Sunday, September 9, 2007

'My Little Dump'

Demo Day 7

Today my friend came down to help jump-start my renovation endeavors again. It was welcome and much-needed encouragement to get back in the habit of attacking my little house. It felt great to get back in there working again. I missed what I affectionately refer to as 'my little dump'.

But first some pictures, taken today before the work started, just to catch the blog up on where I was before the hiatus. But this time, since I have my new floor-plan, I'll also note what the rooms will become.

Apartment A, front room. Not much has changed in here at all. This room currently acts as a storage area for woodwork salvaged from the house, especially mouldings. About 4 feet of this room will be turned into a closet for the future Guest Bedroom immediately behind it (which is where Apartment B's bathroom and Apartment A's little hallway are). The remainder of the room will be thrown into the main living space, an open living and dining area which will occupy the entire span on the front of the house.

Skipping the little hallway, this is the bedroom of Apartment A. It's probably a lot cleaner that what I posted last of it, and it's a lot more open and airy. This will become the new Master Bedroom. The wall you see on your left will be moved out into the adjacent room about 3 feet.

This is what once was the kitchen for Apartment A, with a tiny bath off through the doorway on the left. This room will become... the master bedroom closet. Yes, that's about 10x10 of pure closet. But since the house lacks on storage space, this area will also function to serve that purpose as well. The tiny bathroom will be gifted back to the back screened-in porch, what the area originally was before it was closed in.

Front room of Apartment B. Remember we took down the wall (and fireplace) in-between this front room and the bedroom immediately behind it. The mantel you see rests on the intact wall that separates what was the bedroom and Apartment B's kitchen. When you walk in this apartment, you can see straight to the back wall of the house now.

The front room will become the main living area, as mentioned above. It will eat into what used to be the front room of Apartment A (the wall that separates them will be removed) and also will nip at the front porch. Part of the front porch will be closed in, specifically a 9x9 (or so) area where the entrances are to the two apartments. I won't be losing front porch space, per say, because the front porch is L-shaped, about 9 feet deep and 24 feet wide. So taking the little space that shoots OFF of this long expanse won't be missed and will add much needed living space to the house itself.

Also, please look at the picture carefully above and note the big pile of brick, mortar, and general renovation debris. This is what we worked on today. But more on that later.

Apartment B had this large, oddly shaped, and poorly laid out bathroom. The dropped ceiling has been torn down in half of it and the two skeletal walls... well, that was my handiwork.

This entire space, currently about 11x9 will be ripped out. So will the long hallway behind it (that used to be a side porch) from Apartment A. This new space will be combined with the additional footage of moving the wall closest to you (same one that runs along the new Master Bedroom) to create the Guest Bedroom.

I didn't note earlier but the new kitchen will be where Apartment B's bedroom was. I'm sure this is all confusing, but when I get the floor-plan sketch up, maybe this will all make sense. Past the kitchen, which will be walk-through, a hallway will run to the back of the house, terminating at the entrance to the back porch. All doorways to the rooms will be off this hallway.

The kitchen of Apartment B. It's empty of fixtures, but full of drywall from the walls and dropped ceiling, now removed. The new bathroom and separate laundry room will be in this area, as well as a hallway to the back screened-in porch.


Work from Demo Day 7

A before shot, looking to the front of the house, of the front room (and what was the bedroom) of Apartment B. Look at all the debris on the floor, especially the remnants of the fireplace. This is where we concentrated our work efforts today. We were there working hard for about 4 or 5 hours. I'm quite satisfied with the work we got done, but the pictures won't show how difficult tearing down a stubborn fireplace/chimney that's been in place for 100 years can be. Plus we had to haul out the broken bricks, soot, and mortar in 5 gallon buckets to a dumpster out front. The materials were so heavy, we couldn't fill the buckets all the way up, either.

And here is where we left it. Not quite to floor level, but one side is down, even with the floor. We only had a hammer and sledgehammer to use, and I was trying to salvage as many whole bricks as I could. You can see them stacked up in the room. Later I remembered that we actually had a chisel there in the house, too, but of course, not until the work day was done.

Looking down at the side of the two fireplaces, where they used to be back to back. The stacks of bricks at the two corners are around where the gas lines came up beside the fireplaces in the room. So maybe you can see how large this double-fireplace, single chimney was. A lot of the brick at the bottom of the fireplaces are fire brick, which are about twice to three times as big as normal brick and about that much heavier, too. The further down we went, the more solidly cemented the bricks were in place. I might have to rent a mini-jackhammer to finish this project.

View from the back of the fireplaces, looking towards the front of the house. I was proud of the work we got done today. It was almost backbreaking, but fun and rewarding in a way that only hard work can be.

This shot looks at the fireplaces from the front door of Apartment B. Such a much more pleasant entry to the house than what we found it. You can actually see clear floorspace and your eyes aren't immediately drawn to a huge pile of rubble in the middle of the floor.

I should've taken pictures of what we looked like afterwards, too. I didn't fully realize how dirty I was until I found myself in front of a mirror. I thought I would never get the soot off in the shower. Working that low on the chimney and fireplace, most of what you work with is soot. Lots and lots of soot. Thank goodness for face masks!

I remembered only after the fact that I found an old skeleton key among the debris while working today. I thought that was a really neat artifact to find, and hung it on a nail in the house. I meant to take a picture of it but was too tired to remember when the day was done. I think I'll put it in a shadowbox and use it as artwork once I move in the house.

Hopefully soon I'll be able to get my layout sketches scanned in, the house as I bought it and the house I will make it.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Still here!

I'm still here, so is my house. But not a lot has been going on with the renovation since last time I posted. I've owned the house for 4 months now, which is surprising to me. But looking back over those four months, I have accomplished a lot, especially since the only thing I've hired out is the new roof. I've probably saved myself a few thousand dollars by doing all the demo myself, with the aid of my family and friends. But working that hard can take its toll on you, too.

That's why I took the month of August off from working on my house. For about 3 weeks in August, the heat index here was about 115 degrees. And when the sun wasn't beating down on everything, drenching rains crept in. It may not have been wise from a time-line point of view, but I needed the time off to escape the stress and enjoy the last bits of summer. I work full time during the week, Monday through Friday, twelve hours a day. So the only time available for me to work on the house is on the weekends. Three months of weekends working on the house deserves a few weekends off, I think. Maybe not as many as I took off, but since the time away from the project hasn't affected my budget, no harm was done. But it has changed my time-line, although I never set one in stone to begin with.

I have also been waiting on my contractor... But I knew from the start that he was busy and my renovation project was added on his 'list'. He's been busy finishing up work for other people, mainly repairing damage done by the tornado my hometown suffered in March. But I can't complain too much, because I know where he's been. He's been working on my parents' house, my sister's house, and my brother-in-law's mother's house. And doing high quality work, I might add. Every project I see him complete builds my confidence in his abilities, and I'm fully vested in waiting until he can devote his full energy to my renovation. Hopefully, my house is next on his list. In two or three more weeks...

Tomorrow my friend and I will be working at my house again. Hopefully I will be able to make myself get up early (!) and beat the heat to get some work done over at the house. At this point, there's only a little bit of demolition left to do that I think I can handle myself. But mainly I hope to clean up the site a bit, and then concentrate on getting that demo done. Plus I think it makes more sense to have a reasonably clean renovation site for both safety and optimism standpoints (If it looks better, I feel better. If it looks messy, I want to lock the door and run away.).

I haven't been wasting this time, entirely, however. Several window-shopping trips have been made to home improvement stores and one price-sticker shopping trip was made to a furniture store. I've been picking out kitchen appliances, cabinets, and counter tops, in addition to bathroom fixtures and flooring for the whole house. I've picked out my back door but have yet to find a new front door that speaks to me. I've had electricians and plumbers visit the site and give estimates, as well as a yard man who's lined up to clear out the back, front, and side yards, once I'm ready for his crew to come in.

Oh, and the new house plan has been finalized. Hopefully I'll be able to get sketches of both the new and old layouts up this weekend so you'll know what I've been working with and where I'm going.

I guess that's all for now. Stay tuned!