I Said Get Back In The Basement!

After I catch up with the current progress I will be going through the house one room at a time and post up some floorplans.

March and the tree fiasco had passed. I had been doing a lot of work in the basement and going all the way outside to get back into the thing during a severely cold April was beginning to get annoying. You can tell by this picture that at one time there had been death stairs that led to the basement(look where it is missing paint). 

So what was directly above this?

The previous tenants were getting up in years and wanted a main floor laundry instead of having to walk down the cliff that was the previous set of steps. So, they boarded over the floor, made it into a closet…. and never ended up putting in a main floor washer or dryer. Lucky for me I know a guy with a hammer and a flatbar.

The stringers that were in there only existed to hold up the closet floor and were easily removed and did not fudge up the rest of the house. I took two 2x12x12 boards as stringers and instead of cutting in treads, simply put 2×4 blocks on the sides and then put 2×10’s over the top to act as a set of temporary steps. Eventually I will be running the steps the opposite direction from the living room and this will make more sense when I do the room by room update. 

Alright! I’ve got new temporary death stairs! Let’s step down them carefully and see whats going on down there now.

Looks like they’re doing some kind of pirate radio from down here…. I don’t trust it… Let’s take a quick turn to the left.

Well, they’re either trying to make a kick ass robot costume or they have got a new furnace.

But I thought he was broke? Aren’t new furnaces expensive?

Right you are. I scored big time on this furnace. I was hanging drywall at a different house and replacing the hot water heater. I had moved the hot water heater out onto the front porch and let it sit there overnight. When I was working the next morning a man walked over and asked me if I needed to buy a hot water heater, as he had a newer one. I declined but said that I was looking for a furnace. It turns out that he was stripping his dead father in law’s house and planned on tilling it under. Luckily for me right before the guy keeled over he put a brand new high efficiency furnace and all new ducting into the house. I ended up with the furnace all of the ducting and hot water heater for $1500. After that, another neighbor walked by looking to buy the hot water heater so without even having the thing loaded up yet I sold it to him for $100(gas non power vent hot water heater) so for $1400 I had a few model years old 92% efficient furnace that hadn’t even been used for one heating season.

See all that white tape? That there is asbestos. Whenever I get bored of cracking open cfl bulbs and drinking the mercury I climb down the steps shake the heat ducts around while taking some deep breaths.

Moving that fat bitch of a furnace was….. a bitch. The red cylindrical drum was a giant cast iron pot. The way the furnace worked was a bunch of heating elements designed to burn diesel fuel(but now burned natural gas) super heated that thing until the thermostat told the squirrel cage fan to kick on. The only nice thing about the furnace was that when it finally kicked in and started moving air it was HOT. If you sat in front of it you started to sweat.

It is now the middle of April and it is still extremely cold outside. How am I supposed to stay warm for the next few days while I wait for the furnace man to come put this new one in?

Luckily I am used to living in cold houses, as this little heater barely kept my bedroom above 60 degrees while it was in it.

Another advantage of doing construction work for a living is having a lot of friends in the plumbing, electrical, and hvac fields. For $650 I had the new furnace installed and got an AC coil put in, so my house is all set for air conditioning once I get the outdoor unit. 

Well, that’s all for today. If some of this doesn’t make sense it is because I was working outside in the sun with a heat index of 106 degrees running a jack hammer. If there is some sort of glaring error or something doesn’t make sense I’ll come back later when my brain isn’t cooked and fix it.

The Things I Do In My Basement

So it was mid March, I was now a home owner, and I was broke because I had put down a large amount of money for my down payment. I was excited to move in to the new place and wanted to live here for a while before I started the main renovations. The cheapest place to start was the basement.

The room to the left of the dresser was the old coal room. Lucky for me this house was equipped with a furnace from the early 1960’s that was converted from running fuel oil(diesel) to natural gas. Oh…wait…. that sounds super inefficient for some reason. Turns out that for every dollar I spent I was getting about 33 cents worth of heat. This thing had to go, but due to me not having any money(come on we covered this earlier) it had to stay for the time being. That coal room on the other hand….

No need for that to exist anymore. The wall came down super easy, it was bucketing the cement out that was the worst part. Definitely got a good exercise for the glutes. After all of the crap was cleaned out I cemented in the new holes in the floor from where the walls used to be and pressure washed all of the walls to get rid of the coal residue.

So walls out, walls washed, new hot water heater purchased to replace the one from the 1970’s, let’s get drunk and paint some walls.

Turns out PVA drywall primer works awesome for lightening up a room. The water heater install kind of sucked because I am by no means a pro solderer and the pipes I was attempting to tie into were old soft copper. I can not wait to rip out all of the plumbing in this house because it goes through galvanized pipe, soft copper, rigid copper, and pvc. Thank god for pex piping. It is going to be wonderful to run this place with clean easily manipulated water lines.

Stay tuned because my next update will document the arduous tree removal process that took place over a period of three weeks.

An Introduction.

I’m going to start this blog off by introducing myself.

My name is Joe LaFreniere(I pronounce it Laugh Wren Ear but telemarketers and bill collectors have much more interesting variations on it). I grew up in a small town and graduated with 65 other people. I made the hilarious and costly mistake of thinking that I wanted to educate other people’s children. I continued to make this mistake until I student taught fifth and sixth grade children at a middle school where the faculty and administration had no drive to do anything except teach to the statewide assessment test. Instead of dropping out immediately I signed up for classes for an additional year but didn’t attend them because I didn’t want to tell my parents that I was unhappy and had zero interest in finishing out my degree. Stupid, huh?

Like many of my generation I moved back into the bedroom I held as a teenager. I even took up my old middle school, high school and summer break job, working with my father doing construction work. It was not the ideal situation.

Due to no fault of their own I could no longer stand living with my parents. Being 23, depressed, working for your dad all day, and having a relationship with your parents that was identical to the one we had when I was 16 was infuriating for me and for them as well. It is hard to work for a man from whom there is no escape. A normal person can be pissed off at their boss, go home, relax, and let some steam off. Not me. I would be working outside on a hot day, sweating, tearing shingles off of a roof and then get in an argument with my dad over something completely trivial. Then after work was over and I was supposed to go home and relax I would have to look at the stupid bastard across the dinner table.

I had had enough of being a boomeranger and began seriously looking for a house or a rental in December of 2010. I had three major benefits from living in a small town: my old man was friends with the most hated man in the town(he owns a large number of rental properties but is by no means a slum lord), my friend’s father was President of the local bank, and thanks to the housing crisis I had a near endless amount of houses I could buy for under $25,000.

In February of 2010 the most hated man in town introduced me to some of the nicest people I have ever met. They were an older couple who had been holding onto their mother / mother-in-laws house for quite a few years. The wife had tried several times to clean out the place and ready it for sale, but every time she did she was overcome by emotion and couldn’t bring herself to do it. Her daughter and son in law ended up care taking the place for close to five years. During this period of time they had received and rejected several offers on the house because they didn’t  want to see the house they had so many memories in go to someone they weren’t fond of. For some reason they liked me enough to accept my offer of $16,000 plus covering full closing costs(around $17,750). I later found out that they had been offered a considerable amount more but still chose to sell the place to me. There is more to write here, but it is starting to sound like a humble brag, so I will move on. Thank You, Margaret and Joe.

Financing through the small town bank was incredibly easy. Most places ask for 2 years worth of proof of income, w2’s, and other information. I simply walked in with a month’s worth of pay stubs on LaFreniere Construction letterhead that I had printed out myself and was approved for an $18,000 loan within a week. There are some benefits to being a townie.

I was all moved in on March 14th, 2011, and that is when the home remodeling nightmare and or adventure began. I will try hard to catch up to my current progress but it will take some time, so please bear with me. Thanks for reading and I hope you learn something, are inspired to start a project you’ve been putting off, or at the very least are entertained by the silly words I put here for you to read.