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).

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