December 31, 2009
Door jamb is completely installed, although without hinge mortices or strike
plate. Everything is plumb and level and good. Some time this weekend I'll
get the door in.
December 28, 2009
Some progress today. Got the old door jamb ripped out and the new one
mostly built. I have a nasty feeling my next time to work on it is
next year, though.
December 24, 2009
A short update covering the last few days just before heading out of town
for Christmas. All the real sized pieces of sheetrock are up, although
there are a few small bits (3"x9') that still need filling. I've also
taken down the door and pulled the mouldings off the outside of the frame
so I can replace the jamb completely, since it's pretty well destroyed
and my window of opportunity is getting very small, very quickly.
Unfortunately, the new jamb is going to be 100% custom work. Fortunately,
I can do it myself.
December 14, 2009
Ugh. Got a bit more done a few days ago, including the drain for the sink
and the concrete board all the way around the room for the walls. Then, when
starting to look at framing out the shower, realized that even after
redesigning the room to fix exactly this problem, there was still too tiny a
path between the shower and the tub to get to the toilet. Two days of
The choice we could find was go back to a 3'x3' shower, just as we had when
I bought the house, move the sink (that I'd already plumbed for) across the
room, back to where it was when I started, and move the tub back to... where it
was. Yeah. Great. Then Amanda came up with the concept of a non-rectangular
shower. Pentagonal shower it is, cut off the corner that was causing the
problem and everything is good. I can even get doors for this sort of thing.
And I wouldn't have to move anything I'd already done, just add a little more
So the additional concrete board is done, and most of the W and S walls are
sheetrocked above where the tile will be. It's starting to really look like
a room, rather than a mess.
December 5, 2009
Finally got back to the bathroom, having largely recovered from the TANYS
Festival. I've got all of the concrete board around the room for the
tiling of the bottom half of the walls. In order to do that I had to
get the drain installed for the sink, although it isn't hooked up under the
floor yet. Next is some drywall (top of the South wall), framing in the
shower, concrete board on the inside of the shower, roughing in the
shower plumbing, then concrete board on the floor. THEN I get to start
November 17, 2009
Last update before the TANYS Festival, since that's eating me alive
at this point. I got the concrete backer board on the exterior wall
done, and the rest of the framing around the window that relied on the
backer being up. It firmed up the wall nicely - it was flexing a lot
more than I liked for then covering it with tile until the framing went
in. I may be tiling this year at the current pace.
November 12, 2009
OK, I'm getting lousy about updating. Activity almost every day since
last Friday. First, between Friday and Monday I had the little bit of
roof over the bay window on the front of the house replaced. It was the
last bit of original roof left, and now it is bright, shiny, new COPPER.
It's freaking gorgeous, and the roofer estimated that I'd added many
times what I paid to the value of the house. I'm thinking he's right.
Also, now that I'm functional, only busy working on the TANYS Festival
(which is very bursty), and have most of everything needed to finish
the job, I'm putting concrete backer board up in the upstairs bathroom.
It's starting to look like an actual room.
October 25, 2009
Actually a week of progress, but not much on most of the days. I've
been caulking and spray-foaming around the new windows, since once
I start putting the walls back up I'll never be able to get in there
and really seal it well again. Framed out the exterior wall in the bathroom
today - decided just tacking strapping to the brick again was a poor plan,
so I actually framed the wall out and will really insulate it. Tomorrow
I have to rent the Home Depot truck to get the insulation, since I'm
using the polyiso stuff and it comes in 4x8 sheets.
October 6, 2009
So having taken a day off on Monday to host a house concert (Heather Dale,
www.heatherdale.com) I had some time to wander around and relax in the middle
of a work day. So I took one of the locksets from one of the interior doors
in the house downtown to Mangione's Locksmiths and literally bought them
out of appropriate springs. Unfortunately, they are $5 EACH and he only was
willing to part with 4. But now the door to my bedroom works for the first
time ever, as does the upstairs bathroom and the study, and possibly even
October 1, 2009
The windows are installed. I need to do a bit of caulking around them,
and get the bit of brick above the bathroom window rebuilt by my mason,
and handle mouldings and such. But they're in.
He's coming back tomorrow with information for the metal roof bit
above the bay, and will probably be doing that work next week.
September 25, 2009
Well, chatted with the contractor a bit ago and committed to the windows
and the metal roof. It'll hurt, but it'll be done and look good.
September 23, 2009
Got a quote on the little bit of roof over the bay in front, metal
is 2.5x the $$$ as shingle. Shingles wouldn't look right. OW. I'm
also expecting a price tomorrow on installing the three windows,
we'll see how that goes. He did also say that if we come to an agreement
on price it'll be done within a week.
September 16, 2009
ARGH. So I've finished ripping out the last bits of lathe and such,
cleaned up the mess, and started laying out the new bathroom in the
space. Put in the kit for the new shower (dry fit only) to see how
it would look and see how things would work. Answer: they don't. I thought
it would be fine with a 4'x4' shower, but there would be about 6" between
the corner of that and the near corner of the tub, and you'd have to go
through that 6" to get to the toilet. Can't move the shower to the other
wall, it hits the door or the window (depending on which wall is "other").
Can't move the tub, it hits the door or the toilet. If I move the toilet,
I'd have to climb over the end of the tub to get in to it. Lose.
So I'm thinking the 4'x4' shower kit is a total loss. I need a second
5'x30" kit to replace it, and then I'm just good.
September 13, 2009
OK, since the last update I did indeed rip up the whole subfloor,
bolt a new 2x4 to the beam on the side of the room to support the edge,
and put the subfloor back. I even have done my crawling around in the attic
and have all of the electrical work done other than installing the radiant
heating - I'm just not there yet. But the circuit for it is in place and
ready to go.
Talked to a window installer today, turns out most installers don't know
what to do with new construction windows. The people that Lowe's subs out
to handle inserts. He had a bunch of good points for me, but this is going
to be uglier than I thought. I should NOT have listened to the idiots who
actually sold me the windows - they're about .5" too wide to fit into the
brick, and entirely because of a "great idea" that I should have listened
to, then NOT bought anything that day and thought about it for a week or so.
Never let the sales folks change your mind at the last second about something
this important or expensive. So it's going to suck.
I also found a hole in my roof yesterday while doing the electrical work.
Not the new roof, or the new porch roof, the roof above the bay window on
the front of the house. The only piece that hasn't been replaced yet. And
the hole was really obvious from the inside - I could see sunlight. So
my roofer is coming back tomorrow to spec and start a workup of price... and
it happens he installs windows, too.
September 7, 2009
So I got most of the subfloor installed today, and tomorrow I rip it all
back out. Noticed right at the end of the day that one side would flex
quite a lot when stepped on, so I have to rip it up to put in some support
right at that point. Happens to be more than 12" unsupported at the edge
of the sheet, so it isn't too surprising. It's also RIGHT at the door.
Ugh. But all the cuts are made, things should go back together very quickly
once I'm done.
The electrical is about 20% roughed in, the next step will involve crawling
around in the attic to pull wires. Once I have a (sub)floor in place that
I can put chairs holding a spool of wire on, it won't be _too_ bad.
I'm really debating finding someone to pay to install the windows.
September 6, 2009
All of the floor joists have been sistered and levelled as best I can
manage. The outer half of the room (toward the exterior wall) slopes
in slightly, and the inner half is level. At least everything is straight
lines. Tomorrow, when John is back from the event he's at, we'll get the
I'm also starting the electrical. I'd forgotten how much of a PITA the
punchouts in a Square-D QO panel are, and one of the switch boxes I
bought (for the GFCI outlet next to the sink) was punched backwards. It's
tough to punch out a piece of steel from the inside of a small box. But
the electrical is the other half of tomorrow. Then I start windows.
September 1, 2009
I've been getting a bit done and forgetting to update. All three main beams
under the bathroom are sistered, and I've gotten new beams to sister to all
of the floor joists in the room. They're all cut to length, the first two
are sitting in place, and I expect after another 3 hours or so they'll all
be in and attached permanently. Then the subfloor gets screwed into place
and I can move on to the next step. Which happens to be the side window
in 3, so I learn how to do windows before attempting the window in the bathroom
where I don't have something to stand on outside.
August 1, 2009
I spoke this morning to Carol Praylor, the niece of the woman I have called
for years "Old Ms. Dickerson", thinking she was the sister of Cpl. William
A. Dickerson, namesake of the street. As it happens, the Corporal was her
father, not her sister, and because of that I certainly never knew her
while she was going by "Dickerson". "Mother Florence Mitchell" passed
away on July 6, 2009, less than 4 months before her 100th birthday.
July 28, 2009
I've been very lax about updating, but prior to the past few days there has
been nothing more than "toe still healing" to report. The beam is sistered
as of last night and the jacks are cleared out to move to the other side and
do it again.
June 24, 2009
Actually getting stuff done again, but very slowly. Toe is definitely still
a problem, but it's getting there. Got things vacuumed out (mostly) and a
piece of subfloor just placed in the room to make it easier to work with.
Last night I picked up the new windows I'd ordered for the bathroom and 3.
I finally know how to appropriately sister the cut beam, so tonight I'll either
start jacking things up into place OR go get the supplies. One or the other,
my foot won't let me do more than one each day.
June 12, 2009
Didn't get too much done yesterday. No helpers, but the slab was out so
that wasn't a problem. Amanda cleaned out a lot of the bits in the
bathroom, including pulling out two old heating pipes that went all the way
down to the basement. I carried one of those and a lead drain pipe out,
a moral victory for myself. She got the other. We then filled the
dumpster with bits of the old porch railings and other random junk, and
took the evening off.
It's now 3:00 PM, and the dumpster is gone. The driver asked me: "What the
heck you got in there? It's *heavy*" after loading it onto the truck.
June 10, 2009
Today we had Allison (Alethea to the SCA-types), Virginia, and Hobbe
(he has a non-SCA name, really, but no one knows it) working on cleaning
up upstairs after John got the last dregs of slab out, hauling the
remains of the pad the old boiler lived on out of the basement, and
ripping out the last of the plaster under the main stairs (so we can fix
the broken stairs.) Our friends are amazing. I have decided that
"amazing" is the theme of the week.
June 9, 2009
Ummm... wow. Today was John's day to be the amazing one. He got out
of work early, got home and started working on the safety ceiling,
(Maggie got here), and started breaking out concrete. Maggie helped with
the ceiling and carrying concrete. Dan got here (Grim for the SCA-types)
and helped schlep, then Shelley turned up to schlep... and John kept breaking
concrete. 4 hours of breaking concrete. There's a bit left, but we're at
better than 90% done. The sag of the beams that caused this whole mess
is now clearly visible. (Oh, right... Maggie did a bit of breaking too, she
needed to work off some stress.)
Oh, and I got to be useful today :-) I did the cutting for the safety ceiling,
after John did the measuring and setup (he doesn't like saws much and
particularly not circular saws. I can't blame him for that, just ask my
father why.) I also built a "silent partner" - a tall rig set up to hold
things up as though you had help - for letting us short people help hold
the safety ceiling in place while someone on a ladder could drive screws.
I even pried up a bit of the tile upstairs and did a bunch of sweeping.
I feel better being useful, rather than sitting here playing video games
while my friends renovate my bathroom... like yesterday.
June 8, 2009
Today was very eventful, and it had nothing to do with injuries. I was woken
up before 8:30 by my roofer back for an encore - the porch roof. The banging
was his guys ripping the old tin off to uncover... a nearly pristine deck.
We discussed what to do about the gutter since we didn't need to replace
the decking, decided he'd rebuild the philadelphia gutter using modern
technology, and he wandered off to get supplies.
At 10:00ish the first of the volunteer help turned up, and Shelly got the
plumbing mostly ripped out from underneath before she had to head off to
work. During this Amanda was upstairs working on lath and stuff.
After work hours Justin came over, then Sarah, then Ali, and the whole
crowd got the first part of the safety ceiling up while John got 95% of
the rest of the lath out. Then John went nuts. The concrete turns out
to be in two layers - 1.5-2" with the tile on top, and 4" layer below.
He got about 1/3 of the top layer and 1/4 of the bottom layer removed
completely with a flooring chisel and a 4 lb sledge.
June 7, 2009
Amanda is amazing. With some help from John, she ripped out all the walls
including most of the lath and got it all cleared to the dumpster. John
got the bottom of the shower stall cleared out and helped with some of the
June 6, 2009
Since I'm now foreman and photographer and nothing more, I've finally
sorted all the old pictures off the camera. New shots of the
Basement, Roof, and
Second Floor Bathroom.
June 6, 2009
Well, today was eventful. I drove around and ordered a bunch of fixtures that
I hadn't gotten around to previously. Prices are *way* up on faucet sets,
to the tune of nearly double. They weren't cheap before, either. Got home
and cut a new valve in to the hot water feed to the second floor, since the
old one has been not quite closing all the way and I couldn't quite get to it
to actually replace it. Much better now that there is no water dripping out
of the old feed to the sink.
Then I started ripping walls out. Got the rest of the shower stall out, then
moved to the wall between the shower and the room door. I hadn't gotten the
tile off the wall, but wasn't too worried. Got the bottom 4' loose, pulled
it away from the wall to remove it, and before I lifted it split in two and
fell on my left foot.
3 hours in the ER waiting room, I'm left with a broken big toe, a
non-functional bathroom, and a mostly empty 15 cubic yard rolloff
dumpster. I have no real idea what I'm going to do from here.
June 5, 2009
So it begins. The dumpster got here around 11:00 this morning. Now there
is nearly nothing in the bathroom. Pictures will come as soon as I sort,
since I hadn't pulled them off the camera since last October.
June 2, 2009
While I was not comfortable with the quality of my sweat joints, none of
them leak. There is now a new valve in the cold water feed to the second
floor. As it turns out, that feed from the main trunk line hits the first
floor full bath toilet and sink and the kitchen sink en route to the second
floor. Most of the plumbing is within about 12" of each other, which is
why I didn't clean it up when I did the big rebuild last year.
June 1, 2009
Since May 16, a bit more work was done stripping mouldings for 3. Nothing
Excitement - I've started working on the upstairs bathroom. So far I've
been ripping the ceilings out of the downstairs bathrooms so I can get at
things from underneath. I've found the big reasons the floor upstairs is
falling - plumbing morons cut two structural beams completely to run things
through. One under the center of the floor is cut so as to be almost
completely unsupported. The other is at least braced, mostly, at the
middle of the wall shared with 1. Once the concrete is out I'm going to
have to jack things back up and sister the beams before I can put new floor in.
Also, I have a quote for rebuilding the entire side porch roof. It came in
significantly lower than I expected. They *may* be doing it the same week
I have off to rip out the bathroom, so the side porch should be much
happier before the party.
May 16, 2009
It's that season again, time to start working on the house in earnest.
First, the backlog of updates. Way back I was talking about the kitchen
faucet. The diverter for the sprayer was fully clogged with gunk, but the
replacement was under lifetime warantee. New diverter = good as new faucet.
Since 3 has been vacant since Justin moved out last month, I've refinished
the floor, making sure to really go heavy with the stuff and cover the closet
which I hadn't done at all before. I've also started stripping the pile
of mouldings in the basement from 3 that have been sitting there for years,
so I can get them all done and put back in.
Today was expensive. As long as 3 is vacant and I'm working on mouldings,
I'm replacing the windows. I ordered up super-high efficiency windows
for the front and side walls of 3, plus the upstairs bathroom. (Yes, the
plan for this summer is the bathroom, not 3.) I've gotten advice from
a friend who is a contractor in RI about how to install windows into brick
walls, and I picked up the various accoutrements he recommended. The one
place where I've gone outside of that is buying cedar 2x4 for framing where
it might get exposed to water rather than pressure-treated. It's actually
not that much more expensive, and window frame are one of the places I'm
paranoid about rot.
April 16, 2009
The house is single family, the City Treasurer knew it, the bills are paid.
I think there was a late fee attached that should not have been there, but it
was for one the order of $1.50 so I didn't bother even asking.
April 9, 2009
OK, the City of Troy knows that my house is single family. Code Enforcement
delivered the paperwork down to the Assessor's Office yesterday, the
Assessor has reality in her computer. It hasn't trickled down to where
I have to pay the bills, but it'll get there. Unfortunately, changes to this
year's taxes had to be done by March 31, so I lose until next year. Argh.
April 7, 2009, later
Code enforcement showed up and certified that this is indeed a single-
family house. They also informed me that as of just recently, you need
a permit in the City of Troy to simply replace SHEETROCK.
April 7, 2009
I just put the product of the Architects work up under blueprints at
the top of the page, it's pretty cool. Also, today is attempt two at
hoping code enforcement actually shows up.
March 10, 2009
Today was supposed to be two things. First, I had two guys from an
architect here measuring everything to produce real drawings of the house.
Second, Troy Code Enforcement was supposed to be here to check and be
sure that this really is a single-family house. The architects took about
3 hours to measure everything. Code Enforcement cancelled. So I'm
still on the hook for all the crap Troy has thrown at me because this is
a 2 (or 4) family home (depending on which list you look at). They will
probably be fining me quite a bit for "incorrectly filing" my landlord
registration, and I'll have to pay a recycling fee for a 4 family. I'm
less than pleased.
January 9, 2009
Boiler was up and running on Thursday, it makes heat. Very quiet, lots
of programmable things that I haven't even scratched the surface of yet.
They hadn't set anything except temperatures, so I went in and told it
we have radiators and what the date is and when it was installed so
now it's mostly behaving. We seem to have crud in a check valve on one
of the zone pumps, so bedrooms 4+5 get heat whenever any zone calls
Installer was back today to clean up the mess and haul the old beast
out, so I had him clean out the pump while he was here, but he said
afterwards that we'd probably end up doing it again. Dunno, too much
crud in the pump, maybe. And it was still doing it when I got home
from work, so I guess I'll be doing that some time in the next
few days. Not worth trying to coordinate getting him back to fix that,
it's way too easy to do myself. He even installed 2x as many valves
as I had, so it's easier than it would have been before this excitement.
January 7, 2009
I've missed a couple updates, so this one will be a bit more comprehensive
than usual. First, I took apart the kitchen faucet today to try and fix
the sprayer. Very little water comes out of the faucet, the sprayer
works, when you use the sprayer the water may or may not keep coming out
of the faucet, but when you stop less water comes out of the faucet. We're
talking down to a slow dribble. Now I know how the diverter works, but
until the new one arrives we have to live with it. But the warrantee is
The boiler guys finally turned up on Monday with a new boiler. They loaded
in and prep'd a bit and left. Tuesday they came in and did a load of
prep plumbing and wiring. Today we had a storm so they couldn't make it
back to finish. Tomorrow, however, I should go from an old <70% efficient
monstrosity to a new 95% efficient condensing gas boiler. Pictures when
I get around to sucking out the camera.
Rib still hurts, but it is slowly getting better. The optimistic estimates
I got were 2 weeks, I'm guessing more like 4.
2008 Archived Commentary
2007 Archived Commentary
2006 Archived Commentary
2005 Archived Commentary
2004 Archived Commentary
2003 Archived Commentary
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