A good friend of ours who has done much remodeling to his house told us recently, “They say it takes 10% of the time to do 90% of the work, and the other 90% of the time to finish the last 10%.” Ain’t that true!
We are still not completely inspection-ready; just a couple steps shy. Unfortunately, on April 9 my brother had an accident on another job site, close to his home. He injured his right wrist badly enough to need surgery, among other things. That has put a little different time-frame on things getting done here. Mike and I have managed to make some progress, however, and thankfully the Tim-essential parts leading up to inspection are behind us. What’s still left for him to do can wait until he is fully recovered. And thankfully he can also still talk so he is available to give us guidance and advice on this end.
Just the week before the accident, Tim had constructed this amazing railing in his home workshop, so he had his son finish up the details and sent it up with his wife, Marian, to us (at our yard sale at my parents’ house) on the 12th. Here it is in place, but with no support except the snug fit up against the ceiling. It fit so nicely and snugly that we left it there. A few days later we found it laying on its side hanging out into the stairwell and I recalled hearing a sound like something tumbling a couple days earlier. It turns out the railing expands and contracts quite a bit with the weather and had loosened up it’s “grip” on the ceiling, toppling onto its side:
FYI/PSA: If you ever decide to do an addition and in the middle of it your parents decide to downsize and sell their house, this is what you might be living with for a while, too:
But on the flip side, here is one of the treasures from my parents’ place that fits just perfectly—a hutch that my dad built that always stood in our kitchen:
Now back to the details, details, details. Remember the wall Tim was going to build in the old attic stairwell so that we don’t have to install another wired-in smoke alarm just to cap a little later when we close off the stairs? Well… Mike and I aren’t carpenters, but we didn’t do too bad a job. My other brother Fred suggested we change it from a straight wall into something that provided a little more storage up top, so here’s the result:
Studs going in and measurements being taken for the back vertical wall of our new “closet-stairs” space:
I ended up making cardboard patterns in order to cut the plywood since none of the existing angles are 90°. Simply measuring distances wasn’t going to do it. Here you see the cardboard pattern in place for what will be the ceiling of the new “closet” and the resulting shelf for more attic storage above:
The top board is in place (I have my boots on because it is still COLD in New England and we were doing all the cutting outside):
And here is Mike screwing the vertical wall in place. (See the new shelf created by the closet ceiling?) Overall, this is going to be an interesting space to figure out how best to use. If I were a kid still, I’d make a “nest” in this spot. Hmmm… I told Mike if he can’t find me someday to come look here. It’s like a ball pit, except you’d have to watch your head, and ankles, and other things, if you tried to jump in:
…and the new view from down at the bottom of the same stairs. (Mike reasoned that we are more likely to get around to painting the inside of the closet than the attic side, so we put the nicer “wood” sides up there to start. See previous picture):
Next we moved on to installing the railing that Tim so nicely put together. Following what he thought needed to happen to get it solid, we did finally succeed in putting up the corner post, which involved many approaches, drillings, re-drillings, broken screws, etc. before it finally held firmly and straight in it’s spot:
This is a railing which was designed to be removed in the event we want to move something big up or down the stairs. Given how much the wood seems to expand and contract, I’m glad we don’t plan to move this thing every day! Barrel bolts are now in place, but it’s also wedged in pretty tightly on its own.
AND.. finally to the detail of the old smoke alarm in the attic. Whenever anyone says “JUST do (anything)”, be careful. Nothing can “just” be done. 😉 Capping an old smoke alarm box seems like an easy enough thing until you realize it involves drilling two new holes then detaching, re-routing and re-attaching the wires, which ALL involves turning off the electricity to all the hard-wired alarms in the house. The other day Mike threw the circuit breaker in the basement and made it all the way to the attic to start working just to have every alarm in the house go off. The only solution to this was apparently to put the power back on. He promptly did, and that was that. This stalled us a little while we contacted our electrician friend and the nice lady at Kidde who told me “that happens sometimes when there’s a sudden change in the power.” Of course, yesterday when we screwed up our courage to try again, nothing happened, so the box has now been re-routed. I know this is a rather anti-climactic picture to end on for today, but hopefully you’re learning something from our experience… heh, heh. We sure are!