Tuesday, July 28, 2009


You may be wondering how this picture relates to our house...

Today we went over to the old house to collect more of our belongings. Turns out we have another 2-3 car loads, due to some larger objects (filing cabinet, hamper, etc.) that we had left. In any event, we dutiful loaded the car and drove back over to our house. By the time we had unloaded, we didn't feel like going back for loads 2 and 3, but ice cream sounded really good. Enter above picture -- it's actually a picture of the Sonic Drive-In at the end of our street about 5 minutes ago.

Sonic Blast beats loading the car every time.

At least we had a good time. Lindsay and I split an M&M Sonic Blast, and we danced to the sweet swing music. Good times were had by all. (Victory is still close at hand. Fear not. We got like ... 2 days left!)

PS Some house news -- I listed and sold the old gas range today on Craigslist, so I consider that a win. I also listed a refrigerator and the aluminum awning we took down. For the super bored:

Fridge, Awning, and Stove.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Appliances and Leftovers

So we are getting closer and closer to victory. (Victory = all of our stuff in the house!) In case you missed the memo, we ended up replacing our gas stove with a flat-top electric stove, my wife's favorite. Her parents pitched in most of the cost, which we ended up getting quite a deal on. Here's the link:


We used a price match + 10% from Best Buy, who had it on sale, plus an additional 10% coupon from USPS Address Change package, so it ended up being $326.

There are two caveats -- 1) The gas pipe behind the old stove is too high (11" from the ground) to clear the stove. So the stove is about 3 inches out from the wall. This is on my todo list, but I don't have time right now. 2) Our house is turning into a bit of an appliance warehouse. All together, we now have: 2 refrigerators (1 installed), 1 dishwasher, 3 ranges (1 installed), 2 washers (both "installed"), and 2 dryers (both installed, electric doesn't have power...yet). See the pictures.

Every old house usually comes with some leftovers from the previous owners. In our case, we let the previous owner leave anything/everything she wanted to, because we might gain some diamonds in the rough. We ended up getting quite a few "nice" things (a relatively new dehumidifier, for example) in the haul. Here are some pictures of my favorites -- a patio set, complete with hippy umbrella (the inside is a crazy floral pattern), and a cool little stool. I don't know why I like the stool so much, but I do.

Finally, my most recent project: fixing the stairs. As the house settled, the stairs leading to the basement had fallen off of their perch. Some wood had been nailed onto the backside of the stairs, and I had shim'd it when we moved in to make it level, but this was only a temporary fix. Tonight, I cut a 4x4 to fit the angle of the stairs (45°, of course), wedged the wood in place, and screwed in some 3 1/2" gold screws. I was going to use some Liquid Nails on the 4x4 as well, but it seemed like a bit of overkill and I've only got 1 cartridge left -- I've got other plans for him. Anyway, after I got the 4x4 in place, I put 2 additional screws into the support as a bit of belt & suspenders. Either way, those stairs aren't going anywhere. If you look carefully, you can see the freebie dehumidifier under the stairs.

I picked up my wife from work during the middle of this project. I had already cut the wood, but didn't have screws long enough to screw it into place. As such, I wedged the board into place (securely), picked up some screws while I was out, and told her on the way home not to use the stairs until I was done. Actually, I told her that I had jumped on the stairs just to make sure they were secure, but that I wasn't done fixing them. Apparently jumping on stairs that aren't fixed yet is one of those things you should keep to yourself.

Monday Monday...

This is an apology for interested parties -- I will get back to blogging as soon as I remove a few higher priorities "to-do's" from my list, like work and school.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Closing in!

We are moving tomorrow. Or at least that's the plan. At least we've got the truck on lock down. First move will be to pick up a refrigerator from our new craigslist friend, Casey. Here's the low down on what went down today.

After doing some "real" work this morning, I arrived over at the house around 1PM to find the plumbing fairy had come in the morning! Actually, my father-in-law replaced the rest of the pipe between newer pipes under the sink and the professional-plumber-replaced kitchen stack in the basement. Horray! We discovered this link after we installed a dishwasher. Although we have plans to refinish/paint the kitchen cabinets, as well as the floor, a dishwasher was a must before we could move in. Here it is, in all its glory.

Speaking of the kitchen, we have been debating about what to do with the floors. Clearly the awesome vinyl needs to go. We were thinking about installing ceramic tile, but it would be great if there was hardwood floor underneath it all. Turns out there is -- we discovered this after pulling out the kitchen cabinet to make way for the dishwasher. There's also some awesome tile! The tentative plan is to strip away all the excess layers on top of the wood and pay someone to refinish it. That's awhile out though... =/

So if you have been following along, you may remember some crazy plaster work I did on the ceiling in the living room. Here's the play-by-play in picture form. It turned out very nicely, if I do say so myself. The best -- its a permanent fix, so I won't have to go fixing it again next year, if all goes well.

I used one of those paint edger things (SHUR-LINE Classic Paint Edger to be exact), and it works just as advertised. Very easy to use, perfect edging, just be careful with the wheels. Here's some shots of finished or semi-finished rooms.

Finally, we also discovered we have a hawk that lives in our backyard. S/he was perched on top of our roof for awhile today. My wife is a lover of all things furry or feathery, so she got some sweet pics and video. Here's a shot:

Day ... uh

So the days have started blurring together a little bit. We've been hard at work on the house. So far the bedrooms are finished -- all plaster repair and painting is accomplished. We had some plumbing issues that are being jointly worked out by a plumber visiting on Monday as well as my father-in-law drilling holes willy-nilly. Cable and internet is setup and installed.

As it turns out, the fridge isn't working as well as hoped. Instead of getting it fixed, we are getting a new (used) fridge from Craigslist. We had planned on replacing the fridge sooner or later with something newer/prettier, so its not a big deal. Plus the new fridge is quite a steal. Either way, at least this one keeps the sodas cold while we're working.

Today we cleaned, painted, and worked on plumbing. I also had to shim the downstairs basement stairs -- not sure if this will be a permanent fix or not. Might need to use something a bit more heavy duty. Friday is the big day -- we hope to move all of the remaining junk over to the new place. Should be a good time.

I will post pictures soon! They are all on the camera which is at the new house.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 3

My in-laws came down today from Ohio to help us fix up the house and move in. Father-in-law knows about the electrical stuff, so he is helping put new outlets in the bathroom and kitchen. Also switching out some stuff in the basement. I did more work on the ceiling today. I also found a patch of bad plaster in the master bedroom closet. After I started clearing it out, I realized it was much too large a patch to use joint compound. Instead, I removed the plaster from the bricks behind it with a crowbar and installed moisture-resistant drywall. (I used this kind of drywall because it is an outside wall.) Because there was some uneven quality to the wall, I used some sheet insulation to fill in the spots. Finally, I applied Liquid Nails to the back of the drywall, and stuck it in place. I also put some nails in the board to hold it to the wall while the adhesive dries. Hopefully I used enough Liquid Nails -- I think I might have been a bit stingy. Tomorrow I will use joint compound to make it flush to the rest of the wall. No pictures today -- some more soon, I promise :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 2

Today is Saturday, the first real day of work. I woke up today with a vengeance to start repairing the large-ish cracks in the plaster walls. I had placed an order for Big Wally's Contractors Pack from Plastermagic (plastermagic.com) on July 10th and received it on the 15th. Now, it was time to bust it open.

Having watched all the videos available on their website and This Old House's website, I was not surprised by the contents of the relatively small box. A bunch of tubes of adhesive, some spray bottles of conditioner, buttons, screws, and ... latex gloves? Psh, latex gloves. Pansies.

I decided to start in the bedroom, but found out quickly that the plaster cracks in the bedroom were actually poorly jointed dry wall seams. Whoops. Moving on...

I found a crack in the living room and got to work. The procedure goes somewhat like this -- drill holes on either side of the crack. Vacuum the holes. Spray conditioner in the holes. Wait 10-60 minutes. Shoot adhesive into the holes. Screw the button into the lathe (clamping the plaster to the adhesive to the lathe). Wait 24-72 hours, sand, paint, and move on with life.

So back to me -- I drilled into my wall and hit a dead end of red dust. I moved over a bit and tried again -- same result. Apparently the wood lathe in my plaster was made out of red bricks. Apparently not all plaster is created equal -- some is on wood lathe, some on metal lathe, and some on masonry. Mine is the latter. Although Big Wally's Plaster Magic is reported to work on masonry, they only give instructions for wood lathe type plaster. Stumped, I left the plaster for a few hours to work on some other things.

Later that day -- Eureka! Wood shims! The pinch hitter for every construction project -- I laid wood shims across the repair and nailed the shim into the good plaster surrounding the crack. Instead of using the buttons to screw into the lathe, I would use the "good plaster" surrounding the crack to brace the repair. My wife was skeptical of my plan -- see the pictures for proof.


Prepare to make a mess. A big one. Especially if you're working on the ceiling. Also, expect to get rained on by plaster, conditioner, adhesive, and everything else. Clean freaks, abandon all hope. Those latex gloves they include -- don't use them unless you've a poncho to go with it. 

If you are repairing over a previous repair, like I was, plan to use wood shims creatively. The repair won't allow the shims to sit flush to the crack -- use a 2nd or 3rd shim to shim your repair. (Too many shims?)

Don't get too aggressive. If some of your plaster falls off, you're kinda in trouble. Basically, check for loose plaster before you drill. You want to be on the outskirts of loose-land, rather than in the middle. If you drill into the middle, the whole patch will pop off.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 1

We closed on the house at 10 am, and I started work about 11. Since we aren't moving into it until the 23-24, I have some time to do the messy work before there's anything in the house to get messy. Unfortunately, most of today consisted of getting ready to get dirty...

This is my first old house. It has a brick exterior, plaster walls, and grandma curtains -- the whole shebang. In the next 4-5 years, the plan is to rehab/refurb/update as much of it as possible. I put together a todo list with a rough timeline, but I'll keep that to myself for now. Hopefully this blog will serve as entertainment/downtime for me and reference for those that would come after me.