Archive | May, 2010

Not a Load Bearing Wall

May 20, 2010


Good news for me this morning!

In the kitchen, there exists a small wall, about 6 feet long, that severed the kitchen from a cramped laundry area and back entry door. I’ve hated it all the 10+ years we’ve lived here. Because it runs perpendicular to the floor joists, I’ve wondered if it was a load bearing wall or some kind of structural support. Which would mean that I would have to leave the blasted wall in place.

We removed the ceiling so I could get a really good look at the structure of this wall. And I am THRILLED to report that it is not a load bearing wall! You have no idea how ecstatic I am! Woooooo!!!!

Partition Wall2

Partition Wall

I am 100% sure that it is not supporting anything, but I had a guy come look at it anyway; and he seconded the motion.

And so this is where we are in the kitchen today:


All that is left to do in this room is to remove this lathe.

The Hubs is working on the water supply problem (it will be *fun* flushing the toilets today, I tell you what). And we are planning on finishing the demolition of the kitchen and laundry alcove TODAY. We might even begin the demolition in the dining room, if we are not too exhausted. The dumpster is due back Monday morning, so we need to keep up the pace until then.

And here’s a photo of the damaged joist that I mentioned yesterday. The knuckleheads hacked a floor joist in half to install a shoddy plumbing job. People, NEVER allow a plumber to do this. Never.


The upper floor support is severely damaged due to this crap job.

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Demolition for The Kitchen Renovation of All Time, Day 3

May 19, 2010


We are officially halfway through the demolition. wow. I’m beat.

We have a total of 2,200 square feet of plaster and lathe to remove, and we’ve removed 1,248 of it so far. Only 952 square feet more to go!

Today we did a big blitz and forced ourselves to get the entire ceiling of the kitchen and laundry alcove, all 12 x 23 feet of it. I didn’t find any big surprises like I did when we gutted the living room. When I saw the shoddy knob-and-tube wiring installed in between the second story floor joists, I barely shrugged. When I saw the corroded copper plumbing with lead solder, I rolled my eyes in expectation. When I saw that the previous owners had hacked a supporting floor joist into huge holes and pieces to make room for a plumbing pipe, I did gape a little. And the dozen or so mouse nests wedged in between the lathe… very, very gross, but no surprises. It’s amazing how desensitized one becomes when gutting an old home!

I did find a rat skeleton, though. That make me very, um, queasy. As far as I know, we do NOT have rats here. Nor do I want ANY. The skeleton was a bit of a shock. I couldn’t tell how old it was… but it had some…. *stuff* hanging on there… kinda like King Tut unwrapped…. pretty dry but still…. enough to make you retch. Anyway, I was going to snap a photo for you guys (see how I want to involve you?!); I placed the remains outside for later, but it started to rain. And when King Tut is left out in the rain, his dry stuff gets moistened… and, well, you know. It reeked. Into the dumpster Mr. Tut went. You’ll have to use your imagination, now. Bummer, I know.

ANYWAY. I don’t have any photos for you today. I was too durn beat. Plus, we now have the added problem of no water in the house. In order to get my washing machine running, we have to shut off the ENTIRE WATER SUPPLY to divert the piping. I cannot believe the jokers who installed the stuff in this house. It’s unbelievable. How they got away with SO much slop, is beyond me. So we have no water supply because the Hubs couldn’t finish the piping job before he had to go to work. We have some bottled water for emergencies, but we had to take sponge baths out in the rain. And I still have no washing machine. And no working toilets. Nice.


Well, my daughter is cooking dinner tonight (and we don’t have to worry about doing the dishes in a big tub tonight *maniacal laughter*) and I am here with my feet up. I have this ache in the back of my shoulders, from pulling plaster and lathe down from the ceiling for 6 hours straight. lol. I am taking the NIGHT OFF! And it feels goooooood.

My new kitchen sink and my new dishwasher are in the mail now. They will be here in a week or so. And I also ordered my PEX plumbing supplies today. I can’t wait until it’s installed. You know, we don’t see what it takes to install the plumbing and electric and insulation, so we don’t really realize how wonderful it is until it’s gone or not working properly. I REALLY miss my electric and I REALLY miss my plumbing.

Only 952 more to go…. only….

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Down in the Dumps-ter and More Old Wallpaper

May 19, 2010

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DAY 2 was tough. The mess is getting really big now, and the emotional strain of living amongst it is starting to nip at us. It is VERY tough to be without a kitchen and laundry room. And yesterday threw some additional curve balls into the mix. I’m feeling pretty low and it’s only the third day today! But I know what we are doing is right, and the Lord will see us through. I’m taking it one day at a time right now…

Here are some of the highlights of Day 2 in The Kitchen Renovation of All Time:

  • I discovered that I can’t do the laundry in the same room that we are demolishing. Yes, silly, I know– I had hoped that we could remove all the paneling, plaster and lathe and still keep the washing machine floating amongst it all. The water pipes for the washer are not in the wall– they are sticking up out of the floor in the middle of a cramped closet that I am removing. We are going to have to *somehow* rig up the washer in the basement. I have no idea how we are going to do that. But I need to do laundry TOMORROW.
  • That cramped closet? It’s been a thorn in my side since we bought the house. It’s a 3-foot by 5-foot closet, and the previous owners stuffed a washing machine on one side and a dryer on the other side. The back entry to the house (the most popular entry door) is in between the appliances. It has always been very awkward and messy. Well… I’m removing the small wall. I’ve had my feelers out about it, making sure it’s not a load-bearing wall. And I don’t think it is (more on that in a later post). But I investigated one of the posts at the corner, and it looks like it holds a beam. I have to remove the ceiling before I can make my final assessment, but I may have to leave the post there…. sticking out in the floor of the kitchen…. *sigh* I suppose I can wrap a fancy column around it….
  • Kitchen DAY2

    Everything you see in the background is now gone.

  • Our dumpster is half full now. That’s good and bad. Hallelujah, we are getting rid of SO MUCH. Bummer because we still have 3/4 more to add…. so my Hubs is going to see about getting a bigger dumpster. Lathe takes up a LOT of space. I say we burn it, but the Hubs is a neatnik. And he’s right… burning it would mean we’d have to store it somewhere, and it would be another thing to do…
  • My Husband has been out of work for a few weeks. The only plus side to that is that he can help with the demolition, right!! WRONG. Suddenly, out of the blue, he’s being called in now. THIS WEEK. I am on my own for the demolition. groannn. And he needs clean laundry for work, too. groaannnnnn
  • Oh, and I got a letter from the IRS. They are auditing me. Yeah. Nice of them. My statement is due in 2 weeks. Sweet, real sweet. I’m neck-deep in plaster right now. Thanks a lot, guys. P.S. I didn’t miscalculate my income!
  • Good news is the Hubs has agreed to get rid of the forced air furnace system! YAYAYAY!!!! I hate forced air. HATE IT. In an old house, all it does is blow dirty, dusty air around all winter long. It’s drafty, it’s filthy…. and the original installers never installed it correctly. When I opened up a wall and discovered that the owners never even CONNECTED the ducts (they just set one section of metal inside another), and that the ducts were falling out of each other, we ripped them out. Bye bye, central heating. We’re going to sell the furnace and install baseboard electric. I don’t CARE how expensive electric is right now. Three years ago, the Furnace Guy quoted me $8000 to re-do all the ducts. That’s no savings. I’d rather pay it in electric and have safe, clean heat. No more coughing and hacking all winter long from the mold and dust!
  • We haven’t pulled down the plaster and lathe from the ceilings yet. *shudder* I’m scared. It’s a horrible job. We tackle it today. *sob*
  • We found more old wallpaper on the walls. It’s Art Deco style, so I assume this went up in the 1910s or so. So it’s not the original paper.
  • That wallpaper, by the way? FOund it behind the furnace ducts. And there’s more behind the old chimney (which was installed later). STUPID. Who would install a chimney and heater ducts on TOP of dry, brittle old wallpaper?! It’s, like, a fire hazard!
  • OldArtDecoWallpaper

    We’re still hoping to find some golden dubloons in the walls, yet. Wallpaper has its charms, but I think it would be the epitome of coolness if the original owner tucked in some valuable gold coins to finance this renovation….

  • With the cabinets gone, we now know why they sat so much lower than “normal” cabinets. The cabinets sat on the original plank flooring, but the rest of the floor has been built up over the years with layers of linoleum, cardboard, and vinyl tile. I think I will have to patch the gaps in the floors to make everything level. I don’t dare remove the layers of old flooring, in case I set off dust clouds of toxic stuff into the air. Gosh, those old timers put toxic stuff in EVERYTHING back then. My advice to homeowners? BUILD WITH NATURAL MATERIALS not KNOWN CARCINOGENS! Duh.

So that’s where we are at. We are working very hard, trying to get through this hump while running the household AND having all these fiery darts thrown at us. I cannot wait until this week is over….

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Kitchen Renovation Day 1

May 17, 2010


I can barely muster the energy to write this post, I am so exhausted! LOL. But I figured you all might be curious as to how Day 1 went in the Kitchen Renovation Of All Time.

It went well. šŸ˜€ We got a lot done, and we are officially exhausted.

After setting up our Temp Kitchen (temporary kitchen) in the garage, we dismantled most of the existing cabinets and countertops. After removing just one cabinet and the stove and fridge, our spirits soared. Already it’s an improvement.

Kitchen Day 1

We’re leaving the sink and sink cabinet in as long as possible right now. I spent the morning testing the electrical circuits, shutting them down, removing light fixtures and outlets, etc. This one threw me for a loop.

Crazy Old Wiring

That, my dear friends, is typical of the wiring in this house. ITS CRAZY. This double-box had FOUR wired connections, with SEVEN wires crammed in the box. One, as you can see, was cut and left without a wire nut. Bit the other wire to the set was rigged up to one of the switches. The whole electrical system makes me foam at the mouth. It’s insane!!!

We worked on removing some plaster and lathe from the far end of the kitchen. This will become a laundry alcove.


While digging out the plaster, we discovered some of the very old, probably original wallpaper. I suspect this area used to be the housekeeper’s area.

Original Wallpaper

And here’s the progress on Dumpster, Day 1. This thing will be overflowing when we are done!

Dumpster Day 1

Dumpster, Day 1

Whew! I’m off to check some kids’ homework, then I’m going to bed. Because we have to get up and do this again tomorrow!!!!!!!!! :S

Thank you for your prayers! šŸ˜€

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Ready To Do the Renovation Rumble

May 16, 2010


It’s Renovation Eve here at the 1855 homestead. We start demolition tomorrow. I went around the house, taking “Before” photos. Here is the OLD kitchen. Break out the Rolaids, folks:

Ugliest Kitchen1

Ugliest Kitchen2

I’ll have play-by-play and “After” photos coming up. We are gutting EVERYTHING. Plaster, lathe, wood, floors, ceiling, EVERYTHING. We’re ripping out the old plumbing and shoddy electrical, and replacing EVERYTHING. We’re also going to wire the upstairs, too (through the ceiling of the first floor). After this project, the entire downstairs will be done. Hallelujah!!!

We went to the store this evening, doing a big grocery blitz that should keep us stocked up for the next two weeks. It’s so much fun going to the store with my teens– they have a hilarious sense of humor. They wear baseball caps backwards and say “word” to each other. LOL. We decided to go all out and get really fancy, in celebration of the Big Renovation Day tomorrow.


We splurged and got FANCY bandaids for the renovation!! How's dat?!

I’d say we’re now READY TO RUMBLE!


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No Turning Back Now

May 14, 2010


It’s here.


Before this point, there was always the small possibility of canceling the whole thing. We have officially reached the point of no return.

It’s weird, because three years ago, we had finished the living room with great enthusiasm, and I was ITCHING to get the kitchen done then. Now, I just can’t wait til this is over. We’re making a temporary kitchen in the attached garage… today we pack up everything in the kitchen and dining room and transport it to there… lots of work to do. My blogging may suffer a little lack of attention this coming week.


The Princess says, "It blocks my view!" Litle does the Princess know that her royal butt is going upstairs for the next two months...

It’s a 12 yard dumpster. We wanted a 14yd, but it was unavailable. I don’t think we’ll have any problem filling this thing.


It'll take some careful planning to fit in all the plaster & lathe from 500 sq. ft. room...

Onward, ho! *guuuuuulp*

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It Pays To Be Prepared

May 13, 2010


We spent the morning together, planning our course of action for the coming dumpster (it’s coming TOMORROW!!!) and the demolition set to begin this weekend. I was rattling off a billion things to my secretary daughter, who was furiously scribbling everything down in a notebook. I was dictating very fast, thinking of anything and everything we would possibly need as far as supplies (duct tape, boxes, etc), organization (where to place glass dishes, etc), and schedule (when to start demolition, where to have the dumpster situated, etc).

Me: We’ll need a garden hose. And a big plastic tub. And put the wine glasses in the china cabinet in the living room, for safe keeping.

Alice: OK. OK.

Me: Let’s see…. for the demolition we’ll need… dust masks… gloves…

Alice: OK.

Me: ….duct tape-lots!- we need to tape plastic around the heater vents… What else? Coffeepot, coffee mugs, ibuprofen, oh and bandaids–those big ones…. what else?

Alice: [starting to crack up in laughter]

Me: [suddenly back to reality] What’s so funny?

Alice: Just of the list of necessaries for demolition– dust masks, gloves, coffee, ibuprofen, and band-aids! LOL!!

[laughing] Oh I see. LOL!!

Yeah, we’re a little crazed right now. I am trying to balance my job, plus manage all this stuff. WHEWWWW. But I am so happy this is finally getting done. Just you guys wait until I have the photos!!!! I have a hunch I should also be shopping for walk in tubs… cuz after all this, I am going to need one– that, and a very long luxurious vacation!

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What Women Want: DUCT TAPE

May 13, 2010

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This woman, anyway.

I am dissatisfied with the duct tape at WalMart. That is, the stuff is useless!!! It doesn’t stick, hello?! Blahhh.

I am a duct tape fiend. We love duct tape. I think every old house homeowner loves duct tape. It comes in SO handy: for furnace seams (temporary of course), holding old door joints, taping window cracks, sealing doors and windows, wrapping around pipes for a temp fix, “fixing” soles of shoes that have come unglued…. etc etc etc…. but it’s kinda important to find duct tape that, like, WORKS. So I’ve been hunting around for the glorious duct tape.

Can you believe that even sells DUCT TAPE?!?! Every kind of duct tape you can imagine! Intertape Polymer, wide, High Performance, Gorilla Duct Tape, duct tape in designer colors, “Sumo” duct tape, duct tape sheets and even transparent duct tape! All those choices, what is a girl to do?!

I think I’ll just get one of each, please. šŸ˜€

That”Sumo” duct tape sounds terrific. LOL. And the HIGH performance stuff. I have to seal a billion doorways and heater vents… and I can’t have the junky, cheapo duct tape flopping off in the middle of my project, now can I?! And we all thought sold only electronics! I love They have a huge selection of… well, everything! Prices are great, shipping is free on lots of stuff, and takes PayPal as well as a variety of other payment choices. Be sure to check them out if you need vacuum cleaners or parts, dishware, linens, books, clothes, shoes, tools, and tons of other stuff. AND DUCT TAPE! Yay!

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We Start in FOUR DAYS

May 12, 2010


*butterflies furiously flapping in stomach*

The dumpster will be here this weekend. We start demolition in FOUR DAYS. I am SO nervous. lol I can already smell that sour dusty smell of plaster and lathe….

Last time we went through this was when we did the living room, in 2007.

Plaster Removal UGH

No, we don't have brick siding. That's noggin between the studs. Mysterious...

This time, we’re tackling the plumbing system, finally wiring electricity for the house (half is not wired), insulating the walls, redoing floors– everything! I’m hoping Kraftmaid will give me a little assistance with the cabinetry… I’ve got my floor style chosen, my toilets and window purchased…. I am going to be one busy bee.

Lord, help us!

I’ll have lots of updates about our progress, with photos….

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Doing the Jigsaw

May 10, 2010

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We need a new jigsaw. We have an old Skil that we have been enduring (and I mean enduuuuuring) but I’ve decided that I’m not going to skimp on tools for our kitchen renovation project. Do you realize that when we moved here, the ONLY tools we had were a small hammer, a flathead screwdriver, and a (very lame) battery-operated handheld screwdriver? I did buy a handsaw. Can you believe that I built my front porch and renovated my front entry with a HANDSAW?! Yes, I did! Oh, the agony. And it’s no wonder that everything is curvy. :S

Well, we’ve acquired a few tools over the years. Hands down, my favorite tool is my miter saw. Oh my word, I love that thing! WHAT a blessing. And I do love my 14.4v power screwdriver. I would also love my jigsaw, but the one we have is unlovable. It stinks. It sticks, it overheats, it moans it groans. I’m getting a nice one this time. We went to the Big Box home improvement stores in the area.. looked around… waited *forever* for a tool department representative who never showed up… and left empty-handed. I wonder how many sales are lost because Big Box stores don’t have enough folks in the departments? I couldn’t find the jigsaw I wanted… it was on the display case, but no where on the shelves.

It's a 4.5 amp with a dust blower and a dial to adjust cutting speed. Sweet!

It doesn’t matter, because I came home to see if has any jigsaws… and can you believe it?! They do! These guys have everything, I tell ya, and it’s always on sale! They even sell the blades! And I love Black & Decker products. They are built very well, in my opinion. Oh sure, I’d love a $1000 DeWalt hanging from my belt, but I couldn’t afford that- I’m not a professional. I think Black & Decker make the best “mid-line” products. And I love Craftsman, too. has them all! Isn’t the jigsaw sweeeet! It’s an orbital saw- which means it makes curves as well as straight cuts. (heart beating with joy). I have to saw lathe in the upstairs bedrooms, to feed electrical wiring in– need me a saw. I’d be grateful for an orbital, as well, because cutting in squares–especially when you’re cutting a hole in a wall– is tough.

So the jigsaw I like is the Black & Decker JS6000B Jigsaw. Isn’t it beautiful!? The price is great: $53 which includes shipping. šŸ˜€ Me likey.

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