September 15th, 2007: Well, it's September, and I'm just beginning to update this section. So by "recent," read "since the last update to this site was made." That having been said, here's what we've gotten started and/or accomplished:
- Rewiring the Garage: Now, I'm no electrician, but the wiring in the garage looked bad. Turns out Rob kinda is an electrician, and so the lighting and wiring inside (a beat up old tube fluorescent, exterior and temporary festoon lighting, a box with four outlets, and a patridge in a pear tree strung together by 12 gauge unsheathed Romex (NM) hanging by uninsulated metal staples on a single 15 amp circuit lacking GFCI or ground) had to go. This was replaced with four forty-watt double-tube fluorescent fixtures (320W total). These were secured in place and connected by 12-guage MC (metal-clad/armored; similar to BX) and some 12-gauge THHN through 1/2" EMT (electrical metallic tubing) conduit. We also decommissioned a mystery conduit leading power down through the poured concrete slab to... uhh... somewhere.
- Patching and Repainting the Garage Stucco Exterior: From the inspection and closing photos, one can tell that the garage needed some help. We were, however, surprised to be required by our insurance company to paint it. To patch stucco we used Wall Bonding Cement, a fibreglass-laden cement which sticks well to walls. Then a couple days of scraping and 5 gallons of titanium dioxide white exterior paint for 3 coats. Luckily we had had an exterminator over for the eaves: wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets seem to like them - and I know they don't like painters!
- Replacement of the Garage Roof: Another request of the insurance company, this merely required the writing of a check - we don't roof. It was done well by the same gentleman who we were told installed the current house roof - and his was the most reasonable price as well! The new roof should last 25 years.
- Patching of Backyard Patio Retaining Wall: After clawing-out all the loose and decayed concrete, more Wall Bonding Cement.
- Demolition of the First Floor Bathroom: As you can imagine, this was a lot of fun. I mean, how often does one get to destroy a room of their house or apartment? The first floor bathroom was added as a half-bath probably during the 50's or 60's, taking up around 20% of the living room's original space. The previous owner decided that if one-and-a-half baths was good, two was better. Thus it was expanded to make way for a shower stall, making the living room look downright small. Thankfully the shoddy work done made it easy to remove. For example, when the top plate of the frame of a wall isn't really secured to the ceiling above it, removing said wall is a snap. However, when we got to removing the original half-bath, we had to break out the reciprocating saw, which especially helped with the copper vent pipe that lead upstairs and out the roof. Some extraneous wiring and a light fixture in the ceiling went next. An amusing image: once the walls were removed, the bathroom fixtures (other than the shower stall) remained, and so for a time there were a sink and toilet in the living room. We should have taken a picture.
- Patching of Floor around Former First Floor Bathroom: Since the Former First Floor Bathroom had been an addition, the living room Douglas fir floor continued into where the bathroom was. This was a relief. There were three main problems: 1.) through decades of refinishing the living room floor and neglecting the half-bath floor, there developed a noticable rise in the surface of some floorboards; 2.) decades of water exposure (especially around the commode) had rotted and discolored some wood; and 3.) there had been 7 to 10 holes drilled through the floor into the basement for plumbing purposes. These problems were solved by a combination of extensive sanding and floorboard replacement, a delightful task done by hand with mallet and chisel which requires breaking the tongues and grooves of the flooring, breaking up the section of board, and finely cutting the edges of the space to snugly accomodate the replacement piece.
- Building the Front Ballustrade: There will shortly be pictures of this. Using some balluster pieces, rails, and six newell posts, all of pressure-treated pine, we fulfilled another requirement of the insurance company. We secured 1/2" threaded rods by drilling 5/8" holes through the limestone tread and brick with a rotary hammer. We then adhered them in the hole with a metal-screen sheath over the rod and some kick-ass (and expensive) stuff called "chemical anchor." In the newell posts we drilled holes to accomodate the adhered rods and allow a space to tighten a special washer and bolt. The ballusters were arranged in an Arts-and-Crafts pattern making use of squares and rectangles, which required dadoing-in a perpendicular crossbar. Each rail-and-balluster section was assembled independently, taking scribing measurements, and was then secured to the newells. The real fun part came when we discovered that one of the pieces of wood we bought was infested with carpenter ants. Joy.
- Sanding of all Wood Floors: Sanding oak flooring is a bitch - We spent more than a week on the bedroom floor (Douglas fir, on the other hand, present in the rest of the house, sands like butter). We ended up renting a 100-or-so pound random orbital sander for $35 a day. The sanding (on-and-off) with multiple passes of 35- 50- and 80-grit pads took 28 days. That was more than $1,000 in rental fees, sure, but it was still much less than we expected to pay a professional. But when we went to return it, the (amazingly kind) manager, looking over the rental paperwork we had signed, charged us only one day's rental. We kept asking if $35.00 was the right price, and were assured it was. We're now Lowe's customers for life. :)
- Replacement of Front Lighting: Removing the front post-lamp was more difficult than it looked. The post had been set into a tremendous ball of poured concrete, and so the very bottom of it and the concrete ball remain burried around 8" beneath the lawn. It would have been preferable to remove the ball, but after five hours digging, it appeared hopeless. There was a metal conduit running from the front of the house along the side and then down into the earth to supply the lamp. This was also removed and replaced with an outdoor outlet box with GFCI controlled by the old post-lamp switch indoors (Christmas lights!). Replacing the lamp by the front door was also challenging. There was supposed to be a wiring box beneath the fixture, but whenever the house had been re-sided (in Aluminum) the meeting place of the two pieces of siding ended up going over the pre-existing box, so rather than move the box they just ran some wires between the pieces and nailed the fixture wherever they wanted. We ended up removing the siding pieces (this is not easy), moving the box, cutting a hole to accomodate the box, and replacing the pieces of siding (this is not easy either). The new fixture is a nice Mission-style hanging lamp.
- Removal of (some) Unwanted Flora from Exterior: Can someone explain to me why anyone plants sticker-bushes? I've had a splinter from a thorn stuck in my left middle finger for over two weeks now, but they're gone.
- Other Stuff I'm Probably Forgetting: Like I say, it's been a while between updates...
- Started / In-Progress:
- Paint and Patch Work in the Upstairs Hallway
- Paint in Bedroom 2 (Kevin's Office)
- Appplication of Polyurethane Finish to Sanded Floors (FINALLY!)
- Painting of Backyard Patio and Retaining Wall
And there's always something to do. Like, say, moving. ;) [Ω]