Plumbing and Electric and Ductwork – Oh My!

Redoing all the house’s systems

It has been awhile since I’ve written an update on the restoration of our Victorian home. The reason for the long absence is — we were waiting for tradesmen to finish their work. Now I can proudly say that we have all new systems roughed in the house, and inspections passed.

Cutting one of our 35 rolls

Yes, that’s right ALL NEW systems. A “temp pole” has occupied our front yard for a year while the whole house was re-wired. We found knob and tube, wiring from the ‘70s, and two rooms that were re-wired via an extension cord. Former owners had drilled a hole in the floor of a room, and ran an extension cord to an opposite wall, and viola – another outlet, in our family room.

In our bonus room, which used to be empty space above the kitchen until the 1980s , when a former owner created a whole new room, we found extension cords behind paneling supplying power to the far ends of the rectangular room. Both of these wiring short cuts present fire hazards, and would not have been found if we weren’t prying paneling off of walls and prepping for ductwork under the house. All wiring is now new, up to code, and passed our basic trades inspection.

One layer of 3 in ceiling

All new plumbing is installed now too.  A leaky roof in the back of the house and a few leaky pipes had led to rotten wood in the back of the house. And it had been rotten for years. The plumbing rough-in took 12 months and we went through three plumbers. It wasn’t as simple as replacing pipe, as we re-worked the master bathroom and added an additional bathroom with a shower downstairs. And we relocated our laundry room.

And finally, we had a heating and air specialist draw plans for the entire house, and then hired an excellent heating and air conditioning company to install new ductwork under the house. Prior to our ownership, the home had been heated by electric. Now it’s approved and ready for natural gas. The problem is, we cannot install our new units until our electrical systems are finalized.  But the inspector has passed our trades “rough in” and we’re ready for the next stage.

We have one working toilet and two working sinks – which makes our restoration labors at the house all day much easier! A utility sink in the laundry room and one in the bathroom – small but much appreciated conveniences.

Scott and I have spent the past five months adding insulation to the outer walls and to all ceilings and floors in the back of the house, while we waited for the tradesmen to finish. We started with 35 rolls of R-19 insulation, and now have four rolls left. Also we installed 120 foam insulation boards, and have about 10 left.  It was stacked in our dining room, and family room, and took nearly the entire space of both rooms to store it all.

Laying insulation has been the hardest work I’ve done on the house so far. It’s not just handling the pink fluffy stuff, — it’s the tiny bits of fiberglass imbedded, that grabs onto your shirt and pants, and itches my skin. So Scott and I wore two layers of clothes, then a protective microporous coverall that zips up the front over all our clothes, and gloves and filter masks over our mouths and protective eyewear.  It was stiflingly hot in the summer, even with fans going. We’d be dripping with perspiration, and itchy all over. It wasn’t so bad this Fall once the temperature dropped below 70.

During this phase, which seemed to last forever, I’d measure, cut and hand the long strips to Scott, who placed them three layers thick in the ceilings, one layer thick in the walls. We burned through a sawzaw, wore the motor completely down, and dulled several blades of a hand cutter. Several sets of clothes went straight to the trash. Even after laundering them, I would feel the sting of fiberglass itch when donning them again.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, we spent two days at the house and finally finished insulating our last wall. We swept, vacuumed, and mopped all floors, a three hour job! I forgot what color the kitchen floor was – it was covered in pink insulation strips, puffs and dust since winter. Since this was the measuring and cutting room for the insulation, several layers of that linoleum peeled up easily since it was used as a base for my slicing.

So the back of the house is all snug and insulated, ready for drywall. Even though “systems” aren’t sexy to write about, they are the core of our home. We’re rebuilding her from the inside out, effectively refashioning a “new” house while keeping all structural and decorative elements of the grand old 1911 home intact that we can.

Plaster Repair and More Layers

We are tackling two more rooms in the demolition of our home – the kitchen and the parlor. These are the last two rooms covered in paneling and wallpaper.  They are the last two that need unwrapped down to the bare plaster, and are projects we are under taking while waiting for our plumber to finish in our three bathrooms.

Scott affixes plaster screws on either side of a crack between fireplace and door in parlor.

We’ve pryed off a layer of paneling, which had wallpaper on top of it. Beautiful bare plaster walls are revealed. There are a few cracks, and long streaks of glue, which former owners used to bind the plaster to the walls. Scott has found some fabulous new tools to aid in fixing the plaster – drywall screws. We apply them on either side of the cracks, and they keep the plaster in place, like rows of railroad tracks along each offending crack.

So far we had applied 200 to the parlor alone – time for another order. We estimate we’ll need about 250 per room.

I apply an elastomeric patch on top of each nail hole, ding or divot in the wall to make a smooth surface and prepare it for primer. This parlor will be my office, and I already have bought several antique pieces for a blend of old and new in this grand room.

Kitchen surprises

I’ll have to say the kitchen was my least favorite room in the house. Cheap cabinets, laminate counters, and layers of curling linoleum floors cheapened this room. On top of that, three wallpaper patterns co-existed in the space, and the effect was disharmonious to say the least! Three walls had rich pine paneling, which was a 1970s addition.

We’ve torn out the cabinets, countertops and taken off the paneling to open up the room.

FIVE LAYERS of linoleum were stacked atop each other, and underneath it all we found – drumroll please – hardwood floors. Heart pine flooring, like the rest of the house. We have gained at least two inches of space by excavating out the linoleum. No appliances remain save an old island that housed a GE cooktop which we will donate or dispose of very soon.

This newly torn out kitchen is full of possibility, light and usable space – a blank slate! We plan to upfit it with modern amenities in the traditional style, in keeping with the house. Stay tuned!

Layers and Layers

While Scott and I have been waiting for our plumbing rough in to be finished in the house, we are tackling other projects in the house. One of these has been to take off paneling in rooms in order to bring it back to its original state. On most of our rooms, paneling have been covered with wallpaper.

Lots and lots of it.  Some of this is four layers deep!

Four types of wallpaper showing in this one room – an upper bedroom! Three layers were on paneling.

 

 

 

 

Revealing three layers deep of papers!
Wallpaper in the kitchen.
Another shot of it in our kitchen, on top of paneling.
Behind the teapot paper, was ‘70s era paper with French chefs and chickens and pots. Kinda cool!
I wish they hadn’t covered this one up!
We think this paper dates to the 1920s. Found in upstairs bedroom, underneath two layers of paneling and three other layers of wallpaper.
A cool border on top of the paper too … We’re saving a piece of this for future owners to have…
This also dates to the 1920s, or perhaps back to 1911. It was not in good shape. Also from upstairs bedroom.
This is paintable wallpaper. Former owners just lopped four colors of paint on it and left it. You can see the paneling boards underneath it.
This is in the front parlor and is not in bad shape. It’s the last bit of wallpaper still left in the house – yet to be taken off. It’s from the 1980s. But again, as in other rooms, it’s wallpaper over paneling and has to go.                                                                                                                                Now with the paneling stipped off and wallpaper in the dumpster, we can see the original form and feel of the house. I can even feel the house begin to breathe again.
Also from the parlor
Wallpaper on stairwell leading to attic, on paneling of course.

 

 

 

 

 

Preservation Zebulon Now an Official Non-Profit

Preservation Zebulon has been awarded is tax exempt status by the IRS. We are delighted to announce that PZ recently received its 501 (c) (3) designation!

Stay posted to see some exciting plans and updates for this Spring!

Preservation Zebulon advocates for the preservation and appreciation of historic districts, buildings, and landscapes that embody important elements of the history and culture of the Town of Zebulon, North Carolina and promotes their use and conservation for the education, pleasure, and enrichment of current and future generations of local, county, and state-wide residents and businesses.

A Bright Idea – Finding Antique Lighting

This past year we’ve been on the hunt for antique lighting for the Finch house. No original fixtures remained when we bought the house last year. The entire home was outfitted with brass 1970s era chandeliers and light fixtures from big box stores. None of it was right for this house.

This gasolier,  with Greek Key designs on its ball shades, will be in our dining room.

And once we took down the dropped ceilings, and opened them up to their 12 foot height, each main room needed large chandeliers.

So I’ve taken it as my personal charge to find gasoliers and chandeliers dating from 1900 to 1925, spanning both Victorian and early electric Art Deco eras. I’ve combed through antique stores, auction sites, Ebay and online retailers, and local vintage lighting stores to score some great finds.

This French gasolier chandelier came in the big box below.

A local artist also had some authentic lighting that she was tearing apart to use as pieces for her birdhouses and sculptures. She allowed me to purchase and trade them, knowing they would stay in Zebulon. (I had some old fixtures that were from 1930s and 1940s, not bad, but too late for the era for which I am restoring. We found a way to trade.)

Along the way I learned some rather expensive lessons.

Lesson 1 – while online auction sites provide lots of great fixtures from across the nation, the cost of shipping can be pretty high. This 1900 french gasolier chandelier cost $400 to ship and the box was nearly my own height! I had to unpack it in yard for it to fit into our Raleigh house.

Lesson 2 – We didn’t want to use old wiring and risk our antique fixtures being a fire hazard, so each piece we’ve bought has been rewired. Raleigh vintage store Lighting Inc has been great to work with and offers fair pricing. Most of my finds have gone there.

This copper 1920 era beauty will illuminate our upper hall.

Lesson 3 – Nearly all vintage pieces require work on their finish. Brass, bronze and copper finishes all need cleaning and touch ups. Some of the work we’ve been able to do ourselves and the rest has been done by Lighting Inc. which has all the dipping vats, steel wool and apparatus to restore the luster on each one.

Edison style bulbs and metal detail work enhance its beauty.

Lesson 4 – Buying a finished and fully restored piece is often worth the money. Once shipping, rewiring, and finishing work is done, the price for the sconce or chandelier ends up being very close to vintage lighting store pricing.

Silver glass sconces

Zebulon did not have electricity until 1916 and even then it was limited to a few hours each evening (4 to 10 p.m. in the winter, and 6 to 10 p.m. during the summer.) While we were doing work on our ceilings, we found old gas pipe lines, so we know that at least some rooms were lit by gasolier. So many of our fixtures are gasolier chandeliers fitted for electricity.

Finish repaired on right sconce.

None of these pieces are in the Zebulon house yet, as we still have work to do on ceilings and walls in every room.

They will be installed as a finishing step in each room, and add to our preservation efforts to bring this lovely home back to its original grandeur.

After a Year of Ownership, House Still Yields Secrets

 

Finding 2 more hidden windows and a door

Scott and I celebrated our one year anniversary of buying the John D Finch house by continuing our work on the original rooms in this house. We thought that after spending a year taking down plaster, ripping out rotten wood, and prying off paneling that we’d uncovered everything about this house. But no, this grand old lady still had a few surprises in store.

Scott removes furring strips that held a dropped ceiling. We now have 12 foot ceilings!
Scott removes furring strips that held a dropped ceiling. We now have 12 foot ceilings!

In the old dining room, which will become our living room once we move in, we removed several layers of paneling over drywall, which was installed over plaster. We found two – TWO — large three by seven foot windows, covered up by drywall. Owners in the 1980s installed a sliding glass door in the middle of the wall to access a swimming pool they had placed in the side yard. An old deck led to the pool through the glass doors. The deck was rickety and dangerous and we had a day laborer tear it down months ago. There’s a funny thing about the windows – Architect David Maurer had drawn two windows for that room, with one window serving as a door for that very same area.

A glass cabinet hid the original door to the kitchen, visible here.
A glass cabinet hid the original door to the kitchen, visible here.

And now we uncover windows

in the same location, like they had always meant to be there. They match two windows in a bedroom above them on the second floor.

Next we discovered that a “china cupboard” in the wall, with glass and doors too new to be vintage, was actually covering up the original wide door to the kitchen.  Our architect had drawn a door very close to this original one for our room renovation, and viola – here it is. Again, like it was meant to be this way. In reworking the rooms for a better traffic flow, we had restored it to its previous layout. I’m hearing the music from The Twilight Zone, is anyone else?

Two original windows appear behind paneling and sliding glass door, which were added in '80s.
Two original windows appear behind paneling and a sliding glass door, which were added in ’80s.

We also removed furring strips and ceiling tile to uncover the room’s original beadboard ceilings at 12 feet high. We found four small hooks at about 10 feet high – above the dropped ceiling tiles. We ponder if they were used to hang a picture rail around the room? The beadboard ceilings were painted green in the old dining room, and pink in the front parlor, which will become our new dining room. The extra height makes the rooms feel elegant to me.

On scaffolding, Scott cleans walls to prepare for repair of plaster in our living room.
On scaffolding, Scott cleans walls to prepare for repair of plaster in our living room.

I was happy to take down a 1980s era brass lantern that looks it came from a big box store. We have an elegant 1910 era light fixture that I bought at an antiques auction just waiting to take its place in the center of the living room. Alas, that will have to wait until everything else is done in the room. We apply a plaster bond to repair cracks in three of the walls, and let it dry. Painting will have to come another day.

Spraying the beadboard ceiling with cleaning mixture. This 106 year old ceiling is in great shape.
Spraying the beadboard ceiling with cleaning mixture. This 106 year old ceiling is in great shape.

 

Although the room is now stripped of its décor, mouldings, and fixtures, the large rooms look great to me – a blank slate with a touch of their former grandeur, just waiting to be finished and grand again.

Uncovering Beadboard Beauties

Beadboard peaks out beneath ceiling tile.
Beadboard peaks out beneath ceiling tile.

A new piece of equipment was recently purchased and brought into the Finch house – metal scaffolding. Assembled from a kit, this tool has enabled me, at five foot six inches tall, to work on 11 foot high ceilings upstairs and 12 foot ceilings in the entry hall.

Armed with a short crowbar, a hammer and a ventilator mask, Scott and I have taken down ceiling tile in two bedrooms, two halls and our upstairs bathroom. Clank, yank, drop is the sequence, and pillows of black coal dust fall along with the tile onto the floor. It’s a mess, and our faces and arms turn black with the inky dust. But it doesn’t take very long to reveal long, lovely beadboard ceilings that are original to the home.  The beadboard is in pretty good shape, and mostly intact. It does need to be cleaned and hammered back into place, and then painted.

Where did the coal dust come from? Two of the fireplaces were coal fed, and DSC_0118_5330along with the heat also arose the soot, settling into the boards and cracks of the ceiling, and nestling in long parallel strips atop the ceiling. I see these stripes of black soot atop the false ceiling tiles as each comes down, two long horizontal stripes on each one. It’s a strange pattern, but present on every tile! The Finch house is located two blocks from the railroad tracks, and with a railroad transporting coal, in a town heated with coal, the dust had settled everywhere. The old railroad depot station is long gone, but was just three blocks away.

The old tile removed from six inches to a foot of ceiling height, an adjustment considered an improvement to the home’s look in the seventies or eighties. The former owners who made these changes

Scott prepares to lay pipe in the crawlspace.
Scott prepares to lay pipe in the crawlspace.

probably believed the falsehood that shorter ceilings saved energy and made the home easier to heat. This was a common falsehood in the late 70s and 80s. White ceiling fans and big box store brass fixtures were added then also, and these are no longer adorning our rooms. We also took a crowbar to remove false mouldings which adjoined the dropped ceiling to the walls. We’ll add back Victorian era mouldings to adjoin the beadboard once we work on our walls.

 

In the upstairs bathroom, the 70s look prevailed as navy quilting fabric adorned the walls, and the bottom woodwork was painted navy blue. Underneath all this was a bright yellow ceiling (what happened to the beadboard in this room?) The yellow magnifies the sunlight streaming into the bedroom and makes it look like a light is on in the bathroom. Wooden country style mirror, light switches and towel bars are quickly taken down, the room regains some of its dignity.

DSC_0119_5331All that’s left now in the room is a large cast iron bathtub and a large hole in the floor where the toilet once sat.

Daniel removes staples and nails left after quilting wall covering is removed in bathroom.
Daniel removes staples and nails left after quilting wall covering is removed in bathroom.

 

Small portions of the hall upstairs and downstairs needs to be finished once we figure out a revised scaffolding method. A 10 foot section of upstairs hallway lies above our stairs, with a 24 foot drop to the bottom floor and beyond the metal scaffold’s reach. I’m not afraid of heights, but this task seems a bit daunting to me for now.

Once we’ve finished the ceilings in most of the upstairs rooms, stripped off ceiling tile and mouldings, I can almost hear the house settle in and breathe again. The rooms seem larger, brighter, less confined. Did the house just thank me or did I image it?

In the Trenches

Tom helped level each trench before installing French drains.
Tom helped level each trench before installing French drains.

Two months ago, we said goodbye to most of the grass on our front lawn, and hired a professional with a trencher to dig multiple trench. Each channel had to be deep enough to pass plumbing and sewer regulations and running at a ¼ inch slope per foot toward the street hookup.

Over the course of two months we installed Plumbing, sewer, electrical and

Scott prepares to install pipe.
Scott prepares to install pipe.

French drain pipes around the front and side of the house, opting to do most of the work ourselves. Scott crawled under the house to connect pipes, punch holes through curtain wall, and hang piping in crawl space. A professional plumber connected to the main pipe at the street, and we are hoping to have running water in a bathroom very soon.

We’ve paid visits to service stations and fast food restaurants in the vicinity multiple times each work day to use their facilities and will be greatly relieved (excuse the pun) to have a working bathroom again.

We hired a professional to dig the trenches, then had to come out again to keep debris out and make them level and even. One Saturday in May, I climbed into the trench to cut tree roots and bush

Scott takes a break from installing pipe in front of the house.

branches out and the dirt rose to my upper thigh. Cars buzzing along the side street often slowed to stare, and several drivers waved. A truckload of gravel was delivered, and we used that along the bottom of the French drain trenches, laid pipe with holes on the bottom, covered it with a landscape fabric, and back filled each trench with the dirt again. A messy job but we saved money in doing it ourselves.DSC_0114_5202_edited-1

 

Framing has been a slow process since we expanded the back room and added a gabled roof over the bedroom to match the ones on three sides of our home. Architect David Maurer drew the expanded plans to make the back addition look like it was always there and to fit in the historical look and feel of the entire house.DSC_0113_5201_edited-1

Our framing and sub-roofing is nearly done. Our next step to is hire a roofer to create a standing seam roof with the new angles on it to assist with water flow. No more flat roof on the back, and no more roof leaks either!

Paint on a metal roof

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Debris from two trees and multiple shrubs line the side street after they were cut down last Saturday .
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Our metal roof was painted with elastomeric paint from Acrymax.
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Each roofing tile is stamped with an “X.”
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Our back area is now framed in – just waiting for roof framing.

One of the distinguishing features of our 1911 home is a metal roof with X stamped shingles. After getting quotes from roofers and historic home experts, we hired painters to coat the original part of our home with elastomeric paint from Acrymax.

This product is designed to expand and contract, and will bridge hairline cracks in the coating. It’s based on a Acrymax roofing paint system for historic roof renovations, and Rory, our representative has been in touch with us every few weeks to check on our progress and make sure the team applies it properly. He’s gone above and beyond the call of duty and we’re thankful.
Because we planned this in the winter, and bought the paint in December, it took our local paint crew several months to finish the job. Ice, snow and lots of rain brought delays and it took the crew several days to prep the roof and install primer. A lift we rented sat stuck in mud for nearly a week in January rains. The crew ended up using ladders to reach each area, instead of the lift.
But the red roof brightens up the house, and Acrymax guarantees its product for 10 years. The paint crew was clearly glad to have the job done and over – so many peaks and gables led to a longer job than they had planned for.
We plan to install standing seam roofs in back of the house where a former roof failed, in the section we tore out. And we plan to replace the current standing seam roof over the porch – in a future project.

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Scott confers with our framing contractors, the Davis brothers, on the architect’s drawings.

Our back room framing has begun, and went up quickly. This space will hold our master bedroom, closets, laundry room, pantry, and a new small bathroom. The room framing went up in two days. It has been fun to watch travelers along Whitley streets slow down and comment on it as they pass our home. Several have stopped to ask about our plans and shout their approval.

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Matthew Davis works on back house framing.

Over the next two weeks the back roof will be framed in too. Then we can have our standing seam roof installed, and I won’t have to use the turkey pans and buckets to catch all the drips in our master bathroom, which is only covered by a tarp right now.

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Scott and the Davis brothers check on ceiling supports and how to shore up the flooring of the second floor bathroom, which is now sagging.
Laborers cut down two trees that were blocking the house view.
Laborers cut down two trees that were blocking the house view.

We hired two local laborers to take down our trees and overgrown bushes at the front and side of the house. They came with a chain saw and cleared it out within a few hours. It has been fun to watch our home rise from the jungle of overgrown bushes and undergrowth. Our wrap around porch is no longer hidden!

Infrastructure and Insulation

March 13 –
It’s been a few months since I’ve written about our progress on this blog site, and several friends have asked to share an update. This winter we’ve been continuing demolition work and it feels good to have old rotted wood torn out. The thing is, nothing is replaced yet.

This area, once a back porch and then a laundry room, will be our master bedroom.
This area, once a back porch and then a laundry room, will be our master bedroom.

In December, we hired some great workers to tear out the laundry room since the roof had failed in several places and soaked the floors and walls. This room had originally been a porch that was covered and made into a laundry room in mid-century. But the asphalt roof had given way and once we began uncovering the mess, we found rotted wood and mold.
Another room adjacent to the laundry room had an even bigger leak. It used to be an open courtyard with a well in the center. Later it got covered with a roof and was an entry room with a back door and with a wood burning stove raised on a brick flooring inset. Huge leaks left that room a total mess, and former owners no longer entered through that door.

In demolishing both rooms, our work team found that a six foot portion of our foundation was nonexistent, and work came to a halt. The building inspector was called, and we learned we’d have to dig out a new trench, put in cement, cinderblock and rebar supports, and rebuild the foundation there. Since we hadn’t planned on this, we decided to expand the back room, and called our architect Davidn Maurer for updated plans. He drew a lovely master suite with a cathedral ceiling and gabled roof to match the front and side gables of our home. We loved it. After getting approval from the town of Zebulon, we hired a masonry crew who finished the foundation job in a week.

We've expanded the room and foundation is now complete. Green clapboard will be back wall of master bedroom.
We’ve expanded the room and foundation is now complete. Green clapboard will be back wall of master bedroom.

In the back area, while demolishing steps and a small back porch leading to the back door, we found a lovely and intact set of earlier steps inside the home’s footprint. We also found the round cap from the well. We have filled up five dumpsters with construction trash, and are on our sixth. We had planned only for two!
While on site, the masonry crew rebuilt

Masons rebuilt our front entry brick pillars.
Masons rebuilt our front entry brick pillars.

our front entrance brick pilings along the steps, and removed the rusted iron bars on the front port railings. They are such small changes but a big improvement to the look of the house! A round cement patch remains where each railing used to attach to our brick pillars, and we will fix that later when we build our balustrades for the front porch.

 

Masons removed rusty iron bars on front porch.
Masons removed rusty iron bars on front porch.

In October, all of the venting from the HVAC system was removed from our crawl space while we were remediating the mold problem caused by the leaking roof. So this winter, the only heat in the house has been from electric heaters that we’ve brought in. With the roof off over the back three rooms of the house, and just a thin sheet of wood holding back the great outdoors, it’s been cold inside.

Foil turkey roasting pans catch water from the open roof in the master bathroom.
Foil turkey roasting pans catch water from the open roof in the master bathroom.

We also removed most of the plumbing piping in October, since we needed to re-fit both bathrooms and to add a third half bath. I turned on the water from the city of Raleigh in late October, and pay our $57 each month for “services” even though there is no running water yet. But there is no worry about freezing pipes this winter either!
Framing on the back rooms will start on Monday, and once that’s up, we will have a new standing seam roof installed- hopefully in late April. The old master bathroom has seen its shower, sinks and toilet torn out, but now has no roof and is only protected from the elements by a tarp. And we’ve had a lot of rain this winter. We’ve placed five large turkey roasting pans under the open roof area, and empty them frequently. We’ll have to wait until the new roof is on to determine if the floors and ceiling will dry out enough to save them. A former owner had torn out a third of the beadboard ceiling and several floor boards were rotten and needed replacing when we took ownership in September. So we hope we may feather in new boards and that we can keep the rest of the heart of pine flooring in that room.

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10 18 15_4127 In October Scott purchased a truckload of three types of insulation for our attic, and we deconstructed the attic down to its studs. We’ve spent the past four months cutting fiberboard, gluing down foil, and laying these between the rafters three boards deep. Foam core has filled any gaps and holes. I’ve been to the big box stores and bought 40 cans of Great Stuff Gaps and Cracks filler, and we’ve used 30 cans so far. Our labor team who started this job for us got busy with other client work, so now we are finishing the job ourselves on weekends. Scott wants to have this finished attic insulated to R52 level. To explain, most house walls are R11, so the attic will be nearly 5 times the insulation effectiveness. (That’s his Engineer Talk to me, but it means that it will be warm and save on our energy bill.)

DSC_0156_0894Our old work clothes – old jeans and shirts that only get worn for the Finch House projects – are full of stains and dried on foam – which doesn’t come off even after washing. And it’s into the shower after these work days – the insulation itches our skin! Even with wearing safety glasses and an air mask, the fine particle dust of this cut insulation finds its way into my nose and ears, and looks and tastes gritty!
The downside of this insulation work is that the 110 “Foam boards” fill our entire parlor and the 29 rolls of two different kinds of fiberglass insulation fill the entire dining room. There’s room to walk around the perimeter, but nothing else. We need to finish the attic so I can get these rooms back and begin working on them! Any extra insulation that’s left from the attic project will go into the back three rooms while we rebuild them. Today I counted 39 boards left – and we started with 110. But they still tower over my head in the room.

DSC_0157_0895So infrastructure – we have no back roof, no plumbing, no heating. We do have electricity, and that was put into the house in 1920, 1950, and 1970. We will rip it out and have the whole house re-wired at some future point, perhaps this summer. Wires are naked and dangling from the attic, the front hallway, and an arc of flame shot across the kitchen during the summer’s due diligence period before we bought it. The power goes off in the attic if we run both electric heaters and a circular saw, forcing us to run down to reset the fuse box.
So… the house looks pretty bad right now. I can’t wait for the framing to start this coming week and for us to turn the corner into getting this back section rebuilt.