Monday, December 21, 2009

Here comes the snowman

If I had hoped to get roofing installed before the winter than my hopes were cruelly crushed. NE picked up enough snow that I have a couple drifts up to the knees, never the less I am able to wade through the piles to continue some work on framing adjustments and repairs.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A long time coming

It was not my fault that I did not post, the dog ate my email. That said its hard to tell a substantive difference in where things are at in the restoration process. There are two reasons for this, time and of course money. Neither seem to be in abundance.
We are currently shoving dirt from one spot to another under the pretense of calling it back fill. Most of the time people will wait until the floor and main flooring is installed before doing the backfill to avoid any buckling of the walls during backfill. Since this project is now a one man show than it was important to get the dirt work done for drainage purposes.
I am hoping to wrap up the dirt moving portion of this project in the near future as there are a few other things on my to-do list before winter. I would stick up some more information or pictures about dirt work, but there is not much to it. You look at your pile of dirt and see if there is any where you can stick it while still having the yard look decent and have good drainage.
The little skid loader has been nothing if not consistent. Consistently down for maintenance. This turn of events is not unexpected as it is an older model which was not well maintained, hence the word cheap, yet it is frustrating to have spent the large amount of time and money to get it up to good working order. I should be able to get the money back out when I sell it.
Next in line is the basement plumbing and cement floor. Since we are basically broke in an effort to save money I will be trying my hand at cement staining for the basement floor. I am looking forward to this part as I have seen some exiting and inexpensive ideas out there. It will likely be several weeks before I rustle up the money for that project. Keep us in prayer on that one.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We have bees!

Oh, and pears.

Too bad the bees aren't producing honey for us. But they are providing entertainment.

Friday, August 28, 2009

One of those days....

It was the kind of day that makes you glad not every day is like it.

You know by now that this house requires a new foundation. We toyed with some ideas of doing it ourselves, but in a rare moment of sanity decided not to be quite that adventurous. So we called around, got a bunch of bids and hired two companies. One to dig out a basement and jack up the house, the other to pour the new foundation.

It started off great. The diggers were surprisingly fast, and after a few hours, the house was on the rise.

Chester and brothers were actually on the roof of the house when the buys lifted the house with a giant hydraulic lift. So no pictures of that.

We are now known as the family with the house on sticks.

We had them dig down far enough for a walk-out basement with 8-foot ceilings. The pile of dirt is about twenty feet tall.

Shortly after the house rose, Chester noticed the scent of natural gas.

To their credit, the diggers had also noticed the smell and moved their equipment away from the source -- a one-inch pipe they'd hit.

In short order, the pipe was plugged with a rag and screwdriver and the gas company called to come cap it. No explosions (though now we wonder if we might have preferred an explosion...)

The next morning, we received a call as we were eating breakfast. The same diggers were now pretty close to done digging, but had hit the water main. They wanted to know what to do. Chester suggested calling the water company, and said that he'd be out later. It seems they interpreted "later" as "sooner", because everyone was still standing around waiting for him three hours later when he arrived. (No, the water wasn't still gushing forth -- the water company had crimped it). But boy were they were mad.

Chester tolerated quite the lecture from the water company guy. And in many ways, he had a right to be mad, and Chester's the land owner. God helped Chester control his own temper through it.

It took the yard two weeks to dry out from that water.

Later the same day, we discovered that sometime in the course of digging, the main sewer pipe had been broken off and buried. Some kind friends lent us their metal detector, and we eventually found and capped that.

On their way out of the neighborhood, the digger's truck took down the phone line to the neighborhood.

The only utility left in tact was electricity.

Did I mention that at this point, we hadn't obtained any building permits? As far as we know, there isn't a permit for jacking a house, nor for replacing a roof. But the city wasn't terribly happy with our lack of obtaining something. The next morning, the city called us to notify us that our work was halted until further notice. (Which, it turned out, was about two weeks, during which we made drawings for several parts of the project and received various levels of approval from the local inspector).

When it was finally dry, and we had permission to work again, the whole foundation was poured in less than a day.

The walk-out basement requires a retaining wall along the grade of the dirt, hence the wings.

The wall with the walk-out is left open, so that we can install windows, a door, and a load-bearing wall of course....

In case you were wondering, any lawn that was once there is no longer. But they were courteous enough to work around our section of fruit trees that we planted. I hope they live.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How to lose 10,000 pounds in a week...

We have lots going on, so forgive the infrequency of the posts here!

To catch you up:
After noticing that our humble house was without a foundation, we decided that the rectifying that would be among our first tasks. We did some research into doing this ourselves, but decided to contract it out.

So we called contractors, and got bids.

While waiting for bids, and for work to begin, we gutted the house.

It was a big mess.

The mess poured down the stairs from second story.

And filled the largest dumpster that we could rent four times.

Each dumpster contained about 2500 pounds of stuff, according to the dump that was charging us by weight to have them emptied. So we figure the house lost a lot of weight. We tried to use that as a bargaining point with companies bidding to lift the house -- hey, it weighs less than a normal house! Don't know if the bargaining worked, but we did get a reasonable rate in the end (and paid for that reasonable rate with a lot of inconvenience!)

In the gutting, we found this treasure.

In the room that you walk in the front door to, (the living room? the great room? We'll have to come up with some name for it....), there was this wall paper. Under the painted paneling. Have you ever seen anything like it?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Historical Interest

It is not often that a person has the chance to look into the lives of people who lived 90-100 years ago but this week during our excursion into the un-named depths of the Ashland attic-quarium we had just such an encounter.
I don't know what people used for medicine in 1922, but here we found a prescription on a bottle from that time. I found several medicine bottles with 'poison' marked on a label on the neck, but the prescription not readable. The label reads: "Dr. John Lance" "Mr. Tom Dailey:-" "Add one-half warm water and gargle every three hours." "3-4-1922-E" "The Muller Drug Co." "The Rexall store" "Ashland, NE"

Also we found what I would describe as an early form of micrometer. It is metric and it measures accurately within the limits of the markings. This has no real value but if you want it send me a few couple bucks for shipping and its your piece of history.

Lastly, perhaps some of you will recall the good old days of mail order household items. Here we have a selection from 1933, a full printing of the 'Zanol' catalogue. Herein you can find just about anything your heart desired, from powdered amonia (25c/box), to emulsified pine tar shampoo (50c/6oz), to one of my favorite Zanolax-the candy laxitive (25c/30 tablets). "Eaten like a piece of candy, it relieves biliousness, torpid liver, sick headache and dyspepsia caused by constipation. Positively non-griping, and so gentle in its action that it may be given to very young children-even those under school age-with absolute safety."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

An interior Before tour, AKA: What were we thinking again?

This week we closed a short chapter of our lives (by closing on the sale of the Havelock House), and opened a new one, which we hope will also be somewhat short, in purchasing another house to refurbish. (I mean, we hope the refurbishing will be somewhat short.)

This one needs a bit more work than the one in Havelock. And it was accordingly cheaper.

We're reminding ourselves that we like a good challenge as we tour the inside of our new purchase. It promises to be replete with learning experiences.

So, here's a bit of the tour.

The main floor:

You walk in to the living room, and there's another nearly identically sized room to your right. I doubt it's intended to have two living rooms, and that one is closer to the kitchen, so it's probably a formal dining room. The kitchen is big enough to eat in though, so who needs a dining room? It looks like a good school/play room to me.

The floor has a built-in car ramp. We're such cranky parents that we hope to remove it before the kids figure out how much fun it could be. (There's actually two buckles, but the other one didn't show up in pictures very well. This one is a couple of inches tall).

The kitchen doesn't have much in it.

And yes, it's that color. The ceiling is peeling ("Hey Mom! peeling and ceiling rhyme!")

The pantry boasts built in cabinets.

Our plan is to make the pantry into a laundry/bathroom and put cabinets in the kitchen.

That's the main floor. Out of the pantry is the stairs to the basement, but before we go there, why not finish looking at the more "finished" spaces?

Out of the living room/ entry room, whatever it is, there's a door with stairs going upstairs.
The door has a warning note. It says "Do not open door. I have a couple cats up stairs. unless I'm here. Thank you. " On the side it says "Don't want them out".

The stairs are the only place in the house with carpet.

The owner wasn't kidding about having cats up there.

If pictures could communicate a smell..... it seems they at least tried to deal with it.

(The house has been unoccupied for 3 or more years, and it's still smells enough to make you realize the value of a decent gas mask).

In addition to the nice, historical carpet, the landing on the stairs is cool. It has floorpaper.

Upstairs is a standard three-bedrooms and a bathroom. The bedrooms are stylin' with their papered walls AND floors.

Anyone need to use the restroom? It has two toilets! (One is even hooked up, but neither look operational).

Now for the bizarre architecture moment. Inside the bathroom, way in the back, are the stairs to the attic.

We'd like to make this attic into living quarters for Nate, but seriously, he'll have to go through the only bathroom in the house to get to his bedroom? Hmm....

Moving the stairs will require remaking the roof (which wouldn't hurt the house any). Maybe Nate can live with going through the bathroom? Maybe we'll be ambitious and actually remake the roof. If you know us well, you already know what the plan is....

Back to the tour.

Just in case you weren't convinced that we should do a full gut of the house, this is the pantry wall, at the top of the stairs to the basement:

Now, the basement. The stairs are directly under the other two sets, which go from the west-middle of the house to the middle-middle of the house. Just in case you care.

It's dark down there. (Did I mention that there's no electrical service to this house?) They tell me there's moonshine and old canning jars hiding down here. I'm looking forward to seeing those, but I don't plan on visiting the basement in person too soon.

The house has been jacked before. It needs it again.

And this is probably why: it would be nice, maybe even expected that a house would have a foundation. Especially with nice, poured basement walls that are obviously MUCH more recent than the rest of the house. A little digging proved that assumption presumptuous.

That would be the bottom of the basement walls. They just end. No footings. Nothing even approaching the frost line. No supports. Wait, why is the house still standing? Maybe we should get out now.....

First order of business: Get that house supported. Bet that won't be as fast or cheap as we were hoping.

The element of surprise is half the fun, right? It's a good thing that we like a good adventure.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"I'm never going back there", says the seller. Yet, there's tickets for overgrown weeds taped to the front door. So it wasn't difficult to convince the seller and realtor to give permission to do "yard work" before closing (still a few weeks away). They even gave us keys.

To say the yard was overgrown is rather accurate.

The back yard is big (about 1/2 acre total), but you could hardly see the house from the boundary of the yard.

After removing that line of "trees" (large brush is a better description), you can now see the house from behind.

We selected about three trees to save:

The perfect shade tree on the south side of the house.

A really nice "let's have a picnic under it" tree. (Is it a locust tree? It doesn't have thorns.)

And a lopsided pear tree.

Everything else either has or probably will go. Of course, there are plans to buy and plant fruit trees :)

After clearing up most of the trees, Chester tried out our new mower.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A fork in the road

It was not that long ago when I would have said "I just don't understand people who _____". A meaning to be taken, those types of people clearly must either live in some alternate universe or be crazy as a loon. However, it should be noted that not all loons are actually crazy.

It was not all that long ago that I encountered a fork in the road. It was not your usual fork, stamped metal, chrome plated, plain design, but it was a fork that you would remember. The type of fork that projects a curious vibration suggesting there were choices to be made that would impact a persons future. Perhaps the kind of fork you might find when leaving a job you had been at for 7 years, or by purchasing another house at an auction and walking through the kitchen.

Some people don't ever even see that fork, while some may choose to ignore it, I however have picked up the fork , washed it and added it to our silverware drawer. I hope to share some of what transpires with you, perhaps without boring you to tears or driving you to madness.