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Further renovation summary

Posted 02-25-2011 at 01:03 PM by WillK

By November, moving out of my parent's house had become an imperative. Structural work was de-prioritized in favor of restoring function to the bathroom and kitchen, in particular hot water, a new gas stove and adequate insulation to keep the kids bedroom warm in winter. These goals were achieved on time to move in the weekend before Thanksgiving, but with more regular use of plumbing we discovered that the drainage system was obstructed. I rented a power auger and was able to cut and remove roots through a new cleanout I installed in the main stack.

One week later, we found that the system had again become obstructed and was backflowing through the cleanout in the driveway. This time we hired a plumber to clear the system. We learned that the sewer pipe was collapsed near where the driveway joined the street and replacement would be needed. This will be something we try to budget for later this year, hoping that the system remains open until we're ready to tear out the driveway.

This brings me to another issue weíve faced. The sellers had informed us that the condition of the house has made finding and keeping insurance a difficult task. To maintain continuity with the insurer they had been using in hopes that their familiarity with the house might avoid a need to have the house inspected for insurance, we used the same company. So the company ordered an inspection and sent a notice of cancellation, citing the roof (which was being done at the time of inspection), the house being unoccupied and the cracking and heaving of the driveway.

It worked out well, though, because we found new insurance at half the price. We had addressed the issue the previous company cited except for the driveway; the new insurance did not raise that as an issue.

But as I was saying, just before Thanksgiving we had the second main drain pipe obstruction removed. Again, just before Christmas, we would have another obstruction in underground sewer pipes, but this time the obstruction was somewhere under the mud room slab where the drainage system connects for the kitchen and laundry. Sewage was seeping up through the ground in the crawlspace, so replacement with new drainage pipes and a pump for the utility sink was installed.

At this point, the weather was cold. Apparently rats don't like cold, so that's when they come in. We called an exterminator who set poison traps. 14 dead rats later, we havenít' seen any since.

Since Christmas, we were at a point we were ready to have inspections on our permits - mechanical permit for the gas pipes, plumbing for a new dishwasher, building for the roof and a rough inspection on the electrical. The rough electrical inspection was the one we needed most so we could proceed with insulating and installing drywall, and it would also take 3 tries to get a passing inspection because of relatively small but valid issues. Once we passed rough electrical, we celebrated by spending the weekend on the couch throwing up from the flu.

Let me back up to highlight a little something about the permit inspections... It may seem odd that we'd lived in the house using so many things done under permit without inspection. Not my choice. I was ready for all of these inspections before we moved in, with the exception of the electrical, but the city would not schedule inspections for us. We had an application in for an additional building permit based on plans from a structural engineer to add beams in the crawlspace. This application had gone through plan review, but we were not able to pay the permit fee. Therefore all of our permits were put on hold until we could pay for the building permit.

With the insulation and drywall finally installed in the larger of the 2 bedrooms, we could finally move the kidís beds from my parent's house. Our son has a space shuttle bed I had built and our daughter has a castle bed I had built, so these are great for the kids to play in. One problem was that the slide on the castle bed was too fast and scared my daughter. So while reassembling the bed, I modified the slide to have less slope. The son was bouncing off the walls waiting for me to put the slide together, but once that was done both children spent most of the next day playing on it.

The original plan had been that the 2 bedrooms would each have 1 kid in them. My dear wife had started getting anxious about getting long-term projects like the kitchen and bathroom started, so I decided that it would be better to move the kids into 1 bedroom so we could move upstairs to leave the first floor more open to remodeling work.

So at this point, I've started preparations to do the structure work in the crawlspace. There's more than enough to talk about on that, so I'll go into more detail in other posts.

The strategy is to work through the house structurally from the ground up. The end result is hopefully a completely different house from what we started with.
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