Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Great "Before"

It's coming, I promise. An actual post on our VERY humble beginnings in sustainable living. But inquiring minds want to know all about the "before" of our farmhouse, and my inner architect can't resist, though she tried. She even wrote out a little testimony of sorts on how she went from caffeine junkie to rabbit food addict. And it will be published...but not this very second.

Following are some photos we took of the house before we bought it, as well as some post-demolition eye candy. Anyway, this will at least give you an idea of what the older portion of the home and the addition that was done in the 1980s look like.

Looking back at the front entrance: welcome home...

...and watch your step! The beam under the door needs to be replaced, and the contractor will be installing a new beam and footings under the stairs since the perpendicular beam to the left of the door is damaged, too. And yes, that's Byron metal detecting in the crawlspace after he removed the flooring. Just between you and me, I think it was his main motivation for the painstaking work! More on removing floorboards and crawlspace treasures later.

Dining room before...

...and after, for now. No structural damage here, but we're removing all the flooring so we can refinish the boards on the first floor. We will then remove the flooring in the barn loft (which is very similar), refinish those boards, and intersperse them together throughout the first floor of the house. It's going to look sweet!

Those exposed wires on the chandelier look a little suspect! I have a very healthy respect for electrical wiring and generally don't mess with it, so this chandelier is outta here.

Our pre-demolition parlor:

And since you always wanted to know what the insides of a house looked like, we thought we'd give you a peak. You know, just for fun, since we love tearing up flooring and drywall. The beam across the front of the room, the joists, and several studs (three that run up to the bedroom above literally crumble in your hands) will need to be replaced. The shoring system that the engineer designed is basically a temporary wall that will be built in the parlor, hall, and the bedroom and bathroom above, respectively. The studs (vertical members of the shoring wall) will rest on a plate in the crawl space to distribute the load. I know it sounds a little twisted, and I'd much rather spend the money on renovating a bathroom or two, but I'm kind of excited to see this in action.

Following is the bedroom directly above the parlor, where another shoring wall will be installed. This was the original master bedroom.

This is a close-up of the corner of the bedroom above. The corner stud, from the parlor below all the way up to the ceiling framing of the bedroom above, has been eaten by termites. The original studs are true 2x4s (newer 2x4s are really 1 1/2" x 3 1/2") and are "balloon studs," which run from the beam under the first floor to the ceiling of the second floor. Houses are not built like this anymore for a couple reasons, one being that the open channels in between the studs become miniature chimneys during a fire. Needless to say, we'll be installing fire blocking, which are horizontal pieces between the studs.

Generally, the damaged studs will remain in the wall, and here, a new stud or two will be installed on either side of this one to support the ceiling framing and corner. The new studs will either have to be rough-cut lumber or ripped 2x6s to achieve a true 4" thickness and an even surface on which to install new drywall.

The kitchen area:

another view:

We'll be ripping up the parquet laminate and installing hardwood throughout, reclaimed from the front of the home and the barn. I also already began painting the cabinets white to update and give them a more of a timeless look. After removing the doors, drawers, and cleaning them, I'm using 60 grit sandpaper to roughen the surface, then wiping everything down again with a dry cloth. The primer and semi-gloss paint are both outdoor paint, which is more durable than indoor paint. You can expect to apply 2-3 topcoats after priming if you ever undertake a project like this. Time consuming, but it will brighten the room considerably.

Part of the master bathroom, which is on my to-be-renovated-one-of-these-days list. And yes, that's a blue toilet.


  1. Well, you don't have much to keep you busy, do you? ;-) Looks like you're going to have lots of fun, and I am particularly looking forward to 'crawlspace treasures'. I used to love that show If These Walls Could Talk before we cut off the tv for good.

  2. Yeah, my imagination gets away with me when Byron finds something interesting. He still has to metal detect the dining room and parlor.