Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fixing the house...

Picture: House and land the first winter.

The house was falling down. The rubble foundation had suffered from "freeze-thaw" effects, had begun slowly collapsing, and had actually parted company with the house for about fifteen running feet on the south east corner. The kitchen floor, built on 10-inch by 30 foot pine log joists, had fallen through, and by the time I wrecked out all the rotten wood, there was an eight by five foot hole in the floor. All the kitchen plumbing, and all the wiring, had to be redone. The house had no insulation to speak of.

We began by wrecking out the kitchen. We pulled down a partition wall to make one room 14 by 28 feet. We sistered in new floor joists and a solid 3/4 inch sub floor across the entire kitchen, making an attempt to finally level a floor that, since it was built on logs, was probably never level the first day it was built. I wired it anew and to code. We put up new insulation, 1 1/4 inch foam board with reflective film and an air space, and with the help of Jason, a student hired during the summer, new dry wall.

By this time it was June, and warm enough and dry enough to wreck out the basement. A new concrete buttress wall was poured to reinforce the flagging rubble, and take it back up to the sills. the house was jacked up 1/2 inch above the new wall, the wall poured, allowed to set, and the house lowered back down. All this was hand work with bags of concrete, and took about two weeks of hard "graft," as they say in Yorkshire. Post jacks were used to level the interior floor.

Then it was time to insulate and wire the rest of the house, prior to fitting new drywall. Two feet of cellulose were added to the attic crawl space. All the windows were replaced. Finish work included new light fittings and window trims, baseboard, and a finish job on the old hardwood floor.

For heat we left the old oil forced air system in place, but added a wood stove and a forced air wood furnace. We signed up for renewable power. The winter fuel use went from 700 gallons of heat oil to 200, and from ten cords of firewood to five, more than a 60% efficiency gain.

Aimee had a good if somewhat tortuous time picking out colors and painting. (Don't ever ask me to pick out a color.) Jason did quite a bit of the painting, especially priming.She did a sunset color wash on the living room wall, saving also the old Victorian tin ceiling.

We had five full fifteen yard dumpster-loads of wreckage and trash hauled away. The former inhabitants had grown quite old in the house, and towards the end had taken to just leaving bags of trash in the yard. There's still a lot of trash to pick up, but not even one hundredth of what there was.

We moved into the house in August 2006, three months after starting the project.

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
The purpose of this blog is for Aimee and I to communicate with friends and family, with those of our students, and other folks in general who are interested in homesteading and farming activities.

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