Sunday, August 7, 2011

The big dig

I said that we broke ground when we had to dig across the driveway for the gas line, but we REALLY broke ground today when we dug for the foundation.

Our day of excavating got off to a late start when the excavator arrived and told me that he had forgotten the key to his backhoe at his house 30 mins away. He left the trailer in the driveway and told me to start loading the bricks and broken concrete by hand. After throwing bricks from the chimney (that weren't saved by Leah for our future firepit) for about 10 mins, I realized that once the excavator arrived with his machine, he would do what would have taken me every part of an hour in about 10 mins, so I went inside and waited for him to get back. We finally got started around noon, and sure enough, in about 10 mins all of the debris was loaded into the trailer and out of the way.

Once the bricks and concrete were loaded up, it was time to demo the rest of the chimney. We were going to try to loop a chain around it and pull it down, but the excavator wanted to go for it and just reached in to pull it down. Initially, it seemed like it would fall straight down, but of course it decided to fall to the left (towards our bathroom). It was well on its way to crashing through our shower wall, but somehow the excavator caught the stack of bricks before they ended up in our bath tub and was able to make them fall forward.

This was taken after the bricks almost fell into our house. Too bad you can't see the look on my face about 30 seconds before this picture was taken. It would have been priceless. If you saw my face after I took this picture, I would have looked extremely relieved!

Once the junk was out of the way, the real digging could start. Fortunately, we have very good soil for digging, so it went pretty quickly once we finally got underway. One thing that I did not plan ahead for was where to put all of the dirt that came from the dig.

Notice the pile to my right and to my left. There are also piles behind me and the biggest one of all is off to the side of our driveway. All of this dirt with limited space is going to make backfilling the new foundation a little tricky, but my plan is to get the foundation in and then worry about it.

Hopefully we will have footings and a foundation in by the end of this week. Lulu might be upset because she has figured out how to jump in (4' straight down) and out (4' straight up) of the trench and really enjoys running around in it.

After two long days of work, I am exhausted and calling it a night. Stay tuned this week for updates on our foundation if all goes as planned.

The chimney must go

My Saturday project was to demolish the chimney. After climbing up on the roof early in the morning to assess my task for the day, I carefully climbed right back down and told Leah that I wasn't sure that being up on the roof and dismantling the chimney was the best idea. I didn't have the best feeling about doing it, but also knew that it had to be done. I sucked it up and started with the concrete chimney cap and weather vane. Luckily I was able to break the cap in two pieces and threw one of them off the roof (making sure Leah and the dogs were inside) and was then stuck with figuring out how to get the weather vane down in one piece. I brought some rope up with me and figured that I would lower the weather vane down to safety along with the chunk of concrete is was attached to. Once the chimney cap was off, bricks started coming down very quickly. There were about 4 or 5 courses of brick above the roof and they all crumbled apart, making for quick work.

Once I was below the roof line, I moved onto the extension ladder where I felt much more stable.

The bricks came down pretty easily until I got to the area that was below the (former) garage roof. The mortar holding the bricks was in much better shape and it made it more difficult to remove the bricks as I got lower. Not to mention, I hadn't eaten lunch and was getting pretty tired after being up on the ladder for the entire morning.

After lunch, I lost all motivation to finish this project and tried to think of an easier way to knock down the rest of the chimney...

Here is what I came up with..

It obviously did not work like I thought it would and I decided that the remaining bricks would have to be taken down by the backhoe that was coming in the morning.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

There's no turning back now..

After a successful day of demo, we are ready to keep pushing forward. Nothing major to report, other than the obvious lack of a garage and lack of a roof over our Bathroom and part of our Bedroom.

Check out some pictures from today's action:
The metal roof came off first, then the roof structure came off and quickly filled up the first dumpster.

Hiding underneath that lovely aluminum siding was the existing wood clapboard siding. It appeared that the lead paint did a decent job preserving the wood, but once the guys tried to remove it for possible re-use, it just crumbled to pieces.

The garage doors came off relatively easily which makes sense because they were basically rotted through.

The blue insulation on the left is our bathroom wall and the green paneling on the right is one of the outside walls of our bedroom. The brick chimney will be demolished and eventually stairs will head that direction to the 2nd Floor.

The jackhammer made quick work of the garage floor.

At least the tarps kind of match the green shingles on the roof. Hopefully this dry weather keeps up because I don't think that Leah wants to get wet the next time it rains. Note: That is closer to her side of the bed. My side is still under a real roof...

Lulu and Henry are really excited now that they can run through the Garage from front to back instead of running all the way around.

Henry has never been on this side of the garage because he thinks his invisible fence prohibits him from going there. Sorry next door neighbors..

Lulu was so excited about all of the action today, she decided to kiss Henry. He was embarrassed, but kind of liked it.

That would be the 2nd dumpster that is completely overloaded and we have enough trash to fill a 3rd. I didn't want to get a huge dumpster and leave it at the house for the duration of the project for two reasons:

1) I didnt want the entire neighborhood to throw their trash (mattresses, tires, oil, paint, you name it) in our dumpster
2) If the dumpster stayed in the driveway, the excavator and concrete trucks would not be able to access the house.

We will get a new dumpster once we start framing, so we might just have to live with some piles of wood for the next couple of weeks.

At this point, you must be asking yourself what went wrong - if you know me, you know something must always go wrong, so here it is:

The cable that ran around the garage to our Bedroom got cut. In other words, we have no cable in the Bedroom. Not sure what I will do now, but good thing I am reading a good book on my Kindle or I would be really pissed.

These plans ended up on the floor in the Garage at the end of the day. Notice the blood on the page on the left. I'm not sure whose blood that is, and truth be told, if that is the only blood shed all day, I can live with that.

And now for the good news -- scrap value of copper around the corner from us is $3.00/lb. When I was walking around looking at how I am going to get rid of the broken concrete mess that was our Garage slab this morning, I saw two copper pipes burried in the rubble. If I am lucky, I'll get about $10.00 for my discovery.

The dumpster will probably leave tomorrow, and the only reminder of the Garage that was there just 12 hours ago will be the pile of scraps on the left - oh, and the concrete chunks that I need to find a way to get rid of before we dig the new foundation...

Maybe one of these is in order for the weekend???

Monday, August 1, 2011

Demolition Day Is Upon Us

It only took about 1.5 years, but we are finally about to jump in head first and get started on the "big" project. This is the project we have been working towards since we moved in and the one Leah has been planning since before we even closed on the house.

Leah and I are convinced that the reason our house didn't sell was because of the limited bedrooms and the sizes of the ones that actually existed. As soon as we set foot in our house for the first time, the light in Leah's head went off and she declared almost immediately that we could in fact make the garage into a Master Bedroom. Maybe it was the addition of a second dog, or maybe it was just both of us getting sick of tripping over all of our stuff in our small bedroom, but we are about to undertake a major renovation on our house.

The garage as we know it is coming down, getting a little wider, and growing a little longer. The first floor will be our new Master Bedroom and the Second Floor will be a loft/office area.

In case you forget, here is what the garage looks like (until tomorrow when the demo crew arrives)

One of the "issues" that I immediately identified was that our gas meter was mounted on the rear of our garage. Due to the fact that the wall where the meter was mounted was due to be demolished and neither Leah or I wanted to be without hot water (we've done that before -- check the post about when we decided it would be a good idea to renovate our only bathroom and shower at the local YMCA for a week...), we figured we'd better put a rush on getting the meter moved. Fortunately, National Grid (our local energy co.) was very responsive and moved the meter about 3 weeks sooner than we had anticipated.

In anticipation of relocating the gas meter, I got to use a gas powered demo saw to cut our driveway. It was obviously a lot of fun and completely unnecessary as I quickly found out that our driveway was only about an inch and a half thick. Regardless, it was still a great way to spend my lunch break..

Once the driveway was cut, all that we had to do was dig up some forsythias, bring the backhoe in and (have someone else) dig a trench from the existing gas line to the new location:

Henry and Lulu were so excited once the digging was completed that they decided to start wrestling:

The following day, National Grid showed up, installed the new gas meter and the trench got backfilled:

Now that the gas meter is out of the way, and the garage has been cleaned out, we are ready to start demolition.

Our house will look much different after tomorrow and will begin to change for the better starting almost right away. Stay tuned for updates on our project as we begin to transform our little old white house on Bensonhurst.

Monday, August 2, 2010

the mantel

Finally to the mantel- the project Ben has been dying to finish up.  I definitely don't blame him.. after all, the stone was done in January!

In previous posts I'm sure you saw that I had wrapped the old crown with burlap as a temporary fix..
We spent many months staring at the mint green molding below- it's much mintier in real life!
Over the last few months we really went through all of our options- what we wanted the mantel to look like, what the finish should be and what materials we wanted to use.  Eventually we decided to wrap the existing crown with a large, clean beam that we would then stain. 

I don't really have good pictures of the cutting process (or the assembling process) since all hands were needed on deck.  But after cutting the three sides (with mitered corners), Ben sanded them all thoroughly..
After some trial and error we discovered assembling it and then installing it as a single piece was the easiest, so we fastened the sides to the front using brackets.  This was taken right before we got ready to lift it into place..

After the sides were screwed in place I was able to let go and take the picture below..

From the side view you can see that the new mantel is higher than the existing- leaving about a 2" lip.  We haven't really agreed on what to do with it at the moment- I'm pushing for a metal lined insert, Ben would prefer wood.. I'll keep you posted on who wins that battle.
That morning Ben said he wanted to finish up the mantel and move onto other projects since it would take "no time" to install.  Five hours later the mantel was up..
But like all of our projects we aren't quite done yet.. the wood still needs to be stained.  If only we knew what color stain the floor guy used..

Monday, July 19, 2010

updated house pictures.. before and afters

I finally finished painting the bathroom trim last week- of course a few touch ups are needed here and there, but I thought now would be a good time to post a few before and after pictures..

I apologize for the weird angles- it's hard to photograph such a small space!  Either way, this makes the thousands of progress pictures all worth it.  Just love seeing the improvements.

And while I'm at it, might as well post some more finished shots. While the office has yet to be furnished (pull out sofa is on order and desk is in progress) these pictures still show a vast improvement over the yellowed wallpaper and horrible blue carpeting..


And the kitchen.. while we have yet to install the tile on all surrounding walls, or even paint the trim, at least this gives you an idea of the look we are going for..



Next on the list?  Finishing up the mudroom built ins and kitchen window casings, installing the fireplace mantle and then hopefully stripping all of the doors!