Sunday, December 29, 2013

In which there is a mystery

What the heck is it?
I noticed this block of wood notched into the framing of the building yesterday.  I had seen it before, but never noticed it, so I investigated and then started pondering what it once was.  The wall where it is placed was, I think, at one time the main entrance to the grain barn that was added by the Farmer's Co-op.  This contraption is located on the side of the old entrance.  I wonder whether it was a grain scale or some other measurement device.  The block of wood is notched into one of the main supports for the building frame and one of the wall studs.  Whoever put the block and metal rod there certainly didn't want the device to go anywhere!  

 At one time, there was a large door here, and then a smaller door framed out later.  I think the rod was bent later when the new framing went in.  Still, not much evidence remains as to why this rod and the notched block are there.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

In which we approach our first year anniversary of owning Slum and Blight

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of our wedding and Tuesday marks the first anniversary of owning our wedding present to each other...namely Slum and Blight!  Happy days all around!
Of course, we have hardly gotten the project off the ground in our minds, but the changes over the year have been significant.  Gone is the barn, gone are over 25 tons of debris from the building, gone is the old basement space and the hilariously dangerous original building supports and foundation walls.  Hopefully the next month will bring significant changes to the building....more fodder for this blog, which lately has become boring even to the writer.

I have been working on the interior of the first floor, taking down walls and removing more debris.

 Won't 3 x 8' windows look great here!!  The view from these windows is out over the harbor and to the bridge....gorgeous.

 Oops. gotta replace that sill!

The Christmas Ice Storm of 2013 left us without power for four days. Everything is encased in ice, including the debris dumpster at the building....which should weigh several extra tons by now with all the snow and ice in there!  We spent the days surrounding Christmas trying to keep our house warm and the pipes from freezing.  When the temperature inside got down to 44 degrees, it was time to decamp to the Bayside cottage for Christmas morning.

After having a pinched nerve in my neck, all this friggin' snow and ice, parties, and the ice storm, it has felt like weeks since I worked at Slum and Blight.  Yesterday I was back at it and took down the inside walls where the old barn used to attach to the building.  What I found behind the walls was disheartening and kind of gross at the same time.
 The boards sometimes just break into dust or are so dry that they crack the moment one moves them.  This was my first look at what was behind the boards....ugghh...100 year old grain left over from when the building was the farmer's cooperative grainery beginning in 1917 or so.

 The grain is tightly compacted here in the walls.  I took some of the grain out with our trusty shop-vac.  A lot of it is frozen.  It took me three hours to get all the grain out...the bags must weigh 50 lbs a piece.

The grain is all along the base behind this board.

So far the amount of grain I removed below filled up two shop vac barrels.

The old boards ready to be hauled out the door to the dumpster

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In which I am back inside Slum and Blight

I have given up pick axing down below the building and have moved inside again.  I haven't worked inside the building in what seems like months.  I have been engaged in pulling down the wooden walls on the first floor.  I have taken down 5 sections of wall only to find that behind all of them is the last layer...plaster and lathe insulation!!  That makes four total layers for the walls.  Of course there is no heat.  Today is -2 so far at 6:30 am, so this means four layers of socks to match the wall layers!!  Actually, it isn't so bad inside, or it wasn't yesterday, save for that time when one of the windows fell out of its case and, thankfully, fell intact to the floor.  The wind was a bit wicked at that point.  

Enjoy the day!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

In which I watch it snow and don't go to work

I am sitting here watching the first significant snow fall of the season come down in buckets.  It has been pretty cold lately and working at the building is a pain because of the wind and exposure.  I have taken the last several days off because I have "pick-axe" wrists.  Essentially, I have been working the pick axe so much that my wrists and hands are tired.  I cannot make a fist without my fingers hurting.  It is getting better though.  Someone asked "what do you do for that?" and my answer was "hire someone to do the pick axing and move onto something else!"  I have gotten as far as I can in digging out the basement and for two days last week, I left the hard work up to our contractor's guys, who were able to get through about 4-6 inches of very hard rock with their drills and saws.  It looks like we will get full height throughout the basement space!  With the added square footage from the addition, we may well have over 1500 square feet of useable space down there, almost double what we originally thought!

The crew starts closing in the basement space this coming week.  The new windows are ready and waiting to be installed!

Monday, December 9, 2013

In which we decorate

Merry Merry!

In which we have much progress, but I feel a touch like Fred Flintstone at the quarry. Yabba Dabba Do!

I took off almost two weeks from working on the building, most from this stupid infection in my leg, which is all healed and gone now...and then from a few days with my mom for Thanksgiving.  It was good to get away and have a quiet holiday and we had a ton of fun too.  
We got back on Saturday and I started back to work digging out the basement since the jackers put the building down and removed the I-beams and supports.  I had two areas where we still had to dig down about 15 inches to get to grade.  

Enough of digging though...that story got old and stale weeks ago!  The big news of the week is that that building was lowered onto the foundation, the insulation around the foundation went up, and the trenches were backfilled with sand!  Instant gratification is everything right now and I am pleased to see us going forward.  I am worried about the roof and want to get something going up there soon.  
But for now, here are some update shots for the week.

Ok, I lied and will show you my digging shots.  This is the last corner that we can hand-dig.  There is a window right above here, so I want to be able to get through the ledge to have a full height space here.  I hope we can do it.  That is about 15 inches of dirt and rock there.

I have been faced with these huge slices of ledge.  Greg and I decided to save some to use for pathways and things.  See how the ledge just slices.  This was the first big section to come out of the ground.  We are on our way!

So, while I am otherwise engaged underneath the building, the boys and their toys are working around the outside.  The building was set down on the foundation, insulated, and then truckloads of sand were dumped around the building for drainage purposes.  The piles of dirt and the orange snow fencing are gone.  

You might remember the foundation for the barn was here, with a four foot drop down to the old barn floor.  We filled in and graded to the level of the street.  It is right here that I want seasonal artisan tents and food vendors to rent space.  It will be a lovely courtyard for the building.

Or a future building site, once we are rezoned downtown commercial.

There is a lot of space here!  

 Meanwhile I keep to my digging.  I feel like Fred Flintstone at the quarry.

These are just a few of my new granite pavers, plucked from the depths 10 feet below grade.  

Some gorgeous colored stones.  The guy who came to finish the block wall told me that I missed my calling as a quarry guy.  

 Mission accomplished!  I dug far lower than I should have and a lot of this will have to be filled in with sand, but I got full height to the corner!  What I couldn't get out, we can cut out with the saw.  To answer a friend's question, yes, we did dig down below the footing, however the footing is 14 " thick and the wall on top of it is 12" thick made with over 6000 lbs of steel reinforced concrete pinned to and poured over the granite ledge.  We are pouring a 5" thick floor and then tying into the footing with more concrete.

Look at all the space

We just got approval from the fire marshall today to change the plan somewhat.  Since we are not going to put in an elevator, we are taking the elevator core and making addition space for the basement level adding an extra 225 square feet to the overall square footage. We are keeping the doors as planned, so if needed, this space, which will be rented as one large unit, could be broken down into two or three spaces if needed or wanted.