Hanley’s Old House, Episode 3
The big repair job–ripping open my roof so we can repair some rot caused by a century or so of ice dams–got delayed two weeks because the friend who’s going to help me is, believe it or not, working on his own house and doing jobs for money. Unbelievable. But we’re starting it today. Meanwhile, we’ve been busy, trying to finish some jobs before the in-laws come next week.
With the interior wall of our entryway ripped off, and my plan to insulate the wall around the door with spray foam (it faces west, and the prevailing winds), I decided I didn’t want to spray foam against the backside of the old siding around the doorway, because then when I got around to replacing it, it would be stuck to that foam. So I ripped off all the siding.
There’s something disconcerting about seeing your house with part of it’s wall missing. And frankly, three years ago I wouldn’t have had the courage to do this, even though it’s really quite simple (I didn’t know then how simple it is). So I quickly put on some housewrap (which the spray foam will stick to instead of the siding), and cut and nailed on the new siding. Below you can see it almost finished, with one board to go. All that was done with leftovers from last year’s project, which left me one board short. But I’ll be needing some more for the upcoming job, so it’s no worry–I picked up more at the store, finished this job (minus the painting), and have what I need for the next job.
I also did some reframing on the interior of this wall, because what I found inside was cringe-inducing. In the picture below, you can see that the stud framing the door is free-standing (red circle), that it wasn’t actually attached directly to the door frame, but had a space between that was filled with just a few spacers (pink circle–in this picture I have already slipped another stud in there), the “studs” above the door frame were just 1x4s (blue circles–in this picture I’ve already cut them out), as is the header above the door (green circle).
If you look at the left blue circle, you can see a 2×4 that’s cut short, with the 1×4 descending from it. That, along with the extra space to the left of the door, makes me think there used to be a larger door here, and when they put in the current door they did a very half-assed job reframing it. So I put in a temporary support, the 2×4 at the top of the picture, which runs from stud to stud, so I could cut out the cripple studs (the short ones above the door) and put in a proper header and properly sized cripples. The (almost) completed job is below (I still need to provide more support for that damned floating stud to the left of the door, by bracing it to the full stud to its left).
I also finished up a long delayed job in the back yard. Some former owner had graveled the yard about 50 feet past the driveway. Most of the gravel had sunk into the ground by now, but it left an area where grass didn’t grow well, so it was always just a patch of weeds. Some years back I built a drum sifter, and sifted the gravel out of one 10 foot patch of that. I build a bike shed on another 8 feet of it, so I wouldn’t have to sift. But that left a bad area behind the bike shed, and between the bike shed and the driveway. I also wanted to build a gravel pad for my utility trailer, so here was an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone…well, with many thousands of small stones, actually. [Note: The author does not endorse the killing of birds with stones.] Below you can see the sifter, the size of the area out of which I sifted gravel (planted with grass seed yesterday), and the trailer on its pad. All of that gravel–about 3-4 inches deep–came from the yard. And because most of it was caked in dirt, to keep the trailer pad from being too muddy, all of that gravel had to be rinsed, as well. The large area planted with grass seed is partially filled in with that dirt.
This was grueling labor, and it reminded me once again that I seem to be getting arthritis. There’s a lot of satisfaction in finally solving this problem area of my yard, but there was no enjoyment in the doing. It was a grind.
And inside, Johanna finally finished a job I started two years ago and for reasons I forget now didn’t finish. Our kitchen and pantry had a god-awful 1970s vinyl parquet floor. We’d love to put in a good hardwood floor, but that would require ripping up the whole floor down to the joists to level it out, so for now we’re stuck with also using vinyl flooring, but we put in wood-grain strips that we think look nicer (although I have a feeling that 20 years from now the new owner is going to find it appallingly out of date, just like we found the parquet).
Scraping up the old tile was tiring and time-consuming, but the laying of the new tile went pretty quickly…only as much time as it took Germany to score 5 goals on Brazil.
The rest of the kitchen will be a post in itself, if we ever get the slate backsplashes installed and the counters refinished. Meanwhile, the most important task at hand is trying to finish the entryway repair, and with any luck get drywall up before the in-laws come, even if it’s not painted nor the window and door trim put back yet.