Taisleword Keeping in touch

90% of the time—Day 212 (April 30)

A good friend of ours who has done much remodeling to his house told us recently, They say it takes 10% of the time to do 90% of the work, and the other 90% of the time to finish the last 10%. Aint that true!

We are still not completely inspection-ready; just a couple steps shy. Unfortunately, on April 9 my brother had an accident on another job site, close to his home. He injured his right wrist badly enough to need surgery, among other things. That has put a little different time-frame on things getting done here. Mike and I have managed to make some progress, however, and thankfully the Tim-essential parts leading up to inspection are behind us. Whats still left for him to do can wait until he is fully recovered. And thankfully he can also still talk so he is available to give us guidance and advice on this end.

Just the week before the accident, Tim had constructed this amazing railing in his home workshop, so he had his son finish up the details and sent it up with his wife, Marian, to us (at our yard sale at my parents house) on the 12th. Here it is in place, but with no support except the snug fit up against the ceiling. It fit so nicely and snugly that we left it there. A few days later we found it laying on its side hanging out into the stairwell and I recalled hearing a sound like something tumbling a couple days earlier. It turns out the railing expands and contracts quite a bit with the weather and had loosened up its grip on the ceiling, toppling onto its side:

FYI/PSA: If you ever decide to do an addition and in the middle of it your parents decide to downsize and sell their house, this is what you might be living with for a while, too:

But on the flip side, here is one of the treasures from my parents place that fits just perfectly—a hutch that my dad built that always stood in our kitchen:

Now back to the details, details, details. Remember the wall Tim was going to build in the old attic stairwell so that we dont have to install another wired-in smoke alarm just to cap a little later when we close off the stairs? Well Mike and I arent carpenters, but we didnt do too bad a job. My other brother Fred suggested we change it from a straight wall into something that provided a little more storage up top, so heres the result:

Studs going in and measurements being taken for the back vertical wall of our new closet-stairs space:

I ended up making cardboard patterns in order to cut the plywood since none of the existing angles are 90°. Simply measuring distances wasnt going to do it. Here you see the cardboard pattern in place for what will be the ceiling of the new closet and the resulting shelf for more attic storage above:

The top board is in place (I have my boots on because it is still COLD in New England and we were doing all the cutting outside):

And here is Mike screwing the vertical wall in place. (See the new shelf created by the closet ceiling?) Overall, this is going to be an interesting space to figure out how best to use. If I were a kid still, Id make a nest in this spot. Hmmm I told Mike if he cant find me someday to come look here. Its like a ball pit, except youd have to watch your head, and ankles, and other things, if you tried to jump in:

and the new view from down at the bottom of the same stairs. (Mike reasoned that we are more likely to get around to painting the inside of the closet than the attic side, so we put the nicer wood sides up there to start. See previous picture):

Next we moved on to installing the railing that Tim so nicely put together. Following what he thought needed to happen to get it solid, we did finally succeed in putting up the corner post, which involved many approaches, drillings, re-drillings, broken screws, etc. before it finally held firmly and straight in its spot:

This is a railing which was designed to be removed in the event we want to move something big up or down the stairs. Given how much the wood seems to expand and contract, Im glad we dont plan to move this thing every day! Barrel bolts are now in place, but its also wedged in pretty tightly on its own.

AND.. finally to the detail of the old smoke alarm in the attic. Whenever anyone says JUST do (anything), be careful. Nothing can just be done. ;-) Capping an old smoke alarm box seems like an easy enough thing until you realize it involves drilling two new holes then detaching, re-routing and re-attaching the wires, which ALL involves turning off the electricity to all the hard-wired alarms in the house. The other day Mike threw the circuit breaker in the basement and made it all the way to the attic to start working just to have every alarm in the house go off. The only solution to this was apparently to put the power back on. He promptly did, and that was that. This stalled us a little while we contacted our electrician friend and the nice lady at Kidde who told me that happens sometimes when theres a sudden change in the power. Of course, yesterday when we screwed up our courage to try again, nothing happened, so the box has now been re-routed. I know this is a rather anti-climactic picture to end on for today, but hopefully youre learning something from our experience heh, heh. We sure are!

Getting Physical—Day 186 (April 4)

I got up Friday morning and just couldnt imagine painting trim again. But the idea of getting those tools out of the family room was indeed motivational. On top of that, Mikes mom was headed to the Cape so if we were going to talk furniture placement in the studio, this was the day!

So, after all the tools were in boxes and off the makeshift sawhorse/ply table, the plywood and horse just had to go

Mopped the floor, moved the sofa, unrolled the rug. Now, doesnt this look better?

If Helens stopping by this afternoon, youd better get upstairs. In order to move the rug youve got to vacuum the attic stairs and floor first! The rug was going from the attic to the floor immediately below. When we took it up to the attic the framing was still open and we didnt have to deal with corners, so the 12 cardboard tube inside the rug was not an issue.

After vacuuming, un-wrapping the rug, unrolling and rolling to release the tube, the rug and I had our bonding moment(s) slithering over the lip of the stairwell and down around the stairs. (Forgot to take a picture of this part.) And the result: Victory! But what about that pile of boxes and furniture sitting in the studio?

If you move one square of those little slider puzzles at a time, you will eventually get everything where it needs to be. After all, you dont have to pick them all up at one time. Just move one thing at a time (the rug is now at the far right end of the studio, in case you are wondering)

Of course the rug was rolled up outside-out so you can see the color, etc. Unrolling a 12 x 16 piece of indoor-outdoor carpet in a 12 x 15 foot room so that the bottom of the carpet is against the floor is a strategical experience

But its done!

Mikes mom arrived around 3:00 and we had a good time talking about the furniture possibilities for our new space. Heres some of the furniture she brought with her for her stained glass work area

And, as of this morning, this is was the family room is looking like. Now Mike gets to wrap his mind (and lots of labels) around all those wires. Better him than me, thats for sure! Oh, yes, the ceiling fan/light. We got it from another freecycler. Havent decided its future yet, but the price was right and it works. Bring on the warm, balmy breezes.

One more specific inspection to go—the final electrical, then the final final. There are only a couple more significant things to get done before then: the attic security railing and the draft wall in the old attic stairs so that we dont need to run wire for a brand new smoke alarm at the bottom of the stairs that will only be used temporarily. Ill report on them, then well see what happens to the blog. Im thinking one final tour after things are really wrapped up might be nice. But once again, thats then; this is now. Cheers!

Bring it on—Day 184 (April 2)

Ready for a boat-load of pictures?

3/24 Tim came back and none too soon! He re-worked the sump pump drain pipe from a flexible black hose, going across the basement and out a window plugged with towels, to something permanent. We spent a lot of thought time on exactly where to drain the sump since it seemed like everywhere on the addition side of the house was just going to either send it back in toward the foundation or empty it onto the sidewalk not pleasant for walkers during 3 seasons and downright dangerous in the 4th. I didnt know it would work to send it clear across the basement ceiling and out the same hole it was going out before! The only problem with this system is that since the tubes are strapped to the floor joists, the noise is very audible upstairs. We hope that suspending the tubes with hangers will resolve this.

Nevertheless, during this last weekends storm, which deposited about 3 of rain in our area, we got what weve needed since the foundation was finished—the settling of the fill around the house so that we can adequately re-grade next month. Unfortunately, this meant some water seepage in the new basement and the water running so fast from under the foundation into the sump that it sounded like a babbling brook in our basement (and it still does this morning after a full day of dry sunny weather). But were thankful that its all happening before the contractor is done with the final grade. Now to shop for gutters

3/25 am The 1st floor laminate floor going in

2:22 pm Mikes mom and I shopped for track lighting for the studio and when we got back she stopped to see the progress. Thats pretty good progress! (If the railing looks a little off, its because the lower balusters arent fixed in place yet.)

3/26 am The track lighting is up in the studio. Now to figure out the bulbs. The new LEDs are great, but some of them arent fully developed technology-wise and make the light fixtures buzz like old flourescents. Fortunately, we found some good daylight LEDs that are completely silent and Philips is giving me my money back on the buzz-kill bulbs.

The baseboards and railing are now completely installed. Time for some caulk, another light coat of paint and some stain.

3/26 afternoon The old exposed roof in the attic has a new coat of plywood. This will be the base for some shelving and storage for camping gear.

If this makes any sense to you and you care, here is the design for the shelves. The top drawing is drawn from the perspective of the photo you just looked at. The landing referred to is the one half way up/down the stairs, but it is the same view. The bottom drawing is drawn as if youre standing in the hallway on your way to the old attic, looking at the same shelves, but from the side.

3/28 Were starting to think about things other than caulk and paint. The whole way through this process the timing has been just what it needs to be. Mike just got a super deal on an electric drum kit. He took it straight to the attic. I can hear it in the kitchen, but it sounds like tap-tap-tapping. ;-)

4/1 Thanks to good friends and relatives with trucks and muscles, we now have our new sleep sofa. Mike owned this sofa before we met, sold it to his mother when his living arrangement wouldnt fit it, received it back from his mother when we moved into our house, gave it to his mother when she moved into her condo (we re-arranged and couldnt keep it) and now we have it back! Its probably 26 or 27 years old, so thanks also to a freecycler nearby we now also have a slipcover for it. Welcome home, old buddy!

The table you can just see on the right is my parents old dining room table, handed down to them by my Aunt Lelia and her husband Henry when my parents married. Its funny to me that my parents always referred to that table as that old thing and my dad, when I told him we now had it in the addition, remarked, I hope you have it covered up with something, and he wasnt concerned about its well-being, either. To me, it was always a beautiful dining table. Ah, seeing through a childs eyes.

The rug folded up on top of the table is a 6 x 9 hand-braided wool rug, one of the last made by an elderly relative of ours in Maine many years ago. My parents commissioned four rugs from her at the time, one for each of us kids. Seems like a LONG time ago I was thinking, someday that will be mine, and someday was a long ways off.

Something old, something new doesnt just apply to weddings.

Have a great day! Well see what the next post brings. The next big progress I hope to make is getting the rug down in the studio and starting to move furniture in there. Some of Mikes moms stuff is already here, and waiting. But of course the attic floor has to be cleaned before we can unroll the rug enough to get the tube out of the middle so it will fold to go down the stairs. Did I say once I like puzzles?

Details, details—Day 175 (Mar 24)

One thing about painting: if youre painting things white they dont look much different after the priming coat is done. But I do have a few things to share which do look different, or at least show some progress (which is the reallly important thing, right?)

Getting ready for Tims return involved at least trying to get all the walls and trim painted so the floor could go in without having to paint afterward. We didnt quite make it but were close. At least the walls are done and one coat of paint is on the window frames. And the baseboards are fully painted, ready to be installed after the floor

Something else we wanted to get done was the polyurethane on the landing and stairs so that we wont stain the wood when staining the bannister and ballisters

Brian, the plumber we are so thankful for, returned twice over the weekend to do the final plumbing installations in the powder room: the toilet and the faucet. So cool! (I guess I really should remove the tape from the floor now, huh?)

Sunday we took a break from caulking and painting to get the flooring up from the basement into the 1st floor where it can acclimate for a couple days before installation, and we cleaned up cardboard and all the other supplies, ready for Tims arrival Sunday evening

While Mike was touching up the edges of the green clapboards, Matthias remarked that the block of clapboards was just, well, so big and blocklike

So now I have a story to tell you before the next picture. When I was in high school, my home town decided to tear down my old elementary school building and rebuild. We, along with many other townspeople, went and scavenged. I brought home a sash from one of the big old classroom windows and stored it at my parents house. When they moved to New England in 1991, they brought it with them and in 1996 when Mike and I bought our house, I finally relieved them of this relic. I knew eventually I would do something with it, but the time wasnt quite right, yet  Several years ago we remodeled our bathroom and took a large mirror off the wall. What to do with that. Wait, its just about the size of that window sash! Amazingly, it fit perfectly behind the empty window panes of the sash, and since that time it hung on the wall at the bottom of the stairs the wall that is now a door. So, I moved it upstairs to be a part of my studio and stored it in the closet up there. But you know how Ive been talking about this clapboard wall looking like the outside entrance to a house? Well, wouldnt it be nice to have a window beside the door? Voila! You love it, dont you. -)

That was the work we did last night after Tim arrived, then we had blueberry pie and went to bed.

Today there has been lots of detail work being attended to, some of which is

A back deck outside the slider so that we can pass inspection,

Handrails into the attic (the inspection thing again), caps on the half walls and the start of a plywood layer on the old roof since the wood underneath the tar paper is pretty punky,

And finally, coffee and cake on the back porch in the beautiful March 33° afternoon sun.

I promise more photos soon. Some really transformative work coming up the next 48 hours or so. Ill be back.


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