Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dry Wall Going Up

So, after the gauntlet, Aldrine was able to get to work hanging gypsum board. Mostly at night (LATE into the night) and mostly alone. Remember, the walls mostly got the 54" wide 12' sheets. Ceilings got 5/8" too.

You gotta admit, though, it's looking pretty good. He has to be the hardest working man I know. He's good, too.

Next up, taping and finishing, then paint!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rehabbing an Old House Step 5

Step 5: Getting Into It

So, after arranging financing and buying your rehab property, what's first?

Secure the property.

That means make sure that the elements or criminal elements can do no further damage to your home-to-be.

The first place to focus is the roof. If it's sound, great. If not, get it taken care of. I'm presuming that you're reading this well before you've actually acquired your building. As such, I want to stress that you get on the roofing issue (if necessary) well in advance of actually closing. Depending upon the time of year, your market, and if you're putting metal or slate or some other specialty roofing on your house, getting a secure roof on could take some time. In our case, I thought that we could have a roofer there within a week or two. It took me two months to get a decent estimate (after going over the site with 8 or 9 roofers), and another month and a half to get the roof on. Fortunately, I started before we closed, but it still put us two+ months behind schedule because you can't really do much on a house subject to water damage. Expect roofers to show up, and never give you a bid. Make sure you've got a back up roofer, too. Some will show up, give you a bid, then disappear. Others will fail to complete a job that gets complex or outside of their comfort zone.

Do not pay up front. Your only leverage on an incomplete job is your money. Don't give it up until the job is done to your satisfaction. You will likely NEED that leverage.

Other aspects of securing the site are windows and doors. Some folks advocate replacing the windows immediately. I don't, as that subjects them to damage during the construction process. There's a give and take on that, of course, if you're working during the winter, it might be nice to be a bit warmer.

If you don't replace your windows early, I recommend securing them via a screw or two, and covering them with plastic or paper. You don't want criminal eyes being tempted by tools on your site. One trick we used was spraying some windows with a "frosting". That let quite a bit of light through while obscuring the view.

If you have broken windows, get some plastic stapled over the panes or sashes to keep water out. Broken 1st floor windows may need some OSB or ply wood to keep the critters out. Cats can be a problem in rehabs. So can opossums, bats, raccoons, etc. You get the picture.

Make sure you have a lockable door. One trick we used was to put a secure pad lock flange on the door and use changeable combination locks. That way, we could give a contractor the combo, and when he's done, change it. We found ours at Big Lots for a couple bucks. We bought one for the front door, one for the cellar, one for the ladders, one for miscellaneous tools, etc.

One other thing to check is water and electric. Both of these present possible hazards and you want to make sure both are off and the water system is "winterized". You don't want broken pipes leaking on new work and you don't want to get fried while doing demo when you hit a live wire.

One thing we didn't do and wish we had done was getting security lighting in early. Light is the enemy of criminals and derelects looking for places to sleep or do drugs or crime. If you can find a cheap way to get a motion detector light up high early in the project, do so. Also, a faux or even a real security camera may provide a good deterrent as well. Cheap alarms can be a great investment. So can getting to know your neighbors.

The good news on securing the site is that it's fairly easy to do. Once a roof is on, most water problems are dealt with. Most construction site crimes are crimes of opportunity. If they can't easily get in and can't easily see anything worth taking, there's usually no break-ins. If there's a good risk of being seen or caught, it really cuts down on things.

This follows Step 4

The rest of the manual can be found here

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dry Wall Prepping

So, we're under the gun time wise and we've scheduled the drywaller, Aldrine. The problem is, just like with the Spray Foam Guys (Priority 1), we aren't fully ready for him and we need to get that way fast.

So, it's the Gauntlet again for us.

We had to get the last of the nailing surfaces in place for dry wall and we also needed to level the ceilings with 1x3 furring. This works pretty well, by the way. We used 1 5/8" and 2" screws and keyed off the lowest ceiling joist. We also had to reposition a number of can lights to account for the 5/8" drywall that our Aldrine wanted to use. We have a LOT of can lights.

Another problem was the spray foam. The guys were pretty good, and we did more than one walk through with them, but they still left high spots of foam on the wall... spots that needed to be shaved off. But you can't do it with a utility knife. The foam is tough. You need to use a saw or in some cases you can chisel it out. I like a wood chisel in tight spots and a pull saw on the flat big areas. It was a pain.

We also had a brain killer of a problem trying to figure out how to create nailing surfaces for the attic door way, where the shed roof meets the gable and where it's so low that we need every single inch. In fact, we've only got about 3" of spray foam at one corner between drywall and roof decking. It's only a tiny spot, but we needed the head room.

It's hard to see, but there are several different planes and angles here that I had to find a way to marry and merge while leaving adequate nailing space. Then I prayed that Aldrine could work his magic.

Finally, we had to put the concealment shoes back, along with our own addition, before the walls were closed up. I'm glad we took the time. Maybe it's creepy, but honoring a tradition seems right. And it'll provide another story for someone else in 100 years, I suspect. We did provide a link to this blog inside one of our shoes and wrote it on the sole of another. Maybe it'll be archived in some historic web archive. Who knows?

Here's a link to our prior discussion of concealment shoes, for those who are curious.

Wait until you see the drywall.

Next posting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Murder On Berry

Not really.

But still...remember "hub-tard"?

Sometimes the stress levels get up there when we are working this hard and fast.

DW decided to make fun on the floor. All the contractors (foam, window, drywall) got a kick out of it.

To me, it was just a warning.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Between the Gauntlets

As we've reached each benchmark, we've had to run a hurried gauntlet of tasks to get ready for the contractors. The spray foam guys needed to have all the furring up on the exterior walls and any fire breaks in place. Because we are "part timers" we often would stop partway through a room and then start up again the next day or even several days later. As such, there were all kinds of missed or forgotten spots that needed 2x4's cut and tap-conned into place. Frankly, taking care of that nearly killed us, but we made it and foam got sprayed, as you've seen.

Then came the prep for the arrival dry wall. We still had some flooring issues that needed to be dealt with from the spray foam. We didn't screw down OSB in the living room so those guys could pull it up and spray the sill underneath. But we wanted our OSB down before the drywall went up and that means that we had to have it in before the drywall came. More rushing around with that, but it was more like a rest between gauntlets.

Then, the drywall came. On a BIG truck. I had to rush out (more rushing, of course) with a tall ladder and a saw to make room for the boom to get under a tree in the ally. Fortunately somebody took a blow torch to a metal post that was up back there a couple weeks ago.

It was a lot of gypsum board. 211 sheets, if memory serves. That's a lot of board, when you consider that much of it was 12' long and 54" wide.

Can you guess how many guys it takes to move that much drywall and distribute it on three floors in 5 rooms?

Let me give you a hint. The operator in this picture was inside the house.

The answer is 2. Two guys. Just two guys.

My job was to keep them from breaking the board or themselves. Now, it was also my responsibility to make sure that I got what I ordered and to make sure that it got placed where it was needed. You DON'T want to have your drywallers moving sheetrock all over the place. Somehow, these two guys got the big wall boards where they needed to be and then stacked the 5/8" boards on top (ceilings go up first).

Then, and I don't know how I did this, but I glanced at the last two piles and saw that I didn't get enough of the 5/8" board. Like 20 sheets shy. It's scary how quickly you can learn to not only differentiate between similar building materials but also develop an eye for quantities. I quickly called the guys over and called the salesman who made sure we got the right material for the order the next day. This is good. It would have been a real hassle to force the drywallers to stop and wit for more ceiling board.

Next up, prepping for the drywallers and seeing them hang.