Hard Day's Work

Some highlights from our long day of work today. For those house bloggers considering having a work party: do it. The usual situation would be getting about a quarter of this work done and spending a month nursing achy joints. Instead we got most of the work we planned on done and with less effort on our parts than usual. If what it takes for me to do this much work is a few more days of making homemade pizza and cookies, sign me up.

And much thanks and love to all our friends who showed up and helped out. Bob, Charlotte, Elaine, Gene, Gina, Haldis, Jim, and Richard, you are all awesome and wonderful people.

We started somewhat slowly, but attacked some obvious locations straight off. First, Gene and Richard made the most amazing dust lock door into the kitchen and sealed off the parlours and the hall closet with tape and paper. Gene thoughtfully sealed the dining room heat vent with plastic, saving us a painful lesson on duct cleaning.

In the hallway, somebody started taking down some patched drywall and noted that it had been taped in place with duct tape. Not the nastiest use of the stuff in the house (which would go to "leaky toilet drain repair," not to be discussed in poltie company), but not cheering, if you know what I mean.

Duct tape used as drywall tape

Shortly thereafter, we found the first of three desiccated dead mice that would eventually come out of the ceilings.

Dead mouse #1

Our ceilings below the attic are like historical pinatas. This is one of many items to come tumbling out as we pulled down sheets of drywall.

Home permanent kit

Here we have Gene pulling down the ceiling in the dining room, which he did pretty much single-handedly. I'm used to running cleanup on that sort of situation, but this time we were able to run cleanup, solve problems, make lunch, and make decisions while actual work got done. It is such a relief to be able to just make things happen for once.

Also: the awesome pink hard hat? Our "souvenir" of the day (one comment on the pink woodwork: "You really can't appreciate how pink it is in the photographs"; same deal for the hard hats).

Ceiling coming down

Before lunch, we had taken down the drywall ceilings and were contemplating a future that involved a lot of plaster repair. Also, take a look above Jim's head here: that's an arch hidden in the dropped ceiling. You'll see it better in a moment.

Hallway ceiling removed

Removing the framing for the dropped ceilings took longer. We ended up spending a lot of time wrestling with the wood that the previous owners nailed up and trying not to totally mess up the existing plaster. It worked better in some cases than others.

Dining room work

The most amazing part of having a bunch of people over to work was having everything get cleaned up fast. Even somebody who showed up for only a portion of the day or was able to only do a small amount of work could help with cleanup, and the very best part about this work party was that at the end of the day, we had a relatively clean space, rather than a ridiculous amount of work to do.

View to the front of the house

People spent their time going back and forth between tearing stuff down and removing wallpaper. This was pretty cool. We need to remove all the wallpaper, eventually, so any work that got done was a bonus.

Hallway ceiling

Two terrifying discoveries: asbestos paper insulation in the cavity for the old gas heater in the dining room (this is an "encapsulated" application and low-danger to the household), and the mustard paint in the dining room (a reminder of how even somebody as happy about colour as myself can be pretty timid about the bolder hues).

Old gas heater location

Also. Consider a room entirely pink. With pink molding. Just take a moment and contemplate that.

Uncovering the layers of paint on the walls was fascinating.

Many colours of paint

After lunch we took down the upstairs ceiling in the hall. Our neighbor Richard climbed up into the dropped rafters and knocked down the drywall. I'm going to use this photo to blackmail him should he ever get rich and famous.

Upper hall ceiling

A more clear photo of that hidden archway in the lower hall. They took out the corbels and the side moldings, but seeing this explains a lot about how the back of the hallway is arranged.

Hidden archway

I swear we didn't give Richard any kind of drugs or excessive alcohol before we let him climb this ladder arrangement over the stairwell. He was removing the framing from the dropped ceiling. Since I have discovered in my old age a startling nervousness about heights, this was very welcome.

Richard is a crazy man

Old friend Bob took his mystery tool (purchased for $5 at a yard sale) and knocked the top of the old chimney chase from the dining room out. Plaster and lath flew everywhere.

Knocking out the chimney chase

Noel got up and carefully disconnected the lamp wiring from the remains of the medallion. We're still trying to locate the guy who restores these.

Removing wiring from the medallion

As we ended the day's work, here's our dining room bay:

Dining room window, opened up

And one weird item that came out of the dining room ceiling: an empty can. It felt empty when we moved it around, so we opened it.

Is trhis can actually empty?

And yes, it was empty. Why it was in our ceiling, and why it was empty? Unknown.

It's an empty can

And finally, the panorama, wallpaper removal in progress. We have a promise to provide assistance with removing wallpaper over the next couple weeks. And in that time we also need to decide whether we are going to try to repair or just replace the plaster on the ceiling of the dining room. There is significant water damage there, and it may not work to try to fix it.

Dining room in process

All in all, a long day of work but a really great one. Much thanks to everybody who came and helped out, and we're sure to try this again when we have our next big project. It's easy to forget, working on the house, how much fun it can be to show up for only one day of work. We tend to see the long, terrible slog ahead rather than how much fun it is to tear things apart in the short term. In the end we filled a dumpster and had a pretty good day. And I still have two pizza's worth of dough in the fridge.

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posted by ayse on 03/28/09