Before we shared the tour with you, Scott and I did some serious damage to that house. And by serious, we mean serious good. Our bones are sore, our backs hurt, and we’re still finding bruises that we don’t know how we got – wait, when did I get this one? – but it was worth every ache and pain. We took the long holiday weekend to knock through drywall, run to the hardware store every day and eat more fast food than we’d like to admit. We had a lot (like, a lot) of fun, sweated off 10 lbs each (okay, maybe not really) and drank an ocean of water between the two of us. (By the way, that’s dust and old-home-dirt on our legs – not bruises!)
We’ll be moving into the new house in less than 2 weeks (where in the world did the time go?), and in between packing up our own home and trying to find an hour of down time before we hit the sack, our goal is to accomplish three things:
- Repair the sagging ceiling on the first floor, which will also level the second floor
- Open the entryway (taking it from a closed off two-flat to a welcoming single family)
- Knock down those crazy crooked room partitions – one on each floor
THING ONE: THE CEILING. After the a few swings of a sledgehammer through the first floor ceiling, we were welcomed with lath (and crumbling plaster) – thin, obnoxious strips of wood hidden behind the drywall, quickly becoming our worst enemy. In order to repair the sagging ceiling, the joists need to be straightened out, and in order to do that, the ceiling had to come down. The lath turned it into an almost-2-day job, but Scott knocked it out of the park!
THING TWO: THE ENTRYWAY. While Scott sledged away on that ceiling, I took a hammer and reciprocating saw to the entry. (The saw, by the way? It’s my new best friend.) Down came the first floor door, the nook room closet (opening it to the entry, which will soon become a much needed coat closet), and a partial section that closed off the stairs. All that will help us to keep an official entry, but we’ll create the warm welcome to the whole home – rather than the closed off feeling it once had.
During the demolition, we uncovered an original archway – an arch! While it’s not the same shape as the arch on the second floor, it’s just as adorable. Unfortunately, the arch would make for a very narrow opening (the only downside to the nineteenth century design – well, that, and the f*@!ing lath), so we’d like to recreate it on a larger scale (going wider and taller), as an ode to the architecture.
THING THREE: THE PARTITIONS. Remember this crooked room partition on the second floor? During the last (cheaply done) renovation to the home, the first floor partition was blasted open without being properly supported. (The first floor partition, by the way, will also need to open completely to correct the issue.) Over time, this doorway – and the floor beneath it – drooped. To get to the root of the problem, we opened it up, and found…
… a brick chimney! My heart is set on keeping the chimney there (the pale brick is calling to me!), but after discussing options with contractors, there’s a slight chance that the chimney could also be pulling the floor down. (We actually discovered that the chimney was lopped off halfway down, and it’s currently being supported from the middle of the first floor, up. It’s not being supported at all from the basement – womp, womp.) Further digging from professionals will determine its fate, but fingers crossed it can stay – somehow.
So, what’s next? Now that we’ve spent several days demo-ing the drywall, lath and cracked plaster (with a few more nights of work on the agenda), we’ll be turning towards the professionals to correct the joists, properly move the studs and replace the drywall the right way. By demolishing most of the walls ourselves, we’ll be saving a big chunk of change (not to mention, learning a few things along the way), and while we’re still in talks with contractors, they’ve been supportive of our decision to take on some dirty work with these four hands. They’ve even gone so far as to point out other punch list items we can knock out – literally – to further line our pockets.
With our moving date right around the corner, we know we’ll be walking around contractors while the ends are properly tied up, but that’s okay. Our only concern is the unknown – what other issues might they find? What can we afford now, and what will need to be a “someday (soon!)” to-do?
What we do know is that we’re sort of in love with the sledgehammer. And reciprocating saw. And this challenge, you know, in general.