Well, we're heading into our 3rd winter in the house, and the list of projects has grown to enormous proportions. I'll attempt to regurgitate as much of it as I can remember here.

Large Items

  • Finish the new upstairs bathroom, including plumbing, electrical, walls, ceiling, radiant, bamboo flooring for the hallway, floor tile in the bathroom, shower tile, fixtures. Basically the whole kaboodle except demo and framing (which is done!)
  • Finish the kitchen upgrade, including some lower cabinets, all upper cabinets, tear out box frames near ceiling, new flooring, new paint
  • Replace all supply and drain plumbing in basement with new vent and main stack, and all pex supplies throughout
  • Rewire garage to be more useful and have more light fixtures
  • Replace electrical panel with 200 amp service, remove knob & tube, rewire entire upstairs, clean up existing romex circuits
  • Install a sump pit/pump and finally seal up the sewer vent in the basement!
  • Better support the huge wood beam that was cut to install a duct in the basement.
  • Dig out some dirt from the crawlspace and install a RAT SLAB!!
  • Rip out fiberglass insulation and wall framing in basement next to foundation, seal up the cracks and holes and insulate with something less disgusting.
  • Sister floor joists in kitchen (they're pretty bouncy!)
  • Build an English conservatory onto the south side
  • Install another window in the kitchen
  • Install a folding hatch over the basement stairs and build a tiny mudroom!
  • Remove old, ugly deck from back of house and replace it with a brick patio
  • Build a conservatory onto the south side
  • Move the bathroom door and remodel the rest of the bathroom
  • Tear up the carpet and refinish the wood floors downstairs
  • Install radiant heat throughout the downstairs
  • Upgrade furnace
  • Insulate behind sill beams, which are drafty and cold throughout the house

Smaller Items

  • Re-glaze attic windows (this was supposed to be my first task after buying the house)
  • Install new french doors between living and dining rooms
  • Paint living room and bathroom ceilings
  • Remove wallpaper and paint the front (dining) room
  • Carve out a workshop in the garage that I can heat this winter
  • Reconnect back hall light
  • Put matching porch light on back porch to replace the awful one that's out there now
  • Fix garage door opener
  • Restore beadboard ceiling on front porch, removing awful vinyl crud
  • Build a drawer storage system under the stairs in the back hallway
  • Wire ethernet to several key locations throughout the house
  • Paint the office

A couple of months back, we bought a new corner unit and sink from Ikea. That's what initiated the whole kitchen remodel insanity that is still ongoing. We used to have a double-bowl stainless jobbie, which was very poorly positioned in the only location capable of receiving a dishwasher. 3 years without a dishwasher. The horror! Our new sink is a huge single-bowl porcelain affair, set into a natural oil-finished wood counter top. As with all things old house, changing one thing has a knock-on effect until the next thing you know you're demolishing half the kitchen. Dishwasher -> relocate sink -> relocate stove -> remove half the bloody cabinets in the kitchen. It's a good thing we knew we had to do all that before we actually did it, or the surprise would have killed us both. We plumbed the new sink and dishwasher with pex (cross-linked polyethylene tubing). We've got a few rooms to do over the next couple of years, so we bought a crimper ($100!!) Pex goes together so easily and so cleanly, I'm going to replace the whole plumbing system with it!! Since the Ikea cabinets are floating furniture, I decided that I should do something special with the drain pipe in case we ever need to move the cabinets. The basement pipe comes up through the floor, and a rubber coupler connects the sink pipe to it. The pex tubing also is connected to a couple of disconnects, so we can very easily yank the sink out in case we need to get back there (and we will, when the new flooring goes in) Also, around this time, we got our first zuchinni of the summer! It was MASSIVE. There's a photo of my giant zuchinni down here... V V V

Old sink on the left.  We finally got rid of the 2nd awful turntable!! They were cool in the '90s. Today, there are better ways.
Here's what the old kitchen looked like.  Not bad, but far too dark for our euro-modern tastes.
The pex comes off the original copper, Ts off to the dishwasher, then up to the sink on the right.
A couple of elbows make a very clean transition to vertical.
I sent the waste pipe as far back as was feasible to increase our under-sink storage space.
The rubber coupling to allow easy movement in the future.
Crazy!  Never seen one so big.

If you've ever seen our garage on a typical day, you might have thought a bomb went off. A hopeless-projects bomb. We have a canoe hanging from the rafters, under which is an upside down 18 foot sailboat, under that is another 8 foot sailboat sitting on pallets. There's a stack of wood lath 4 feet high and 6 feet wide, automotive fluids and parts of all manner, a trike, 3 bikes, garden pots, fertilizer, rakes, shovels, and the like, a stack of extra car wheels/tires, boxes and totes filled with books... And that's just the RIGHT half. The left half actually has a car in it (our classic MG), a workshop of sorts (mostly just a pile of tools and junk), lawnmower, snowblower, etc, etc, etc. That's not to mention the rafters... How about a 25 foot sailboat mast, and about 1000 linear feet of trim and siding. *rolls eyes* Well, after stuffing things willy-nilly in there all summer long, I decided today it was time to clean things up. The weather is getting cold, and I'll soon need to carve out a small workshop space in the back that I can keep warm. I pulled the car out, then spent some time trying to lift the bikes into the rafters before finally giving up on the idea. Instead of bikes, I decided that most of the summer camping stuff could be hidden up there. I nailed some 3/4 inch plywood across two rafters, and collected the various summer bits. The new storage actually sits above the garage door when it's open - an area that went underutilized until this point. I'm notoriously bad at putting things back in their places, so the whole time I was collecting things from the floor and all other surfaces to be put back into their respective toolboxes, or making new places for them. Once I had shifted all the crap out of the way, I swept the floor and rolled the car back into it's home. Did I mention that I love that little car? I don't even have to start it to move it in and out of the garage - just a little heave in one direction or the other and it gently rolls until I apply an opposite force! Anyway, time for bed?

For the past two Halloweens, we have had no front porch light. Instead of a porch light, we had to run an extension cord out the window or out the door to power a floor lamp.

Why no porch light? Well, when the house was first wired, there were three switches in the living room.

On one wall:
* One switch for the living room light
On the other wall:
* One switch for the DINING room ceiling light
* Another switch for the PORCH light.

It was just a bit odd to work the switches in one room to control the lights in another room. I also was tired of having to walk all the way across the living room to get to the single switch.

So one day, I decided to give the living room two switches, the dining room it's own switch IN the dining room, and also move the front porch switch next to the front door.

In the first operation, I successfully double-switched the living room. It involved a lot of contortion and grunting in the basement to get the wires where I wanted them, but it was successful. The next step was to get the dining room switched in the dining room. That also took some time, and involved a 20 foot long drill bit I constructed from threaded rod. :o
But the lowly front porch light never got wired up, because it has a very convoluted wiring path, and my frustration limit for electrical work is about 10 hours a year. :P

So last night, I finally started on that damned porch light.
I punched a few exploratory holes into the wall above the switch and the front door, trying to find a suitable path to the existing fixture in the porch ceiling. After all that messy plaster destruction, I gave up and managed to install a new WALL-MOUNTED porch light, directly above the light switch! It's in the same stud bay, so no need to drill through studs!

When I hooked up the dining light almost two years ago, power came up from the basement to the switch, then down to the basement again where it then ran off to some nether region of the house and snaked it's way to above the dining room. This worked fine when there was a single switch in the box, but with two switches, I was left without a dedicated neutral wire! If I had wired it up on the existing cable, BOTH switches would have switched the dining room light, but one of them would turn on both lights! Oddly convenient, but unacceptable.

What I did is to use the old 2-conductor wire as a fish tape to pull a new 3-conductor wire with a dedicated hot and neutral, and a red wire for the dining room switched hot. Wheew! Nothing like a bit of problem solving.

Now, what to do about those big holes in the wall?

A spooky pumpkin!
The front porch, in halloween decor
Exploratory holes in the plaster!  WHAT A MESS!!
The new location of the dining room/porch switches.  There was nothing here when we moved in
The dining room is to the right. Both dining room and porch switches used to be here. Now, it's the 2nd living room switch.
Here's the original living room light switch.  The kitchen is to the left.

On Saturday, Oct 17th, we drove to Schaumberg, IL to get the last base cabinet unit for our kitchen project! In order to get the unit into the kitchen, we had to move the long Ikea 3 drawer console unit we had in it's place. In order to move the long console, we had to move the fridge and remove our old pantry/broom closet cupboard units. In order to move the fridge, we had to take down two upper cabinets on the other side of the room!! So the day proceeded as such: * Remove 2 upper cabinets on north side * Clean off and move long console into living room * Move fridge to opposite side of room * Demolish cabinets surrounding old fridge location * Move all old cabinets out onto the deck * Clean up 1940-era flooring that was under the cabinets, sort out floor vent and cover with 3/4 inch plywood, then install sticky-back white tiles over the plywood (this is temporary, until a new floor is installed) * Move long console table to it's new home * Clean up the horrible mess we created Then, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: * Patch plaster (repeatedly) many small and 3 large holes in the walls * Paint two colors, 2-3 coats of latex (a creamy yellow and burnt orange) * Move everything back against the walls (Below): South wall BEFORE. South wall AFTER. North wall BEFORE. North wall AFTER. Our little fold-down breakfast table (mostly used as a drop spot for junk) The dishwasher, sink, oven, and the new Ikea 3 drawer unit. Monday night, I sanded and puttied a bit more on the wall, and replaced the old, loose metal electrical box that was behind the fridge. Wiring is one job that always makes me feel good about. You're replacing potentially hazardous old equipment with fresh new stuff. Now I just have to replace the old cloth-wrapped romex that feeds the shiny new outlet... *rolls eyes* Thursday night, we finally "finished" this project. We still have a bit to put away, a few spots to finish painting and puttying, but everything is in it's new location and we were able to cook dinner again with our new layout. With all the demolition, patching, puttying, sanding, painting and tripping over everything on the floor that lost it's home, it was quite a long journey, but the kitchen is slowly transforming into Zoe's clean, modern vision.

South wall BEFORE
South wall AFTER
North wall BEFORE
North wall AFTER
Our little fold-down breakfast table (usually used as a drop spot for junk)
The dishwasher, sink, oven, and the new Ikea 3 drawer
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