Cottage Archaeology

Adventures in rehabbing a 50-something cottage.

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Name: Mike Yuhas
Location: Wisconsin, Land o' Cows, United States

Editor emeritus pro tem

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Kitchen before and during

Here's what the kitchen looked like before we started hacking away at it:

You see, it had most of today's modern conveniences, items at home in the typical American kitchen, such as a an oven, countertops, cabinets, fridge, ceiling and the like. And of course, a kitchen sink.

It looks a little different now:

All that stuff has long since been jettisoned, lovingly tossed into one of our four (so far) dumpster loads. About the only original items remaining are some windows and studs. Also seen here are some of Al's items. This is his workshop while he puts up new rafters in the living room.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

More on the floor

Under the floor, to be precise.

This first photo depicts the vinyl flooring found underneath the wood-like veneer and padding in the kitchen:

The small dots resembling bullet holes were where the nails went through. The nails were holding down a layer (and in some areas of the floor, many layers) of padding.

Underneath the vinyl was this colorful linoleum sheet flooring:

Perhaps one of these would make a nice background to this blog?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Beam me up

Oh, how I delight in making up silly headlines like this one.

The subject of today's journal entry is the cottage's main beam. In our last installment I hinted about our biggest issue to date: in his first expedition to the crawl space, Al noted that the main beam at the west side of the cottage had rotted away from the foundation. It had drooped about 2.5 inches, which naturally caused all the floors and walls above to sag proportionately. Apparently the stone on the exterior isn't watertight; years of seepage had destroyed much of the underfloor structure, including box joists and plates. It's amazing to see what a little water can do to a strong material like lumber. Ever think of what it can do to your stomach?

Here's the before picture, showing the hole in the foundation where the beam once rested:

In the picture above, Al had already replaced the plate and joist, with treated lumber. He had also poured a new, deep, concrete pad on which the beam would ultimately rest. The scrap concrete it's sitting on here (at right in picture) was bearing the weight of everything.

In addition to the west end, the beam also sagged elsewhere throughout the building, namely everywhere it wasn't supported by a pier. This caused the floor to develop a mountainous profile. If you were to walk from east to west through the cottage, it felt as if you were crossing the Appalachians, Rockies, and Sierra Nevada. Standing in the bathroom felt as if you were in the head in a cruise ship cabin, minus the rocking motion.

Al spent the week addressing the problem. At first he tried jacking the beam at one of the sags. Unfortunately, forty-plus years of gradual deformation wasn't going to be undone in a matter of minutes, and the beam lifted off the piers on either side.

He ultimately settled on raising the floor, then sistering microlam to either side of the beam. (It was relatively easy to do all this jacking, because we had filled up three (so far) 20 cubic foot rolloff dumpsters with old drywall, flooring, and the like, making the cottage a mere featherweight.) Here's how the west end looks today, with the microlam securely in its foundation pocket:

My, these renovations are getting expensive!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Eat at Joe's

I ripped up some more flooring this weekend and came across this, which begged for a blog entry of its own:

This was the one of the layers of flooring in the Alien Room closet. At the top was wall-to-wall carpet and padding. Immediately below was a thin layer of masonite, painted white. Next was this signage, resting on a thick hunk of fiberboard (think very thick cardboard, though a little softer). This all rested on standard wooden slats.

The reason we're tearing all this up is because Al, our carpenter, needs to access the cottage's main beam, which ends near the R in Refreshment. The reason he needs to access the main beam is because the end of it (under the R) is not tied to anything, causing a two-inch sag in the floor around here. It's a mess, but fixable.

Here's one indication of something wrong with the beam. This is the Alien Room closet doorway, showing the settling of the wall over where the beam dropped:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Exterior before & after

One of our first posts showcased a photo of the cottage a couple weeks before we closed on it. Here's another glimpse:

And today, after a bit of work on the outside:

Mrs. Yuhas figured this is the face of our cottage to our neighbors and passersby, so some effort ought to be expended to give the joint some curb appeal. She's responsible for most of these changes:
  1. Large shrubs removed.
  2. Central air conditioning installed.
  3. Satellite dish removed.
  4. Lava rock dug up and replaced with mulch.
  5. Light fixtures by garage door replaced.
  6. Sidewalk installed.
  7. New stoop built.
  8. Crawl space access improved.
  9. New plants planted.
  10. Trellis installed for clematis.
  11. Shutters added to windows.
  12. Birdbath added.