After the interior framing was complete it was time to get serious with the subcontractors. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing subs all moved in and jockeyed for space in the floors and the ceilings. Designing the systems that were to go into this old house was not easy. We knew one thing for certain – we did not want any soffits anywhere in the house. We went through one too many rehabs in the area where a perfectly proportioned room was ruined (in our mind at least) by a gigantic mechanical soffit running through it, or a plumbing chase running down the wall. We drew and puzzled and puzzled and drew through layout after layout in order to make this happen. We had a great mechanical contractor, a great electrical contractor, and a so-so plumber who meant well, but required a lot of hand holding. Somehow we managed to make them all get along, and to work within the very limited areas we gave them.
We split the house into two zones. The first floor operates off a gas furnace located in the basement and is serviced by floor supplies and one high return air in a central wall. We located the second system in the attic (now the third floor) to service the second and third floor spaces. Again, we wanted no soffits, so we accomplished this by running the ductwork along the floor of one attic wall (to be later disguised in casework) and fed into place through the existing floor joists to the rooms on the second floor below. We lowered the entire ceiling in the Master Bath on the second floor slightly (you can’t even tell in the room) so that we could get the plumbing where we needed it on the third floor, and the second and first floor plumbing walls nearly align. We have a small portion of ductwork that drops into the Master Bedroom below the ceiling, but it too was located to be hidden in future casework. The electrical design was much easier. Since we furred out every exterior wall, and exposed all the interior framing during demolition, it was as easy as wiring a brand new house. We installed a new 200 amp panel in the basement, and ran line and low voltage throughout.
In early July we poured the concrete pad for the outside condensers, and not a moment too soon; the house was stifling. The workshop was still on the uninsulated third floor, so we continued to sweat through it all. We worked a four day weekend over the Fourth of July in the attic when the temperature topped 100 degrees outside, and hotter still inside. We actually took a two hour break and “cooled off” at the VP Fair airshow under the blazing July sun. We had to install a new shear wall to partially correct and secure the moving east wall on the third floor.
In mid-July the families came around again; first M’s parents who helped insulate and drywall the ceilings and interior walls, and then my parents who did the same on the exterior walls of the house. We worked on the test kitchen window some more – stripping 115 years of paint layers off with a heat gun. Then we removed the glazing putty, and glazing stops, then the glass – most of which was the old, wavy glass, cracked in nearly every section. We began taping and mudding throughout the house, then moved out of the way for a few days while the floor refinishers moved in. They sanded the existing floors throughout, and laid new hardwood floors in the kitchen where the original floor was beyond repair. The floor turned out beautifully – they are pretty worn in some places where the house was exposed to rain and snow for awhile, but the worst parts were under the new bathroom areas that received tile, and the other rough areas were patched in with some of the flooring we removed. After the floors dried we laid cardboard throughout and got right back to work.
Our wedding date was fast approaching (6 weeks and counting) and like every bride, I was pampering myself in preparation for the big day. Ha. It’s a wonder I had fingernails left to paint, or that we didn’t have to walk down the aisle with a cast or an enormous gash full of stitches. We were now in full no-sleep mode. My apartment lease ran out in August, and M’s did soon after. We crashed where we could at our friends’ house for the few weeks in September – working on the house from 6pm til at least 1am. Trying to sneak in quietly to their house, showering, eating a snack and then we’d work around their kitchen table for another hour or two on thank-you notes, wedding programs, etc. And then we’d start at 6am the next morning with work and the same cycle. It was grueling, but we had no choice. When we came back from our honeymoon in Vancouver we had to have somewhere to live…
Plumbing or no plumbing… but that’s next week’s story…
Volume 1 is here.
Volume 2 is here.