What we are doing:

In what spare time we have, we decided to spend it (and our savings) on remodeling our rowhouse in South Philly. When we purchased our casa it was a 3 story, 5 bedroom, 1 bath that hadn't been touched in 50+ years. It's currently a 4 bed, 2 bath construction site with so much more to do it's hard to believe.

We use this blog to mark progress, say hi to friends and family, rant about the process of remodeling, and try to have some fun along the way.

- Bryan and Christina

Thursday, January 1, 2009

What is a "holiday" from house renovation?

So 2009 is here and didn't seem to care that we were totally unprepared for the harsh reality that this new year brings. But as any good soldier, we keep on marching.

With the baby scheduled to make her appearance the first week of April, my pace around here has been "brisk" to say the least. The fact is that when I come home from the office every night, I go right upstairs and throw on my jeans and clock in here. The pay is horrible, and the working conditions are cramped, but my boss is cool. So that's a plus I suppose. In fact, Christina's mom was out here for Christmas, and I decided to take that day off. By the end of the afternoon I had organized most of my tools, swept up the workshop/living room and was chomping at the bit to get cracking on the remainder of the electrical I had to pull.

Being me is complicated to say the least.

Oh before I forget, I want to mention my resolution for this year. I'm putting it on here so that the people in my daily life will hopefully hold me accountable for the inevitable lapses that will happen. 2009 is the year that I'm learning to just chill out and relax. What do I mean? Well, as my parents will comment about, I was born pretty high strung (bright red due to high hemoglobin, hair straight up, and screaming). Pretty bad. Since that November day in 1977, I've lived my life pretty tense about just about everything. Ever seen a guy freak out at the coffee shop because someone cut in line? Ever heard the neighbor screaming four letter words 150 decibels? How about if you've ever seen a grown man throw items down in disgust about something? Yeah, well that's me.

In fact that was me....today. I'm off to a really rough start in my resolution this year. Christina has taken up saying "Bryan, that's not very zen". Well, I'm thinking about this being a marathon, not a sprint. It's one day at a time. You have to learn from your lapses. Pick your favorite phrase, I'm TOTALLY OK WITH IT!!!!!!

Anyway, I need to work on this for the sanity of our new baby (who needs a kid being born with that kind of bad around), my coworkers at the office, and my wife. Maybe I need to take up bonsai trees or something?

This being a house blog, let's get to the blogging!

For about XXX months/weeks/days (I have no clue) we've noticed a sagging spot of plaster in our living room ceiling. So in preparation for our drywall contractor to stop over for a final walkthrough before the work hopefully starts in a month, I decided to investigate. Well sometimes you shouldn't poke around when you're not prepared to deal with what is hidden in the dark. The cause of the sag? A split joist.

DOH! If you look at the pic on the right you'll see the culprit. This is also one of the points in home repair when you realize that you have been at this before......and you don't mind making a mess and tearing holes in any surface.

Since our house is pretty old, the joists are mortise and tenon instead of any fancy-smancy space age joist hangers. Well this one split right at the tenon which was causing the sag. I had looked for any real sign of the joist failing or being really springy from the top, so I decided to pull back the plaster a bit and lag bolt the joist in three spots. I then added a joist hanger to the thing to help spread the load from the mortise and tenon to the hanger.

After cinching up the bolts the joist came back together and the bottom was lifted about an inch. Not too bad. To help it out I'd like to sister the thing for a few feet, but I'm not 100% sure how to do it in that spot versus like mid span, but that's what Google is for.

As Christina has mentioned before, I've been replacing all of the electrical wiring that was here when be bought the house. At this point I've added tons of new circuits with properly grounded and SAFE outlets as well as lighting throughout the house. On Tuesday we went to the Depot to buy some recessed housings for the living room ceiling. Christina and I went back and forth for a good two weeks on what housing size to use up there. 4 inches? 6 inches? It was pretty serious up in here for sure. The winning size? 5 inches. See what we did? We pulled switcheroo on you all.

Today (being a "holiday" for some people, but not those of us with a kid on the way) I went ahead and installed the lights. nothing is wired up yet, but the feeds have been pulled and are in place for a simple junction and then BAM! we'll have that roughed in.

As usual I had to cut into the plaster which as usual made a horrible mess. The worst part of any work with the plaster walls and ceilings is what is does to your sinuses and throat. That is some serious dust that just hangs in the air. Ugh....I really hope I'm about done with that.

Anyway, the layout of the lighting is that we're creating two "pods" or sets of 4 lights that are on either side of our fireplace. Each pod will be on its own dimmer to create that romantic feeling I guess. I'm just the labor guys.

So that's it for now. I'm about 90% done with the electrical right now. After roughing in the cans, I need to power up the ceilings in the other three first floor rooms, but that's it. Every other outlet, switch and feed has been replaced and is safe at this point. That's why you see all of the gopher holes in the ceiling from removing and pulling the new wiring. Not too shabby for a software developer who has a hankering for beer on occasions.


- Bryan


Shawn Dumas said...


We decided on the 5 inch cans too. We wanted the lights to be as inobtrusive as possible. The selling point for us was that 4 inch cans were limited to 50 watt bulbs max. I think its better to have to much light and dim it down than not to have enough light in the first place. Good call.


Bryan and Christina said...

We had the same discussions as well. We have a few 4 inch cans in a soffit in the baby's room for like "extra" lighting. But 4 inch cans just don't work for a living space in my humble opinion.

Anyway, it looks like great minds think alike it seems.

- Bryan

Bryan and Christina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.