and then it rained.

18 01 2011

So now we have rafters.  No one fell to their death from 20 feet, and I managed to avoid having a panic attack by going home and burying my head in the sand… I mean, pillows on my bed.  The next morning, the house was still standing, the sun was shining… and it was time for DECKBOARDS!


I love all of the light shining in… too bad it couldn’t stay like that!

While I like the tree-fort feel with the sun streaming in… we were racing against the clock and the calendar to get an actual roof on before the weather got bad.

And it did.  Get bad.

[Disclaimer:  there are no pictures of this part] I was working a double the day that Eric and his friend Eric and his employee Eric [hilarious, I know] were laying deckboards–sheets of plywood nailed to the rafters that create a base for the tar paper and shingles to be fastened to.  We had dodged the nasty weather bullet for almost a week, but we knew the rain was for sure coming that day, and they were trying to balance hustle with safety–it takes a lot of balance and awareness to move around on a roof that’s only rafters, hauling up 40-lb pieces of plywood through a 16-inch opening without plummeting to your death… let alone when the boards are slippery and wet!

Anyway, the guys got done what they could [which ended up being around 2/3 or so of the house, front to back], and once the rain started they called it quits and pulled plastic over the open area in the kitchen.  They were counting on the new subfloor to keep the rest of the house dry… but, no such luck.  The rain started coming in through the cracks between the boards, soaking everything.  Eric found enough plastic to cover up his TV and stereo equipment, and called it a night.  He put the dogs in the garage, grabbed a clean set of clothes and headed for shelter at a friend’s a couple of blocks over.

And the next morning, came home to a flat tire on the van.  So, we inflated it with Eric’s compressor and hurried on over to Wal-Mart, apparently the ONLY place on a Sunday morning to get a tire fixed.  After an hour there [and being yet again reminded why I HATE that place], it was back to the house to assess the damage by the light of day.

It was hard to walk in and see everything soaked and dripping wet, but the sun was out again.  So, we dragged the mattresses and couch cushions out onto the deck to dry, threw a load of wet stuff in the washer, and got back to work… and by the end of the day, the house was decked and all was back to normal.

Let’s just say Eric wasn’t exactly looking forward to having to paper and shingle the whole thing in the three-day window we had before leaving for Ohio for his brother Garrett’s wedding.  Luckily, the phone rang out of the blue the next day: another contractor from church had some tile work he needed to have done… so Eric and his guys did the tile while Jesse and his guys did the roof!  WIN-WIN-WIN!

After all of that, we finally took a giant deep breath, heaved a sigh of relief, and got the heck out of Dodge.  I mean, packed up and headed to Ohio.


and then we came back from the dead [or, the roof: part everything else].

2 01 2011

Hello, world… we’re back from the blogging black hole.  Sorry for the long absence, but the good news is that we’ve got plenty to talk about, right?


Back to the topic at hand:  our lack of a roof.  We did camp on the new subfloor the first night… but that lasted about 3 hours.  Eric woke me up out of a dead sleep to tell me that he couldn’t sleep on the super-hard plywood [being the gentleman that he is, he had given me the Thermarest sleep pad for under my bag and was trying to make do with a blanket].  It took me a minute [or 5] to make sense of A–what time it was, B–where we were, and C–what words were coming out of his mouth, but once I got my bearings, we packed up our campsite and crept back down the ladder.  I headed back home to my warm, cozy bed… and Eric wrapped himself up in blankets and a sleeping bag in his bed to try to keep warm in a house with no roof.  [Yes, I felt guilty.]

The next morning, we were back at it, ready to finish tearing off the last third of the roof decking and rafters.  This was quite a bit more dangerous [in my scaredy-cat’s eyes, at least], though, since the back portion of the house is going to be vaulted all the way up to the new second story.  Which, for those of you playing along at home, equals LADDERS AT FREAKISH HEIGHTS.  And not just climbing a super-high ladder to stand there and take in the view, but to actually DO STUFF…*shudder*.

Exhibit A: tearing the slats off the rafters

Do you feel me, people?  I was FREAKED OUT.  But I kept my mouth shut [for the most part] so that I didn’t make Eric uptight or jumpy.  Not that I really had much to worry about.. it was like watching a spider monkey.  With a hammer.  [Ooh, that’s a funny mental picture!]

Exhibit B: creeping out to the corner of the house to pop off the boards on the overhang.

Careful, careful.

Exhibit C: removing the most difficult rafters and getting ready to knock out the back rafter wall.

Look closely… the back wall has been sawed through [just to the right of the ladder] and is leaning out toward the backyard [TIMMMMMBBBBBERRRR!].  This was probably one of the scariest parts for me, because the power lines to the house connect at the right-hand side of this wall, so we had to be very careful with the cutting and the toppling.  I, of course, stayed perched a good distance away from the danger zone… but at the perfect vantage point for picture-taking!

Exhibit D:

The mighty conqueror!  [Actually, I’m surprised he’s still standing upright at this point.]


Sidebar thoughts:

Now we REALLY don’t have a roof… but the view is out of this world!  It’s kind of a weird feeling to walk around looking at things at a normal height, and then all of a sudden you look up and realize, oh yeah!  No roof!

Notice how we’re in short sleeves. In NOVEMBER.  No, seriously, praise the Lord that it was sunny and high 60s the first week of November!  It was amazafreakinsuperunbelievablywonderful.

And this hard day’s work was made possible by Monster and Gardetto’s.


Sorry, back to work.

Next step: get them WALLS up!  ie: it’s not going to be sunny and 60 forever.

That’s better!  [Never mind the giant lumber pile in the front yard…]

Still a little way to go… one wall at a time.

Brace that corner, baby… can’t have the new walls come crashing down.

The precarious slot in which the world’s longest and heaviest board [ie. the ridge beam] had to be placed.  The top of that ladder is seriously like 20 feet off the ground.  *double shudder*

The beginning of the rafter-setting.  Also, note that it’s almost dark outside… and it was like 6PM.  Thanks for that, winter.

By now they’re getting a system down… two ladders + three guys [+/- one jumpy onlooker/amateur photographer].

Now they’re on to the rafters over the kitchen.  Which means… THE LADDER.  When Eric took the 20+ foot extension ladder and started whacking it against the ridge beam [to make sure it would hold him, I guess], I decided it was time to pack it in for the night.  Ignorance is bliss.  Plus, I think they were getting tired of my inability to keep my gasps of fear to myself.

When I came back in the morning:

BUM BUH DAH BUUMMMMM! [Yes, the wood pile is still there.]

Side note:  None of this would have been possible without the talent, expertise, and strong backs of our friends Larry Eldridge [roof demo Yoda-ness, new wall construction, humble awesomeness is general], Jeremy Clay [rafter-hanging skillz, spider-monkey wall-scaling skillz, and ability to cut rafters despite a general lack of night vision], and Jeff Reichanadter [rafter-hanging assistance, willingness to stick hand in dog poop in order to keep from dropping the SUPER-heavy ridge beam while scaling a ladder, and ability to learn the finer points of roof-building on the fly]…  seriously, you guys.  I might have curled up in a ball in the corner had we actually had to undertake this part on our own.  Because you know I’m NOT sticking my hand in dog poop to keep a ridge beam from falling.

Up next:  We’ve got rafters, but no decking or shingles yet… will the weather hold?  Or will we be left out in the cold?

and then we camped. [or: the roof, part 1.]

9 11 2010

After 3 different trips, 2 different buildings, 6 + hours of time spent (im)patiently waiting during those trips, AND 3 weeks later than we had originally planned… WE HAVE OUR BUILDING PERMITS.

[I think I’ll write a separate post later on how to navigate/SURVIVE applying for and getting building permits on the first try. It sure would have been helpful for us!]

Eric was chomping at the bit to get started on the real fun… demo-ing the old roof and building the new second story!  Fortunately, our good friend and framing guru Larry Eldridge came down on Friday to give Eric a hand and impart a portion of his vast construction knowledge… he’s pretty much Yoda to Eric’s Skywalker  [but way taller.  and way younger. and less green].  Of course, Friday’s weather forecast was somewhat less than ideal.  While the week prior and the entire week following were supposed to be sunny skies and virtually no chance of rain, Friday was another story.  There was even SNOW forecasted [shudder!], scattered showers, and chilly temperatures.  I mean, it is November, but cut us a break!

I wasn’t around much on Friday, so I don’t have many pictures of the process, but I can give you an idea of what got done:

1. dumpster delivered [thanks, Ray’s!]

2. shingles scraped off + tar paper removed = a yard full of NAILS.  Whoops!  Let’s just say nobody is going to be going barefoot in our yard for awhile.  But it’s also going to be winter soon, so that’s convenient!

3. front stucco peak demolished [that sledgehammer is getting a lot of love these days!], existing window salvaged for re-use in one of the new upstairs rooms.

4.  roofing slats torn off, which we had really come to love looking up at after our ceilings were torn out.  Plenty of beautiful 100-year-old wood that we thought about trying to reuse on the new roof, but it started to splinter and break up too badly during the demo.

[Also, please note that all of that beautiful wood is NOT going in the dumpster; thanks to a suggestion by our good friend Jeremy Clay, we’re going to GreenCycle all of our lumber, which is A–WAY cheaper, and B–better for the environment!  For more info about GreenCycle, check out their website:

5.  rafters torn off… well, the first third or so.  By then it was getting dark.  and cold.  and raining a little.  and SNOWING a little.  [yikes!]

[master and pupil, surveying the progress.]

So yes, the weather was gross and the house was cold, dirty, and wet.  But you know what makes an awesome fire?  Lumber from walls you’ve torn down with your own two hands.  Which is what we did after I got home from work that night, and it was probably one of my favorite times sitting around a fire; just me, Eric, the dogs at our feet… and the piles of lumber in the backyard.

Eric camped out in the living room that night, sleeping bag and all [there’s no reason to turn the heat on when there are gaping holes to the outdoors]… and was rarin’ to go the next morning!

[the king and his castle.]

Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny, and just a little but FREEZING!  The Monumental Marathon course ran right by our house that morning, and my only thought was that at least I’m not running a marathon in this cold weather! I knew I had my work cut out for me… there was plenty of cleanup to be done from the day before, and since yours truly is more of a grunt-worker than a skilled-laborer, I knew my services were probably not going to be needed up top [thanks to my fear of ladders], or with any power tools.  Plus, Eric is a fanatic about a clean jobsite, which I can totally get behind.  So we got to work:  Eric resumed the roof demo, and I got busy taking pictures…er, cleaning up.

[the view from the kitchen… check out that beautiful blue sky!]

Halfway through the day, we were ready for our afternoon caffeine infusion.  As I was headed over to the coffee shop, I noticed a new piece of real estate in the neighborhood:

“she’s a beaut, Clark!”

[I think if Eric gets tired of house-camping, he should see if they’ll give him a deal on this bad boy.  What do you think?  ;)]

laying down that new subfloor…. yummy.

[okay, technical difficulties = I couldn’t get this one to rotate. I guess you’ll have to turn your head–or your computer–sideways.]

This dinner break is brought you by Greek’s PMS pizza, and our favorite source of caffeine, Diet Coke.  We plowed through that baby like it was nothin’.  Construction is hard work!  Also, let it be known that I did not make the pizza delivery guy climb up the 10-ft ladder to deliver this.  I probably would have had to tip him like 10 bucks to do that!  Plus, I’m working on my ladder-scaling skillz.

After we polished off our dinner and cleaned up the jobsite, put all the tools away, and swept the new! floor! [fanatic, remember?]  Eric had the brilliant idea to camp out under the stars on said new floor.  I mean, if you have to camp somewhere in your house, sans heat, and the rest of the house is really really dirty, why not pick the place with the best view?  So at the late late hour of 8:30 PM, we climbed the ladder for the last time and zipped ourselves into our incredibly claustrophobic [but VERY WARM] mummy bags.

Of course, you know I’m the one with the claustrophobia issues.  It’s really more of a freaking-out-when-I-can’t-get-the-stupid-thing-unzipped issue.  But it was cold enough to not have any reason to get out of the bag, so… problem solved!

Also, selfies are REALLY hard to take when you’re completed zipped into said mummy bag.  Just sayin’.  And that’s about as far as I could cinch myself in without having a panic attack.  Eric’s only visible body part, however, was his nose.  Dude is like a professional camper.

Sooo…. did we make it?  Did we survive our camp-out under the stars?

I guess you’ll have to stay tuned.

And the fun begins…

4 11 2010

We have building permits.(!!!!!!!) And we’re not afraid to use them.

Stay tuned.

Plan B.

24 10 2010

Up until this point, you could say that all of the things we’ve done to the house have been in preparation for a much bigger project… that project being the addition of a second story onto the existing house.  Our grand plan was to start the second story on a weekend when we had a few extra sets of capable, skilled hands [read: not mine] in order to get a lot of work done in a short period of time.  Of course, with all things [especially remodeling!] the details don’t always fit nicely into your time frame.  We learned this the hard way while trying to get our building permit.  [Apparently they want to know certain obscure details like whether or not your existing foundation can indeed support additional weight… who knew?!]  So, despite being a little disappointed to not walk out with permits in hand, we bucked up and went home to dig a hole in the basement.


Yes, a hole.  In the basement.  The basement that has a concrete slab floor.  When the guy told us that we could either dig a hole ourselves to find the footer [the foundation of the house] or hire a structural engineer to come out, inspect, and write a certified letter stating his opinion of the integrity of the foundation, my first thought was, “engineer, of course!”  Eric’s first thought, however, was SLEDGEHAMMER.

Apparently you can make quick work of such a floor with only a sledgehammer and a shovel.  But seriously, don’t try this at home.

The good news is we found the footer.  The better news is that it’s big enough to add onto the house.  But, just to play it safe [and to make sure we don’t get turned down for our permit again], we did have an engineer come out and take a look.  Better safe than sorry, I guess…


So, owing to our lack of a permit [we’ll get it eventually, don’t worry], we had to go with Plan B, which was to do some more prep work from the inside so that when the time comes to actually take the roof off, the floor system and the walls for the upstairs will already be built…we’ll just need to put all the pieces together and then put a roof back on!

I’d like to take a moment to personally thank everyone [Eric, Eric, Brandon, Brian, and my stepdad Jeff] who went up in the attic to shovel/scoop/vacuum out the loose insulation so that yours truly did not have to face any fears of heights, ladders, or trying to balance on a 2-inch-wide rafter or risk falling through the ceiling.  Because it was a LOT of hot, dirty, dusty work.



That is LITERALLY dust flying in the picture above.  Aaaaaa-CHOOO!

look at all that crap...

I think the neighbors are glad we have a fence.  Sorry, neighbors!  [I think we apologize at least once a week.]


After the 432483248930240th bag of insulation was sucked/shoveled/scooped and tossed outside, the fun part began… the DEMO.  We figured if we couldn’t go top-down, we’d go bottom-up!

Step 1: pull down all of the yucky fake ceiling tiles.

Step 2: demolish plaster ceilings.

Step 3: remove lathe from plaster debris.

Step 4:  add lathe to ever-growing burn pile in backyard.  Marion County, you can lift that open-fire ban anytime, thanks.

keepin' it safe, don't worry.

[and the dust continues to fly…]

I’ll tell you what, tearing out the ceilings and removing the insulation from the entire house certainly gives it a more open feel.  [I know, that’s kind of a “duh.”]  Then we decided that while the house was a mess and the furniture was on the front lawn, why not tear down a couple of walls while we’re at it?  Because that’s how we do things around here.

a little sledgehammer therapy? don't mind if I do!

The two little walls that made up the dining room doorway… gone.  The wall between the dining room and the kitchen… gone [which also means several kitchen cabinets went with it.]

The end result, however?  Waayyyyyyyyy better flow from one room to another.

Tell me that doesn’t just about blow your mind.





safety first!

18 10 2010

I would like to take the opportunity to highlight a few of the ways that we live life on the edge here on Park Avenue.  Those of you who have been a part of any sort of remodel undoubtedly know that there are times when you’re just forced to live with certain things in their temporary state for a period of time; maybe you don’t have time to finish, maybe you’re waiting for the fertilizer on the money-tree to kick in, or maybe you’ve set a date to start a particular chunk of the project and so you’re sitting around waiting for that day to come.  We have encountered at least one of each of these types of situations, and as they start to accumulate, it gets a bit comical. So, don’t go calling OSHA on us, but I’d like to give you a glimpse of a few of our “safer”solutions.

A byproduct of our first project (french door installation):  the 4-foot dropoff to the patio below…

Not the best angle, but we’re keeping a 5-foot ladder outside the door just in case you didn’t bring your Go-Go-Gadget legs with you. Heckling dog comes at no charge. (Or maybe he just likes having his picture taken… haven’t figured that one out yet.)


After we tore out the wall that the fridge and stove were sitting on, it became obvious that the outlets they were plugged into were also, well… gone.  Solution?

We’ll just run an extension cord up from the basement, of course!  Of note, that 2 in x 4 in hole was our only “basement access” for a couple of weeks after we added sub-floor where the old basement stairs had been.  Not gettin’ too much laundry done that way, that’s for sure…


Also, when you take out walls that have electrical boxes in them, you probably need to make sure the boxes stay so that you know, have power and stuff in that room.

But with no wall to stabilize them, they kind of swing around like jungle vines.  So we just used the protruding nails/screws to hook them together.

Painters’ tape holds things up quite nicely, as well.  You know, because it’s, um, super sticky.


We keep things pretty safe outside, too…we’ve only lit the lawn on fire once!  Well, maybe twice.

We may be the reason Marion County enacted their open-fire ban.  Just a thought.

When Eric finally got tired of not having any clean laundry, he decided it was time to create a new point of entry into the basement.

But this is about as far as we got.  In continuing with our trend of replacing stairs with ladders, Eric put an 8-footer against that wall.  But it’s about 9-10 feet down, so there’s a bit of acrobatic maneuvering involved in actually getting down into the basement.  It took me the better part of two weeks to get up the courage to attempt it, but the AT&T repairman didn’t seem to mind having to climb down to fix my internet hookup!  We put a couple of chairs over the hole keep people (and dogs) from falling in. Don’t worry, someone would have warned you before you tried to sit in one… hopefully.  Houseguests, fair warning: you’d better bring a hard hat and a flashlight (for those midnight bathroom runs).  And maybe a sleeping bag… because the extra sheets are covering the sliding glass door in the living room.


treasure hunting.

11 10 2010

Yesterday we headed out in search of some architecturally-appropriate [and cost-appopriate, read: CHEAP] pieces for the house.  The plan was to poke around at a couple of different salvage places in town, specifically to find a couple of windows for the second story.  I soon found out that these places change names, owners, and locations rather frequently… much like the reclaimed items they sell!  Some are open at odd hours, some are only open on the weekends, some literally change locations throughout the week.  Sounds like a treasure hunt, right?

We hit the jackpot on our first [and only!] stop:  a tinker’s market set up in an old warehouse near downtown…at least that’s what the sign said it was, anyway.  We found the windows we were looking for, and the guy told us that he would throw in the lead paint for free… yesssssss.

But the real jackpot was sitting right across the way: two beautiful gumwood leaded-glass French doors!

treasure! although it wasn't exactly buried...

There are a couple of broken panes that need replacing, but they were a STEAL.

the money shot... original hardware and everything.

The funny part of this escapade came into play when we realized we needed to take these doors with us.  And they’re 7 feet tall.  And there are two of them.  And they were closing up for the day, so we didn’t have time to run back home and trade my car for Eric’s work van.  Thank goodness Honda makes their backseats fold completely down, and the opening was juuuuust wide enough, but they were still going to hang out the back of the trunk a little bit.  We also didn’t want them to rub together, but of course yours truly had just removed the bag of blankets, jumper cables, and other vital emergency gear (like a frisbee!) from the trunk a couple of days before.  We had to make do with two yoga mats and a handful of reusable grocery bags, but there was still some serious clanking going on back there.  I don’t think I drove over 25 MPH the whole way home for fear of rattling something loose [and we still hit more than a few bumps in the road], but we made it home safe and sound… and treasure intact.