Friday, June 26, 2015


While we wait for our windows (the subject of which requires its own post), we got started on removing some of the yuck from the 2nd floor unit. We started small; removed dozens and dozens of nails and screws from the walls. We're talking walls covered with nails every 5", from top to bottom on 11' ceilings. I don't think I will ever figure out what they were placed there originally but a girl can speculate; tchotchke alter perhaps?

Moving along, we then took down the shelving that was thoroughly attached to the windows. All the windows were covered by all the shelves. It was perplexing to say the least.

There was laminate piled upon laminate. In one particularly easy portion to remove, there were only two layers under which looks like original wood flooring. We'll do all we can to restore it and use it. There are several gaps that are wide enough to look through and seems there isn't any sort of sub-floor beneath it. The wood is nice and thick and I'll love to sand it down, patch it up and keep it. After talking about possibility of either removing it and laying a sub-floor with sound insulation underneath, or keeping it as it is, we decided it was best to live with it and determine down the line if the sound transfer between the two units is too unbearable. Cost is always a factor, and I'd like to error on the side of doing too little in some areas so that we can add lovely things like transom windows over the doors to bring even more light into certain spaces.

Then C took out the big guns and removed jenky closets, and lofted lofts of boards, and junk. There were so many subdivisions of such lovely large airy rooms. We took down boards covering double door that were boxing them in from the tops and sides. The kitchen had two pieces of plywood stapled into a doorway between it and the dining room. The original plans show there was a pocket door where we have our heat registers and a heat register where there is the large opening between the rooms. I thought perhaps the removal of the wall came later in the life of the home, but the floor plan is exactly the same on both levels. The heat registers seem to have been there since the dawn of time as well. The walls are all plaster and the upstairs doesn't seem to have been altered in anyway other than the removal of the portion housing the pocket door and it's opening. There are also identical small built in niches and cabinets on both floors that seem original to the home as well, in the area supposedly occupied by the original pocket doors. I am suspicious that in the actual building of the property, the door and heating run locations were switched.

Either way you look at it, the plywood needed to be removed and C got to resurrect some of his Karate from childhood as we took out, you guessed it, more shelves closing off more doorways.
Master bedroom doorway revealed after removal
of a heap of hodgepodge wood.
You can see the faint outline of plywood
that was painted over between
kitchen and dining room.
I leave you with this:

I leave you with this gem. Do your self a favor. Hit play. It'll put a smile on your face.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Waiting, and Not Waiting

We have new steps! The small dog LOVES these. It took her a few days to get used to using them instead of her human elevator. But now, there's no waiting to ascend or descend, just boogie on down. And with the summer weather, it has been awesome to be able to just step outside and cool off in the evenings.

We're waiting to hear back from the National Historic Tax Credit Program. We're waiting for our finalized plans. We're waiting for our expediter to being pulling permits. We're waiting to hear back about ordering windows for the back of the property. We're waiting, we're waiting, we're waiting.

However, we are not waiting for the second floor tenant to move out! Huzzah! After 4 months of being in the drivers seat of the housing court proceedings, the tenant finally left. This is in addition to over a year of housing court BEFORE we closed on the property. The tenant story is huge and amazingly complex with a little bit, okay, a lot of crazy mixed in.  But, a large part of the delay was still due to the previous owners attempting in multiple ways to wiggle their way out of the sale. The property was under contract to be delivered vacant. They only made any steps to provide the property as such, under threat. Once they were finally convinced we would still close on the property with the tenant(s) still in place, they decided to sign another lease with another tenant in the basement of the property... which is not recognized as a separate apartment unit, I will add. This has been a bit trickier to deal with as we only learned about this tenant on the day before closing during the walk through. They were not there during the initial showing, nor were they there during any subsequent inspections. In truth, their "lease" was signed the day before our first real closing date was to occur. The sellers also, according to the "lease", took a deposit, which they refused to admit to having at closing time. In essence, they stole the deposit as they had no intention on ever paying it back to anyone. That aside,

This first particular real closing date never occurred due to sellers telling us that they had a death in the family and they requested a religious mourning period of 100 days. In my mind, part truth, part evasion tactic. Seeing as how they blatantly disregarded the sale contract and signed a new ILLEGAL lease a day before we were to close, I find much of what they ever said suspect.

But the good news, the tenant has found a new place and put down their deposit. They will be moving out soon which takes away some of my late night worry and anxiety. Things are moving along.

And to top it all off, the construction crew, who I can't praise enough, is here hauling away all of the garbage left upstairs. Hoarders you know, they like to keep the strangest things. I spent a few hours yesterday deconstructing a man cave or sorts in one of the bedrooms. There was a lofted bed, a bar, tv mount, boxes of Spanish vhs pirated pornos. And to top it all off, everything was bedazzled with glass beads. It was a treat.

Welcome to the second floor unit, post clean up, pre clean out:



 Bedroom #1

 Bedroom #2

Bedroom #3 (Man Cave)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Gussying up her Back Side

Plans have a tendency to change during the course of a renovation. Our first change occurred with a hefty price tag, but it was a necessity in order to preserve the structural integrity of our home.

We were planning on removing the old peeling latex paint from the back facade and then coating it with a breathable finish designed for brick.

However, it turns out that that ugly peeling paint was hiding TONS of ugly crumbling mortar. So much of it simply turned to dust and blew away that we had no other option but to repoint the whole back side of the building. It was even looking like we'd have to remove and replace several sections of brick.

Still, this change meant more money, and more time.

The two days that it took to remove the remaining crumbling mortar was some of the dirtiest home repair work I've been around. This of course doesn't top the time I helped vacuum 5 gallons of rat poo out of an attic. But I digress. Just a few days ago, the back of the house was completely covered in a blue tarp turning the inside of the house a hazy glowing blue that quickly filled with a swirling layer of dust. Unfortunately, our windows and back door are useless, and even after taping all the cracks, I was left with 3 hours of cleaning each night trying to get the back two rooms into livable shape again.

But the dust and the work was worth it. The mortar was cut down then replaced. Our wall looks nice and sturdy. Thankfully the contractor is fantastic, as well as our luck. I was just rewarded with news that they didn't need to replace any bricks, they were super sturdy and held tightly in place, all they needed was some serious repointing. Hooray for money saved!

So this is where we were when we moved in, and then here we are today. Cha-cha-cha-cha-changes.

I meet with the contractor on Saturday to measure and pick out the kitchen window, as the lintel needs to be replaced and they do have some rebricking to do around the current opening as it wasn't a great installation the first time around. The window itself is in better shape than the others in the building, but it leaks around the top, and the header was beginning to rot because the window was set out beyond the face of the wall. This did not make for good water shed. Originally the door to the outside was where the double wide window is. You can still see the outline of where there was a door on the second floor, as each unit originally had access to a porch. 

I asked that they take the awning over the basement door down. It was hanging on by a thread(ed screw). Yes. I did.  Removing it visually opens the small yard up. We may end up replacing it if we find that it was there for a reason, but for now, I like it gone.

There are still some small details to finish up on the back. Not least of all is updating the back steps to real steps. The workers have taken to using a ladder propped up where the steps used to be. I prefer to LEAP down. Sophie the Dog prefers the human elevator method. Like I said, we still have some details to take care of.