Sunday, December 21, 2014

Got the living room done. . . . mostly

Yesterday while Annie languished with a fever in the upstairs bedroom I installed the refinished baseboard heat covers in the living room. Its been a really long haul.
Five years ago while remodeling the house we had this for a month while we waited for the special order window.
And since then we lived with this skilfully hidden behind furniture and drapes.
Then in August this year we tore off two layers of drywall
And I installed new drywall and mudded it.
We lived without trim on the bedroom windows also.
But last week I finally got some fancy trim up
Living room got the same detail
Then I sanded the walls and painted, and refinished the baseboard heat covers.
Quite civilized . . . . but like I said its been a long road and we are not quite done. the crown molding on the kitchen wall will eventually come down as the plan is to take down that wall and open the kitchen to the living room. As it is a load bearing wall I will need to build a big header.
For now I got the living room presentable and I even got the Christmas tree in the house.

This project started six years ago when the cat brought a mouse up from the basement, so of course I had to poke around the basement and figure out where it got in . . .
And as the events predate this blog its as good a time to tell it as any.
Tel-tale sawdust in one corner of the basement lead to pulling back the vinyl siding revealing . . . .

What a F - - - - mess !
And this is what it looked like after I cleaned it up
This is what the house looked like before I tore in to it. The corner in question is the one in the middle of the picture.
Nothing to it but tear in to it
So after clearing out the mess I re-framed it with some semblance of structure.
Nothing to it right?
I looked and felt a whole lot younger when this monkey business started.
So I figure might as well keep going and as the back mud room was a mess I figured I might as well dig in to that one also.
And since the house had no overhangs which in fact was one of the reasons in addition to the bad siding and flashing job that the house rotted around us, I dummied up some rafter tails in order to create overhangs.
This was the general idea . . . now I don't have a choice but to keep going and do the rest of the house, just don't think about it too much and keep on moving.
Trimmed it out and added some cedar shakes. And this is why my knees are shot.
Re-framed the mud room.
 Got rid of the dishpan roof and added some new windows.
 And did it up the right way . . . . there were some long days
 Some fancy figuring and cutting there.
Trimming out the back side
Gable ends also got overhangs.
This is what I found in the kitchen corner after pulling off the vinyl siding and what ever was left of the original 1937 clapboards. No wonder my cooking brandy was freezing in the Lazy-Susan. The only thing keeping the cold out was the vinyl siding.
Pull the rotted sheathing boards off and this is what I found. The original insulation a product called Balsam Wool looking something like shredded balsam fir bark inside a tar-paper envelope was completely collapsed.
I eventually got that corner closed in too.
Time to tackle the front of the house. That ugly vinyl hid some nasty stuff behind it.
No wonder we kept seeing carpenter ants walking across the ceiling.
Amazing that the front foyer was standing at all.
So it came down . . . saving only the roof.
 Master bedroom wall had a rotted sill, so that got rebuilt and sheathed with 3/4 CDX plywood and Bituthane.
Tearing of the vinyl siding I discover the wet spot under the living room window. the manner in which the aluminum cladding was installed on the window trim could not help but channel water in to the wall.
And upon removing the damaged boards I find more collapsed insulation.
Lovely mess
Might as well keep going
Added new insulation and re-framed for a smaller window.
Adding overhangs.
The window in the living room got boarded over for a month while I waited for the special order window.
While I kept going on the bedroom side overhangs
Getting creative in the corner.
Peeled back the shingles and bridged the roof sheathing over the new overhangs.
The 21st century version of a tar paper shack . . . a Bituthane shack
Trimmed it out with Toughboard a synthetic wood substitute.
Striped off three layers of asphalt shingles , one of the most brutal parts of the whole job. My shoulder is still paying the price for that job.
 And put on a new roof. I remember this being one of the most stressful parts of the job. It was mid October and  bad weather was on the way.
Got it closed in just in time.
The other living room wall also get the full treatment.
Got it closed in.
I was feeling a bit tired by then and my body was really hurting, especially my right shoulder and my knees.
The living room window came and I got it in and eventually I got to where I could take a breath.
A mad dash of shingling got it done on the front. . . mostly . . .
I took a break to help my neighbor Wayne put up his Christmas lights and took a picture of the house from the top of his roof.
And that night it snowed, thank god the roof was done
Some time mid December I made it back around to the corner I had started on way back in April of 2009. I think the expression on my face tells it all.


  1. El living y toda la casa te han quedado muy bonitos. Creo que, de a poco, la hiciste toda de nuevo... Tenes derecho a estar muy orgulloso.

    1. Orgulloso si, pero mas que todo cansado. Aun asĂ­ el objetivo era terminar la sala antes de navidad y eso he logrado.

  2. Hey Mike, it looks great, you did a good job. I have to say, reading about what you did and the photos, tired me out, lol. Sure glad my place is small and excessive work is against AARP RULES. 80)

    1. Yes John it was exhausting work. Not just physically but emotionally. I spent about 12K$ on materials by the time it was all done on the outside. It got all new windows all around. I hate vinyl as on old houses it hides a lot of ugly stuff. Never again am I buying someone else's can-of-worms. Next one I am building from scratch myself. And it will be a whole lot simpler. But this was the best we could do at the time as the bank wanted 20% down in order to buy buildable land and that was out of the question for us at the time around here. There is more to do. The kitchen is next.

  3. I won't feel so badly now when I have to go up and replace blown off shakes on the roof. That's some epic adventure you've been on there. The place looks good, though, and I imagine you saved thousands upon thousands of dollars that can be put to use for better things like flying and shooting.

    1. Yea Harry, epic is the right word for it. It was brutal physically as well as mentally. I don't ever want to have to go through this again. Living in a house while you are rebuilding it is no fun. Doing by my self with no help was difficult. too. I think we are through the worst of it for now.

  4. Thats some major work. Might have been better off building one from scratch! At least with a masonry house I know the structure is sound, I bet it was a horrible feeling when took off that sidding and could see all the rot. One of those things when you know its there you can't leave it until its done!
    Good job! Hope you guys have a good day tomorrow. Merry Christmas

    1. Hi Kev: In an ideal world we would have built from scratch, but given land cost around here, and the banks demanding 20% down on land plus a package built by a contractor it was out of the question. With a buildable lot at 90K$ the bank demanded at least twice that value in construction cost be put on it. Way bigger than anything we wanted. They would not even allow me to build it my self. So financially for us buying an older house was the only way to go. I knew there would be issues but never expected it to be quite as bad. This one was built in 1937 by a poor man and was owned by a series of folks that neglected it over the years. As things fell apart they simply covered it with junk like vinyl siding. I hate the stuff. Mine was the first major re-do it has ever had. It was exhausting both physically and emotionally. Thus the long delay in getting the interior done. Simply put I was burned out and for the sake of my own sanity and marital harmony I had to step back from it and leave it be for a while. Taking smaller bites of it for now. Hopefully some day it will be all done. Then we will be ready to sell and get away from it all. As for Christmas it has been a soggy one here. We both have been sick with some sort of flu suffering through 4 days of 103 F fever. So not feeling all that christmassy. Just barely got the tree decorated yesterday. Hope yours is better than ours.

  5. Merry Christmas there in the far North! I hope it's a good holiday for you and the family. Best wishes from the North Georgia Mountains.

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