Drywall, the Continuing Saga

No pictures again, but they'll be coming. Work progresses, but slower than I'd hoped. One expectation is playing out, however: white drywall dust is slowly filtering through my house, carried by small stocking feet that had no business being up there in the first place. Most of the upstairs is coated in a fine layer of dust, except the areas under construction, which are coated in a thick layer of dust. Additionally, I discovered a few areas with more dirt than normal - the tops of doors. More on that later!



As mentioned in my last post, I've been working on installing drywall (also known as gypsum board, Gyprock, Sheetrock, wallboard, or plasterboard). Drywall is basically a big rectangle of paper-coated plaster-and-fibers; great for walls and ceilings alike. However, like everything else in construction, it has its foibles.


Inspection Take Two: Passed! On to Drywall!

After much consternation, I've finally passed inspection; there are exactly two inspections remaining: the sewage top-up test, and the final, everything-is-installed inspection. That means that I can start putting up drywall, laying floors, and generally getting things done. Of course, like everything else, it's not quite as simple as just slapping everything up and stepping back with a satisfied grin. Someday, maybe.


Take Two: Insulation

Last week, I finished hanging the last of the insulation at 4 AM. Tired but hopeful, I feel asleep... only to have my hopes and dreams dashed less than 12 hours later, when I failed inspection because I didn't have the right insulation. But not this week! This week is different! For two reasons, in fact. First, I finished the insulation quite a bit earlier, at 11:30 PM; hanging insulation on the wall is actually pretty easy, and I didn't touch the stuff stapled to the ceiling (more on that later). Second, and much more disappointing, I'm not going to have an inspection today, because it's Good Friday.

I must admit, I'm a little bitter about the whole Good Friday thing. On the one hand, I would really like to get the inspection over with. My weekend is well-booked, so I probably couldn't work on drywall even if I wanted to, but I prefer getting things done, rather than having them hang over your head. On the other hand, the company I work for, bless its poorly-managed heart, doesn't put much stock in these new-fangled "holidays", which means I only get a handful of days off, and Good Friday isn't one of them. Instead of getting an inspection, or even getting a day off, I'm stuck at work. Holidays mean a lot less when you're not allowed to celebrate them.



Well, I got the inspection yesterday. It was a bit of a problem getting it at all - I had asked for a call ahead, but the inspection office neglected to pass that along. So, I missed the inspection, because I wasn't home. After waiting a while, I called the office, who verified that I did indeed have an inspection, and gave me the inspector's number. I then called him, and got everything straightened out. Whew!

And then... disaster. All that insulation I put in? Wrong. Yep. Off by an R value of 2, which is something like a Styrofoam cup. Which means all the insulation on the walls has to go. Worse is the ceiling; any ceiling must have insulation with an R value of 30. I used the same as the walls, so... yeah. No go.


Insulation: Death By One Thousand Tiny Stab Wounds

Grabbing the insulation and the first load of drywall
Up, Up, and Away!
This has been an eventful week. Monday, as previously mentioned, I got my inspection. Tuesday, I ordered my drywall, insulation, and cement board from a local supply company; it cost $716. According to my figures, if I bought all that from Lowe's or Home Depot, it would have cost closer to $1126, counting the delivery fee. And the cement board at Lowe's is 3' x 6' instead of 4' x 8', which means way more scrap, and the bags of insulation is only available multiples of 5 (I needed 6 of one and 1 of another). Oh, and delivery was free. And not only free - they lifted it up to my second floor for me!
It began fairly early in the morning; I got up and got ready to unload a bunch of drywall. And waited. And waited. And... waited. Eventually, tired of waiting and late for work, I called to ask them to reschedule for lunch time; however, the truck had just left. Sure, ok, that's fine. I'd rather have it than not.

Project Insulation: Success

It's four in the morning. My arms itch from fiberglass; my eyes droop from tiredness; my feet hurt from standing on the ladder; my head hurts from the dust; my arms hurt from being held over my head for hours on end. I've listened to every single Switchfoot, Newsboys, Jars of Clay, and dc Talk song I own at least once. All things considered, this has been like a second job the past two days. I've put in over 16 hours stapling up insulation, 9 of them tonight.
Anyway, I'm going to sleep for a couple hours before I go to my paying job. And in the morning, I'll have the insulation inspected, and be able to put up drywall! But not tomorrow. Tomorrow, I'm going to sleep. After work. No rest for the weary...


Winnie the Pooh (and) Happy Pi Day!

In one of my favorite stories about Winnie the Pooh, the titular bear visits Rabbit and ends up eating all of his honey. On attempting to exit, the silly ol' bear manages to get himself stuck halfway out the front door. The attempted extraction fails, as does any attempt to return him to the interior. Rabbit is stuck with using Pooh's feet at towel hangers and exiting through the back door while Pooh slims down. The bear, of course, is anxious to know how long it will take; Eeyore replies, "Days. Weeks. Months. Who knows."

"And then, one morning, when Rabbit was beginning to think he might never be able to use his front door again, it happened!" After interminable days of waiting, Winnie the Pooh finally moves. Rabbit is ecstatic, calling, "Christopher Rabin! Uh, uh, Crostopher Robin! He bidged! He badged! He booged! Today's the day!"


An Inspector Walks Into a Bar

...And refuses to sign off on such a safety hazard, forcing the owner to redesign his plumbing.

While that joke doesn't have anything to do with my work (I hope!), there is an old joke about a scientist and an artist that actually does:

A beautiful woman stands at the end of a long room. However, the only way to reach her is by travelling half-distances, once per minute. The artist quickly crosses half the room; as he waits for the next minute, the scientist calls after him, "Hey, you can never actually touch her; why bother?" The artist calls back, "Ah, but eventually, I'll get close enough!"


So Close I Can Taste It (or) Bleh Pah Ptoo Cough Yuck Sawdusk

It's been another productive week here; not only did I finish the last of the wiring (hurray!), I also built the header for the nook. While the nook has a lot of obviously positive additions to the master bedroom, it also has a glaring down side: the wall between it and the master bedroom is a load bearing wall. Removing a good 8 feet of space can cause some serious problems; nobody wants their roof to fall down because they did something stupid. Well, I don't, anyway. I guess I don't speak for everyone.

But before I get to that, I have a few other things on the done list. I finished the very last bit of siding waaaaaay up there, which is a huge relief. I still need to caulk nail holes and gaps, and get some paint on everything, but the actual siding work is done. Whew. It certainly took long enough!


Electric Bugaboo

Last weekend, I shut off power to the entire house to install two breakers. I also ended up removing four unused breakers, and realized how mind-bogglingly terrible the wiring in my house really is. You don't really get a good feel for that until you've seen that someone put a (bare) ground wire over the two voltage rails (240 V between them), instead of wiring it into the block an inch from where it entered the box. Interesting times, indeed. Once I've finished the existing rooms, I'm going to rewire the entire house. There are just too many things wrong with it to let the existing wiring stand.

The electrical work was frustrating, though not because it was hard work (though it was), bad wiring (though it really was). No, it's frustrating because of rules... and cost.


The Final Countdown (or) Inspection Projection

Let me begin by apologizing for the erratic feel of this post. I've worked on so many bits and pieces over the last couple weeks, and hit on so many interesting things to share that it's hard to focus on just one. With that in mind...

I grew up in Kansas, about a mile outside the city limits. I learned how to do plumbing, roofing, put up drywall and siding, and generally how to fix and/or build a house from my dad; however, we never had to mess with any building permits. Being outside the city, we could do what we liked, for the most part. The most we ever had to deal with was reporting some of the larger modifications (like when we built a whole house as an addition to our existing house) for tax purposes. And even then, it was hardly anything formal. Living inside the city, however, I have to deal with permits and inspections; it's a whole new world, and it puts some remarkable constraints on what I can and can't do.