Archive for the ‘Demolition’ Category

30+ Deco Kitchen Handles: Want some?

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

We have at least thirty of these kitchen handles (and corresponding cabinets and drawers) which we will be pulling out of the kitchen in Apartment 1 rather soon. Anyone interested? I think they would go well in a mid-century house since that’s when I think this remodel was done.  The curly window trim is another clue to its date.

kitchen-handle.jpg upper-cabinets-example.jpg over-kitchen-door.jpg

I haven’t checked the upstairs kitchen hardware in person, but my file photo (below) suggests that at least one of them has cabinets that are definitely of the same vintage, and may have matching handles, increasing the number further.


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Revealing Apartment 1′s Porch

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

As I wrote before Christmas, we want to convert the left two-thirds of the house to porch, in part because it used to be porch. (Also, we love being outside without mosquitoes, and we hope to be able to use the space often. Heck, it got up into the 60s over the weekend here.)  The flooring from the original upstairs porch is still visible from the outside.

Exterior of our house

The inside of the lower past/future porch is inside Apartment 1 and you can see it through the arch from our future dining room. These pictures were taken before the tenant left and demolition began.  There was a window on the right side, and a closet on the left side.  (Also, three windows across the front.)

Before tenant’s departure Porch in Apartment 1 (right)

Don removed some of the ceiling tiles in the section beyond the arch and found …

Porch ceiling in Apartment 1

Green beadboard. So there is a little original fabric to the house that I think we’ll keep.

I removed the rest of the tiles from the lower front porch ceiling on Saturday.  And Sunday, I demolished most of one closet (also made of ceiling tiles) in the dry bedroom in Apartment 1.  And admired Don removing more ceiling tile walls in the wet bedroom* in Apartment 1.  Some of the walls in the dry bedroom were drywall over ceiling tile.  Not a lick of insulation anywhere. 

Wait.  That’s not quite true.  We found a ball of insulation in the interior wall in the wet bedroom about the size of a football, with a Diet Slice can next to it.  I don’t know where that came from, but I know it’s going into the dumpster. 

We had another gas meter replaced today.  For those of you counting, we have had three of our eleven meters replaced so far, all at the utility’s expense.

*The “wet” bedroom is so-named because, after the pipes froze New Year’s Day/night, we found a new drip in that bedroom.  It looks like the drip may not be coming from the pipes inside that bedroom’s ceiling, but from a leak in the bathroom above.  There has been standing water on that floor, and I am not quite sure where it came from.  I guess we’ll figure it out soon enough.

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The pipes are thawing (and not bursting)

Friday, January 4th, 2008

We have power to Apartment 1 now, and also to the hallway and Apartment 4′s kitchen outlet upstairs (on Apartment 1′s downstairs circuit for some reason). We also have hot water in the house although, as of noon yesterday, Apartment 4 still didn’t. No visible leaks (except, perhaps, in Apartment 5, which is the basement apartment, where we know we have a clogged sink), so no burst pipes yet. Only the Apartment 2 kitchen sink is still frozen.  (We thought we had lost power permanently in Apartment 2, but that turned out to be a blown fuse, so life is good.) Isn’t the stalagmite cool?  It was a stalactite until it started to thaw.

Ice in Apt 2 kitchen sink

Demolition and clean-up are progressing in the basement, where the water heater fired up a couple of times while Don was sweeping. Nasty, by the way (the sweeping).  Probably hadn’t been done in forty years.

The basement (not the apartment, but the basement part) is all cleaned and swept, with about 10 more minutes to finish cleaning the garage. Then, on to Apartment 5 (the basement apartment).

Apartment 2′s “switch” at the fuse box, for lack of a better term, is broken. The electric company guy said that can happen in the cold. Or maybe Don stressed it Wednesday with the 3 space heaters, and it cracked.

The electric company guy came by a second time, after turing the power to Apartment 1 back on, to change a bad meter. This is our second “bad” meter at this house.  We already had a gas meter replaced. I don’t recall replacing a meter in any of our other houses. Of course, we have eleven meters here, which would increase the odds of a bad one. Five gas and five electric meters for the five apartments, plus a sixth gas meter for the 95 gallon hot water heater, which is community property. Not sure which of the meters is new, but I do have before and after shots of the electric. Not the gas.  Aren’t they lovely?

Gas meters January 3, 2008 electric meters January 3, 2008 electric meters

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Baby, it’s cold inside!

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

We got back from our Christmas travels Tuesday night.  We had a cold snap, with temperatures getting down around 9 degrees (F) that night.  Brrr.  Baby, it’s cold inside.  Our former Apartment 1 tenant finally shut off his utilities just after Christmas.  We hadn’t left the water dripping, so the pipes froze. 

Don spent yesterday arranging for the electric and gas to return to Apartment 1, and dispersing electric space heaters strategically. So far, no pipes have burst and some have started to thaw as of last night.  He said there was a layer of ice in one of the toilets. 

In other news, dumpster number 2 came yesterday. 

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Sign of our house’s history

Thursday, December 20th, 2007


This sign was behind the lath and plaster in the living room in Apartment 2. As Don pulled it out, he thought it was going to be a license plate, but, instead, it is a tangible sign of our house’s history.  (Pun intended.)

The current tenants are renting unfurnished apartments, but sometime* at least one of the apartments was furnished. Unless the sign was behind the wall because it was such a bad idea.

Demolition continues apace.  All the lath and plaster is out of the back room in Apartment 2.  Most has been removed from the living room (Apt. 2), but that demolition is complicated by all the salvage on the floor.  Some of the ceiling tiles are out of the dining room  (Apartment 1).  We have peeked under the really dirty carpet in Apartment 1.  Looks like the flooring in there matches the foyer, except (as I mentioned yesterday) it was installed at right angles to the foyer flooring.  We don’t know yet what the flooring will be in the former porch at the front of the house. 

In most excellent news, the smelly sofa bed has made its way into the dumpster.  (Say, did anyone click through my links yesterday?  I was expecting at least one comment about the picture of the former tenant’s detritus.)  It was up in the 50s or 60s yesterday, so the house got aired out.  And the gas to the stoves in the vacant apartments has been shut off.  Somehow or other, the house is smelling better.

In other news, I have been tweaking my masthead. 

Actually, my brother has been tweaking it.  Bill is very talented and helpful.  Besides being my IT go-to guy, roller coaster expert, former valet parker, and co-author of the TortsProf blog, he knows everything about children’s rock.  He and my niece host Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, and he is a stringer for Parenting magazine on children’s rock.  And, apparently, he writes a column for Little Rock (Arkansas) Family and Minnesota Parenting.  He is the cool one in the family.  I think using this sign in the masthead helps us transition to the blog’s current focus on our Fayetteville house.  I’ll have to update my signage, too.  Thanks, Bill.

*When did they make For Rent signs out of metal rather than cardboard? I would hazard a guess that we can eliminate during World War II.

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Under two (!) layers of carpet …

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

we found a pretty nice pine floor in the foyer.

I’ve never heard of not removing carpet before you put down new.

I’ve heard of layers upon layers of linoleum. I’ve even removed layers of linoleum at my uncle’s house.

I’ve heard of layers upon layers of roofing. My first condo (at the Churchill) came with a flat roof which had never had a single layer removed since it was built in the 1910s. The discovery was made via coring, like you would for oil. I think there were seven layers, where city code would only allow for two or maybe three before tear-off time. Removing and replacing that roof was expensive, but at least the roof didn’t cave in before it was removed.

I’ve never heard of not removing carpet.

Don pulled the carpet out of the foyer today. Well, except for the part that is under the sofa bed* that persistently smells like wet dog and is upended in the foyer corner next to Apartment 2. I think it has been abandoned by the former tenant of Apartment 1 after he discovered that even the Salvation Army won’t take a sofa that smells like wet dog. But I don’t know that for sure. Maybe the tenant is coming back for it along with his other, ahem, personal detritus. I do plan to make sure it (the sofa and possibly the personal detritus — not the the former tenant or his dog) is in the dumpster before the dumpster departs and my mother in law arrives. The smell is a little off-putting.

But I digress. Don removed two layers of carpet with padding in between, although he says the older carpet would hardly qualify as carpet, and underneath he found some nice heart pine (below). The foyer floor is laid perpemdicular to the floor in Apartment 1, but parallel to the floor in Apartment 2, which could mean two layers of floor or something weird with the floor joists or something else. (The front part of Apartment 1 is to the left in the photo I posted yesterday, where the front porch would have been. And Apartment 2 is to the right.) All the floors are the same elevation, so I doubt there are two layers.

foyer-carpets.jpg foyer-floor.jpg

He uncovered the stairs, too. There seems to have been several attempts to dress them up with paint.  Lovely.

carpeted-stairs.jpg uncarpeted-stairs.jpg

* I wonder why the term is “sofa bed” and not “couch bed.” I looked around, but still don’t know the answer. I did learn that the word couch is of French origin (couchier, to lie down) and sofa is Turkish (from the Arabic word suffa, carpet or divan). Surprised me since I had guessed that couch was the old English word and sofa from the Norman invasion. Maybe the furniture itself is post-William the Conqueror, then.

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Serious Charring

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

I learned about arson under the common law again last winter when I studied for the Arkansas bar exam. Arson required “the malicious and willful burning of the house of another.” (Lots of picky bar exam questions can come from that.) Burning meant an actual ignition of the structure. In other words, charring* was required, not mere scorching. I don’t yet know the source of the fire, but we have serious charring in our house.

Don took out the ceiling in the back room in Apartment 2 on Monday and Tuesday. POs had removed all the plaster from the lath in the ceiling and put in ceiling tiles in about 1997. (How can I date it so precisely? The ceiling tiles were date-stamped.) The fire we had heard about (sometime in the 1950s) reached back there so the addition pre-dates the fire. We can see ceiling joists sistered to the scorched ones. And not a lick of insulation. (The joists you can’t see clearly are the scorched ones. Look at the wall between the back room and the living room. Very scorched.)

Back room ceiling during demolition 1997 Ceiling Tiles Back room charring

He’s also removed the ceiling tiles in the living room, most of the subfloor tongue-and-groove planks** that were used as furring strips for the ceiling tiles, and a lot of the plaster and lath. (Demolition is complicated by having the salvaged flooring and tub in the living room.) The ceiling plaster looked pretty bad in the living room, too, but the fire doesn’t seem to have made its way into the living room. The wall between the back room and the living room is to the right in this picture.

Living room ceiling

He stripped a bit of trim around a window and baseboard in the living room, and stair railing, newel post, and stair treads in the foyer. Looks like pine everywhere, doesn’t it? Shucks. We were hoping for a little oak.

Stair tread Silent paint remover Newel postRailing

Our neighbor’s dumpster left early Monday morning and we are struggling with whether to get one before Christmas. If we do, it will be an invitation to the world to fill it up with Christmas debris. If we don’t, we will be handling our house debris at least twice — doubling our work. Wonder if we could fill one before Christmas, and order a second one in January after the Christmas rush?

Debris Back room debris

[Pause to call Don]

That’s what we will do. Dumpster comes Thursday. If we get close to Christmas Eve, and it still isn’t full, then we’ll think about hiring out some demolition help.

*The word char dates to 1679, and is a back formation of the word charcoal (1340), which (rougly) means turning to coal. Charring rhymes with barring, jarring, marring, scarring, sparring, starring, and tarring so …

  • The uncovered joists showed charring,
  • which was jarring
  • to me. Sistered joists marring
  • my honeymoon vision, scarring
  • forever with their charcoal tarring.

Not bad for 60 seconds. Can you use the other words: barring, sparring, and starring?

**The POs who converted the house into a five-flat owned a flooring company. I assume these were seconds. They are brittle and impossible to denail.

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Demolition: Living Room (Apt 1)

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

We got back from our “celebration we’ve finally bought a house after three years” lunch with our Realtor about 3 p.m. Started in Apartment 1 (of five), which is also where our Dallas salvage is. While that made complete demolition impossible, the tub did make a nicer nail-pulling station than the floor once Don had a sheet of plywood paneling pulled off.

Salvage in living room

Late last week, we were showing our next door neighbor the marble salvage, and he asked whether we had plans to keep the glossy red paneling with the attractive piece of trim to cover the seam between the 8 foot piece and the filler at the top of the room.

Living Room North Seam between panels

Um, no. I joked that that was why we bought the place, which makes me wonder: What feature does this house have that I love and don’t want to change? It’s not the floors. Or the tubs. Not the house color. Not the appliances. Not the dead trees. Maybe the creamy yellow tile in the main kitchen with a little racer strip? (But we are talking about reconfiguring the kitchen and moving walls, so it would have to be saved and reinstalled.)

yellow and black kitchen tile

So Don pulled paneling and ceiling tiles from the north side of the room. We also have a mercury-filled thermostat I need to figure out who will take off our hands.

Living Room West (Before)Living Room Northwest (Before)

I pulled nails, stacked waste, swept up,* and documented.

This is the condition of a small sample of plaster we uncovered. It looks a bit like the state of Arkansas would have looked if Missouri hadn’t snagged the bootheel and the Texans hadn’t gotten their share, too.**

Living Room Wall Covering and PlasterArkansas

The room was apparently covered in this material (below) sometime before the paneling went up. It is fiendishly hard to photograph, but is thickish and the striations are built into the paper. It doesn’t feel like the modern Anaglypta we’ve installed, but who knows what Anaglypta would feel like 80 years later.

Living Room Wall Covering (Under Paneling)

This is what was underneath the paneling around the chimney. Adhesive and no sign of interesting tilework or brick.

Living Room Chimney (After)

This is what we’re putting in our neighbor’s dumpster. (He’s doing his kitchen, and offered us the use of his dumpster.)

Dumpster Ready

And this is what we did for the half of the room that isn’t filled with salvage. The chimney is uncovered, ceiling panels are down, the paneling is gone, and the closet is about 80% removed. Not bad for day one.

Living Room Northeast (After Demo) Living Room West (After Demo) Living Room Northwest (After Day 1 Demo) Living Room North (After Demo)

*I do like a contractor who leaves the worksite broom clean at day’s end.

**Arkansas is a bit odd in shape. As the Encyclopedia of Arkansas explains: “Generally, Arkansas is bordered on the north by Missouri; on the east by Tennessee and Mississippi; on the south by Louisiana; and on the west by Texas and Oklahoma, but that is not entirely correct. Arkansas is also bordered on the east by Missouri and the south by Texas, but parts of the state are also north of Missouri, east of Mississippi, north of Oklahoma and west of Texas.”

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Buying Update 6

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

Yesterday afternoon we got the HUD statement and instructions for how big a certified check to bring to closing at 10:15 a.m. Friday.  (Hint: it would have paid in full the mortgage on either of our first homes.)  I established (again) that, although we have different last names, we are married and should take as joint tenants by the entirety.  (That’s the most useful property law fact I gleaned from taking the Arkansas bar exam this winter.  Well, I also re-learned some useful things for genealogical research, but, trust me, I am not who you want to handle a property deal.  I am certainly not handling my own.)  I got the go-ahead to take Friday off.  I have something to do for the water company to avoid making another security deposit — I had better call Don and see what it is.

Don has bought a carpet cutter, dust masks, hasps (for padlocking the unoccupied apartments) and contractor bags.  He’s found our pry bars, furniture refinisher (for the stairs) and work gloves.  We still need to get batteries for our cameras since I want to document more of each step this go-round.  And I think we’re borrowing my dad’s space heater since the heater in the “living room” apartment is broken.  We’re Don is lining up people to watch the Little One, perhaps combined with Christmas tree hunting on my parents’ Hill.

I think we have a plan of attack for the weekend, which will be focused on exploration and getting to know our house. First, try stripping a little of the stairs, then pull some paneling, and start pulling carpet in the “living room” apartment.  Although we should focus on the basement so that we have a good workshop, that will be easier when another tenant leaves.  (He and his stuff should be out by Monday, leaving us with one tenant.)

I think we’re buying us a house for Christmas.

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