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
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
#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
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
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
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
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
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?)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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