Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Ceiling is Safe

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As I mentioned in my previous post, there are two load bearing walls running the length of the house. So before we could do anything else, we needed to take care of the sagging 2×4 beam in the bedroom. It has been under supported for who knows how long. I set up a temporary wall to support the joists while I was working and then took put the remaining studs to clear the way across the entire room. I prepped a beam and installed the jack studs at either end to support it. Four of us attempted to lift the beam into place and found the existing beam to have a significant sag, which made it impossible to fit the beam into one end. We used a jack to at least get the beam to sit on the stud, but it would not go in all the way. Using two jacks and a cross piece, we jacked up the joists just enough to get the beam in and then let the ceiling fall down onto our brand new beam. It worked like a charm! The sag is gone and we no longer have to worry about the ceiling caving in one us as we sleep.

No Open Concept Here

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Open concept is the design du jour and if you watch any kind of home improvement television is seen as a requirement in every remodel. Although I can see the value of an open concept, I’m also not sold on opening everything up. I still think there’s value in having a room separate from the chaos and mess of the kitchen and den. Of course, one does not always have the choice, like us.

Between our kitchen and the living room are the two load bearing walls sandwiched by the staircase to the basement. I guess we could get two beams and put up railings for the stairs, but that would look weird having a hole in the middle of the room. Also good design generally follows a circular pattern, but in our house there is only one way to get to the living room from the kitchen. We could have put a door in the opposite end except that is where they installed the new electrical panel. I guess we could relocate the panel, but that’s so far down the list it’s not even worth mentioning.

The kitchen had a small peninsula, which added some counter space and cupboards. But as there is no dining room, we need extra space for our kitchen table. So we lifted the peninsula out and cut it to size to lay flat against the wall. You can see the outline in the floor where the peninsula used to be. I can’t guarantee this will be our final solution, but it works for now and will give us the room to eat and cook. With some new counter tops, paint, and back splash, it should look nice.

My grandparents had an eat in kitchen in their farm house it, so we can too!

Old House Surprises

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Demo is great. Nothing feels better than swinging a hammer and knocking down a wall on purpose. Old homes are great. They have character and history and are built to last. I mean, our house has already lasted for 68 years. That should be a good indicator it was done right. Demo and old homes together? Some things great, some things not so much.

The footprint of our house is a simple rectangle. There are two walls running down the center of the house, so we figured either one or both would be load bearing. The most likely load bearing wall was the one between the master bedroom and the suite. It was the best candidate because it is the most continuous. A huge closet was cut into the other wall spanning the entire width of the master bedroom. That would be why taking walls down to the studs and having access to the attic are so important. The truth is out there.

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Upon further inspection I found sistered ceiling joists which meet in between the two walls. The western most joist sat on the west wall and the eastern most joist on the east wall. They then butt up against the opposite wall. So I had confirmation they are both load bearing. Not that big a deal, except for the fact the “beam” is a dimensional 2×4 sitting on it’s face, and that’s it! I am assuming the closet was added later and was just not adequately supported.  We are going to have to add a beam and just incorporate it into the design of the room.

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We also found an old doorway between the master and the suite. I wonder what that was used for in the past?? Unfortunately we can’t just use it because it would significantly cut into closet storage space.  We have to move the door over toward the center of the wall.

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Other surprises? The bathroom ceiling had an extra layer of drywall tacked on, which had to be removed to make the entire ceiling uniform. That was fun. But I did find this wallpapered ceiling underneath, so you can’t beat that!

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And a good surprise? The floor joists run the opposite of the ceiling joists, which will make it so much easier to run plumbing to the new bathroom in between the joists!  Hooray!!

We Got Keys!

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The house is officially ours! We sold our last home in 2006 so we feel like brand new home owners. We went into the house for the first time on our own to really evaluate what needed to be done. We already had a plan on what we wanted to do, but it’s hard to really know the scope of work without punching a few holes in the wall. We had a small toolbox there, but none of the stuff we will really needed for the job. All of us took a turn punching holes in a wall, which by the way, is a fantastic feeling. We pulled up carpet and pulled up a bit of the kitchen linoleum. Here is where we stand.

The walls were built with a plaster board. At first I was confused, because it was covered in paper like drywall, and was in sheets like drywall, but was clearly not gypsum. I did some research and found that in the 60’s they came out with a product that would allow people to plaster their walls in sheets. Drywall had become more popular during WWII, but plaster was still considered primo. These sheets were like drywall, but filled with plaster. So today it feels more like concrete than drywall, but you can still easily punch a hole through the wall and tear it off. Conclusion: no problem to demo, but may take a little more time than standard gypsum board.

The carpet in the extra room, which I will call the suite from now on, came off pretty easily. Boy was it dirty under the pad. Years of dust sifting down through the carpet and pad. Underneath is a fantastic pine plank floor. There is some glue residue from the carpet, but no big deal. The majority of this wood will be lifted out for use on other projects. We will then tile the bathroom portion. Conclusion: as expected.

The carpet in the master bedroom was a different story. Under the current carpet we found the original carpet. It was worn threadbare, but still sticking hard to the pine floors. It was glued down and has a rubber like backing which does not want to come up. We researched and found a product called Sentinel 747 that we are going to try. Conclusion: this is going to take a long time and will be hard labor.

The linoleum in the kitchen is not glued down as thoroughly as it could be, which is good, but it is still a pain like any linoleum. Underneath is a 3/8″ plywood sub floor. Under that is the pine floor we are reaching for. We don’t know yet if they just screwed the plywood down or also glued it. We bought a heat gun to help soften the linoleum as we take it off. Hopefully the plywood isn’t glued. I would love to be able to lift the pieces whole so I can use them to patch the chicken coop and dog house. The condition of the pine remains to be seen. Conclusion: As expected, labor intensive work. Still some unknowns.

The chimney stack rises through what will become the washroom. It is currently covered in plaster and we want to expose the brick. Whoever plastered it did it right, steel mesh and all. Break out the pneumatic chisel. Conclusion: with the right tools, it shouldn’t be too bad. Hopefully the brick is in good shape.

After completing the evaluation, we took the next day to plan and make a list of things we needed. So last night was a Home Depot night instead of a work night. But tonight starts the real demolition. May our hammers swing freely! #DemoDay