Sunday, April 29, 2007

and still more cleaning..

But today, we had both the inside AND the outside getting clean.

Seriously, every inch of the house needs to be scrubbed. It was so warm today, we cut loose the giant extension ladder that was bolted to the house and Dan got to work with our friend's power washer.

I know I've posted pictures from the last time we used it, but it's amazing! I couldn't take pix of Dan cleaning the very top because it was really scary with him all the way up there.. but it's so impressive I had to document it.

The fish scale shingles didn't clean up quite as well as the fascia board.. and some of the paint flecked off, especially on the curved moulding.. but the combination of the magic pressure washer and an obviously really good paint job 30 years ago is really impressive. Our neighbor told us it looked like we'd slapped on a coat of paint!

The inside is getting sparkly clean too, but it's a slightly less dramatic clean than the outside, if only because you can't see the filth quite as close to the sparkling white.

This is the room that will be our bedroom soon, and will be the guest room as soon as our fabulous master suite is done.

The closet seems to be the only part of the house that doesn't have glossy paint, so a lot of it washed right off. It's obviously not original to the house, but it's a relatively giant (double-decker!) closet.. which is good because it's now the only one in the house. If we want any more closets, we have to build them.

This is the room that was originally, and will be our, kitchen. A previous owner had moved the kitchen into the dining room, which was going to perfect because we could use that until we finished the new one. But, as you can see here, there's not enough bleach on the planet to have gotten that room clean enough to prepare food in.

I'm also going to have to make screens for every window in the house. There don't seem to be any more flies breeding in the house, but every time we open a window it only takes a few minutes before they come flying in. They're going to kick me out of the vegetarians' club for that flypaper.. but I'm willing to risk it for a house free of swarming insects.. and rodents, for that matter.

The cleaning is pretty slow going.. we still have the whole entryway, stairs and hallway, and all the floors. But we can finally open and close all the windows in the house without gloves on, and that's downright luxurious!

It's like swimming all day!

..or at least, that's a nicer memory to go with the feeling of taking a deep breath and having your lungs have a little more chlorine in them than they should..
It's been a LOT of scrubbing over at the ol' chez neumansky.. The deadline for us moving in is looming, and every single inch of the main floor and stairway needs to be scrubbed with bleach before that happens.

As it turns out, vinyl windows and high-gloss white latex paint have a lot in common.. I wouldn't choose either, but they really do clean up well! One of 2 non-original windows in the house is a vinyl slider in the sunroom (which would've originally been a porch, so there wouldn't've been a window there 'till it was closed in) and it looks like new!

We're headed back over now for an exciting day of - you guessed it - scrubbing! I'll take some progress pix today, but I wanted to post a little something since I've been pretty remiss with the posting since our computer gave up the ghost.

Monday, April 23, 2007

late posts, bona fide anniversaries, and sap..

sorry nothing got posted this weekend..

Saturday we cleaned and got the last bits of debris out from the first floor, plus Dan sprayed another coat of magic bleach/vinegar solution on the few spots that still smelled. I spent the whole day scrubbing the room that is soon to be our bedroom.. I got everywhere but the closet, which I'm afraid of.. but after vacuuming up more rat poop and spider egg sacs than I care to think about, I realized that was going to a project unto itself.
Plus, we had to knock of work early to go down the street to CasaDecrepit for a grand tour, plenty of inspiration, good food, and sake flown in fresh from Japan!

We came home from a lovely evening to a dead hard drive.. Sunday we got the computer to start up, but we need to take the dead drive to a doctor to try to recover all our files.. like all the houseplans.
And then I'll start practising what I constantly preach about backing up files!

The rest of Sunday was spent getting our old place ready to sell. A friend of ours is going to buy it - which is fantastic for so many reasons: We can come to parties in our dreamy backyard AND go home to sleep while someone else cleans up! We can come visit (and probably take care of for awhile) all the fish. We can sell it to him for much less than it's worth and still walk away with more than we would've if we had to pay commission to 2 realtors. And we don't have go through the whole staging/open house/is-it-going-to-sell-today? hassle.
All around, very exciting.

And finally, anyone reading for more than a week knows that we like to celebrate anniversaries to an admittedly corny extent.. well, today is officially the first one that is universally accepted as legitimate: Dan and I were married a year ago today, exactly 7 years after our first date.

I can't imagine life without him, I'm amazed at the things we've accomplished together, and I'm looking forward to all that's still to come.

We're planning on moving into our new house at the end of May, so for the next 100 years or so, that's where we'll be.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Spring cleaning

Taking things apart to reuse sure does take a lot longer than plowing a sledgehammer through the wall.. especially with the great craftsmanship that seems to have gone into everything here. Getting the tongue and groove out of the kitchen/bathroom has been like a scavenger hunt for which piece (wall, ceiling, bisecting wall) is on top, and for where the nails are. There is one beefy nail in the middle of each piece, at an angle into the board - this way the nail is hidden when the next board is put in place. Which looks great, but it's impossible to get the nail out without damaging the surrounding board.. I've got it down now, so the damage is minimal, and I think we'll just have a nice piece of molding running up the middle of the refinished boards.
The bigger problem is the nails on the end, which are about 50% face nailed and 50% nailed through the tongue. The wood is old and brittle, and they're nailed so close to the end, that I'm not having much luck at all..

I am, however, getting very good at pulling out toilets.. We had someone renovating a 1920's house come and pick up the cool old toilet from the garage. It still had all it's original copper fittings and float, which need a little refreshing, but will be gorgeous when it's all cleaned up.

And we gave the sinks away yesterday, so all the big stinky things are gone! I know I keep saying this, but it really does smell much better.

After we'd cleaned up for the day, Dan came though with the sprayer of magic bleach/vinegar solution and sprayed all the newly opened up walls, and everywhere that still didn't smell so fresh.

Dan's meeting with the engineer and the foundation contractor tomorrow morning, so hopefully we can get that work started soon!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Another Saturday, another trip to the Dump

That's right, the happiest place on earth! And they recognize me there and ask me how the house is coming along.. somehow that seems really sad..

We were hoping to get the last bits out from the top floor and bottom floor, but the disintegrating linoleum in our bedroom had other things on its mind. It usually come up in giant sections, but this stuff was melted to the wood. We got all the big chunks we could up and then Dan moved on to taking out the wall between the kitchen and bathroom while I spent some quality time with a putty knife.

<-- This is the wall coming down. It was two pieces of tongue-and-groove redwood sandwiched together, so once the first piece came out, the rest of it was much easier.

It's looking more like a master bathroom every minute, isn't it!!

We also started taking down the tongue-and-groove boards on the walls and ceiling (every surface is covered). We want to strip them and finish them, and then put them back up in our master bathroom!
Sadly, once we opened up more walls, we found more rat nests.. and the ones today were full of pine needles! That's especially weird, because there aren't any pine trees anywhere around. Between that and the insulation and the random sock here and there, there was plenty of rat housing behind the walls to deal with. So we'll be back tomorrow for more fun.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Happy Monthiversary!

I can't believe we've officially owned the house for a month!

On Friday we had a celebratory drink at our new local bar, and discovered we have the best neighborhood bar ever! Forbidden Island is a Tiki bar right around the corner that I highly recommend for anyone in or near Alameda.

In the 3 weekends we've had (the first weekend was entirely lost to the evil grandkids looting the place) we've made pretty good progress. At this rate, by our 2nd Monthiversary we should be waking up in our new home! It'll be be a microwaved or delivered celebratory meal, but that's fine. ;)

Next week we have an engineer coming to look at what we need structurally, and after that we should be able to get the foundation work started. He'll also look at all the nice exposed framing on the top floor and help us decide what we can do up there.

So, things are moving along.. slowly but surely.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Another Demo weekend

Sorry I didn't post anything yesterday.. today was exactly the same though, so pretend you're reading it twice.

The mountain of rubble is gone, and the dumpster should be picked up tomorrow. I was able to find some air pockets with a big stick, so we filled it with more debris - which is a good thing because our truck is just about full to the top again!

We got everything out of the upstairs kitchen and all the cabinets out of the bathroom - the walls were drywall over the original redwood beadboard, and there was glued-on formica just about everywhere. The floors were a couple layers of linoleum laid on top of each other.

<-- You can see some of the lovely floors under the tub - which we're totally cleaning up and putting in the master bathroom! Hopefully I can clean it up/reglaze it myself so we don't have to figure out how to get it down the stairs and then back up again.

After everything we could pick up or sweep up was out, I climbed into the joist bays and pulled up all the nasty insulation - it looked just like the fluff in a hamster cage.. full of sawdust and poop and, weirdly enough, socks. The animals living in our house for the last 15 years had a pretty cush life..
Then I vacuumed.. for hours and hours.

And then Dan came through and sprayed the bleach/vinegar solution on everything. It smells pretty good up there now. Fresh air comes in through all the gaps in the walls, so hopefully the next time we walk in it'll still smell nice.

From what we can tell, the city came through and pulled the plaster ceiling off on the main floor and wired all the lighting (that also explains why there aren't any ceiling medallions in the house). Before they put the drywall up, they insulated between the upstairs floor and the new ceiling. It might seem like a shame to waste all that relatively new insulation, but after the nastiness I vacuumed up, I'm positive it was necessary.

Next weekend we have to get the last layer of linoleum scraped off the floor, and take everything to the dump. Then we can get back to cleaning the grime off the main living level. Hurray, more cleaning!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Chez Neumansky, part poop

People have been asking me if we found anything behind the walls.. we have found such a wide variety of poop behind, on, above and under the walls that we wanted to present a little pictorial.
Be warned that the only pictures today are of our premiere selection of poop

Our on-the-wall poop seems to belong to rats and flies, with some possible leftovers from the mice that lived here before the rats took over.

<-- There aren't many horizontal surfaces left in the house, but they were all pretty much covered with rat-nest and droppings

There was also a very large pile of rat poop just above the ceiling in one of the rooms downstairs. Our friends were traumatized by the seemingly endless shower of poop released by a good hole in the plaster. /shudder

We had a released-from-the-ceiling shower of poop upstairs, too!

<-- Based on the size of the droppings you might think this shower would have been more traumatic, but it fell more in front of us than on our heads, as was the case with the downstairs shower.

We think there was at least one raccoon living in the house, and that this belonged to them. Upstairs it looks like they were living behind the knee-walls.

<-- We also found possum, and/or possibly cat poop under the front landing and stairs.

We know there was a possum around because we found one dead (probably from eating a grandkid-poisoned rat) on the side of the house. Surprisingly, we didn't find any dead rats behind the walls. In fact, we haven't found any dead rats in over a week!

Virtually every surface, both vertical and horizontal, had a dappled pattern of what we finally realized was fly poop.

<-- fly poop!

This stuff cleans up really well with the homemade cleaner we've been making by the bucket. The ease in cleanup is aided by the fact that most surfaces have a thick coat of glossy white paint.. so that's the one thing that high-gloss white paint is good for.

We've spent most evenings this week overfilling the dumpster, trying to get a head start on the weekend by clearing as much as possible of the debris leftover from last weekend.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

It's Done!! We move in tomorrow!

Sorry.. couldn't be helped.

Happy April Fool's Day! :D

Back in real life, Sunday is a lot harder to get out of bed with everything still sore from Saturday, knowing how much needs to be done.. But our amazing friends dagged themselves over for some good time fun! The worst part was dragging the endless cans of plaster and debris down the 2 flights of stairs.. Did I mention how freakishly heavy the plaster is??

After a couple dozen trips down to the already full dumpster, I discovered a great way to get out of stair duty: fall down them.
Note to my mom: I'm fine

A few minutes with some ice and some advil and I was off to the dump with another FULL load of lathe and other odd bits of wood, while the gang kept plugging away at the upstairs. We still have a bunch more to do up there, but ultimately the dumpster was full and everyone was exhausted, so we called it a day.

Here are some of the results of the weekend:

<-- This is the main part of the downstairs, which is looking much more and more like the workshop it's going to be.

<-- This is the view looking from the garage toward the back of the house. There is a TON of space down there

<-- This is in back looking towards the front of the house. Pretty much all that's down there is doors.

We have an abundance of doors upstairs, as well. This is in the front room looking towards the back.

Look at all that space behind the wall.. know what I see? That's right, closets!

This is the soon-to-be master bedroom, with what's left of the upstairs kitchen

As you can see, there's still plenty to do up there.

But this! This is going to be our secret room. It's behind the window over the porch.. only about 4 feet at the peak.. the possibilities are endless!