11:38 a.m. Wednesday, March 9,
When we initially investigated our little ranch's ability to support a 2nd floor, we knew we had to reinforce the beams under the kitchen floor and tie them to the center beam in the basement. This made us wonder if we would have to remove our nice tile floor. Then when we realized the shape of our kitchen was going to change, that left us with no choice but to tear up the tile.
Tom and his crew took care of the tile removal, which left a thin layer of plywood over our subfloor filled with thousands of nails. I exaggerate not...
Since the thin plywood had to be replaced, that meant all the nails had to come out. Of our 16'x12' floor. So a few months ago, when I needed a break from wiring the house, I started pulling out the nails, one by one. Slowly, little piles of nails started to accumulate throughout the kitchen. Here's just one little pile:
These weren't little wussy nails.
After a few nights of haphazard nail pulling and mounds of elbow grease, we found an article in This Old House magazine touting the goodness of nail pullers (who knew such things existed?). The nail puller we purchased is a cross between a cat's paw and a ripping bar. Let me tell you, if you have any deeply-driven nails to pull, for $5-15, this was one of our best investments yet. It made my job 100X easier, hammering the nail puller under the nails and yanking them up.
Once all the nails were pulled, the hundreds of screws had to be unscrewed. This was probably my first time using a drill, and Ryan was very patient, watching me strip quite a few screws along the way before I really got the hang of it. But now I can say with confidence that I can use an electric drill and won't be so afraid to tackle projects in the future.
Eventually, I was ready to pull up the old floor.
I really wanted to get a picture of the kitchen before pulling up the plywood, with thousands of points of light streaming up into the kitchen from the basement through the nail and screw holes — which was especially bright at night — but I was so eager to get the plywood up that I forgot all about the picture before it was too late.
Tom delivered new sheets of 5/8" plywood, which we'll need under our new kitchen flooring to match the height of our surrounding hardwood floors, and Ryan started screwing them down.
We were happy to have the hole from the old kitchen sink covered over.
It looks like the sink must have leaked at some point within the last 50 years, as that part of the subfloor was discolored, which you can see in the photo below.
After some help from Jay and Lori, Seth came over to help Ryan finish the job.
I think they felt pretty good about how much they got done.
Looks good, guys! You can see I started to move the stove, fridge, and old cabinets back into the room to get an idea of how our new kitchen will feel. But that didn't last long. In preparation for sheetrock, we had to move everything away from the walls and our kitchen now looks like this:
Hmm...never considered an island. *The wheels start turning.* This is a good photo of the kitchen floor meeting the subfloor in the hallway. The hallway will get hardwood to match the existing floor in the living room and dining room, which is badly in need of patching and refinishing.
11:44 a.m. Thursday, March 10,
I really love my family. Especially when they all gang up on us and come over to help with the house.
We recently had one such workday, but let it be known: this happened only AFTER we had a working toilet.
And what a toilet we have! This cute little American Standard bowl, tank, and toilet seat came cheapy cheapy from the Home Depot and sat around our house in boxes, teasing us for almost a month before being installed. Once it was put in, we stared at it — mouths agape — like it was the first toilet installed indoors in anyone's home, ever.
The half-spackled greenboard surround is a story for another day.
One of the projects on our family workday list was finally getting the sump pump house out of the window and through the basement wall. Opa, master of all things cement, took on the task of putting a hole in our new bump-out wall about a foot below ground level and digging the trench for the hose...a difficult task with the ground frozen, even with a pick-ax. He made sure the hose was always slightly angled down, so the water pumped out of our sump pits would never sit in the hose and freeze, causing water to back up into our basement.
That would kind of defeat the purpose of a sump pump, not that we're strangers to a wet basement by now...
Opa wanted me to post this picture of him wiping his brow after hours of digging.
Hmm, always knew Aunt Ilse liked to ham for the camera (top, right), but now I see where she gets it from. And let me tell you, after watching Opa digging our frozen backyard for hours until he got the job done, I would gladly post as many pictures of him hamming as he wanted.
Here, Oma and Aunt Ilse — looking incredibly thin, by the way — display our lovely new bathroom door a.k.a. an old lavender bed sheet nailed to the doorframe. Our bathroom privacy plan also includes a loud stereo and a very noisy ceiling fan.
The photo on the right shows Aunt Ilse putting a roll of Pink Panther insulation in the wall between the two upstairs bathrooms. This is also part of our bathroom privacy plan.
Uncle David went around the whole downstairs, pulling out any nails
or other protrusions sticking out of the 2x4s in preparation for the
new sheetrock. This was a long, tedious job we're glad he tackled because
quite honestly it was something Ryan and I probably wouldn't have accomplished
6:12 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Nothing screams, "Something big is about to happen!" more than piles of sheetrock and mounds and mounds of joint compound sitting around your house.
My goodness that's a lot of buckets. Do they really need that many?!
One of the problems we had to address before even imagining this many buckets sitting on our dining room floor was passing our framing and insulation inspections. One of the reasons we failed our framing inspection was because Ryan notched one of the i-beams on the dining room ceiling to fit the chandelier support bar. Small as it may have seemed at the time, that cut was a big no-no.
Our local Georgia Pacific (GP) rep told us the only way to solve this "structural" problem was to sister the original i-beam with a second one. The second i-beam could be installed within three inches of the original, which is a little different than traditional sistering as we've experienced, where the new beam is installed directly against the original.
You can see the notch Ryan cut out and both i-beams in the photo below.
The Georgia Pacific rep's letter also confirmed that the GP beams used
by our builder were comparable to the TJI beams specified in our blueprints.
This was another sticking point with the township, so we were glad the
issue was easily resolved with the GP rep's letter. So thanks to <insert
name here> from Georgia Pacific for helping out some local homeowners
using your products.
6:45 p.m. Thursday, March 17,
Our sheetrock installation is DONE (woohoo!), meaning all those buckets of spackle are now dispersed throughout the house and being put to good use.
Here's a guy working on the top corner of our foyer. I'm glad I was there to see how he did it, with the long metal stand balancing on the balcony and a ladder. The guys were using these cool sponge looking things to squish gobs of joint compound into all the ceiling/wall joints before pushing the tape over top of it
One the things I noticed right away while looking around today was that they had sheetrocked right over our linen closet opening in the upstairs hallway. Oops.
See? I guess it's good I poke around while they're working... =)
This isn't a big deal. We had a window completely missing in our bedroom when our house was framed way back when, and another window that was framed in the wrong spot, also in our bedroom. We've found that as long as we the homeowners are intimately familiar with our plans (which we are) and stay on top of the progress (which we do), everything seems to come out right in the end.
The guy on the makeshift scaffolding in the picture above wasn't too happy about having to go back to working on drywall again to make room for the new opening, now that he's moved on to spackling. But he'll fix it nonetheless.
Here's a view of our long living room, which now feels much bigger with sheetrock on the walls. The kitchen and our master bedroom also feel bigger now, and for some reason, the dining room and foyer feel smaller.
And this photo shows who won the great master bathroom shower debate...*grins*
So hopefully, after two more days of spackling (today was the first),
our house will be READY TO PRIME.
11:29 p.m. Friday, March 18, 2005
Here's how we used to lock our front door. And um, yes, that would be a plastic bag filling the deadlock hole. Very secure, I know. Wait until you see how we locked our back door:
This is the "Put an old kitchen cabinet and as much stuff as possible in front of the door and hope it will be too much of an inconvenience for burglars to push" method. Also extremely effective. And the sump pump hose used to run through our open basement window, as you might have seen in the workday photos above. We felt as special as Home Depot with our own Contractor Entrance. "Yeah, just go in through the open basement window."
Obviously, we don't feel we have the same security issues as the folks over at 1912 Bungalow, who've had stuff stolen from their yard while they were home. But I also wasn't about to let the whole Internet world know how to breach our high-tech security system before it was upgraded. So I present to you our new front door lock:
It's black with antiqued edges, just like our exterior lights. Now if only we could find a mailbox to match. We're not too impressed with the Home Depot, Lowes, and local hardware store options, as far as that goes. Anyone have any good, reputable suggestions of where we could look online? Let us know:
One problem we dealt with for a while was having no one to put our roof flanges around the plumbing pipes going through the roof. It didn't help that we have a very steep, 10/12 roof pitch. So after loads of snow and a good rain, here's how our powder room looked:
Yeah, not too exciting finding more water in the house. But eventually Tom came over with his son and saved the day, once again. Thanks, Tom!
We never thought we'd say this, but we really miss the dumpsters sometimes. All five of them...though not at once. It was so convenient just to open a window and heave. Now we're back to abiding by regular township-scheduled garbage pickup. But I must admit it feels very good disposing of our refuse like regular homeowners again.
Though we usually have much, much more of it than most neighbors ;) Thanks to Ry's folks for giving us heavy-duty contractor bags for Christmas (among other things, of course).
And finally, for those of you who want to see more photos of our sheetrocking progress, I've uploaded all the photos to Yahoo!'s photo section in an album called "Sheetrock" — ingenious, huh? Click on the album cover below to see them!
6:13 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, 2005
We recently took a trip to our friend Megan's house. She and her fiance, Nick, have already done some really cool things to her turn-of-the-century duplex, such as shadowstriping the dining room (more on that another time).
One of the things I noticed right away was how the house had OUR TRIM. Or to be precise, it had the trim we had always said we'd use. And it was authentic, original-to-the-house trim. I took a lot of pictures so we could have some visuals when it came time to duplicate the look.
Here's a close-up of that trim beneath the column:
And here's something that I wish we were allowed to do, but cannot do by code:
I don't know why, but I've always thought horizontal outlets in baseboards were the neatest thing. Current electrical code dictates that outlets be higher off the floor than this. If old houses aren't required to change the height of their outlets, why can't new houses PRETENDING to be old houses have outlets at this height, too? If it is so much of a risk, shouldn't they ALL be moved higher, not just the new ones? I've never quite understood that logic...
Anyway, here's a sneak peak at how we would like our trim to look. Now if only those spackler guys would finish up so we could start cleaning up the house and getting it primed!