Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bonus Project # 1 - Log Rolling

Day #1
The fact that random projects popping amidst home ownership was something I was prepared for. Sometimes, things just come up that need to be addressed. I was not, however, prepared to have one of those projects crop up ON THE SECOND DAY.

While not unheard of in these parts, New England is in the midst of a fairly early Nor'Easter (I'm calling it Wintober and hoping it catches on). By itself, this wasn't a bad storm as far as New England is concerned but it was early which meant a fair amount of chaos.

I weathered part of the storm with Jay, his son Luke and Marc in the house, pulling up staples and nails from the floor. Marc had gone for the night and Jay, Luke and I had gotten back from dinner and were continuing out work. Then, I hear a rumbling. At first, I thought "Snow! Sheeting off the roof!" and then realized that there wasn't enough snow for that. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see motion and a loud, dull thump on the front yard. Next, I immediately think "CLOVERFIELD!" (not sure why...).

Turns out, one of the trees in the yard broke off maybe 15-20 feet up from the base and toppled over into the front yard. Happily, away from the house. I wasn't looking forward to filing an insurance claim two days into owning the house.

Day #2
Sometime over the course of the night, the weather decided to get a bit more aggressive around the house. On the drive to the house, I kept seeing more and more trees down. I actually had to detour twice to get to the house because of full on trees down across lines.

I arrive at the house and decide to walk the perimeter just to make sure nothing else happened. Turns out, something did. On the back corner of the house, another tree had snapped and fallen on the roof. The damage didn't look too severe. It's a good thing there were staples to be pulled, otherwise I probably would have had a very bad, very cold and very angry day.

After calling around to a few places, I managed to get someone with enough of an open schedule to stop by the house and estimate on the removal of the downed trees. I took a number of photos (and will be taking more tomorrow) and got a hold of the insurance company to let them know about the incoming claim. They are supposed to be getting back to me by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Day # 3
With the power still out at the house, doing anything that requires an outlet (such as power sanding) wasn't going to happen. So, instead I spent the day outside clearing falling branches and cutting up what I could using a hand saw. This is was all done in preparation for the tree removal service coming tomorrow. They have to bring in their truck to manage the tree on the roof and I am not really interested in giving them more of an excuse to stay longer and charge me more money.

I will say that the tree that fell down in the yard looks significantly less intimidating now than it did with all it's foliage and smaller branches. This was pretty much the majority of my day. There was a hand saw available in the basement and the day was nice enough. I didn't want to go out and rent a chainsaw and manually sawing the branches was another good distraction from the whole "You've owned this house for 3 days and already a tree has fallen on it" thing. There is now a decent pile of wood next to the shed that will eventually be turned into small starter logs and kindling. I need to see about getting some palettes to stack and dry the timber on.

Today was kind of funny for me. I have spent more than a decade trying to avoid helping my parents stack fire wood at their place in New Hampshire. And now, I am wondering what their reaction would be if I asked them to come down here to help me stack these two trees.

Day #4
I think, technically, this is more Day 5 or 6. Either way, this was the first day since Monday that I was able to have some progress made on the trees. The Landscaping Crew I had hired to come in to clean up the trees arrived bright and early in the morning. I'm very happy that I picked up some thermal long johns the night before because it was cold outside! It eventually warmed up big a cold clear night makes for a very cold morning.

The electricity was back on in the house when I arrived, which mean I could go about turning back on the water while the crew set up.

As I mentioned before, trees look a lot less intimidating when their foliage is lopped off. The crew and I worked from 8 until 2. Their chipper made short work of the brush and at the end of it all (once split) I should have about a cords worth of wood to stack and dry.

Now all that remains is getting a mason to come take a look at the damage to the chimney and hope I can get as much of the repairs covered as possible by the insurance company.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Project # 2 - Floors

Day # 1

When I first looked at the house, one of the aspects that immediately stood out to me as something I needed to change was the carpet. The living room, stairs to the second floor and second floor hallway were covered in ugly red carpet. I am not a fan of carpet so this had to change.

As can be seen in the pictures, ugly.

The original plan was to pull up the carpets, the tack strips and staples and just sand and refinish the spaces that had the carpet. However, after some advising, that plan has changed a bit. The carpets, tack strips and staples are still on tap for removal but all other floors are now going to be getting the sanding and sealing finish. It makes sense to try to give the house a uniform consistency in the floors. It might require more time, money and sweat than I had originally planned but it will result in a nicer overall finish to the house.

With a bit of light left in the day, I set to work tearing up the living room carpets. Happily, they weren't too difficult to get off the floor. The only remnants of the carpet in that room now is a lot of staples with tufts of carpet padding attached to them. While pulling up the padding, I noticed that there were even more staples in the floor. Guess this is the second time carpet was laid out on this floor.

Day # 2
Spent the morning tearing up the carpet in the second floor hallway and stairs. This carpet appears to be older than the carpet in the living room considering how aggressively stapled to the floor it was and how hazardous just handling the carpet was (nails and staples everywhere in it). Plus the padding was different and looked like it fell out of the 60s.

While the living room had more carpet to contend with, the hallway and stairs were more difficult. The above mentioned aggressive stapling being the chief difficulty but the variety of awkward shapes and frequent endings of lengths of carpet made it more challenging as well. That said, I needed only about an hour or so to get it and the padding underneath torn up. I can't wait to get those tacks and staples out and see what the floor looks like when it gets refinished.

Day #3
After a long day on Saturday plucking nails and staples, today seemed like a breeze. Its a good thing too - with the trees falling on the property I don't think I could have really managed dealing with that and stubborn staples. They were a great distraction while I waited for a Tree Removal service to arrive for an estimate.

As I was taking the final staples out of the living room, Pat and Marc showed up to lend a hand on the stairs and 2nd floor hall. Happily, even though the carpet was older, the staples and tack strips came up much more easily. Some of that I am sure is due to the better hammer Jay picked up the night before but I think some of it was also due to the lower traffic those areas of the house saw compared to the living room (which, aside from being a living room is also the primary access to the backyard and pool).

Within a couple of hours, the hall and stairs were done and we moved on to pulling ancient drape/blind hardware. The floors already look significantly better, both without the carpet and without the tufts of old carpet padding dotting them. After this, the plan is to get any holes filled, the floors sanded and a fresh new coat of sealant on them. That is a project for another time and will likely happen on a room-by-room basis.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Project #1 - Crash Pad

A little over a month ago, I had to put one of my ferrets, Crash, to sleep. I had him for nearly 5 years  and he was one of the best pets I had ever owned. Unfortunately, as is common with ferrets, he developed cancer.

This was fairly stressful for me, as I was in the midst of my house hunt. As much as I wanted to be able to take him to the vet and have them put him on some sort of treatment, I couldn't afford what would be needed for those treatments and afford the house at the same time (little known fact - houses are expensive). I wasn't completely sure I was going to get the house and because of that I was torn between burying him at my apartment in Walpole, getting him cremated or having the vet freeze him until such a time that I knew I would be moving. Ultimately, I decided I would bury him in Walpole and move him to the new house once I had gotten it.

After the closing today, I decided that the first project I had to undertake was seeing Crash to his new resting place. I was worried that the weather would force me to delay this. Yesterday was near-winter outside and the rest of the week before was miserable rain storms. Thankfully, today was nice and clear. Unfortunately, the rainy weather we've had all this fall resulted in the box I buried him in not holding together at all but the felt basket he was wrapped in had.

After I loaded up my car with the first boxes of the move, I brought Crash into the car as well (wrapped in a trash bag) and headed south. When I arrived in Franklin, I picked a good location where the property sloped up and dug his new resting place. Re-reading this post, it sounds a bit morbid. But this was a promise I made to myself when I had him put to sleep a month ago. He meant a lot to me and I didn't like the thought of leaving him behind.

RIP Crash
On October 28, 2011, I did something that was, perhaps, foolish. I bought a home in Franklin, MA. I went in knowing there would be work to be done (and boy is there) and a lot of furnishing needed (its so much bigger when the previous owners stuff isn't in there) considering its size. This blog is the documentation of my efforts for friends and family to look at and comment on.

One of the things I realized recently when I had to put one of my ferrets to sleep. I don't take nearly enough photos and I don't document enough of the important events in my life. I only have a small hand-full of pictures to remember Crash by. With this house, I want to turn that around. I want to show my friends and family what I am doing, what I am working on and what is still to come for me with this house.

Soon, hopefully, I will have the first set of photos of the house available for people to look at. This is the house as it is when I bought it. Then, I'm going to put together a master project list and follow each of those projects on this blog (with before and after photos). Since my family is mostly up north and rarely get a chance to come down here to visit (and some of them are Facebook-o-phobes), I figured that this would be a great way for them to keep up to date.