Monday, March 23, 2009

The Beam is In

Well, the beam is up! Here it is being held in place by a scissor-lift type thing - they used that to lift the 1200 lb., 32' beam into place.

One end of the beam was originally supposed to be supported by the masonry on the edge of the fireplace but we ended up having a problem. We always knew that the fireplace was made of a crappy pumice block - but it had holes in it that could be filled like concrete block and they had just planned on filling them with pillars of concrete which would provide the needed structural support. However, on closer inspection, it was discovered that when they built the house, it looked like junk had been thrown down into these holes that needed to be filled with concrete. For example, there was a chunk of concrete wedged about halfway down one of the columns that needed to be filled. So, we decided that this end of the masonry would just have to be removed completely and a post inserted for support. So they sawed out the masonry and then fitted the beam in.

Here's another shot where you can see the steel plate in the slab that was added to spread out the weight of the post/ beam over a broader area of the stem wall.

And here's how it looks with the post in place.

Another thing that had to be done before the beam went into place was that each and every rafter had to be fitted to sit correctly and snugly on the beam.

Now the beam is in and it looks terrific. All of the support posts for all of the rafters are now out and we have one big space. The support post in front of the kitchen is where the kitchen island will be.

So, to recap - the wall used to be right down the center of this space, under where the beam is now. Our plans call for a smaller entry (and door to be moved to the left). You can see the clothes dryer - that was in a weird hallway space outside of the laundry area. New laundry and pantry will be expanded towards entry area. However, pantry and laundry area won't even protrude as far into entry as currently shown because weird hallway dryer was in is gone. Entry closet that was behind dryer, facing door, is also gone (to be moved to wall on left).

Here's the current door situation. Where new windows will go is in blue tape!

The contractor is on vacation now for spring break with the family but he is basically done with this phase of the remodel. When he gets back, he will custom fabricate some metal brackets to anchor the rafters firmly to the beam. In the meantime, we're ready for the second contractor to come and start doing what he can. We still have details to iron out on the final plan but things are starting to finally come together. Don't know how long this project will take, we will have that discussion with the second contractor next visit. I am guessing it'll be a 2 to 3 month project based on other remodeling work we've had done. Hoping to have it finished so we can enjoy our new space this summer.

A few other random notes-

>Had a scary electrical situation uncovered in the kitchen wall last week. Sparks flying, short circuits, that sort of thing. Very happy to be redoing the electrical.

>We took out the carpet in the hallway and the guest bath (shag carpet in the bath is kinda creepy imho). Removed all flooring in the living room, kitchen, laundry, and pantry as well. Uncovered many old types of flooring including lots of old linoleum. The house has a strange echo-y quality now, especially the bathroom. Even though some of the old linoleum is kinda cool, most is not, and every room had a different color and pattern. Crazy.

>The coolest tool in the world is a laser level. John is now saying he has to have one. You can get a self leveling laser level at Sears for something like 89 bucks that projects a true horizontal beam as well as a true vertical beam - very handy in this remodel involving posts and beams.

>It's freaky seeing them dig a trench in my living room- they concrete-sawed through the slab in order to run a heating duct into our new entryway. Then they dug down a bit through the dirt underneath. Mind-blowing to see wheelbarrows of dirt being dug out of your former living space.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

So much has happened in the last week. We have been planning a major remodel and it finally got started. The main thing we wanted to accomplish was to remove a weight bearing wall that separates the living room from the oversized entryway to open up the living room. Of course, one thing leads to another and all kinds of other stuff got added to the project - moving the front door into the new, smaller, entry area; moving the walls of the laundry and pantry area to make them bigger; adding some windows; and re-doing the kitchen.

We have done some remodelling work ourselves but this project was too massive for us to tackle. We originally thought we'd do the kitchen part ourselves but in the end, we just decided to have a contractor do it. The first contractor was only able to do part of the work, so we have two contractors lined up to do the job. So far, it's all been great. People have been recommending other people for various jobs and it turns out that most of them are people we know through our business. They are all a great bunch and I have never ever felt so good about a remodel before.

Anyway, the first step was to get the weight bearing wall out. To do this, they have to prop up each and every rafter in the living room and entry and then take the wall out. Then a giant beam gets installed, which is supported by a post on one end and the masonry of the fireplace on the other. Here are the various stages. First, a shot down the hallway - the kitchen is behind the first doorway on the right, it overlooks the living room, which is at the back right, and the entry area is an oversized waste of space (which you can't see) to the left of the doorway-

Here's the view from the kitchen. Pony wall which was in back of stove is now even lower, we have mocked up hanging shelves to see how we like them (we do), and we have mocked up a bar in front of the stove. Weight bearing wall is straight ahead. Wall with fireplace is just offscreen to the right.

In this shot, which is from approximately the same point of view, the wall panels have been removed from the weight bearing wall but the structural support is still there. You can now see into the entryway and the laundry area.

And finally, this is how it looks now! The wall is gone and the posts are in place holding up the rafters and roof. The entryway and living area are now one big space. They'll eventually be separated again - probably not with a wall but with something more impermanent, like a big bookcase that functions as a room divider but can be moved if the need arises. A wall around the old laundry area, pantry, and hall closet are now gone. The door will get moved into the new entry space - it'll be moved over to about where those windows are behind that post. And trapezoidal windows will be installed on that wall as well.

Finally, here's a picture of the removal of the wall by the kitchen - that doorway into the kitchen from the hallway is gone. The stove and counter will go back where it was but it will be on an island (that crooked pipe was in what was the pony wall and the hallway wall. It is a vent pipe for a washer and dryer that apparently were in the kitchen at one time. We will remove all that, there is no need for it.) The stove has been moved to where the refrigerator was for the time being to get it out of the way.

The glue-lam beam will be installed in the next few days and then all the support posts can come out. Will keep you posted!