Sunday, May 6, 2012

All it needed was some more work

I'm way behind on posting updates about the house renovation--it's not like it's finished or anything, but we are scheduled to move out there this week. So, here's some more before, during, and after for your delectation.

The attic was interesting. I've mentioned the cooling closet before, but when we bought the house you could barely see it--the attic was lit by a single light bulb near the stairway, and there was just so much stuff from the sellers:
Nonetheless, you could tell that it was a large space, which had a certain appeal. It was also possible to see the only insulation in the entire house, over the kitchen.

Fortunately, the sellers cleared all their stuff out so we didn't have to. That allowed us to get to work. The electrician paved the way, installing a bunch of outlets and some fluorescent lights.
A few of the floorboards had to be ripped up, but it was a worthwhile sacrifice. The ripped-up floorboards revealed the eighty years of murine life that had transpired in the attic: eighty years of mouse nests and mouse poop and the musty smell of mouse urine. Untold generations had lived rich, long, predator-free lives and died of old age, leaving corpses that withered in the dry environment to become delicate, parchment mouse-mummies curled up in their nests or lying atop faint fat stains on exposed laths. The tableau was a memento mori, an rodentic allegory of death and the miser, over and over again. *
Sic transit, etc: we filled up the shop-vac a dozen times.

I've mentioned before the wonderful things the insulators did; they also did our ceiling--and more floorboards had to come up.
At this point, we decided that we should just get rid of all the floorboards. We eventually want to make the upstairs more finished, and that will mean installing a real floor. The floorboards that were there were very crude, splitty, and would be just about impossible to reinstall. So, out with 'em all!

It's worth noting at this point just how wonderful a thing insulation is: at this point, the house had insulated walls, windows, floor (I haven't shown that yet) and ceiling, and boy did it make a difference. Before insulation, we had to the house's electric central heat to keep the house at about 65 F during the two weeks of refinishing the floors--resulting in an electric bill of over $500. After insulation, our fireplace insert alone was enough to boost the house's temperature to nearly 70 degrees F on a cold winter morning with frost on the roof.

In the long term, we'll want to finish the attic, but in the short term (like, later this week), it's going to have to serve as a storage place for boxes and boxes of stuff while we move and settle in. So, we installed modern plywood subflooring. With help from a local youth, I lifted 24 sheets of 3/4" treated plywood into our attic, which left me sore for a few days. Then, it was another heavy day's work to wrestle them all into place and anchor them down--but it's worth it. You can jump up and down on it, you can see and plug things in, it's cold upstairs and warm downstairs, and it doesn't reek of mice.
Let's see the before again:
Aaaaaand the after:
Much better. We still have to clean out some mud wasp nest and secure the screens and patch one leak, but it's much better.

*The mouse is the leathery gray blob on the right; the painting of Death and the Miser is by Jan Provoost

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