Well we just celebrated our first year in this house. and I thought I would update our progress. We ran into a major snag with the plumbing that shut us down for the whole winter. our sewer line was totally blocked and need to be have about thirty feet of it replace on the city’s side, but wouldn’t do the work until we found our clean out on the property line. After some digging and probing with a rod I located what I hoped was the clean out, the trouble was it was about two foot under a small grove of black locust. There was no way we was going to be able to dig it up with shovels and picks.
On to plan B
Plan B; move into our camper for the winter, not a lot of fun, but we got though it and we are still happily married.
When spring hit I rented a backhoe and cleared the trees, dug out all the old clay tiles and replaced it all with schedule 40 PVC, made a nice clean out for the city, and then still had to argue with them for two weeks before I could get them to fix their end of the pipes. They finally came and replaced about thirty feet, left the yard a mess, but at lease shit was flowing in the right direction again and everyone was happy.
With the plumbing worked out we got to work gutting the rest of the house. We replace the ceiling joist and raised the ceiling to ten feet, this had to be done over the existing ceiling which made it a challenge. we set up a rotary laser level then cut and fished the sixteen foot 2 x 6 joist through the existing framework nailed and screwed them with lag bolts. we also replaced the collar ties. With the roof tied together we removed the old joist and loaded bearing walls which were all rough sawn white oak. I happily pulled nail and cleaned each board. Then made a nice stack in the side yard that is stickered with 3/4 space between each layer.
Next project that has to be done is the floor, it is so badly constructed the only fix is to tear out and rebuild it. on the bright it is also 2 x 8 rough sawn white oak. on the other hand it is going to involve digging piers putting a thirty foot LVL beam and hanging all the joist off of hangers. and this is if we don’t run into any surprises like rotten sills or ban joist. this is also a swallow crawl space so there may be some digging involved. I want to install some 2″ close cell foam board around the inside of the foundation wall and get a get vapor barrier down, this is money well invested. Lumber will delivered the end of the week so look for more updates as we work though this.
blue and yellow waste (Photo credit: erix!)
One Mans Garbage
Evey since we bought this house we have been lucky, at lease that is way it feels. Working as a carpenter I have seen tons of perfectly good material tossed in the dumpster, so I wasn’t as surprised as some in my family at the amount and quality of used building material we have found with the exception of the new soaking tub with jets still in the box. With just a few hundred dollars and some creative internet shopping I have gotten a Byran propane furnace with a two and half ton compress and the A coil for a hundred dollars. 600 sq ft of 6″ fiberglass insulation. for free. a top end Kohlor toilet and pedsal sink for $90 that alone new would of costed us over $750. We found a nice propane stove and Bosch dishwasher for $175 a G.E fridge for $100. I have more light fixtures right now than I can use for $50, so I have been selling or trading them for other material that we need.
If you have the time and patience you can almost find everything you need cheap or sometimes for free. We haven’t gotten away with buying everything being gently used we have had to buy somethings new like replacing all the plumbing in this house. We replaced all the copper with PEX and had replace all the drains with PVC. While at the plumbing supply house we got a deal on a scratch and dent hot water heater that saved us about $150. Working most my life as a carpenter I have seen a lot of waste and it is good to see that attitudes are changing, people are not just throwing usable material in the trash because it doesn’t fit there needs any more. Now they are donating it to places like the Habitat for Humanity’s Restore to be resold so they can use the money to help build more house. It also brings another question to mind why aren’t we using more of these resources to fix homes of lower income people in need with the cash rather than using the new, cheaper material that I see them use now. Maybe its not practical, but it is a thought.
A House as a Woodworking Project
Yes, thats right, thats how I’m looking at this rehab. I know most of the work will be carpentry by its very nature, but we are going to approach putting this house back together from the mind of a woodworking. When it comes to space and workmanship I want maximize the potential for the use of forgotten space, and work at a higher quality of workmanship than most carpenters in todays housing market. While making it as energy efficient as we can.
A house, or a used truck?
With the money this house cost we could of bought a late model used truck, At 895 sq ft and 75% gutted, setting on a nice lot with plenty of trees and the outside in fair condition it wasn’t a difficult decision to invest in this little house. While we are constrained to the footprint of the house it is basically a blank canvass for us to design a house within. there are a couple factor’s that we have to work around.
Getting the feel for the function
I worked as much as a carpenter in my life as I have as a cabinetmaker and woodworker so I like to design function into the form. when designing a small space function becomes the driving force in the design. I start this project by just getting a chair and a pad of paper my camera and spending time in each space, taking pictures and making some sketches, I do this for each room. I also ask others who will live here to be involved in the design phase, and then we compare ideas, you will be surprised how many great ideas can come from doing this.
There’s a brainstorm a coming
Brainstorming is a great tool that many of us overlook. I normanlly try to take on all my design work with very little input from people around me. When I worked in a large cabinet shop the designers never asked for our (the cabinetmakers) input until something was screwed up then they wanted all our ideas how to fix it. Someone once told me the only bad idea is the one you keep to your self. My wife is very good at finding storage space without killing the living space and this excites the designer in me. Some of the things we want to do is build cabinets instead of framing in closet walls, building build-ins where we can, building the kitchen with concrete counter tops. We are going to use pocket doors to save space and add more widows to give the house more light.
Stick around and follow me as we rehab this house
My shop is full of all our furniture and belongings, and we will be living in a camper while we do the work.
- framing bathroom
- a toilet and plumbing
- hot water heater and a tub/shower
- framing bedrooms
- wiring lights and plugs
Well wish us luck and come back a visit often there will be weekly updates, along with maybe some post about the beer, mead and hard cider we are brewing and sour dough bread we bake.