Tuesday, May 25, 2010

house renovation - interior work

I've been putting in more time because in June my friend is supposed to move in for a few weeks. I promised him a summer sublet. So I better have one with walls ready.

After the electricians came and finally upgraded the wiring in the room (ie make it not likely to explode into flames at any second) my task was to insulate. I bought R13 insulation, which is the thickest you can do with 2x3 studs, and took a few days to cover the exterior wall. Since I took down the ceiling and there are only studs spanning the ceiling, which is shared between all the houses on the row, it would be necessary to insulate the top part of my room as well.

Here are pictures of the room after complete gutting and cleaning. It looks quite spacious. This was progress as of May 4.

The cleaned up room with old electric wiring still hanging down.

The studs left across the ceilings after everything - slathes, plaster, junk, was removed.

Entryway to the room. Chimney has some water damage.

This past weekend, Alicia, Christine, Jose, and CWilli have come over to help me out with some of the work. Together we put up a lot of drywall, and designed and built the closet partition. The hardest part of drywalling is cutting everything to fit correctly when the house is crooked and not exact. Also, after a few hours of drywalling, we went a little crazy and stopped functioning and measuring correctly.

Insulated ceiling and recessed light fixture. It's a pain to cut drywall to fit the fixture but will look really good.

Jose measuring dimensions for drywall. He doesn't really need the ladder to reach the top.

Alicia measuring and cutting drywall. Her specialty was the measurement, at least until we became too tired.

Building a closet partition is pretty simple. I just decided to take the whole space where the old room extended into an irregular shape, tear out the old tiny closet, and wall it off to make a huge walk in closet. There was a lot of tearing down - removing posts, walls, flooring, shelves, but once it was done, and there was just open plywood floor and walls, the job seemed much easier. Basically, we build a frame for the whole wall, then an interior frame for the door, and make sure that there are studs holding up the door. Luckily it fits into the space.

Christine and CWilli installing drywall in the closet ceiling.

Christine, with a closeup of the hole cut for the closet light.

The closet partition in place, with doors unattached.

As of may 24, I have almost the whole place drywalled (with the exception of the ceiling). Apparently I will need two layers of drywall on either side of the house to provide fire proofing protection as well as sound insulation. Which is good because we patched the sides alot. For the future, it is best to fit as large of a piece of drywall as possible. This could mean not actually using the whole 4x8 piece, because the remaining piece, less than 8' long, could be left with no stud at one end. There are a lot of other problems that will have to be fixed cosmetically.

Friday, May 21, 2010

microoptimizing my driving

in the big picture, cambridge is something like 4 miles wide from end to end so there's no need to optimize driving distance at all. but a few routes have bothered me because i drive them several times a week, and because of the nonperpendicular streets there's always a feeling that i'm driving farther from my destination than an alternate route would be.

so i looked up two driving directions from my house: to Home Depot, and to CW Taekwondo. In both cases I always feel like there's a more direct road somewhere that I don't know about. Sure, driving on the major roads might be slightly faster or hit fewer red lights, but just out of curiosity, i had to see if i was actually driving farther away by going down third.

first, to CW taekwondo from my house. There's a street called Binney St which is kind of unavoidable because you always hit it coming toward MIT, and there is a median so you can't turn left coming either direction earlier if you wanted to. fortunately it looks like 3rd street actually curves toward MIT and CW, and going up broadway will actually take you farther from Central. Google maps does magic. The total mileage to CW: 1.7 miles. It's the same route I always use.

Then, since I've been doing a lot of home depot runs, there are two ways that seem kind of roundabout, but one feels shorter so i've been taking it. It's annoying because route 28 and I93 border a big industrial area that you can't drive through so you have to drive all the way around to get to Home Depot. One route went through medford and seems to take a bigger loop, and my route takes an earlier right on Washington. But Google maps is telling me that both ways are exactly 2.5 miles, which is what my odometer told me. But, I did discover a new one that backtracks in the beginning but is only 2.4 miles long, but 1 minute longer to drive.

but like i said, in the big picture though, nothing really changes whether I save that .1 miles or not. it's just an exercise in OCD behavior.

Ian mckellen/fresh prince impression

like the comments say, it's 100 times more awesome than i even expected!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

may gardening

The best part about owning a house is that I own a back yard. a whole back yard to myself that I can plant whatever I want. And i've planted a ton of stuff. But there's either a kitty or bird that always comes and digs up my pots...so I had to start seeding indoors. which still doesn't work because I think my seed is no longer viable. :( only my gardening seeds, that is.

but anyway I planted a bunch of seeds and began keeping a lot just so I know what and when i've planted things. and they turned out to be really colorful and look cool. who knew that party cups could have a second life after they are discarded in a drunken stupor?

and here is bella hiding in the bushes, and swatting at some flying insect that only she sees.

*update* - I believe the eggplant has sprouted. again, the rosemary and thyme seedlings are unfamiliar to me so I can't tell if they're sprouts or weeds. and the tomatoes are still not emerging, and i'm worried that it'll become too late. last year the cherry tomatoes i threw out into the compost grew like crazy. this year the seeds i coddled and planted caringly refuse to sprout. it's like how kids who play outside in the dirt don't get allergies.

Monday, May 10, 2010

chicken fried

after 12 years living in north carolina and 10 years living in boston, i've realized that i've become a southern boy.

as the summer comes and things get warmer i am actually longing to visit home. i want to sit on the porch in the heavy heat drinking a cold iced tea. i want to hear the buzz of a lawnmower trimming the vast suburban fields. i want to drive to the local strip mall, visit a family dining establishment that has its own building and parking lot, and eat in a dining room filled with families. i want to drive down my high school's road and visit the bojangles.

i listened to the zac brown band whom i've never heard of before until today and their old time country actually didn't sound repulsive, but made me just want to visit home. so i bought two tickets off of jetBlue's $10 sale - like a commute, only 711 miles - for tuesday night at 11 pm to wednesday morning at 7 am. it'll be a quick and awesome trip home.

Friday, May 7, 2010

done with the destruction

Back to the posting of progress on my bedroom renovation.

after months of slow demolition i've finally torn down all the plaster and lathes in the room. also, to install lights i had to take down the ceiling too. that was an additional like 3 trips to dump out boxes of plaster. after a while, a hammer becomes part of your hand and removing lathes is done with just a flick of the wrist. and the result: a beautifully bare wood cabin with a skeletal roof. and dust, dust everywhere.

jim the electrician came by and pounded out a morning of work, and installed five recessed lighting fixtures and a new wire from the basement. the cost comes out to about $700 which is pretty good, because the room is going to look nice once those dimmer lights get put to use. cue soft 80's sex music.

the next step is to put up drywall. iliya and i spent about 2 hours moving 25 sheets of drywall to my back yard. after a few sheets your forearms really start to hurt from carrying them. and we nearly lost anye when the stack started to tip over as we were putting tarp around it. that was actually pretty scary, and iliya and i managed to catch the whole pile before it passed the 45 degree mark and stand everything back up. a stack of sheetrock is actually really heavy and scary. i don't look forward to bringing them upstairs.

so now the house is gutted and almost ready to be faced again. hopefully it'll look great soon. i'll be happy when there's not rock dust everywhere.