Saturday, May 2, 2009

Items Found

Amongst these items there were two 45 records. One was a steel master the other was vinyl. It seems that the prior owner was a ventriloquist in the USO. He traveled from state to state via train. He recorded this record. Side A was his act with the dummy. Side B was a letter to his wife. It was kind of creepy listening to the voice of a man who once owned this house.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Life Lesson #2

Friends and family members had warned us of hidden problems that might appear when all the walls have been torn away to the bear studs. Load bearing walls, chimneys, asbestos....What we did not take in account was how much it was really going to cost to make these adjustments. I understand that there is no way of knowing what wall may be load bearing or that the front porch is pulling away from the house until after the demolition. We did expect some situations but not that many.

There were three situations of load bearing walls. Between the kitchen and pantry room, extending the bedroom and reinforcing the roof above the front porch. They were minor problems but it was still added cost. Our major problem was the front porch. We wanted to extend the living room area into the front porch. In order for that to happen an 11 foot microlam beam had to be installed to replace the wall that was holding up the house. Later it was discovered that the front porch was pulling away from the house. Upon further investigation the architect had noticed that there were four inch notches cut out across the 2x6 studs flooring for the plumbing to the radiators that were installed at a later date. A new foundation and sub floor had to be installed. Other complications were an outside wall had to be replaced, new ceiling with 2x6 rafters and old insulation containing asbestos. That's a whole other life lesson...

All in all I am glad that these unsafe situations were corrected unfortunately I'm paying for it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Slats and Plaster

I googled the art of slats and plaster and this is what I found. Plaster and lath was the method craftsmen used in the early 1900s and before that to construct interior walls. Plaster was mixed by hand and spread over the lath--wooden oak slats nailed close together that held the plaster in place. Old houses were all constructed this way. Master craftsmen working on old houses used plaster and lath to construct all interior walls. Plaster walls were smooth and silky, and when cured were paintable. Plasterers were skilled craftsmen who worked long hours perfecting interior walls. Plaster and lath walls took 30 days to cure, although craftsmen advised waiting a period of a year before painting. For this reason, many homeowners chose to wallpaper their walls so as not to ruin the plaster work by painting too early.

Plastering involved placing three layers on top of the other. The first coat stuck to the oak strips and was called scratch coat, which was troweled carefully into the lath to form a bond. The second coat was called brown coat, then a finish coat was applied thickly and pressed firmly to form a half-inch wall of silky-smooth lime plaster.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Stain Glass

This was the window that was in the old bathroom. I kept it but do not know what I will do with it. I just could not throw it away. It probably has a story.


Main Entry: 2gut
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): gut·ted; gut·ting
Date: 14th century

1 a: eviscerate b: to extract all the essential passages or portions from
2 a: to destroy the inside of {fire gutted the building} b: to destroy the essential power or effectiveness of {inflation gutting the economy}

Backdoor in Kitchen

Kitchen without wall

Kitchen sink

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Floor Plans

Demolition begins. By removing all of the slats and plaster it uncovers some of the original layout of the house. I drew up 3 plans each showing the original layout, when we moved in and the current floorplan.


The house we moved into

The current renovation

Friday, April 10, 2009

Life Lesson #1

When we first decided to begin the renovation I had told my wife that my knowledge of construction was limited. I only knew what I had seen my father did but never applied it. We called some contractors to give us a quote. The first one asked us for a floor plan. I guess that would have been the first place to start. So we called up an architect to draw up some plans. We discussed what we wanted and the architect came back with ideas that would be better to sell the house. Big master bed room and lots of closets. After the third time he finally drew up what we wanted.

What I had learned is that it is better to included everything on the floor plan. Where the switches are located, wall sconces, under cabinet lighting, all the details. That way the contractors can give you a more accurate bid and not be able to throw in any extras.


Every house has some sort of history. What I have established from the house that we moved into was that a gentleman who had built the house in 1928 lived in it until 1934. It was sold to a couple who pretty much raised a family in it close to over fifty years. When speaking with people who grew up here and asked where I live, the house is still referred to as the last name of that family.

I know most of the kids on the street refer to my house as the Halloween house but I guess we have to live here 40 more years until it can aquire my last name.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I grew up with my two older brothers and younger sister in a small town in upstate NY. My mother was an amazing cook and my father drove truck during the week and worked on renovating his 130 year old house on the weekends. My brothers and I would help my father with the demolition which I thought was fun. My father was very handy and had this creepy tool shed in the back of the garage where he was always sawing and building stuff. I was only in the 4th grade but I wish I paid a little more attention and asked more questions.