Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mud & Microwaves

Yesterday marked continued work with the mud and tape upstairs. Dad and Nolan came up for the evening and we got the remainder of the tape up on the walls and some of the tape up on corner joining the walls and ceiling. Dad and Nolan got the microwave hung above the oven and the kitchen is pretty much done... except for the aesthetics. Lotsa work needed there.

I'm gearing up for this weekend to get more of this work finished and off of my mind. Next week should be a lot less busy for me so I'll be able to get even more done. Hopefully I can get that dumpster out of my driveway next week. I'm really starting to hate that thing plugging up the driveway to those parking spots in the back that would be awesome to be able to use!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mother Nature is a Mean Lady

Well, it rained today and, of course, the puddle returned on the mantle. I need to call the PO and make him fix that roof.

In other water issues, I was in the basement today and I noticed some water on the ground. I assumed that it must have come from the foundation, but nope. I looked up above my head and I saw the drain from the first floor shower. Yup, the shower drain leaks. Amazing.

With unwanted water spending so much time in the house I should be charging it rent.

When I got home tonight I stepped in some water on the kitchen floor and, without looking at the floor, shot my glare directly at the ceiling. Somebody just spilled some water on the floor, but I'm so paranoid about water leaks now.

This week is SUPER busy for me with Rush Week at the Fraternity, work, Student Government, and starting a new project in studio. I'm not going to be getting too much done in the next couple days, but this weekend is another story. Can you say 3-day weekend? My goal is to get the NW bedroom finished and the cabinet frames out of the NE bedroom... meaning I can finally get that construction dumpster out of my driveway. My roommates and I have been parking on the street and blocking eachother into the driveway so far, so having access to the parking area in the back will be such a nice change.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Weekends Are Good For Progress

I've been loving weekends even more than usual lately. Today Dad, Grandpa, and Nolan (my brother) helped work on the house again. I actually didn't know anything was going on until I got home from work around 3:30 and saw my dad's vehicle parked in the driveway. When I came inside I saw that 1. Granpda took down the old hood vent and put in an outlet for my new microwave, 2. Dad and Nolan had finished drywalling upstairs, and 3. they got around to filling in the screw holes in the drywall. Sweet!

After a quick trip to Menards to make use of a sale (anything you can fit into a paper bag was 15% off) we got one of my salvaged doors hung in the entrance to the Northeast bedroom. This also required a trip to 'the Depot' to get some more supplies.

Take a look at the door hanging in it's new place. It only needs a little bit of work and a coat of paint and it'll be ready to go. I wish I could leave the natural wood of the door, but everything else is painted upstairs and I'm not about to start refinishing woodwork up there!

While shoving little odds and ends into my sale bag at Menards I grabbed a new faucet for the kitchen sink. The old one was not only dated, but also featured the ever-spinning knobs. It took some strategy to get the water to turn off once it was turned on; the faucet just had varying degrees of on. Just spin those knobs until the water quits! The new faucet is a Moen one complete with a spray nozzle. In case I ever feel like doing dishes. We'll see if this happens. The new faucet looks so nice it almost feels out of place with the grungy 70's kitchen!

For another little snazzy purchase I picked myself up some new toilet seats. Why didn't I just do that the first day instead of using the gross-gross-gross ones that came with the house? The upstairs one was of the vinyl padded variety that I've always likened to relieving yourself on a vinyl padded folding chair. Exhibit A:

And after:
The second toilet (first floor) was your average hard white toilet seat. I'm not quite sure what they're made of but you can see some of what's below the white enamel because its surface is bubbling up and coming off. Classy. Exhibit B:
And after:
You may have heard somebody screaming in disgust this evening, wherever you live. That was me when I was removing the old toilet seat. As I was taking it off the bolt and nut that hold the seat on stuck to my fingers. Eeeyaachh! I don't even want to think about what produced that stickyness!

All in all, a very productive day. Even though most of the productivity came from my family it still feels great to see progress. Thanks again guys! Tomorrow after work I will have to get a start on some of the taping upstairs so that bedroom becomes habitable. I'm not sure how much I'll get done because I'm going to clean out the rest of my storage locker and move my architecture supplies to my desk in studio downtown. I'll have to post some info about our studio building; it's a really cool reuse of a warehouse... I feel photos coming on!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Porch Swing Aftermath

As long as I have this spiffy new internet, I might as well add in the photo I took of the damaged porch ceiling after My buddy Greg and I took our little ride to the porch floor.
As funny as it was at the time I have some beadboard to replace now. I guess I should say MORE beadboard to replace (you should see the soffits) but that'll be sometime down the line. I think I should first make the house a little more habitable. Walls come first then, down the line a ways, beadboard. I'll fix the porch ceiling first I think; it's just that little chunk. But definatelly walls first!

Complications With Cable

I, like an idiot, also assumed that the cable installation would go smoothly. Strike 2.

About ten minutes before the cable guy got here I realized that there is no cable jack in the living room. Or first floor for that matter. I ran outside to look at the box on the side of the house and, sure enough, there was a cable going into the foundation. I figured that it must run through the basement and pop up somewhere in the first floor. Wrong. This is what I found on the other side of the basement wall:

Beautiful. It was about that time that the cable guy arrived. The first thing he did was open up the box on the side of the house to see what's going on. He had the most confused look on his face until I remembered a little detail, "oh, did I not mention this used to be a duplex?" Aparantly there were setups for two different units. Luckily he knew how to get everything back in order.

When I showed him the little nubbin of a cable cord in the basement he said he could just drill a hole in the floor and run it up to the living room. Not my hardwood floors! Eek! I said I could do some fishing around in the walls and install a wall jack myself and just connect to the stub in the basement. He said that is what he would reccommend and I keep my floors hole-free. Everyone wins.

The bedroom jack upstairs was another little issue. It looks like this:

Why? Because it just takes too much effort to NOT paint over it. Who does this? Honestly! Fortunatelly for me (and my roommate who lives in the room) it still works, so crisis avoided there.

Bright side? Well, there were no complications with the wireless installation, so I can now blog from anywhere in my house. Piece of cake!

(Where did the phrase 'piece of cake' come from? It seems normal to say it, but looking at it typed seems really weird. Probably some historical back-story I've never heard)

Well, Jeff, I'll agree with you. 2.5 times as long as I'd thought seems about correct on this little adventure too. Those numbers make me nervous about my bigger projects up ahead!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Let There Be Light!

I continued my streak of unproductivity yesterday and most of today, but finally broke it with what should have been a 20 minute fix. Why do I always assume that anything I do will take just as long in this house as it would in new construction? You'd think I would have learned by now.

As it turns out, it took about twice as long as I thought it would. After expanding the living room out I decided that I needed to upgrade the light fixture to one with more bulbs. I bought a three bulb, brushed nickel fixture some time last week and finally got around to hanging it up. I know that it isn't a 'historically correct' light fixture, but I think that buyers will like the brushed nickel look when I go to sell in a couple years. I also like the cleaner look it gives vs. brass.

Here are the before and after shots of the light.

...and this is the reason it took longer than I'd imagined. At some time in the house's past, somebody drywalled over the plaster ceiling in the living room. They didn't bother to cut the hole for the light fixture big enough, so there's problem one. Problem 2? Well, there are a lot of old wires going on in that box! It was hard to be able to push them around so I could hang the new fixture. Try sending screws up into that mess and still holding onto some form of confidence in what you're doing!

As I started connecting the wires I glanced down at the entry table at the copy of my insurance policy I had received earlier in the day. Covered for fire? Check. Let's hope it works. Flipped the breaker back on, said a short prayer, and BAM! We have light! 3 bulbs! As I sit here at 11pm typing it is still bright enough in the room, unlike the light from the old, single-bulb fixture.

The only problem with it is that there is a small dent on the fixture above where the glass is. That would be from when it, as well as all of the tools and hardware, fell from the top of the ladder. Whoops! Luckily I didn't have the glass with me at that point!

It's only small progress, but I'm happy about it. It sounds like Dad's coming up again this weekend to finish drywalling upstairs so I can get the taping done and my roommate can move into his room. That's going to be such a great feeling for me. I really don't care if I sleep in the living room for a month, just as long as my roommates are comfortable.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Maybe There Wasn't a Stud There!

My friend and I tried to sit on the porch swing at the same time and BAM we hit the floor. Laughing all the way. We just sat on the floor and laughed for about five minutes. The $30 swing proved to be a poor investment even before it fell because the wood was so thin and flimsy. If anything, I would have thought the slats on the bench would have broken. I guess I just missed the stud when I hung the swing. I have a nice chunk of beadboard that took the plunge with us, so I'll have to add it to the list. I was surprised how good it felt to just laugh at my misfortune for a few minutes. I need to stop taking this house so seriously and just enjoy the journey!

I had a building inspector out today to check my framing, and I got the pass to close up the walls! Now I can finish the drywall, tape and mud, hang a door, and get my roommate moved into that room. Then I can sleep in the living room all by myself. Aah, the joys of homeownership!

Momentum Slams to a Stop

Between preparing for the first day of school (tomorrow, yikes!), meeting with potential new members for the Fraternity and developing the PR for rush week I haven't really found time to make any progress on the house. Sorry! Hopefully I can get a city inspector out soon to approve the framing so I can finish drywalling the upstairs and get that all taken care of. Basically with the arrival of classes I'm afraid the whole rennovation process will be moving at a much slower pace. Why couldn't I have bought this place earlier in the summer?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Such a Busy Day! So Much to Report

Today was jam-packed with action at the house. It all started off this morning with Dad finishing off the framing upstairs, then up a 24' rental truck to move all of my stuff from the Fraternity house. Despite living in a 12'x12' room for two and a half years I have acquired a lot of stuff.

Once the moving was done we drug out the old refridgerators and stoves from the house and installed the new ones in the kitchen. My room is now devoid of any appliances, YES! There are currently two ovens in the yard, two full sized fridges on the porch and one mini-fridge (from my room at Sigma Nu) just to top it off. I hope this is the only time in my life that I am the owner of three stoves and four fridges. That's a little much. I look like I'm running an appliance bazaar in my yard.

The drywall was the next project. With the help of a couple friends, my brother, and my Dad a lot of the drywall was hung. Actually, we hung as much as we could leaving one side of each wall exposed for the building inspector who will be coming Monday. Judging by how fast we were able to do half of the work, I figure it shouldn't be too hard to get it finished by Tuesday.

My Mom and sisters came over again today and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. Mom made my floors shine (to the best of their ability) and it is so nice to not have them covered in dust.

Here are a couple photos of all of the stuff my roommates and I have brought over to the house. Most of it is stored in the dining room, but a few things ended up in the living room. Dad, my brother, and two friends helped me carry my piano from my old place up onto the truck and then from the truck into my new place. Thank-you so much guys; that's no small feat! Luckily for us, when I called to reserve a truck to use the only one available was the 24' one which was rediculously larger than we needed, but fortunately had a hydraulic lift on the back. It was awesome to be able to just set the piano down on the lift and push a button to get it into the truck... so much better than breaking your back! Take a look at how well the wood color matches the house's woodwork! The fake flowers on the table were a gag-gift from a coworker, so I put them front and center on the entry table (a garage sale table, $40! What a find!)

Tomorrow I hope to hang the doors upstairs and bust out the cabinets upstairs. I know I've been planning on taking out the cabinets for days, but with the appliances gone it should be much easier. I need to sleep now, I'm so tired!

My Neighbor is a Cyclops

Just look at what my neighbor did. Ugh! I understand that it's a rental unit, but c'mon you could at least let it look good! He removed two double hung windows and replaced them with a tiny, disproportionate, vinyl one. You can see the 'before' on the left side of the first picture. What a dumb window. Something about the incorrect proportion and having the teeny little thing in the center of the gable reminded me of a cyclops. My neighbor is a cyclops!

In slightly more fun news, I disguised the do-it-yourself access point to the bathtub plumbing today with cabinet doors. The doors were taken from the kitchen-bedroom upstairs. I figure, I shouldn't close off the wall until I get the plumbing functioning a little better. (The finish on the doors is better than it looks in the picture; the doors were just dusty at the time.) I thought it was a good short-term solution. Yes I'll be repairing it correctly someday down the road!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Staples & Wires

Grandpa came back today and finished up the wiring for me, and I pulled up all of the tack strips and staples in the upstairs hallway. I also started cutting up carpet to take to the dumpster (which was finally emptied). I took a little trip to 'the Depot' to buy some light fixtures. I chose some brushed nickel ones that had a cleaner look to them, but followed more traditional lines that will look good in the house. Baby steps, ladies and gentlemen. Tomorrow is going to be a huge work day so there'll be more significant progress then. For now, I have staples and wiring off the list.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lets Build Walls!

First of all, let me just say that this post is extremely difficult to write. I'm sitting in the backyard with an extension cord running to an outlet on the side of the house! I'm mooching a wireless signal off of one of my neighbors because I don't have wireless yet in the house, and I can't stray far from the house because my battery is just about dead! I'm sure I look like a huge dork!

My dad, grandpa, and brother came over yesterday to work on the house for me, which was a huge load off of my mind. Grandpa tackled the wiring from the living room wall that I busted out while Dad and my brother worked on framing in the closets and bedroom wall upstairs.

Photos of the progress:

The walls upstairs are just about done being framed in and Dad's coming up to Fargo after work to finish them off for me. Grandpa's coming back Friday to finish up the wiring and I have the weekend off to get everything in liveable order before school starts Tuesday.

I'm heading out to Menards in a few minutes to exchange the mis-matched locks, then jetting off to the ReStore to pick up some doorframes for the bedroom and closets. I'll pick up some of the old hinges they have there that match mine. They're the pretty standard old house hinges, ball on top of the pin and on the bottom of the hinge. I figure as long as I can get the old ones, I might as well do it up right!

BTW, I've developed some sinus issues due to all of the dust (I should have known better) so I've been blowing my nose a lot lately. Because I'm stuck in the backyard I just attempted to blow my nose in an elm leaf. Don't try it, it doesn't feel good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Feeling Better Now

Well, I'm feeling better now that I'm all moved into the living room. Seems weird that that would make me feel better, but it does. I called Dad today and vented for a bit, and he said that he would take the afternoon off of work and drive up to help with the house. Sweet. He knows more about framing than I do (not hard) so he can help with the whole awkward wall situation upstairs. Oh, and he's bringing tools! Sweetness!

I think I'm going to sledge-out the cabinets up in the kitchen/bedroom tomorrow morning and fill up that dumpster outside so I can get a new one.

I need to make a trip to menards tomorrow to pick up another set of doorknobs, since the ones I purchased for the front and side doors don't have the same key. Wow, I'm smart! I hope I can find the receipt. I think I'll buy a skinny pry-bar to pull up tack strips from the carpet and a needle-nose pliers to get the staples. I'll head over to the ReStore too, since I haven't been there for a couple weeks. Maybe they'll have some tile for the bathroom. I'm always keeping my fingers crossed for that!

I went to the hotel after work today and hit the treadmill in the fitness room. It was good to run out some of the stress I had been building up. I guess I just need an outlet for it... cause smashing things with hammers wasn't enough? I'm getting up in six hours to start working on the house again, so thats all for now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


So I'm super stressed out right now. I got most of my stuff out of the room today before work but I still need to remove some of the larger furniture. The guy who is moving in is really laid back so he didn't mind too much. Still, it was such a stressful day. Lets make a list.

1. Vacate room, pack life's posessions into grocery and liquor store boxes. Place in Living room.
2. Live in Fraternity house living room for a week.
3. Roommates want to move in, rooms are missing walls. Everything is still gross.
4. During the rain yesterday I noticed water coming into the house from where the roof meets the chimney. Yup, the flashing the PO was supposed to have fixed before closing. He got it 'fixed' three days later, but as soon as it started raining, I had bubbles of water forming under the paint... in the LIVING ROOM! WTF! Now I have to call the listing agent and bla bla bla headache.
5. Training for Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon... occuring October 7th, weeks behind in training.
6. Architecture school starts again on Tuesday. Because I love stress.

Why do I do all of this to myself? Why can't I just rent an apartment and go out every night like normal college students? I can't wait until October 8th when I just lay on my couch, in a partially finished yet habitable house, and relax. Sometimes I wish life had a fast-forward button!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Moving Out But Not In?

Tomorrow I will be between homes! I need to have all of my things out of my room at Sigma Nu so that another guy can move into it, and the house isn't near to being ready to move into. That leaves me living in a pile of boxes in the Fraternity's living room. Lucky me! It beats the street I guess! Tonight I need to box up everything I own and get it moved. That would present enough of a problem if my room was spotless and well organized. Check out these photos; it's not! I'm the kind of person who is very well organized with time management and most other areas of life, but just has to let one thing go unorganized. That's my room. Wish me luck as I box up my life and clean up tonight!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Not Much Work Done While Bandaged...

No I didn't hurt myself, I just got some tattoo work done. I know it was horrible timing, but I made the appointment before I even made an offer on the house. I've been going to Trent at Addictions, who is probably the best in Fargo, so you have to make an appointment far in advance. If you're curious, I had a barn swallow on my right side which I decided to add another bird to. I'm probably going to add some kind of background eventually, but today hurt enough for a while! As you can most likely see (despite the glare from the flash) the new tattoo looks better than the one I had before (from a different artist), so Trent is going to touch up the old one to make them match. Again, in a while when I have had enough time to make some more money and forget about how much it hurts!

Unfortunatelly my mobility was somewhat comprimised after it was finished, so all I did today was clean up the paint scrapings from the stairwell.

I got my porch swing up last night! It's so great to open the windows on the porch and watch traffic/pedestrians as I attempt to forget the disaster of a house behind me. My roommates are starting to move their things into the house tomorrow and Tuesday. They aren't moving in quite yet, but I need to get moving on these renovations! I'm getting stressed out by this time crunch!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Day 3, Can Be I Done Yet?

Today went pretty well. I still need to drive down to my storage compartment and pick up my stereo and porch swing, but maybe I'll do that after supper. The dumpster's almost full already. Eek! I haven't even gotten the cabinets out yet! Then there's the washer and dryer in the basement and some disgusting old appliances in the kitchens too. Better go with the 18 yard dumpster next! I hate the thought of how much I'm sending to the landfil, but I guess I have to look at the situation as if I didn't do the renovations; the whole house would be on its way soon.

My Mom and twin sisters came up today to clean some of the grossness off the house. They cleaned one of the bedrooms, the kitchen, and the downstairs bathroom from top to bottom. A tall order, considering the condition of the house! They also brought me a TON of cleaning supplies. Thanks guys! Mom lent me her digital camera, so I can keep the pictures coming now.

I finished removing the framing from the dining room closet, and removed all but four studs from the living room partition wall. I'm not looking forward to taking down the wall with the wiring, so i'm letting that one simmer a while. The jumble of studs would be from the intersection of the two closet walls and the wall where the 1st floor unit's front door was. For some reason the PO nailed together this horrible cluster of 8 studs. No, it wasn't load bearing, don't worry! In fact, once I pulled a neighboring stud down, the 'column' started falling over. It took a lot of strength to carry that thing out to the dumpster.

I ripped up the carpet in the upstairs hallway and NW bedroom. The backing made it out to the dumpster already, but I need to cut the carpet into sections so I can bring it out the front door. That's the big wad of carpet in the middle of the bedroom. In the photo it kind of resembles a dead body lying on the floor. I wish it was whoever removed that wall! The newly revealed hardwood floor shows exactly where the walls should be... just a little off from where I thought. The walls were load bearing, so when they were removed somebody threw in a huge joist that cuts across at an angle. I'm not looking forward to framing that out again. Did I mention I've never done any framing before? I'll be calling Dad...

In other upstairs news, I started taking apart the cabinets upstairs. They'll be on their way out as soon as I smash 'em up a bit. P.S. Look at my amazing new drill on the kitchen counter!
In the stairwell I ripped out the last of the wood paneling and scraped the loose paint from the ceiling. Look at that exposed plaster just begging for some paint. (and some kilz!)

Mom took a photo of me while I carried out the LAST piece of fake wood in the house. Success!

Notice how in the photo I am wearing flip flops. Just add that to the list of lessons learned the hard way. Yeah, I stepped on a nail. It went all the way through my shoe, but just poked my foot; no skin broken. I was wearing my gloves though, so I am learning!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Day 2, Photos Included

Well, it's day 2 and I just returned from the house. I'm taking an 8 hour break, aka going to work, so I need to clean up a little bit. I borrowed a friend's camera (thanks Dustin!) to take some pictures to show my progress so far. By progress of course I mean smashing things.

First let me include a photo from my little party-of-1 celebration I had for myself after closing. I added the wrecking bar because I thought it was appropriate for my closing day. I mixed equal parts champagne and demo. A good day all around.

First off, I busted down most of the wall separating the stairwell from the Living Room. I included a photo that I took sitting on the stairs showing the full view of the fireplace wall. I'm really excited about this change, but not excited to try to make the texture on the walls hide any evidence that the closet and wall existed. That's a ways down the road though, I have more distruction still to come.

Next come photos of the stairwell, sans paneling. The woodwork really stands out better without having to compete with laminated woodgrain atrocities. You can see in one of the photos that some of the ceiling remains with some paneling, largely because I need to get a ladder over to the house to reach that far up. The light fixture under the drop ceiling is original, but will be replaced because I prefer a bulb covered by a globe of some sort. Anybody want a vintage light fixture? Lemme know! You can see a picture there of the access points to the tub plumbing, and some unexplained fur lining the stud in the wall. Yuck.

Finally, we have the dining room closet. It's not quite out yet, but down to the studs. The picture of my hand shows how I drug a nail across it, cutting a line dividing my hand in half. Maybe I didn't learn that lesson about my work gloves well enough. Inside one of the walls my friend Chelsey (who enjoys the wrecking bar very much) and I found a 1950's romance novel. I thought it was weird because the wall is from the 80's, but whatever! Basically the plot of the book is that a bunch of young harlots get shipped out to the wild west to become brides. No I'm not going to read it. Chelsey and I ripped up the carpet in the dining room too, even though you really can't see it well under all of the dust. It's in decent condition, but will need to be refinished too. Better than the carpet!

Oh, and that's me. The happy homeowner. With his wrecking bar. Yeah, I took the picture myself; there was nobody else in the house. Taking your own pictures of youself: not cool, I know!

I'll be back to work after I finish... working...

p.s. I've aready had 4 serous 'Oh my GOD what have I gotten myself into!' moments.