Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Hole In The Plan

For the last sixty years the only way to enter the cellar has been through this outdoor access.
Ever since we first looked at this house back in May we decided to add a staircase from the dining room to the cellar. Having an interior staircase would allow the lower level to be counted as part of the house, adding another 450 square feet. And easy access to the basement will allow us to move the washer and dryer out of the dining room and into a new basement laundry room. We turned in our building permit application yesterday and 24 hours and $58 later we have the approval to cut the hole for the basement (plus a some other structural changes that we will get to later).

When we got home tonight our dining room looked like this.
And now it looks like this
You may have noticed that the staircase hole is in the way of both the side door and the doorway between the living room and dining room. The only way to access the bedrooms and bathrooms is by going through this doorway and through the kitchen. So having a hole in the only path through the house is kind of an inconvenience. Our solution to the hole in the floor was to add a hole in the wall. This screen separates the living room from the bedroom hallway.
We removed the screen and ripped out the wall to create a doorway. Opening this part of the wall was part of the long-term plan so we won't have to repair it later.
Now that the hole is cut we can start work on the stringers and get some stairs built.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Heating Update

Sorry for the long period of silence. We moved to Butte two weeks ago, got internet last week and have not found the time to post until today. I am happy to report we are settled in the house and that the weather has been mostly warm. The weather is become hugely important for us because the house has no heating system. Our only source of heat is the little electric fireplace my parents gave me when we bought our first house (also unheated) six years ago.

Until last winter the house was heated with hot water baseboards. Like many foreclosures the pipes were allowed to freeze destroying our plumbing and most of the baseboards. Rather than spending thousands to repair the old baseboards we decided to get rid of them and install a new heating system. We started by ripping out all the old baseboards which left the rooms looking even worse than before. But we did find out what other colors the house had been painted.
Seafoam green in the living room
Pink and mint green in the dining room
The strip of white in our bedroom is a welcome relief from the black walls.
I climbed into the crawlspaces to remove the old piping and clean up the trash stored under the house.The older crawlspace is tall enough I could get around on my hands and knees without too much trouble. The crawlspace under the addition has less headroom and I had to belly crawl to get from one end to the other. I quickly learned than belly crawling on a dirt floor sends gallons of dirt down my pants so I settled for rolling instead. Naturally Atlas was very curious.
It took four hours to remove all the old pipes and clean up the trash. Removing the old tires from the smaller crawlspace was a chore but the crawlspaces were looking much better for the effort.
While I was having fun under the house Luke was removing the massive old boiler and more of the pipes hanging in the cellar. It took a lot of muscle and some big cheater bars but he finally got the thing loose and managed to drag it over to the cellar door.
But then we were left with the question of how to get this this 400 lb boiler up these stairs.
Two people were just not enough to move this monstrosity and it was much too heavy for my handtruck. We found some scrappers on Craigslist who offered to haul it away free. It took three men and a heavy duty hand truck to get it up the stairs. The scrappers were even nice enough to help us move the piano out of the garage and into the house. Compared to the boiler the piano was a piece of cake.
While clearing out the cellar and crawl spaces we had removed a lot of pipe. I knew recycling old pipe was worth some money but I was surprised that this truckload of galvanized, steel and copper was worth $492 in recycling.

The extra money will come in handy for the next phase of project, installing the new heat system. We ordered our radiant hot water system and tankless water heater on Tuesday and they should arrive next week. We're doing all the work ourselves so I will post more details later. Until then I will fantasize about having heat and hot water. (We do have a water heater but it's from 1994 and can only offer warm water, not hot.)