Monday, October 12, 2009

New Floors,Ceilings and Walls!

The work began a few weeks ago but the biggest change has been this week. I moved out so Bluford-Jackson could recreate the original floors. They are doing a great job and boy, is it a lot of work. When I thought I was going to have to do it myself I was ready for the tedium but not for the amount of up and down and routing and sawing. Whew did I dodge a bullet there!
The second floor is completed and ready for sanding while the half-finished work is on the first floor.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Water - The Silent Killer

First, postings slumped during work. I was making progress and just couldn't justify taking time to write. Then, when it looked like there was only one or two weeks before the first floor would be finished, the water pipe to the second floor toilet burst flooding the entire second floor, first floor and basement in hours. Damage everywhere! We were gone only three hours for dinner and perfectly good plaster ceilings were vertical when we returned. The edges of floor boards were turned up making each a perfect little trough for water to flow from the one side of the house to the other. The water was lapping at each of the baseboard outlets. That's a sight I won't soon forget! Here's some post-flood floor pics:

Hired a contractor for dry-out. He said that on a scale of 1 to 10, the damage was an 8. I thought he was exaggerating until I moved back in. Amazingly enough, the place looked even worse after being dried out and stripped. I could see damage where you'd never think to look for it, in the trim, in the outer walls, etc.

Been living in the tear-out eight weeks now while my insurance agent and contractor squeeze my repair discussions into their vacations. If I weren't so busy at work, I'd be furious and would have taken care of this already. When the contractor called and delivered the final quote, it was less than $2,000 more than the quoted amount before he started negotiations. I asked him to get a quote on the flooring from the company that originally installed it - Bluford Jackson. The rep assured me he would. The manager or owner said they never did. The quote allows over $15 sq.ft. for them to lay and finish the new floors (the original flooring is all removed. I asked them to save the pieces I could re-use but they didn't). I can have Bella or similar installed for $9 sq. ft. I'm thinking they have a deal with the flooring person and don't care what I want.

Should I fire the contractor or have a very serious discussion with him?

These pix show damage from the bedroom and bath pictured in prior posts. The bedroom ceiling I worked so long and hard to strip and paint is now half gone along
with the baseboard on the one wall (to allow air flow). There are also numerous holes in the walls because of the demo and need for air. Water flowed down all of the bathroom walls warping the "drywall" that we had just hung and staining the tile and grout. The picture of the closet is two days after the flood; the towels however showed much more damage a week later as the water and mold came through the walls and settled in. The chairs you see here still look much like this eight weeks later. The blue machine is a hepa filter. Let's hope it did the trick. The red ones were giant fans and there were even larger dehumidifiers all around.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bath in Progress

Too busy working at the house and at the office to stay current. Never thought I'd see the light but it's looking close to finished. This bathroom was gutted six weeks ago. After the plumbing and electric were moved, we sistered all the joists and put in a new subfloor. It was great walking on it afterward. There was a world of difference; it felt so solid! Plumbing is not connected but the sound of a constant drip running through the pipes is driving me nuttier because I can't find it, the water is turned off, and it is not getting slower. Ghost water. So, now that the floor is laid, after the grout, all that's left is the rest of the plumbing and the trim.
YAY. We can pee!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fun With A Lot of Hot Air*

Did I tell you? I didn't have electricity or heat so I was working in daylight and somewhat tolerable weather. Here's what the wall looked like when I started on Friday, Jan. 9th with the putty knife. See the shadow on the wall from the window? Honest, no light.

After scraping five hours, and BTW, thanks for the ladder Rob and Tina, here's what I was able to finish in 14 hrs.

The BEST thing that happened Friday was that Duke Energy came and turned on the electricity and gas. The furnace doesn't work (of course) but I had light and POWER.

Saturday I brought my heat gun. What a tool! Everyone recommends renting a steamer to remove paper. The heat gun did the same thing and for what? $25. It took me 14 hours scraping to clean this wall; I did the adjacent wall exactly like this in only five hours with the heat gun.

Please note times are approximate; I don't do anything for five hours straight unless it promises to pay a lot of money or a very happy ending. I stopped for food and whatnot; I'm not twenty.

* - Dedicated to the Honorable Peter B. Scuderi whose laugh and wry sense of indignation are permanently stuck in my head. He was also fun with a lot of hot air.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Day 1 - Who Knew Stripping Could Be So Fulfilling?

Well, I've done small stuff since closing three weeks ago because holiday travel and work kept me too busy. Jan. 3rd, 2009 was my first full day of work.

Thought I'd start with the bedroom walls. They have about three coats of paint on top of at least three layers of paper on top of painted plaster. Read a lot online about removing wallpaper and restoring wood trim last night. So, I started the day with a brand new scorer, a paper scraper (stick with a wide razor blade at the end), gel paper remover, and putty knives for wood scraping. When I scored the paper, I knew I was in trouble; the scorer didn't leave a mark. The paint was tough as plaster. I soaked an area with gel remover and started working in the yard to let the remover do its work. An hour later, I couldn't get the paper scraper to cut through the paint let alone the paper. The seam was bumpy so I got the blade through the upper layer and this gave me some leverage. After 30 minutes I had cleared a circular area about 2 ft. diameter and was bummed by the lack of progress.

This was the tool and the size of the area it cleared. Don't waste your time or money. It is too bulky to lay at the right angle for stripping. As you can see, in spite of having a razor blade, it left a layer, too.

So, I did the smart thing and walked away and took a break. I don't often do the smart thing; usually keep going until I'm thoroughly frustrated and can't think straight. Must have been a good night. Anyway, I decided there had to be an easier way so I got all my sharp flat tools together. Trial and error and Voila! I borrowed the perfect method from the wood refinishing blogs. The putty knife worked like magic.

The magic putty knife. I tried a lot of others with wider blades but this one could not be beat.

Here's the area I was able to clear over eight hours (two days) after using just the putty knife and a lot of elbow grease. You can see I was able to get down to the final paint layer (gray) in a lot of spots. This covered about two-thirds of a wall.

Friday, January 2, 2009

My First Demolition and Renovation

I just bought a duplex from HUD. I've never owned a house before, I've always wondered about having one, and I could finally afford to buy. What I wanted I couldn't afford so this building, big and solid, was the best deal I could get for the money. BTW, if you plan on buying from the agency, poke me. I've learned a lot about the HUD bidding formula over the four solid months it took to finalize this deal. There's an agency with problems!

This house is a duplex. The two bathrooms have squishy floors from leaky plumbing and a basement full of mold that could have come from the moldy bathroom sub-floor or moisture incursion or both and then some. The kitchens are empty with the except of the ceiling light fixtures and some 1980's cabinets that are also moldy from the leaks. There's also mold climbing the first floor wall in one corner and I can't tell if it's coming up or going down. And the furnace to the first floor doesn't work. Oh, yeah, workers saw a racoon leaving the basement. But, it could be worse.

The woodwork - and there is a lot - in the public areas has never been painted. The pocket doors work (somewhat). There's enough of the original floor to refinish. The windows won't need to be replaced immediately. It still has all it's original stained glass. Once I get it finished, I'll be looking for some nuns in long habits to complete the look.

I paid cash - most everything I have in this world. Drained my IRA and, considering I just turned 60, I'm a little nervous. So this is me putting my feet to the fire. I've big plans, no credit and wondering where I'm going to get the time, strength, & money. What do you think?