Archive for the ‘Demolition’ Category

Tree-Lined Streets

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

I loved the tree-lined streets of our neighborhood. Even though we had to cut down five trees over the summer, I loved the settled feeling that you get from tree-lined streets. Except that our streets have considerably fewer trees now. Yes, we got hit by the ice storm the end of January. (Also got hit by lethargy, so I drafted this, but didn’t post, but since then, we almost lost our computer so I shall stop aiming for perfection and see if I can just post.) We spent Monday night-Friday morning at my folks’ place on the Hill because 45+ trees fell on their driveway. We had planned to take advantage of their their in-line generator and work on windows, but it refused to engage, so we were very glad for their wood-burning fireplace. Wednesday, Don and I hiked down and hitched a ride to town with neighbors. We then backpacked supplies back to the house. Thursday afternoon, a four-man crew spent six hours clearing the driveway, and our apartment got power back that evening. We didn’t go back to the apartment until daylight Friday — and, two months later, the driveway is still pretty alarming at night. The Hill got power back Sunday. We got cable, phone, and internet sometime the next week. (One of those package deals.)Before:april-2007-driveway.jpgDuring:backpacking-up-driveway.JPGUs:ice-palace.JPG don-in-ice-palace.JPGOur apartment escaped unscathed. Our house lost the electric mast, and four more trees. The redbud in the front yard, a massive pecan by the driveway (which fell into the dumpster), and a couple of little trees in the side yards. The debris was piled up chest high.FEMA estimated six months to remove it all, although the contracted removers have already made two passes through the city, and are starting their third (and final) pass. The chipped trees from Fayetteville (about 150,000 cubic yards) are sufficient to mulch 800 acres 5 inches deep, so disposal is going to be a problem. I wish we were further along with the house so I could mulch my gardens with free mulch.

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The Walls Are Talking About Asbestos

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

I’ve been sort of assuming that the rear addition (1950s) comprised asbestos siding. It looks like asbestos siding. The timing is right so I figured we might as well treat it like asbestos siding and leave it alone.  (Based on the “walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, must be a duck” theory.*)

Rear addition siding

During Apartment 1 demolition last week, I came across evidence tending to corroborate my belief.

Cardboard shims in Apt 3 See up at the joint between the wall and ceiling? It’s a shim made of cardboard, but the words are upside down. Never fear, though, I can rotate and crop.

Right side up

But, for those of you who don’t want to click through, what does it say?

Rub Er Oid Asbestos Siding

Yep. Ruberoid Eternit Asbestos Cement Siding. Woo-hoo!

* Although James Whitcomb Riley, the Hoosier poet, probably coined the phrase first, we should also look to Douglas Adams‘ theory:  “If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.”  As long as I’ve mentioned Riley, his Italianate house** is in Indianapolis and is open for touring.  It has exquisite examples of stenciling.  We always intended to go back for inspiration, but we never stayed in our Victorians long enough to do the finish stenciling.

**OK, it wasn’t really Riley’s house.  He was a houseguest who never left.  He lived there for 23 years with the family who did own the house.

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Dadgum it! Accident Magnet Strikes Again!

Monday, February 18th, 2008

My car got hit. Again. This is the third fourth time* since September 2006, when I bought it. New. This time, by an unattended car.

Don and I spent an hour together at the house Saturday morning because the Little One spent the night with my folks and a girl cousin. I took down two layers of ceiling tiles from the upstairs future/former porch. Two layers. With furring strips in between, but Don took down the furring strips. Then the Little One and I went to drama class and then home for lunch, while Don stayed at the house and pulled nails.

I went to the Fayetteville Public Library Saturday afternoon when Don came back from pulling nails. It was rainy. My books were due. I wanted to learn about doors and native plants. (I have a feeling I’m about to get compulsive about native plants now that my native rock wall is nearly done.)

I parked in the beautiful parking garage, went in, renewed a few books. (Still reading Jekyll’s Water and Wall Gardens. The Little One was still reading some of her books.) Found a couple of Taunton Press books about doors. (Thinking about exterior, folding doors to our future/past porches. Or French doors. Or something to open onto our porches.) Found two or three books about native plants. Found a book for the Little One. Saw a colleague who teased about the number of books.  Checked them out and found the car. Walked around the car to put books in passenger seat. Walked back.

Thought idly about the car backing out, “It really needs its lights on.”

Heard a crunch and a shriek. (The shriek was mine.)

Heard a lady near the entrance to the library hollering, “Are you OK?”

Answered, “Yes.  I think so.  But my car was smashed and there’s nobody in the other car.” (Or something like that, only less coherent.)

She offered to come up the parking ramp and check on me, which seemed like a good idea. So she did, while I wondered how long it would take to find a person whose car has just rolled into yours. She looked at the car that was embedded in my car and recognized it.

It was hers. She offered a hug, while I thought about how the Little One could have been smashed by that car if she had come with me. Or I could have. But, nobody was, just this stupid accident magnet car.

She was more shaken than I was — probably because she’s not used to her car attacking other vehicles — but it’s not like it’s her fault. My car is the accident magnet; hers just happened to be the, ahem, vehicle to accomplish it this time. We exchanged cards — we’re both working for the same entity — and I’ll get yet another body shop estimate this week. Seems to me the last bumper replacement was between $500 and $600.

Here’s a picture — very boring, just a poorly illuminated cracked bumper, nothing much to look at here.

Cracked bumper

Not sure how many times my car has to be hit before I get the hint.

*First: October 2006 (before my first car payment): Rear-ended by high school senior. Her question: “Why were you stopped? The light was green.” My answer: “Traffic in front of me was stopped.” Her dad was grateful that I didn’t call her insurance company. Bumper replaced.

Second: December 2006: Waiting to turn left at a light. A hubcap flung itself at my car. Thunked the driver’s side door. A little scratch, but nobody stopped to check on me.

Third: August 2007: Coming down my parents’ driveway. Contractor (who was fifteen minutes late) ran into me at great speed. Rendered my car undriveable, and my dad had to drive his truck down the hill and around my car so I could get to work. $6k damage. Rented a Titan for a month. It was even bigger than our F150.

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Apartment 3 Bathroom: Another Fire

Friday, February 15th, 2008

I was documenting Apartment 3 before we got too far into demolition last Sunday. (I guess I don’t want my memories of the house in its present state to fade or something.) Through my viewfinder, I saw a blackened spot on the door.

Apt 3 Bathroom Door Wall

I get closer. Yep, that’s charcoal all right. I recognize it from the fire that went up through the middle of the house sometime in the 1950s.

Scorched Door Close Up

I call out to Don, “Hey, did you know the fire got here?”

He answers, “Different fire. Look at the gas heater.”

So, I look.

Apt 3 Bathroom Gas Heater (from inside the shower)

He says, “Push the door open.”

So I push.

Door plus Heater Look: the door fits right around the heater. Can’t see it? Don helpfully pointed out that a view perpendicular to the door would help.

A Perfect Match See? The door just wraps around the heater. Another fire the house escaped without falling down.

The Little One has asked that we fix this before she moves in. There’s enough wrong with the house that I’m not positive we can promise, but we can try.

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Apartment 3 Occupants

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

I’m glad we’re doing demolition in the winter for many reasons. It’s not humid. It’s easier to wear protective clothing. (You should see Don’s favorite long-sleeved t-shirt. Every day it comes home with another nail snag, or claw hammer attack.) The dust mask is not so sweaty nor the safety glasses so irritating.

But I’m especially glad about it being winter when I discover the critters we share our house with. In demolishing Apartment 3 this weekend, I found lots of these mud dauber nests:

Mud daubers 1 Mud daubers 2 Mud daubers 3

I think the holes mean they’ve all been vacated.

And two things that are less alarming in the short term:

Ladybugs ivy-in-the-window.jpg

Ladybugs and (dead) ivy.  It’s not good that the ivy had gotten into the house, but it is good that we’ve already had the house painted and the ivy pulled off, so it’s dead.

Demolition proceeds apace.

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Apartment 3 Demolition

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

 We started Sunday morning by heading upstairs.  Actually, we started by leaving the Little One with her grandparents Saturday night.  Then, we went to the Little Bread Company on Block Street.  They were out of cinnamon rolls the size of your head — or, rather, we would have had to wait thirty minutes for them, so we had a Bavarian cream and a raspberry cheesecake danish.  Yum.  Where was I? Oh, heading upstairs.

heading upstairs

We decided to tear out the back two bedrooms of Apartment 3.  We needed to fill the dumpster before it was removed (and returned) Monday, and lightweight ceiling tiles are just the thing.

Apt 3 Bedroom (south) The south bedroom before we started.  (The walls were covered with a textured, painted wallpaper which made it a little harder because the the paper held the tiles together so they didn’t come off in the 18″x3′ pieces I was used to.) 

Apt 3 Bedroom (southwest) Same room after I pulled the ceiling tiles off the walls.  The ceiling actually had cellulose insulation resting on the ceiling tiles, so I let Don pull them down.  Doesn’t he look angelic with the dust motes dancing in the air behind him?

Apt 3 Bedroom (south) looking up The ceiling after he pulled the ceiling tiles down.  Where did the insulation go?

Apt 3 Bedroom (south) looking down Oh.  Down on the floor.  He used a coal shovel and garbage cans to remove it to the dumpster.  Up and down and up and down the stairs.

Apt 3 Bedroom (south) cleaned up After walls, ceiling tiles, insulation, and a lot of the furring* strips were removed Sunday.

We did the same thing for the other bedroom.  Except for shoveling the insulation.  That had to wait for the return of the empty dumpster Monday afternoon.  And we finished in time to go to orientation at church in the afternoon.  I think we did a good job. 

*I’m always wanting to spell furring with an “i”.  I guess because the strips are made from wood, and fir is a kind of tree.  Nothing fuzzy or fur-like about the strips.  When I checked the spelling, I tried to figure out the etymology.  I gather it comes from fur, and the fur in question is from the Germanic words having to do with making a sheath.  Maybe.  (Per Merriam-Webster, Middle English furren, from Anglo-French furrer to stuff, fill, line, from fuerre sheath, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German fuotar sheath; akin to Greek pōma lid, cover, Sanskrit pāti he protects. Date: 14th century.)

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Kitchen stairs in mid-air

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

We continue demolishing the house.  (I hope that it’s not the ceiling tiles on the walls that are holding the house together because they’re gone.)  Last week, Don called me at work to tell me about the kitchen door in mid-airwall.  To put it in context, below is the kitchen (looking north toward the scary, grody hallway) before we bought the house.

Kitchen facing north (Nov. 2007) 

Same view after our tenant left:

Kitchen facing north (post-purchase) 

Same view after Don took down the door to the scary, grody hallway connecting Apartment 1 to Apartment 2 and the layers of yellow tile:

Kitchen stairs 

Wait!  What’s that door doing there?  Hanging in mid-air? Oh, it’s just a second way to get to the stairs.  Or it was.  See the risers’ shadows?

Kitchen facing north (behind the wall) 

That explains the little bend at the first landing:

Foyer landing 

“An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You would never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience.” Mitch Hedberg (1968-2005).

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Pictures of the gap between addition and older part of house

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

[ETA:  Well, hmmm.  I thought I posted this yesterday, and the blog thought so, too.  However, I just looked at the front page of the blog and it wasn't there.]

You may remember the gap between our house and addition where the rain blows through from yesterday. My brother wrote that he had trouble visualizing the gap so here are pictures.

The clapboard (seen at right) is the original exterior, and the pine sheathing (left) is the interior of the addition. The bright white vertical line is the gap, formed where the addition meets the original house.

Gap between addition and original house

You might see trees through the gap in the close-up (below) if you click through.

Close-up of gap between addition and house

Here are exterior shots to put this in perspective. The gap in question is above the garage, at the inside corner where the 50s (asbestos?) siding meets the older clapboard siding. To orient you, you can almost see the window in the first interior picture (to the right, above).

Exterior view of gap location close-up-of-joint-between-house-and-addition.jpgExterior view after painting started

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Craig’s List Score!

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

I virtuously scan Craig’s List here in Fayetteville, hoping for the sort of deals I used to find in Chicago. This weekend, I finally scored. Boxes of screen and storm sash hangers were there for $3 a box (ten sets in each box or thirty cents a set). You’ll see from the click-through, screen-and-storm-sash-hangers.jpg, that the sets used to retail for 40 cents. These days, however, they sell for two or three dollars a set.

So, I got Don to contact the sellers, and he bought them out. Even better, he learned that they have other stuff in their warehouse, stuff which might be useful for us a little later. (I guess their family owned a windows and doors store for sixty years, and now they’re slowly closing their warehouse.) We now own 45 sets of sash hangers, which will come in handy if we ever when we build storms and screens.  Now to keep an eye out for number tacks to identify which storms go with which windows. Although $4.99 for twenty windows and twenty storms isn’t bad, I’d love some like Jeannie’s House In Progress number tacks which go past single digits. Kilian seems to have a better price of $3.99 for “110+” of assorted tacks. I’m jealous, though, of the old stock someone bought from them already. 

Hang on:  Can anyone tell me why map tacks wouldn’t work?  Look at these map tacks. 


You can buy them to go up to 50 (double digits on a single tack) and they seem legible and long enough.  Are they sturdy enough?  Too big? (The smalls are 7/32 in diameter.  The pins are 5/16″ long.)  Too expensive?  We would need three boxes: to label window, storm, and screen, or about $15 for the first twenty-five windows.  Plus s/h.  The large map tacks (5/16″ diameter) come in red, and go up to 100.

We do have some other pressing matters, like, oh, say, rebuilding the window frames (see photo below) swinging in the air without any contact to the glass that I can see, or filling the gap between the fifty-year-old addition and the old part of the house. (Not only can you see daylight, but there’s a brisk breeze when a front is blowing through, which it was at lunchtime Wednesday when the temperature dropped from 63F to 28F in two hours.)

Window frame (south side)

Or, this week’s urgent need, covering up the direct critter access into the basement Apartment 5 with some chicken wire. Don took out the basement kitchen cabinets Monday and discovered a hole, a big, long hole sized for roosters or snakes or five-year-olds to go lollygagging through. The stud wall is swinging from the ceiling and you can see daylight under the studs. I don’t know what is holding up the two stories of house above it. Static electricity, maybe.

Hole under house before exposure Hole under house after hardware cloth installation

The hole is at the base of the house under this deck. You can’t see it so well in this picture (left) so I stopped Tuesday morning and snapped a picture of it with the hardware cloth installed (right). What is that pipe? It goes into the former basement kitchen around the sink. Maybe a vent??
Rotten sill

The picture above of a really rotten sill predates our buying the house, but the others are from Wednesday. (The painters pulled the ivy off the house.)

In other news, work is crazy busy. The Little One has reached a charming stage, again, except that she is very tired. She fell asleep by 6 p.m. Sunday night, and slept until we got her up the next morning. Either she’s about to grow into fluent reading or she’s about to grow an inch.  Or some other landmark event is coming.  She’s home for a snow day today, and I’m watching the weather to see if I am getting snowed in, too.

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Apartment 5 Demolition: Nearly Done

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

I think we are essentially done with the basement demolition, which includes: Apartment 5, the garage, and the basement itself. I guess we have a bit more in the bathroom, but not much.  And some kitchen appliances to take to the Habitat store.

Now we can see the ash removal space for the upstairs fireplace.  (It was behind the drywall.)  The rotten studs are gone.  (In making Apartment 5, the POs had dug out the basemen, but didn’t protect the stud walls from the now-dirt floor.  We saw some old insect damage, too, even though the termite inspection gave us an absolute clean bill of health.)  The nasty smelling closet where the toilet had leaked for untold years is gone.  And the whole flow is much improved, except that the removal of walls means that now the whole basement has turned into unconditioned space.  At least, until we figure out the whole workshop configuration and where to put doors, and what sort of doors.  Maybe French doors to allow the light to flow from conditioned space to unconditioned space.  Maybe today I will take measurements so I can start sketching out workshop space.

I say “we,” but it’s Don who does the demolition. I did remove a lot of the walls from Apartment 1′s dry bedroom and some of the wet bedroom, but Don hauled my trashcans of debris to the dumpster, and Don started the drywall tearout for me, and Don muscled out the worst bits for me. (I can use the prybar and a cheater quite well, but it sure is handy to have back up for me.) I didn’t do anything in the basement except admire it. Not even document it, apparently.

I would post pictures, but my before and after pictures don’t show how grody it was before, nor how (relatively) nice it is after.  However, take my word for it:  It is better.

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