Open Concept Achieved

My dad (and my General Contractor) is in town for Thanksgiving, so I have two weeks to get things over my skill set done at the house before he leaves for his annual trip to Asia.  The goal is to get all the framing done, replace the bad floor joist in the basement, reinstall the floor in the 1st floor bath, so the tub can be returned and install the LVL beam, so the load barring wall separating the kitchen and dining room could be removed.

With the help of Cameron (my Demo King cousin) we were able to get the load barring wall removed.  We had a bit of a rough start.  My dad miss measured the first LVL beam and cut it 2′ too short.  That mistake cost me $100 as I had to buy a new one, but fortunately I discovered a great lumber yard located within 3 miles of the house, Forge Lumber.  They stocked the right size and since the distance was short (original LVL and all my lumber needs was delivered by McCabe Lumber located near Kings Island), I pulled a Macguyver and somehow got the beam in my PT Cruiser in a safe enough fashion that allowed me to drive it back to the house.  That saved me another $100 bucks by avoiding renting a truck or paying another delivery fee and even more valuable, time, since a delivery would mean waiting another day.  I wish I had more pictures (can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of my PT with a 16′ x 14″ beam sticking out the back), but this was a three person job, so all I can present is the finished product.

Up on the housetop, click, click, click,

A tree was growing out of one of the chimney stacks.  One of the clay stacks was broken and laying on the roof.  From the ground I could see that tuck pointing was needed, so I decided to have a roof/chimney company come out and take a look, Shepard Roofing and Home Improvement.  I decided to trust that the urgency for repair he shared was legit, so I moved forward with allowing him (and his nephew) do the work.  It took 3 days, but the final product looks amazing.  Definitely a noticeable difference.  He also said that from what he could see the flute looks sounds all the way down, so there is a chance I could have a functional fireplace.  That would be awesome, so before next winter I’ll have a chimney sweep company come out the give an official opinion.

Doors, Doors, Doors

Fortunately for me the majority of the doors inside the house are in good-great shape, with knobs (all but two) and I will be able to reuse them.  I only need to replace two, one bedroom door and the entry closet.  Both are damaged beyond repair.  However, I am creating a master bathroom water closet, laundry room and walk-in closet that need doors.  Trying to find doors that will match the existing doors I thought would be a very hard task, but thanks to Building Value, located on Spring Grove Avenue very close to my house, I’ve been able to find them all, except one (I’ll keep looking for the bedroom door).  @NicoleCurtisRehabAddict and @JoannaStevensGaines should be proud to know their use of vintage/salvage stores on their shows inspired me to do the same.

20171119_143506I finally caved in on trying to make them all match, but at least the doors in the same room will and all the upstairs doors have the same color finish.  I’ve definitely created more work for myself as vintage/used doors don’t come with door jams, mortises, knobs, and hinges.  I really need to find a carpenter as David Daniels, manager of Building Value has told me any good carpenter can reverse a swing and build a jam.  Don’t pass up on a sound door because it’s not oriented in the right direction.  Fortunately for me I’m only going to need to build one jam in its entirity.  Due to the removal of a wall and three doors that were missing and not being reinstalled, I THANKFULLY preserved the jams.  One is an exact fit for the laundry room door and the others can be easily trimmed to fit.   I just need to reconfigure the hinges and luck up on finding mortise locks, faceplates and knobs, which thanks to Ebay may not be as hard as I thought.

20171119_143938The one door is due to my decision to raise the height of the opening leading upstairs to my master suite.  I’ve hit my head 3 times coming down the steps.  While I have no play in the width (30″), I could increase the opening up to 110″ from the current 79″.  I found this 30″ x 87″ door.  It will be the only odd door on the first floor, but having the extra 8″ inches is worth it to me.  I may just have to do something funky in my design and really make it stand out (funky = it may be the only painted door).

This decision also freed up the original door to replace the entry closet (once I find a carpenter to reverse the swing).

I just need a 32″x80ish” vertical two panel door for the bedroom, so give me a shout out if you come across one.

Logs Gone Bye Bye

As promised Randy Wipert of Woodwright’s Portable Saw Mill and White Dove Originals Hardwood Furniture and Artistic Designs, came out to my house and picked up the walnut tree logs that were left at my request.  It will be about 8 weeks before he will have them cut into slabs and another 3 months before they are dried enough to turn into something.  Perhaps by spring I’ll have some wood to create my dining room table, which I’m hopeful Randy will help me make.

Several months ago I lucked up on these cast iron table legs.  I had just started my home search and thought immediately how cool it would be to make my own table.  The curves on the legs scream for a round or curved table top.  Making a table from the wood that came from my yard would be so cool.  I really hope this one vision for this project comes to fruition.



I See the Trees Fallin’

Today Gregory Forrest Lester took down approximately 15 trees from the side and back yard of my house in preparation for my future garage.  I thought I had hit pay dirt when I contacted a woodmizer out of Indiana who, in exchange for the 5 walnut trees, was going to cut down all the trees for FREE.  Well that turned out to be too good to be true as their plan was to “fall” the trees, which required a street closure permit.  In order to get that they would need to apply for the permit, be bonded, and insured with the city.  They were none of these, so back to plan A, paying to have them removed.  I got several bids in the same ballpark, but selected Gregory Forrest Lester because they were on the City of Cincinnati’s contractor list.  They also agreed to match my lowest bid, which included the grinding out of the accessible stumps.

I’m so glad I went with them.  The two other low bids were smaller operations and would have taken at least a week to clear all the trees.  Their crew arrived at 7am, as stated, and they made quick and efficient work of removing the trees.  They were finished by 2pm.  The crew was super friendly and very accommodating.  There were several branches and debris on the roof and I asked if the young man in the cherry picker could use their backpack blower to removed the and they did.  There was a bunch of out of control grape vines entangled around the two cluster of trees that remain near the front and they removed a lot of it for me.  They also cut out a couple of rouge branches from those clusters.  One of the crew members gave me a great landscaping suggestion, planting Redbud trees along the back.  I’ll probably give them a call when it’s time to tackle the landscaping.

Here’s another Quik video capturing the event: I See the Trees Fallin’ video
I swear my house was smiling, basking in the warmth of the sun, something the rear of it had not felt in years.

I have a strong desire to make my own dining room table (I have these really cool cast iron table legs that are screaming for a wood top), so I’m still allowing Woodwright’s Portable Saw Mill and Woodworker to take the walnut trees.  Randy Wiper, owner, will properly cut the trunks into slabs and dry them out and I’ll get enough for my little project.  If I chicken out on tackling the table I will at least get enough to create a vanity shelf in the two bathrooms.


Days is more appropriate.  We began on Friday, Oct 27 and I will call Tuesday, Nov 7 the official last day of demolition.  Including myself, 8 people (6 men and 2 females) had a hand at bringing my house down to its studs.  We filled two, 40-yard dumpsters.  I totally understand why Demo Day is @ChipGaines favorite day.  I loved every minute of the process and did not feel true fatigue until today (like typing this entry is testing my arms, which I can barely lift).

My father told me I could do the demo myself.  I had hoped I could get it complete under the $3800 estimate I had gotten from Tiburon Energy owner, Daryn Goulbourne, but I missed the mark by about $1000.  However I got a lot more done than was covered in his bid.  Remember “I Just Want Brick” post?  Well I have brick in all the areas I mentioned in that blog.  My guys literally pounded the plaster with a mini sledgehammer until it crumbled to the ground.  That brick in the hallway is going to look fabulous once it’s cleaned and sealed.  My master closet will have a cool brick feature and my gas stove will look awesome centered on the brick wall in the kitchen.  To get the tub out of the first floor and expose the sagging and severely cut floor joist we had to hammer jack through a bed of 6-8″ thick concrete.  Cameron and John tackled that by themselves (Herculean Feat).  Cameron and Jermaine also tackled removing the boiler system in the basement (another Herculean Feat).  My spend also extended to the outside of the house where I was also able to get the ragged chain link fence removed from the back and side yard thanks to Cameron, John, Jermaine, and Greg.  I have a snake issue to address (YIKES!)

Here’s a Quik video I created of the demo process: #DEMODAY

At one point my cousin Greg asked me if I was feeling stressed.  I honestly answered, no.  In the midst of all the destruction, I have an even greater sense of clarity on this project.  The crew left between 4 and 5 each day, but I remained until dark and was at such peace as I walked through the demoed spaces.  My friend Joan stopped by one day and I told her I could get an air mattress and start sleeping there right now (me and Ricky the Racoon, the box gutters can’t get fixed fast enough).

One contractor that came through the house told me it would not be possible to remove and reuse the majority of the trim without breaking it.  I saved 95% of the trim; really only losing the floor trim that had outlets cut into them and the long wall of the kitchen, which will house cabinets in the remodel.  I hope we aren’t going to have a harsh winter as I will have my hands full cleaning up, patching, sanding, staining, and sealing the trim and doors in my current garage.  More sweat equity, which is the only way I’ll be able to make the numbers work.  I can’t wait to price trim just to see how much I saved.

One thing I know for sure.  If I ever get into the house flipping (for rent or sell) business I’m calling these guys and gal first to hire as my crew!  They ROCKED!

Let the remodeling begin!

Another Hidden Find

I’m ashamed to say I may have thrown a couple of these away when I first started pulling the trim assuming they were not worth using with the new wiring forthcoming.  At the time this house was built, 1924, outlets were incorporated into the floor trim moulding, which does not meet today’s code.  The house doesn’t have a ton of outlets, currently, and all of those that still had covers looked like the one on the right.  After finding the hidden jewels with the light fixtures, I decided to start removing the remaining covers and was shocked to find they were actually metal.  I only have eight, but after about 5 minutes of scrubing I was able to reveal more gold or brass.

It’s really amazing this house had not burned down.  A family lived in the house at least as early as four years ago and they utilized the existing knob and tub wiring.  There was charring behind almost every plate and in the bedrooms the floor trim was actually burnt on the backside.  In one room there are signs of an actual fire.  Modern electronics just had no place in the house in its current state.  I’ll be bringing everything up to code, which includes probably quadrupling the number of outlets in the house.  I’ll have to decide which room will get these eight gems.  I found a site that sales them, but at $10.50 a pop you’ll see the modern, cheap, plastic covers everywhere else.


$49.80+$27.30+$33.05+ $34.65+$19.95=$2664.75

Ok it really only equals $164.75.  That’s how much money I got for taking the cast iron pipes and radiators that once heated my house to Garden Street Iron & Metal, Inc, located in my neighborhood.  The additional $2500 is the money I won’t have to pay the HVAC company if their crew removed the pipes.  Almost all of the most valuable metals had been stripped from the house already.  The valves to almost all the rads were still in place and they were brass.  On one load I had a 160 lb radiator and 35 lbs in valves.  I got $8.40 for the rad and $41.40 for the valves.

#NicoleCurtis posted a blog showing how she turned a rad into a bedroom shelf,, and I thought about doing this project with the over 6′ rad (only two rads were left) that was upstairs in the new Master bedroom.  However it was too heavy to move (in one piece) and was in the way to remove the floor trim I’m trying to save and would have been in the way of the floor refinishers.  She harps a lot about saving our landfills and i agree, but if you have access to a scrap metal yard who can shred it in preparation for a new life then to me throwing out is a viable option too.

One contractor that walked through my house early on said it’s a shame that looters don’t understand that they do $1000s in damage to a person’s home for a few hundred bucks.  I totally get that now.  The worst buckling of my floors, where I’ll spend about $5,000 restoring, was probably caused from where they cut the rads without draining the water.  For code reasons (old knob and tube) I needed to rip out electric anyway, but perhaps if more scrap was left I would have rented a UHaul for one trip versus testing the stamia of my PT Cruiser.  All is good, on to tackle the next obstacle!  BTW – I’m thoroughly enjoying this journey thus far.