Saturday, December 26, 2009

3rd Floor Unveiling

After 5 months of work I'm happy to say it's 99% D-U-N done! Everyone who's seen it so far loves how it turned out and the floor plan I came up with. Remember this was once two bedrooms and an enclosed stairwell. The colors worked out really well too. So I finally have a comfy "hang out" area and an office area. For the first time in years I have a great stereo setup and the acoustics with the vaulted ceiling sound amazingly great... so I've been pretty much up here jamming and taking a break before the next project... the kitchen. Yes - this is the winter I'm FINALLY going to finish the kitchen. I know what you're thinkin - but I pinky swear! If I have to carry groceries upstairs for one more year...... stay tuned.

The pics are not the best but you get the idea. I need a new camera and santa (nor the furballs) got me one so guess I need to go shopping.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

3rd Floor Almost Done

Yea... I know, been awhile. But how much can you post about sanding and muddin drywall?? So I'll let the pics speak for themselves. A few more weeks and I should be kickin back and relaxing up here... finally!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Loft Continued

With the drywall patching done, next was a lot of woodwork. I decided to make a pair of newel posts to spruce up the staircase a bit. At first I tried building them in place, but that proved to be futile. So I ended up building the posts and then installing them. This was easier said then done, but they ended up coming out pretty good. I got the biscuit joiner out for this project which made them nice and strong for the installation. One of the biggest issues was the varing widths of the wall. It actually gets half an inch narrower as you reach the lower post!

The caps will mimic the main staircase and eventually I'll make some pyramid caps to add on top. I bought some ball tops from Lowes, but the scale just was too small for the posts I built. Again I used the router to add bead edges which occurs often throughout the house. The green moulding actually was saved from the front porch when I redid the sill and lattice skirt project. Then the knee wall was topped with ledge and moulding.... in the end it came out much better than what I started out with.

The original baseboards on the stairs was another big project. The previous owner drywalled over the plaster leaving the boards practically flush with new drywall. So of course it would be too easy to just pry them off. No, they were slid into notches in the stair treds. So I had to drill the boards at the notches to clear the treds, then pry them off - carefully! I needed them intact so I didn't have to start from scratch making new ones. The originals were actually pretty crude and much of the treads and riser had a good 1/2 inch gap where the boards met them. So when I used the originals as patterns for the new ones, I added about 3/8 inch to all the lines. The new ones came out better than the originals and now the gaps are much smaller. I had to add shim boards first, then installed the new boards and caps. Now it looks right. Also before installing the boards, I ran a new line for the 3-way light on the landing which hasn't worked in several years. It was on an original knob and tube circuit that has long since been disconnected from service. Shimming out the boards left a nice cavity to do this. Otherwise I would have had to notch all the way down the staircase. What fun that would have been - and even worse patching all the holes.

I was happy to get rid of the crappy pair of windows and replace with new repoduction ones that I had made. The pair in the landing I sealed shut. They are too high to open and close easily from the landing, plus I still will have 5 more on the 3rd floor that will open. I made a new sill and replaced with new casing moulding that will match what I'm installing throughout the 3rd floor. The sill is a little extra deep so I can put my small collection of old glass insulators. It will be a nice spot for them since the sun will illuminate them here really well.

The doorway on the 2nd floor originally had a door which was long gone. I debated adding one again and to help hold heat from going up in the winter. The problem was in the summer I would need to keep it open for the AC. Plus the the 3rd floor will be used alot, so the door would likely be left open out into the 2nd floor hall often. So I decided to make it an open entrance and part of the entire staircase coming from the first floor. All that was required here was a new frame since the originals were pretty beat up and also had mortises for the original door hinges.

I changed out the original closet door with a 5 panel door. I just happened to use the one I already made for the kitchen closet but decided to leace it open instead. So it ended up here now.

I cut down an old 5 panel door I curb picked and made a closet door for the new dormer closet. Then I installed a bunch of casing and new baseboards throughout. At this point things are starting to shape up and can get a feel for the new space. Looks like it's gonna be a great hangout area....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Back Inside

Last time I blogged I was wrapping up the siding job and working on the soffit. Well lets just say scaffold was not the best place for me to be working so I decided to throw myself into a new project. First I gutted the master bedroom add-on closet which opened up the doorway between the 2 front bedrooms. Nothing like good old sledge hammer swingin for some therapy! I think the neighbors thought I had finally lost it as debris began raining from the second story window. Well that didn't take long so I had to come up with something bigger..... the 3rd floor.

This was the area I had been using as a tv/computer/living area since I moved in. It had been somewhat redone with all new drywall, but it was still not up to my standards. The 3rd floor consisted of a staircase that led up to a entrance hall with entrances to each bedroom. The back smaller room has a closet which will eventually house the AC unit for the 2nd and 3rd floor. The front room is much larger but no dormer closet. So I kicked around several plans over the years and finally I decided to open up the entire floor as more of a loft, open up the staircase to the upstairs more, add a dormer closet to the front area, and build a chase for the fireplace chimney.

So first step, break out the sledge again!

Next I built the framing for the chimney chase. The angle makes it so that it's about 5 feet wide, but this is just the right amount to break up the front and back areas a bit. On the front half I can put a TV setup and on the back I can set up my desk for an office area. Then I framed out a dormer closet next to the stairs for more storage, especially since I will lose the existing one to the AC unit.

Also notice I cut out the wall enclosing the stairway, which created a kneewall and opened up the two windows in the stairway to the rest of the upstairs.

Next step was dealing with the wiring. There were 3 existing Halo recessed lights in the front bedroom. I removed the closest one to the center of the loft and replaced it with a ceiling fan. On each side of this fan I added two more lights. On the back area I added two more. Each area is controlled by a separate dimmer switch. I then installed the subpanel in the AC closet and refed all the 3rd floor circuits from here. I also added a few more outlets throughout, and a light in the new closet.

The next challenge was all the wiring coming out of the floor where I removed the wall. An old gas lighting line was there too. So up came the floorboards and was able to remove, reroute, or kill all but one old knob and tube circuit. That will go away when the bedrooms downstairs are gutted. Then to fill in the missing boards I removed some boards from the AC closet and used them to do my patching.

Then it was drywall time and some mudding. This was a bit of a challenge since the front room appears to have been gutted to the studs and the drywalled, but the back room was rocked right over the plaster. So now I'm trying to blend two different thickness in walls. Most areas I was able to gut down to studs to a corner and then blend in a new piece. Over the stairs though was pretty damn tricky. I also created an access to get above the ceiling. This will come especially in handy when I install the AC system.

Tomorrow I'll finish updating to where I'm now.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Last Shake

Monday I managed to hang the FINAL shingle for the siding project after 7 LONG months of work. What else to say but WHEW! I still have to do the soffit and fascia around this corner and final painting - and then the gutter and window project. I have all the lower gutters replaced which I didn't talk about yet and 6 more windows that need to be replaced. That should still keep me busy for awhile. Then I think I may build a shed so I can get my garage cleaned out. I need to make room in there so I can start refinishing all the kitchen pieces. Yea, I still haven't forgot about that project......

Friday, July 17, 2009

Basement - A Recap

This spring after finally getting many items out of storage in the basement and into the house, plus a few EBAY sales, the basement is finally getting useable. I still have some things to do, but at least I have a shop and tool storage, plus a room to get my radio collection out where it can be appreciated and I can play around with them again. The outer walls still need to be skim coated in many places, and in the radio room I plan to continue building the wall along the foundation so I can have a nice clean wall and a good anchor for more display shelving.

I built a bench for doing smaller work on (mostly electronics) and bought plenty of shelving and plastic bins. Now all my parts, hardware, etc is sorted out, and I have a place for all paints and finish work stuff. I don't even want to think about what I went through the past 3 1/2 years looking for stuff.... or buying stuff and then finding I already had it 6 months later. I'll also be able to do some wood work down here in the winter time. This may be a temporary fix for that as there are some ideas brewing for a future shop project.

And here is the radio room. Finally dusted off and polished up after 4 years of storage. I've been collecting pre-WWII Philco and RCA sets for 15 years now. I recently made one exception as sitting on the work bench you can make out a small set that was my great-grandparents' and great-uncle's Silvertone set from 1936 that was recenly given to me. I have many others that await restoration someday when the house project slows down.... whenever that comes!

And just for a truely authentic restoration - I installed this original 1930's era antenna system on the side where I'm working now. I never had a good antenna setup in all the years I played with these old sets, but now what a difference in reception and the range on the shortwave bands I can picked up stations in Europe, Australia, and Japan!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


That's right - I was unexpectedly nominated for this years Ridley Park Preservation Award. Anybody in town can nominate a house, which the Historical Commission narrows down to a list of about six houses. My next door neighbor mentioned nominating us, but I said wait till next year.... as I still nailed shakes to the wall. But then the letter came, and the nominators remain nameless - but I have my hunches who! So they come out and take pictures, then a panel of judges made up from the Historical Review Board, Historical Commision, etc come and do the judging based on the Secretary of Interior standards for home preservation. The winner gets a plaque to mount on the house, and remains so even if the house changes owners. Also a small ceremony takes place when they announce the winner at the Victorian Fair in September and a picture of the winner each year hangs in the town hall.

Needless to say it would be nice to win..... but I'm not finished yet!! So originally I heard they wouldn't come till sometime in August, but when I confirmed the nomination they said about 2 weeks! Oh boy, get to work! Well that got me crackin on some landscaping projects for the front that I planned on doing later.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sidelight Surprise

My neighbor gave me back the original sidelights to the house! When they tore the original doorway out, the door was sold for $5 at a yard sale I'm told by another neighbor and she believed the sidelights were trashed. Well apparently they were picked up off the curb and saved. So now what to do?? I guess at some point if I can get glass for them I will put them back and sell the ones I installed. These are chestnut too which will match the original woodwork in the foyer. Also they have the nice ledge and dentil detail that contines from the one on the door. The original glass is busted and the one intact is a replacement pane. The fragment I found matches the textured glass in the staircase landing window. Now if I could only find that door......

Friday, July 10, 2009

A 100 Year Old Panaramic.... Almost

My neighbor sent me a copy of some great pics the other day. Then tonight an idea came to me.... and a little tweaking in photoshop later I came up with this little gem.

A few more feet and we would have a great wide angle shot of my street almost 100 years ago. Very cool!

Here's another pic he gave me of his neat house (built 1887). You can see the side of it on the far right in the street shot. The two houses to the right of me in the street pic were built in 1897 and are identical to each other. The two to the left of me (not pictured) were built in 1893.... so at 1906 I'm the new house on the block.

There are two other pics I've seen of this section of my street, but I've yet to get copies of them.

He also returned a lost piece of the Hall house. I'll reveal that later.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Making A Window Whole Again

When the one bedroom was converted into a kitchen upstairs, they took the two windows and shortened them. The one I can understand due to the counter being installed, but the other...???? Plus they hacked the original sill flush with the sheathing so they could put siding over it. It was real quality work too! They used ceiling tiles to insulate the section of the old window opening they enclosed - top notch craftsmanship.

So first thing was dismantling what they did. Of course this wasn't too hard to do. Then in order to repair the sill I had to remove it. This involved removing all of the original window construction down to the wall framing.

Once the sill was out (a real beast at over 3 inches thick) I ran it on a table saw to get a nice clean edge to join a new piece to it. It just happened that there is a 3/8 drop from where the old window closed against the sill and what was the outside part of the sill. So this made a perfect point to joint the new piece. I used a piece of salvaged pine for the replacement piece which will hold up to the elements compared to any new piece of pine. I glued and countersunk 4 inch drywall screws to join the two sections. All stripped and sanded it was time to put it back in place.

There is a cavity between the wall framing and the side pieces that will frame the window opening. This is where the old window weights hung. The original pieces were beat up and split, so I installed new sides. They seat in notches cut into the sill and header piece. Then the boards that cover these weight openings install on the inside and out. Finally install a stop trim and ready for a new Pella window.

This will all have to be done on the other window in this room too... but the counter is still in the way. So this will wait till the kitchen gets dismantled.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Siding Project - 7 Months and Counting

Yep, that's how long (not counting the winter months) that I've been working on the second floor siding. Not much new info to report, you've heard for the last six months! Here is a set of pics showing the progress on the north side....

Next will be dealing with that shortened window and the idiot who hacked the sill off - I have some choice words for that guy!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Finally A New Post

Yea, I know.... poor neglected blog! Well I honestly have been working on the place and progress to report on which I will have to take a few posts to catch up on.

I officially have completed the first floor AC installation. My dad came out and overkilled making up the copper lines with 56% silver solder! Only need 5%, but won't have to worry about leaks at the joints. Then my friend Liz's husband came out and charged it up which went smooth. Then fired it up, balanced out the system with the dampers and nice and cold. I used a thermometer at the dining room register and had 59 degrees coming out. There's no insulation on the supplies at this point, so I could make it even colder probably.

I put down a brick pad for the condensor unit to sit on which came out OK. There has been a little settling (I kinda did a quickie job on it), so I will need to go back in one area and get a little more sand underneath.

Of course now that I have some central AC going.... I haven't needed it!? It's been a cool wet summer - but I'm not gonna complain too much. Though the garden could use a little more sun than rain now. More later....

Happy 4th!!