Saturday, November 29, 2014

The "sub" Attic, The Attic, and the Next Projects

So Jeff & Tammy (windows and gutters people from Got Gutters?) came by today to do more measurements and talk kitchen again – they have measured everything else up and will be sending me quotes…

Jeff wanted to see if he could see headers over the living room window so I went & got the step ladder out of the shed so he could look into the sub-attic. No go – so he will have to peel off some of the siding and look under that – sounds like I not only have shiplap on the outside of the walls, but also shiplap on the inside of them as well – under the drywall.  Anyhow, he will come by some time this week or next during the week to have a look.

So since the ladder was already in the house, I decided to get up into the attic proper in order to take some measurements and pictures.

Now, what I think is that the house originally had three really small rooms instead of two small rooms.  All three of them would have been around 9’ x 9’. The reason I think this is that the walls in the “sub-attic” measure about that – and one of those spaces (the one over the front room) is still totally intact (as far as I can tell) – the space inside this picture is about 9x9 and measuring in the room underneath, there’s another (about) 9x9 space at the end. The junk up there was left behind by previous people and I just haven’t thrown it away yet.

The joists over the bedrooms (and the closet – which is just a box built and not actually supporting the real roof line) are all 2” x 4” – I didn’t measure any of them – they look standard measurements. Oh – and I measured – this “sub attic” is about 33 inches from the top of the 2x4’s to the bottom of the ceiling.

The joists over the living room appear to be 2” x 6” and look like they are notched to fit over the 2” x 4” s sun along the outside walls – if you look more to the left of the first of these three pictures, you can see how the joists appear to be notched. The bathroom, incidentally, is also a box they built in after the fact and the plastic pipe and air hose to the right are over top of the bathroom.  The stains there are from leaks in the roof line before they replaced it – the roof is 100% leak free.

Now here’s something interesting… the ceiling you see isn’t actually lath & plaster, (as I thought it might be) nor is it drywall – it is something called backer board – looks like particle board – which is why, when it got wet when the roof leaked, it all buckled like that. 

THIS is what the ACTUAL ceiling is:

Yes, the actual ceiling is tongue and groove and looks AMAZING… I will not be leaving that up – that will come down and be used for other project work – it looks like it might be the tongue and groove planks that were used for wainscoting…Anyhow, what that means is that the actual ceiling is solid wood!

Oh – and it looks like they were pretty fancy with the upper walls and ceilings in all of the rooms, because where there was a seam for the backer board, they nailed a strip of wood on it – and in the roof line over what must have been the middle bedroom, the wood is still natural colour…

Now, into the actual attic.  All of the joists are TRUE 2” x 8” rough cut fir:

I climbed all the way up there and took pictures and measurements…

It looks like this on all 4 sides – this is facing the front of the house.  So to the top of the angled beams there is about 5’ of height and to the top of the peak running centre beam there is about gap, outside 7” 3”.  The approximate amount of use-able floor space would be about 7’ x 15”  - so there would be enough room up there for one large bedroom. & it would have to have one of those modified peak roof lines.

And for windows, I was snooping online last night and saw these – which I thought were a REALLY interesting option for attic windows - I would need mosquito netting, for sure!

So I think that, bearing in mind that the closets between the bedrooms are actually just a “box” that was built in place AFTER the ceiling was lowered, I can actually look at having the false ceilings taken out in the bedrooms to start, and use what is currently the closet space to have stairs put in – it would be a set of stairs that would be like the ones I had in the rental town house when I lived in Comox – so a few steps, then a landing and then a few more steps up into the upper floor. Closet space in the lower bedrooms can then be customized into the “under stairs” area so it isn't just a lot of lost storage space.

With love across the waters...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Fence That Grows Like a Mushroom and a Pond No More

This past week at work, for me, has been a stressful one.  We have started a new fiscal year, our new target numbers have some out and the task ahead feels pretty darn daunting. 

When weeks like this come along I am VERY grateful for an old house, a yard, and lots of ongoing physical projects for both. We are now in the final stretch of settling my Grandpa's estate - this has been a learning process for all of us and, yes, I know I haven't posted much of anything about losing him, but since the impacts of Grandpa's loss are still ongoing, I'm holding out on posting thoughts and feelings about it until I can organize some of the things I have learned in order to share them in a way they can maybe help others.

Anyhow, yesterday we had a small garage sale at his house in order to try and sell off some of the items that are left.  The turn-out was disappointing and the things left will still need to be organized and passed on to where they might do the most amount of good.  One of the items I have some home with through this process is actually a small table saw.

And you KNOW I needed one!

This particular table saw has an interesting history to it.  Mum and Dad picked it up at a joint garage sale they had with a family we knew well through the Cowichan Valley Goat Club MANY years ago. Mum and Dad had put in a bedroom suite they got when they first married - and sold it to the people who had put in the table saw.  They came home with the table saw.  I have no idea if they actually sold anything else that day, but the table saw came home with them.

Dad, I'm sure, used it for a while - but it went from my Dad to his Dad at some point.  After his Dad died in 1987, The table saw then went to my Mum's dad. My other grandpa had it until he died this summer.  Yesterday it came home with me.  It is an 8" saw - which I *think* means that the blades are 8" - and it has two metal "wings" on it on either side that allow for wood to track thorough it without having to try to hard to balance. It also came with a wooden stand that actually has wheels on it - wheels which will allow me to move it from place to place outside (or inside!) and to store it safely.  It still has to be put together, and my Dad will be re-wiring some of it for me, but the great thing about this little guy is that it is PERFECT for me!

Today is the doing things at home day (including writing this blog post and doing laundry) and so I thought I would tell you about something that has been happening here are my house this week and what I did this morning.

I got home from work on Wednesday night to a note (taped to my door) from one of my neighbours.  He had been off work and feeling energetic, so he decided to start the fence replacement project!  The first thing he did was have a pal of his come over and they took the old fence down - they initially stacked the old fence panels in my back yard thinking I might want to take them apart & use them for firewood (I let him know when I was speaking with him that night that if he wanted them, he was more than welcome to use them himself and he did want them!  I went out to have a peek at what they had done but couldn't see much of anything in the dark so went out to take a couple of pictures the next morning before leaving for work.

To me, it feels as though this fence is like a mushroom - growing in the dark.  When I look each morning something new has happened.  First the old fence had been pulled down and a string line had been put up between the properties.

 Next, all of the escape points for Jasmine had been blocked off and the fence panels had disappeared from my back yard

Then a form had been built and concrete poured for a retaining wall. 

Today when I went outside the new thing was a full panel built and in place! It will be nearly as tall as my back fence is and will not have any lattice on it, and will still have space for puppies to sniff through fences and light to flow through for things growing on the other side. I forgot to check my side of the fence to see if he had stained it - he was staining the pickets as he went.  If not, I'll go get a gallon of the stain I used on my back fence and throw a coat on  on a warm day.

The main projects I had in mind for myself today were to rake up the next bunch of fallen leaves (and mulch them around my blueberry bushes) and then to dig out/fill in the pond.

While a cute little thing, the pond really wasn't big enough to have goldfish in, and other than algae, duckweed and sludge, the one lily plant it had was starting to die out... so I decided that this summer was the last summer the pond was in place.  I will be digging out the cedar-y little shrub beside the pond, and will also be pulling out the pear tree (possibly something next weekend if we continue to have warm-ish non-rainy days) but before I can dig out the shrub I had to fill in the pond.

First things first - the rocks had to come away from the sides.

Next, I had to pull out the liner.  FYI, it wasn't actually proper pond liner, it was an old water-bed liner! The liner had started to crack and split and was going to have to be replaced anyhow at some point, if I wanted to keep the pond... so with much grunting, effort, and yes, a little swearing, the liner was pulled out.

I then had a DEEP puddle in the yard to contend with.

I threw all of the rocks salvaged from surrounding the pond INTO the puddle (made some great ad wonderful splashes while I was at it) and then dug out the hump that had been on the other side of the pond and used that dirt to back fill the rest of the hole.

I am certain that as it settles and continues to drain, the cavity will require more dirt - especially since when I dig out the shrub I will have another (albeit smaller) cavity to fill.  For now, though, the space has been overlaid with some of my planter protectors - the lattice stuff I use over my vegetable beds to keep out cats and dogs - in order to keep Herself from making a great muddy mess of herself (and tracking it all into the house, ha ha ha!

All in all, a pretty productive morning.  I need to pop out and get some groceries, but the rest of my Sunday will be spent finishing laundry and puttering.  And maybe baking something - gingerbread sounds like a GREAT idea right now!

With love across the waters...

Monday, November 10, 2014

More Progress in the Kitchen

Some recent posts about my Kitchen updates along with the introduction of my Red Wall show the point from where where I started my kitchen updates and also discuss some of my future plans (including peeling up the vinyl tile - which is my next big kitchen-related project) and the steps I am taking to get there.  These last few days I have been working on getting the rest of my kitchen painted.  This needed to include (imperfectly) taping and filling in the former doorway into the laundry room.  A couple of days ago I got started and today I finished the painting... for now.

A former doorway

Ready to tape off in preparation for

After being painted in "Pita Bread" I decided to change it up - the
red is called Apple A Day... Definite food theme for the kitchen!

Ugh - I needed to move all of this stuff away from
the wall in order to primer and paint...

Stuff moved, floor washed (it was gross back there)
and primer coat on and drying
I should note here that the primer/sealant I used is one that also has a stain and mildew blocker.  It costs more to purchase, but when dealing with an old house it is always better to be safe than sorry.  I do not know what kind of paint I was covering - oil based quite possibly - and with that in mind, I would always recommend paying a little more to purchase THE RIGHT product for the needs of the job at hand.
Look at all that red!

Look - no more doorway!

Wow - does that ever look CLEAN!
Now... I also hinted at a new acquisition for my kitchen... I was using a table in my kitchen that was utterly impractical for my needs - it was a round, drop-leaf table that took up too much room to be useful... so yesterday when I was out and about, I stopped in at one of my favourite local furniture places - Anmarcos... and lucky me, they not only had something perfect for my space and needs, but also made of solid wood AND I was able to buy it without the matching chairs.  Oh - and a small added bonus, they are having a tax-free event!  The stars were totally with me on this one!  Check out my new table!

Ooh - isn't it pretty!

But wait!  You mean it has an inset leaf?

Yup - it folds right down INTO the table's underside!

And when in the smaller size it is PERFECT for my kitchen needs 

It tucks in perfectly to where I need to have it (until I build cabinets on this wall!)
So... 2014 vacation time has drawn to an end - that means that my next projects will need to be completed on weekends and on into the 2015 calendar year for the bigger ones.  I'm hopeful I can remove the vinyl tile squares before the new year, I will also be having the rest of the windows in my house replaced with vinyl windows. In the spring, the mud room (you can see the doorway into it tucked into the corner between the red walls) will be converted into a proper pantry - thus adding yet more storage (of a totally practical nature) to my kitchen area.

Additionally, I'll be looking for quotes for contractors to build in a stairwell up into my attic in order to allow me to build upward - I'm thinking a bedroom (or two) as well as more storage.  I'll be looking to have dormer windows installed as well - so that will be a much longer duration project - but there will be, no doubt in my mind, all sorts of learnings of what to (and not to) do when completing renovations.

With love across the waters...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Storage Wars...? Build Shelving!

As many of you know from my writings, my house is an older one (1896 build) and has some associated storage space issues. In the September time frame of last year I had some major renovations completed in the way of consolidating my laundry room and bathroom into one (much more practical) combined space.  The project ran over budget (no surprise - 1896 build, right?) and so at the time, instead of having my contractor build shelving into the space, I elected to purchase cheap (melamine construct) cabinets to be used until I could get around to putting in built in shelving.

This week has been "stay-cation" time for me and in between some awesome family time and some practical stuff (we are in the final stages of cleaning out my Grandpa's house prior to the final closing on the sale) I have been working (albeit slowly) on some of my "around the house" projects.

What I really wanted to accomplish this week off was to build linen storage shelving in my bathroom, paint the rest of the kitchen and start the (promised to be truly ugly) task of removing the vinyl tile from my kitchen floor in preparation for covering it with new flooring material.

Today I finished the shelves in the bathroom.  I should mention that I have also started the kitchen painting part - well, what I have done there is to tape and "mud in" the old doorway from the kitchen into what used to be the laundry room.  

Anyhow, here is the picture show of building shelves in my bathroom - commentary included.

First things first - assemble the supplies!

Cutting the shelf supports

Mitred back support

Supports all cut and ready to go!

Cutting the shelves - 1" x 6" fine cut cedar
beautiful grain AND smell!

double-sided tape makes installation easier
The double-sided tape held the supports to the walls and allowed
me to drill pilot holes and then counter sink all of the holes
and then screw the supports in place.  Excellent advice from my Dad!

The first support in place

Yes, I drew pencil lines on my walls

Making certain the shelf ended up level

All supports in place and screwed to the walls

The first shelf installed!!

Second shelf support screwed into place

All three shelves in place and ready to
load up with linens!

Ta Da!
With love across the waters...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Harvest is… Done!

Well, summer’s bounty has come (mostly) to an end now and I am starting to draw back inside and begin my winter hibernation.

The only things still (sort of) producing in my yard are my beans (they are still giving a meal’s worth every few days) and my tomatoes.  The tomatoes, though, need to be pulled (very soon – it is the middle of October here and Jack Frost will not be very far away now) and hung somewhere dry in order to let them ripen on the vine in as much as I will be able to let them.  I really don’t want to lose what is still left on the plant – I have had such an amazing crop from it this year!

The rest of the yard is starting to die back, and the leaves are now starting to fall from my pear, apple and lilac trees. At this point in the season I’m trying to decide “what next.”

“What Next” thoughts include removal of the pear tree.  When all is said and done, I really do like pears, I don’t *love” them – and I have a small yard – which means that I either need to love it or cull it. This will mean cutting it down and then digging out the root ball.  Then I will need to over-seed the bare area with grass seed in order to get it to hopefully take root before the real killing frosts start – all in hopes that I don’t have mass areas of mud in the back yard for Jasmine to have fun in….

The other “what next” thoughts include digging out the aromatic evergreen at the end of my patio (right beside my Japanese Maple) and building another raised bed there.  Oh… and also filling in the pond and flattening the hump beside it. 

Ok – I will just have to admit to myself, and accept, that patches of my back yard are destined to be doggie mud pen areas this coming winter and spring.

The inside projects for the winter will include some more work on my kitchen, some painting and shelf building in my bathroom and maybe, if I can figure out how to do it, some closet reconstruction in the bedrooms… I’m pretty well decided that I will be (eventually) having proper stairs built from the front bedroom into the attic – thus opening up the entire attic space to make it into living space, (well, once dormers and electricity and possibly plumbing have been run upstairs) and what is now the front bedroom will become a small office – I mean properly an office.

Anyhow, this winter’s projects will NOT include stair installation…

For this weekend, though, or rather the one day left of it to me at present, I am going to spend it relaxing and enjoying the rainy days we are having.

With love across the waters…

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Red Wall Shelves - ALMOST There

This weekend – another glorious weekend weather-wise - I managed to get a few more things done around the house. 

Without my attention, the grapes were ripe and ready to harvest– so I picked them all.  Some of them I tried to make easy grape juice with (basically fill a canning jar with grapes, add hot water and water bath can process as normal. Over time the grapes will “disintegrate” into sediment, leaving the juice.) and I attempted to make grape jelly.  I don’t think the jelly will set – I will give it a week to settle and if it hasn’t set by next weekend, I will open the jars and re-process.
Half a Haul!

Draining the grape mash overnight

Grape Jelly - if it sets...

Isn't that pretty?

Next up was the kitchen shelving project. This is the project I picked up 2x6 cedar planks for a couple of weeks ago and then spent a week putting urethane coat on.  The urethane (Varathane brand) required 3 coats – two coats, a sanding and then a third top coat to make it pop.
Three Planks at a Time 
Freshly opened can

Oops... I need a smaller brush!

 Those planks, once the urethane was done, sat inside my house for a couple of weeks while I did other stuff – letting the coating really cure well before I started the next part of the project.

This project took place on the red wall.

Before starting I had to scrape this crud off the ceiling.
Thankfully it wasn't too hard!

Crud on the floor!

Top and bottom pieces in

Side pieces also now in

Not having supports of the right length required

Counter-height shelf in 

Almost there

Next steps, add doors!

There is still some work to do – the kitchen MUST be cleaned up before anything else today – but the doors I will build onto the shelves can wait a little until I have more material.  Thin plywood, hinges, pulls, and chain to be exact.  But all in all, this was a fun project and I’m looking forward to the next projects…

With love across the waters…