Sunday, September 26, 2010

The View from the Porch

A picture is worth a 1000 words, so I'll let this one do the speaking: this is the view from the front porch of the Delaney House, showing the old foundation.

This weekend, it was incredibly hot - just in time for the weekend when we planned to demolish the old foundation, using sledge hammers and a jackhammer. We spent several hours at the Delaney House on Saturday, in the intense heat, breaking up the old foundation. But today, we decided that it was too hot, so we stayed home. We'll finish the work next weekend, if it cools off.

Friday, September 24, 2010

How Much?

We've been adding up the costs of the Delaney House and the Cheney Cottage, and it's pretty amazing to see the numbers.

To date, not including the purchase of the houses ($285,000 for Delaney, and $17 of Cheney), we have spent $100,000. Not surprising: we moved the two sections of the Cheney House to Albany, moved the Delaney House back, hired an electrician to install a new box, paid PG&E, paid AT&T, paid EBMUD, etc etc.

But the most surprising number is the cost of the permits. Of the $100,000, almost 1/4 - $22,000 - has been paid to the City of Berkeley. There were several things that jacked this number up and really made us reconsider doing this sort of project in Berkeley:
  • The City refused to let us have one permit for this property - it is one parcel, but because it is two houses, they required two separate permits (doubling the cost). Our understanding is that developers can get one permit for more than one structure, even if they are on adjoining lots - but not small time clowns like us
  • The required a demolition permit for the Delaney House, even though the house was not demolished (even under the City's guidelines)
  • Asking for a surety bond and liability insurance (this was waived on Delaney, but we expect to have to fight the whole fight all over again on Cheney)
What this does not include are the electrical, plumbing and mechanical permits (which, because they are two houses, will require 6 permits in total). So we expect our Permit Center total to top out close to $30,000

We expect the costs for everything else to be somewhere in the range of $150,000 - $175,000. So the permit costs will be as much as 20% of the total cost of the project.

And the City wonders why so many of the residents do their work without permits.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's just a Jump to the Left

The Delaney House has arrived in it's new location, 40 feet south and 4 feet west of where it spent the last 130+ years. We hope it'll be another 130 years before we have to move it again.

Maybe we're becoming jaded to how amazing it is to move an entire house, but it seems almost routine at this point. Phil and his crew came back yesterday and slid the house over, straightened it out and lined it up with the points set out by Moran Engineering. Moran had sited the house and made sure it would end up where the plans said it would.

The process is to again jack up the house, and put the rails on rollers. Then, using a come along, the house is gently winched into position.
Using the come along, the house inches to the west

Phil used a plumb bob, hanging from each corner of the house, to line the house up perfectly with the points determined by Moran. Then, once the house was in place, it was lifted up, and the rollers removed.
Aligning the house with the northeast corner marker

The house is now sitting on cribbing, lined up where it will stay. But there will be one more move for the old place - straight up. Once the Cheney Cottage is moved and repaired, the Delaney House will be lifted higher into the air, and then a new foundation and first floor walls will be built.

Now, where were we on the permit issue for the Cheney Cottage??

Sunday, September 19, 2010

For the Love of Truck

Our 1965 GMC truck is quite possibly one of the smartest purchases we ever made.
Barnaby in our purple truck
We bought the truck back in 2003, when we were beginning work on the Old Magahey place. We had often thought about getting a pick up truck before, to use for hauling and to make it easier to do dump runs. But we never really looked for one.

In 2003, as we were starting the Herculean task of restoring the Magahey place, we noticed the truck sitting on Parker Street with a for sale sign. It was mostly primer color, but looked pretty good, and the guy who was selling it claimed the engine was "excellent" but it needed some work. So he sold it to us for $900.

Since then, we have probably invested about $1000 in the truck (not including the can of purple house paint we used to paint it) but it has done an incredible amount of work. It has hauled furniture, building materials and lots of debris. We use it for everything, and it runs great. The electrical system is still dicey (the tail lights and blinkers are currently out of order) but other than that, it runs strong and never causes us any trouble.

This weekend, it took several loads of debris from the back yard to the dump. Both loads were approaching 2000 lbs, but the truck sailed through with little trouble.

So, other than hauling debris, what did we do on Saturday? I soldered a spigot onto the place where we cut the water main, so we again have water at the site. We finished transplanting roses, cleaned up the site, and fixed the holes in the siding in the back of the house. Now that the basement has been demolished, we have lots of extra siding that matches the rest of the house, so we finally had some we could use to patch.

On Sunday, we'll be breaking up the old Delaney foundation. Then on Monday, Phil will slide the house over some to get it perfectly aligned in its new location. And we'll begin our next battle with the City of Berkeley to get them to release the Cheney Cottage permits.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Third of Five

The Delaney House has been moved to the back of the lot on 62nd Street.

As always, we continue to be amazed by the sheer force of will that is Phil Joy. Phil spent two days at the site. On Wednesday, he and his crew installed cribbing under the Delaney House, jacked it up, and the basement walls were pulled apart. Tom spent some time digging out the last couple rose bushes to be saved, and I demolished the front stairs.

Anyone who went up the old front stairs of the Delaney House would know that they were not in good shape, but taking them apart was a revelation. The redwood siding was in good shape, but the support posts of the front stairs, unlike the rest of the house, were not made of redwood, and so were completely rotted. I had a hammer - no pry bar or anything else to work with - and within about 5 minutes, the stairs were gone.

Yesterday, they erected more cribbing further back on the lot, and put rollers under the beams supporting the house. The house was then gently rolled backwards towards its new place, about 40 feet back.

The process of actually moving it is almost anti-climatic. When they are ready for the next pull, Phil attaches chains to the bobcat, and then gently tugs on the house. The house gently slides back, appearing almost effortless. Despite the size of the house and the weight of it, it seems to glide.
Phil using the bobcat to gently pull the house back

Phil also used the bobcat to dig out the two big roses (that we thought we couldn't save) and we moved them to the backyard of the Delaney House. The house still has a good sized back yard, and Phil also used the bobcat to clear away all the brush and debris from under the redwood tree. Tom took two loads of it to the dump, and the back yard is now significantly larger than it had been.

We'll spend this weekend doing clean up, and beginning the demolition of the old foundation. On Monday, Phill will come back to slide the house two or three feet to the west, and to get it perfectly centered on its new location.

Tom, Phil Joy, and Dmitri after the house moved back

And then, when the City of Berkeley gives us the permits, we'll move the Cheney Cottage. We are finally making real progress here!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Basement no more

The Delaney House on cribbing, ready to move

At the end of the day, Tom and I went by the Delaney House, to discover that progress had been made. The basement is gone - the walls have been taken down, and the house is sitting on cribbing.

Tom and I spent 2 hours cleaning up the site and putting up some chain link fencing where the wall of the basement used to be.

The house is ready to move - either tomorrow or Friday, Phil will be back to lower the house and begin to move it back. By Friday evening, the house should be in its new location. More pictures to come.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Progress At Last

Cribbing under the Delaney House

The moving of the Delaney House is underway - or at least, the prep for the move is underway.

Phil Joy and crew arrived today to begin the set up for the move this week. They popped out the windows in the basement, and have built cribbing and put i-beams through the house. The jacks are in place, and the house is ready to be lifted.
A beam on top of the cribbing

Once the house is lifted, the basement walls will be cut and removed. The house will then be lowered, put on rollers, and rolled 35 feet south and 4 feet west. Then the house will be jacked up high, and put on cribbing.
Things are finally moving again.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Home Stretch

We have it on good authority (the Permit Center) that we will have the Delaney House move permit this week. Probably Wednesday.

So, we are pushing forward. This weekend, Tom and I spent a lot of time getting the house ready. This is not a simple task: everything has to be thought through and figured out, and there was a bunch of things we had to do. We removed all the downspouts: we removed all the gas pipes; we disconnected the water main and cut back the pipes that extended below the bottom of the first floor joists. PG&E came (at long last!) and disconnected the power and the gas. We took everything out of the basement. We organized our piles of stuff in the yard (old bricks, building supplies, garbage).

There are still a couple more tasks to do: we have two rose bushes we want to dig up and move so they don't get mashed by the house; we have to remove the fuse box; we have to disconnect the house from the front stairs (which should be easy - they've been trying to separate from the house for years).

When Phil Joy and his crew arrive this week, they'll jack the house up, and put it on cribbing. Then they'll remove the basement walls and lower the house down toward the ground. The house will then be slid on beams back to its new location, and lifted 11 feet in the air, and placed on cribbing.

Hopefully, the Cheney Cottage permits will be ready soon, and then we'll get the 2nd floor of the Cheney Cottage brought over to 62nd Street. We'll have a week to work on it: reattaching the eaves that were cut off, tearing off the old roofing and sheathing the attic, then putting down building paper and getting the roof ready for shingles. Then the 2nd floor will be lifted high in the air, and the first floor will be brought to 62nd Street. The two halves of the house will be married back together, and then we'll begin the Cheney Cottage restoration.

I'm cautiously optimistic that the City of Berkeley Permit Center is going to continue to cooperate to get this project moving. So stay tuned for more frequent blogging!