Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Punchlist for sheetrock

I realize that I haven't posted here in a while. Its because the renovation has consumed my entire life.  I am too busy to post updates... I guess that's a good thing, right?


Today's punchlist:

Back bedroom
x Ceiling
x Spray foam hole
Living room
(front two joist bays)
Spray foam front joist bay
Toss in rigid insulation
Walls w/ rigid board
Back bedroom
x Fish west wall outlet
x Wire two exterior wall outlets
x Wire baseboard next to door
x Wire ceiling box
x Hide wire in ceiling over radiator
Living room
Wire for three overhead lights on built in
x Pilot hole from brick for extrior light
x Fish wire for exterior light
Cut in box for exterior light switch (foyer)
Finalize placement of ceiling fixture
Final placement of dining room cieilng fixture
x Get old circuits 1,3 BX wire out of box, first JB
Label everything in the panel
Staple wires up to joists
What’s up with circuit #2
2-gang wall switch
x Wire for over mirror fixture
Figure out mirror and vanity
Back bedroom
x Strap ceiling (already laid out)
Living Room
x Rips along stair header for sheetrock
x Block around chimney
x 24 oc blocking, starting from west wall, of North wall and South wall, and middle section for ornamental divider­­­
x Blocking near foyer.
Additional blocking near foyer (one more)
Blocking on south side of divider
x Level out ceiling
Strap ceiling
Plane out walls, 1/2" back from bullnose

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Filthiest Job of the Year?

I thought for sure that this post would earn me #1 in the power rankings for FILTHIEST JOB OF THE YEAR

Obviously, I could never outdo FILTHIEST JOB OF THE CENTURY brought to you by: the guys that built this place.

Fortunately for me, both of these deplorable acts of dirty construction reside under the same roof.  Perhaps I should open a museum someday?

Anyway, as I was closing up my new roommate's room, the old lady decided that she really loved the exposed cast iron radiator look.  Personally, I think these things look a little shoddy.  But I guess I exposed the the one in the master bedroom so I might as well keep it going.

From Occupy Archives: Master bedroom exposed radiator

Originally, I had planned on covering this thing back up with the old metal radiator cover.  Sure, those things are a little crappy, but I actually don't think they are that bad.  Let's face it: there's not really too many great options when covering a radiator.

In order to do  a room right, you probably should just pop the radiator off, so that you can paint behind it.  Since we had a lot of wallpaper, I just scraped as far as I could reach..  figuring that my metal radiator cover would be my "trim" and cover up all the dirty spots.

Well, not that the radiator cover isn't an option, I'm kind of stuck.  I got a finished room, and some unfishined business behind the radiator.

In walks a piece of luaun.  Le't's cut this on the table saw to length, and prim and paint.

Almost as good as the real thing.  In fact, this is straighter than any walls I have seen in this house.

Luaun back.

I'm going to need to send some screws from a far reach.  Let's stack some extensions together.

regular extension + large extension + pocket screw driver = SUPER EXTENSION
(notice the dirty unpainted spot: this is what we are trying to cover!)

Installed. The wonders of flash photography have revealed just how badly the baseboard needs a coat of paint; however, this is not visible when you are actually in this room.

The seam.  Its semi-dirty.

Final answer.

Well, I'm pretty ashamed. But, the job is done and I don't think anyone (outside of the 4 readers who read this weblog) will notice.  Unless I tell them.

If I don't post for a while, its because my stairs have probably collapsed on top of me.  Let's hope that doesn't happen.  But if it does: Happy holidays loyal reader!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Structural Issues Around Stairs

Just what I wanted right?  So, after the demo I realize that the entire center of the house is held up by a 1x which headers off the stairs

Birds eye view of 2nd floor joists. 1x in pink, carrying the load of the entire middle of the house.

Its more awesome than I can handle right now. I just spent about four hours on the phone with one of my best friends (and fellow engineer) deliberating on this subject.  There are no easy solutions. The house has been standing for over 100 years as is. Should I get into fixing this issue (and potentially introducing many more problems by temporarily supporting the house while I sister all the joists, install LVL or I-beam, and try to transfer loads to the party walls?)

Another view, birds eye but from the over top of the kitchen.
 Basically, I'm screwed.

There is so much more to type on this subject, but hopefully the drawings I made say it all.

Do I invest all the time and energy to and attempt to fix something that basically can't be fixed?
Or do I move forward with the renovation and pretend I never saw the most filthy thing I have ever seen in my life?

Ah, the joys of owning a poorly built house!

Monday, December 16, 2013

A breath of fresh air

Will this be my first positive-themed post?

A little daylight peaking through

Loyal reader, you must not know me that well!

Pictured above is a hole in the house.. no wonder there are water issues back here!  This is looking east out of the back bedroom.  It's a tight squeeze to get in there from the outside, I'll probably have to approach this from the roof.

Put this on the to do list.

PS... As if there is fresh air in down in South Philly.  Come on y'all.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Demo days (part 2)

Got some help for the demo

living room / dining room

back bed, ceiling

back bedroom, looking south

bath wall, ceiling (north)

bath wall, ceiling (south)

See part 1 here

Next up: Wiring, Framing.  

Slowdown #1: There's structural issues at the stairs.  Shit.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Room Divider

Yup, its design time again.

Columns and Beam for downstairs, in progress

I have no idea what I am doing!

Demo days

So, my game plan is to finish four (4) rooms and the hallway in the next 9 weeks.  It started last night.

Just typing that out fills me anxiety.

I'm about to enter into a new realm. The destination? Either a semi-finished house, or a padded room.  Perhaps I should just add padding to one room and kill two birds with one stone.

View from my future, accompanied by fiberglass insulation mogul Pink Panther

Pinky: Hey, you forgot to insulate the middle bedroom ceiling.
Me: Umm yeah, I know.

I have no choice. The details of the plan are not yet finalized, but they are very ambitious.  Perhaps maniacal.  Observe:


  • Remove wallpaper
  • Restore walls and ceiling
  • Wainscot on west wall
  • New trim
Back bedroom
  • Remove wallpaper
  • Re-frame ceiling
  • Strap ceiling
  • Rough-in new electrical
  • Restore walls
  • Sheetrock ceiling
  • Crown molding
  • New trim
  • Built in over radiator?
Living Room / Dining Room
  • Cut out pass-through from dining room to kitchen
  • Re-frame ceiling
  • Strap ceiling
  • Rough-in new electrical in living room and dining room
  • Restore walls
  • Sheetrock ceiling
  • Build new ornamental pass through, to divide living room and dining room
  • Build tall board and baton wainscot, east wall of dining room
  • Build radiator covers
  • Build cabinet + bookshelf in living room
  • Install at least three (3) piece crown, both rooms
  • New trim
  • Re-frame bathroom walls and ceiling
  • Rough-in new electrical, GFCIs 
  • Sheetrock walls and ceiling
  • New trim

OK, now I am officially depressed.

Of course, all rooms will require the 13 step paint process.  Come to think of it... if I just started painting today, I might not even get done before mid February.

Well, I'm going to give this the old college try anyway. 

We all know the project is doomed to failure.  However, like any task, I will go at it one step at a time. With every spare moment that I have. Sleeping will be optional during this time period.

With those uplifting words blowing wind into my sails, I will now give you a quick tour of the house in its current condition.  Pop a couple Prozacs first.


I demo'd, reframed, and sheetrocked that front wall 3.5 years ago.
3.5 years ago.



Bathroom light on window sill.  2 years.
2 years.

Lead, lead, lead


I wasn't even sweeping at the time. I guess this is the level of dust that we breathe in all the time? Sucks

Yes sir: Even though it seems humanly impossible.. there is still wall paper in this house.

I actually think this looks cool.. until I remember that I actually live here.


Ah, there's some stuff

I'm so screwed.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Glimmer of hope

 I don't see much daylight in the house of eternal darkness.

The old method vs. the new method

This picture inspired the title of the post.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Door'd (part 3)

Enough about these doors, right?


These doors need some serious help.   I last left you guys with a fresh coat of paint. I'm not stopping there.

At the very least, a door can hide my shame of drinking that Coca Cola.
I'm going to spin the proverbial wheel of misfortune (aka google serach) for a random Coca-Cola link.  Its just too easy.

My idea:
Let's dress up these doors with some moldings, and give the illusion of the doors looking like they are fancy, solid-core, one-panel doors.  Does that make sense?  If not, allow me to continue.

I did some simultaneous design work and some math.  It became apparent that I could get these done with about 15'-3" of molding per side.  Phew! Since the yard sells em in 16' lengths, I got a pretty efficient layout.

(9 doors) x (2 sides) = 18 pieces of molding.

Although all the doors aren't all the same height, they are close (-+ a half inch centered over 77"). I'm going to lay them out all the same.  I'll just use the negative space on the bottom as my variable. I doubt anyone will notice.

Measurements and layouts:

vert (in)
horiz (in)
qty (two per side)
A 26 77.625 1.375 66.75 17.5 4
B 26 77.5 1.375 66.75 17.5 4
C 30 76.625 1.375 66.75 21.5 4
D 27.75 77 1.375 66.75 19.25 4
E 30 77.5 1.375 66.75 21.5 4
F 30 77.5 1.375 66.75 21.5 4
G 30 77.5 1.375 66.75 21.5 4
H 30 77.5 1.375 66.75 21.5 4
I 30 77.5 1.375 66.75 21.5 4

So, in the dark, I set up the saw out front and cut 36 identical 66.75" vertical pieces, with opposing 45-degree angles on the end.  That's (9 doors) x (2 sides) x (2 verticals per door, per side)
Pile of verticals

Next, I set up the Ryobi on the floor of the finished room since I still have the floors covered.  I set up a stop for each cut group.

Like every good carpenter usually does, I made some pivot tables my cut lists. I don't want to think about anything once I'm on the site.  I just need my instructions so I can hammer this out quickly on a work night.
With my handy cut sheet at my side, its time to go to town.  Just look at those horizontal pieces stack up to the right of the saw.

Nothing beats setting up a jig and getting into factory-worker mode.  Its precise and fast.

Now lets start seeing if it will all fit together.

Test fitting in process.
Hit 'em with some glue.
Obligatory advertising shot for Titebond.
Titebond: works for me every time!
Now tack this thing with some 16 ga. brads.  The brads just provide the press fit while the glue cures.  Really, the glue does all the work in this project.  Right, Titebond?  I'm still waiting for my royalties check.

Voila!  One door. 

Two doors.

Three door.. I mean, oops. These guys are in the queue for their moldings.

Other wall.  These doors are starting to stack up all over the place!

Install time!  Door between master bedroom and middle bedroom.  Traverse through this door if you want to stay within the confines of the only two rooms that are finished in this house!  I write that with the deepest of sorrows.

View from my bed.  Looking good!  But not quite as good as that wallpaper rip in the hallway.  

Just look at this new room coming together, I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Closet door, with custom plinths and "tricky spot." These shots are critical because in the rest of the house, it looks kind of crappy when juxtaposed against the old clam shell moldings.  Thus, I'm showing you these pictures for now.

Main entrance to room.

I'm going to pat myself on the back here for the first and last time:

These things look freakin' awesome.

Even though I despise painting, and I still have to paint the moldings after the install... I got these done for $4/piece of molding.  So, this was an $8/door upgrade.  They actually look like the real deal.  Only an extreme ball buster like myself would be able to criticize this job.

This one got done on time and under budget.  I haven't had a success story in a while, so I plan on milking this one.

Doors: Done.

Read part 1 and part 2 if you missed it.