October 25, 2016

Tears for Fears

**This post has been updated with additional pictures.

Tears and fears is what I experienced tonight, and not the band.  I had to get into a dusty, dirty, cobwebby, spider infested crawlspace.  We are replacing the boiler system with central air, and all of the existing piping needs to be removed so that there is room to run the ductwork.

The crawlspace is tight.  Like 12" - 18" tight.  Unfortunately, all of this work has caused me to shed a few lbs., so I can actually squeeze into the space.  I would much prefer if I had the excuse that I couldn't fit.  I'll update this post with some picks of the basement a crawlspace, but all I have right now is what it looked like when I got out.

Just in case any spider, mouse or other critter decided to get close, I had my shirt tucked in, my carhart jacket on, respirator, goggles, and my hood tied tight.  The worst thing that happened was that the first pipe I cut dumped a bunch of water on my new flashlight - that bulb died instantly.

Fortunately, I had a head light that my Aunt Vicki had just gotten me.  It was perfect for the job.  After I got done I decided to walk over to my neighbors and introduce myself like this. No one came to the door, and I don't know why. 

Stay tuned for basement pictures.

. . . . . .

I was back in the crawlspace again tonight.  There are two.  I thought that I was going in the worst one first, but I was mistaken.  There were fewer pipes to remove, and fewer cobwebs, but much less room. Like, I couldn't get to the end of the house to get the pipes all the way removed, because I couldn't fit.  Also, the dirt was really damp, so I got pretty wet.  I'm not positive, but I think that I found a fireplace foundation, and a well head underneath crawlspace #2.  Unfortunately, I could get close enough to verify.

This was crawlspace #2. Yes, I fit in there.

Notice the white pipe. I went so far in that my feet passed that, but I still never made it to the end.

Crawlspace #1. I'm not sure why I thought that this was worse than the other one.

The first night in the basement Vanessa stayed to grab pipes that I was cutting, and to be on guard in case I got stuck.  Tonight it was CJ and I.  He was a huge help.  As you can see, in order to do this properly, one must have a pant leg higher than the other.

The pipe carnage.  This was about 1/3 of the total piping that we removed from the basement.


October 24, 2016

Making every moment count

A lot has been going on at the house.  We are still working on demo.  Vanessa has some great before and after pictures on her blog.  You can view them by clicking here. This past weekend we got a significant amount of work done, and I'll be doing a post on that soon.  After a week of vacation, I am back to work and have only been able to get to the farm in the evenings and weekends.  It took a little bite of time to make that adjustment, but we are back in gear now. 

One of the most difficult parts of this stage in the game is that I don't get to see the kids or Vanessa much.  One of the goals of this whole project and experience is to really enjoy the moments and not take them for granted.  I was reminded just how precious time is this past weekend, when I learned that a younger cousin had passed away due to injuries sustained in a car accident.  Life is too important, and too short to let it fly by.  So this post highlights a couple of those special moments that have taken place in the midst of the busyness of life and this project.   

The kids came to visit me with a meal, and played on the hammock most of the time.  They paused long enough to pretend to be asleep for a picture. 

From the hammock we walked to the pond to look at the fish. No one fell in.

My daughter, Capri, had a birthday recently.  I took a break from the house project to spend the morning with her, and then took her to lunch.  She wanted rice, which she decided to eat with her hands.  It was her birthday, and Vanessa wasn't there, so utensil optional was just fine.

Capri had been telling us for weeks that it was going to be her purple birthday.  She wore her dress with the purple sash all day, and her Aunts all accommodated by wearing purple to her party.  In this picture she was really excited about getting a set of purple clothes.

I did manage to sneak in a little bit of work back at the shop.  I got the face glued on the refrigerator cabinet by using bar clamps and a few pocket screws. It was good to get back into the shop after doing demolition for so long.  I'm definitely ready to turn the corner and start putting it all back together again.

Until next time.

October 17, 2016

Demo, Demo, and More Demo

Some days it seems like we will never get to the end of the demo so that we can begin putting everything back together again.  I waited for a day with very little wind, so that I could burn the remains of the garage.  That was fun.  You can check out a video of it here.  I burnt the grass within a 20 foot radius of the pile, but other than that, it was a pretty uneventful fire.  It was so hot that even hours later I couldn't get within 10 feet without feeling like my face was getting scorched.

I decided that the same morning of the fire, I would jackhammer up the cement pad in the garage.  It has been over a decade since I used one of those things, and it's been a fairly sedentary decade.  They say that pain is weakness leaving the body.  That jackhammer must have shaken loose all of my weakness and caused it to try to leave my body all at once.  It wasn't the shaking that was the issue. It was having to hoist that thing back up every time it broke through.  It was like doing curls with an 65 lb. dumbbell for 6 hours straight.

I did some more demo on the wall had been damaged by a leak.  The damage was more extensive than I thought.  I found some nifty looking mushrooms growing in the wall. One is pictured here. I am pretty sure that isn't ideal.

We've had a tremendous amount of help from family, and we are extremely grateful for it! We managed to catch a couple of them in the act.

Grandma and Aunt Vicki helped us clean up some of the mess. They also brought Subway, which really hit the spot.  I had to work hard to keep up with grandma once she got there.  Don't let the shovel, broom, and silver hair fool you, she actually helped carry the built in cabinets that I removed (pictured below). 

Dad has been a huge help.  I'm not sure how he does it either. He worked 3rd shift, and then came to out house for 1st . . . and 2nd shift.  I couldn't survive on that little sleep.

We've done some pretty significant demolition on the inside of the house. I'll do another post (or perhaps Vanessa will do one) with some before and after photos.  There's still a lot to do, and I'm about 10 days behind where I thought I would be, because I worked an extra week, and I wasn't planning on being the one to take down the garage or remove the cement pad. I'm still taking every moment in, and enjoying all of the unplanned events. 

We haven't quite complete finished a single area, and that's tough for me, because I like to get things totally done and off of my list.  We visited the Fin Farm, to get everything we need to get the pond rehabilitated.  That was great fun, and Vanessa covered it in a post titled Trip to the Fin Farm, Meeting a Frog, and Our First Murder.  We only have about 100 feet of weeds to pull from around the pond, and then I can spray it, and we can check one thing off the list as totally done.  That will feel good.

Stay tuned until next time!

October 16, 2016

It's a jungle out here

I've learned from the neighbors that once the house was foreclosed, of the 5.1 acre lot, HUD contracted a lawn service to mow exactly 1 acre.  So the grass on the remaining 4.1 acres was pretty out of control.  There were some weeds that were as tall as I was, which is pretty impressive, considering I'm a strapping 5' 9".  I managed to wreck my weed wacker within the first 15 minutes of trying to cut some of the brush down. 

 The girls enjoyed the long grass.

This provided a great opportunity, and excuse, to get a serious man's tool . . . a Stihl (I'm told it's pronounced steel). I received some awesome recommendations from my friend Jason at Black Swamp Equipment, and by later that day, I was chopping down weeds like it was butter and a hot knife.  My son wanted to try it out too, so I gave him a safety lesson, and let him go.  I was hoping he'd just do it all for me, but it only lasted about 15 seconds and then he was done.

We had a tremendous amount of help.  We never would have gotten the work done without my brother, Justin, and his sweet Kubota Tractor, or my brother-in-law, Seth, and his zero-turn mower. My mom and dad, sisters, Chelsea, and Anna, and Aunt Vicki all joined in the "fun."

And here is the completed project.  We've  still got a few weeds to pull around the pond, but the yard is mowed.  It took a total of two days to get it all done.  There were so many grass clippings, we used a hay rake to scoop them into rows.  Seth is able to use it for the mini horse they have.

This all happened last weekend.  It's already time to mow again. Hopefully, it won't take as long this time! I am going to need to buy a lawnmower for next year, and I'd love to buy something that can double as a snow blower.  What I want is a tractor like my brother's, but this house renovation is taking most of my resources to be able to make a purchase like that.  If you have any recommendations or ideas for multipurpose lawnmowers, please post them in the comments below.


October 12, 2016

Epic Demo Day

Demolition is so much fun. I actually may be sad once demo stops and it's time to put all of the pieces back together again.  There is so much to tear, break, smash, etc. that I should be busy for a while.  Today the demo was the garage. Yeah, we aren't messing around with any little kitchen cabinets, or drywall - that's for amateurs. We are talking about disconnecting an attached garage, and bringing that sucker to the ground!  It was an adrenaline rush like no other . . . I may not sleep tonight!

Garage Front                       Garage Back
This is the front of the garage. I had already begun to knock out the old wooden siding. I used a sledgehammer to knock it out from the inside, and was able to salvage most of it.  I'm not sure what we will do with it. The kids came along to watch, and were really excited to see it all come down.  It makes it a bit easier to smash stuff when you've got a crowd of little cheerleaders jumping up and down saying "so cool! Dad, you're amazing!" I've raised them well.

 Before knocking the structure down, I wanted to salvage the slate roof.  The roof on the house has some tiles that need repaired/replaced, and rather than try to find ones that matched and purchase them, I am reusing.  Tools needed: hammer, flat bar. Optional accessories that make the job go better: testosterone, a working back.

I had my little helpers today. They caught the tiles as they slide down the roof, stacked them, and then helped me get them off the roof and store them.  We homeschool the kids, so we can do things that are totally safe for little kids, like this. Editor's note - the children in this photo were never in danger, and reported having the best day of their lives.  These kiddos woke up early to get their school work done so that they could come with me.  I literally could not have done what I did today without them.
They managed to have some fun not working as well.

The next part involved cutting the awning that connects the garage and the kitchen, the breezeway roof, removing a couple of old doors, disconnecting the electrical, and removing a garage door.  Tools needed: Circular saw, sledge hammer, impact driver, crescent wrench, steel rods for the garage door, current tester to make sure the power is off, and a reciprocating saw.  Non-optional additional stuff: a brother-in-law with the tools you don't have, a truck, and a ridiculously heavy chain.

The garage really didn't want to fall.  We smashed out most of the studs with a sledge, and then hooked up the truck to the top.  The first place we anchored significantly tipped the garage, but then pulled free. So we decided to try the other side.
Pulling free of the main house

We gave it a good pull on the right side, and then re-centered the chains, and gave a yank and BOOM. Down it came.  To watch that epic moment, click here. We promptly celebrated with cheeseburgers and wings from the Okolona Tavern. I don't know if it was the best food I've ever eaten because it really was that good, or because of the awesomeness I had just witnessed. Either way, I'm going back there again, and I'm going to demo more stuff.

Stay tuned for more adventures.

October 7, 2016

Unwelcome House Guests

My last post mentioned some of the mold issues we had in the house.  I had a remediation specialist check things out, and apparently it isn't that serious, is really just surface stuff, and an easy to buy biocide will kill it all. I am using Microban.  It just arrived today, and I'm actually pretty excited to use it . . . which I admit is a little odd.

In addition to killing the existing mold, I also learned that the relative humidity needs to be below 60% in order to prevent new mold growth.  I bought this dehumidifier from Lowe's and installed it in the basement. It had a digital readout that says what the current humidity levels are. When I first started it up, it read 88%.  So I let it run, left the house and came back the next day and the bucket was full of water, and the humidity had barely changed.  Fortunately the dehumidifier had a place to put a hose, and a built in pump to get the water out. I hooked it up, found a floor drain, ensure it was working properly, and left.

I returned two days later, hoping to find a dry basement.  I should preface this with a confession. I hate old basements and crawlspaces, I think they are creepy. Even more than I hate old basements, I hate centipedes, big spiders, and cobwebs, which old basements seem to be filled with.  So I cringe every time I go into the basement.  I took a deep breath, tried to ignore about a half dozen of the biggest wolf spiders I've ever seen, and walked down the basement stairs, only to find the hose laying two feet away from the floor drain, and water all over the floor. 

As I was trying to figure out what could have happened, since no one had been at the house, something scampered across the room under a set of shelves. I nearly jumped out of my skin, but I didn't literally jump, because then my head would have hit the cobwebs and perhaps a spider or two.  As I caught my breath, I realized that there must have been something living in the floor drain, and I disturbed them when began dumping water on them with the dehumidifier. I put the hose back in the drain, set the drain cover on the hose to hold it in, and got out of that place as quickly as I could.  I knew what I was dealing with, and would catch the culprit another day. 

So we returned today and there he was, just sitting beside the drain, waiting to get back to his home.

He has a new home now - out in the back yard.  Hopefully he is the largest thing that I ever encounter down there.  I did feel a little bit silly for being startled by a toad.  I don't feel silly about begin creeped out by the spiders.

Tune in next time for more true confessions with Chris.  It would be super fun if you could leave a comment with something that creeps you out.


October 6, 2016

Let the Demo begin

Tonight was a night off to rest, relax, and prepare for knocking out the demolition. We actually started on some of the demo a couple of days ago.  The house had developed a roof leak, which wasn't a problem for most of the year, since it really didn't rain.  Once it started raining, we had a vibrant mold farm in the area by our basement. It is also an old basement with stone walls, and so there is plenty of mold to go around down there anyway.


This whole area was pretty spectacular if you like mold.  The smell was not that great. 

This closet in the main living room actually extended onto the basement stairway. As you can see, the whole area was nice and moldy.

Some of the wall studs were so soaked that water squeezed out when I pried against them with my hammer. 

If you want to see pics of the demo in action, and after pics, you'll have to check out Vanessa's blog here.

That's all for tonight. Thanks for stopping by. Stay Classy.