The Temporary Wall

Welcome back!  Today we built a wall.  Um.  Let me rephrase.  Today, Hubs put together a couple 2x10s and stuck them up on super awesome columns and scrapped 2x4s and Ta-Da!  Presto chango, a new "wall".  Ok, so I have to describe to you what I had EXPECTED Hubs to build, before I show you what he DID build.  Cuz, ya know, a WALL should look like a WALL.  Top plate, bottom plate, 2x4s (or 2x6s for this, maybe?).
You know.  Like this!  (Which is no longer standing, BTW.)

But noooooooooooo.  Remember this room?
And remember all this?

Yeah.  So we need a new wall.  So Hubs went and laid this out on the floor:
You can see here, he's screwed 2 2x10s together, and the jack(s) will hold  it all up.
Wait, aren't we missing all the 2x4s????

So we laid it all out and Hubs actually spent enough time and TALKED to me about what he planned, exactly HOW I was supposed to help, and what the final product should look like.  Those short pieces of wood were going under the base of the jacks, and Hubs penciled in on the floor and the joists and the new lumber where everything should go and line up.  I was ready to go, so Hubs lifted it up, and I got the first jack in, no problem.  I got the second one in, too, but then as I was twisting it up to snug it up, the whole beam fell off the first one and Hubs had to lower the whole thing.  Enter some scrap 2x4s, a speed square, some talk about angles and bracing, Hubs' miter saw, and more lost looks from me than anyone should have to endure in one day.  More explaining, more lifting (which actually was NOT all that bad - putting up ceiling drywall is WAY harder!), and voila!  New wall!


I'm Easily Amused

My entertainment for the day yesterday was first waiting for, then watching The Dumpster Exchange.  Like, really, I think I need a life.
He dumped the empty one, drove around a bit trying to get the appropriate angle for retrieving the full one, picked it up, opened the door of the new one for me, and drove off.  No. Big. Deal.  So WHY did I take over 30 pictures???
Almost touch-down!

Hooking up the full one.

Look at how that heavy sucker's digging in!
And here I was hoping to get those front wheels off the ground - even just a TEENY tiny bit?  ...No luck. :(
Cover it all.

Keep covering....

And cinch it down tight!
And then he drove away, pulling his horn entirely for Lil C's benefit.  She squealed in delight. Oh yeah, but check THESE out!  I'm SO leaving this for Hubs to see!!
The full one dug in as he raised it!

My shoe for size comparison....

And lastly, the weight.  The truck driver guessed (based on how it felt going up onto the rails) 3-4 tons.  Hubs had guessed it to be in the range of 4 to 5 tons.  And they just called me to let me know the final number, based on the scales at the dump - 3.45 tons.  Driver called it. 


Drywall Dust

Good morning!  Hubs and I had an interesting conversation last night and I thought you all might like to be caught up about it.  Here is your fair warning - this post is a bunch of rambling and whining, but it's supposed to be an explanation of our marital dynamic and my pretty-well-irrational fear of construction dust.

Hubs' Number One priority right now is getting the southeast wall rebuilt and termite-proofed and structurally sound again (remember the crumbling sill plates?).  His Number Two priority is rewiring The. Entire. House.  This is for lots of reasons, but the main one is safety.  He has found uncountable instances of unsafe wire abandonment and junctions - and we've only seen the basement so far!  He's VERY worried about what is behind all the rest of these walls.

Enter the conversation where I literally broke down in uncontrollable tears about seven times.  Why?  One word.  Dust.  Yeah - I can't explain it either.  When Hubs and I bought this house, he swore up and down that he'd take things slowly and not ever go any faster than I was comfortable with, and he wouldn't bite off more than HE could chew.  On the flip side, I was to TELL HIM when I was getting overly anxious about the process, and I'm expected to help him every (or most) step of the way.  And we're both holding up our ends of the deal quite nicely so far!

Yesterday, with a full dumpster awaiting removal and a basement still full of drywall chunks, I took the breathing opportunity to actually do the laundry, wash dishes, and .... well no.  I never DID get around to vacuuming.  Or mopping.  Or actually CLEANING anything.  But MOST of the basement mess is contained within the basement.  Except the tracks that I keep tracking up.  From the laundry.  From the deep freezer. From every time I go down there!  And I kept trying to not let it bother me, but in the end, during the conversation, everything came back down to the DUST and my imagination of not where it CURRENTLY is, but where it COULD be once we tear into the main level.

The biggest problem I felt in Charleston (last time we did this whole renovating thing - in a 1000 sqft ranch house with a baby from 4 months till she was 16 months) was that the dust just got absolutely everywhere, on everything.  Tracked everywhere.  And nothing was ever clean.  And I'm a rather neatfreak.  I actually can't point to a single furniture piece that we brought out of that house.  Okay, the glass TV stand, the desk that Lil C uses, and our expensive foam mattress that I refused to wait until post-renovation to buy.  That's it, though.  The couch was trashed, the kitchen table was trashed, and a lot of our furniture was "college-grade" anyway. We sold most of it on Craigslist before we moved.  So I pretty much got depressed and never wanted to be home and shrugged off the whole mess as "Hubs' problem".  Which helped our marriage IMMENSELY, as I'm sure you can imagine.  *smirk*

But not having any furniture, and moving into an apartment, and finally getting out of that horrible house that we both had awful memories of (despite it's beautiful finish), I went WAY overboard and spent money on beautiful furniture that immediately filled up our tiny new living space (960 sqft).  And Hubs shrugged, figuring he'd made a horrible mistake in our marriage and if I had decided that a maintenance-free apartment and some furniture would make me happy, so be it.  And then he left for seven months on a deployment and left me with my big beautiful furniture and my spotless apartment and our two year old daughter.  And when he got back, we were both ready to get over all the past mistakes and just move forward in our life together, to make a fresh start when we moved from CT to NH.

And when we moved here, even though it would be infinitely more difficult for him, and take seventeen thousand times longer, Hubs promised to take things one room/area at a time - starting with clearing out all of our belongings and ending with paint and trim on the walls, furniture moved back in, and EVERYTHING working properly.  One room at a time.  But Hubs now keeps gently bringing up that it would be easiest and fastest and safest and truly the least inconvenience on my daily life if we just took down ALL the exterior drywall at once, and I'm getting to be okay with the idea.  Except I've never seen him do anything but demolish a wall to rubble pieces.  And I watch drywall chunks fall to the ground and we step over them and around them and in them and we coat the soles of our shoes in drywall dust while we're clearing out the big chunks.  And we track it everywhere, cuz, I know I don't talk about her a whole lot, but we DO have a daughter, and she needs food, and juice, and the TV channel changed, and toys retrieved from high shelves, and kisses on her boo-boos, and just to plain be acknowledged once or twice during an 8-hour Saturday work marathon.  And once the dust is in the carpet (which is white, so you can't actually SEE the tracks), I'm afraid that my vacuum cleaner actually DOESN'T get it out.  Not that I really have any way to know.  And the carpet IS coming out eventually - yay for hardwood floors - but WHEN is "eventually", anyway?  This summer?  Next summer?

So Hubs took the time to explain methods to me - how he never HAS bothered to keep areas clean, but since I had already burst into tears about three times by this point, it IS possible, if I help him set up the "containment" areas.  And I told him I was willing to do that, if he was willing to actually help ME clean up at the end of each work session.

Because, while I had originally thought that perhaps looking at studs and joists and plywood floors would bother me to no end, I now realize that as long as those things are CLEAN, I don't think I will mind them.  Rather, what literally reduces me to tears at the very thought, is living with some old drywall and some studs and some new drywall, and the constant process of moving our belongings from room to room, and dust getting into E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.  So I have decided that as long as Hubs and I work really hard to keep the demolition dust down, and we actually DO remove most of the drywall things NOW, in one fell swoop, that I won't be nearly as bothered by the rest of the renovation process.  Until we get to mudding the new drywall - MORE DUST!!!  But at this point, it sounds like the time between demolition and mud-sanding is going to be over six months apart.  So we'll rip out the old drywall like a bandaid, then I'll move most everything back and resume a normal life around Hubs redoing the electrical, and the insulation, and screwing in the new drywall.  And then he'll be leaving us and taking a job somewhere else in the country, so he'll be pretty unavailable except holidays and long weekends to be doing the actual taping, mudding, and sanding (we're talking, like, summer-to-winter of 2012).

And while I won't be SUPER happy during that point, I won't be having nervous breakdowns from drywall dust, either.  Amen.



Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you all had a great Easter - we sure did!  Well, in between all the other work we did!

First, we'll start with another few rounds of I Can't Make This Crap Up:
Look at how each of these studs has a support block on it.  Look closer.  Notice how Every. Single. Stud. has been cut about 18" off the ground?  Yeah, about 80% of the basement walls have been like this:

Hubs and I were baffled for a LONG time over this one, and finally the only thing he could come up with was maybe they had replaced the sill plate at one time.  After a few minutes of looking around, I found this:

Yup.  Replaced the sill plate.  WHY?????
We don't ask "why" anymore.  We just shake our heads, add "fix that" to our mental list, and move on.

This is one of 3 support columns holding up our entire house.  3 joists, sized 2x10, are sandwiched together to support the entire midline of the house.  Sweet.  But um.  Why are there holes in this support....
And no BOLTS holding it TO the joists?????  *sigh*
 Yeah.  All 3 supports are Not Attached.  All we can figure is that with the entire weight of the house resting on these babies, the builders thought it wasn't really necessary.  I mean, they ARE solid and all, but... but.... if the equipment you're using has a PLACE to put 30-cent bolts, don't you think it's worth the peace of mind to spend the extra 4 bucks and 15 minutes and do it RIGHT????

Hubs has already pulled the drywall off this wall.  We haven't added a single splinter of lumber to this basement - we're too busy ripping it all out!  So.  Yeah, look again.  From the outside in and bottom up, that's: concrete, studs, drywall, then MORE wood, then copper piping (part of our radiant floorboards).  So apparently someone didn't think he had to rip out ALL the drywall before re-finishing the basement.  Smooth, huh?

And lastly, we have the ultimate *facepalm* situation:
Are you KIDDING me??????
To my stepdad looking at this - I hear your groans from 2500 miles away.  Yes, yes they did this.  To everyone else going "What am I looking at....?" - this is another one of those un-bolted supports, holding up those 3 midline joists.  What is SO super dangerous about this photo is that ALL THOSE WIRES are DIRECTLY underneath the drywall around those studs.  What if someone had nailed a small photo, clock, shelf, 6" cross, cute sign or other knick-knack into that drywall and the nail hit ANY of those wires?  (I'll give you a hint: it starts with "el-" and ends with "-ectrocution".)  And this appears to be the wiring hub for the entire house - wires come from the electrical panel (over my right shoulder as I took the above photo), to this midline, then run the entire width of the house and up between the appropriate joists.  And just to add an extra little jab in there - I didn't get a picture of it, but the back side of this midline has the same setup going on with the newest set of rewiring.

Oh, "Newest set?" you're asking me?  Yes.  Yes, it is apparent that our house has up to THREE SETS of wiring in it.  And because the original set was done properly - nearly to today's code - when someone rewired with black wiring, they abandoned the original stuff in place.  Cuz...it's HARD to pull stuff that's properly stapled every 18" inside the drywall.  So then the black stuff was abandoned in place and replaced with some white wiring that didn't have a single staple anywhere on it, I believe.  Seriously.  I mean, I'm sure it's rather difficult to staple wiring to lumber when there's drywall over it. I get that.  But it's supposed to at LEAST be stapled right above the switch, outlet, etc to the stud that's right there.

Anyway, all of this talk of wiring leads right into  my next photo.  Hubs decided that exposing and removing the dead wires was a logical next step, considering we have NO more room in that huge dumpster.  (I CAN'T remove anything else from the house for fear they'll charge us for overfilling the dumpster.  And, well, we NEED another one anyway.  So we kind of took a weekend off from dumpster-filling.)  So, he focused on growing THIS pile, instead:
All the dead-in-wall wiring that Hubs pulled out. 
But....remember how I showed you all those mostly-clean pictures I had last time?  Weren't they pretty?  Forget them.  Hubs gained access to all those wires by doing this:

And this.
And more of this.
And all of THAT resulted in this:

WHY do I keep trying to clean it up????
Oh, that's right - I do it to keep Lil C and the dog entertained!
She helped bring this WHOLE PILE out Easter morning.  And it tired her out SO much, she couldn't even stay awake for the photo op.
Waiting on the pick-up crew.
I called this morning - they'll be here Tuesday to take this one away and leave a bright shiny empty one!  So we can start this all over again!  Yay.


Progress & More Leaks


My apologies for missing yesterday - my computer REFUSED to play nicely with my camera card. And, really, what's a blog post without pictures??  So here's what we've done:
I started with a nice clean corner.  
Then Hubs ripped it out.  And the ceiling.
Which turned into this.
And then we cleaned it up to this.  And by "we", I totally mean "ME".
 Notice the stairs in the above photo.  That's the tippy tip of the basement stairs.
And speaking of the bottom of the stairs....
This is the wall at the bottom of the stairs, in front of them (north wall).  Check out how, top to bottom, we see drywall, studs and insulation, and then.... the concrete wall??  Wait, what?  The studs don't go all the way to to the ground!!  FAIL.   (No, that's not cuz Hubs ripped it out before I could take a pic.  That's how it was.)

Anyway, moving on...
The view while sitting on the stairs now, looking into the basement!
If you look closely, toward the very bottom of the picture, you can see where the studs were anchored into the concrete.  So that's where another wall used to be.  Now we can start moving everything to this north concrete wall area and start in on fixing The Termite Wall (in the southeast corner).

And, lastly:
Remember this?
And this?
Well, as soon as we could take showers again:
I found more of this. :(
So we went back upstairs to look at the wet wall (the wall that has all the plumbing for the shower in it):

And I graciously allowed Hubs to break our 1-floor-at-a-time rule so he could turn this:
Yeah, he totally busted out that tile before I could even get the camera!
Into this:

So we could see this:
BTW, that's not our towel.  It was IN THE WALL.  I can't make this sh*t up....
Then Hubs went around the wall and took off the tub spout, and determined that the problem was the overflow faceplate.  In the above photo, that's the back of that pipe with the towel.  On the photo below, that's the silver plate that we all see in our tubs.
Yeah, we're short 1 tub spout in this pic...
Ours isn't very pretty.  But behind it was way worse:
But, clean it all off, realign it all, throw in a still-open wall, and a dash of awareness, and we're not TOO worried.
Hubs refuses to pose.  It's action shots or nothin'.
Another progress report tomorrow or Sunday (as Hubs works on Easter, anyway) on the basement and how we managed to completely fill the dumpster!