Monday, November 30, 2009

(Un)Nailed It!!! ...

I announced a build-up in excitement yesterday, I didn't say it would be bam, bam, bam!!! So, it wasn't exactly exciting today, but greatness is usually preceded by a lot of boring chores, like pulling hundreds of nails. Early on we had wanted to keep the original lath and plaster, but we quickly realized that it would be much more work, time, and money to do so than simply ripping it out and replacing it with modern wall covering (aside from that, the plaster had to come off anyway so we could install electrical and insulation). Ripping out the lath and plaster, however, left lots of little nails in the walls and ceiling.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

To The Bar ...

Boy, the excitement is building up. We cleaned out the bar today, by moving all the furniture into the Stube. Doesn't this already look like a finished place?

The bar is our last big project, so take a good look, because this is all about to change!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

WinTrim '09 ...

The trim around the windows in the Stube is up, and what a difference! Now it really looks like a nice dining room. Need a room to host your party?


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Puten Tag ...

Thanksgiving 2009, Elizabeth and I have come far in our endeavor to open a restaurant, and it is time to say thanks to all of you. Thank you to all you readers of this blog, for reading it, and leaving comments.

Without naming names, because I'm certain I would forget someone, but you know who you are, I'd like to thank all of you who cheer us on, lend us tools, feed us, liquor us up, and provide a social outlet, which all helps to maintain our sanity (for the most part).

Thank you for all the waves, thumbs-up, and honks (although they drive our dog crazy). Thank you for a great neighborhood, which we are lucky to be part of.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Local Celebrity ...

After four days of hard work (plastering is hard work, even for the person who mixes the plaster), we took a day of rest, with sleeping in and lollygagging. Alright, I still got up (considerably) early, and did a little bit of work this morning.

We decided to stop by our friends at the Tuthilltown Grist Mill, who are turning it into an Italian Steak House. They are in the same boat as we are in, terms of problems with authorities, and such. They are slightly behind us from a renovation perspective, but they should open next Spring as well.

On the way back we stopped by HiHo Market, and chatted with Heidi for a while. If you haven't started your Christmas shopping yet, or even if, you want to go there. Just wander around, and discover all the secrets that are hidden in plain sight. We came across a nice children's tea set, which made me wonder why E! and I had to go all the way to Germany to get one for our niece (ok, so we happened to be in Germany already).

Not having much in the fridge, we decided to get Chinese carry-out (yes, Jerry, the greasy kind, but once in a while that's just what our souls need, but we'll go back to Pure City soon). While standing in line, a woman in front of us picked up her carry-out, turned, went past us, turned again, and "Are you the guys, who are fixing up Gunk Haus? I love what you're doing, it looks great!".

This isn't unusual, and happens quite frequently. We have gotten somewhat used to it. I guess this is how celebrities must feel like. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, in fact I am happy, because it shows that people appreciate what we do, and it makes it easier to get up in the morning and get to work (which can be really hard sometimes).


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Masterpiece - So Far ...

Eight hours straight, and the last wall in the Stube was plastered. I admit, Jack covered twice as much ground in the same amount of time, but I am content, and happy with the result.

Of course there are always imperfections, which only E! and I will ever notice. Our conversation in that regard usually concerns how to deal with people who point out sub-standard work. I normally opt to not serve them anymore, whereas E! would just liquor them up until they love it. Obviously you want to make friends with E! ... ;-)

We had a visitor from the health department today. If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that I have a low opinion of the health department, but that is largely due to a few people we had to deal with. There are good people working there, people who are helpful, forthcoming, and who work with you. This one was of that kind. He looked at everything we had done, and he was happy with a few small exceptions, but nothing that can't be fixed.


Monday, November 23, 2009

The Dirk Is Back ...

Yesterday was a dark day for me, but today was a good one.

I am one of those people who learn by watching. Spare me the boring theory, show me how it's done, I'll figure it out from there.

After watching Jack work yesterday, I realized what I had been doing wrong so far, so today was my day to shine, and off to work I went, assisted by my favorite plaster mixer and good vibe spreader, E!.

I finished plastering the south-west wall and the north wall in the Stube, and although I haven't seen it in broad daylight yet, it will look fantastic.

Tomorrow I'll tackle the last wall in the Stube, and then it's time to relax for a day.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Out Of Place ...

Have you ever had one of those moments where you felt completely inadequate? Well, today was such a day for me.

Jack came over, as promised, at 8am to help plaster the ceiling in the Stube. Only 45 minutes into the job, he had already started on his third bucket of plaster, and E! was rotating to keep up with him, while I was finishing applying plaster weld to the taped up areas on the ceiling.

By maybe 10:30am Jack had covered almost half the ceiling in plaster already, that's when I jumped in. Crawling in might be more correct (see the little area in the lower right hand corner of the ceiling, that was my handy work), and Jack had to touch up quite a bit.

After eight hours the ceiling looked spectacular, and Jack had given it that sheen that we so like in plaster.

It was a frustrating day for me, because I felt completely out of place. On the positive side, I learned a lot simply by watching Jack work, and I am determined to hone my skills to be a better help next time, because we'll have Jack back for more work.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Plaster Fantaster ...

I am happy to report that today was a huge success. We managed to finish two walls in the Stube (our private dining room). E! was mixing the plaster (which is hard work even with a power drill, because the mixing paddle has a large shaft, and you're on the losing end of the force equation), while I was slapping it on the walls.

This system worked really well, and it allowed me to focus on the actual plastering. It was far more relaxing and successful than my first foray into plastering.

Tomorrow is the big day, we are plastering the ceiling. It is easy in the sense that there are no obstructions (working around the windows is always a challenge), but it is a large surface, and it is overhead work. Fortunately I have Jack help me with the plastering, while E! will try to keep up with mixing the plaster.

Completely independent of our work we had the handicap parking spots lined out today.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Plastering Eve ...

We put the final touches on the taping in the Stube, finish installing the baseboards, and generally getting ready to start plastering, which will happen tomorrow. I picked some smaller sections, so we can slowly ease into it (also to get a routine in E! mixing the plaster while I apply it; so far I had done all that myself, but it is faster and less stressful with two people).

As the ceiling is too large for one person, unless you want to work like a dog for a whole day straight, we hired Jack to help us out. If things go well, we'll have him over more often to help us with the rest of the plastering.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sitting Pretty ...

We finished taping in the Stube today, the corners still needed to be done, and around the chimney, and then there was touch up here and there.

I started installing the baseboard, which I'll finish tomorrow, and then ... it's time to plaster!!!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quicker Tape Parade ...

It was the day of taping the drywall, a most annoying job, but it needs to be done (I experimented with not taping, and gluing the tape without joint compound before plastering, but I learned that there is no way around the traditional way).

Anyhow, here's a picture before the action (I placed a model in the picture to give you a sense of dimension).

As we are plastering the walls the taping job didn't need to be too good, and so we got most of it done today. Granted, it doesn't look very professional, but professionals (or more precisely people who are taking money for their work) take a lot of money to be slightly better than you, and we don't have that kind of money right now, and let's face it: Considering our hourly rate of $0, we do a fantastic job.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sand-Me-Down ...

We headed out early this morning to pick up the floor sander at Lowe's (they don't take reservations, and today was meant to be the day). The sander is clearly made for even floors without protrusions, which is not what you normally find in an old house like Gunk Haus. The consequence was that the sand paper disks would get stuck on nail heads and floor board edges, and get shredded to pieces.

By noon we had already returned the sander after E! had gone over the entire floor once. We never had the goal to get a squeaky clean floor, but take off (mostly) the paint on the floor, and to smoothen the ridges. It turned out pretty good, although E! spent a good amount of time on her knees with the palm sander doing touch up sanding.


Monday, November 16, 2009

The Patio ...

Nick, our super duper pooper scooper septic system excavooter, was back today completing the work on the patio, leveling out the dirt, and building two terraces. They could be bigger, but we take what we can get, we'll make it work.

I installed the final pieces, little as they may have been, of drywall in the Stube. Tomorrow we'll get a sander and sand the floor, after that taping the drywall, installing window and door trim, baseboard, and then plastering the walls. Can you sense the excitement?


Friday, November 13, 2009

Tarred, Not Feathered ...

We had the area in front of the kitchen paved today, as this is where the handicapped parking spots are going to be, and they need to be on firm ground (the blacktop in this section had been crumbling for a long time). We could have done the entire front of the house, but we'd like to redo (at some point in the future) the rest with concrete or brick pavers, or something else appealing.

Nevertheless, the paved area turned out very nice, and we were very happy with the contractor.

Whenever we have a contractor do work, not much else gets done. E! picked up the drywall, and we finished the ceiling in the Stube, and I did some prep work, so we can (finally) finish drywalling the Stube tomorrow.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Snowed In ...

I noticed yesterday, that the picture you see in the About Me section on the left hand side of the blog shows Gunk Haus in the depth of winter with snow all over. It also occurred to me that I usually only post detail pictures of whatever happened that day. So, I went and took a picture showing our baby in all its prime (without snow).

Off to work (and a more detailed picture). We almost finished drywalling the ceiling in the Stube. Unfortunately we ran out of drywall, and it wasn't even noon. We are getting more drywall tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm Not A Crook-ed Wall ...

Old houses have what most people refer to as charm or character: uneven and crooked floors, walls, doors and windows. Wood, the prime building material in old houses, is a living being, it reacts and adapts to external forces, creating the charm and character. Gunk Haus is not different.

This charm can sometimes be a hindrance, for instance when installing drywall. We managed to install only five sheets of drywall today (all wall, no ceiling), because we hit so many odd spots, where we either had to shim the studs or trim off excess wood, which would have required us to bend the drywall to the point of failure. But it is starting to look like a room.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rinse And Repeat ...

Some days are like a déjà vu, and today was such a day, filled with concrete work (this time in front of the dish station entrance), getting baseboard, sanding baseboard, routing baseboard, priming baseboard, and getting drywall.

The weather has been very nice for the last three days, and we tried to get a few things done, which are easier or better done outside. Tomorrow looks like a dreary day again, so it's back to drywalling the Stube.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Bumper Car ...

What a gorgeous day today, temperatures in the 60s, time to loose your sweater and run around in T-shirt, and to pour some concrete, say 1300 pounds (excluding water). Yes, as I announced yesterday (did I?), I mixed up a lot of concrete, seven 80 pound bags each to sink the steel columns into the ground, and one 80 pound bag each to fill the steel columns with concrete.

This may sound excessive, and it actually is, because the code only asks to sink the columns three feet into the ground (I did four) and be surrounded by fifteen inch in diameter of concrete (I did sixteen, because the Sonotube only comes in that size), but if you didn't know yet: I have the tendency to over-engineer.

As I had the concrete mixer out already, I fixed the step to the main entrance as well.

E! was very busy sanding and priming the boards for the Stube baseboards.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday, Sunny Sunday ...

Now that you all had a good laugh at my new hairdo (I was laughing so hard for five minutes, I could barely breath), I would like to emphasize that it was my decision to leave the short cut hair be, and cut the rest of the head in normal fashion (Jerry, you are right: I am a trendsetter). Don't think for one second E! would send me out into the world like this without my consent.

We hung the few sheets of drywall we had left. I ordered more last Friday, but we may not get it before Tuesday, which is fine as the weather is supposed to be gorgeous for the next two days so that we can do a few more outdoor projects, like setting the propane tank barriers.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Short Cuts ...

I haven't seen a hairdresser in years. Since a long time now, E! is cutting my hair, and tonight was the night (long overdue). She did a very good job, although there was a minor mishap, let's just call it a conversation starter ... ;-)



Overhead Work ...

More drywalling in the Stube today, and we decided to put a few more sheets up on the ceiling, which is always pain in your popo, but we're getting good at it. Granted, at the end of the day we have mushy arms, but it pays off, you should see E!'s toned arms (pardon, guns): nice!!! ... :-)


Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Beginning Of The End ...

We started hanging drywall in the Stube today. The ceiling, as always, was a little challenging, as were the uneven walls (didn't they have levels in the 19th century?), but we are weathered home renovators (and maybe a little ignorant), and it takes a lot more to throw us off.

Things are moving forward, stay tuned.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Straw Fever ...

Now that the septic field is all covered with dirt again, it was time to seed some grass, hopefully it starts growing before it starts to get really cold.

At long last we're done refurbishing windows, after installing the last two this morning. Can I have a big round of applause for E!, who has been slaving over the windows (and doors).

We had the new water softener installed today, which we had to get because the water in our new well is harder than in our old well (we need to have soft water for the UV system, the shiny tube in the picture, which allows us to not having to chlorinate the water), which we had to abandon ... oh boy, I'm starting to rant again about what we had to do, because the department of health deemed our perfectly fine septic system as inadequate, and forced us to get a new one. Anyhow, we now have a water softener.

Nick, our super duper pooper scooper septic system excavooter, was busy. I had him dig a hole in front of our propane tank for a steel barrier, which we have to have by code. For now we just buried these paper tubes, until I have time to pour the concrete, and set the steel posts.

But for most part, Nick and his son hauled the excess dirt from burying the rubble across the street to behind the house to built a little patio, now that is exciting!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Buried Trash ...

You remember all the rubble from when we tore down the cottage. We had it piled up on the parking lot side for burial, and today this is what happened. Oh look there is the excavator already, pushing the mulch out of the way.

It was a massive hole for a massive amount of rubble ...

... and at the end of the day it looked like it had never existed.

The excess dirt we'll use to build a nice patio next to the septic field, which Nick, our super duper pooper scooper septic system excavooter, started working on today. By tomorrow or Thursday, it should all be done, and the excavooter becomes an ex-cavooter.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Excavootion Wind Down ...

Although our new septic system is approved, there are still a few small tasks for Nick, our super duper pooper scooper septic system excavooter, to wrap up. As he has his mini digger here right now, I asked him to dig a trench for the gutter drain pipe.

In front of the house we had him tear up part of the blacktop, it was coming off anyway. We could have left it crumble for a little while longer, but this is where we want to put two handicap parking lots, and they need to comply with the ADA code.

The last big job we'll have him do is bury all the rubble from the cottage, which will result in some excess dirt we'll use for a patio on the north side.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Biergarten Door, Act 2 ...

As I mentioned two days ago, the biergarten door needed more work than simply removing the old (new) door, and installing the new (old) door. As with the main entrance, the wood under the biergarten door sill was rotten, and the door frame wasn't in an appealing condition either.

Fortunately, it was a beautiful day, which helped (not only to sooth my mood for the task at hand) because I had to remove the door for most of the day.

Just as with the main entrance, I scraped out the bad wood, and installed a sill with pressure treated wood.

With the old frame out, I installed some reinforcement before the new frame, because the new (old) door is really heavy.

Still left to be done is the outdoor trim, which E! was busy priming and painting today.