Saturday, March 31, 2007

Saturday Demo Day

Did I mention the part about how we have the world's most awesomest friends?? Today was like a hard work day on the playa, but at the end of it all we had nice, hot, long showers.

(Sidebar for those who don't know what the playa is, or what we do out there.. on our summer vacation we head out to the middle of nowhere, with 40ish thousand other people and build a city. well, we build the arena the city goes to get all its aggression out. . pictures explain it better)

Bright and early on a Saturday morning we started tearing down the walls. AJ came on his way home from work and was the first one there. He and Dan started downstairs while I pried the molding off on the top floor and made a map of where it all came from on a copy of the floorplan. Since we had to take it off anyway, we'll probably take it to have it dunked. At worst it'll be easier to strip on sawhorses than on the wall. Then the upstairs wrecking crew came in.. don't let his size fool you, James is a pro! -->

Downstairs got entirely cleaned out, and we have a ton of space!

After all those walls came down, we were able to see how well our weeds were doing at taking over the house. Take a look->

We didn't get through everything upstairs, but it wasn't for lack of effort. The plaster we took off the walls was HEAVY. We could only fill the trashcans about a foot high before they were too heavy for 2 people to carry down the stairs.

We thought we'd only need a 20 yard dumpster this time, but it was full by midday (that seems to be a recurring theme) Donovan jumped up and down (without spilling his beer!) and got us a little more room, but I'll be taking another trip to the dump tomorrow with all the drywall upstairs, and all the lathe that's underneath it.

We started tearing into the kitchen and bathroom upstairs. This is Janel getting out some deep-seated hatred against the pink. -->

<-- And look!! Under the weird blue laminated drywall we have a clawfoot tub! yay!!

Brian put in another day of sitting around eating bonbons.

And Ayse and Noel, from Casa Decrepit, down the street, stopped by to say hi. All in all it was a full day, and we'll do it all again tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hurray for permits!

We're officially allowed to tear down the walls! So this weekend we and our gang of fearless, faithful friends will be getting out our aggressions, evoking the playa, and hopefully discoving long-lost treasure in the walls!

I am, in fact, an eternal optimist.. I understand that what we'll really be doing is back-breaking, dusty labor and what we're most likely to find in the walls is grandkid-poisoned dead rat carcasses.. but hey, I'll take what I can get :)

The smaller dumpster will be arriving Friday - worth noting is that having dumpsters delivered on a Friday gives us 2 full weekends for the price of one week's rental, although they'll pick it up early if it's full.

Once we have the plaster off the walls we can see a) why there is apparently no electricity on the 3rd floor, b) what are load-bearing walls and where we can eek out extra space, and c) and this is my favorite, that there are NO RATS hiding in there

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ode to the double-hungs

Today wasn't a very exciting day.. more cleaning, more measuring. We have to submit plans for the middle floor, which we're not touching, in order to get the permits to tear down the failing plaster on the top and bottom floors.

This is Dan sketching out the plans while I call out the measurements. -->

And we're both still tired and sore from yesterday. The problem with having pretty much only weekends at the house, is that it doesn't leave any recovery time between workdays.

Thank goodness we found the COPE in the medicine cabinet. It's New! and will make it all better!

I did discover the beauty of double-hung windows today. Most of my day was spent cleaning windows, and sliding the top window down allowed me to vacuum all the crud out from between the two windows. It was very satisfying to get to a point that we can open and close them without gloves, and that we'd let the cats jump up on the windowsill (It's a LONG way until the house is clean and safe enough for our 2 cats.. that's the benchmark for most things). Plus, it's exciting that all the windows in the house seem to be operational.

Click the icon to see a pic of the big daddy rat we found today

Saturday, March 24, 2007

We don't need no stinkin' dumpster

Our wonderful giant truck was able to fit all the trash and junk that was still out to the house, so next week we can save some $$ and get a smaller dumpster for the demolition. What I want to know is, how come no matter how cold it is outside, it's always hot and sweaty at the dump? On the plus side, our house smells WAY better than the dump.

While we were loading the debris into the truck, we found a family of salamanders living under a sheet of plywood.

During the afternoon, Robert and Jane and Aidan stopped by to loan us a power washer! It works great (even though it only runs for about 20 minutes before it runs out of gas). Can you tell from this picture what parts Dan has gotten to??

I discovered we have acres of sidewalk surrounding the house. Once all the trash was gone I wanted to clean up all the little bits that were scattered everywhere from all the scavengers digging through the bags and dumpster. In the process of doing that, I wound up pulling up tons of weeds (and glass, and rusty nails, and an impressive number of peanuts).

Everyone has been so friendly that we were wondering if someone would actually stop by with a "welcome to the neighborhood" plate of brownies.. well, today we got plates of food, slices of homebaked cake, AND a pitcher of margaritas!! We LOVE this town!!!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

no permits this week

Well, that didn't go as well as we hoped.. The woman that Dan met with last week AND her boss were both out, so he dealt with someone else who wanted different things. Now we need to do floorplans for the middle floor, which we're not touching. So, no permits for us this week.
Which turns out to be not such a problem, since the waste management folks called to say they can't get us a dumpster till next week.

In the meantime, we've been meeting with contractors to get estimates on having the foundation redone. It's a strange thing.. everyone agrees that the old brick foundation should be redone, but most of the people giving us that advice haven't done it on their homes. We also want to level out the sagging back part of the house and get the whole first floor full head-height, and this is something that would be vastly more better to do before we move in. We're talking to a few different people, but hope that Jim Duval (who did the foundation at our old place and was fantastic and punctual and did a great job) can do this one as well. It seems unlikely that we'll be able to afford it for awhile, but our pipe dream can last at least until we see the quotes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

for good measure

We went and measured the top and bottom floors so Dan could do up a floorplan to submit to the city. Ordinarilly, you're supposed to submit final plans before you can start tearing down the walls, but they said they'd give us a permit to demo the walls if we submitted a hazardous materials report and the floorplans.

So we measured everything, and Dan magically - and by magically, I mean hours of detailed labor - turned

into this ---->

Tomorow we go to the permit office and hope for the best. There was asbestos found in the ugly texture in one room, so we probably can't touch that.. but hopefully we'll be able to start tearing out the rest of the rotted plaster this weekend. Dumpster #2 is being delivered Friday.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

2 down..

Two days down and about a million to go, but we can actually stand inside with the windows closed and not tear up from the stench.

Dan has a friend on a Fine Homebuilding list that gave us a recipe for a homemade cleaning solution to cut through the filth. It was 3 parts water, 1 part bleach, 1/2 part vinegar and a splash of dishsoap (we used pine sol in place of the dishsoap). Let me tell you, this stuff works! Spritz it on and let it sit for a minute, then go at it with a scrubber brush and 95% of the crud comes up. That last 5%'ll get you though, because once it looks that much better you just want the last little bit to come up.

We had all the windows and doors open and still had to run outside periodically to breath. We need beefier respirators and better eye protection before we go back to do the ceilings and walls. But I can open and close the windows in 2 rooms without gloves on! And we can see through the windows even when they're closed (the windows were much cleaner outside than in.)

Brian came back today and weedwhacked the whole backyard. It's much bigger and flatter than it seemed at first. It still slopes a bit towards the house, but not as badly as I thought.

I took a bunch of before pictures, but we were so tired by the end of the day that I forgot about the after shots. So I'll leave you with an image of what I found in the upstairs bathroom this morning. If you're even slighty squeamish, you're not going to want to zoom in on this. I screamed like a girl.. then, of course, went back and took a picture.
Like I said.. 2 down..

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Now with 80% less stank!

In a scientific study, we have determined that we have the WORLD'S BEST FRIENDS. Today was a day I wouldn't've wished on people I hated..

We had the biggest dumpster possible delivered yesterday - and were worried that it was too big! It was full by 3 o'clock and we have a whole row of full trash bags lined up for dumpster #2
Click on the picture of the dumpster to see how it progressed through the day.

Tre, in an act of bravery mixed with a whole lotta love, helped me clean the bathroom.

It was a mini-saga of finding one bathroom that would work, and getting it cleaned up by the time someone needed to use it. We found the door, which Christine cleaned, scrubbed the room out from floor to ceiling (fantastic mixed with comet cut through amazing amounts of grossness) and had it fresh as a spring breeze just in the nick of time.

Daniel managed to get the kitchen clear and seemed to double the size of the room.

Take a look at the front room. We went through an entire bottle of fabreeze, which actually helped more than I thought it would. Not as much as getting the dead rats and rotting food out, but it's possible to be inside without gas masks on now.

So the whole place is emptied out, and tomorrow we're going back to start cleaning. We have to get another dumpster before we can get rid of the rest of the trash. I feel bad about how much is still outside the house, but it'll be sooo much better soon.

And now it's my turn for a long hot shower!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The welcome wagon

We're making a great first impression..

As we pulled up today we saw a giant moving van outside and all the antiques in the house getting loaded out. So we called the cops.

The grandson is a good lier, talking about wanting to honor the memory of his grandfather by saving his things. Even the cop said "yeah, where were they back when he had a heart attack?" But the cops said it was a civic matter, and they couldn't do anything (even though they'd broken into the house!)

We came to the understanding that they could take what they wanted, but they have to call us when they want to go inside. Which was the original understanding, so I'm not very optimistic. We were really looking forward to getting started today, too..
But the neighbors are all friendly, and we talked with many of them after the police left. It will be a great place to live, once we get it fixed up enough to move in.

Oops, we did it again

It's official, we are the proud owners of a gorgeous, needs-a-little-work Victorian house in Alameda!
We've also, as Marisa pointed out, been robbed more in Alameda than we ever were in Oakland... more on that below

This was a probate sale, and the craziest deal anyone involved has ever seen. We closed escrow 12 days after we first saw it, 14 days after it went on the market. If it hadn't sold beforehand, the city was planning to auction it off later this month, and the greedy grandkids weren't going to lose out on all the extra $$ they'd make from selling it on the open market.

Every time the phone rang in the last week (and it was nonstop!) it was another thing that almost made the deal fall through: first was getting the offer in with no time for a proper inspection.. then the superfast loan, then showing proof we could get the money since all the flipper contractors bidding against us were paying all cash.. There were several liens against the house from the city coming in and doing work 2 and 8 years ago and the woman from the title company didn't think there was any way those could be cleared up in time..
The list goes on and on, but the stars aligned, and a LOT of people helped us out, and we have a house!

The gentleman that owned the house before us moved in with his wife in 1974, and we hear the home was a showpiece. When she died, he developed problems and stopped taking care of the house. He never threw anything away, left trash rotting on the floor. His grandkids weren't around when he was living in filth, or when he had a heart attack, but they sure came running once he died and the house was theirs.
The grandkids had, according to a contract addendum, until sunday to come get some personal belongings, but they were supposed to have turned their keys in to our realtor and told us when they wanted to get in. Instead came by yesterday afternoon and took most of the furniture. They even tried to sell the mantle to the next door neighbor!
So Dan went by with Gimpy and changed all the locks. We're going over today to start cleaning, and when they come back (and they told neighbors they'd be back today) it's going to be ugly.
A nice calm start to our new homestead. But, it wouldn't be us if it didn't have a little extra fun thrown in. We started a blog so we'd be better about keeping everyone up to date.. let's get started!