Archive for August, 2011

Demolition Part III

Now that the windows were installed and the exterior all sealed up again I dove head first into the project I’ve been wanting to do for some time now. Tear out the cesspool of allergens that covers our entire master bedroom…aka the carpet. We bought the house from a crazy lady who didn’t really believe in cleaning and liked white carpet. Not a good combination! Even after the professional carpet cleaners came though there were stains still in every room. The master bedroom was the worst though. The story is her dog developed cancer in his nostrils and was sneezing blood everywhere. It was sad but at the same time kind of annoying since the stains weren’t there when we put an offer in on the house and we never got money any money to replace the carpet. Everything happened between our offer being accepted and the closing.


We made the best of it by cutting out strands of carpet, spot bleaching, and putting furniture over the worst areas. From far away it didn’t look too bad:


It was just a temporary fix though. Carpet in the bedroom isn’t a good idea with my allergies which are the worst at night. I’m allergic to dust mites, cats, some kinds of mold, and now dogs (don’t worry we’d never getting rid of Sophie!). So we’re changing to hardwood flooring in the bedrooms and hallway. I tackled the carpet removal first thing in the morning so Flannel Man woke up to see this:

Sophie’s new favorite thing is to chew on wood scraps. She’s really loving demo. Crazy dog.


Under the hallway carpet I was surprised to find this strange pressure sensor for the old security system. So glad that we discontinued that old relic of a system that was always going off accidentally.


At this point we could see the underlayment was a 3/4″ layer of particle board with a 1/2″ layer of plywood subfloor underneath. We needed to remove both layers in the bathroom areas so the plumbing could be rerouted but we weren’t sure if we were going to tear up the master bedroom floor or just take down some of the basement ceiling below to reroute ductwork. Now knowing the underlayment was particle board instead of plywood we decided to take up the floor so we could upgrade to plywood. So Flannel Man, Papa Flannel, and I spend some quality time with cat’s paws and hammers removing every nail in the two layers of flooring.


With the second dumpster rental coming due we also tore out as much of the main bathroom as we could while still keeping it useable.


You can’t be very shy when using this bathroom that’s open to well everything. But having a bathroom on the main floor for an extra week was priceless. Who knew we’d be so sad to see this ugly harvest gold bathroom go?!


The drywall on this wall had to come down too so we could move the outlet that would have been behind the tub.


Squeezing every last bit of debris we can into the dumpster.


Open Concept Is In Right?

Step one was done. The chimney and two fireplaces were gone after a long sweaty weekend of removing 15 tons of block, brick, & rubble. With a new 20 yard dumpster delivered it was on to step two of the demo. Flannel Man & Papa Flannel had a week off to start the demo off right. First the long wall between the master bedroom and the living room was removed.

That was our master bedroom and closet.

Next up the master bath demo.

If you leaned just right you could see the TV in the living room from the master bathroom toilet. Talk about open concept!

A view of the future master bath which will extend all the way to the left wall.

With the fireplace removed we’ll be able to expand the closet. The master bedroom will be smaller but the closet will be bigger. With a built-in storage system I think it will work out just fine.

Day 4 complete.

When we tore out the fireplaces we found that there were no joist hangers used in this important area. We added them to every joist we could reach. Of course the angled floor joist hangers cost 3 times as much as the straight ones and cost $100 just for this small area!

Raising a floor joist to restore the correct alignment.

This area of the living room will be the future master bedroom and closet.

No more big hole to fall through!

Removing the last little bit of the basement fireplace.

End of Day 5. The concrete block stacked in the corner we saved.

Day 6 was for window reframing! Hmpf this is the only decent picture Flannel Man took all day. But trust me there were temporary walls built to support the trusses as the exterior load bearing walls were reframed.

Here’s what I saw when I came home that night. Previously the bedroom window with one of the new bedroom windows on the left and the new bathroom window on the right.

The previous living room window with the second bedroom window on the right.

The future master bathroom windows. The slider is staying roughly the same size so no framing needed to be changed.

No wonder we would find bugs in this corner of our bedroom! There was a huge woodpecker hole complete with stick nest in the wall. When the second owners resided it 10 years ago they didn’t seal up the hole. It kept the birds out but still allowed determined bugs in.

Patching up the old window locations.

We are planning on residing the house in the future so we want to be able to remove the new windows without tearing out drywall. To do this we removed the interior frame and used the pre-drilled holes instead of using the metal clips.

Master bedroom windows.

For the master bath we went with fiberglass windows purely because condensation is an issue when you mix humidity + cold winters even with ventilation. My parents have mold issues on their wood windows because of repeated condensation. Running around every day wiping off the condensation gets old fast!

Re-hanging the siding. Luckily we had some left over siding pieces that were left from the previous owner. We were able to reuse almost every piece.

For the wood windows (Marvin Ultimate) we upgraded to a chunky exterior trim and sill. It’s made out of extruded aluminum and comes already attached to the windows. The cost was comparable to cellular PVC trim like Azek but it won’t become brittle when exposed to cold weather or sunlight like PVC. Plus we didn’t need to worry about waterproofing issues!

The only problem was that the fiberglass Integrity windows don’t have an exterior trim option so we needed to copy the design with some PVC trim. We don’t expect these windows or trim to last as long as the Ulitmates with aluminum trim but we’d rather deal with replacing them in 10 years or so instead of dealing with the condensation every winter.

We didn’t want to delay putting the siding back up so Flannel Man and I spent the night running back and forth between Menard’s and Home Depot to find the closest sized trim. To match the angle on the top of the sill we screwed some composite shims between two pieces of trim and then ran the piece through a table saw to square it up. After some notching to fit around the nailing fins I hung out of the window holding the trim in place while Flannel Man screwed it in.

On the right is the Marvin Ultimate window with the aluminum trim and on the left is the Marvin Ingrety with the PVC trim we made to match. I think we did a pretty good job matching the other windows! Don’t you think?

The 15 Ton Workout

We started demo two weekends ago. I’ve been holding out on you guys but you’ll understand why I’ve been so busy…and please excuse the crummy pictures because my DSLR is still being fixed so all we have is a little point and shoot.

I couldn’t be more excited to start the demo after patiently waiting 3 years for this day! We wanted to do this project ever since we bought the house but we decided to spend our time and money on getting the “guts” of the house working properly first. We started the morning on the roof so we would spend minimal time on the roof before the heat of the day both for comfort and limiting damage to the shingles by walking on them when they are hot. First Flannel Man & I smashed everything down to below the roof line so we could patch the roof up right away.


Then Papa Flannel stopped by just in time to help patch the roof but he had to leave right after that.


Back down to the first floor or what we like to call the main floor.


Then we tore off the paneling covering the main fireplace. At first glance I was thinking “OMG look at all of the space we’re gaining and it’s all going to our master closet!” and then I was more like “Holy cow look at all of those concrete blocks!” There were way more concrete blocks than either of us had anticipated…putting us way over the weight limit for the dumpster rental. But it was too late to stop now!


Undoubtly, it wasn’t the best time of year to do this kind of manual labor but Flannel Man & I wanted to wait until after the shooting season had ended. It was well worth it too because Flannel Man had one of his best shooting seasons ever! He won two matches this year, took second at the State Championships (he lost by 1 point out of 800), and we won the State Championships team match. I managed to take home a few trophies of my own and came in fourth at the State Championships despite having only practiced a few times this year.

The weather was near record high temperatures and humidity levels that week with the heat index hovering right around 100 degrees. We had to take frequent breaks to keep from overheating. I’m not sure I’ve every sweat so much in a 48 hour period! It was early afternoon by the time Flannel Man got up into the attic and well over 100 degrees up there. The plan was to smash everything in the chimney small enough to drop the rubble down the flue because the attic access was a long distance from the chimney. With the concrete blocks coming out in solid pieces though they didn’t fit down the flue so we had to cut a hole in the ceiling. Then Flannel Man passed me one block at a time through the opening.


It was messy, dirty work but the blocks weren’t too hard to knock out. Moving them was the tough part. We piled all of the blocks and large pieces of flue on the floor, carried two at a time down a flight of stairs to a wheelbarrow, wheelbarrowed the blocks up into the dumpster, and then picked them up one last time to toss them farther into the dumpster. The rubble we scooped into trash cans which we could only fill 1/3 full or even the two of us couldn’t lift them.


And this is why I stood back behind another wall while Flannel Man was knocking the blocks out. When a 35 lb solid concrete block comes falling through the ceiling you’re just glad no one got hurt.


At the end of the first day we got the chimney below the roof and the attic but we were a bit disappointed in our slow progress.


The second day we woke up early and attached the demo with new ambition. In no time we were down to the firebox where we found the infamous exposed 2×4 which made the fireplace inoperable.


When removed the heat resistant blocks from the floor we found a poured concrete slab! Dang why did the masons have to do such a good job building this thing?!


After breaking off as much as we could of the flues from the main floor we went to the basement and started chipping away at the brick façade. I’ve always hated that shiny red brick with a passion. Glossy fire engine red with painted white grout? Really?! The bricks quickly became a mess because they shattered into a million pieces when you hit them with a sledge hammer so we chiseled them out one by one to save on clean up. For some reason we could only find one face mask so I was doing my best impression of a patriotic burglar.


No demo in our house would be complete without finding mouse skeletons and evidence they were there. On the main level we found a nice big mouse nest made of dried leaves, insulation, and fur on backside of the heat resistant block where it angles forward at the top of the firebox. All of that dry debris could have been a fire hazard. In the basement fireplace we found another nest and lots of stored nuts on the backside of the brick facade.


At the end of day two we were still between the two floors thanks to all of these interior walls of the chimney.


Dumping rubble down the flue into the trash can below proved to be a good idea though a lot of missed the trash can.


The next day I had to go back to work but Flannel Man had enough vacation time to take off all week to work on demo. Finally he started to see a light at the end of the tunnel when he could start to see the firebox below. Notice he also found another exposed 2×4 in the same spot of the basement chimney! It was not only blackened with soot it appeared to have caught on fire at least once. Luckily, the fireplace had never been heavily used or it could have been a real problem. We’re so glad to be rid of these fire hazards!


And it all comes tumbling down!


Sophie checks out the progress at the end of day three.


Our 20 yard dumpster was only supposed to be filled half way in order for them to be able to pick it up. When it was all said and done we were a little over that mark so we just crossed our fingers and hoped they’d be able to lift that much. Thankfully they were able to lift the heavy dumpster and we found out later that it weighed 15 tons! With just the two of us we carried the majority of that down a flight of stairs 70 pounds at a time in some pretty horrid weather. Now that’s one heck of a workout!


To make the load a little lighter we saved the nicest blocks and knocked the mortar off. We saved over 150 concrete blocks and 40 heat resistant blocks (not all pictured). Now we just need to find some people who what these…


The angle iron and metal damper that were in the fireplace Flannel Man was able to recycle at work in the metal scrap pile.

Look at all the square feet we’ve gained in just 3 days!

This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
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