7/17 Thursday -- Erik came over today to help me out some. So we came in this morning and found a bird in the study. Someone had left the window above the AC open (and with no screen). Naturally we did what everyone would, shut the window and trap the bird in the house. It was flying around into walls and stuff, I touched it, it flew into some other rooms--all fun and games. That's when Erik said "oh no, it's in the walls." The bird flew up into one of the walls where I had the trim pulled and the thought of a dead bird rotting in my wall turned things serious real quick. We opened another window and were able to scare him outside. An interesting way to start the morning no doubt.
So anyway I had Erik come to help me pull some of the last wires I need for the electric. Fishing the wires through the walls goes MUCH faster when you don't have to keep going up and down out of the attic to check if your through the wall. I've been working on the electric a couple days and at almost $650 worth of electric supplies, I'm not sure what a contractor would have charged but I'm pegging it at no less than $1,500. Seeing as how I don't exactly have an extra grand or two it's been well worth the DIY route.
I put in 12 new receptacles in the bedrooms, removed the old bedroom outlets, dropped a dedicated 20 amp ground fault outlet into the bathroom (tying it into the lighting circuit is a no go with the code), put in smoke detectors on each floor and in each bedroom, a combo CO/smoke detector in the hall, a dedicated 20 amp microwave circuit, a dedicated dishwasher line, rerouted the kitchen lighting to it's own circuit (tying it into the small appliance circuit was again another violation), hooked up a circuit for the fridge, moved a couple circuits to the sub panel, and rewired in the 220 line for the stove. Not bad for an electric n00b. I must say that compared to the wiring in the main panel, the stuff I've done is a work of art. Before I left tonight I got a few circuits in the sub live. The rest just need outlets hooked up to the dropped wires. Another hour worth of work and I can *hopefully* not have to worry about electric for the rest of my time in the house. It's a good feeling.
7/5 Thursday – A better part of the day got sucked up by having to strip the front door I just painted. The paint had bubbles partially from the surface but I’m sure the rain didn’t help. I got a quart of metal primer for this go I just need to spend the hour and a half that was needed to get all of the old paint off. “Take the time to do it right” seems to be a reoccurring lesson. I need to get this finished soon so I can stop locking my house with a 2 x 4 at night. I was doing this while waiting for the contractor to show, but he never did. I’m not sure if I had the wrong day, or he got lost, or what. I only have his home number so I need to try and get back in touch with him.
Today was garbage day so after getting all of the carpet out to the curb I decided it was as good a day as any to tear out the cracked tub surround upstairs. I had priced them out at Lowes and a new one costs $62 or even cheaper if I go with tile board. A new surround, a refinished tub, and a coat of paint are all the bath needs aside from an outlet dropped in. Some of the green board and insulation are a little rotted so I can selectively replace those without much trouble. The only problem I ran into was when I unscrewed the collar to get off the last piece of surround I didn’t realize as I was unscrewing it that the whole faucet setting was turning too. Fast forward as soon as I get it off water starts to shoot straight out of the wall and I had to book to the basement and kill the water/electric. I go the electric back on but even after putting the handles back on the water comes full force out of the tub spout when I kick it back on. I’m sure I just have something hooked up wrong but the water in the house is off for the time being.
Again on the theme of garbage tomorrow I took the time to clean up a few of the more desperate areas of the house. The kitchen looks less like something you would find in an abandoned building. I moved the table and chairs to the basement so they don’t get totally destroyed during the renovations. I even cleaned up the rest of the basement and organized things for the first time ever. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed earlier during the day but a little cleaning does wonders for the state of mind. I didn’t get done until 10:30, making it the latest night I’ve had in a while. I’m really hoping that I can at least get the rest of the kitchen drywalled this weekend… hoping.
7/6 Friday – Worked both jobs today so not much energy left by the time I got home. First priority was fixing the faucet so I could turn the water back on in the house. Spent some time with it before realizing there was a small rubber grommet missing from the cold water. It’s one of those thing that if you didn’t know you were missing it you’d never realize it was there. It must’ve shot out when I got blasted with water. I found a replacement and the water was all set. It’s a good thing too because the turtle tank pump must’ve gotten clogged at some point and their tank was ripe to the point the whole house was stinking up. I decided that the basement was a better place for them, at least while there’s lots of construction dust in the air. At least with the water on I was able to change the water in their tank and having them in the basement I can use the hose to fill it up. That was basically it for the day but big plans for tomorrow.
7/7 Saturday – So I got to work a little before one and headed right for the kitchen. Vic had left some drywall on the porch the other day after he was unable to defeat my amazing new lock. I hung what I had but I would definitely need to go pickup some more to finish the kitchen. The Beastie Boys once said “ain’t no time like the present to work shit out” and since I already had the walls exposed this much I figured I’d put some insulation in under the windows where the blown in never reached. After I got back with the drywall I called Erik to see if he’d come help. I was having a little trouble getting them butted up against the ceiling on my own. He came over and we spent the rest of the night finishing off the kitchen. We didn’t finish until 10:30 but the kitchen is now completely walled and looking pretty sweet if I do say. Taping, sanding, painting, molding, and cabinet mounting then it’s done. This was just the sort of pick me up I needed.
7/4 Wednesday -- Today was a big day, no questions about it. I got started around 11 and Erik was over again by noon. Our main project was to raise and widen the doorway from the kitchen to the dining room. It'll give me a little extra head room and really add to the fluid feel of the house. I originally thought it wasn't a load bearing wall but after doing a little reading found the contrary. Not a big deal. It had two 2 x 4's for the old header which I upgraded to 2 x 6's and added two studs under each side of the header where there had only been one. We ran into a bit of trouble trying to figure out how to transition from cutting the existing studs to getting the new header in place while still supporting the wall. Luckily I had a hydraulic jack in the truck of my car. We were able to jack a 2 x 4 up to the ceiling to support the wall and still had enough room to squeeze in one of the 2 x 6's for the header. With that one in place we could drop the jack and put up the other side. The picture I posted was taken before we added an extra stud under each side for additional support. Not half bad job for a couple of guys who really didn't know what they were doing. After talking to Charles, the neighbor who works construction, the only thing we maybe should've done different was put a sheet of 1/2" plywood between the two header boards so they sat flush with the rest of the studs. Not the end of the world, we'll just have to shim out the trim that goes up later.
A couple of sandwiches later we were ready to tear up the carpet in the living room--the last of the carpet still haunting the house. It was a bit tedious to get through but with Erik pulling tack board up while I hit staples we really got a good rhythm going and banged it out. The floors really have some potential but will need a bit of help getting there. After Erik headed home around 7:30 I went to give the door another coat of paint. I was super disappointed to find that yesterdays coat was all bubbles and awful. Even sanding was no help. I'm going to need to strip it back down and use a primer first. The steps had looked good but with today's rain (last nights actually) they started to spot a little. We'll see how it looks when they dry. I hit the part of the floor that was in really bad shape with some ammonia and retired for what was left of the night.
7/2 Monday -- Back in town and back to work. Vic and Erik helped me pick up a fridge and a dryer that I had lined up before I left town. They're both in really great shape. The fridge is a five year old Maytag and even has an ice maker that is still brand new because they never hooked it up. I headed in to work after that and didn't get home until after six. I got right to work on tearing out the plaster down to the lathe in the kitchen. It was the first day I would say I was properly equipped for the job: from the respirator to the safety glasses to the work belt. So I got the whole wall facing the dining room done or about half of what was left. I also learned that just because you have 44 gallon garbage bags doesn't mean you'll be able to lift them once they're filled with 44 gallons of plaster debris. On a side note once the wall was torn up I was thinking I'd raise the doorway a little, make things a tad more height friendly. Then I realized that I can just as easily widen the frame as well, creating a more open feel. The entrance from the living to the dining room is 7' x 5' or so and I'm going to do something similar in the kitchen. Since I've already got the wall exposed the hard part it done. If ever there was a time to do this it'd be now. No pictures until I can unearth my battery charger somewhere in the rubble.
6/26 Tuesday -- I got to work around eleven or so. It was so hot just working on hooking up wires I was dripping sweat. When I say dripping I mean literally to the point where it was pouring onto the wires I was working with. Gross. I finished hooking up the switches before Tara's dad arrived. He helped me hang the last sheet in the kitchen and get the sheet up on the wall. He lent a hand with cleaning up while I ran to home depot to grab some pigtail lights. I just need something that will hold a bulb and give me a few more working hours each day, the light fixtures can actually get mounted later on. Finished the electric finally and everything worked without a hitch, score. I went to the basement with Mr. Sullivan and we finished drylocking the part that was still uncoated. Turns out there's another part of the basement wall that's a little hurting. My aunt mentioned a process called pilastering where you put up half blocks and fill them with concrete against the existing wall, it's something to look in to. At least the kitchen looks half way presentable. Once I figure out what to do with the rest of it I can really get somewhere.
6/23 Sunday – Had a bit of a late night last night so I arranged to meet up with Erik and Vic at 1:30. We came in and got started right away. The drywall hanger we rented from Home Depot was a great call. The $30 a day it costs to rent was well worth the headache it saved. I would help them get the drywall on the hanger then go work on straightening out the wiring situation in the kitchen while they screwed it up. The thing with the kitchen is that the ceiling fan that had been there was never wired into a wall switch, it just had a pull string. I don’t think the new fixture on the way has a pull string and I’d much rather have a wall switch regardless. After considering my options I decided to bridge the circuit from the ground fault outlet to the left of the sink to the ceiling fixture and the tract lighting for above the sink rather than using the existing wiring, it’ll be easier in the long run. I’ve got all the materials; I just need to do some more wall cutting to get feed the wires through. I may breakout the whole plaster wall where I’m wiring and put up more drywall and its place but I’ll have to wait and see what it comes to. After they had two panels up in the dining room I walked in and realized that we forgot to cut out the hole for the fixture in the dining room. We’ll have to go back for that. Anyway we got all but a single panel up where I need to finish the wiring so it was a big success and the ceilings already look a hundred times better. Progress feels good.
6/20 Wednesday -- I finished putting the chest back together and while it wasn't amazing, it certainly wasn't a failure. At any rate I don't think the turtle mind. I finished tearing down the ceiling in the kitchen and well, it's not pretty. However, without the panel that runs around above the cabinets it really does open up some space. Interestingly enough when I disconnected the one wall socket in the paneling I couldn't believe how it was hooked up. Whoever installed it could have used less wire and had ground fault protection on all of the socket just by hooking it up properly. I've only been doing electric for a week and even I know that. After the ceiling was down it was still fairly early and I decided to tackle the pool. I figure why have someone take the metal to a scrap yard and get money for it when I can just do it myself. It only took about an hour and a half to get it done. It really opens up a lot of space in the backyard. That's when Tara came to deliver me some food and I called it a day. Hospital work tomorrow at 8:30, ugh.
What the basement walls USED to look like
Good thing for roof racks
Not bad for $40
A resuscitated sink
Who needs a doctor when you can do it yourself
Some potential maybe?
$12 well spent on the garden bed
Will look pretty killer in the dining room