Week 2: Stalling and Progress

I think I left off at the end of last weekend after most of the drywall and all the paneling had been removed from the dining room.

Ironically, I have been dying to rip down the dining room forever!! And as soon as there were no actual walls and hanging electrical wires, all I wanted to do is sit on the couch under a blanket. I also managed to have a lot of things on my calendar for the week, so it wasn’t as productive as it might have been all around.

In my defense, I need my dad to come take a look at the structural stuff before I remove stud walls. He was sick for a couple days and then busy, so I’m still waiting on that evaluation (hopefully Saturday morning).


Tuesday night I took down the Christmas tree which was blocking the work to widen the living room doorway. It is now chilling on the deck (with a pile of drywall scraps). #wearethatfancy


There’s an important order for some parts of this project:
1. Structural review & evaluate chimney situation (for running duct work and additional electrical upstairs)
2. Remove stud wall between kitchen & dining
3. Frame out chimney
4. Frame new doorway


And there’s a lot I can be working on before that:
– Finish cutting out the doorway into the living room (I’m halfway through it)
– Feed wire through floor for new circuit for outdoor lighting/plugs
– Take down the drywall and wire outdoor plugs & lights
– Caulk penetrations & seams, add wall insulation to exterior wall


The thing about running the wiring for the outdoor lights and plugs is that those are the only drywall pieces left on the wall. But they are holding wall insulation and I didn’t want to take them down until I was ready to run the wiring and then add new insulation and close the wall back up quickly. On the other hand, the coming week is supposed to be in the 40’s so that is probably a good time to do it.


Wednesday night I attempted to do some electrical work and kept running into issues because the stud walls that need to come down are in my way. Ugh. So instead I busted out a couple tiles to see what I’m facing in the floor removal department. Thick tile, super thick uneven grout, backer board underneath. This isn’t going to be pretty. So I sat on the couch and drank tea with a friend to brace myself mentally for the task ahead. (I’m also giving you a picture of the in tact tile in the kitchen, in case you can’t remember how awesome it is).


Thursday night I decided to see how far I could get on the floor. Using a pry bar doesn’t work because the grout is so thick. Smashing each tile with the sledge does the job (and raises a lot of dust). I got about 75% of the dining room floor removed in 2 hours. I filled all of the available garbage cans (I can only fill them partway if they are going to be lift-able) and used up all of my umpf (and arm strength). Not too bad really, just horribly dusty. Daisy is kind of freaked out by the smashing of the floor. I finally crated her because she was a nervous wreck. Suzie naps like a champ through it all.


Sometimes I wish it could be like Chip on Fixer Upper on Demo Day. Everything happens on one day. But I suppose he has a skilled crew of workers and well, the amazing Chip Gaines. I suppose when you have just a Reenie, or even a Reenie with occasional help, everything takes longer. We’re going on Demo Week 2. 


Friday night I finished busting out the dining room floor and hauled it all out onto the deck. Time to borrow a trailer to start filling with a load for the dump.


Saturday morning my dad came over to look at the structural stuff. He gave the green light the removal of the wall between the dining room and kitchen. That ceiling (kitchen and dining room has some sag in the middle but he says “we” can fix that from above before hanging the new drywall. He told me where to cut to check the chimney situation. And then he offered his drill bits for the removal of the backer board. He also lent me his corded sawzall which has a lot more power than my battery powered one. He had to get home to Grandpa so he gave me his blessing to keep going and headed out.


Naturally on his way home, he called again. He thinks I should have a helper today. Um. So he called Michael, a 16 year old friend who adores my dad to see if he wanted some work for the day at my house. 27 seconds later Michael calls me, he’s coming over. I love Michael and have had him out to work for me a few times. We understand each other — or at least I understand him and have a good system of working together. It is this: I let him try what he thinks should work, and then a few minutes later I make a suggestion like “I wonder if instead of just using the sawzall on that joint, we could remove those three nails first. Maybe that would be easier.” Lo and behold it was easier! He still considers it his idea and feels great about it. And I appreciate the help and the opportunity to share some “ideas” (read: experience) with a delightful and very quirky guy. He does, however, scare the crap out of me swinging a sledge hammer anywhere near the kitchen cabinets and the patio door. I’m not sure he realizes how expensive those things would be to replace if they happen to get smashed. Deep breath. Thankfully nothing got destroyed that wasn’t supposed to be.


Between noon and three on Saturday (when I had to jump in the shower and go set up for Mass), Michael and I finished cutting out the large doorway between the dining room and living room. It looks AMAZING. I mean, I knew it would be great. More flow from room to room would be awesome, but seeing it gone makes my heart skip a beat. It is all of my wildest door widening dreams come true. The room feels bigger, lighter, and so much better. I LOVE IT.


We also removed the stud walls between the kitchen and dining room, an arduous process since whoever framed that wall used a lot of these enormous 4 inch framing nails that were a beast to remove. We moved the salvageable studs and shiplap (eeeeeeeeee shiplap!!!) to the barn, the non-salvageable wood to the fire pit, and we got some of the mess abated before I had to leave.


And so ends Demo Week 2.


I feel like the demolition is pretty much done, at least until I list the remaining pieces to finish it up:


– Kitchen flooring removal
– Remove tile backer board in kitchen/dining room
– Remove a couple remaining 2x4s in the doorway and wall remnants


So close and yet so far…


The good news: I told Michael that busting out the tile was kind of fun and he thinks (humbly) that he could do it faster than me. I’m willing to let him try and beat my (fairly impressive) time.


My Goals for Project Week 3:
a) Run electrical for outdoor fixtures & plugs
b) Borrow trailer for trash collecting / disposal
c) Finish demo-ing the kitchen floor tile (which requires moving some cabinets, and getting a few things off the walls and out of the way)
d) Finish demo of a couple odd spots- doorway, last couple boards, etc
e) Schedule my dad for half a day of joist bracing and attic electrical
f) Order recessed lighting fixtures
g) Build new frame for doorway into living room
h) Pull all staples from ceiling furring strips


Yes, I realize this is overly optimistic, but a person needs goals if she is going to stave off the magnetic pull of the blanket and couch.


In the meantime, this wonderful open doorway is my happy thought.  


And this doorway is why I call whoever did the last renovations on this place the King of Half Ass DIY. Because wow.

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