Sunday, November 18, 2012

Remodel - Front Porch

October 9th

The front porch demolition started a bit after the back of the house. A few minor items had been removed up to this date, but the west window (which serves as a weather-break) was removed for storage. Behind the framing was another post that matches the one on the east. This was a great find and will most likely be restored and returned to its original place on the porch. It will also probably serve as the basis of the pattern we will use for the other posts on the porch.

November 2nd

The roof of the porch was removed to reveal all of the original woodwork still intact! Also revealed was the "paint shadow" of the previous porch design. From my time spent researching our house and pouring through old photos, the brick design was probably porch #3 and the "paint shadow" suggests the design of porch #2. We're rolling the design further back to recreate something more like the original porch. This photo also captures the hexagonal asphalt shingles that were put on top of the bottom-most wooden shingles.

November 6th

The demolition team removed the brick pillars, cement wall and floor. Beneath the few inches of concrete of the floor was several cubic yards of decomposed granite. Not what we expected! The cement floor used to sit right against the wall (which isn't good) and we had presumed the cement was a thick slab that reached down to ground level. On one hand, thin concrete made disposal easy. On the other hand, dirt sitting in direct contact with wood is worse than cement is. Minor signs of rot and termite damage hinted at what might sit behind the siding.

November 13th

The DG was removed and stored for later use (perhaps a path to the backyard to the east). The remaining plants around the front of the house were scraped away to make working easier. With the big dumpster removed, we got our first view of the old "four square" Victorian without anything else attached to it. Wonderful! Lots of photos have been taken to document this state of the house.

November 14th

The beginnings of the new porch footings were excavated and dirt beside the existing wall was also lowered. The siding that was in contact with the cement and dirt was removed to reveal more damage than was expected. Good thing we opened this up! Several of the joists had rotted or been eaten away to nubs that would eventually fail. The original piers were also mostly gone, but had been filled in with cement block to reinforce the front wall. This area will be repaired and/or reinforced before we build the new porch.

November 17th

The footings were excavated to their final depth and... the tractor broke our sidewalk in several places. We were initially upset with this, but upon closer inspection, the sidewalk was probably put in around the same time as the porch. The pattern and trowel marks didn't match the surrounding sidewalk, so we will replace it with something closer to the old designs in front of our house.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Remodel - Month 1

The remodel. This is the granddaddy of all projects here at home. Those of you who know my wife and I have heard of this coming... for well over a year in the "it's coming" sense, but even longer if you have spent any significant time around us. Since this project will take around eight months, I thought it would be cool to document the process to give others an idea of what's going on. Sure, if you ask us, we will tell you it's a bit chaotic right now, but consider this: we live in a Victorian farmhouse that was originally built in 1895 and then modified for the course of eighty-something years. Some things were added, others removed, and in the end, we thought the resulting exterior looked like a great old house with a bizarre late 1970-era tumor of a room addition growing off the back of it. We have always wanted to fix that particular aspect of the house and we are now getting our chance to address it.

October 3rd

The demolition started on the back of the house. This proved to be a solid nudge to my wife and I, as we weren't exactly ready to move out. Honestly though, when is a person really ready to have their house razed? In our case, it was not the best of timing. Both of our jobs had kicked into overdrive rather than starting into the Fall at their usual and predictable pace.

October 5th

A couple more days into the demolition and things are looking a bit... um... ragged. Yeah, "ragged" will work. Coming home to this set us all on edge. The roof was gone! Then again, what should one expect when a home demolition has gotten underway? (I think the roof was removed on the 4th and then the rest of the siding and the porch were removed on the 5th.) We started prepping the "studio" for habitation that weekend.

October 13th

Having a brief rest from the demolition around us, we were getting somewhat prepped--both physically and mentally--to move out of the house that weekend. My father-in-law came down Saturday and helped me move the major appliances into the temporary setup in the garage. Thanks Larry! If it wasn't for this jumpstart, things would have been really rough.
We spent our first night in the studio that Saturday. We were downsized from a 1552 sq. ft. house down to 528 sq. ft. and it was already proving to be a challenge. What do you bring with you? What do you pack up and "leave behind"? How do you reduce nearly twelve years of living (and the associated accumulated and inherited "stuff") down to a one-room studio apartment? This is going to be an adventure... or so people are telling me!
Early rains also contributed to the slowdown, but everyone else seemed to have something to take care of. Andie and I got/had to straighten out more of the living space in the studio and moving additional things in.

October 22nd

Another weekend had come and gone. We had been living in the studio for ten days now and things were getting better... micron by micron. Cooking was proving to be a challenge, as we are both used to a gas range and oven, plus a full array of appliances and accessories. Now we have a two-burner electric rangetop, a toaster oven, and a microwave! Then there's the next question: what food and drinks do you keep in the mini-fridge and what are you going to run downstairs to grab from the fridge in the garage? Who needs a StairMaster when you live like this?

October 23rd

The crew is making short work of the demolition while still doing what they can to preserve any reusable materials. I really like that our team has a goal of reusing what they can, donating anything that we don't (or can't) use, recycling what we can, and responsibly desposing of what is left. Another back door was installed further into the house the day before to add some security.

October 24th

Okay, it may not look like much has happened in this photo (and parts of the previous photo are showing around the edges--I'm assembling them into one file for a timelapse .gif later), but trust me when I say there is a lot of progress on this one. The team has continued removing the drywall, but they are also salvaging whatever insulation they can so it can be reused elsewhere. Keep in mind that we are working within Title 24 energy consumption regulations.

October 25th

A lot of the debris from the demolition has been cleared to the large "rollaway" dumpster and now the amount of demolition is becoming more evident. I thought "I always thought my house had good bones, but they are showing now!"

October 26th

Again, it doesn't look like much has happened, but there is a lot of stuff that needs to be removed when a house is demoed. In this case, there was some wainscotting lining the bathroom and the breakfast nook that we wanted to reuse, so it needed to be carefully removed. Then, there was a lot of drywall that still was hanging around waiting to be stripped off.

October 29th

Now the bones are really showing! If Monday was any sign of the coming day or two, there wasn't going to be much left of the "new" part of the house. Over the weekend we got a chance to take a look at the strangely patched-up openings in the wall. There were doors in the dining area and nearby bedroom, along with a heretofore unknown window in the dining area as well! Interesting. I took several photos. It was also great to discover that the previous construction projects our house suffered through spared the boxed eaves. This was a great discovery, as we are trying elements of the original house intact.

October 30th

Here is most of the team discussing the plans for the rest of the day. I dropped by to check on progress and got a peek into what happens when we're away. There's a bit of a mess, but this is a testament to what they do during the latter course of the day. The team also goes to extra efforts to clean up the day's demolition detritus! Thanks goes out to them and especially Richard, our project manager. Thanks guys!
Notice how there isn't much of the 1970s portion of the house remaining?

October 31st

Happy Halloween! I came home a little early to take care of some discussions with Richard and get set to go "Trick or Treating" with my family when I was greeted with this sight--a circa 1895 house reduced to its original rear perimeter. Amazing! I know it's a simple concept, but it's another thing to experience it. This is a big deal to us! Next, the team is heading to the front porch to demo that problem into oblivion. I'll post those photos soon.