Monday, August 10, 2009

The House is Getting X-Rays! Wheee, Lead Assessment! Lead Removal Loan!

Wow, I forgot the blog in the busy-ness of dealing with the house :]

After glancing at the previous post, I can update a bit and say we got rid of the bats! Critter Control from Syracuse, $1,6OO. Amelia didn't seem to have any adverse effects from the rabies shots, but I wouldn't wish it on anyone. And we got rid of the knob and tube and rewired the whole house, including wiring in smoke detectors in the basement, down/upstairs and the attic, and we have overhead lights almost everywhere now, so Joe was able to put fans in our bedrooms. Hard to believe the bat removal was almost as much as the electrical work.

Joe lost 15% of his income due to a company wide pay cut for everyone in his position. Around the same time Utica got money for lead removal, I thought 1 million, but I also saw 2 m. online, so not quite sure. Utica has the worst lead poisoning rate in NY state outside of NYC. The day it hit the news my father in law pointed it out and said we should apply.

We ran in circles figuring out where to apply, and ended up at Gro-west. We barely knew they existed because we considered a victorian in this program- [sorry the link keeps disappearing]

Gro-west had us fill out paperwork and said they'd use funds from whatever programs we qualified for, and we did qualify for the lead money, thanks to Joe's pay cut and the recession. To qualify you also have to have a kid under 6, and we have a 2 and a half year old, and for some programs you need to be in certain parts of Utica, such as the brewery district, or the west side in general.

There's a 5 or a 1O year loan, and the house must be owner occupied for the duration of the loan. The loan is forgiven at 2O% and 1O% a year, respectively, so if Joe's job doesn't transfer him, we won't have to repay it. He'll probably get his own store before the loan period ends, but it's still an interest free loan.

They're fixing a lot of structural problems other than the lead paint. I cried when the guy left and Joe told me what he said, we've had so many things on hold waiting to see exactly what this loan will cover. They're going to raise our porch. Most people need a new furnace or roof, and both of those things are new here, so our big ticket item is the porch, structurally it's a danger to the house. We got the house for $52,OOO largely because the porch needs so much work.

Along with raising the porch, they'll replace the rotten porch floor that was covered by carpet for decades, and the peeling lead painted beadboard porch ceiling, and the peeling rotten wood skirting [whatever the proper term may be?].
~They're going to finish the wood floors I've been removing the layers of mastic from, our 9O year old inlaid wood floors some assholes covered in mastic and carpet and parquet crap, will finally be beautiful.
~They'll fix or replace the stairs.
~Fix the kitchen. I ripped out the dropped ceiling, and the walls don't go up past where it was, and it's a wreck in there. New flooring over the sixties possibly asbestos containing linoleum.
~New windows upstairs, major lead issue there, and there's energy efficiency money involved too I'm sure. Attic too.
~New windows in the basement!
~Insulate the attic floor [we have NO insulation] and add a floor where the previous owner tore the wood up.
~We get a railing for our porch stairs, the old one rusted off, and the house came with a wheelchair ramp, as it is we carry amelia on the concrete stairs, always. It's a code violation and they cover bringing the house up to code in general.
~He mentioned a new front door, 2 options of steel doors, one will have 9 panels of glass in the top half and look good on a foursquare. I love the original lead coated door, but for resale I think it would look better to have a new one, as long as it gets the glass doorknob we already have.
~Most of our doors don't close, so we'll get the doorways reframed, finally. our

[interruption for me to cry again, Joe just told me they put sealing the basement walls on the list. My glass and the big kiln are down there, I'm just starting to plan a full fledged studio, walls etc] they'll also fix the crumbling plaster wall at the basement stairs, where you track lead dust in if you walk into the kitchen.

finally our bedroom will have a door! when the door fell off we left it off because the hole was so deep and previously repaired and just shot to hell. The attic door also is unhinged on the top and can't close well, All the bedroom doors [4] don't close.
~They'll fix the crumbling cracked plaster above Amelia's door.

the fireplace is unusable because it's painted with regular wall paint, and the fireplace is too small to use, plus it has a weird diverted chimney that doesn't go straight up, no one on the block uses them, the chimney sweep had only ever seen one like it, and that was 2 doors down and couple decades ago! I read they were common in Sears kit homes, not that we have a kit home. I learned the architect for these foursquares actually lived in the house 3 doors down, our neighbor knew him. Anyway, they may fix that problem so we can install a pellet stove!

Basically they'll fix everything we need fixed. We've put off so much and stopped partway into some projects waiting to see what this loan would cover. We didn't raise the porch yet because we were waiting to see if this loan would cover it. We've been waiting so many months, and now they're sending lead testing peeps NEXT WEEK! x-raying everything and doing some in depth testing, but we all know there's lead, although the results will be interesting.

Some recent shots, and the house on our first walk through-
pre move-in-






better room shot from a few weeks ago-

dining room before-

today- it's a catch all room for now, and full of crap not in the kitchen since I ripped out cabinets-

before, note the parquet I was ripping up and the damnable mastic-




today, entering the basement-

before, our ONLY bathroom-

[I didn't go up for today pics, Joe's sleeping, so most of the newer ones are just are more recent shots]

when I was painting a couple months ago, I swear it's a pretty green, matches the bedroom below, looks wacky here, and I threw out that shelf on the toilet-

our bedroom before-




Amelia's room before-

a few months ago-

before, check that carpet out-

the room is more for packaging and jewelry assembly and totally different, but that's the current state of the floor/windows, lead paint slopped on the wood floor and all-

and yes, I like color, someday when Joe gets promoted to having his own store and we resell I'm sure I'll tone it down, and I want a white farmhouse kitchen, actually I want open shelves and antique and vintage hutches, a built in butlers pantry where the eat in area is, and no contemporary cabinets at all. Apron sink on legs. And if I win the lottery [hard since I don't play] I want an Aga. But for now I'll settle for new walls and floors, a porch Amelia can play on, doors that open and close and no cement basement walls crumbling dust into my glass when I work!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rabies shots anyone??? The worst part of renovating...

The house is still standing!

Most of the carpet is out, most of the mastic over the wood floors is too.

The knob and tube wiring is gone, our 1st true investment in the house, and we have overhead lights in our bedroom, Amelia's bedroom, and track lighting in my studio, which is in one of the 4 bedrooms. My kiln in the studio also required it's own outlet on it's own circuit, so when we sell someday it can be a plus for anyone who wants that in an office.

The absolute downer is that as I'd mentioned in the Houseblogger forum, our electrician had found 2 bats. By the end of the job it was 3. It being winter, bats are hibernating, so not much we could do. Well, when I pulled out the old carpet there were up to 1/2 inch gaps where trim at the base of the walls was gone, and big gaps in the stairs. And under the attic door. A bat can fit through a hole the size of a pencil to about 1/2 an inch.

I tried to use one of those vibrating water foot massage things about 2 weeks ago, and within 2O seconds, a bat swooped down from upstairs. We're pretty sure I vibrated it into a panic. But there's no way to know, it could have been upstairs for half an hour.

Amelia just turned 2. She was upstairs sleeping. Because you can be bitten without feeling it, or having a visible bite, the standard protocol is to get shots for a kid who was sleeping in a room with a bat. So she's now had the first 3 shots, 2 more to go, every Monday till it's done. Ugh. We should have captured the bat, but didn't realize it till afterwards, Joe let it out the front door, I was hiding under a blanket. It wasn't till the next day we realized that it came from upstairs and could have been in Amelia's room, her wood floor even had a 2x2" hole since we moved in, we just never realized it could potentially be a bat entrance.

There have been a couple deaths to toddlers sleeping with a bat in the room in recent years, and there was a mom in Florida who had her kiddo taken away for refusing shots after a bat was in the kids room.

Most of the work in the last 2 weeks has been plugging up all cracks with expanding foam, caulk, and preparing to get new trim.

It turns our they're big brown bats, we figured this out from the type of bats that arein NY, the fact that it's a house dwelling bat, and seeing that big wingspan in person. We've learned many interesting bat facts, they mate before they hibernate, then the females impregnate themselves in the spring. The kind we have like to eat beetles.

Big Brown Bats are really called Eptesicus Fuscus.

from Animal Diversity Web-
"The big brown bat inhabits cities, towns, and rural areas, but is least commonly found in heavily forested regions (Kurta 1995).

Some bats require stable, highly insulated environments in order to hibernate. Eptesicus fuscus has a more tolerant constitution so it can winter in less substantial structures. Besides human dwellings, it has been found to take up residence in barns, silos, and churches. Also, this bat has been found roosting in storm sewers, expansion joint spaces in concrete athletic stadiums, and copper mines (Baker 1983).

In presettlement times it is presumed the big brown bat roosted in tree hollows, natural caves, or openings in rock ledges. Occasionally groups of these bats are still found living in tree cavities (Baker 1983). Recently, some were found hibernating in caves in Minnesota (Knowles 1992).

The generic name Eptesicus is derived from the Greek, meaning "house flyer". All this bat needs is a small hole or warped, loose siding to gain entry into a home. Once inside, it prefers to roost in double walls or boxed-in eaves rather than attics. It is reasonable to speculate that populations of the big brown bat have increased with an increasing number of human habitations (Baker 1983)."

This one was definitely a House Flyer!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Too busy to blog...

Amelia's room is coming along, another coat of paint, shelves, more decorating and it'll be the cutest thing ever. There's a super-cool bed on Craftster-

and when she's bigger, she's definitely getting something along those lines, but different.

We have a lot of the carpet up now, removing the mastic is a pain, not much time to use the remover without Amelia around the fumes, meaning not much done at a time. However, I found that near the edges of the walls downstairs the wood changes direction and we have 2 darker strips of inlaid wood, in a simple pattern making 2 thin squares around the edge of each room downstairs, even in the entry. It will be beautiful, especially since there's not much original left downstairs, the floor, the stairs, the glass doorknobs, that might be it!

The electrician has finished the downstairs, our bedroom now has a light and just needs one more outlet, all the original outlets are grounded house-wide, My kiln is getting it's own outlet on it's own breaker tomorrow hopefully, and my studio (bedroom #4 gets track lighting.
I will never understand why all the overhead lighting was removed from the house, you can see where they patched the holes in all the ceilings, ridiculous.

I found a dead bat in the attic when I tried to pick up some of the forties newspaper it hid behind to die. When it gets warm they are NOT allowed to live here!

If the electrician stays out of the hospital we should be rid of the knob and tube wiring completely and inspected and on to other things. We got the new homebuyers credit on our taxes, so we won't have to get a bank loan to replace the porch in the spring, that is SO exciting.

I am thankful we bought a house with a great furnace. it's -5 tonight.

I've repainted most of the kitchen cabinets, knowing me a lot more color will go in there though!

I'm going to get molds and make dichroic glass knobs for the cabinets, I'm super excited about that! Expensive custom knobs on the painted garbage cabinets, lol.

Not really much going on that's different or exciting, just further along on everything and nothing is ever done.

carpet removed from my studio, the paint was already there, we'll take care of that when we do all the floors, Joe calls it my "artist's floor"

Amelia's room in progress-

Amelia's record flowers I made last week, Joe collects records, thousands of them, so Amelia is VERY into her record flowers!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Moving the house blog!

When I initially set up blogger was down, so I just started on LJ and figured I'd probably quit after a week anyway, having other things to do. But I'm sick of LJ, and finally moving it.

Last night I started ripping out the carpet and parquet flooring in the living room/stairs, poor floor. The parquet was a few feet wide and went from the doorway into the living over to the kitchen, then the living room and dining room are all carpet. Fugly old stained carpet. I removed the carpet from 2 stairs, I didn't photograph it up close, but the stairs have moved so much, there are gaps between the steps trim would cover, but the sides don't fit into the wall where they should. I'll get a picture later, it's a mess, it was totally hidden by the carpet.

The floor under the parquet just has the parquet adhesive stuck to it, we're going to get something to remove it later today. The floor in front of the fireplace also had parquet, and under it there is a lovely piece of plywood, apparently nothing under it.

The plywood didn't meet the hardwood, so they covered it with some plaster-like substance, where the plywood meets hardwood it was about a 1/4 inch thick. It extends about 7 inches onto the hardwood, getting thinner and tapering off. Most of it chips off pretty easily, some of it requires more work.

The BIG pain in the butt is the entire floor had some ancient adhesive stuck to it, it's like virgin floor under most of it, no wear, no scratches. But also no idea what it is or how to remove it. It doesn't break down with water, but water seems to soften it and make it scrape off a tiny bit easier. I scraped off about a foot of it in an hour or so, trying elbow grease, water, and Goo Gone, because it's what was on hand. If paint stripper is in the picture, it was used on paint, and incidentally made no difference with the mystery substance.

This stuff is under the carpet padding and from ages before the current sixties carpet, not at all related to this carpet or padding. In one spot I found ancient black looking carpet fiber stuck to it, upstairs. Heck, we even have ancient wallpaper rolls in the attic, they'd been lost in the floor the PO broke up, it's pink and gold and flowered, but crumbles if you touch it. Very old.

Today we'll also either try the parquet adhesive remover on the rest of the floor, or buy acetone and a few things to try. It's in the dining room, the living room, and the entry at the top of the stairs.

The wood under the parquet shows some wear, and has a really big gouge, compared to the perfection of the rest of the floor, well, future perfection, very noticeable.

I know it's Oak, but how do I know if it's red oak or stained reddish? It's yellower in our room and Amelia's where it's been finished, but under the carpet it's flat where it's visible through the mucky adhesive, not shiny with varnish, and much redder.

Here's the mess. I'm tearing it out while Joe's at work and Amelia's napping. She's 22 months, so I have to do it in small amounts and clean as I go, in case she wakes up and comes downstairs while I'm working. The 3 stairs took one entire 2 hour nap period, mostly removing ten thousand staples.

Didn't they put pretty shit brown paint on the stairs?! The paint on the stairs didn't test positive for lead, but I want to retest and make sure I got all the layers, it seems waaaay too good to be true, especially considering all the other lead paint here.

Removing the parquet that went to the doorway raised the kitchen floor enough to trip the baby the 1st day, when I put the cork in it will get even higher. ugh.