Friday, June 24, 2011

Gentlemen, start your engines

It's 204 miles to Chicago, I got eight days, no cigarettes, the sun just came up, and I can't find my sunglasses.

Hit it.

(I like jet lag because it makes me a morning person for a few weeks. I got up at a lazy 3:30 AM this morning and felt well-rested and refreshed. I should just keep moving westwards by a couple of time zones every couple of weeks and I'd be the most productive person in the world.)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why not move to Massachusetts?

Besides the fact that I have trouble spelling it, anyway. You're guaranteed health insurance, and the daughter wants to go to MIT. So pick a town off the map and do a search for low prices, and ... voila. Older than The House, has a tower, Colonial-style 4-bedroom. $22,500.

Of course, the economy there is no better than here. But still....

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Plaster work

So I thought I'd share some of my plaster work with you. I'm getting less bad at it, especially when I'm just doing the base coat (ha). Anyway, recall that we just put the gutters on the carriage house - as I mentioned in a comment on the last post, the lack of gutters caused rain to soak the east wall, and result after six weeks of freaking downpour (ask the folks along the Mississippi about the results of that) was a pervasive moldy, musty smell.

One culprit is pictured here.

Over the last 130 years, parts of the east wall have migrated about half an inch further east, resulting in a crack along the side of the stairway and damaging the plaster adjacent to the joists. The result is that air from between the layers of brick, redolent with 130 years of wet spiderwebs and other organic debris, can escape into the interior of the house. At the extreme upper right, you see part of the ductwork that had been nailed between two joists; the problem with this is that the last time the upstairs apartment was renovated, they clearly forgot that there was a register there, and left it covered with linoleum without cutting and replacing the register.

No, the top of the stairs is not a good place for that.

And this last week, the inevitable finally happened: an innocent bystander put their foot through it. Once it was open, the smell from the aforementioned joist flaws wafted up through the register hole... I'd been working on this all week, actually, trying to locate the mold smell and get it under control. The large area of exposed brick you see in the picture up there was after I took a hammer to the loose plaster.

And here you see it after I'd applied the base coat. Isn't that much nicer? Anyway, this picture also shows the wire coming in for the security light. My goal was to put a switch on the inside so I could turn that off without a ladder - so that little arched area was still open. And after all the rain, it didn't smell so hot, either.

The answer was clearly to replace the wooden insert (which I cleverly saved - although it took a 15-minute search to find it, since I'd taken it out about a year and a half ago).

Here's the result - I wasn't sure how best to anchor the wooden insert, so I toenailed it with finishing nails, then drove in a couple of shims at the top to really hold it in place. It seems to have made it solid enough.

I also stuck in some fiberglass insulation. After I get back to Menard's I'll squirt in some foam, too (the fiberglass didn't really get down into the corners at all).

So. My first real post in months. Didn't that feel good?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Storm coming

I can't wait to see my new carriage house gutters in action!

State of the carriage house

I just took a spin around the carriage house and listed everything I thought needed done.

Upstairs and stairwell:
  • Door trim - Bondo, caulk, paint
  • Paint door, some caulk needed
  • Remount banister, paint
  • Paint stairs and entry door
  • Quarter-round next to stairs
  • Walls in stairwell, upper hall, kitchen - plaster, paint
  • Register in hall
  • Top coat on window #2 trim
  • Hall floor - new linoleum, quarter-round
  • Kitchen window
  • Fridge nook floor
  • Cabinet door and bottom in kitchen
  • Cabinets - patch with Bondo and paint
  • Yellow tile on wall: remove, scrape glue, paint
  • Attic access: insulate, paint
  • Bathroom sink drain
  • Medicine cabinet
  • Blue tile: remove, scrape glue, paint
  • Paint entire bathroom
  • Recaulk tub
  • Realign and finish faucet
  • Paint interior of closet
  • Floor: new linoleum, quarter-round
  • Reglaze hall cabinet
  • Front room: three places still require plaster patching, paint touch-up
  • Paint doors in front room and hall (strip old paint, primer, paint)
  • Closet nook: remove rotten plaster, replaster, paint, do something with floor
  • Remove remaining track on S wall, finish sealing and paint above old S door
  • Plaster at top of old S door
  • Remove drywall ceiling, insulation on north end of ceiling
  • SW window: insulated board, a little more plaster.
  • Replace S window (with screen)
  • Screen on W window
  • Finish trimming carpet
  • 1x2"trim on W wall. Caulk, paint.
  • N wall - plaster, paint
  • E window - finish wiring of outdoor and indoor outlets, lots of plaster, paint
  • Wire lights, 2 outlets on E wall, some baseboard heaters in the family area.
  • Dehumidifer stand and laundry corner shelving, with outlet
  • Light above laundry corner, switch on shelving.
  • Paint floor in concrete area
  • Drop ceiling in entire downstairs
  • Scrape and paint eaves. (How to get up to them?)
  • E wall - concrete under threshold, caulk, paint door and trim, paint threshold
  • Caulk and paint middle door frame (top coat)
  • Install security light (box already in place)
  • Mortar in foundation
  • Caulk under and around window, top coat of paint
  • N - fix light
  • Outhouse roof trim - replace, paint
  • W - tuck-point base
  • Mortar, caulk, paint old carriage door frame
  • 1x4" trim on S end of carriage door frame
  • Trim window, paint upstairs window
  • Mortar at base on SW
  • S wall - mortar, caulk, paint
  • Finish patching of sill of SW window
  • Drive: concrete patch, paint
  • Dig small drainage pipe for (new!) gutter downspout
I figure that's, what? Two or three days' work?

Seriously, though, I'm going to get as far as I can on this between June 22nd and July 1, when I'll have the place entirely to myself. Then I can put tarps down, move furniture into other rooms, and so on. I'm going to do some of the more cosmetic work during this time; bigger items probably won't get addressed at all (although the remainder of the summer is supposed to be House Time, too).

I don't even have the heart to post a similar list for the big house - but if that list were actually completed, I'd have a fully renovated carriage house on my hands, and it is doable. It truly doesn't need more than this right now - oh, sure, there are things that would be nice if I wanted to sink more money and time into them. But they're not necessary.