Working on the Old House #8

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! We continue on the old house renovation.

Having hopes that the old subfloors could rejuvenated and finished – structural issues and my typical ‘do it right’ voice won over. So down goes a new plywood overlay to stiffen us these bouncy floors.

The plywood is pl glues and screwed in place. Covering the kitchen and dining room.

The sheathing will help reduce the slope in the floor. Remember, this house is 101 this year.

All the floor sheathing is in place.

To meet current code, new 20a lines were run to receptacles on each side of the sink as well as by the stove wall as well.

This patch was in the wall to the left of the sink window – also notice something? Like zero insulation. This house was supposed to be insulated with blown in insulation years and years ago – but for some reason they decided this kitchen wall didn’t need any.

So we patch up the wall opening and start preparing for adding some insulation.

One other thing. This house has a combined neutral and ground – an old two wire system. The only way to meet current code without rewiring the whole house is to use this type of receptacle. An AF (Arc Fault) / GF (Ground Fault) fixture will give the required protection. They do not offer equipment grounding and must be marked at the receptacles.

These are what’s required in our area to meet code – check with local guidelines as they do vary.

So I rented an insulation blower and with the help of my brother, we added insulation for the kitchen wall. It was messy, but necessary.

I decided to fit the new sink base cabinet first before I started on reworking the plumbing. I’ll keep the supplies and drain outside of the exterior wall to make sure there is no pipe freezing in the enclosed sink base.

So the unfinished cabinet is put in place to start laying out the cabinets. It will be a combination of off the shelf cabinets and a few custom made to fit the space.

Stay tuned and stay warm.

Working on the Old House #7 I’m Floored

Well, the end of 2020 is almost here and I couldn’t be happier to say goodbye. Having a retail store has been a challenge – but we survived. So now I get a chance to wish you all a wonderful New year.

Now – back to the old house – where were we…

Now that we have the old cabinets out, we can see what we have going on with the floors. Old cracked tiles, some unevenness and some creaking noises here and there. Let’s investigate.

One issue is that there are floor registers in awkward places. Like this one that was next to the stove and steps. Not an ideal place for a register. We’ll think about how we can relocate this one.

Well, now I’ve done it – I could have just laid some click-lock vinyl over this and call it a day. I’m selling this place after all. But no – if there is a better (and more expensive complicated way) I’ll always choose that fork in the road. I’ll never learn.

The original subfloor was overlaid with 1/4″ plywood. This stuff was nailed down with hundreds of spiral nails. Not a lot of demolition fun right here.

But progress is being made. One painful nail at a time.

I kept scooting the old stove around the room – not sure why. Perhaps I needed the exercise.

As progress continues, so does the pile of spiral nails.

I decided to extend whatever the final flooring finish will be into the adjacent dining room. So this carpet needs to go.

So after a couple hours removing the hundreds of carpet pad staples we have the area cleared.

Another odd placement for a floor register by the entrance to the hallway from the kitchen. It looks like it was previously a larger air vent for the old coal furnace when the house was built in 1920. Now we’ll move it to a little more convenient place.

We’ll fill it that space and move it over closer to the wall.

Of course, we’ll have to revise the duct-work to accommodate the new register placement.

The one by the steps is also filled in – we’ll figure out a way to integrate a vent into the stair risers.

So that’s how we’ll leave the Old House in 2020 – clean floors ready for the New Year.

And I’m wishing you the same. A brand new year that will certainly be better than the last one.

Stay safe and productive.

Working on the Old House #6 Let’s Get Cooking!

Well, no cooking yet, but let’s rip out this old kitchen and make something a little nicer for the folks that will buy this place.

First we’ll make quick work of this old basement door. Messed up would be a charitable description. We’ll take it down, sand and resurface and give it a new coat of paint. We’ll remove and rebuild the casings.

OK, that’s done. Now on to the kitchen.

I started taking out the old metal cabinets before I remembered I needed some ‘before’ photos. So here’s a shot with one upper cabinet down and several more to go. These were metal cabinets put in the 1920 home probably around 1940. From a distance, they don’t look too bad, but the sink area was rusted through and they were pretty messed up. The Formica top and banding was worn out.

So a little later we have the uppers and lower cabinets out. Plumbing is a mess and the two side cabinets were built in place. I contemplated leaving them – but I think you can guess they won’t survive. I’ll also redo the plumbing – maybe I’ll add a dishwasher….hum…

The uppers were still in OK shape, so they got to go to a new home somewhere in Illinois.

Now let’s get rid of the soffit. I made a little investigation hole (OK a big investigation hole) and nothing was hiding behind the wallpaper but an old recessed light can and .a clock receptacle.

Still in the same day – out comes the rest of the soffit.

As always, while I’m at it – I might as well replace the single pane metal frame window above the sink.

It ended up being quite the ordeal to remove the window – apparently, the contractor at the time had a metal window meant for masonry installation and thought he’d just use it in the kitchen. A couple hours were needed to get this thing out without destroying the wall.

Since this house was built in 1920, it has traditional plaster and lath walls. This area needs some repair. Fortunately, I’ve worked on old plaster houses for 4 decades, so this is a pretty easy fix. First we plan where to make our repair and draw a plumb line for the cut.

Then we get out our angle grinder (please don’t do this at home – without the guard that is.) An old masonry grinder disc is used to cut the plaster but not the wood lath.

Once the cut is made, all the old loose plaster is removed from the wood lath.

You can use almost any stable material for repair. Here I’ve used two layers of thin plywood, shimmed to closely match the surrounding plaster surface. The plywood is screwed to the wood lath.

To make the repair, you mix up some ‘Hot Mud’ – chemical set drywall compound. It sets by chemical reaction instead of the air dry premixed compound. This is a harder material and works well as the bedding coat.

The first coat of ‘Hot Mud’ is used to bed the spun fiber joint tape. I use FibaFuse tape. This first coat of chemical set compound make a good bond between the patch and the surrounding plaster.

For the next couple of finish coats I use standard premixed drywall compound. The reqular compound is easier to sand and feather out. Here I’ve got a couple fans to speed up the drying process.

So there you go – we’re off to make a new kitchen. We’ll see what we can cook up in this project. It will be done freestyle, with no real plans.

I can almost smell the bacon….

Working on the Old House #5 The Serendipity Edition

Sometime things go a little crooked – you start out with a plan and it just doesn’t work out. Other times – those rare times – something goes magically right. In my world of existence, this is an almost nonexistent occurrence – but even I get lucky once in awhile. Take this post for instance.

The windows in this old house are original – 1920’s – most painted shut and with cracked glass and some not even in their proper place.

These two windows are on the front of the porch – I knew at least these would have to be replaced to make the home presentable. So I popped out one to check for measurements to order some new replacements.

I took out the second one to double check measurements to make sure they were the same – I learned the hard way in the past that some are not. These were the same, but the numbers seemed vaguely familiar.

If you recall (of course you don’t – it was 2010) I was working on the MisAdventures house and was replacing all the windows in the house. These were in good shape, so I kept all of them to use in a future potting shed for my wife. So out to the garage I went to retrieve one.

I brought it over to the the Old House – and it fit. It didn’t kinda fit – it fit like it was measured and ordered kinda fit. So back to the garage I went to retrieve the rest – there were four more.

So in goes the second.

Some surfacer, caulk and new paint, and these look pretty good.

Then in goes the third window – then the fourth & fifth – all fit. now that’s serendipity!

A little reworking of the interior trim and the old windows are replaced with newer energy efficient windows that actually work.

Since I saved money on these five windows, I thought I’d replace the three front windows as well.

A little more work, some new trim stops and these will be a big improvement over the broken single pane originals.

Inside a little trim, a refresh coat of finish on the woodwork and a dusting of the original valance and the windows are presentable again. So the renovation Gods smiled on me this day – perhaps I’ll get lucky again – time will tell.

Working on Old House #4 Outside

Well, this is not the most interesting project that I have personally strapped on a tool-belt for, but it will get a little more interesting, I promise.

Let’s do a little work on the exterior before we get back inside to make some cabinets and other fun stuff.

So to start on the outside lets go inside and look at this.

This is a square sheet metal duct for the kitchen – it’s a big square duct running horizontally from the stove area to outside. A surface fan was used on the wall and it was quite the grease pit.

Inside it looked like this after I chucked the fan – it was a mess. So I cleaned it up the best I could and ran a 7″ round duct through the square duct.

As you saw previously in this photo after the new drywall was up in the kitchen. A 7″ duct is in place.

Now we finally go outside. Here is the original exhaust to the kitchen fan. You’d pull down a chain inside on the fan and the exterior flap would open and the fan would start.

So changing out the square flap to a 7″ round duct exhaust vent. I used some PVC trim to make the new vent fit the larger opening.

Now we turn our attention to the roof. Some shingles had blown off a couple years ago which resulted in some deck rot. Here’s the photo after I’ve replaced the decking and some fascia structure. I didn’t have process photos because I was busy working on this solo.

Of course, I couldn’t find the exact same shingles, but fairly close. So after a couple hours we have the roof back to repelling water, like all good roofs should do.

Now we set up some scaffold on the back of the house. It seems the bathroom fan was never properly vented out of the roof. The bath fan just vented into the unfinished attic – not to code – and certainly an invitation to mold.

So after drilling a 6″ hole in the roof and adding the proper vent, we’ll have a way to get the bathroom breathing as it should.

Inside I’ve added the vent and reducer – ready for the new bath fan duct – which will have to wait until I get to the bathroom makeover.

One last item on the exterior to-do list until spring is refreshing the original porch ceiling. It is tongue and groove pine with the original 1920’s finish – the light fixture is original too.

So after a cleaning and a couple coats of gel stain, the ceiling looks like new. And while I was there, I scrapped and prepared the wood box beams and added new paint. I’ll refresh the brick porch in the spring.

So there you are – nothing fancy, or that interesting, but things that needed to be done. Hopefully, the projects will get a little more eye-worthy in future projects. But there’s still plenty of tedious work to be done.

Stay safe.

Working on the Old House #3

So to be a little more timely in my posts – here’s another one. Nothing spectacular, but as I bring the old house up to a more livable condition before it is sold, I wanted to record the process so the new owner could review what was done to the old girl. And to show – no matter how hard I try – that I could never be a house flipper. I’ll make economical decisions, but I can’t in good conscience cover up any defects or cut corners. This post shows as close as I can come to being a ‘flipper’

This was a door on the side of the house. An odd place for a door entering into what is now a small bedroom. It at one time had a stair and railings. Not sure why, as it is a small one bathroom home. Perhaps a room rented out during WWII when there were a lot of workers in our city for massive military manufacturing. But whatever the reason, here it is hanging three feet in the air, so I’ve removed the door and we’ll close this wall up for everyone’s saftey.

We’ll start by framing in the opening with 2X6 studs that have been ripped down to match the original wood framing.

Since the home has original clapboard siding under the vinyl, we’ll add a layer of plywood over the wall studs to bring it up level to the siding underneath. .

Inside we’ll finish the framing and prep for insulation.

We’ll add some faced fiberglass insulation.

On the outside, we’ll pull off some of the vinyl siding. And add a little foam insulation to match the existing material.

Here is my economical choice. The siding is 20 years old and is sun faded. I pulled some of the siding off the back of the garage, as it was the closest match. Still very obvious, and I wanted to painting the whole house to get an even color, but I will tell you it has lightened up significantly since it was installed.

Inside, I’ve started to overlay the wall with 1/2″ drywall.

Then a little preliminary tape and compound.

And after a coat of primer the wall is ready for final finishing.

So as I mentioned above, no eye candy here. Just a little more progress – and we won’t have to worry about the door to nowhere anymore.