20 July 2009

Snail's pace

I know it's been a long time. And no, mom, I'm not deceased. Thanks for the vote of confidence, though. Progress has been frustratingly slow, bordering on non-existent, and I have avoided blogging to hide my shame.

We're still exactly where we were at the last post in terms of drywall. We were supposed to have help last weekend with it, but a nasty storm kept the helpers busy with other obligations (mostly helping their own families clean up after the mess that the storm made). Today we didn't have help, but we're not sure why.

We did get things done, though, in small and seemingly insignificant ways. While our work has no effect on our move-in date, it is all work that will need to be done eventually.

When we bought the house, a bunch of post-demolition work had already been completed. Things like framing, plumbing, and minimal electric (an outlet in the basement and one on the second floor, just enough to plug in some tools). Had these things been done correctly, it would have been a huge time-saver for us. Unfortunately, the guy was a hack and did just about everything wrong. It's taken us so much more time to go back and undo what they "fixed."

For example, today we focused on repairing the downstairs floor by the back door. They had patched in a couple of pieces of plywood in front of the stairway to the basement, which we needed to take it out so we could lay down the OSB. These sheets were only about 3 feet square, but they had at least 30 ring-shank nails in each piece. Getting those things out is a remarkable pain in the behind. A cat's claw is the best tool for it, but it's still back-straining, tedious work. We finally took all the nails out only to discover that the base plate of the wall framing was hiding more nails. Upon closer inspection, we decided to take out the wall framing altogether because the studs were unbelievably warped and twisted. Also, some of the plumbing that ran in the wall stuck out past the line of the wall, making it impossible to drywall even if the studs were straight. And of course, instead of using nails like every other framer in the history of wooden framing, they used 4" screws. Coincidentally, these screws are the worst screws money can buy. The head strips with one turn of the drill. Sometimes if it doesn't strip, the shank will simply break off right where the threads start, making it impossible to remove. We even bought a screw extractor kit, but to no avail.

We finally just cut the studs in half and used brute force to pull the framing out. Once that was done, we went back to trying to get the plywood out. But the plumbing and electrical lines that had already been run were running through the plywood, so we couldn't simply lift it out. A couple more hours of magical circular saw and hand saw maneuvers, and we were finally able to take out the piece of plywood to install the OSB. A few cuts along the edge for length and width and a couple of notches to accommodate the aforementioned plumbing, and we were in business. We spent about 5 hours on the flooring project today, and only got 2 pieces put down. Sigh.

And we can't really progress much further with the flooring until we take up all the top floor and the subfloor. Currently, that's got a bunch of drywall sitting on it, so I guess we really do have to finish the drywall first.

We rounded out the day with some other miscellany. I hung insulation in a couple more places, and Tom took out a bunch of electrical wiring The Hacks had installed. Based on what we'd seen of their electrical skills, we thought it best to start from scratch. (They hooked up a bunch of lights in the basement, put them on the same breaker as the furnace, and then started randomly cutting wires in the circuit - presumably to lighten the load after the circuit kept tripping.) I also mowed the lawn and talked to our next-door-neighbor. He offered his sister's labor to edge our front sidewalk. It's really nice and completely unnecessary, and I have a vague feeling that they're getting tired of our weeds overpowering the sidewalk and making their house look shabby, but I'll take what I can get.

As far as drywall goes, though, Tom and I promised each other to take the time this week to hang at least one sheet per day by ourselves after work. It doesn't sound like a lot, and it's not, but 1) drywall is heavy; 2) Tom usually doesn't come home from work until 7 pm; and 3) I still have to find the energy in the evening to cook dinner, wash dishes, do laundry, etc. etc.

I wish I had pictures to update this entry, but I didn't take any this weekend, and they really wouldn't have been very exciting anyway. Maybe next time.

No comments: