West Jefferson St. House Project

Monday, May 22, 2006

Enter this way...

Okay, now we've got the deck landing built for the entrance. Hopefully this first photo facing west from the inside, and second facing east from the outside, give a sense of what it will be like. There's also stairs in two directions to come (on the outside). So people come in right on the floor level now, instead of twisting through the basement step entrance. There will be a column outside that matches the front porch at the point where the plastic wrap is now draping here to the right (we hired Christo to do the wrap, after he took a break from Central Park... just kidding...).
It's been a little chilly inside on these 40-degree nights. I'd be lying if I didn't admit it. Oh well, eyes on the prize.
And to conclude with an "I'm the dummy comment": I just found out that you, our reading public, can post comments to the blog. Duh... Let us know what you think!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Found out about the foundation

Well, code says you need a 42 inch foundation under walls, and the back porch only had about 30. It was a surprise to the architect but Cameron the builder started to suspect trouble when he saw how poorly the back porch was built (which had led to cracking roof beams, unaufficiently supported walls, etc...). So in addition to rebuilding the porch walls, his guys dug had to dig under the side walls around the porch. Then they got the city foundation inspection when they were getting it for the new foundation they knew they had to pour around the new back landing anyway. For Mother's Day, the Lewis guys all dug under the back wall--inspection is today. Hopefully that will get us back on track soon. We're praying the inspector lets us just fill the old rainwater cistern under the back wall, but Cameron is preparing us for a required breakup and dig out.
Meanwhile, Max is pretending to surf the pile of fill dirt....

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Good news, and some of the other kind

Weather has been nice, workmen have made fast progress with demo (3 huge dumpsters worth), we're doing okay cooking and eating out of the "dining and everything room", and selection of fixtures is going pretty well.
On the other hand, Cameron our general contractor has hurt his back and can barely get out of bed, and we've found carpenter ants in rotting wood in several spots around the back of the house. The plumber thinks the upstairs bathtub drain will rust through soon, so that will have to be replaced so it doesn't leak into our new kitchen. The back wall of the house was untreated wood improperly set on the foundation, so it's being rebuilt today. And it's about to rain.
All this makes it one of those days you hear about on old house projects...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Something Fun

Clayton knew there was a dead space above the basement stairs, between the back and side porch doors. Turns out it was an old built-in shelf. We'll restore it, or maybe put a kitchen desk there. Old houses are big history books...

And from the Outside...

...It looks like a secondhand appliance sale! Note the steps gone from both the back and side (where the pantry will be, and a window instead of that old unused door under the awning). Supposedly that side of the house, 100-plus years ago, was the driveway--make that "carriage way."

Friday, May 05, 2006

Stripped to the Bone

Who would think how much demolition could be accomplished in one week?! Gone is the floor, walls, shelves, cabinets, steps in, sidewalk outside--even the kitchen sink! Cameron and crew are stripping this old house to the bone, so they can start over fresh and new. Supposedly that's how it should be done... They've filled two huge dumpsters with what they've torn out. The nice open space is nice--a hint of what's to come...
The picture to the left above shows the new overhead beam above the former separation between the back porch and kitchen, plus the leveled-off new floor (the back porch was once an exterior porch and sloped at about a 15-degree angle toward the windows) and plywood subflooring. The open square to the right has no plywood yet because that will be the new entrance, and they're waiting until they open the wall to lay a big piece all the way through to the vestibule (no seam that way). Glad they didn't open it up yet--it's supposed to be 32 degrees tonight! However, the nasty old guillotine windows have been breaking on the workmen, so some are just screens now. At least they get to enjoy the white dogwood in bloom as they work.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Let the Demo Begin

Open? Did someone say open kitchen?
Only bad news so far (on the first day) is that the back porch roof needs better support. Cameron thinks an exterior beam.

The Plan

Architect Mary Kalmes and builder Cameroon Magoon worked with us for about a month to come up with a plan that gives us a downstairs bath and shower, a bright kitchen with a year around view of our back yard, an entrance that doesn't immediately threaten to toss folks down the basement steps headfirst, and more. The graceful two-sided stairs moved around the back until they settled here in the southwest corner (note this plan is reversed; north is to the bottom and the back south side of our house is to the top).