Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weeks 5 & 6

We've had three roofers out to help us figure out what to do with the flat roof over the back room that was an addition in the 1950s. There are soft spots on the roof and water stains on the ceiling. Luckily, after all the rain we didn't have puddles on the floor. We decided to remove the sheet rock and insulation in an effort to track down the leak and, as far as I'm concerned, the more we remove out of the house, the more the bad smells and any lingering musty juju goes away. I'm all for it.

I had a gut feeling that I needed to get one more opinion, so we met with another roofer. It's likely we'll replace the back roof, get better insulation and won't have to worry every time it rains.

We got on a roll and decided to remove even more sheet rock in the living and dining rooms. All I could think was, "How many more tacks do I have to pull out of the wood?" In the end, though, it's worth it. We're liking how it all looks.

To top off our productive week Carpenter Rick finished finished the trim around the opening between the living and dining rooms, so we can really start to see our living room coming into shape. We also started priming the kitchen and doors. Seeing visible changes is keeping our energy up - for the most part.

I've had to tackle several of the things that I've been putting off - the nitty-gritty scrubbing and reaching into the floors of dark closets to pull fabric off the walls. I keep thinking every little step we do now, is one less step we have to do later. It all needs to be done. As I was removing shelves from the bathroom closet I thought about how we're undoing what someone else put a lot of thought into. The front part of our house is built well, and I know grandpa thought all these little things through - the coat closet bar that can't fall out of the grooves because of the shelf above it , the bathroom shelves, the kitchen shelves and cabinets. And here we are undoing it. And, some day, someone else will undo the things we did. Unless they just tear it down like the one around the corner and the one next door.

Next up - electricity and more painting!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Week 4

Not too much to report this week.
We had two dead trees removed. One was a deteriorating half-tree directly outside the back door and the other one the arborist called a "minor emergency." Fortunately, I got two chairs and a mini-table out of the deal.

I had to make a visit to our POD to retrieve some tools. We've been borrowing tools - thank you David and Grant! - from family and friends and it was time to get our own as our tasks increased. The PODS are stored in a humongous nondescript warehouse in Pflugerville. They require 24 hours notice and when you arrive you see your POD in the corner of the parking lot.
Last August we closed the door on the very packed POD and I was a bit hesitant about opening it now, wondering what was going to fall on my face. Nothing did. I pulled out our tools and a few within-reach items like our water filter and vacuum. We've been fine without all our stuff, of course, but there was something comforting about seeing all our crap stuff and knowing that we'll unpack it in a few months in our new home.

We're still exploring the flat-roof leak over the back room. There is evidence of a leak in the ceiling, but we didn't see drips after all the rain so that's good. Maybe the roof was fixed and the previous owners chose not to repair or paint the drywall and tacked cardboard on the ceiling to cover the hole instead.

Carpenter Rick started his work this week - moving a door by closing one doorway up and making a new doorway between the middle and back rooms, closing another doorway and enlarging the opening between the living and dining rooms.
closed up doorway with recycled shiplap between kitchen and middle bedroom
enlarged opening between living & dining
in the process of closing door on left and building doorway on right
It was one of those weeks where I vacillated between being excited about the small progressions and needing lots of breathers as I realized how much more work there is to. When I feel like that I grab my orange Home Depot bucket and pick up trash in the yard. It's progress poco a poco, little by little.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

House Week 3

So much, so much!
On Monday Jose and John cleaned out the attic while I was shopping at Home Depot (again!) for lead safe respirators, because we managed to become thoroughly freaked out about lead. (So much so that John got his blood tested. His lead results were less than 1 and you don't start worrying until it's 25. I think we're okay.) After I got back to the house, I waited until they went to lunch to go through all the treasures from the attic. I now have several more mason jars with lids, a few old mayonnaise jars - they're a great size for storing too many dry garbanzo beans - and some vintage clothes. (Don't tell John.) There was also a ton of junk, a few old coffeemakers and a toaster, and two fake Christmas trees and decorations. After rifling through the goods, it was time to get back to work and more cleaning. We scrubbed baseboards, cabinets and windows.
My new shirt. Come and knock on our door; We've been waiting for you...
We met with Bruce The Bungalow Doctor, or Bruce Bungalow as I like to call him, about some changes we want to make including closing up two doorways and making a new doorway between the back two rooms. I think he was more excited than we were! He is passionate about these old homes and his work, so it's a good match.

On Wednesday Joel & Carlos, the plumbers, started their work to re-plumb the house. They are nice, quiet and move fast. Luckily, no big plumbing surprises were found and we'll be wrapping up this phase soon. We'll wait to install sinks, commode, dishwasher, etc. until all the painting and dry wall work is done. In the meantime, I've been googling bottom-freezer, french door stainless fridges and am very excited.

Saturday we had meetings planned with a window guy and an electrician starting at 9am and then planned to work a full day.  We made the mistake of running that morning in the humidity, so during our meetings John was yawning and I kept trying to find a seat on the step-ladder to rest. We were beat! We pushed our work to the next day.

Saturday night there were major storms and a tree fell inches from my car where we are staying. It was around 2:00 am and John and I heard the tree falling and I jumped out of the bed and yelled "come on! come on!" trying to run out of our bedroom where I was certain a tree was about to land. This all happened in seconds, of course. Luckily, the tree managed to fall between two cars in a parking lot.

Backing out under the tree. Not dangerous at all. 
Despite the long night of storms and the felled tree, I was pumped to get up and start pulling down the cardboard-like wall covering in the bathroom so that we can put up bead board or something purty like that. I got to work with the wonder bar and tried not to break too many pieces of trim...or tile. But, it wouldn't be a normal day in the Savage household to not break something. In the end John and I each accidentally broke some tile. A little spot of glue will fix it right up. We hope.
bathroom before

bathroom after

Working in the kitchen, John first took down one of the two little walls. We were going to call it a day when we decided to take down the second half-wall with storage to open up the kitchen. We were hesitant because we'd lose the storage space and grandpa who built the house put in a lot of thought and effort. In the end, though, I'm so glad we did take it down! Not only did it open up the kitchen, we found a rat's nest between the bottom of the cabinet and the floor. Nasty! Once we saw that we knew we had to take out the bottom kitchen cabinets because who could say for sure those weren't as nasty. We'd been debating all week about taking out the cabinets and this made the decision for us. Fortunately, they weren't as bad.
kitchen before
rat's nest
demoing in lead mask
kitchen after - see small window on left
We were both totally done at this point and ready to go home. Then John got fired up to create a window in the wall to let more light into the kitchen from the back room.  It's a work in progress.

Next up - get the two dead trees removed and figure out where the roof leak is coming from!
See all house pictures here

Thursday, May 3, 2012

House Week 2

We started the week off strong as the foundation work started and John's friend, Jose, from Home Depot helped us one day. John and Jose removed nasty tile in the back room, kitchen cabinet doors, more sheetrock and cleaned. While cleaning, they found a newspaper from 1948 and some baby rats, which sounds shocking, but no-fear Jose scooped them up with some tile and got rid of them. I'm just glad I wasn't there at the time.

Instead, I was at Home Depot strolling around with my shopping cart like it was HEB. I searched high and low for a magic tool to remove the strings around the tacks on the shiplap. I've probably purchased at least 4 different tools and when each one didn't work, it took the wind out of my sails. Good thing Home Depot is so awesome about returns. The project seemed so daunting. Just when I didn't know what to do I found a 4" tack puller. I knew this tool and some tweezers were my last resort.  Luckily, they worked. Thanks to Kelly who came over and helped me with the task!

The neighborhood is great - we met some more neighbors who gave us turnips from their garden and told us how relieved they were that we weren't going to tear down the house. Over the weekend, I could hear the reggae fest from Auditorium Shores. Rasta. Rasta. Rise up! Rise up! 

We continued working trying to get rid of the odor in the house. We used a solution of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda with a touch of dish soap and an enzyme treatment from PetCo . Did you know they sell rats at PetCo? I told them I have some for free at my house.

We discovered that the attic had not been emptied after all. I'm certain there are lots of treasures up there, but I'm too scared to clear it out myself should I encounter the mama rat or any other rat. We also discovered a ouija board tucked in a closet corner. I think it was being used to cover up the rat holes.

Next week - plumbing starts!!

holes for new piers

I see storage space. 

Toilet shopping. The step before appliance shopping. 
See all house pictures here