Quantum Surprise

Somewhere, a radioactive element will decay and throw off a particle, resulting in my certain astonishment. Until then, it’s like this: Each new contractor we speak with pushes the envelope on what I thought we meant by “gutting.”

First, the heating engineer talked about hot-air ducts of various diameters needing to reach the second floor through first-floor walls. Of course a standard 4″ wall is not wide enough to accommodate a 6-, 8-, or 12-inch duct, so I blithely committed to working with him to position things wherever they needed to be, and build soffits or closets or whatever as needed. But I was still playing off a gameplan that assumed certain elements of the house — however undesirable, in themselves — would be simpler or cheaper or quicker to keep “as is.”

Then the plumber opined that the pipes really all should be removed — half are illegal and half are “what the frack?” — and I agreed, in principle. In my mind’s eye, I saw more walls and wallboard coming down to accommodate this work.

I envisioned rebuilding the wall dividing the kitchen and bathroom entirely, and making it a 12″ “utility” wall, with plenty of room for ducts and for running pipes well away from the outside wall.

Then I had the consultation with Mark about the load-bearing beam. Clearly we need complete access to both ends of the beam, and through the area where there is currently part of a kitchen wall. And the order matters. The sequence crystallizes for me:

  1. Remove ALL the paneling, much of the wallboard, take down walls that aren’t staying in an as-is condition. Now we are gutted.
  2. Replace the load-bearing beam, strengthen the joists where they overlap, any other structural improvements
  3. Frame in the new walls (bathroom wall and bedroom/office walls upstairs)
  4. Let the heating guys do their work
  5. Let the plumber do his work
  6. (At some point, rebuild the main staircase. Mark has promised to help with this.)

And today we met with the electrician. His first words on looking at the supply cable going into the circuit box: “well that’s completely illegal.”

Get the theme? So really all he needs is any walls down that are going down, any new walls up (framed only), detailed scale plan for the kitchen… then, and only then: bim-bam-boom, couple days, not that big a job!

To be clear, I liked this electrician, he claims to be anal about working to code, he was undaunted about the condition of things, and he even commented admiringly on the potential of the place. But a consequence of this progression — this education we’re getting — is a quantum state of surprise.

Is this what I signed up for? Is it more or less than I expected? Should I have foreseen all this? In large measure I think this is due to a trait of mine, sometimes a strength and sometimes a weakness: a willingness and facility for making do with the hand I’m dealt. And in this situation, I am being forced to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

It’s scary, probably expensive, but will be oh-so rewarding.

If the cat lives.

Today’s eye-candy: Marsh shoveled out the second ice berm, where the “driveway” is already up to the grade of the road. Yes, there’s been some thaw, but jeez, she kicked berm azz.

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Yesterday’s eye-candy: I forgot to post the post-it note that the mail-carrier left in our mailbox earlier in the week.

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The “Thank You” is for having filled out the form “activating” delivery to our address. And yes, Rufena is a redhead.