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

Friday, October 26, 2007

Al at work

Today was a big day at the cottage: Gary and I pulled wire; Dan and John put all our ducts in a row; Andy consulted with us about insulation; and Al thought about his next move:

He's been keeping a to-do list on an old board. In the photo above, he had just crossed off a few items, but added several more.

I don't know what we'll do when he's finished.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Knock down that wall

One of my favorite movies is the hysterical "Johnny Dangerously," released in 1984, starring Michael Keaton in the title role. He's a gangster working for the Jocko Dundee gang in early 20th century New York. Dundee's rival is Roman Moronie, a heavily-accented thug given to occasional, memorable, almost incomprehensible invective-laced tirades. For instance, he called his enemies "bastages," "iceholes" and "corksuckers."

Dundee and Moronie each own nightclubs. At one point in the film, Moronie discussed some club renovation plans with one of his henchmen, saying "knock down dat wall, knock down dat wall, and knock down dat farging wall." Johnny, coincidentally, happened to be flying overhead in a small airplane, and dropped a small bomb on Moronie's club -- knocking down all those walls and then some. Moronie's response to all this, amid all the dust and debris, is "now I'm really angry."

That's the only thing I could think of while I knocked down dis, ah, this wall:

Of course, we had pulled down the drywall some time ago, but we figured we could salvage at least part of the wall -- our own renovation plans called for us to remove one part, and carve out a pantry in another section. Looking at the condition of the studs (seven of which weren't long enough and were actually two smaller pieces spliced together), we decided it would just be more prudent to knock down the whole farging thing. So, about five minutes after I took this photo, the bastage was relegated to the history books.

It was a quick demolition, but not quite as efficient as Johnny Dangerously would have handled the job.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Hip surgery

I'm learning about all kinds of things during this project. For instance, I now know the difference between a gable roof and hip roof. I learned, specifically, that our cottage has a hip roof. Through sure-footed detective work (easily accomplished when the only things left standing are studs and subfloor planks) I learned that an addition was put on the cottage at some point, which comprised about half of the modern-day kitchen and half of the modern-day living room. The transition was easy to spot: for one thing, the ceiling heights weren't the same on either side (see the kitchen before shot that clearly shows the decorative timber-like beam in the kitchen at the delineation point); and the subflooring planks were laid out at an odd angle, which contributed magnificently to the kitchen floor's sponginess factor.

Al pointed out where the addition's new roof had been grafted onto the original cottage roof. This had concerned him almost from day one, because it appeared that the original, short rafters at the hip roof end actually ended at the edge of the old roof. Aw heck, it's easier to just show the picture:

Anything below and to the right of the diagonal rafter was original roof; the added roofage is left and above. You'll note the rafters (which are on wide 24-inch centers) are broken at the old roof edge. In other words, there's nothing to keep the thing from crashing down under the weight of a very heavy snowfall, perhaps.

We decided to remove the living room's flat ceiling (seen above as joists at the bottom of the picture) in favor of a vaulted ceiling. We figure it's an extra flourish to make the joint look bigger, and, golly, now's the time to do it as the place is all torn up anyway. The next photo depicts the same roof, minus the diagonal rafter, but with many new rafters added. And, oh yes, a lot of vaulted ceiling joists, too.

Al and his crew must have had some fun with this. We feel confident the roof can now withstand many feet of snowfall. Bring it on!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Stove removal

As much as we admired the rustic feel the wood stove lent to the joint, we decided to get rid of it, for two reasons. First, it took up a hell of a lot of space in the living room. Second, every time we spoke with our insurance company about the cottage, they'd always ask about it. We got the impression that such a device could be, at worst, hazardous, and at best costly in terms of premium payments. So it went.

Here it is, with part of the faux brix peeled off the nearby wall:

Shortly after this photo was shot back in August, we arranged with our neighbor Gary to have it hauled off the premises. If memory serves, his brother in law could use it, so we said "take it away!" That left the six large tiles (or would you call them bricks? They were thick enough) on the floor to remove.

Those six bricktiles popped out easily -- a little pry and they were free. One broke when I placed (dropped) it on the floor. That left us with five of the heat-resistant beauties. I ended up giving them to Gary, too, figuring he might have some use for them. (Some of the more choice materials ended up being salvaged for either Gary or our other neighbor, Will. In fact, there were two nice six-panel closet doors we didn't foresee using, and Gary happily took them. After taking up space in his garage for a month, he sheepishly asked me this past weekend if I'd mind if he put them by the street to see if a passing motorist could put them to use. He propped them up at the end of his driveway with a "FREE" sign. Within 45 minutes, Gary had solved his problem.)

But I digress. The bricktiles rested on a foundation of concrete, or what my friend Bergie likes to call "cretis." I figured a few blows with the sledge would pulverize the concrete.

It sort of worked out that way. I was expecting to be able to peel the concrete from the wooden subfloor. But again, another one of our cottage's many surprises! Whoever installed the stove poured the concrete directly on carpet: