December 29, 2004, later

Another option for the upstairs bathroom: Upstairs Choice 2. I'm also thinking about cabinets in the bathroom to keep toiletries in (and the mirror/medicine cabinet above the sink is a given). Not sure where such things would go in these designs...

December 29, 2004

In keeping with my to-do list, here are the current concept plans for the bathrooms: Downstairs Full, Downstairs Half, and Upstairs. There are two sinks in the downstairs bath because I haven't decided where I want to put it, the toilet will shift a little one way or the other depending on where the sink ends up. Also, there's a good chance the downstairs full bathroom will have a shower, not a tub, but the software I'm using doesn't have a shower stall even close to the right size. Note that this lets me change the hinging on the downstairs full bathroom so the door swings the correct way, and the downstairs half bath will be comfortable to use by anyone. I may also change the upstairs sink to be a vanity, but the software doesn't have vanities that are less than friggin' huge.

An explanation of the symbols - the circle with lines coming out of it in the middle of the rooms is the ceiling light. The weird 'S' with a circle around it is actually two things on top of each other - the light switch and the thermostat (above the switch). The circle w/ 2 lines next to the sink is a duplex outlet. The oval sideways against the wall is the sink, and the oval sticking out from a box from the wall is the toilet. The odd box *through* the bottom wall is the window. I figure the rest is self-explanatory.

In other news, I picked up 400# of 00-grade sand that'll get used in plaster in the next room we do... and in the meantime it's being used to try and press the floor flat in the dining room doorway. Since the structural work back in October I've been slowly lowering the main beam onto the pillar, except that it stopped moving. I've now got 700# of plastering supplies on it, and it's moving nicely. Problem is I'm trying to press a 100-year-old warp out of a 7"x9" beam, and it doesn't want to go.

December 27, 2004... a little later

I realized I had a few pictures that were overdue, so here they are.

Also, an update on the utility bill - we figured out that Justin's computer is not quite half of the boost in power use, and most likely my use of 1000W halogen work lights, 5.5 HP ShopVacs, and my monster Milwaukee drill (7A draw, more horsepower than have any right to be packed into that small a case) make up a big chunk of the rest. I wasn't getting much done last December...

December 27, 2004

OK, I have the week off, so here's my to-do list: 1) new electrical in the Living Room. 2) Design the new bathrooms. 3) Re-wire the Dining Room? 4) More winterizing? 5) MAYBE start rewiring the upstairs breaker panel?

#1 is already completed. About 5 hours of work today, and it's done.

December 26, 2004

Got the Ni-Mo bill for end of November through middle of December. OUCH. We used nearly double the electricity from last year, and almost the same amount of gas. But gas rates are up 33% over last year, so the bill is up $120. OWOWOW. We're going to keep working on winterizing...

December 20, 2004 - after getting something done

Another evening, more plastic. This time the pantry and kitchen. The pantry was the test window last year, and it helped a lot in there. That's a leaky one. Kitchen next, and the window that I never did last year ended up being first - I could feel the cold from several feet away. As an experiment, I grabbed the thermometer from the living room and left it in the kitchen for a bit - 61, 6 degrees below the living room. Putting plastic on the window near the sink (never done before), I got to the bottom of the window (top and sides first) and the plastic was *flapping in the breeze*. Damn... shoulda done that one last year.

The thermometer was already starting to creep up before I did the next window in the kitchen. Tomorrow night... the study, 3, and maybe the last window in the dining room.

December 20, 2004

OK, plastic'ing windows isn't interesting... until I have real news. This morning when I left for work my car told me it was "1 F" out. The house was at 67, which is the set point on the thermostat. In other words, all the effort to plastic up windows (and holes in ceilings and walls) HAS WORKED. The furnace can now maintain the temperature of the house successfully, and wasn't running 24x7 to do it. WOOHOO!

December 18, 2004

I've been working on plastic on the windows, and figured that wasn't really very interesting so I wasn't bothering to put anything up here about it. Today, however, we plastic'd the ceiling of 1, and made a bit of a discovery in 7. Pictures of 1 and Pictures of 7.

The discovery in 7 was while I was poking around the window to start thinking about cleaning the frame to make the tape stick, I noticed what appears to be bird leavings in a small hole in the wall under the window... and some ivy from outside that had clearly grown through the wall. I leaned out the window and discovered a brick missing directly under the center of the window frame. So I ripped out the plaster under the window, and the lathe, and found myself looking at a bird's nest. In other parts, I could look straight through to outside.

December 4, 2004

I got back from my Glens Falls gig early, so I went after the last outlet in the study. Since it was the one my computer plugs in to, and I'm updating this now, obviously it's done. I've mostly ripped out circuit 1, that same nasty, disgusting, dangerous circuit I've been complaining about for more than a year. It's turned off, I just didn't feel like firing up the air compressor so I could use the cutoff tool to hack the BX and conduit into pieces to get it all out of the ceiling. It'll all happen tomorrow, and then I'll have an empty spot #1 in the breaker panel... to turn into a bunch of outlets in the basement where I've just ripped out the only one that WAS there.

December 3, 2004

I've now got most of the study rewired, everything except the outlet at me desk. If I didn't have someone filming in here tomorrow morning I'd rip that one out now and finish the job, but I'm afraid I won't clean up after it since it's 11:00 and I have to work tomorrow (9:30 am in Glens Falls - about 50 minutes north of here). After that outlet all that's left is to connect up everything in the junction box and close it up - the cable is already run to the circuit breaker, everything else is in. I figure a half hour for the outlet at my desk, another half hour for the junction box, and I turn it on.

December 2, 2004... more and later

First, my new DeWalt is AWESOME. It's about the same weight as my old 12V (which means it's lighter than John's 18V), it's *smaller* than my old 12V by a fraction of an inch, and they redid the brake technology so now it stops almost instantly. WOW.

I've replaced the first of the outlets in the study, and I've got the power trunk pulled from the breaker panel to the breakout point for the study, so I expect that tomorrow evening I'll have the study moved to a new circuit and one of the old nasty circuits will be dead.

December 2, 2004

Well, I've been chugging along on the electrical finishing touches in the basement, and now I've completely retired all the old lights (the hanging fixtures are still installed, but aren't in use. The rest are gone.) I'm to the point where I need to rewire the living room and study to retire the crappy circuits entirely... so I just bought all the parts to do it. I figure the worst part is going to be moving furniture.

In doing the electrical, my trusty DeWalt 12V cordless has finally given up the ghost. One of the batteries was 95% gone, the other was >75% gone, as measured by how much charge they would hold. Also, it was getting to be in desparate need of a new clutch pack and motor... again. Charging for an hour to drive 2 screws and charging again isn't useful. So while getting parts for the rest of the (short-term) electrical work, I spotted the 18V DeWalt cordless w/ 2 batteries on sale for less than I paid for the 12V 8 years ago. So anyone who was going to buy me a new cordless drill for Christmas... I couldn't wait that long.

I also picked up most of the parts for replacing the sub-panel on the second floor. I need this done before I rip out the bathrooms, as I don't want to wire up the bathroom upstairs to the panel in the basement and later move it. I still don't have the new panel itself, and I'm still not sure exactly where the current 3 circuits up there will end up - still there or in the basement. Since they seem to be all lights for the 1st floor, it doesn't make sense for them to be where they are. Moving them to the basement panel would *suck*. Without those three, I need a 6 space panel. With them, I either need a 10 (not made, so 12) or I need the double-density tiny breakers, which I personally don't like. I also don't really want to carve an enormous hole in the wall for a new panel, I'd like to keep it as close to the same size as possible... and that old fuse box is SMALL. I'm just not liking the options.

November 29, 2004

Just called the roofer who did my roof in late September of 2002 (6 months before I bought the house) and asked them to honor their warrantee. Sounds like they will. WOOHOO!

November 28, 2004

Another rainstorm, another leak in the roof. I just dug up the info on the roofer who replaced the roof in October of 2002, and who warranted it for 10 years. He's gonna get an earful tomorrow...

On a different note, new pictures of Bedroom 3 (occupied) and the basement.

November 27, 2004

John and I poked around a tile place today... and found the tiles for the bathroom floor. The Keystones series from DalTiles Looks like it'll be about $1000 in tiles for the floor. Now I need to actually do up the room plans.

November 18, 2004

I've now got all the lights in the basement that aren't going into places that need to be ripped out, and I built another set of shelves. It's now quite possible to see while working on things, and there's more space to work... a very good combination.

November 16, 2004

Seems I'm doing one update per week now, and I'm working several nights in between. Saturday morning and this evening I got the new lighting circuit in the basement put in. I replaced the lights in the north end (formerly ancient hanging, cloth-wrapped wire fixtures) with modern ceramic fixtures on an actual switch, and consolidated the laundry room and workshop lights onto the new circuit, too. The ancient, nasty circuit that I've complained about for ages now runs 1 outlet in the living room, 2 outlets in the study, and one hanging from the ceiling of the basement (it used to be attached to the wall I removed the other weekend). I also took nearly everything off of another old circuit that WAS providing service to the laundry room and workshop, and now has only 2 lights in the basement, 2 outlets in the living room, and 2 outlets in the study left. Next electrical project is to rewire the living room, then the study, then rip out those two circuits completely.

November 11, 2004

Wow... I've done a bunch since the 2nd, and I haven't updated.

I spent last weekend ripping out a stupid 6' wall bit out of the basement, and the framing for what looked like it may once have been a room. The wall bit was all that was really left, and the footer from there to another wall of the basement. Unfortunately, it appears I didn't have any pictures of what I'm talking about. But it's gone now. This is an area about 10' to the left of the electrical panel, extending all the way to the back of the house. It really opens up the area a lot. In it's place I build a set of 8'x2' shelves, each shelf 2' high. Obviously, designed for big stuff, the first thing on the shelves was John's push lawnmower. I should have built at least one more set.

Justin had his Mother's SUV (his car was in the shop, the accident wasn't his fault) so he was able to take all the old random tires that had been left here (that he was aware of) to a tire shop, and for $20 we got rid of nearly all the tires we had. Unfortunately, he missed a couple... but only a couple. Bit by bit I'm getting rid of all the garbage that was left here...

November 2, 2004

I cleaned up my mess in 3, installed a couple more bits of moulding (holding the window sill in place), installed blinds in the east window, and told Justin he could move in.

October 30, 2004

This update may grow over the course of the evening. First, I got a full coat of varnish on the baseboards in 3, and the final coat will be done tomorrow. Then I'll let Justin move in, even though some of the other mouldings won't be done yet.

Next, there are new pictures in Bedroom 3 and The Foyer

October 26, 2004

Odd news... I got my quarterly water bill today, and it went WAY down. My 2nd quarter bill was for 12000 gallons, and my 3rd quarter bill is for 6700 gallons. Changes made in that time have been - a new toilet upstairs, and Mike moving out and Justin moving in. The old toilet was leaking, but not >50 gallons PER DAY. Either Mike was taking very LONG showers that none of us were aware of or... uhhh... none of us have any ideas. The toilet is definitely part of it, but still...

October 19, 2004

Well, we have a leak in the heating system... far away from anything I did there's a compression fitting leaking. I've got a bucket under the drip, and I'm debating what I can reasonably do before spring. I'm guessing this is going to be >1gal/day, which makes getting rid of the water a PITA. At the same time, it's in a place where fixing it (and the horrible corrosion around it) would involve draining the entire system again and replacing a LOT of pipe. Maybe some high-temp silicone caulking... just has to last to spring.

October 18, 2004

I have heat. Or at least an intact heating system. It'll take a while for the furnace to actually get that much water up to temp, even at 265,000 btus. And, most exciting to me, in all the work I just did I had not a single leaky joint, on the first try.

October 16, 2004

I meant to update earlier, since the contractor was last here Thursday. We discovered why there was a nasty bulge in the doorway to the dining room - the main beams downstairs are sitting on brick pillars every 7' or so. There is one of those pillars directly in the middle of the pocket doorway do the dining room, and that pillar is 1 brick taller than the pillars on either side. So, their thursday was spent jacking the main beam off that pillar and replacing the wooden pad on top of it with something ~3" thinner. The beam is still up on jacks, and will be lowered slowly on to the pillar, but it's already ~1.5" lower than it was and the floor is MUCH better. It may actually end up being flat. They also sistered two or three shattered beams around the foyer and under the staircase, and I've got several jacks in various places that will be holding things in place until I have these guys back in the spring.

I'm currently working on getting the radiator installed in 3. It'll be done before I go to the show tonight... or not. Turns out I need to replace the wire brush I use to clean copper pipes when prepping to sweat a joint. It's been getting beat up a lot, and it just doesn't cut it for cleaning up the old pipes coming out of the floor. I'll stop at HD on my way to the show, and I'll hopefully finish it tonight.

October 12, 2004

The contractor was here today, and discovered all sorts of things. First, I had to rip out a part of a circuit that needed ripping anyway, as it was ancient and in the way. Second, the lumber that I had custom cut back last year shrank significantly as it dried, so now it's half an inch too small. Not good, but not terrible - we're sistering most of the beams now instead of replacing them. I'm not quite sure what we'll do under the bathrooms, there's very little left back there to sister TO. Third, they found a small cast iron medallion on top of one of the main beams. I'm not sure what it's from, but it's neat.

October 11, 2004

The radiator is physically back in 3, but not connected. John has been working on touchups on the baseboards, and they still need to be varnished before I reinstall the radiator in front of them. Hopefully I'll find some time this week to deal with that, but I just don't know.

In other news, theoretically I've got a contractor here starting tomorrow to deal with fixing the beams under the foyer. That was part of the same price tag as the bathrooms, so financially it's covered. Also, it's going to let me strip and refinish the floors in the foyer and dining room which currently are severely warped.

In yet more news, I poked at home equity loans and discovered that my credit is so good the rates I was being offered were surprising even the loan officers I was talking to (the computer was telling them things they didn't expect). So, as soon as I can turn the heat off in the spring, I'm going to take a loan and do the bathrooms. Unless interest rates move a lot in the next 6 months, it looks like for $500/month over 10 years I'll be able to get enough to get the job totally done. And I may just be able to get enough more put aside that I can not borrow more than my equity, and then I'll get a MUCH better interest rate (about 3% lower).

October 7, 2004

I took this afternoon off to work on HEAT. I got the radiator reinstalled in the upstairs bathroom. It is FUGLY - the cast pipes come up too high out of the floor, and there was no way I was removing them like in the dining room. So, the plumbing around that is certainly not plumb. But it should carry water... which is all I care about. This is all going to get ripped out of existence next spring, anyway.

October 6, 2004

OK, I got one of the radiators installed in the dining room last night, and I got the other one installed tonight. The second was a royal PITA - the old cast iron pipes came up through the floor, and were just a couple inches too tall, and too close together to make this easy. So I ripped the cast iron out back as far as I could reasonably manage, and replaced with copper :-) I would have gotten more done yesterday, but I couldn't break a couple of the fittings free... today I went and bought a 4' piece of leverage (1.5" steel pipe) and things moved much more easily. And the end result is 1) cleaner, 2) newer, 3) less surprising when it doesn't leak all over. The old pipes were so rusty I'm amazed they held. And there was a 2' piece of 1.25" copper pipe in the middle of the mess I removed that had a VERY bad sweat job holding it in... I don't know what was holding the water in.

The downside to all of this is... it's taking me an evening per radiator. The next time I can work on this is part of Sunday... maybe. And I've got two radiators left and it was in the low 30's last night. I'm thinking I may just take part of tomorrow off...

October 3, 2004

I could have sworn I did an update earlier this week, but apparently not. I put the baseboards into 3 on tuesday evening, and pictures will be up when I get around to clearing off the camera. Also today I re-installed the first of the radiators to go in... in the foyer. Pictures of my plumbing will be here too. I've gotten really good at sweating joints, and a minor error in my spatial relations means the radiator is tighter in to the corner than it was supposed to be... which I think is a benefit.

September 16, 2004

Not *too* much to report, a bit more progress has been made on the mouldings, but this is mostly for the pictures

September 12, 2004

I stripped a pile of little bits of moulding this evening, as they're all the little bits of baseboard that go around doors and such. John is working on filling and staining the big parts of the baseboards, and I'm hoping we can get them on the walls in the next few days.

September 11, 2004

Noreascon 4 has come and gone, and so I'm back to this. I spent a good bit of the day sanding mouldings for 3, and John was working on color matching and filling the various gaps and holes. Progress was made, and now I'm set up to make more progress without John's involvement. Hopefully over the next week or so I'll get all the mouldings prepped such that John has something to do again.

August 19, 2004

I'm being lousy about updating this, but then I'm not getting much done, either. We're in heavy-duty N4 mode, as the WorldCon is only two weeks away. However, some is actually still getting accomplished here. Since Mike is moving, things are heading out the door. That makes space. Also, I've got all the radiators that are going to get cleaned and painted this year ready to be reinstalled, as soon as the piles of Mike's stuff are out of the way. I also cleaned the carpet adhesive off the floors where the radiators were, as long as I had them out. And the mouldings for 3 are awaiting some of John's attention to clean up some of the abuse they've taken over the last 100 years.

August 15, 2004

Ugh. More progress on things, but motivation is hard to come by at the moment. I've had radiators outside getting painted, and they look a heck of a lot better than they did. Also, we've acquired the materials for finishing off the mouldings for 3, I expect that to happen largely on weeknights.

August 4, 2004

I spent all yesterday evening stripping mouldings again. The baseboards are all ready to be sanded, as are most of the door and window bits. All that's left are some little pieces that go where the baseboards meet the doors and some sides of the crowns for the tops of the doors and window.

August 1, 2004

I have spent the weekend removing paint. Both radiators from the dining room have been pressure washed clean. Much of the mouldings from 3 have been stripped clean. I've still got the pieces from above the doors and windows to finish, and the baseboards need another going-over. Then I start sanding.

July 29, 2004

Last night I spent an hour or two working on stripping mouldings again. Only a few little bits haven't been done once, and one piece of crown moulding came completely clean on the first try. So I've got 1 piece DONE, and piles and piles more to work on.

July 27, 2004

Before I left for vacation (last wednesday evening), I did a bit of work and didn't update here. I tore out the radiators in the dining room and the upstairs bathroom (leg room when using the facilities!). I'm hoping to get back to stripping the remaining bits of carpet adhesive off the dining room floor soon, now that those are out of the way. I'm also hoping to strip down and repaint all of the radiators that I remove, and am still hoping to yank out the two in the living room.

Also, more stripping of mouldings from 3 was accomplished. I need to do a few more little pieces, and then I can go back and do them all again.

July 20, 2004

Now that I'm past the three @#$%ing days trying to replace a single @#$%ing toilet, I'm back to working on 3. Spent some time tonight stripping mouldings. So far all the baseboards have been stripped once, but will need to be gone over again for detailing.

July 19, 2004

We have a working toilet upstairs. The new toilets are very cool, as there have been some actual technological improvements recently. Yes, in toilet design. It flushes about as fast and as powerfully as my parents' pressure-assisted toilet, without the pressure assist. It's also almost completely made up of standard internal parts. The major changes are a 1.5x to 2x increase in the size of the opening from the tank to the bowl, some changes in the plumbing in the porcelain of the bowl, and a 1.5x increase in the diameter of the trap. Also, the tank holds two flushes worth of water, and only dumps half of it at a time... using the pressure of the water column for added velocity. Very cool... we'll see if it clogs less than the old one.

On the other hand, I've added toilets to my list of things in the house that I'll pay someone else to do. Structural, electricity that involves calling NiMo, drain-side plumbing (how DO you install 5" cast iron pipe?) and toilets.

July 15, 2004

GRRR... I *HATE* drain-side plumbing. Working for an hour with sewer gas blowing my face to install a new flange just to then have the wax ring NOT FIT. And since I'm going to be out of town for the weekend, leaving after work tomorrow, I expect we will have no toilet upstairs until monday.

Oh, and my DeWalt cordless drill seems to have finally given up. The batteries are 8+ years old, and have seen a lot of use. I killed a freshly charged battery tonight driving *two* screws. It's finally done. *sigh*

July 14, 2004

Grrr... I tried to replace a toilet tonight, and have been foiled. Not only can I not install the new one, I can't put the old one back. The "closet flange", which is the piece that holds the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor, is ripped out on one side so it won't hold that bolt. I'll have to hit HD tomorrow to get a new one. Then I have to figure out how to install it... and it appears to involve a torch. I like torches :-) So for tonight, we have two working WCs.

July 13, 2004

OK, no work done tonight, but I picked up 3 new toilets and 2 pedestal sinks. I'm not ready to deal with the sink upstairs, as I figure that's going to go into a vanity.

July 12, 2004

Party came, party went. I'm going to try and get some baseboards stripped tonight.

Later... I got two of the baseboards worked on - except I can't strip the entire length of the 14' piece in one shot, so that one isn't done. I'm going to have to go back and redo all of it, as the bottom has a serious buildup that wouldn't come off in one pass. The little brush that HD sells with paint stripper works wonderfully for cleaning out the ogee on the mouldings.

July 8, 2004

Mike put a second coat of paint on the foyer :-)

July 7, 2004

Not doing much but cleaning this week, but today the real light fixture went in to 3. It looks way overdone, but there's no furniture or mouldings in the room yet, so it's the only thing disturbing the purity of a blank antique white box. Hopefully it'll look more reasonable when there's stuff in the room.

July 6, 2004

Argh... I don't have time for this... bathroom sink has been draining very slowly, and nothing has helped. So we pulled the trap and removed the toothbrush that was in there... and crushed the trap like a piece of tinfoil in the process.

July 5, 2004

There won't be much in the way of progress this week - I have a party this weekend and we're cleaning the house. Actually, anyone who reads this is welcome to show up, too - and see the house for yourselves. The party starts at 7:00 pm Friday and goes until we toss everyone out on Sunday. Directions are above, but please email me to let me know you're coming so I have enough food.

There was a little progress today - the electrical was put back into 3 with the exception of the real light fixture. That'll probably go in tomorrow. Also, the radiator from the foyer was taken outside and cleaned, and the one from 3 has gotten most of a coat of new high-temperature silver paint.

July 4, 2004

Starting at about 9:45 this morning, the floor was sanded, a coat of polyurethane was applied, allowed to dry, and then sanded again. Lather, rinse, repeat. 3 coats were applied, and the rented floor sander was returned. As it went along the sander pulled harder and harder to the right, so the last time sanding the last coat of poly was barely controllable. OK, I'm not a big guy so that's not saying much, but it was pulling pretty hard.

But the floor is done. Pictures

Also, Mike and Jackie have been spending the day painting the foyer and balcony. I think they're done with the first coat as of 4:00 pm.

July 3, 2004

Today, we finished painting the room, and I went out and rented the gear to refinish the floor. It's now been sanded three times at 36 grit, once at 60, and once at 100, then vacuumed thoroughly. Finally, a coat of sanding sealer was applied. It's definitely not perfect, as I couldn't get all the stains out of the wood, but it's a LOT better than it was this morning.

July 3, 2004, WAY EARLY AGAIN

We pulled the baseboards, cleaned the floor, removed all the old carpet staples, cleared everything out of the room, moved the plastering stuff to the basement, and painted. And now I go to bed.

July 2, 2004

I didn't get a whole lot done last night, but I made the attempt. Some cleaning around the foyer, and I worked on getting the baseboards out of 3. Turns out that they are not installed like baseboards I've ever seen before - normally they sit on top of the floor and are attached to the walls. In this case they sit on the subfloor and outside and next to the flooring. And then are nailed to the walls. This makes removing the baseboards without removing the flooring... difficult at best. Of course, destroying the baseboards would work, too, but I don't want to go there... these would NOT be easy to replace. So with some prying I was able to get them bent far enough out from the wall to get a hacksaw blade in and cut each of the nails. An unpleasant process, but functional.

I also have started removing all the crappy plumbing around any radiator I remove from the system. Now the feed into 3 is just two 1/2" pipes poking up through the floor, with all the other bits cleaned off. It wasn't really going to be possible to refinish the floor without doing this, so I should have done it this way in the first place.

Tonight my project is to get the rest of the baseboards out and clean 3 thoroughly enough that I'll be able to refinish the floor this weekend.

July 1, 2004, after sleeping

They did it. The plastering is done. Justin took some pictures

July 1, 2004, WAY EARLY

It's 1:30 am, and John is still going. I'm about to keel over, and I expect he won't last much longer, either. We've trained Justin to take my job so he can go as long as possible. I expect half the ceiling to be done tonight, all the walls are already done. John's goal was to finish the plaster, but we're finding that to be a bit... too ambitious. I'm really hoping I wake up to find it done... otherwise it'll get done early Sunday and we go from there.

June 30, 2004

Well, John's upstairs plastering, and I just removed another radiator. I'd *like* to have the two in the dining room, the two in the living room, and the one in the foyer removed and cleaned before the party (9 days out) but I'm not going to be too worked up about it either way. The one in the foyer had to go so we could paint behind it, so it's about 8 feet from where it started this morning.

We're hoping to finish the plaster Sunday, and I'm going to aim to refinish the floor on Monday. I'm *not* holding my breath.

June 29, 2004

I'm going to attempt to address some questions I've gotten about plaster (Amy at Home Depot was wondering, actually among other people.) First, plaster is the old alternative to sheetrock and all it's accoutriments (tape, joint compound, etc). Yeah, that's obvious, right? Sheetrock, etc. is gypsum board, and resembles somewhat soft blackboard chalk. If it gets wet, it's closer to a cross between chalk and a wet kitchen sponge. It comes in 4'x8' and 4'x10' (maybe 4'x12'?) sheets of various thicknesses, plus you need to get buckets of joint compound and either paper tape (PITA) or fiberglass mesh tape (still a PITA, but not as bad) and muck about with taping, gooping, and sanding. Afterword, if you hit it with a piece of furniture, the wall gets a chunk taken out of it, and you need more joint compound/spackle and paint.

Plaster, on the other hand, comes in 50 lb. sacks of powder, and gets mixed with sand in places. That comes in 100 lb. sacks. When it is mixed appropriately and put up, it cures to the average consistency of rock. When it gets wet... it resembles rock. When you ram your desk/bed/ dresser/etc. into it... it resembles rock, and your furniture gets dinged. Remember not to ding your furniture :-) Also, the surface just has a nicer texture to it, the walls are much more sound dampening than sheetrock, and when you try to burn plaster it releases water... thus slowing down the spread of a fire. 1.5" of sheetrock is a "fire break" by code, and that's a double layer of fire-resist sheetrock. A normal wall of plaster is a fire break by nature.

The downside? It costs somewhat more, but not all that much, as long as you do it yourself. The room I've been doing will end up costing around $300 in plastering materials, and sheetrock would cost about $200 plus tape and joint compound. OK, that's double, but the numbers aren't that big. But that's just materials. I could have had the whole room sheetrocked in under a day, taped, and the first pass of joint compound that day as well. One weekend and it would be ready for paint. This has been three weeks and it's not *quite* there. If I'd gotten a plasterer in here it would have been done in two days, and would have cost ~$3000.

So all of that explains (somewhat) the differences. And doesn't even begin to tackle the real question - WHY?. I claim temporary insanity. I figure at least that way it's only temporary.

June 27, 2004

This weekend has been cream coat time. Saturday we got the S wall done, and most of the E wall. Today we finished the E wall and are hoping to have the N wall done tonight. It's slower going than the brown coat, because the final product really needs to be finished. John's spending more time smoothing the surface than putting new material on the walls.

I think it looks a lot better than John does, but he's a serious perfectionist.

I've got a couple more pictures. These include a quick description of some of the tools.

In an unrelated note, Ni-Mo has started installing the radio transmitter equipped meters. We got our new electric meter some time this week, and should be getting a new gas meter "soon". Whatever that means. Soon, I won't be getting woken up on the 19th of the month at stupid o'clock in the morning by the meter reader who needs to get in to my basement to read the gas meter. Instead, a truck will drive by on the road.

June 23, 2004

Yesterday I cleaned 3 completely. Vacuuming the ceiling sucks. But now we're ready to do the cream coat, assuming I can manage to motivate myself at all. I'm doubting it as of right now...

June 21, 2004

Made a tactical error in taking a day off from plaster. The next step isn't the cream coat, it's prep for the cream coat... so that pushes things off for a day. Instead I started painting the foyer, which has been in desperate need of a coat of paint for over a year. It looks a lot better.

Also, the curing plaster in 3 *reeks*. My best guess is that the wood fiber in the plaster for strength and fire resistance (yes, adding wood makes it more fire resistant... I'm still working on HOW?) is wet enough that it's decomposing a little.

June 20, 2004

The brown coat is done. 6 hours yesterday for the S and E walls, 4.5 hours today for the N and W walls. Part of the problem is that we've gotten to a point where we really need to do an entire wall at a shot, to keep nasty seams to a minimum. New pictures

John and I both hurt a lot now... he was holding ~10-15 lbs of plaster on the hawk (I should take pictures of the tools so I can explain them) for most of the time in one hand and was pushing pretty hard on the trowel in the other. He was going fast enough today that I spent all of my time trying to keep up with him - we went through 8 gallons of water, 2 of it in spray bottles, 150 lbs of sand, and 75-100 lbs of plaster, and my job is to keep him fed with whatever he needs - water and glop. I haven't been able to carry a 100 lb. bag of anything in years... and I was doing it today (sand). So, tomorrow we rest. We'll move on to the cream coat on Tuesday.

June 19, 2004

We did the brown coat on two of the walls today. It's starting to look like a room again... a couple new pictures but nothing too exciting. The south and east walls comprise less than half of the area we need to cover (probably 40% or so) but because of the two windows comprise more than half of the PITA factor. So I'm figuring we're about half done with the brown coat. We'll see if John's shoulder holds out tomorrow, and maybe we'll have it done this weekend. Then we move on to the cream coat... yuck.

June 16, 2004

John had a meeting, and we broke one of the tools last night and I forgot to replace it today, so no plaster today. While he was off at the meeting, I had the radiator outside on the sidewalk with my new pressure washer. I've had to rearrange my Top 10 Toys list, the pressure washer definitely ranks. Not too high, but on the list. Got 95%+ of the paint off the radiator, and now I can say that I think it was originally a dull gold color. At least the thin layer of gold is *very* well bonded, and is bonded directly to the metal. I'm thinking I will have to repaint the thing, even though I'd rather leave it bare metal - I just can't get it completely clean... very close, but not quite.

June 15, 2004

The first coat is done on the walls AND ceiling.

June 14, 2004

The walls are 99% scratch coat done. The last bit is less than a batch of plaster, so it'll get done when we start the ceiling. I don't expect any plaster to go up tonight, but the ceiling will be prep'd for tomorrow. Also, the CD shelves should be sanded and poly'd, and I should have a bracket to fit under the radiator so we can move it on a hand truck. I want to get the radiator outside so I can hit it with a pressure washer :-)

June 13, 2004

The north wall has a complete scratch coat. Also, so far today we've started digging out 6, I've stained all the parts for a set of shelves designed to hold CDs, and we've started making progress on cleaning the kitchen.

June 12, 2004

Hmmm... things have been done, and I didn't update here. Thursday evening (while John was elsewhere) I shoveled out rubble from 3, from where I was prep'ing the North wall on Wednesday. I probably did some other stuff, but nothing major and I don't remember what.

Friday evening we plastered. The lower half of the North wall now has a scratch coat, and that was our limit before my hands were burning and John's shoulder told him to stop. We were hoping to do the entire wall, but it just wasn't meant to be. We're going to run out of plaster this weekend, and I didn't get more yesterday (the place is only open bankers' hours) so we'll do all we can this weekend and run with it. I think we'll physically fall apart before we would have needed more anyway.

So far today I've hit Home Depot. I now have the consumables needed to refinish the floor in 3. I'll get the sanders and those supplies when I'm ready to start, as they'll be rented.

June 9, 2004

More plaster... again. The south wall now has an entire scratch coat, and while John was working on that I was prep'ing the North wall. We're guessing East will be Friday night (John does other things on Thursdays), since North is the most area to do - it'll probably be this weekend.

June 8, 2004

More plaster... this time around the south window. Since the window is right at the corner of the room, it was tough going for John, but it looks pretty good. Hopefully more Wednesday...

June 7, 2004

Ooh... fun. Faucet and toilet repairs. :-P

June 6, 2004... yet again

There is plaster on a wall in 3 that didn't have any this morning. Pictures show it all. Unlike where John was working on the pantry, this time we've got the consistency right, the mixing right, and the working time right. This went MUCH faster than any plaster John's done before, and it was still workable over an hour later... unlike last time where he barely had time to get the stuff onto the wall before it was rock.

June 6, 2004... more

We're doing plaster in 3... more details as they're available.

June 6, 2004

Yesterday was productive. I fixed a table that was left here and set it up in the workshop. This thing is HUGE... probably 6'x4', and the top is made of oak flooring. Finished reasonably well (for a floor), too. The structure holding the legs on had one too many degrees of freedom, making the legs rather... unstable. Easy fix, 2 2x4s, and no diagonal bracing required. You can't even see what I did without crawling under it. And now there's LOTS of workbench space :-) And plenty of space under the table for storage of things like John's air compressor. Getting that stuff out of the middle of the floor.

After the table, I rearranged stuff in the workshop, so the floor is clear for the first time in ages. Errr... was. I immediately set up to refinish mouldings, starting with plastic on the floor. But it's still easier to get to things, even with sawhorses and stuff in the middle of the room.

Hopefully, 3 will be getting plastered today, so I moved much of the moulding refinishing stuff from 3 to the workshop (see how this all ties together?) to get it all out of John's way.

I also scraped and repainted around the living room windows on the outside. Depending on how today goes, I may do the dining room next.

May 31, 2004

A few new pictures

May 29, 2004

I was in NYC most of the week, thus the gap in progress.

I vacuumed 3 last night, so I'm no longer tracking quite so much plaster dust everywhere. I gave up on the ShopVac (too slow) and went to the normal vacuum... which isn't as effective. The ShopVac just sucks better.

I'm trying out stripping paint off the mouldings right now. Or more accurately, I'm trying out a brand of paint stripper I've never used before, and which isn't nearly as evil a substance as most. Citri-Strip seems to work OK, smells of oranges, and doesn't require a VOC rated respirator to use. It has the usual warnings about gloves and such, but it doesn't hurt to breathe in the room. I'm not sure the chemical advantages are enough to compensate for the fact that other strippers work SO WELL, but I'll decide after I finish this jug of the stuff. On the other hand, the one piece of moulding that I've mostly finished looks pretty good.

May 23, 2004 5:35 pm

Justin was shoveling the room out again... until he ran out of garbage bags. I was running a new circuit downstairs to run the firewall, etc. off of... until I discovered a depressing lack of 20A duplex outlets. The solution to all problems? Another trip to the toy st... errr... Home Depot. So now there's another circuit in the basement, all wired up and running, there's new plumbing bits all ready to reinstall the radiator in 3 (to the point of being all sweated together and everything... they're cooling now), and there's lots more garbage bags. Between now and next Saturday evening I need to get 3 cleaned and ready for John to start plaster. Nothing more :-) I get a bit of a break for a while... since I'm going to be in NYC for work, it's a good thing it's working out this way.

May 23, 2004 1:20 pm

The demolitions in 3 are done. The mouldings are down, the walls are scraped. Now the cleaning can commence.

May 22, 2004... later

The radiator is out. Pictures here

May 22, 2004

WOOHOO! I've been dreading doing anything with the heating system here, for a number of reasons. I got to the point today working on 3 that I needed to remove the radiator. I haven't yet, but it's draining. The "WOOHOO" is because I allayed one of my biggest fears - the system does NOT have antifreeze in it. I wasn't sure I could just dump the stuff down the drain, but since it's only water... That also means that refilling with like will work just fine. Yes, antifreeze is better in a pile of ways, but it costs money and is a pain to get in to the system. Until I'm *done*, I think I'll just use water.

May 20, 2004

I did a bunch of cleaning yesterday, shoveling all the scraped off plaster up and getting it out of the room. I then took advantage of an empty dirty room to use my chop saw for another project :-)

Today I finished scraping all of the exposed walls, as there wasn't much left. The remainder of the scraping now is under mouldings and behind the radiator. So I went and got the supplies to strip the mouldings and refinish them, and to correctly remove the radiator (or more accurately to correctly reinstall the radiator later) and I'll be handling that in the next day or two.

May 18, 2004

I definitely overdid it yesterday. I aggravated the tentonitis in both elbows. But, that means photos instead of more work tonight. I can still hold a camera. New pictures here

May 17, 2004

And I thought I hurt last time. I've got someone filming in here tomorrow night (RPI student, no I won't be famous or wealthy) so I wanted to get the noisy part of things done. So I finished the ceiling. I haven't been in this much pain since... I broke my foot? That was worse, but this is probably the most since.

I had John take pictures of me this time, and tomorrow I'll put pictures of current state and what I looked like up.

May 16, 2004

Damn... life bit me in the butt, so I've just lost 2.5 days.

May 14, 2004

I was right... I hurt to much to accomplish anything real tonight. So I'm taking a day off :-)

May 13, 2004

OWOWOW. Previously, I've scraped for a hour and a half or so, and then my arms feel like they're ready to fall off. Tonight, when I got there I stopped, washed my hands, and got something to drink. Then I went back to it. After two and a half hours I hurt too much to continue. Only one blister (heel of my right hand). It was worth it - I scraped a good third of the ceiling, and have around half of the whole done. My pace is doing better, obviously. We'll see if I can move tomorrow, and then I have a (small) shot at finishing the ceiling tomorrow night. Even if I can't do anything tomorrow, I got so much done today that taking a day off wouldn't hurt me.

May 12, 2004

Ow. I've got <25% of the ceiling done, and some more of the walls. I hurt a lot from scraping above my head. One of these times I'll get someone to take a picture of me when I stop for the night, as I end up pretty frightening looking.

May 12, 2004

Justin helped with scraping cream coat last night, and we made a bunch of progress. A couple hours of work got around 50% of the walls done (well, the walls that hadn't already been ripped out...) and a bit of the ceiling. I'll probably do more tonight.

May 11, 2004

All the lath is done. I've got pictures, but it's not worth the effort to put 3 pictures up. I've cleared most of the tools and stuff out of the room, and a bunch of the trash, and am going to start working on scraping the rest of the cream coat off after I eat something. And in scraping off the cream coat, I'm undoubtedly going to find places where I need to replace more lath. And the cycle continues...

May 11, 2004

All of the lath is installed on two of the walls, and the rest on the third is full length pieces... so it'll be quick when I get to it. Hopefully tomorrow I'll finish that, and move on to scraping the rest of the cream coat off the rest of the room.

May 7, 2004

I got the electrical completed this morning. The old stuff is 90% ripped out, and the new is live.

May 5, 2004

Got a solid day in today. Polished off the ripping needed for the electrical work. I'll still need to scrape off the rest of the cream coat in order for John to put in new, but that's nothing compared to the rest. Got all the conduit installed, and now am pretty convinced that using conduit for all the boxes was silly. The ones in the outer wall make sense, but the rest are just overkill.

After getting the conduit installed, I ripped out the old fluorescent fixture and got the box in place for the new fixture. I stuck a temporary ceramic base on it to provide light for the next week or two, until the ceiling is replastered. I even got a couple of the runs of cable in for the new electric.

Very important part of this... new pictures

May 4, 2004

More progress on 3. 95% of the ripping is done, and I'm working on installing conduit and electrical boxes. Had a bit of a problem when one of the existing outlets (horribly broken) got wiggled and blew the breaker for the room. As long as the power was out I just cut it right out of the circuit and wired around it. I should be cutting over to the new wiring tomorrow at the rate I'm going.

May 3, 2004

The toilet was nothing. A new float valve for $6 and 10 minutes of work.

Bedroom 3, on the other hand, is a LOT of work. I've ripped out big chunks of walls to run new electrical and communications, and should be actually putting the conduit in later today. Last night I was completely grey from all the plaster dust. I wish I'd gotten a picture of that.

New pictures of the supports in the basement and work in Bedroom 3

May 1, 2004

I'm gutting bedroom 3 to renovate it. I've prepped two of the future outlet locations for the electrical run by ripping all the plaster out from there to the ceiling. I'm scraping the "cream coat" of all the plaster down everywhere, as John wants it all gone to make for a cleaner final product. I have some pictures, probably be up tomorrow.

Also, the guts of one of the toilets exploded. Not powerfully, but there was a *bang* followed by the sound of water running. So I turned the water off at the valve to the toilet, and I'm getting new guts for it today.

April 13, 2004

The new circuit to the workshop is done, and now there's lots of power to work with in there :-)

When I get around to more (next week?) I'll be working on the lighting circuit. Between now and then I need to get the beams braced, finish up the sound design for a show, and I'm out of town for the entire weekend.

April 12, 2004

A little progress on the ugliness to report. For ~$100 I picked up a pair of Lally columns and a few 2x8s. I'm going to put in a support under the very worst of the damage and prop things up until I have the money to do it right.

In a very related note (in a very oblique way...) I'm doing more electrical work. In order to cut the 2x8s to length I need my chop saw. It's currently on the nastiest circuit in the house, along with half the lights in the basement, the cable modem and firewall, half the study, and part of the living room. Oh, and my computer is in the study. Last time I cut something I popped the breaker and took down two computers. Yuck. SO... the workshop is finally getting its own power. And as long as I'm at it I'm working on the lights for the rest of the basement. Some of them are going to have to wait, as they're too close to the beams that need to be replaced, but I'll get some of it in and some of the old crap removed.

Pictures when the camera's batteries finish recharging.

April 7, 2004

Well, I'm completely at a loss. I can get up to 90% of my equity in the house as a line of credit, at 1% for the first 6 months, and prime -.25% for the remainder of the 5 year term. That's not too bad for rates and such. Problem is I've got ~$20,000 in equity (assuming that my house hasn't changed in value much since I bought it) which leads to ~$18,000 in potential credit. That is enough to fix the structural problems, but not enough to leave me with a working bathroom at the end.

Between this, suddenly being single again, and my tendonitis acting up, you'll have to pardon me while I have a nervous breakdown...

April 6, 2004

Ouch. I had a GC over this evening to look at things. I think I've finally found a winner in the GC department. I let him talk mostly, and he was coming up with a lot of things I'd already noticed or thought. And he came up with some new things I hadn't seen, but when he pointed them out, they were definitely real. Specifically, I wanted to get a price for replacing the beams, and wanted to see what he thought of other parts as well. He's a friend of Mike's, so he'd wanted to see the house anyway.

He looked around a lot. We poked at things. He convinced me that the beams are one aspect of the problems in the whole column of bathrooms that are sagging, and in order to even replace them several other parts need to be done, too. Thinking about it, I wouldn't really want to be jacking up that part of the house with the concrete slab 2 floors up on crappy beams, just waiting to fall on my head. Also, since some of the beams aren't really holding any weight anymore (broken beams aren't good at that) the weight is either shifted to nearby beams, or to the floorboards themselves. I'd never noticed that part - the T-n-G planks are bowed way out of true, to where the tongues are no longer in the grooves. Thus, the downstairs bathrooms need to go, too.

All before/during the beams.

And the part that really makes me twitch is that given what we looked at tonight and thinking about it, I can't poke any holes in his logic. And while he's slightly more expensive per day than other GCs I've talked to, he's the first to see (or maybe to say) anything about the floorboards, or just how interconnected the mess really is. He told me what his people make per hour, and what he makes - so I could do the math as to what he needs to charge to do the job.

I'm going to the bank tomorrow to talk about home equity loans. *sigh*

February 28, 2004

It's been a while since I made any real progress on anything around here, as money has its limits. But, today Appliance Giant was having a big moving sale, and my new washer and dryer will be here on Wednesday. I hate credit.

January 14, 2004

While working on yet more window plastic this evening I ran across a very unexpected... visitor. I was retrieving a folding chair from Bedroom 7 when a house sparrow scared the living bejeezus out of me.

January 4, 2004

I own a piano

January 2, 2004

I just made good use of the half day I took today. The laundry room lights are done, the servant's stairwell lights have been moved to a better circuit, and the nasty disgusting old circuit that was a serious fire hazard has been added to a garbage can. Pictures here. It's nice to be able to actually *see* while doing laundry...

January 1, 2004

Happy New Year!

Given that I have the day off, I've accomplished a few things. First, there's a picture here of my holiday decorating. This is the first time since I moved out of my parent's place that I've done any decorating that wasn't really just helping someone else do theirs. Yeah, Megan pushed me into it, but it's my house and my decorations. And I've been pleasantly surprised that after three weeks I haven't had them stolen or vandalized. Who says this is a bad neighborhood?

Next, I've started working on rewiring the lights in the laundry room. The first step of that was to rip out the old light and the bead board ceiling so I can actually get in and run things right. I'm tired of wires running through mouldings or tacked along ON the ceiling. New pictures here of the demolitions project. After this point I did actually start working on roughing in the electrical, but I didn't get far enough to bother getting the camera out again.

2003 Archived Commentary

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