Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Never-Ending Story

If this were a real story, the subtitle would be "Or how Not to do home renos"

Back in September, we had a plan. The plan was to take our four Ikea Billy shelves out of the dining room and build the built-in-shelves that I had found in an old copy of Family Handyman. I didn't have the funds for oak, so the next best bet of painting the finished product is what we would do.

After I gave the Billy shelves to a co-worker, I went to our local Rona and purchased a whack of lumber for the construction. Trooping this into the house was an adventure, but I didn't want it out in the weather.

The first order of business was to take down the ceiling. This was supposed to work just like the adjacent living room ceiling. We had these ugly acoustic tile across the ceiling. We removed them, patched a few nail holes in the ceiling plaster from the nailing strips, and were off to the races - no big deal. Well, the dining room had the same ceiling - so same process, right? (The finished living room ceiling is pictured below. Mrs. Spit's handiwork!)

Not exactly. We pulled down the tiles, to discover that the plaster was missing from about 1/3 of the ceiling area. When I started pulling down the nailing strips, a whack of further plaster let go and went crashing to the floor.

Since the whole ceiling was not going to be a one evening job, we evaluated. We pondered. We decided to pull the whole plaster and lathe ceiling down and put up drywall. So, after putting up poly, to somewhat contain what was certainly going to be a mess, at the entrances, I started on demolition mode. Wow, what a mess!!!

This was also when we discovered that there was no insulation above the bay window in the dining room. It was installed well after the original house was built, and they apparently ran out of money and didn't install any insulation. No wonder it was so cold on the floor in that area when winter rolls across the prairies!!! This was one of many subprojects. The picture shows just before I closed in the drywall over the insulation.

Once all of the ceiling was on the floor, the world looked rather grey in the dining room. I had not only discovered that there was no insulation above the windows, but that there was what looked like knob and tube wiring to the fixture in the ceiling. Not good. Call to the friendly electrician we know to describe what we have. Phew... we don't need to rewire the HOUSE!!! Simple wiring that I can deal with. I did put in a proper connection box so that everything is according to Hoyle as far as I could make it.

The next thing to be discovered was that there was a soft section of plaster on one of the walls. Some poking and proding resulted in an area of wall that needed patching as well. Hmm... I know, let's look into pulling down the plaster and lathe wall! And then... we see that the wall insulation is not 3M Pink insulation, but rather, wood shavings. Thanks, but I'm leaving the lathe UP so that I don't have a much bigger mess to clean, more insulation to buy... etc.

Next we found an old newspaper up in the rafters of the second floor. Dated from the late 1920s. Yes, this was when the water was installed for the bathroom upstairs. The bathroom that was once a bedroom! I can't imagine a two-holer in Edmonton in the winter. The newspaper touted a new invention - Bombardier's new snowmobile! Pretty cool, too bad that some mice got to it years ago and ate out the center of the paper, leaving only a wide fringe...

So now it's time to get into the drywalling mode of things. Installing a drywall ceiling when you have a 5'-8" guy and a 9'-0" ceiling is interesting. A trip to the local Rona had me a truck full of drywall and a handy panel lifter. Would have been a touch more difficult without the lifter, that's for sure! So, here I go, learning another home-handyman skill, drywall installation. Note to self - leave any major drywalling to the PROS!!! I had to overlay the wall where the shelves are going with two sheets of drywall, as Mr. and Mrs. Idiot (previous owners) had ripped out a built-in buffet counter in the dining room, and patched the hole by placing a strip of drywall on that wall. So I had to build out the plaster wall to match it. Then there's the whole wall I stripped of plaster, and of course, the ceiling.

Mrs. Spit did her excellent ceiling treatment once I got the taping and mudding finished. Once it is coloured, it will look great. She's still waiting for me to finish the shelves... STILL waiting.

Off to Rona again to buy all of the lumber I need for the job. Bring it home, take over the living room further with a pile of dimensional lumber and plywood. Living in our little kitchen is soo much fun.

I got some of the frame constructed and installed, top and bottom. And then December happened. Funny how losing your infant son hits the brakes in a big way.

December rolled into March without a whole lot of anything being done. This led to much of the dimensional lumber taking on all sorts of new shapes! Warping, twisting, cupping... how much fun it is to watch money get blown to ill effect.

So I went out and bought more lumber. Thank goodness for my work truck!!! After more time, I got off my cheeks and have gotten the timber frame installed.

Of course, why keep on the original design?!? Mrs. Spit had an idea to modify the plans a bit and create a place where we could use the home laptop, including wanting power and an outlet to plug in phones etc...

Into this fell, literally, the bathroom tub. Or at least the taps on the tub. So now we have to replace the taps on the clawfoot tub. For the tale of Woe, reference Mrs. Spit's erudite description.

I've managed to find some hardware from Lee Valley - cue Wayne and Garth "We're not worthy... we're not worthy..." that will allow me to make this flip-out shelf. This was today, and wow... there's a lot of work to go. I want to finish and get the larger part of the main floor of my house back!!! As does Mrs. Spit and the fur-children...


Amy said...

Whew...I'm exhausted just reading that one! Sounds to me like you have your work cut out for you but are muddling through it just fine. Wanna come to the states (Midwerst) and do some home remodeling? Boy do I have jobs for you! Just kidding but I do love the ceiling and how I love me a claw foot tub!

Cheryl said...

What a job, the never ending renovation dream! We've been in this house now for 17 years & the renos are still ongoing. The first 4 houses we managed to get done before selling them within 2 years but this place ... what can I say? Between live babies & ones that left us, we've been a bit busy trying to patch up our lives, as well as the drywall.

Please tell Mrs. Spit I LOVE the ceiling. In fact, that's the look I want to create for my living room walls, right down to the color. Problem is, can't figure out how to do it. Here's a thought ... I'll trade some lovely bereavement support & laughter for a lesson on making my walls look regal.


Keep up the good work.

Mr. Spit said...

Amy: Mrs. Spit says "No" I'm not allowed to hit the states as a travelling handyman - she needs me here! ;-)

Cheryl: Mrs. Spit says "Yes" she'd be happy to explain the ceiling finish to you when next we meet.

Amy said...

Mr. Spit,
I know she needs you there, but if ever you know you BOTH want a get away...I can put you to work! For you know, room and board!