Friday, July 30, 2004


Now that we removed the wall on the top of the stairs, and the beam is carrying the load of the ceiling, we can begin planning the second main project: removing the recently added wall (on the left of the picture) putting it back to an open staircase with a banister.

Notice how wide the white piece of floor is in this picture. Under this, there are 2 walls: a new one and an original one. The new one is wall on the left of the stairs that you see here. The old wall is about 6 inches to the left of that. We checked in Mrs Reese’s house next door, and this 6 inches is open all the way to the ceiling. The banister that runs up the left side of the staircase turns 180 degrees at the top, and then runs the width of the house enclosing the open 6 inches. I know, it’s hard to explain. Maybe I can get a picture.

Sag (update 6)

It just occurred to me that I haven’t been putting any pictures of the ‘underside’ of the sag online. So here are a few:

We were very worried about cracks in the walls during the jacking. Luckily, this didn’t happen. But unluckily, this huge chunk fell out the the living room ceiling. While that kind of sucks, it does help refine our plans for the living room. The plaster is ugly anyway, right. We’re currently thinking about putting in aone of those fake tin drop ceilings, or one of those manufactured historic ‘wood’ beveled ceilings. Both of these would bring the ceiling down a bit and further define the part to the right of the beam as a hallway.

Sag (update 5)

Help, parts of my house are rapidly disappearing!

Having removed the door, we have the option of putting it back in where ever we want. This is what we came up with. This arrangement gives us a 28 inch deep closet in the master bedroom, and the option for another (in place of the stairs to the attic, once that is removed and the ceiling put up to the cathedral style - the wall point you see on the left of this picture is the start of the stairs to the attic.)

Sag (update 4)

At this point, the sag was almost fixed:

You can still see a little bow in the floor, but it is much less than the 4.5 inches it was before.

Notice that the rest of that wall (at the top of the stairs) is now missing!

You’ll notice that the radiator didn’t move as much as I would have liked, but the top point is about and inch closer to the outer wall than it was before.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Sag (update 3)

The floor came up 3.5 of the 4.5 inches easily. Then it stopped. The problem, it seems, was this door, which, by the time you read this, will be no more. The door frame was tied into the attic stairs and the closet and everything else, and thereby resisted the movement of the floor. Of course, this configuration enabled it to resist gravity as well, which is why the sag wasn’t as bad on that side of the room. Ironic, isn’t it?


Garage (update 2)

Complete around 3:15 Wed, July 28.

Sag (update 2)

I’m posting pictures as quickly as I can, but things are hot around here! The beam is in, and being raised. Here are some pictures of it in place, before any lifting occured:

Beam seen from the hallway to the kitchen and dining room.

Close up of the beam where it meets the wall by the stairs. Note that the beam is not level!

The entire span, as seen from the stairs.

The Garage

Concurrent with all this ‘Sag’ work, a very nice guy called Wayne is dismantling our garage! He’s a wood reclamation expert, and is carefully dismantling it to rebuild it on his property later. Here are the stages:

This last one was taken about 10 minutes ago, so the frame is probably not long for this world!

The Sag (update 1)

As I write this, Mike and his Dad are downstairs making frightening noises in the front room. I expect to hear cracking and groaning at any moment as the sag disappears. In the meantime, however, here are a few pics of the process:

The arrival of the cement block (to shore up the basement)

No more wall! This was the wall pictured below. You’ll notice the radiator on the left is the one that is leaning so dramatically. You’ll also notice the fine white dust covering everything. (see, this wall is built to fit the sag, so if we jack up the floor, it will in turn jack up the ceiling, which will, because of the wall in the attic, jack up the roof).

And, no more wall in the attic either! (Notice the wonderful new beam Mike installed: actually, this is a project in its own right. The beam that had been supporting this wall wasn’t tied into the foundational walls, so it had a 4 inch sag of its own - at a different point than the floor below!)

The columns have arrived!

Sunday, July 25, 2004

The Sag...

Mike is coming early tomorrow to install the braces in the basement and (possibly) put the beam in the front room. If not Monday, then Tuesday. With this impending change, we felt it important to document the extent of the soon-to-be inexistent sag:

Here’s the sag from below. This is the ceiling of the front, living room. You can kind of get a sense of just how much it sags.

Here’s the sag from above. Look a the hardwood seams, and you can see the curve.

This is the radiator that stands on the outside (foundational) wall. The red line is close to vertical. The blue line is parallel to the radiator. See what a sag can do?

The roof line in the upstairs bed room.

The doorway to our bedroom is where the sag is the most noticable. The blue lines are pretty much level. The red lines mark the slope.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Out with the old...

And in with the new…


Major construction has begun! Mike Martin, our general contractor began the process of correcting the structural ‘flaws’ in the house. There are two major problems: in the back of the house, the previous owners dug out part of the basement. This would be fine, except for the fact that they dug right up to the foundation. As weight needs to be supported by at least a 45 degree slope, the weight of the chimney, as well as the foundation, is only half supported. Also, given the problem with the drainage on the side of the house, the water was undermining the dirt under the foundation. During a recent thuderstorm, I came downstairs to discover a stream of water approximately the size and shape of a hose stream spurting out from under this point:

To fix this nightmare, Mike has poured a concrete footing and will build a cinder block wall up to 6 inches above the base of the foundation & backfill it with dry concrete:

Remember that 4.5 inch dip in the second floor? Well to jack that up, we need to support the first floor from underneath. And in order to do that, we need to have footers. Viola:

And last, but not of all least, remember that nasty-ass wooden structure on the side of the house that is covering up the old outside entrance to the basement? If not, here’s what it looks like:

Well, Mike’s going to fix that to. Ain’t contractors grand?

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


You’ll have to pardon this little deviation from the main theme, but I just read something fascinating in Stephen Jay Gould’s “The Mismeasure of Man”. It’s a quote from the 19th century Anthropologist Gustave Le Bon:

A desire to give them [women] the same education, and, as a consequence, to propose the same goals for them, is a dangerous chimera…. The day when, misunderstanding the inferiour occupations which nature has given her, women leave the home and take part in our battles; on this day a social revolution will begin, and everything that maintains the sacred ties of the family will disappear (1879, p. 62).

While this is the same old dribble we’ve read from misogynists throughout the last 2 centuries, the part that is truly shocking to me, at least, is the fact that Le Bon’s horror - the unthinkable travesty that will befall humanity if women are educated - is that “the sacred ties of the family will disappear”! Let’s be clear: Le Bon’s argument is an argument from slippery slope: “If we do this, absurdity will follow!” And the absurditythat Le Bon so fears is that the ”scared ties of the family” will be undone.

Supporters of bans on gay marriage should perhaps look back to these idiots for camaraderie.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


Tammy (Astor-Jack) sent Tara this picture of the tag inside of Tom Bihn computer bag whose French instructions read: “Nous sommes desoles que notre president soit un idiot. Nous n’avon pais vote pur lui.” Or, in English “We’re sorry that our president is an idiot. We didn’t vote for him.” Funny thing, I made that exact apology to a crowded British pub about a little less than 4 years ago.

Anyway, I immediately thought that it was a hoax or urban legend, but it is, in fact, true! You can even buy a T-shirt with the label printed on the front from the company ‘at fault’. Here’s the link: Tom Bihn

Monday, July 19, 2004

Bed, Bath and Beyond Part II

I have no real time to write right now, so I’ll just get to the pics of the (almost) completed bathroom:

eally tiny in there, so you’ll have to use your imagination regarding perspective. The pics are kind of arranged in a 360 view.