Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Welcome to The Dread House

Prompted by the niftiness of those little progress bars in other home renovation blogs (!?) -- okay, by both that and the fact that 'home renovation blog' is, apparently, its own genre of blog -- I've started this one.

I hope writing about it will make the whole thing seem less hopeless, daunting, and disheartening.

Welcome to The Dread House.

What is The Dread House?
  • It is a 1950s brick ranch built on concrete slab with a decent attic (except for the STUFF - apparently the leavings of more than one PO - filling it) and no basement.

  • It has plaster walls on metal lath and, currently, no floor except for aforementioned concrete slab.

  • It has two additions added by the POs -- one of these is a 'family room', the exterior consisting of cheap siding and duct tape; the other is'foyer'. Right, a 'foyer'. Looking at the houses around us, it appears that it used to be a porch with a roof. It is now an enclosed room that forces us to go through a sliding glass door before we even reach our real front door.

  • It has not been maintained in years.

  • It is filthy and was apparently inhabited by incontinent dogs.

  • It has numerous other bizarre and inexplicable 'repairs' and DIY jobs left by the POs. These include: the aforementioned additions, a table/counter glued to the kitchen wall, mysterious wiring (where does it go? where is it from? what is it for!?), a copper pipe that only goes part of the way through the wall and exits into the front garden, a pile of lumber and windows in the yard, an extension cord that runs under the driveway, wallpaper everywhere, a shower installed patchily in what used to be just a bathtub (they didn't repair the holes in the closet wall they made to put this in), toilets that aren't bolted to the floors, etc, etc, etc.
(...Oh, and one of the other things the POs left behind? A dog they buried in the yard several weeks before closing! We're entirely unsure what to do about that.)

I've been working on the Dread House for about 4 1/2 weeks now. Most of the time it's been just me. Some of M's friends have contributed, too, one of them coming over every other day for a couple weeks.

This is what we've accomplished:
  • Removed all carpets, padding (modern and coconut fiber) and tackstrips. Scraped floors numerous times to remove remnants of padding. The carpet project was the worst - every room except for the utility room and bathrooms was carpeted. Yes, this includes the kitchen. While the utility room wasn't carpeted, it did have an area rug which was fused to the tile.

    The carpets were all FILTHY. The pads were moldy. This is presumed to be related to the incontinent dogs I mentioned earlier.
    Living Room Carpet Padding
    During this stage of demolition, I had to wear a respirator in order to avoid the stench. I went through a box of tissues a day because of my allergies. You could smell the foul odor from the driveway.

  • Removed baseboards and most baseboard heater covers. Again because of the stench.

  • Cleaned refrigerator. This was a bigger task than you might think. It was May. I found what I believe to be their Thanksgiving turkey in one of the fridge bins. (M insists it was an Easter turkey, but poultry does not turn quite that green after a single month.)

  • Stripped wallpaper in living room (all walls, floor to ceiling, complete with decorative border at top), two bathrooms, dining room (bottom half of walls), master bedroom (decorative border), kitchen (decorative border), and three bedroom closets (all walls and ceilings).

  • Stripped wall paint in living room, main hallway, one bedroom, and entry hall.
    Peeling Paint
    This was not a project we planned on, but then the paint started peeling around where we'd pulled molly bolts out of the walls (argh, grumble)...and kept going.

  • Tore up asbestos tiles (two layers!) in utility room. The tiles were damaged when we pulled up the area rug, which was fused to the floor due to what I believe to be a diabolical combination of dog and/or cat piss with the backing on the rug. I ripped up about a quarter of the room before realizing that the size of the tiles appeared to be about 9 inches square...which, combined with the age of the house, indicated asbestos tile. We sent some off to be tested and, sure enough, it was. The best part of this mess is that the black mastic in there does NOT contain asbestos.

    I finished the rest of the project in gawd-awful, sweltering PPE. (The asbestos abatement people wanted $1400 to do the job. Like, no. Now we just have to pay them to haul it away.) The room's now been scrubbed and mopped thoroughly. I don't think they ever cleaned in there. One of my odder discoveries was unpopped corn kernels in the dryer vent tube. What the...? Part of the wall in there is damaged (looks like drywall or something) and was falling apart when I was pulling out the baseboards.

  • Removed ghastly, murderous grass plant from front yard. I also removed a lot of poison ivy from the backyard, but it was the grass plant that actually caused me grief and injury. Before M trimmed it (it attacked him, too) it was taller than the house. It weighed more than I do, so after I finally dug deep enough around and under it and pushed it, bodily, from the hole, I was unable to haul it back to our yard pile

  • Rented a skip to dispose of as much of the POs' stuff as possible. They didn't finish packing and moving even though they were given three extra days past settlement to do so. So they left furniture, tools, trash, a dirty cat litter box, a TV in the yard, etc. We filled the skip to the top without even starting on the attic.

  • Cleaned the hell out of the concrete slab multiple times with various cleaners. Had someone fill the cracks (living room, master bedroom, kitchen, dining room, hallway). Discovered via cleaning that part (just part!) of the concrete in the 'foyer' is painted! It was so filthy before you couldn't tell.

  • Prepped, primed and finished painting one bedroom (except for trim). Prepped and primed master bedroom. Filled holes in other walls... so many holes... There are still more.

  • Stripped faux popcorn crap off kitchen ceiling. Unhappily, this was one of those 'and then you discover something ELSE wrong' projects.

  • Sprayed windows and doors with Orange Guard, a natural ant killer/repellent. Got ladybugs to take care of aphids.

  • Took out ancient, mouldering air conditioner, located storm window (in shed!), removed spider from said window, put window back where it belongs.

  • Had electric mess fixed (grounded sockets installed, wiring corrected, wire to nowhere in living room repaired...) by M's friend.

  • Put in new dining room light. The old one had a broken socket with live wire sticking out AND was so low you could walk into it

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