Monday, May 2, 2011

A small hole in the floor.

I do not recall ever watching the entirety of "the money pit" (with Tom Hanks), but I vaguely remember a couple of scenes wherein Tom is sinking into the floor and another having a hole in the floor the size of an elephant from the tub falling through.

While this may bring a few laughs to others it mostly brings a few sobering tears to my eyes. I purchased this beast about 2 years ago, hoping to stabilize the foundation, replace windows and make a few functional improvements and repairs to kitchens and bathrooms. To date I have spent something in the area of 1800-2000 man hours replacing the foundation, several load bearing walls, the roof, the windows, and now continuing on with the small hole in the floor.

As I have mentioned before after gutting the interior it became clear that there was a house fire, which I date sometime in the 30-40's, which damaged some of the floor joists. In conjunction with needing to file a major overhaul permit I am compelled to bring the entirety of the structure up to current day code, which means replacing sections of the sub-floor and joists.

I have been taking my time with the sub-floor replacement to ensure that I get it reasonably close to a planar surface, but one section of the living room area requires complete replacement. So I have removed both the sub-floor and joists in this section even though the picture might cause a weaker man mental neurosis. I may have needed to wipe my eyes a few times, but I swear that was because of the dust.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Now is not the time to visit.

About six weeks ago I was working on re-organization and cleanup of tools for the thousandth time and as I walked over to the tool box I found myself much like a trapeze artist who misses the wire, dangling with one leg on each side of the rope. Everything is fine, though I can now sing half an octave higher.
With the winter I have finished the exterior shell of the structure to the extent that I am able. The walls are relatively straightish and sort of vertical, but most importantly they are structurally sound. There is no more rot on the bottom edges of the studs, no more cutouts without headers. House wrap has been installed as are the windows and the vast majority of the construction debris has been cleaned out and removed.
The next stage of the project is to adjust the interior framing to be reasonably straight, parallel, level. Also I am going through very carefully to make sure that the fire damage is repaired well and appropriate fire blocking is installed. I am working from the basement up as any adjustment made to make a floor level will effect the floors above. The basement girders/beams are very close to perfectly planar (I think that one corner was about 1/32" off) and the floor joists are bearing correctly on the girders. However, since the lumber has a large amount of variance, there are joists which are 1/8" difference in height from the adjacent joist. This calls for patient endurance.
The major sections accomplished on the main floor joists I spent a good deal of time inspecting the sub-floor to make sure that it would be able to be used for installing wood flooring on top. I was not at all satisfied and so while the cost is not too substantial (less than a grand) the time certainly is. I am going through very carefully, removing a single 4x8 ft segment at a time, shimming the joists if required, and installing new sub-flooring (3/4" osb) with glue and screws. In this way there are going to be far less structural stability issues, although it is rather inconvenient to replace the floor under a load bearing wall.
With all of that said, now is not the time to visit with small kids.

Friday, March 11, 2011

As spring draws near, here are a couple of picts for those flower lovers.
These are non-hybrid canna flowers which I grew last year, height was about 6-7 ft, very healthy and vigorous. I as always saved plenty of bulbs for this year. This year I am hoping to try a little hand at cross breeding, but we shall see. I have a few seeds from yellows and a couple odd balls also.. Who knows. If you want some bulbs please let me know, reasonable offers accepted.
Pictures are, red stem orange flower. Basic profile and vigor. And lastly, the healthy rhizomes I dug up before cleaning them off.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I just do not feel supported.

The exterior shell is now a completed structure, house wrapped and windows installed. Much thanks to my brothers and Mr Gbr for the help in getting the house wrap on. It was great fun monkeying around on the scaffolding 30 feet above the rocky bottom.
Now I am plugging away at the interior walls and structure. For the last several weeks I have been doing my best to ensure that the beams will be level, the walls moderately perpendicular, and nothing majorly damaged. You may have noted in a previous posting my concerns with what is considered abnormal joist framing, but my notes today center around the stairs to the basement.

The basement is an interesting scenario, we ended up replacing the whole foundation and while I am very glad that we did there have been some technical issues resulting. One of these issues is that the stairs going to the basement, in addition to being ripped out with the old foundation, do not have the required headroom and do not have enough length to accommodate a straight run before running into the exterior wall. My solution is that I am making a U-shaped stair. However, as the landing occurs prior to having enough depth for the required headroom I am forced to have a segment of floor aprox 16" higher than the main floor. I doubt that this would be a major issue, except that the stair walls are both load bearing and I must shorten one.
I am not able to do walls from the basement floor as I have not had one poured yet so I am using a triple 2x8 load bearing beam and using the assumption that I will not have any support under it. While not true in the end, it will be until I have a basement floor. The ends are supported at the foundation wall and also on one of the two main steel beam girders. All of this to say I rebuilt the wall after placing a temp support which would hold the load of the second floor bathroom and the ceiling. The temp support was jacked to a position 1/32" above my desired final wall height. (My philosophy is using the "least change poss") After building the wall I removed the support beam and jacks, the wall came down 1/64th and hoovered there. I had to go up top practice my awesome dance moves in order to get it to make physical contact with the new "load bearing wall". I find it rather amazing that a floor and ceiling would just "hang out" only being supported by one side but as they say old wood has found itself a set position and just does not like to move. It is now well secured and up to current codes (ish).

A bridge to nowhere.

Those filthy politicians are doing it all the time and desiring to get into politics someday I thought that I might join in the fun. What fun you might ask, well, building a nearly useless bridge of course.
In my attempt to throw money at everything that either moves or is nailed down I just purchased a large pile of lumber which should be delivered sometime next Friday. While other people may enjoy the idea of hauling 30 sheets of 3/4" plywood up and down the muddy embankment that is the front yard, I do not. It was my original intent to build a small "normal" front porch, followed by a bridge to the sidewalk, however, I am not planning on building the porch for a while. Now is a good time for building a bridge that I can cut to size when the time comes. I doubt that I will be able to do so, but if I can convince the Inspector to buy off on only having a bridge than I will opt to not build the porch and recover the structure with plank instead of plywood.

The construction is simple enough. Four sixteen foot 2x8's, some solid cross bracing, covered with a couple of sheets 3/4" treated plywood. For the supports I took some 4x4's and made a center support. The two ends are supported one on the ground and the other sitting on the old cast cement stairs. There are a couple of additional pcs bracing to keep the whole structure very stable. Before commencing on such an endeavor I would recommend conversing with your local building inspector. I did not in this case as I have a occupancy permit out and do not intend on leaving the bridge in its current configuration as a final design.
One thing that is a good idea on anything that will be subjected to dynamic loads is to build in some overkill. In this case I like to refer to an easy to use span chart as the start of my design, such as this one from AWC. Noting 2x6 16" OC, exterior and the species I am using: I could span greater than 8 ft with a 50Live,15dead load. So using 2x8 ft is reasonable overkill. The whole of the structure floats and is not connected to the house, for this reason it is important to have the supports well braced as shown. Also side loaded movement is minimized by using plywood and having a small cross brace on the center support. I should mention that all the lumber I am using on this bridge is coming from my culled lumber pile which I purchased about 6 months ago, mainly 2x4 and 2x8 ish treated lumber in the 16 plus foot range usually having a twist or split at an end. I purchased the whole of the pile for under $200 and have been using it ever since. I am thankful that God has helped me in finding some good sale items as I as yet have not found a corporate sponsor.
I will likely throw on some basic rails after getting the lumber inside. If I am able to make it permanent I will likely be forced into using footings for the support, but we shall cross that bridge when it arrives.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Coiled to spring

Well folks,
By now I am more than ready for spring. The yearning for the freedom of outdoors and the enjoyment of fresh veggies is almost too much to bear. While many people do not have the space, time, or energy needed for a larger garden, there are a few thing to consider in preparing for the Spring.

(A) Indoor prep. I am no fan of spring cleaning, but if you take the time to do some de-junking during the winter months the spring cleaning becomes a little easier.

(B) Outdoor prep. Now is a great time to spend a few minutes cleaning up the yard tools. Clean and oil your shovels and rakes. Give your lawnmower a decent cleaning, and for the mechanically skilled, its a good time to change oil, and filters. Maybe even flush the fuel system. As the ground starts to soften up it makes a good time to aerate your lawn or maybe even go so far as to do some top cover of some straw or other mulch junk. Personally, I might de-thatch if I care.

(C) Garden Prep. I start my plants usually around 12 weeks before the spring frost date. Rosemary takes a while to grow so I start it pretty early, usually I throw in some small pot basil and thyme. If you do the compost thing, I think that you can kick start that beautiful decomposition by throwing in some manure and straw. You can also get things warming up in the garden by tossing on a row cover or mulch on your gardening area.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Joists Solutions Desired.

OK, here is the problem.
What I have is the second floor joists span front to aft a distance of 24ft, being supported about the middle, the joists are 2x10 roughly 16" OC. Some of these joists are spliced with an overlap of about 4-5 ft being centered about 2-5 ft from the exterior wall. As shown.

Additionally I have a spot where there is a case of odd framing best shown. What you are looking at is the second floor joists and the strange 'header'.

And the last location is very much like the second.

Now that you have an idea of the problem areas, what I am needing is a solution here. The best world would be some old official manual that shows framing repair options. If you know of any technical data that shows what is permissible in terms of old framing system repairs I'd appreciate it.