Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 3

Today was Day THREE with the Flu Contractor, and I could hardly keep myself from the house in anticipation of what might be going on and getting done. I stayed away, though, and out of the contractors' way, until I knew they'd be done for the day. Plus we'd scheduled a meeting with an electrician down at the house in the afternoon, so I waited semi-patiently. After the electrician left, I began taking pictures...

This is the corner of the closet of the master bedroom, where they replaced the sills. The contractors also began sister-ing the old studs to new ones.

Now we've turned around to face the opposite corner and here you see the previously finished floor substructure and sills running between the closet and master bedroom and, in the distance, the rebuilt back wall in the kitchen.

Same new wall in the kitchen, with its new sill. To the right is what is left of the back porch and a pile of debris. Straight ahead is the bowed out wall in the kitchen.

This corner looks like a mess, and it is, but it's where the wall we were just on and the bowed out wall meet, but there's something different from yesterday--- the wall has been jacked up and leveled...

And the studs here have been sister-ed, too. But the bowed out wall...

Has been reattached to the house! And the sill has been repaired! I kind of wish I had stopped in today just to see how they accomplished this feat.

You might remember this picture angle from yesterday, but today the joists are definitely attached and the wall is flush with the house and level and perfect. You may see some odd lumber here and there and supports, but that's what's left from their maneuvering today.

This is a shot from farther away of the back wall of the kitchen, the one in the process of being rebuilt, and Daddy checking out the workmanship. The right corner has been brought up, as has the left, but the middle still sags a bit, but the pier here had deteriorated and the contractors haven't built a new one back yet.

All in all, an extremely productive day. I had a very good bid from the electrician, and I'm pretty sure I'll go with him. I'd gotten another bid a while back, and this new guy came in much lower, mainly because the extent of the demo has left the house open and exposed, as it would be in a new home, so he's giving me the 'new build' price.

I also bought my first piece of furniture for the house today, but I'll save that for another post.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 2 with the Flu Contractor

Since the weather was beautiful outside today, and no chance of rain in sight, I hardly expected to see the guys working on my house. I thought that last Friday was just because they had been rained out of their other jobs. And they would start, for real, in another week as the Flu Contractor stated. It turns out, I was happily mistaken.

After running a few errands downtown (and spotting some simple antique stained glass windows for sale in my price range--- mental note, mind you), I drove by my house to see if any any work was going on. I stopped in, met two of the guys I didn't meet Friday, and we discussed the placement of doors and the layout of the bathroom and utility room. But more on that, later. First, pictures!

Some of these came out dark. I'm not sure if my camera settings are wonky or if it was just that bright in the house, because there was a lot of daylight coming in with, what, the back wall of the house being open. This is the view from my front door. You can click it to make the picture more easily viewable.

A picture of the bathroom and its new floor substructure. A closet for the little bedroom will go in here, as well as the utility room. The space in the hallway behind will go into these rooms as well.

We're standing at the kitchen doorway, looking out into the backyard. The kitchen doorway and the backdoor of the house will be lined up sort of like this, so that when you walk into the Great Room, you can see straight out to the backyard. It's a visual trick to make the space seem larger. This has been a plan of mine all along, but not until today could you really see it. Of course, in the future, the backyard will beckon you outside, but that's a project for later.

I'm out on the gangplank over the floor joists admiring the new sill and beginnings of the new back wall in the kitchen. The Contractors will bulk up this wall once they build in the doorways, right now the studs are for weight support, only. Also, you may notice the slant in the wall. The whole back of the house will be jacked up and leveled once they reattach the bowed wall and finish the sill repair and replacement.

Same place on the gangplank, looking into the closet off the master bedroom. You can see daylight where they had to remove the siding in order to tear out the old sills and replace them.

Further back, standing in the Dining Area of the Great Room, looking at the kitchen wall that separates these areas. You see the doorway which will remain in place, open and cased. I'm contemplating having an opening in the wall to the left of the doorway as well, a little higher than counter height, and not a true bar. Just an open, cased window, with the sink below it on the opposite side... Just a thought. I don't want the space too open, and I want a break in room color that only walls can give, for the kitchen. But I want the two rooms to speak to one another and flow.

In the master bedroom now, looking at the replaced sills and new floor structure. That's going to be one big closet area. Again, the studs are just there to hold weight. We talked about door placement here, too. It will be cheated to the left, off center, with enough room left so that shelves can be on all walls, maximizing the storage space.

I'm out in the backyard, now, looking back towards the house. What is left of this whole screened-in porch will be demoed. It was an add-on, anyway. I want to put one back eventually, but won't have the money right away. But look at the view. See the double windows at the front of the house? The front door is just to the left of them, on a side wall. This is what I was talking about earlier, with having clean and clear sight lines.

This is part of the junk pile. Since I don't have a dumpster at the moment, I'm having them pile up debris. Click on this to see the extent of the rot and termite damage to the sills and other lumber that were the walls.

Here, I'm situated about where the back door will be in the kitchen. I guess this was my blog post theme of the day. Ignore the wire hanging down precariously. See the stud wall immediately in front of us? This is the wall I'm thinking about adding the open window pass through between the kitchen and Great Room, in addition to the open doorway.

I spoke with the contractors for a while about door placement, so from here they can finish the walls to where we talked about putting the doors. Also, with their expertise, we mapped out the layout of the bathroom and the utility room, and decided that these will in fact be two smaller rooms in the big bathroom area, both having doors in the dining area. The bathroom door will swing in and the utility room door will swing out. I'm thinking maybe frosted glass multi-paned french doors here, mimicking a set but opening into two different rooms. These will let in light, address privacy matters, and look a little dressier than standard doors. I saw some pine interior doors at Lowe's that I found to be reasonably priced, even if I have to frost the glass myself. The contractors are also going to leave enough space around all the doors in the house for wide trim, if it's in the budget down the road.

So that's the end of the second day. Much more will happen tomorrow. I'm very excited about the progress so far. Hopefully they'll be done by the end of this week. Next will be getting my demo contractor back in to finish work, clean up, and start framing the non-load bearing walls. Maybe even installing the new windows. Then I'll be setting up appointments with the air conditioner guy, the plumber, and the electrician.

I guess I'll have to schedule an inspection by City Hall, though, too.

But first I'll have to get the house secure again, by getting demo contractor in to replace siding and... oh. Hmm, I guess I need to buy a back door.

Work done! New lumber! Sawdust!

This is what greeted me when I came up the steps to the front porch. Sawdust!

The Flu Contractor started working on my house last Friday (03/27/09). Here are the pictures I took once I got off of work and they were done for the day and weekend. They work 8am-4pm, Monday through Friday, and chose to start on a Friday because the weather rained them out of their other projects.

I was very cheerful all day and beyond ecstatic because the work of putting back had begun. So far with the house, everything I'd done was taking away. All good, like taking away the two apartments, taking away the gross kitchens and bathrooms, taking away the storm damaged roof, taking away the jungle in the back yard, taking away the bamboo... But last Friday, I began putting back.

I don't think anyone has ever been as excited as I was to see scrap lumber last Friday...

And once I was inside the door, I found this, new lumber! So, being the dork about my house that I am, I took a picture. Apparently I have no shame when it comes to my house.

This is most definitely picture-worthy, though. New sills, a couple of new foundation piers, and the beginnings of new framing for a new floor in the bathroom. New, new, new!

Here we are at the kitchen door, looking at the complete absence of a back wall to the house. Unless you count the little section of three studs and exterior siding on the back porch.

I squirreled across the kitchen floor joists to get a closer look. This mesmerized me for some reason. I think it was a twist on reality. I knew what had been there, and what should be there, but nothing was there. Just air.

I'm about twelve feet over now, in the master bedroom, looking at another lack of wall and lack of floor. I knew this was all coming out, the rotten wood in order to fix it but, I just... some things you can't imagine.

Looking down to your right from the view above, at the cuts made and the new floor in progress. Again, this is the floor of what will be the master closet.

I'm back now to the center of the house, on the other side of the new bathroom floor. I'm in the hallway/old enclosed side porch which will donate its space to the bathroom.

It was getting dark at this point, so I locked up and came home, my imagination running wild with what it would look like in a week, or a month, or three months. Of how long would it actually take to get it looking like a house again...

the saga, revisited...

Another two weeks have gone by, but let's catch up again on the saga:

It turns out the contractor I interviewed and took on a walk through of the house had either the flu or walking pneumonia for a week and a half, which explains why he didn't get back in touch with me. I actually found this out when I called another potential contractor about the work... It turns out the second guy didn't get his license last summer when the big law changed in Georgia, but he recommended the first guy I talked to. I told second guy that I had already spoken with first guy, and the second guy told me that first guy had been sick.

Sorry if that was confusing.

Long story short (too late), walking pneumonia guy returned my call a day or two later and proposed a bid, or rather, a strategy. And after a week of contemplation and talking to my family, I accepted.

This was all two weeks ago, as is my updating fashion. But here's where my demo contractor left off, and a review (with images!) of the problems:

This is my kitchen floor. And the dirt below it. These are the floor joists that aren't attached to the wall. At all. Any of them. Bad angle, but this a recap, remember? The wall to your diagonal left is the bowed-out wall.

This is the view looking through the back wall of the kitchen onto the back porch area, which also at some point became the bathroom area for Apartment 1. Notice the lack of floor where the bathroom was- it was beyond rotten and terrible. To your left you see the screened-in porch floor.

Here I'm standing in what will be the master closet, looking out across what was the bathroom and onto the back porch. This was the the place where the hot water heaters lived, and there was no access out onto this porch from the house. You had to climb through the jungle to get here.

I'm standing on the dirt below where the bathroom was, with a close up of the sill here, just to show you how badly these needed to be replaced.

And here we have the sill in the bathroom for Apartment B, where the bathroom will go back.

I had to wedge myself against stacked lumber, two displaced mantels, and a set of scaffolding to get this picture, but it is of the bowed-out kitchen wall and the floating floor joists.

So, Flu Contractor is going to replace the sills around the master closet, the sills in the bathroom in the center of the house, and the sills of two walls in the kitchen. He will fix the bowed-out wall in the kitchen correctly, and entirely rebuild the back wall in the kitchen. He will also move the load-bearing wall that sits in-between the kitchen and master bath out about a foot to 18 inches, whatever the sister-ed rafters above allow without having to change the foundation below.

He estimates that this will take a week.

Friday, March 20, 2009

dumpster M.I.A.

Tuesday morning on my way to work, I noticed that the construction dumpster that usually resides outside my house was gone. I hadn't called to have them dump it, as it was only a quarter-ways full, if that.

I called the dumpster company and they tell me that there was a vehicle accident in front of my house (minor, I'm positive) and that the people involved blamed the line-of-sight and view blockage of my dumpster, since it was parked in the street. The police called the dumpster company and asked them to remove it.

Now, I have had a dumpster outside my house sometimes for weeks at a time, and never have there been any problems. If you use common sense while driving, there isn't an issue. The street is a pretty slow street anyway, and is kind of on a hill, so you can see far enough ahead of you to tell what traffic is like...

Anyway, no charge for the dumpster removal. For the actual dumping, I'm not sure. And no charge to bring a dumpster back, when I need it again. Since I have no driveway, I guess I'll have to start a yard pile of stuff to be hauled away, then when the pile gets big enough, rent a dumpster for the day and fill it and dump it ASAP.

Fun note of the day: someone (bad neighbors) threw an old-school, huge projection tv in my dumpster last week. And also some old broken children's toys in my backyard, which was clean. I know the tv was theirs because it was seen, by multiple people, outside their house. I wouldn't be surprised if the dumpster/car fiasco had something to do with them as well.


I took a potential licensed contractor on a walk through of the house about two weeks ago. Still haven't heard from him. Left him a voice mail yesterday morning, but he hasn't returned my call yet. I guess tomorrow I'll start calling other licensed contractors and setting up times to meet.

I am pretty good at staying optimistic but these setbacks lately have really taken a toll on me. It feels like every time I get excited about the house again, something else pops up and brings me back down.

Maybe timing is everything. And, like I've said many times before, I have more time than money at this point. But it sure is frustrating.

Monday, March 9, 2009

picture update, problem review

This is the view of the great room from the centered double windows (behind the camera). What you mainly see is the dining area, but the camera can't capture the real size of this room. Beyond the studded wall, you can see my demo contractor and his helper working in the kitchen.

I have two of these fireplace mantels, from the defunct fireplaces I had to tear down. I want to do something with at least one of them, but I'm not sure yet what to do. I'm not thinking faux fireplace, here. I'm thinking some kind of shelf, or mirror... or... I don't know yet.

This is the original floor in the small bedroom off the great room. It is the only floor so far that has been even remotely salvageable. I'll have to replace two boards, hopefully from another part of the house. I'd like to refinish this floor.

We're in the great room looking into the bathroom. The demo is complete here, almost. All the plaster and little walls and closets, etc are gone. The back wall between the bathroom and the hallway is still present, but that wall will be taken down and used in the bathroom.

This is the view from the hallway of the bathroom floor. Here you can see where the floor joists failed and where the sill is damaged. This will have to replaced, pretty much the whole floor structure, too.

This is the rest of the floor. I think it speaks for itself. (fun game: look for the stump!)

This is the master bedroom, looking into the closet. The doorway off the closet will be closed; it currently leads out into, what was, the craptastic bathroom for apartment 1. The sills in the closet area are in questionable condition. More exploration is needed determine if they need replacing.

Here we're in the kitchen, finally able to look out into the back porch, half of which is where the hot water heaters lived and half of which was turned into the previously mentioned bathroom. The immediate wall will have to be rebuilt, everything beyond it demoed. The screened-in porch will most likely not be immediately rebuilt.

I just though this was a fun picture. You can see the exterior siding that ran along the side of the small closet/pantry in the kitchen for apartment 2. This was closed in (poorly) for the bath.

We're looking through what was the pantry area in the kitchen, beyond it onto the back-porch. The porch was a later addition in the house's life. I really like this picture, because if you remember, the porch has been inaccessible from the house for at least 20 years, I'm guessing.

At some point, they needed to fix the floor of the pantry. So they tacked up a strip of wood along the base moulding and laid a piece of plywood down. And covered it with linoleum. Of course.

This is the other wall in the kitchen, the one under the window. This wall is separating from the house, to put it mildly. But along with the patch job in the pantry, the P.O. "patched" this wall, too, by replacing the sill and building a new pier up under the part of the detached wall that bows out.


So those are the latest pictures and latest problems. I'm still waiting to hear back from the licensed contractor that I showed the house to last week. I know that these images are a lot to take in, but they also represent a lot of progress. I see see the potential, I am still optimistic about the outcome.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

march madness

I'm a bit behind...

Two weeks ago, my contractor began demo work at my house, with a helper. In about 5 days, they completely filled up a construction dumpster and uncovered many problems, but most of which were suspected and expected.

The sill under the bathroom needs to be replaced. It has disintegrated over the years due to water issues and old termite damage. The same is to be said of the sill under the back kitchen wall, which needs to be rebuilt. Also confirmed by the demo is that the back porch needs to be completely removed, nothing is salvageable. The sill adjacent to the rotten porch (under what will be the master bedroom closet room) is probably too far gone, too. The sub floors in the kitchen, bathroom, and master closet will most likely have to be ripped up.

A surprise found was that the side kitchen wall, the wall with the window in it, has separated from the floor joists. As in- you can see about 3 inches of daylight in between the exterior wall and where the floor joists at one point met. The previous owner knew this, blocked up the floor joists on 4x4s resting on 2x4s, and added a new (now leaning) pier underneath the 'floating' wall. At least they replaced the sill here. Too bad they didn't bother to attach it to the house.

I have pictures, but it's been a busy two weeks with work and everything, and I just haven't had time to add them to the blog. But soon...

Today I met with a licensed contractor at the house and spoke with him about replacing the bathroom sill, reattaching the side wall in the kitchen to the house, rebuilding the back wall in the kitchen, and checking out the rest of the sills at the back of the house. I also asked him to price moving a load-bearing wall in the house, the one in between the kitchen and the master bedroom. I wanted to move the wall to make the bedroom bigger, but it may not be in the budget at this point.

I really liked him. We talked a lot about my plans for the house, what I could do myself, and what my demo contractor can do for me sans-permit. He gave me a lot of advice and pointed out some things that would need attention in the future, but not necessarily now.

I'm expecting his bid to come in high. I'm also expecting to have to scrap moving the wall in between the kitchen and bedroom and not being able to rebuild the back porch any time soon. We'll just have to tear it off and have a back door with steps down into the yard. The back porch wasn't original to the house anyway, but I was really looking forward to having a nice, private screened-in porch.

It's all about shifting priorities and keeping a realistic budget. I don't mind moving in the house with projects left to do, in fact, that's kind of exciting to me. I never expected to have a turn-key entry when I moved in, but now I think I'm sensing the reality of which projects will have to stay imagined, and which new developments will have to be addressed, pronto.