Wow, lots of work on the old house this past 10 days without a lot to show for it but I think the “turning point” is near where things will start to feel more like the big progress I was hoping for.
The little back porch is completed with some 3/4″ cedar boards that are really pretty and I got at a great discount of .50 per foot. This wood is somewhat thin for a porch though ~3/4 fir was the most common porch board historically around here so it looks correct.
I’ll seal it with special stain today (Red Cedar transparent deck stain) and it should look super nice that way, though I may eventually have to paint this to be consistent with the house exterior paint job. Historically the (clear and gorgeous) woods used in construction were stained dark or painted.
A bottleneck has been the proper removal / disposal of the asbestos sheet flooring that was in kitchen and popcorn ceiling in living room (which may contain asbestos). You can pay a small fortune to have this work done or do it yourself as owner, so I’m doing it. Like so many environmental “evils”, the story of asbestos is really interesting and confusing. The more I know about the many issues (which is quite a bit now), the less I seem to understand. Here’s a neat asbestos identification guide from NY.
Asbestos went from wonder material used in millions of houses and thousands of schools and buildings to despised cancer-causing nightmare material requiring very special disposal procedures. There is a substantial bureaucracy in place via the DEQ to give advice about removal procedures but they won’t help identify the materials. For that you need lab analysis at $20 per sample. I’m treating the ceiling popcorn stuff as contaminated but should have had it sampled because it’s messy and if it’s *not* asbestos I could do this work faster, but it’s almost done now. The ceiling stuff scraped off smoothly after wetting using a sheetrock taping blade. I covered the floor with the 6 mil plastic required for disposal (2 layers of 6 mil plastic, both layers sealed with duct tape for most of the disposal wrapping though I can also use a cardboard box, sealed with duct tape and then wrapped with 6 mil).
Hey, maybe I AM making good progress!
Tomorrow we’ll finish roofing the section that needed repairs. The strand board had some warping but it flattened out nicely with screws.
The website HammerZone.com is a great resource for this type of old house remodelling. Lots of 1-2-3 step by steps with pictures.
Today was nice weather-wise but on the roof I was baking my butt so we quit early and will start tomorrow morning earlier than usual to get this done in the cool of the morning.
An Ashland friend has convinced me I should add a staircase up to the very large attic space so this becomes a more valuable feature of the house and I think he’s right, but finding the right place for the stairs is a challenge. The risers can only be about 9″ maximum height and the height to the next floor is about 9 feet 6″, so I need about 13 feet along a wall for the stairs. Also, attic is only high enough to stand near the middle so there are only a few appropriate places for the stairs unless I put in a roof dormer and I’d like to avoid that for now.
Update: Roofing done. I am SO sore. How do people do this stuff all year long?
Wow, I always forget how hard it is to do a good few days of physical labor. I’m sore all over the place. The panel passed the inspection and Pacific Power hooked me up so now there is power at the house and we are fixing the area in the back – porch and roof. I’d originally tried to save an old porch that had been added on – perhaps in the 1930s – but decided it would be better to take it down due to bad condition and the fact it’ll open up the kitchen window to the sun.
The process is going somewhat slower than I’d hoped, but progress is progress, and we should be able to get the wood and felt up today on the section of new roof over the porch – about 125 square feet I think. I matched up the asphalt 30 year architectural style shingles at a great price at Home Depot of about $60 per 100′ square of roofing.
What better way to process a big project than … blogging! ?
Today I had the Pacific Power guy come over tell me what tree trimming was needed to reconnect the service Panel that I’d installed some time ago but had been disconnected. The Electrical inspector was by the other day and told me I would need to add a ground to the water pipe (this is in addition to the ground running to two 8′ iron grounding rods!) I think this is standard Electrial Code stuff. I’ve certainly got nothing against the inspectors personally – most are courteous and professional around here.
However what seems to me to be a lot of unneeded change and overkill in the regulations is very interesting and I think can only be explained if you assume that there is a sort of “priesthood” of contractor/inspector folks who make these rules and want to both cover themselves against the slightest chance of problems arising combined with the fact they make more money and have more power if the rules are more complex.
The difference in mishaps in houses that have ONE 8′ grounding rod (old code) vs TWO 8′ grounding rods has GOT to be unmeasurably insignificant, yet those extra rods represent a huge amount of time/expense. Believe me, pounding an 8′ rod into the soil here is not fun and not educational!
Hmmm – let’s assume it takes a contractor a total of 30 minutes extra to install that extra rod, plus materials at $15, and the contracted labor is $60 per hour. This is $45 per install extra. So, one way to determine if this extra cost makes sense we could use the value of an American life according to the Dept of Transportation, about 2.7 million, and try to answer this question:
Since it costs folks about 2.7 million to install a second ground rod in about 60,000 houses, we’d expect to see at least one life saved by the second rod. This seems EXTREMELY unlikely given that electricity is not a major cause of death at all (There are typically under 500 electrical fire deaths per year from ALL causes. I’d bet there is not a single death attributed to the lack of a second ground rod).
We are almost done painting our house and most of the neighbor report it’s looking good to them.
We’ve gotten fancier than last time with 4 colors, the last two just for highlights. I’d started this because I thought we might be selling the place to buy the Nut Ranch – a cool old historic place just out of town, but I’m no longer enamored with that house.