Friday, August 31, 2007

The House Built In One Day

While the electricians did their thing, I decided to build a house for Finn from all scrap lumber. Here is my neighbor's son, Gray, helping. He tried like hell to sink just one nail. He's a good kid.

Walls going up. Finn was running around with Gray's brother, David, at this point.

The scrap pile is getting smaller.
Jennifer comes home and paints.
The happy homeowner moves in. He has asked for a red roof, just like the color of our steps.

All tuckered out with Jennifer, and missing out on a new episode of "Meerkat Manor."

The Rural Electrification Act Comes To 31 Vine

SK Electric at work. I finally got all the framing work out of the way so they can get started.

That's a big spool of ROMEX.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Color For the Steps, More Framing

Jennifer picked a new color for the steps. Now if I would get off my ass and finish that....

...instead of dicking around with framing. Here is Cara's Closet.

This is the 'niche' in which Finn's bed fits.

Corner of our closet as seen from Finn's room.
Detail on framing to show Pat I done good.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

RIP DeWalt Reciprocating Saw

It died. I spent $8-$9 to extend its sad life another couple of weeks and it was worth it. The motor burned up after all that work on the steel pipes.
It died last Sunday. I used a hacksaw to cut out the walls yesterday.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Two Walls In Five Hours (4pm-9pm)

First old wall to go. Notice cobbled electrical work.

Walls gone.

Jennifer framing.

Wall between Cara and Finn's room

Wall between our room and Finn's room.

I could not have done the second one without Jennifer.

Monday, August 27, 2007

More Joists And More Demolition

Jennifer tore out more walls in prep for the electrician.

This is looking from the kitchen into the stairwell.

I put in four or five joists in the DR ceiling to make the floor upstairs bounce a little less.

And I made something to help support my neighbor Jerry's bed.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Blessing Of Good Neighbors

I used to hate accepting anything from anyone. But since we've moved here, our neighbors have all been very friendly, giving, and helpful. Jerry has given us fruit and flowers, Christine has given us veggies from her garden, and the Phillips have given us much help and lent us many things. Just today, Flip came over and gave us some old shiplap that was in his garage from years ago. We're really grateful because we pulled the aluminum siding off the porch and the shiplap under there needed some repair. Thanks, Flip and Beverly!

Oh, and Finn loves playing with their grandson, David. He's a great kid.

Shoring up the sagging floor

First we had to remove the old blocking.

You can see one in place already in this photo.
We have four joists in place, ready to be sistered to the old ones.
While working, the mailman came with our first letter from Cara while at College. There was no note, though - Cara was merely returning Jennifer's driver's license which was held in lieu of a cart to help Cara move in. It's the thought that counts...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

But What About The Joists, part II

Pat also suggested we remove one piece of aluminum (not aluminium, damnit!) siding, and one board of sheathing, and slide the joists in from the outside.

This sounds like the easiest and best approach, no? Scares the shit out of me. Then again working on the porch scared me and I managed to do that.

So what we want to do soon, then, is:
  • replace joists in the LR and DR
  • replace some joists in the cellar
  • reframe walls upstairs
  • remove dead phone and electrical lines
  • hook up the washing machine to drain to the sewer and not my front lawn (yes, that's where it is going now)
  • paint the porch deck
  • fix up the stairs.

How much of this can we do in a weekend? How are we going to transport 16' boards to our house? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thank You, Prometheus

Heating it up...
...starts to separate...

Getting The Lead Out - EDITED.

I spoke to a friend an acquaintance some dude I met years ago Bill's best friend and NO ONE ELSE'S best friend, David, who explained that heating up the pipe to soften the lead - not melt it - should be safe as long as I wear a respirator, ventilate, and all the caveats about setting fire to my house, etc. I love the guy because he always gives you the straight answer, no nonsense. Bill's best friend offer's dependable advice.

I'll post here tomorrow with results. I will not bother Bill's best friend again.

For Everything Else, There's Mastercard (And Stafford Loans)

Broom: $5
Garbage Bags: $3
Windex: $4
Bleach: $2
Paper Towels $1
1 Semester At College: $22,000
Being able to see the floor again in your daughter's room, and recovering all the things you thought you lost, including your sanity: Priceless.

Monday, August 20, 2007

But What About The Joists?

Problem solved, at least in theory. The joists are 16' long, and they rest on either end on platforms (I lied in previous posts; part of the house is balloon framed, the front end is more like platform). These platforms are 4" wide at each end. The new joists only have to overlap 2", so the piece I need to stick in can be less than 16' by 2" on either end. This gives some wiggle room to stick the new joist in at a diagonal.

Much thanks to Pat and Dave (I think he helped on this) for the advice.

More Demolotion?

Alone in the house with a newly rehabilitated reciprocating saw, I decided to remove an abandoned waste line. Doing this will open up a place where I can drain the washer.

Here is the first section I dropped. I was able to saw through part of it because it is steel, not cast iron.

Here are the blades, starting to wear down after a few cuts.

It don't all cut so easy, though. Some of it really is cast iron, and the blades could not even crack the surface. But a hammer does. Here is where I stopped, at the other side of the house after removing about 12 to 15 feet of old pipe. The joints were sealed with lead - and the seal is a cylinder about 4" long and about 3/8 of an inch thick. I have to remove one more coupling, an elbow, and another foot or more of pipe that couples with a line that goes down to the sewer. Got any ideas on HOW I can do that? I can't bash all the pipe with a hammer for fear of breaking a seal I can't reach or cracking a piece of pipe I want to keep together.

Time For Fun

Bob and Becky came to get the truck, Max came to say goodbye to Cara, Finn was here, so we had a barbecue - the largest gathering so far for food at Vaclav's Hovel to date.

Cara packed the car to get ready to leave today, with Mom, for Pittsburgh. She's going to Point Park University. Finn is a little confused about where his sister is going.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Back To the Porch

Things are turning around now. Today, we put in replaced three posts. The existing posts were just channels. They were holding the roof up but were slipping forward. They rested on top of the railing, which rests on the deck, which rests on the foundation. That's too many points to slip, so putting posts from deck to roof removes one flex point. Here are some pictures of the work as it was being done. First, we propped up the roof and removed the first one.

Then we replaced and reinforced the wood underneath, which was largely rotted, to hold the new post.

Cara cuts a 2x4...
Here is the last of three posts, removed.

The three posts are all in.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Notes On Balloon Framing

From a note I sent my brother:

Instead of resting on the top of the first floor top plates, they sit perpindicular, edge to edge, across a board notched into the 2x4 studs that are the balloon. there is no blocking at the ends.


The Problem With the Upstairs Floor

This crude diagram shows a cross-section of what the "joists" are for the second floor. For some reason, someone lapped 2x4s over the 2x6s to raise the floor for about 2/3 of the front end of the house. The first floor is solid and has a subfloor, but the second floor deflects and bounces because of the shoddy joists and having no subfloor.

So, what do we do? I'm working on that now with Pat.

Originally I thought of merely reinforcing the joists somehow. But when I discovered there was no subfloor, I decided that ripping up all the floor and replacing bad joists was the way to go. This would mean a lot more demolition, purchasing new joists, sub-floor, and finished floor.

Pat suggested that the existing floor could make a good subfloor; now we are back to the original idea of just shoring up joists. But how?
Replacing them by sliding new ones in from below - without cutting into anything like the floor or studs in the balloon (the house is balloon framed) is nearly impossible. If the joists are 16' (192") and they are spaced at 16", resting on 4" at either end, the diagonal of a bay is then 186.7" , which is 7/10 of an inch longer than the length of the bay.
Removing another joist to make the diagonal longer does not help, either, for the bay is also bounded by the studs in the balloon.
Anyone out there with good puzzle skills?

Back In Business Soon

We've got an electrician scheduled to come in soon. That means we have to get walls and floors fixed to a certain point so he can run wires. We'll have new and exciting photos soon. No more Snapper shots, Laura. Sorry, Jennifer caught me :-)

For Gramma and Grampa

Finn loves his bike and his peeps!