Checkpoint Alpha

The project progress (Jason’s part of it) is sinusoidal. He approaches a side of the house — or a portion of a side that can reasonably be treated as a unit of work — and does a tear-down, necessarily uncovering unpleasantness. That’s the purpose of the teardown.

When the defined chunk is open and exposed and its issues understood, it’s almost like watching the clock dials on Wells’s Time Machine spin backwards, while a blur of activity restores the studs and walls and siding.

We were at the nadir of the curve when I posted last night — Checkpoint Alpha — and things rapidly progressed today, even though it was a short workday (Jason had a lot of phone work to do, both for this job and for two other jobs he’s bidding on; and storms threatened later).

BEFORE (yesterday):




Even this after picture doesn’t show some subsequent progress: a pair of jack studs on the inside of the door frame, removal of the temporary reinforcing beam, and some temporary plywood across the skylight to get us through the overnight thunderstorms.

What this picture can’t show is the detailed reconstruction of the juncture between the main house and the outer stairs. The landing which yesterday was practically floating in space is now dead-nuts level and solid as a rock. And there’s a complete plan for how to proceed going forward.

These guys continue to impress.

Other updates:

  • We’re still taking down the chimney. This is a legitimate case of ‘cutting our losses’ — the bare arithmetic of replace vs. repair may not compute, but when you consider how the presence of the chimney impedes so much else of what is really our prime objective — weather-proofing — there’s no alternative.
  • The “manlift” is being delivered Monday noon for seven days. Seven days cost the same as three at the daily rate, so considering that there may be weather delays, and considering that use of the lift will speed ALL the remaining work on all four sides of the house, we sprung for a full week. When I called in my credit card no. to the rental company, the guy there called it a “boom monkey.” But I might have misheard him.
  • We’re also renting the services of a specialty item called a tech post which quickly bores and seats a helical footing up to 7 feet in the ground, past the Maine frost line. It’s lined with a nylon sleeve so the frost can’t grip its upper extremity, and then its top (just above ground level) can be fitted with an adjustable foot (like a jack post). Huge advantage over manual digging, setting gravel and concrete, etc., with uncertain results in this climate. Jason swears by it and we’ll use it for a single post under the upper landing of the staircase; and possibly also for replacing the support posts under the front of the porch, which are wildly uneven and only planted in dirt.
  • I (we) will devote as much time as we can over the holiday weekend to stripping and gutting the porch, including what we now know is nests of mice in the ceiling. This is ahead of schedule but it’s necessary to allow proper integration of the connection between house and porch, and proper weatherproofing at all the intersections of wall with roof.
  • We got the estimate for converting the bedroom ceiling into a cathedral ceiling, and after vacillating have decided it’s too big a plus to pass up. Part of what convinced me was thinking through what we truly face with simply sheetrocking what’s there: the ceiling joists (rafters) are noticeably (but not catastrophically) bowed, and would need some structural mitigation so the ceiling would appear flat. In talking through various approaches to this with Jason, it became clear that even our simplest straight-ahead plan was fraught with hidden costs and heavy labor. So why not end up with something that is really handsome and enjoyable? And it reduces the amount of squirrel-poop cleaning to be done to procrastinate on almost to nil.

Checkpoint Alpha also applies to Marsh’s flash fiction piece published today. Her first publication on this side of the curve. Up we go.