Sunday, December 30, 2012

Framing Day

Old living room with no walls
Another angle of the first floor, pre-framing
Hello, new walls
Mudroom to the right, den/bedroom to the left
Interior of the mudroom with two closets framed out

We've been working away on framing up the first floor and are nearly finished now.  We've built the new mudroom and den/bedroom and framed up the closets in the mudroom as well.  So we've gone from too many walls and very small rooms to no walls and no rooms to just the right mix (we hope) of functional and right-sized rooms.  Next up, rerouting the HVAC vents, running electric, and some more demo of the old bathroom and plumbing for the new one.  It might not be much to look at now, but we're making progress.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Another Day, Another Wall Down

We continued our holiday celebration today by taking down another wall!  Today's project was the wall between the living room and kitchen and it turned out to take much longer than we expected.  Perhaps we got spoiled yesterday when everything went so smoothly.  We had to demo the existing wall, build the temporary walls, demo the old wall, and then install the beam.  The first three steps went smoothly but then we realized that a couple of vents ran under where we intended to put the supporting 2 x 4s so we had to move the vents and install solid blocking in order to have sufficient structural support.  That took longer than expected but we got it done.  This was the third and final beam so it's another item to check off our list! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, Part II

Merry Christmas from the construction zone!  We celebrated in our favorite way - by building and tearing down walls!  We've been putting our wood pile to good use, building a number of temporary walls so we could install the beams and, ultimately, take down the temporary and formerly permanent walls.  We've made a huge amount of progress and have two of the three beams installed so we're very close to having the first floor completely opened up.  We're installing Parallam beams and will leave them exposed to provide architectural interest.  We'll probably stain them a slightly darker color than they currently are but we'll wait until the new walls are up to make that decision.  Right now, it's just nice to see all the open space and say goodbye to the tiny old rooms.  We also owe a big thanks to my friend Jessica, who agreed to come visit us and help out despite the very long disclaimer email I sent in advance warning her about the state of our house and our "festive" plans for hard labor.  We're looking forward to more work, and more progress, over the next few days!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas

Our Christmas present arrived early this year. This giant pile of lumber will become our new walls soon. I don't think it will fit under the Christmas tree... If we had one that is. Tomorrow we will clean out the basement and hopefully start framing. Should be a nice project over the holiday break.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

One Wall Down

As expected, we spent most of the weekend cleaning up after the demo and I have a feeling the "clean up" will continue every day for the next few months as we attempt to control the dust level in the house.  It's just the price of living in a construction zone! We also pulled all the old electrical wire, removed most of the nails from the old beams, and took down one of the old walls to start opening up the living room.  We're knocking out the nails and saving the old 2 x 4s as they're really nice old wood.  At some point in the future (namely, after we have a functioning first floor again), we'll use the old wood to build furniture or for other projects.

We also spent a good bit of the day planning the layout and making sure that we are happy with the floor plans.  If there's one thing we've learned throughout this renovation, it's that we have a tendency to make small but noticeable changes once we start laying things out in real life as opposed to just looking at the plans on paper.  The old part of the first floor will change from housing a living room, dining room, galley kitchen, two small bedrooms and a full bathroom to a living room, mud room, den/guest bedroom/office with full bath, half bath, and pantry.  In short, nothing will be left untouched and we'll be opening up a good bit of the existing support walls as well.  The load bearing walls run horizontally across the width of the house so we'll leave those walls up until the beams arrive. As it is, we'll have to build a couple of temporary walls before we can install the beams but there's no need to build extras when we can use the old walls instead.  The next few weekends will probably be a fair amount of work as we get the first floor and basement ready for framing.  We're back in the prep phase but making progress!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Day After

A few more pictures now that the dust has settled - and it has settled everywhere!  The cats have turned into living dust bunnies as they run around the house and it's probably only a matter of time until one of them falls through the now non-existent floor of the old bathroom.  At least they'll land in the basement if that happens!  We'll spend the next couple of days cleaning up and planning out the exact details of reconstruction.  I foresee a lot of vacuuming and dusting in the future!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Demo Day

It was a longer day then I expected, but most of the demo is done. We got about 95% done and all that's left is some cleanup and miscellaneous stuff like electrical. I'm sore, tired, and beat up. So glad we hired out some help for this. It would have been more than Kristin and I would have been able to handle in one weekend. There's an inch of dust everywhere, but it feels good to have phase 3 (or is it 4) underway!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ready for Demo

It's back to living in a construction zone again!  After a few months of respite as we worked outdoors, our project is moving back inside and with it, all the dust, crowding, and chaos of living in a workspace.  In order to get ready, we spent the weekend clearing out the first floor and relocating everything either to the first floor addition (our makeshift living room is now right next to the kitchen - it's like living in a studio apartment...with dust) or upstairs to the second floor.  The kitties fall in the latter category and we moved their bedroom (because yes, they have their own bedroom) up to the second floor.  Mouse handled the relocation decently but Ollie spent most of the day hiding in a makeshift box, staring balefully at us, and I don't think he's going to be any more pleased when we start knocking down walls and ceilings this coming week.  In the meantime, we've got a bunch of "before" pictures to share now - check back on Thursday night or Friday for the "after" pictures.  Brian is taking a couple of days off work and has some helpers coming in so there's a good chance we'll be wall-free by Friday.  And then the real fun begins as we start putting it all back together again!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Finishing Touches

We're here!  We took some time off from house-building to travel up north and celebrate Thanksgiving with family and now that we're home, we've been wrapping up what I think of as Phase II of construction, e.g., the garage and backyard.  Brian has been running the electric and installing the final trim around the garage door and other various and sundry places and I think we can officially now call the garage complete with one caveat.  We had a hiccup with the garage door opener when the automatic stop malfunctioned on the first run and, sadly, warped the top panel of the garage door in the process.  Fortunately, the manufacturer, Genie, has so far been great about remedying the problem.  They sent a guy out to look at it, he confirmed that it was a problem with the unit (and not, happily, with the DIY installation!), and they're sending us a new unit and replacing the top panel of the door.  So we will have a little more work to do once those supplies arrive and, for now, we're manually opening and closing the door but with frosty nights now, we're very glad to have the cars housed indoors.

We've also been doing a fair bit of indoor work over the past two weeks, cleaning and organizing in preparation for Phase III - the demo and reconstruction of the first floor.  Even though we have paint patches all over the house and piles of trim and flooring underfoot, we've had a bit of a respite from living in a true construction zone these last few months as most of the work - and the mess - occurred outdoors.  But, those days are soon to be over.  It'll probably be another couple of weeks before we start taking the house apart but we're using the time to figure out a plan...and stealing ourselves to start living with the construction dust again!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Drive This Way

It was another early Saturday morning around here (I'm starting to wonder when it will finally be a late, lazy Saturday morning) but our work paid off - the driveway is finished!  Much of the work was done by Brian on Monday but we knocked out laying the remaining length of pavers, filled in the interior, added the polymeric sand, vibrated the pavers with the compactor several times (a dusty job as you can see from the pictures), and washed it all down to set the sand.  We still have quite a bit of landscaping to do - some of which may have to wait until spring - but we should have the cars in the garage tomorrow night!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Inching Forward

We've been taking full advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and spent most of the last two days outside working on the driveway.  I often forget to take "before" pictures but actually remembered this time - so the top two pictures are what the driveway looked like prior to our weekend work.  As you can see, the main features were a giant gravel pile blocking any access and a lot of very bumpy, not-at-all-level dirt.  When we first bought the house, it had a little concrete parking pad and no driveway at all so even the dirt path was an improvement of sorts but it didn't do much for access to our new garage.  Perhaps a four wheel drive could have made a run for the backyard but our little city cars are woefully ill-equipped to off-road.

So, this weekend we tackled installing the pavers.  First up, we expanded the parking pad that we had previously installed by adding three more rows to the right side.  This gives us more room to turn around (when we eventually get the cars back there) and allowed us to cut an angle in the right side of the pad to match the existing angle on the left side.  Then, we broke out the bobcat to convert the gravel pile into a smooth gravel base for the pavers.  It's a good thing Brian has been practicing with the bobcat because there was not much room for error between the house and the neighbor's fence!  But he got the job done, digging and leveling the dirt and then laying and smoothing the gravel over it.  After that, we used our compactor and rakes to level, tamp, level, tamp until the driveway was prepped.  Finally, we added our sand base and started laying the pavers to create a ribbon driveway.

We decided to go with three paver rows in each strip to create 28 3/4" strips, with a 28 3/4" grass median.  We had originally been planning to install just two pavers for the each ribbon (which would have given us 18 1/2" ribbons) but after looking at how little error that would leave for getting and staying on the driveway, I convinced Brian that he was greatly overestimating my driving skills and unless he wanted to regularly use the bobcat to tow me out of the median strip, it would be better to leave a little more leeway.  Even though I think he was tempted by the idea of hooking the bobcat up to my car, he ultimately agreed.  The other, perhaps more practical, advantage is that the wider strips accomodate a greater variety of cars so if we ever buy a pick-up truck (as I periodically contemplate doing), it will fit on the driveway with ease.

Despite all our work - and we owe a huge thanks to Brian's friend Tim, who came down for socializing on Saturday night and wound up spending a good deal of Saturday afternoon and Sunday working on the driveway (Thanks, Tim, please come back soon!) - we still have a fairly long way to go.  We've installed approximately 28 feet of pavers and have about 65 feet to go...which is a little daunting to be honest.  Brian has the day off tomorrow and might bring a helper in since it is tough work to do solo so hopefully more progress will be made.  In the meantime, we're crossing our fingers that the good weather holds and perhaps we'll be able to finish this driveway in time to have the cars in the garage when winter hits!