Monday, November 18, 2019

Remodeling Our Hut Part 26: Staircase Renovations, Insulation Preparation

On Saturday, October 5, Mother Nature doused us with more rain, so Carl had to abandon the porch pillars and work inside on the upstairs staircase.  

When our house was originally built, the steps going upstairs weren't laid out right.  There was an awkward landing halfway up which shortened up the headroom on the ceiling.  I'm 5' 8" tall and had no problem with hitting my head going up or down the stairs, but anyone over six feet tall had to duck.

I remember seeing teenage Joel and Dave come thundering down the staircase and always ducking sideways on the fifth step from the bottom to avoid a collision.

Our builder said that the old staircase wouldn't meet code, so the solution he offered was to open up the ceiling so there would be more headroom.  Carl wasn't a fan of the idea; his suggestion was for the staircase to be rebuilt but the builder said it was more than he cared to take on.   

So, since it was raining, Carl started the process of dismantling the upstairs staircase.  Of course he wasn't on his own with this big job, our granddaughter, Audrey, age three, stepped up to lend him a hand.

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Just stick the crowbar in here and pry, Grandpa. 

See, Grandpa, just like this, isn't that easy?
Carl had to carefully cut the staircase in two and resize the treads.  When he was done, the staircase ended up nine inches shorter than before eliminating one step.




Twelve hours later, and we had a new staircase.

By removing the landing, we gained nine inches of space in the living room.  The only scary part was when Joel came to visit a few days later and lost his balance coming down the steps.  He was so used to the old stair arrangement that he forgot and when he reached up to grab for the ceiling (which was also moved) he almost fell forward.  Luckily, he's young and resilient and regained his equilibrium. 

The next day, Sunday, October 6, finally saw clear skies.  On Tuesday, October 8, the insulation crew was coming to spray foam the hut so we had the weekend to remove the siding and old insulation from the west side of the house.  Sweat equity again, trying to keep costs lower.


The electrician came out on Sunday morning (trying to catch up on his work) and Carl put up some blocks in the upstairs ceiling for him to install the future lights and ceiling fan.

Just be careful on the missing step, ok?  (It's fixed now.)



After the electrician left, Carl went back to work on the stone pillars.   Joel and I tackled the siding removal until noon.  Joel was tearing the siding off on the ladder and I was working on the lower siding beneath him.  Asian beetle carcasses from decades ago were raining down on me.  I wonder what the R-factor (insulation lingo) was with all the bugs?)  

In the afternoon, Cody came to help Joel on the ladders, so I went to work picking up all the siding and insulation as they tore it off.



I lost track of my trips to the dumpster but I vividly recall the itchy and scratchy pink insulation.  That was one job I was very glad to be done with.

 

Ah, to be young and super-flexible again!   
 

Another weekend over with, and little did we know the warm weather was getting over with too.  

 Fall was upon us.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Remodeling Our Hut Part 25: Masonry, and the Roof Arrives

 

Sunday, September 22, 2019, found Carl and I hard at work on the pillars, seven days a week.  Since the remodel started, we've taken only one day off.  I'm amazed at how many miles I put on my car simply going around the country block every day.  

I usually try to get to our house fairly early in the morning and work until noon or so.  Then I head to the Hobbit House to make lunch and toss something in the crockpot.  By 1:30 PM I'm back to our house until at least 8 or sometimes as late as 11PM.  

Long days.
  
With all of the rain this year, the mosquitoes were terrible.  No amount of repellent would repel them, so we resorted to using box fans to blow them away while we worked on the mortaring.  The fans worked quite well, actually.



 Little by little, the pillars were going up.  But of course, the weather didn't cooperate, and we had rain almost every day.


I felt badly for Carl.  This entire project has been very hard on him.  He works full-time, getting up at 5AM and then comes home at 3:30PM and works at least another six hours.  The minute he sits down, he's asleep, many times at the dinner table.  When I see his head nodding, I try to catch him before he's out cold because once he's truly asleep, it is almost impossible to budge him. 
When it rained, we took a few breaks in the house in the new dining room bay window area.  The house originally ended where the lovely orange flooring stopped. 

From my perch in my lawn chair, I could look over and see how much hardwood remained to have the nails pulled yet.

The hardwood reclamation project was slowly progressing, by September 21, I had about half of the nails pulled.  

Though these pictures are repetitive, I am happy I took so many of them so we can remember what the house looked like before. The photos have also come in handy to locate electrical boxes since the drywall was installed, too.  I tried to take pictures every time wiring or ductwork was installed so we would know where everything was.

The old front porch is now part of the interior of the house.


We're making progress slowly but surely, nothing happens fast in our world.


September 24, and we still had no roof.  It was getting monotonous looking at our blue, yellow and white house.

Another job added to our sweat equity list was to remove the old vinyl flooring and the plywood it was attached to.  We rounded up our crowbars and shingle removers and worked on taking out the floors whenever it was too wet to work outside.  

In the pictures below, our little neighbors, Francis and Ivan, try their hand at demolition.  




If I had their energy, the floors would have been out in record time.  (As of November 12, I still have three bedrooms to tackle yet.)

Below, Carl and Eric (the little boy's dad) look on.




Finally, Thursday, September 26, the roof started to go on. We were a little worried how 'Colonial Red' was going to actually look on the house, it was as my builder said, 'A bold choice'.  

I know the color caused a bit of a stir with a few people in the neighborhood, it is definitely not something you see every day.  I heard a few comments about it looking like a barn (and others not as kind) but we weren't going to change it now. 

 The builders started on the northeast side of the house, so I tiptoed through the dewy grass to see how it was going.  



Crates of tin in the driveway
Yep, that's definitely red......


While the builders were roofing, we were mortaring. 



On the weekend, once again, it rained, but since most of the roof was on (as of today, we're still missing one piece) at least it didn't rain in as badly as it had.  The only part that we had problems with were the two exhaust vents on the roof.  Carl made some permanent waterproof caps for the vents, so hopefully we'll have no more water in the house.

On the weekend of September 28 and 29th our friend Jerry came over and helped us continue tearing out the floors in the kitchen and dining room.  

I was surprised to see a shingle used as a leveling device under our original floor.  I really hope they do better this time around.  

Joel takes over my job for a bit, I will say, those floors were nailed down tight.
The pile of reclaimed hardwood was growing every day as I'd bring as much as I could carry to the Hobbit House to dry out.
And then, before we knew it, October 1 rolled around.  Below, our interior designer, Annette came out to see us and helped us narrow down our flooring, trim and paint color choices.
We have a very tiny bathroom upstairs now, just a sink and toilet and it's a very narrow area, so we picked out the smallest vanity we could find.  I'm still not sure how it will work out, but I'm sure we'll figure it out.
 More rain Wednesday, October 2, which brought construction to a halt again.  Pictured above is the back of the house.
 Carl and Cody were going to build a lean-to addition to the back of the garage before winter, and Cody was busy drawing up plans for the construction.

We ran out of mason sand, so Jerry went to the quarry and brought a trailer load home for us.  We dumped it on a tarp in the driveway, but needed to get it loaded into barrels to keep it clean and dry.
 Joel came to lend us a hand loading the sand with the Super H.

 We ended up with over a dozen barrels of mason sand, which is good, because then we can use it to finish Castle Aaargh. 
 Friday, October 4, our soffit material arrived.  

Below is the color combination, Montana Suede siding, Cameo trim, and Colonial Red roofing.
  
Carl and I were still rolling on with the mortar.

  
The pillars are starting to take shape.



 I told Carl we needed to work some smaller stones into the mix.  (For the professional masons out there, try not to snicker, we're doing the best we know how.)
 A load of siding arrived, too.  I was looking forward to seeing something besides the house wrap on the hut.
Siding waiting in the garage


 The weather is not very pleasant for October.  I came down with a nasty cold and Carl caught it a few days later.  We kept plugging along, though.

 Keep cutting stone, Carl.  We have to keep moving!