Sunday, September 25, 2011

Singing in the Rain

The tarps are down. After two years of keeping the Cheney Cottage as dry as possible (which often was not at all possible), the house is waterproof.

We don't actually have a finished roof yet - we still have to pick shingles and have them installed, along with the drip edge. But the roof now has building paper, carefully installed and tacked down. The attic is dark: no light seeps in through the hundreds of cracks, no gaps let in the sun and the pigeons that have been roosting there.

The shingles will go up soon, in the next week or two. But for the first time in two years, we can listen to the rain, and not worry that the house is being slowly ruined. Another milestone!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Anniversaries and Injuries

Today we celebrated our 32nd anniversary by working at the Cheney Cottage. We got a lot done: Tom put up siding on the east side, and I worked on cleaning up plaster dust in the laundry, then stripped paint in the living room and all the way up the stairs.

But we had a little problem: Tom was cutting a piece of siding on the table saw, and it kicked back and hit him in the arm. It put a pretty deep hole in his arm, and he was bleeding like a stuck pig. But we remained calm, and bandaged his arm, and then he went over to Kaiser to get it checked out. (We just got the 66 Mercedes running, and since it's an automatic, he could drive himself over with no problem.)

The result: 5 stitches. He's actually feeling pretty good, even though his arm is sore, and we're still planning on going out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary.

This week, the roofers are coming to finish the roof, so by the end of the week, the house will be completely waterproof - first time in years. I also spent some time today sorting all the pieces of the front porch, and have it all figured out. Hopefully, next week we can start building the porch, and then the house will be a lot easier to get into and out of.

With the porch in place, we can bring in the kitchen cabinets and the stove, and try to get the kitchen finished. We still will need counters, some kind of finished floor, and a refrigerator, plus an 18" dishwasher - but we're making progress there.

We'll also start seriously patching plaster. Now that the house is watertight, we can hang blueboard and start plastering, without worrying about it getting ruined.

The stripping paint goes on - the living room ceiling is about the only thing left to do - but there is still plenty of scrapping to do. And then we have to finish the woodwork. And install the bathroom fixtures. And the plumbing. And the heating system.

So, two weeks.

Still no financing - the banks are being unbelievable. I'm not sure how we are ever going to have an economic recovery if people can't get access to capital. The banks are making money hand over fist and sharing none of it with the people who are trying to invest.

But we're pushing on. This project is going to take longer than we ever thought. But we're not going anyplace. We will get the Cheney Cottage and Delaney House done!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Now Get Back to Work

Tom and I bring a new meaning to the phrase "stay-cation" For us, our vacation meant working harder than we work at work. But we got a lot done.

Almost all the wiring in the house is done. We have a couple last things to do (the sconce in the downstairs bathroom, the laundry room outlet, lights outside) but everything else is done. I hope to install the fuse box next weekend, and hook up all the wiring I've been running.

All the trim on the outside of the house is back in place. The band board on the west side, and one small piece of trim, are still not there, and there is a piece of missing bandboard in the front - but everything else is in place. The house is ready to have the painting finished.

We cleaned up the house and the site. All the plaster we removed is gone, the house is mostly organized, and all the roofing debris has been either removed, or raked up into piles to be removed. And Lisa stopped by yesterday and spent some more time scrapping paint in the dining room, so the dining room woodwork is nearing the point where we can finish it.

Still no building paper on the roof, though. We brought two rolls up to the roof, and decided we just weren't up for risking our lives climbing around up there. So that is still on the "to do" list, hopefully to get done by someone other than us. We have one estimate for finishing the roofing, but as that estimate was kind of outrageous, we are going to get some others.

We need to get the new water service brought to the house, and get the gas meter installed so we can hook up the gas.

We need to do the front retaining wall and walkway, so we can fill in the front yard and do some landscaping. And we need to build the porches.

And we need to install a heating system. We're now thinking we'll do a gas fireplace in the front room to heat that space, and then radiators in the bedrooms, kitchen and dining room.

Oh, and there's lots of plaster to patch, every room needs to be painted, and the floors need to be refinished. We need to finish the stripping of the woodwork so we can shellack it.

And then we'll be done. And ready to turn our attention back to the Delaney House.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Laboring Toward Labor Day

Since we've both been on vacation this week, we've gotten a lot done. We worked on Sunday and Monday, then took Tuesday off (Tom helped Sabastian move in Davis, and I had work to catch up on here). We spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the Cheney Cottage.

And a lot has gotten done. We took down the ceiling in the kitchen, I finished all the wiring in there (lights and outlets), which was a huge job. Running romex in a new house is probably not a lot of work (we've never had the pleasure) but in an old house, the problem is always getting it to go where you want it. So, for example, the light switches in the kitchen took 5 hours to run the romex - it was almost impossible to pull the romex through from the crawl space, but we finally succeeded. Opening up the kitchen ceiling also has greatly simplified the second floor wiring, so I expect to finish the upstairs bedrooms this weekend. All that is left after that is the upstairs bathroom and WC, and the downstairs bathroom, and the porch lights.

Tom has mostly been working outside, putting up trim, and there are very few pieces left to go. The band board is still missing on the west side, and one other piece of trim, and we have a couple pieces under one of the windows on the south side - but then it's all done. This weekend Tom hopes to put up more of the siding on the crawl space, and finish the watertable installation on the east and south sides.

We're also putting up the building paper on the roof this weekend, which will make the house truly watertight. We're still discussing if we're going to shingle the roof ourselves - the estimate we got for shingle installation was completely outrageous - so we may be up there roofing the place yet. But at least, after this weekend, we'll have the roof sealed and the rains can come.

And we're starting to think about plumbing. I'm hoping we can get some of the supply pipe installed so we can have a working toilet and sink in the not too distant future.

We've also started planning the landscaping. We plan to build a low retaining wall in front, with one step, and then bring in some clean fill to raise the level of the ground around the house (and give us some good dirt for plantings). The retaining wall will be concrete, so when we have that poured, we'll also pour the front path and the walkway back toward the Delaney House.

It's been a lot of work. But we're taking the day off (mostly) and relaxing. Then Sunday and Monday, we'll be back, making progress. This project will be finished, one day.