more structural adjustments


Posted: November 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: kitchen, structure | No Comments »


more structural adjustments more structural adjustments

structural adjustments

this is old news, from back in October. Just some photos of another structural adjustment in the kitchen, over the years with the settling of the house this joint had opened up and since we had everything torn open and stripped down to the studs, before we started rebuilding we tried to close up this as much as we could.

more structural adjustments

once we had tightened it up as best we could, Richard drove in a buncha bolts to keep it in place. They’ll show once the kitchen is finished, since the beam will be exposed.
need to post a photo of the finished beam here!


modest progress on many fronts


Posted: June 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: bathroom, kitchen, slow progress, structure, upstairs bathroom | No Comments »


The past month has been super duper crazy and busy. We spent a lot of time getting ready for the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, and a lot more time working away at various bits of this big house project.

We had our well water tested and found that it has elevated levels of lead, and coliform bacteria. We’ll need to replace some plumbing to take care of the lead problem, and we will do that eventually, but a temporary solution is to just run the water for a few minutes before drinking. To deal with the coliform, we had to dump about 4 gallons of bleach into our well. String together enough hoses to stretch out into the well, and turn them on full blast – so basically we’re pumping water up out of the well, running it through the pump and piping, through the hoses, and right back into the well again. Just to get that chlorine really spread around. And then the water suddenly turned black! I guess since the well had been unused for a while, there was all kinds of pond scum growing in there and the chlorine broke it up and it came gushing out. So, for the next two weeks our tap water came out black and green and chunky and smelling like chlorine. Yuck! And then finally one day it came out crystal clear and beautiful. We’re still not drinking it, until we get it re-tested and make sure the problem is really gone, but it looks a lot better now!

We’ve also spent a lot of time mowing. We’ve got two acres of grass and fields, the front lawn looks OK but the back forty has become an impassable, un-mowable no-mans-land. We tried mowing it a few times with my parents’ huge heavy-duty mower but I think it’s too far gone, we’re going to need to rent a tractor or something to tackle it.

And of course… I stepped on a rusty nail! I had to go get a tetanus shot. That’s what you get for walking around in crocs. There’s a great health center nearby in Porter and I’m happy I got to meet them.

Richard finally called up the Limington building inspector to have him approve our projects. He was an amiable older fellow, a pretty funny guy, and he mentioned that he’d also considered buying our house about twenty-five years ago, when he first moved to Limington! He loved the place but even then it was in pretty rough condition and he decided it was a bigger project than he wanted to take on. But he seemed happy to find somebody ambitious and foolish enough to take on the challenge. The most interesting tidbit he mentioned is that back when he looked at the property, our front left room was working as a beauty parlor! We had no idea! It did look like it had once housed some kind of business (it has a separate entry, and a recessed, spotlit display area set into one wall) but we never would’ve guessed it was a hair salon. I love how these bits of history unfold here.

richard and eliza looking at the ceiling

richard and eliza, talkin’ bout exposed beams in the kitchen.

Meanwhile… as we’ve been working on the kitchen, we’ve noticed some pretty dramatic angles and sagging in the kitchen floor. So we decided this is the best time to try and even it out a bit. We brought in some extra columns and set them up down in the basement below the kitchen, and each one sits atop a 20-ton hydraulic jack. Each week we raise them up another 1/4 inch, hoping to straighten out some of the sag from that floor.

jacks in the basement

jacks in the basement. trying to straighten out the kitchen a bit!

Which is a great idea, but it caused some repercussions up in the kitchen: a noticeable sag in the beam over the doorway that leads to the dining room. At some point in the past, that doorway was widened, and the big support beam above it was damaged but no additional support was added to redistribute the weight. It was probably saggy to begin with, and our jacking seemed to cause more sagging, as the two beams on either side push up into the floor above, and nothing pushes in the center. We like the wide doorway (and even widened it some more!) but didn’t like the sagging beam overhead so we’ve sistered it with some other beams and placed temporary columns across the open doorway to even out the pressure of the jacking. We salvaged some big old heavy beams (maybe 10″ by 10″?) that came from my parents’ 1700′s farmhouse and had been sitting unused in the basement since their most recent renovation.

jacking up the kitchen doorway

jacking the kitchen doorway

We fitted one directly underneath the compromised beam, horizontally above the doorway, and then fitted two others vertically on either end to hold it up. Sort of a Stonehenge type arrangement. If this doesn’t hold then we might need to switch to a steel support beam, but these big old wood beams are much prettier so I hope it’ll work.

At the same time, we’ve been doing some work in the bathrooms… In the downstairs bathroom, Paz helped us smash out this wall! which used to separate the laundry room from a closet, now the spaces will be combined into one big bathroom.

tearing out a wall. downstairs bathroom plumbing work. downstairs bathroom

bathroom wall destruction, and plumbing.

And we’ve been on a plumbing adventure which began with relocating the waste pipe (coming down from the upstairs toilet) and involved temporarily uprooting our only functioning toilet, plus lots of in-depth plumbing lessons from Richard! I think we’re learning a lot. And although we are unfortunately spending a few weeks without indoor plumbing, the end result should be a properly vented and thus better-functioning toilet, a WORKING SHOWER, and more convenient placement of the pipes, plus a hook-in spot where we will attach the vent line for the downstairs bathroom appliances, in due time. While we have the toilet pulled out, I’m taking the opportunity to remove all the vile, stinky, filth-sodden flooring that surrounded it. Hooray and good riddance!

Back in the kitchen: we’ve finished gutting everything and we’re slowly, slowly starting the rebuilding! Mike and Richard have been doing electrical wiring lessons and we’ve planned out where all outlets and appliances will be located, and installed all of the outlet boxes!

working on electricity in the kitchen working on electricity in the kitchen

outlet boxes are all installed!

Also in the kitchen, we noticed during the destruction that a lot of rodents have made their homes in our ceiling and walls over the years. We would like to prevent this in the future, so we need to seal up EVERY opening in the kitchen walls. I’ve been cutting heavy-duty hardware cloth screening to fit over every opening and stapling it firmly in place. Then we will attempt to fill the holes with spray foam insulation. Might even cram a bit of steel wool into the bigger holes for good measure.

rodent-proofing the kitchen

rodent-proofing the kitchen

And… then there’s the never-ending chore of packing up wooden lath to use for kindling.

so much lath

a giant pile of lath

Every wall in our house is made of plaster over wooden lath; most of them need to be torn down to put in insulation and modern electrical wiring, etc. Since we’ll be heating primarily with the wood stove, we save the old wood lath to chop up and use as kindling in the woodstove. Great stuff for starting fires but it’s a huge job to cut it all down and pack it up in boxes for the winter. It took me basically two whole weeks to chop it all up and pack it away. And then, of course, as soon as we need to smash out another wall, there will be more lath to chop up and pack away. But I think we’ll be grateful for it when the cold winter comes!

kitchen table

finally! a table and chairs

We got a great new kitchen table & chairs for $15, at a yard sale down the street. We can’t put them in the kitchen yet because we don’t really have a kitchen at the moment, but they fit nicely here in the livingroom and make the place feel a lot more cozy and civilized. (In the same morning of yard-saling we also found an extra wooden chair, an old rocking chair for the porch, a small fifties-looking wooden cabinet, a hand-truck for carrying heavy stuff, a stack of old country LP’s, and a cute summery blouse with stripes and puffy sleeves! What a good morning. )


Mike & Richard


Posted: April 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: kitchen, photos, slow progress, structure | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »


Mike & Richard Richard

men at work.

modifying the wall near the chimney. Moving a beam, cutting open the doorway to make it wider and higher. All to make room for our new woodstove!


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