Midwest Remodeling

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A HOUSE WITH HISTORY Part 2 (What did grandma like)

If you’re old enough to have grand kids I’m sure they’ve seen pictures of you in your teenage days and wondered how you could possibly dress the way you did.  Personally I sported bell bottom pants and shirts with huge collars.  Digging deep on a house with history will often give a glimpse at what previous generations liked in their home.  Old furniture and other personal belongings disappear as families come and go but wallpaper, paint and flooring just build up layer upon layer, generation after generation.  Finally the time comes to do a major update and we get to take a first hand look at the past.  Here’s a few pictures that offer a little view of the past.  Maybe you’ll chuckle, maybe you’ll remember grandma having something like it in her house.  Enjoy!

Used to be that wallpaper was used in many rooms of the house.  These day’s finding someone that can install wallpaper can be a real challenge.  Borders were often used to dress up the transition from wall to ceiling much as we use crown molding today.  Notice wallpaper was also used on the ceiling.

Here are three generations of linoleum flooring.  In a time when earth tones are all the fashion it appears grandma liked more color.

In the background lath is visible on the wall.  Before gypsum sheet rock was invented the little boards were nailed on every wall then covered with a layer of horse hair plaster.  Yes, horse hair really was mixed with plaster as a binding agent.  When a chunk of plaster is broken the hair can be seen sticking out of the plaster.

HOUSE WITH HISTORY

It’s taken weeks to get all the pieces of the puzzle put together but the job got underway this week.  It’s been dusty and dirty so far but glimpses of potential are starting to appear.  Before the potential is realized there’s a little bit of history to deal with.

This picture shows many aspects of the history of the home.  The left side of the picture shows the original structure.  It’s a log structure built of native timber.  The way it’s built is called timber frame construction.  Large beams are used to make the shell of the building then studs are added between the beams and walls are built in the interior.  Tooling marks are visible on the beams and there are wood pins where the mortise and tenon are connected.  The studs have been made at a sawmill as they are smooth and flat. An angle brace in the corner is a common feature of this type of construction.  Ceiling joist sit on top of the beam and are logs with the bottom cut flat to provide a surface for the lath and plaster.  Tops of the joist are still rounded and  many of them still have bark attached.  This room is an add on to the original structure.  Notice the rafters are wood logs.  On the right side of the picture the original wood shingles are visible as well as evidence of a fire at some time in the past.

The electric box had a light fixture attached.  It’s interesting to note that there are 7 or 8 wires coming out of the box and the wires are from three different eras of manufacture.  I suspect if the attic of the original home was inspected we’d find evidence of even older electric wires.  When dealing with finished surfaces it’s difficult to get wires into the nooks and crannies where they’re needed.  Now that the structure is open we’ll be installing new wiring that should service the home for it’s next century of life.

What’s next for this house with history? Are there 100 year old newspapers stuffed in the walls somewhere?  I’ll let you know.

 

Hidden Obstacles and Additional Costs

We remodel a lot of kitchens.  Most people don’t often think about the kitchen being the most complicated room in the house.  Every system in the house comes into focus in the kitchen.  Heating and air conditioning issues?  It’ll show up first in the kitchen.  Electric issues?  It’ll show up first in the kitchen.  Maybe the bathroom will have the biggest issue if there’s a plumbing problem but it won’t take long for it to show up in the kitchen.  With all these systems in one room it’s not unusual for hidden obstacles to show up when we start taking things apart.

Here’s what we see when we look at a job to quote:

Ok, we’ve already done a little work but you get the idea.  When we finish removing the bulkhead we get this:

Of course, sometimes there’s nothing in the bulkhead and we can proceed.   Unfortunately we can’t know what’s there when we write the quote so it’s time to write a change order for additional work.  We’ll talk about change orders in a future post.

Welcome

Welcome to the Midwest Remodeling Services news page.  Our goal is to provide tips, inspiration, and show some of the challenges involved in the remodeling business.  With a total of over 100 years experience in the construction business we sometimes feel like we’ve seen it all.  Of course, we get up and go to work the next day and a new, never before seen, challenge hits us in the face.  With the experience we have in house and the experience of our subcontractors these challenges can be met and resolved.

We’ll almost always have pictures and occasionally a video on the news page so stay tuned.

See you in a day or two.