Tuesday, June 26, 2007

That'll hold water

After working all day Sunday, we were down to zero toilets.. which was not ideal, what with the moving in in a couple days. The problem with really old toilets is that as soon as you touch something, it no longer holds water. Dan got all the dwv problems fixed, and put a nice new flange and wax ring down, but as soon as we reattached the tank, the rubber gasket started leaking. Since the tank doesn't sit directly on the bowl, there was a nice steady drip splashing down on the floor. An improvement from the raw sewage, yes.. but not what we were hoping for. And conveniently enough, that was about 3 minutes after the hardware store closed on Sunday.

So today all the rubber in the tank got replaced, everything was tightened back down and as we held our breath for the first flush, the water started dripping onto the floor. But after a little more tightening, it held.

About a month ago, when we were talking about fixing the toilet, and thinking maybe we should just buy a new one - we'll be replacing it in a year or so anyway - and coming to the conclusion that we didn't have time.. maybe that would've been a good idea after all.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Countdown's On!

It's been a busy week.. Dan was out of town for a few days so I went and hung curtains at the house. It's a little ridiculous, what with the gaping holes in the walls and floor.. but it definitely makes it a little homier.

We have a little bit of a kitchen, too! I picked up a couple little ikea-type counters, and look at our fancy new fridge! It keeps things so cold I could barely drink the water that's in there!

We also got about half our garage and most of our halloween stuff packed into a 20' shipping container, which is in storage for several months. We'll have it delivered to our new house after the foundation is done.. if that ever gets started..

Today was chock full of little things that need to be done before we move in less than a week! I setup our shade structure, which is a 10' x 20' temporary garage. Dan replaced 3 of the rotted, broken treads on the back stairs which crumbled in his hands when he was pulling them up.

Then we tackled the (insanely shallow!) water main that got pulled up during the regrading of the yard. This is Dan reading the directions on the fancy fitting we got so there would be no soldering required.

Next, it was back inside to replace the wax ring on the one remaining toilet, which has been showering water into the basement every time it's flushed. Unfortunately, once we got the toilet up we could see that there no flange -- the wax ring and toilet were sitting right on the subfloor.. which might explain why the room smelled so much like urine (and not the rodent variety). The wood doesn't seem to be too rotted, so tomorrow we'll pick up a flange and some new closet bolts (the old ones were rusted down to almost nothing) and put it all back together.

Then, while I was scraping up what was left of the nasty linoleum tile in the bathroom, Dan got started on the gaping-hole-in-the-floor problem. Without a joist underneath, this won't hold our weight, but it'll keep our punk cats from jumping down into the basement. We're a little worried about them jumping/climbing up the chimney shaft to the top floor, which is definitely not kitty-ready.

Last, but not least, we made a big batch of bleach/vinegar oxidizing solution and Dan sprayed the few still-smelly spots and I scrubbed up a bit of the dust left from the tearing out of the chimney. We'll be back bright and early tomorrow to do the last daylight work before we move in!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Level ground, and a (sort of) skylight!

The pace is definitely picking up, not that you all would know that, since we've been so exhausted by the end of the day that sitting down to post an entry is one too many things.. Sorry about that.

Although the scope of the foundation project is growing, the need for it is also becoming more and more evident. We had our buddy Leo come over with a bobcat and regrade the lot -- it sloped significantly toward the house causing water to pool inside, and it was about a foot too high against the house which was rotting all the wood it was covering.

Take a look at what's left of the sill plate.. not much! The dirt came at least 2" above it almost all the way around the house

And here you can see the bricks of the foundation with no mortar at all left between them.. we've undermined the footing on that back stair a little, but we'll be repouring it anyway

The only problem we ran into was when Leo caught the *incredibly shallow* water main under the edge of the bobcat and put a huge kink in it.. it turned out not to be a big deal, because when we followed it out and dug it out a little, it turned out to be an old line. Our relief was short-lived though, because the real water main was just as shallow! and he got that the next day. So this weekend, on top of everything else, we need to shut the water off, swap out that section of copper, and solder it in.

Leo pulled 120 cubic yards of dirt out, and it could've easily been much more.. we had to leave the edges of the yard high because of the fences around, so we'll need to put a bit of a retaining wall in even after I load it up with lots of pretty compost and garden soil. Conveniently enough, we've recently recovered enough bricks to make a mini wall of China! Between what was dug up and what's left of our chimney, we're also planning to put in a brick driveway!

Here's our lovely new skylight shaft, i.e. the gaping hole where the chimney was. Check out all the lovely rot around the opening.. there was nothing in the way of flashing there at all, and it was actually the only place in the house where water was coming in during the pouring rain storms. You can see a little bit of a rats nest we couldn't get to before.. with the chimney gone we can give the whole area a good spraying with the bleach/vinegar solution.

We're planning to run the mechanicals through this space, and Dan came up with the brilliant idea of using what's left of the space on the main floor as a coat closet!

And finally, I took some exciting video of the bricks coming down from the chimney, but I don't know how to rotate it.. so tilt your head to left and stand back so they don't fall on your head:

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Floors Of Our House

This post is all about the floors in our house. Yea I know its a weird post topic but whadaya gonna do? I'm waiting around for the guy to finish the pest inspection of our current house. BTW these guys seem pretty darn through. Most of the floors in the house are old growth vertical grain Douglas Fir-these would be softwood floors. The two formal rooms in front have thin strip Oak floors.

Here's a shot of the kitchen floor. The floors back here are not in bad shape actually. They appear to be well adhered to the joists and are 'reasonably' flat. I don't know if they could be sanded smooth and refinished?
Here's a close up of the kitchen floor. That swirly stuff is mastic that was used under some old vinyl sheet flooring. The mastic is nasty. Its water soluble and turns a dark orange when its gets wet and soupy. We could probably scrub most of the mastic away if we had the energy...After it gets wet it takes like two days to dry. I don't know what we are going to do with it.

Here is a overhead shot of the back bedroom. The floor here is the same type as in the kitchen but its been painted. This floor is probably in the nicest condition of any in the house. I think that back-in-the-day it was standard to paint the flooring in the non public spaces.

This part of the bedroom floor is the most worn. This is actually a very shallow depression. If we sanded the entire floor smooth I don't think that you would notice it. Besides old houses are supposed to have character right?

Here's what the floor looks like in the sun room. Its the same dougfir that's in the rest of the house. This floor slopes pretty noticeably towards the outside edge of the house. Its in pretty good shape also.

Here's a close-up of the sun room floor.

This is the floor in the front formal room. Its thin strip oak flooring and unfortunately its probably the most screwed up in the house. It's got boards that are cupping, boards that are buckling, its got the remains of some indoor/outdoor carpet glued to it. This was probably the nicest floor in the house and now its the nastiest. I would love to be able to save them but I don't know if that's even possible.

Here's a close-up shot of the floor in the formal parlour. You can see the nasty carpet remains, the cupped boards, and the gaps between them. This floor was laid on top of the doug fir sub floor. Is there any way this floor can be saved? Is it possible to un-cup the wood and get it to lay flat again?

Here's another shot of the floor in the parlour. This is probably about the wood that's in the best shape. I really like the inlaid wood.
It would be so great to be able to save this floor.
This is what the floor looks like in the bay in the formal dining room. There is some serious buckling going on here. This floor has the same oak thin strip flooring as in the parlour. The black on the floor is from the glue-mastic-whatever that was holding down the vinyl tiles that covered the floor in this room...

Here's an overall shot of the ugly black glue residue on the oak floor in the dining room. Don't know if this will come off or what? It looks like the wood might be stained by the glue.
Here's a shot of the sorta cleaned up tile fireplace surround. The tile looks pretty cool and has this weird greenish-yellowish color.
This is another shot of the oak floor in the dining room. This was under some cabinets so is in pretty good shape and you can see the inlay here also.

Here's a shot of the floor in the back part of the hallway. It also had the weird sheet flooring on it but it peeled up pretty easily except for a couple of the edges. At least it was not painted.

Here's the entryway floor. Its again the doug fir and its painted. Its not in two bad of shape either-reasonably flat I'd say.

So those are the floors in our house. We are trying to decide between restoring them or covering them with a new floor. I know that the old floors will never be perfectly flat-smooth but I do want them to look reasonably good-and for them to be safe to walk on. I just don't have any idea how much magic a professional floor restorer could work with these floors. I really like the newer greener bamboo flooring they have now. It doesn't look like bamboo and its super tough and durable. It would be cool to do the entire middle floor all in one type of wood floor. That way the roomba could travel everywhere!!
Please let us know what you think about the condition of the floors and if they are salvagable and maybe even how we could fix them up.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Rats!!! Or Yay!!!!! Our Dream Home

This post is all about rats. More specifically all the dang rats nests we've been cleaning up lately. We have been cleaning the heck out of the house for the last couple of weekends. After the weekend of the floor scrubber we were totally convinced that the place would not stink anymore.....dang were we wrong. We've gutted the top floor and soaked it with the oxidizing solution. We've gutted the bottom floor and soaked it with the oxidizing solution. Both top and bottom floor smell fine absolutely no trace of rat urine stink. The middle floor (the floor where we are going to live) still stinks!!!! Well, not the back half of the floor, the kitchen and bedroom and sunroom smell fine but the entryway and front two rooms still reek!!!
We have to be moved into this place by the end of June and we are getting a bit discouraged. I unfortunately have a very sensitive nose so its my job to sniff out the stank. My nose was telling me that the stench was coming from behind the walls in the the middle room....this was the room that was the kitchen and had all the food and consequently all the rats!!!!

The main stench was coming from behind the wall where the sink was. A couple of taps of the hammer and this is what I found...
Here's the rats nest I found in the wall next to the sink. That's chip board behind it and its absolutely soaked with rat urine!! Yay!!!!!!!!
That black thing in the corner is a dead mumified rat!!! Yay double G's, thanks for poisoning them!!!

Another stud bay filled with ratty love. Here's a question for y'all. Why, why, why in the world would they put fiberglass insulation in the interior walls in the house? It's just fricken made for rats, and oh does it soak up the urine.

This is the coolest spider I've ever seen. Actually there were a bunch of them living in the walls...This thing had a huge purple pearlescent rear end. They must of been feasting on all the blowflies (they eat dead stuff) that were hatching out of all the dead poisoned rats...Wow, now I'm grossing myself out. Yay, our dream house....

Here's something that I thought was interesting. That looped wire here in this pic is LIVE!!! Just sitting there in the wall next to the chimney with no flashing. Probably got wet every time it rained!!
A major stench was coming from the area of the fire place. We are having it torn down anyways so I opened the walls up to see what I could see.

Here's a close up of the live wire. Wanna know how I know its live?? It sizzled when I got it wet with he oxidizing solution!!! Yay, what fun....in our dream home....

So, way up in in the corner of the chimney chase I spy this bit of frelling fiberglass insulation. The stench of this area was really, really, really strong....
So what do I do?? The rocket surgeon that I am?? I reach up right over my head and pull it down!!!
It was a huge rats nest with at least one dead rat in it!!! It rained rat poop on me for like 2 hours!!! (it seemed that way anyways!!) Here's a shot of the poop that rained down on the fireplace! Man it stinks in there... I think actually the bricks have soaked up ten years of rat pee and stink also!! Can't wait for them to be gone!

Remember that shot from above of behind the sink area? Well, I went a little crazy and knocked out some more drywall. This entire wall was one giant rats nest...smelled really fabulous also....yay, our dream home...

Here's the rest of the wall opened up. See the insulation that looks okay in the picture? Well it's not. The rats were running up the lathe wall behind it and had chewed out little vertical way stations all along the route up. This giant vertical rat highrise ran all the way to the ceiling joists where they chewed out the blocking and were expanding horizontally into the floor joist bays...

I bagged up all the drywall and insulation and rats nest nastyness into countless contractor bags. I cleaned up the joists with the vacuum and then it was time to hit the entire area with the oxidizing solution.

Here's me soaking the framing with the solution. I have to wear a vapor respirator and goggles cause the stuff is so nasty. I think I'm getting blonder the more I use it...I can tell when I'm hitting a juicy part cause the solution foams up a bit when its oxidizing something. I had to soak this entire wall and the chimney chase and it still stunk the next day. Today I resoaked the entire mess and I hope that when we next go back to the house it smells better. I'm going to wait till after the chimney comes down before I start to get seriously bummed about the stink. I just keep repeating to myself, ' The stink will go away with the chimney!!' Or at least it will be easier to spray way up inside the chimney chase when its empty.

Why oh why did they insulate the hell out of the interior walls of this house?? If our child ever wants a pet rat I'm going to make them read this blog!!! Because I tell you what, that ain't a gonna happen.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Big Red Done Stamp on the Master Bath Design!!!

If anybody reading this gets the reference in the title you are super cool!!!
Its not like we are going to be able to actually start on the master bath anytime soon but we've come to a decision on how we are going to do it at least. We are going to have lots of tile. A good friend of ours is working at a tile shop and we can get his discount which is getting the tiles at cost which is like half off retail!! Woo-hoo we can afford tumbled marble or some such extravagant thing...

Here's are neat little plan view of the bathroom with the dimensions.
We are going to get rid of the middle window and stick the vanity-mirror thing there.
I figured out how to do a kooky birdseye rendered view so you can get an idea how its going to look. I have no idea what the color scheme is actually going to be I'm just goofing around here.
Here's the view from the steam shower out. Yep the steam shower is going to be pretty big. Big enough for at least 3...yay party in the steam shower!!! The benches will be great for lying on and taking a steam.

Here's the view from the tub looking back into the room. yep lots of tile....

So that's our final draft of the master bath, please let us know what you think we do consider all opinions when we are designing this stuff.