Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hats off to the coal miners of the world...

Father in law (Fil) and Mother in law (Mil) were here over the weekend to visit and help with the house. It was a good visit and much appreciated. Much work was done.

Last week, we had a good planning meeting with the electrician to go over the house and what he needed to do. Steve seems to be perfect for the job. He's near retirement and has rewired lots of old houses. He claims 150 to 200. The experience is certainly there. There is only one thing I'd fault him on. We talked to him about re-using some of the original light fixtures and switches and he balked. He didn't say he wouldn't do it, just that he wouldn't recommend it, mostly because new switches are more reliable and have a smaller footprint than the old ones. All true, but they don't make anything anymore that even looks like the old ones.

There were a few items that I came away with as my responsibility. The first was to talk to the power company to get our electrical upgraded to 200 amp, underground service. Currently it's only 100 amp, above ground. I had erroneously assumed that our electrician would take care of all that. So now I'm trying to coordinate between the electric company, the electrician and the village inspector (who thankfully seems in no way related or connected to the village idiot). It seems that the electrical company won't schedule excavation until the electrician has put in the new pedestal and the village inspector has approved it. The electrician won't put in the pedestal until the electric company has scheduled an excavation date. I gave the electrician the number for the person I'm dealing with at the electrical company, so hopefully that will be the sword to cut that Gordian knot.

I also need to cut away and remove a piece of concrete sidewalk two feet by four feet. This will be my first opportunity to use a concrete saw. Should be interesting, to say the least. Thankfully, there's a rental place nearby where I can get it for about $60 a day.

The last bit led to this weekend's work. Two of the rooms in the basement were finished off with a lathe and plaster ceiling; the boiler room and a work room/cistern pump room. The plaster had fallen off of about 20% of the ceiling and about half of it was cracked or sagging. It was certainly repairable, although, it would have taken a fair amount of work. Sadly, though since the ceiling was applied directly to the ceiling joists, leaving it in place meant the electrician had no access to the main floor. No access means no electric. So it all had to come down. I really didn't want to do that, but there was really no way to rewire the first floor without taking the ceiling out, so Fil and I took it down on Saturday.

The job was the dirtiest job that I can remember doing, ever. The boiler room was originally heated by a coal furnace, so in addition to 86 years of dust, insect bodies, mouse poop, spiders and dirt, there was also a lot of coal dust and soot up above the ceiling. Then we had to haul out the lathe and plaster to the dumpster I lined up on Friday. Both Fil and I wore full face masks to filter the air, but I coughed up black gunk for two days straight. When we were done we looked like coal miners. The neighbors came over around supper time to bring us supper (really great neighbors - I'll blog about some time). They didn't stick around long - I think they were afraid that we'd put them to work or get them dirty.

The amount of waste lathe and plaster makes is astounding. I had read somewhere that you should figure just under 1 cubic foot for every square foot demolished. I thought that sounded ridiculous. I'm a believer now. We didn't find any treasure in the ceiling (unfortunately), but we did make one discovery. All the lathe in the ceiling downstairs appeared to be oak.

Ten hours of working above my head pulling down the ceiling almost killed me, so Sunday was a bit more relaxed. We put the storm windows back on and I finished up the second coat of plaster in the bathroom. We should be able to repair the shower tiles in the next week or so.

Ma will be here for the next week to help finish stripping off the calcimine paint and then patch, prime and paint the walls in the girls' rooms. We may also paint the the upstairs hallway.

And the current mouse count is 31. Anyone know if mice reproduce faster than 7 a week? Because I'd think that sooner or later we'd get ahead of them.


Pusher said...

I hope your local rental place is as awesome as ours. So many toys to try out! The concrete saw is only the beginning.

I'm sorry you had to take down your ceilings — not least because of how much work it was, and how unpleasant!

Also cool that you found an electrician you like and who has lots of experience with this sort of thing! I hope he respects your wishes to keep as much of the original fixtures as possible.

ShoNuff said...

For fixtures, at least, you van probably rewire them with good new wires if you want and they'd be better. Not sure that would work with switches and such.

You may want to consider a jack hammer instead of the concrete saw, if you don't have to create the line. Jack hammers are really easy to use and pretty quick. The saws (even the big ones) are kind of slow. Also make sure it can cut deep enough to go through the concrete.