Remember when I used to post about working on our old house?
We actually did start on this again sometime around August, when we realized that we had a finite date at which point we would need those additional bedrooms to be operational.* M has been great about it, spending a ton of time working for the past six months. I…have been less involved. Initially, when I was still small and mobile, the work was mostly demolition, and not knowing what, precisely, was in the walls we were tearing out we decided to play things safe and not expose me to them. What wasn’t demolition was heavy lifting of drywall and OSB that I have never been particularly useful for. Now that we are on to less strenuous and toxic part of the process (i.e. mudding an entire story’s worth of drywall) it’s much more difficult for me to do simple things like, ah, pick anything up off the floor. Plus, energy-wise I’ve been pretty much tapped having sole responsibility for cooking, laundry and basic maintenance. Also? I have no work clothes that fit. I did pitch in a bit in the middle pulling electric wire and installing windows, which made me way more proud than it should. The hardest part of the windows was grabbing tools and shims off the floor.
Anyway, what we’ve accomplished:
- Tore out plaster walls deemed unrepairable
- Tore out additional walls to extend rooms under the roof slope and add floorspace to the smallest room
- Patched flooring where it was previously exposed joists in the eaves
- Installed a pull-down attic access door more than a foot and a half square
- Installed doorframes and OSB sub flooring in new closets in the eaves
- Reframed the walls where the existing framing was incompatible with hanging drywall.
- Run electric to appropriate number of boxes in all the rooms
- Hung new drywall on ceiling, in new closets, and on demo’d walls
- Replaced all 7 upstairs windows (more on this later)
- Removed strange hump of cracked boards in one room and patched with OSB in preparation for new flooring
- Laid new shims/joists to level the floor in another bedroom (I need to take a picture of this, both because it clearly illustrates how crazy-uneven that floor was, and because it’s hard to describe)
- Patched and repaired the repairable plaster walls
- two coats of drywall mud on every single wall up there
What we have to do yet:
- Have floors refinished, or replaced where applicable.
- final coat of mud
- install light fixtures and outlets in the electric boxes
- replace balustrade along top of stairs
- trim on everything
- flooring and clothes rods in the closets (probably prefinished wood, or vinyl or something inexpensive)
For the first time, I feel like this is doable. Particularly since everything after ‘paint’ isn’t strictly necessary for habitation and thus can be done post-baby. Even a lot of the painting could be done post-baby.
The floor guy is supposed to be starting as I type, which is a huge relief. Polyurethane fumes are a a big no-no for the gestating set, so I’ll be staying at my parents’ house when he gets to that stage. One of my worst-case scenarios was going into labor while not able to access my own house, and that seems like it will be highly unlikely at this point.
Anyway. Windows. Windows are probably the most interesting part of all this. We ended up replacing everything with vinyl. I feel somewhat bad about this, but the upstairs windows were in terrible, terrible condition, and were never as nice a quality as the downstairs ones to begin with. So they had to be replaced, and it was just not in the budget to buy seven high quality windows at this point. Tearing them out revealed some of the most interesting framing (or lack thereof) we’ve found in the house so far. It’s lucky M has experience installing windows, as he had to completely rebuild the frames for almost all of them. Once that was done, I was amazed at how easy installing the actual window was. I don’t know what I thought would be complicated, but you just set them in the frame, push them until they are flush with the wall, shim the corners if there are gaps or they aren’t quite square, and put in four measly screws. You do need someone on the outside so you don’t push it all the way out the hole, but it’s really easy work. All the bother is in the framing and trimming. As I said, hardest part was picking up the tape measure and shims from the floor.
Another interesting bit to the windows I found today when looking at the trash bin of old trim/framing bits. This is the stuff that was either on the exterior and painted, or entirely inside the wall. It was almost all walnut. WTH? I guess this somewhat explains the door, because apparently they were just using walnut for anything that was wider than 6″ or so. The upstairs is new enough that I don’t think it was that they were literally milling trees from the property anymore. It also seems unlikely that they would have kept the original lumber from building the house that long. Really, I’m stumped. Why would they use it for framing upstairs and not for the rest of the downstairs trim where it clearly matched?
Anyway, we saved it. I don’t know what for, but it is gorgeous and irreplaceable, so we kept it. Honestly, I’m such a wood junky that I’ve had a very hard time throwing away the dimensional oak 2x4s they used for framing, but we have limited storage space for scrap lumber that doesn’t have a purpose. I couldn’t bear to part with the walnut though.
Strangely, M can’t tell the difference. I don’t know if this is a ‘women see color better than men’ issue or what, because he’s clearly been in more contact with the wood upstairs than I have, but he was convinced it was all oak. Well, no, it’s purpley instead of orangey, and the grain is different. How? I don’t know, it looks different. Indescribable, but pretty clear to me even on the fairly degraded pieces. Maybe it’s just that he’s grown numb to looking at wood after all the work he’s been doing.
*The Original plan was to finish said bedrooms before starting to make people for them, but a hard deadling proved much more motivational.