Monday, October 22, 2007

Remodel Remarks

Well, it's sure been a long time since a real adventure. We're due! Our summer was a long slog through the world of software (for me) and photography (for Han). Now thats over, we thought we'd "spice things up" with a little home remodeling! Hoboy, this was big deal.

So, we live in a 1397sq ft 2x4 Douglas fir Portland "Craftsman" bungalow built in 1909. It has one bathroom. That bathroom has been remodeled at least 2x since initial construction. So, we decided to gut it to studs, rip everything out, blow the ceiling out to the roof, put in a skylight and rewire using new breakers in the basement. We "broke wall" in September.

some tidbits:

  • If you store boxes in your attic, like the owners of this house, some things fall out. Over 100 years, thing makes for an interesting collage of treasures, army patches, christmas ornaments, newspaper clippings. Be an archaeologist in your own home!

  • If a prior remodel was done by a DIY'er with little experience except shop class, be prepared for a battle royale. Our demolition was a fight because the furniture was built in place and screwed into the wall, floor, ceiling, wherever! Not with just mounting screws or nails, but LAYERS of glue, nails, 4" screws, lag bolts, and varnish [oh my!]. Repeat several times. It was...bizarre!

  • Once a house reaches 100 years old in the active-volcano-land of the Pacific Northwest, throw away your level, T-square and speed square. There are no flat surfaces, no 90-degree corners and no "solid" places. Creaks, squeaks, leaks and ages of history. You may find your old plumbing (galvanized) next to your other plumbing (copper) next to the other plumbing (CPVC).

  • Little did I know that not only do we have a wasp nest in one area, but several decades of history of wasps in different areas, a few joists that fed ants of long ago, and a few live carpenter ants (carrying larvae to a new location to get away from the hammering). Bird nests, squirrel stashes, spider webs. Indy! Look here! Asps!

  • If all that isn't enough, mapping out the circuits of the house via wire tracing and circuit testers is fun too! Start with a floor diagram, then identify all the outlets, lights, and switches, then run around and turn them on/off, use a wall-tracer and finally connect them up. Luckily, I was able to crawl through asbestos and fiberglass for most of it, following wires into and out of junction boxes in the attic. Wheee!

  • Which brings me to a request: Please don't see the opportunity to put so many 12-gauge wires into 1 box. I found junction boxes with 2, sometimes 3 different circuits in them, with 5, 6 or 7 wires crammed into a ball. Thankfully, I'm fairly comfortable playing with wire. When the radio turns on when I open the fridge, don't ask me about it.

I'll post the pictures up here soon. Demo is over and now we're in the construction phase. Framing is almost complete, and all the new electric is in. We used almost 100ft of new/replacement wire. Han will give you a tour of all the new gadgets (skylight, fan, floor, towel rack, lights, dimmers, etc).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Egg #1

Number 1

Jim sent this to my cell phone while I was shooting in Seattle. How cute is that? :)

We have EGGS!

Still busy with a recent photoshoot, but wanted to announce that the eggs have started arriving! And with this news comes confirmation that Francine is definitely a hen. She is our first layer and has already supplied us with 3 [#1 came on Sunday morning] delicious, albeit small eggs. The shells are light brown and the yolks are a deep orange-yellow. And man, are they tasty!! Yay Francine!!

Friday, October 05, 2007

My, what a busy summer!

It's officially fall here in Portland. The chickens are pretty much full grown, [we'll be looking for eggs in the next month or so], the pumpkins have been harvested, the last of the tomatoes are slowly ripening, the bathroom has been gutted and the remodel is in full swing, we've renewed our climbing gym memberships, the fenders are back on the bikes, we've been eating figs off neighborhood trees and checking the fallen chestnuts for little treasures.

Jim has been working very hard and very long hours over the summer, so our adventuring has been minimal. Instead we've put a lot of energy into projects in and around the house: a new roof for the deck, gardening, and the bathroom remodel. The demolition began 3 weeks ago, and the skylight is being put in as I write. The framing of the new lofted ceiling/walls has begun and almost all of the components and fixtures have been ordered. Where we could we've bartered with friends to keep costs down and keep the money "in the family". We're going as green as possible--to the point that it hurts at times! It's been a lot more work to research and specify truly green products, but it is worth it. In most cases we're actually saving money over the conventional route. We're doing our best to keep it local, too. I'll do another post later with all the details and final specs and, of course, photos. Today I just wanted to post a quick update to let you know all is well.

I've been getting several requests for portrait work, and in fact have one this weekend in Seattle with my friend Lisa. Once the remodel is done, I'll be able to focus on building a business. But for now I've dusted off my design hat and busted out my tape measure and clipboard and play Designer/General Contractor most days and evenings. It's actually been pretty fun, and in spite of all the dust and inconvenience of taking our only bathroom to the studs, it hasn't presented too much hardship. We still have a working toilet and tub, but eventually everything will need to come out to do the floors, which is when I expect we'll have a couple of rough days. But our neighbors have offered to let us use their bathrooms and we can shower at the climbing gym, so it shouldn't be too bad.

Now I'm off to order lights, call the plumber, and go to Pro Photo Supply...