Monday, June 30, 2014

A Fun Discovery

Ever since we started demolition on the renovation house and saw the style of construction (1x6 boards nailed to both sides of rough-cut 2x4s), we've wondered how old this house is. Well, today I found out!

I was putting up insulation today (a wonderful job on a 90+ degree day, may I say) when I noticed some pencil scribblings on one of the boards. I think I've seen them before, but just thought they were scribbles. But today, up close with the insulation, I noticed the scribbles formed words - "Clarksville, Ark, March 20, 1914."

I knew right away that HAD to be the date the house was built, because we've done that sort of thing, too. With any new cement poured at our farm, our kids put their handprints and scratched their name and the date with a nail. My son wrote his name and a date in the garage with sidewalk chalk when we removed a piece of the drywall to fix up a way to attach a generator to the breaker box. Marking one's name and date is not a new idea, either; there is a well in our yard from the old house that was here when we bought the property. It has a rock wall topped with a concrete slab, and sure enough, scratched into that concrete is the name of one of the children who lived here and the date (in the 1940s).

Since the date and the location were there on the stud, I looked more carefully at the scribbles above and finally decided the last name was Kraus. Unfortunately, the new drywall ceiling cut off the first name, but I'm guessing it was Orville, because the letters I could see were "ville." What other names end in "ville"?

Anyway, now we have a last name and a time frame, so we can look back in county records and find out something about the history of the house. That's cool. And believe me, we will be picking up the Sharpie and writing "Renovated by Marlows, 2014" along the stud below the original notation.

(And it's pretty darn cool that the house is exactly 100 years old!)

Friday, June 27, 2014

We Passed!

Because our renovation house is within the city limits, we challenges we've never had on a construction project before, namely the fact that we have to get approval from the city government for certain aspects. Fortunately, since we are not altering the exterior of the house or adding any new structures to the property, the only inspections we had to have were for the plumbing and electrical work.

Although my husband has some experience working with both plumbing and electrical (he and my father did all the plumbing and wiring for the previous two houses we've built, plus other projects), the city requires the work to be done by licensed professionals. I'm not complaining; I completely understand why. However, that requirement did add a layer of complexity to the whole process of trying to get this project done during our summer "vacation."

The plumbing was much easier than we had expected. We got a recommendation from a friend who has some rental properties, and we were very pleased with the plumber and his crew. They were able to get in quickly to do the work, and within three days, they had completely replaced all the old plumbing, capped off gas lines (which we won't be using), and installed new plumbing for the reconfigured floor plan. The bill was about 1/10th the price we paid for the entire house (!), but it looks very clean and well-installed.

Here's the reconfigured bathroom:


And here's the new kitchen (in what used to be the living room):


The more challenging aspect of the project was the electrical, mainly because the electrician we chose to work with is also a heating/air specialist, and it's early summer in Arkansas, when H/A specialist are working overtime. We set up numerous times to meet with him, and got stood up a few times. Finally, he and my husband worked out a deal; the electrician would tell Jeff what to do, and Jeff would do a lot of the actual grunt work of pulling the wire. The electrician would then come in and tie everything together. I don't have a finished picture of the breaker box yet; I didn't have the camera with me yesterday when I stopped by the house.
The good news is, yesterday morning all the final work with the electrical was finished. The electrician called the backup city inspector (the main inspector was on vacation - so glad the electrician knew the backup guy), the guy came in and walked through the house, and he gave us a pass on the inspection! Yay! That means we can now start putting the house back together. In fact, that process is going to start today. My husband had 100 sheets of drywall installed yesterday afternoon. He and my son are renting a drywall lift this morning and hope to be able to finish all the ceilings in the house today so they can return the lift before closing time (and not have to pay rental fees over a weekend). I have to pick up our daughter from a camp this morning, then I'm going to go in to put up insulation on the exterior walls while the guys start hanging drywall on the interior walls. The plan (don't laugh) is to finish drywall in the entire house this weekend, since my husband will be going to church camp with our youth group next week. If he finishes the drywall, I can do the finishing work while he's at camp. Anyway, that's the plan....