Sunday, March 24, 2013

More photos

Here are some photos of some of the work we did this weekend.

We worked on the fence along the driveway between our house and Christine's house next door.  The interesting thing about this is that all the wood is from the property: the posts are the old supports for the basement of the Delaney House, and the rails (and the slats, which will be installed next weekend) are milled from the old redwood trees that stood at the front of the lot.

Tom checking out the fence

Net are some pictures of the bathroom on the second floor of the Delaney House.  I know, it looks like a wreck, but it's actually much improved.  The wainscoting has been replaced, the shear wall is in, the window has been repaired.  There is even plumbing, and the wiring has all been roughed in.  Next weekend, we will install the toilet, and run water to the sinks.  There are two sinks: one in the bathroom, and one in the foyer outside the bathroom.

The corner where the clawfoot tub will go, with the sink to the left

The bathroom window

The foyer, with the wall hung sink in place

As mentioned in the last blog post, I found a couple shingles in the attic over the bathroom, left over from when the roof was first shingled.  They are in perfect condition, 130 years later.

Next weekend, more wiring, fence slats, and connecting up the toilet and sinks.  Step by step.

Nineteenth Century Cobwebs

Running romex for wiring is an interesting process.  The romex itself is easy to work with - it's sheathed in heavy plastic/rubber, easily cut but strong enough that it can be pulled and tugged through studs and around obstructions.   It shouldn't be as hard as it sometimes is.

Yesterday, I was working on rewiring the second floor bathroom of the Delaney House.  When the Delaney house was built, some time around 1870, there was no running water in the house, and the house itself was just four rooms.  At some point in the next 20 years, a shed addition was added to the back of the house, containing all the water for the house (a kitchen pantry with the sink, and a bathroom).

In the original part of the house, the ceilings are 11 feet high, with an ample attic space above it.  But in the shed, the ceilings are just 8 feet high, and the space between the ceiling joists and the underside of the roof is quite small.  In order to run the romex, I have had to climb up onto the ceiling joists, then pull myself along on top of the joists.  It's not just pulling the romex through - it also involves drilling holes for the romex to pass through, cutting out openings for light fixtures, and dealing with upgrading the space.  The shed was probably built in the 1880s or 90s, so, as one can imagine, the space between the roof and the ceiling joists is nothing short of filthy.  Ancient cobwebs are coated thickly with dust, and it all sticks to me as I crawl along.  Each time I come out, I basically could use a shower and a change of clothes. So going up there, multiple times, leaves me coated with dirt and sweat and grime.

It's lovely.  And yet there are moments, even in the roof of the shed addition, when I find pleasure.  Crawling over the joists, I came across a full cedar shingle.  The shed originally had a shingle roof (now long since gone), and there, lying in the dust on top of the bathroom ceiling, I noticed a square.  Picking it up, it turned out to be a shingle from the original roofing job of the house. Obviously, some nineteenth century builder dropped the shingle and ignored it, and it lay there, for the next 130 years.  One side was almost black from the dust, but the side that was facing down looks almost new.  The grain of the wood is tight, and that shingle probably could be used on a roof and would last for many years.

And in the meantime, the house is progressing.  The bathroom will have 3 outlets: two by the sink, and one at the opposite end of the room by the window. There will be lights over the sink, in the middle of the room, and over the sink in the foyer space outside the bathroom.  

When we lifted the house, we also raised the shed slightly to level the floor.  So the floors are level and the "shed" now feels like a permanent part of the house.  The back wall has been rebuilt, the rotted studs removed and replaced, the wall insulated, and a shear wall added to give the house the seismic strength it needs.  I'm filthy, but the house is coming along.

Today, I'll spend some more time in the space between the roof and ceiling.  I also hope to work on finishing the wiring to the front bedroom and the hallway.  I'll go up into the attic to rewire the light over the stairs, which will now operate from a wall switch.

Tom is working on building a fence along the driveway.  We're planning a low fence to be neighborly and yet to provide some separation between the houses.  After that, we hope to get Dan working on the front of the house, and then get Dale to finish the painting.  From the outside, it should appear that the project is done.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The front of the Delaney House

The driveway and path are done.  AThat's Sabastian's pickup truck, parked along side our 66 Mercedes Biodiesel.  It's nice to pull up and be able to park off the street!

The Cheney/Delaney driveway

More pictures tomorrow of the work inside.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Delaney Progress

Here's the latest update on the Delaney House:

About half the wiring is now done - the downstairs bedroom, two of the upstairs bedrooms, the overhead lights, the hallway.  Still have to put outlets in one more bedroom, the bathrooms and the kitchen.

The plumbing is also coming along - most of the DWV is done (and should be pressure tested this week) and the supply plumbing is being run.  We hope to hook up water to the upstairs bathroom so there is at least a working toilet (so we can finally get rid of the porta-crapper out front).  The gas lines are all installed as well.

And we finally have a walkway to the house.  Just in time for the rainy season to be over, but we can now walk from the sidewalk to the Delaney House without slogging through the mud.  One of the nice benefits about making the house wheelchair accessible is that it's very easy to move things into the house - for example, when we get a refrigerator, there won't be any steps to go up!

The new walkway to the Delaney House

The driveway is also mostly done - tomorrow, Hilary will bring in a little more decomposed granite, and compact the whole thing, and then it'll be done as well.

And I replaced the four broken windows that our neighbor's son had shattered (multiple times) with his baseball.  He seems to have improved his technique, and no windows have been hit by balls lately - so it seems safe.

There's still a lot to do, but we're making progress!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Music in the Cheney Cottage

One of the best things about restoring an old house, or saving one that is in danger of being demolished, is then seeing life happening inside the walls.  Now that we have completed the Cheney Cottage, there are 5 people living there, including our youngest son, Sabastian.

Yesterday, we brought his piano over to him, and he sat in the dining room and played.  He plays beautifully, even with a piano that is seriously out of tune (he never tuned it while he was a student at Davis).  It was wonderful to hear him playing, and to hear his music filling the old house.
Sabastian in the Cheney Cottage dining room

We have taken a little time off from working on 62nd Street, mostly to set up and fill our chicken coop on Parker Street.  Next weekend, we'll be back with Delaney updates.