet padding had nearly completely disintegrated, and looked like this:
So we wore dust masks, and gloves to protect our hands from errant staples, etc.
And, several hours of work later, we had entire house full of carpet out at the curb. We were very fortunate--our town does an extra household trash pickup once a year for old appliances, remodelling debris, etc. And it was scheduled for a week after closing. They'll take one pickup truck load from each household--and that's almost exactly the amount of carpeting that was in our house.
It was pretty miraculous to come by later that afternoon, and see that the whole pile had magically vanished.