Tuesday, October 5, 2010

House Progress, "The New Room"

Updated 12/17 Please keep looking at the bottom of the page, we'll add pictures as the work progresses.

July 26th What a thrill! After 6 months of waiting and planning and dreaming, we are really starting on gutting the "new room". Actually it's the room that housed the old kitchen, which was a shed that was moved and added onto our 3/4 cape in the 1920's, we think. I am calling it the new room, as I'm not sure what exactly it will be used for when it's done. Yes, it will hide the washer and dryer, and the well pump. But what else? It's in between the keeping room and the kitchen, so that's a hint. Well, stay tuned! All will be revealed, as soon as I figure it out. Here you can see Cy, prybar in hand, starting to take up the 1920's narrow pine floor.

July 27th Here you are looking down through the structure beneath the 1920's floor.  The big joke is that the joists are ridiculously small for the job, only 2" x 4"s, and a 1" x 6", and some of them are broken and one is propped up on some bricks. Its a wonder we didn't fall through! But the treasure is the original 18th C floor about a foot underneath. I don't suppose you can see the early nails and wonderful patina. They must have left the original floor, and added a new one higher up, probably to deal with the slope of the land.

Aug. 27 Here we've removed the 18th C. floorboards (we'll reuse them in our future bathroom) You can see the 18th C hewn logs supporting the floor, but all rotted off on the ends, and dropped out of the sill. In the 18th C they didn't build a foundation, and then add a sill, and then the walls and floor, etc. No, first they laid 4 massive beams, called sills, in a square on 4 rocks, and built up from there. So you can see, if your sill is rotted, as ours was, you have nothing to support your house, and it could fall down. Bad plan.  If you look carefully at the far end of the logs (this is the wall that faces the street) you can see our dark chestnut sill, curved and crooked. It was rotted by carpenter ants and pushed inward by a tree that was growing into the house. You can also see no basement here, just dirt and rocks under the floor, and rocks tucked in under the sill. This is why the floors in old houses can be so cold, and damp, and your house can be invaded by mice and snakes, etc. Yuck! Also you see white "snow" on the dirt, this is "pearls" of foam insulation blown in in the '70s, that of course filtered down and gets into everything.

This is interesting, this is the original outside of the old house. They must have taken off the siding when they added on the shed. You can see the old wide boards, all hand sawn, later whitewashed and papered, maybe for insulation.

Here you are looking up into the roof of the old shed.

 9/26 Here again we are looking at the wall that faces the street. We've removed all the floor and joists and logs, all the loose rock and dirt, and actually removed the sill itself. We put jack posts and car jacks under the house to keep it upright.

Here is the view from the outside. Sorry the bush is hiding the car jack under the corner post.

Here is Cy pushing the new sill in place. We used pressure treated wood, we don't ever want to have to do this again. Who you don't see on the other end of the sill is our wonderful friend Gary Wirth who spent days helping us with this huge project.
Here is the new sill going in from the outside.

And here is the new sill in place, staight and level. You know about old houses, this is probably the only level thing in this room.

Here are Gary and Cy bolting cleats to the wall studs to support the new floor joists.
Here are most of the new joists in place. Yeah! Now I can get from the kitchen to the rest of the house without going outside.

Here you can see the space under the sill is filled in with native rock, as they call it out here, and lots of concrete and squirty foam. This is to keep out wetness and cold drafts, not to mention mice, snakes, etc. All the creatures that love our old houses.

Here you can see that nice rock foundation from the outside. The outside of the house is now closed up with plywood and Tyvek, ready for some siding and trim and paint. Hope the warm weather keeps up and we can get the outside mostly finished this year.
 Here is the outside closed up nice for the winter. Too bad it couldn't stay warm just a littleeee bit longer, so I could get it painted.


Again, we're looking towards the road. But look at my nice sturdy new joists that will hold up my floor! And look at the clever panels of plywood between the joists. Covered with plastic they will keep out the damp of the dirt floor, and drafts and snakes, and etc. Then we lay the soft pink insulation on top of the panels.

Here is the pink stuff in between the joists, ready to put the plywood subfloor on top. You would think this would be easy, but I forgot to tell you about the well tank we had to move, and the new lines for the washer and dryer that have to go under the joists before we can get this far. Those black pipes in the bottom of the pic are the water lines covered in their tidy black insulation.Oh, and lets not mention the propane gas pipe that took 4 weeks to arrive, that also had to go under the floor. So its been a slow fall as far as progress.

Isn't this exciting? It's the water tank for the well. I hate spending money on this stuff. I could have bought a heck of a nice piece of furniture for what all this cost, of course it is nice to have fresh well water to drink! We do live in Stafford SPRINGS, CT you know, famous for it's healthy spring water. (If you're lost, you're looking at the door into the keeping room, and that big mess to the far right is my future washing machine.)


  1. How exciting! I love exploring in old walls and floors, seeing what was there before... we found an old doll beneath the floorboards when turning some attic space into my son's bedroom. Looks like the guys are doing a great job, I look forward to seeing the end result!

  2. We found paint on the inside of the sheathing in our house as well and wondered about it. Never considered that the boards might have originally been on the outside of a structure. It's heartening to see someone else deal with the underpinnings of an 18th century structure that didn't fare too well. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and we're living in it now! All good thoughts going to you as you find your way through the virtuous task of saving your wonderful old house. Old house freaks cherish the heart soul of an old structure, no matter how humble.