Wednesday, January 16, 2013

An Update: Anxiously Waiting for Drywall

The pre-"we own this house" plan was to take the entire house down to the studs. We knew that plaster and lathe would be a lot of work, but it made the most sense. The walls had "skin cancer" as our neighbor once put it and we needed to get it all off. We assumed that meant that the plaster had received major water damage.

Well about three days into demolition that plan was out the window. This wasn't just any plaster and lathe, it was metal lathe and plaster made of kryptonite. The bubbled walls had nothing to do with the plaster. Hallelujah. At some point over the last 80 years, one of the home owners had done some upgrades, removing sconces, covering them up with small plates and then resurfacing every wall in the house with some type of canvas, skim coating over that and then wallpapering or painting (or even worse, both).  So, the majority of the plaster would stay, but at the least, the skim coat/canvas had to go. There's nothing that says "beautiful home" quite like holes in the wall or bubbled drywall mud, am I right?

Over the course of the demolition months, we worked on task by task making bigger holes there, removing entire walls there, framing back a closet wall which abutted an existing plaster wall. We started removing the skim coat on the second floor. The house was looking rough.

I knew that this job was going to be a drywall subcontractor's nightmare. And depending on the contractor I can fall into the nightmare client category. I say depending on the contractor because some of our subs have appreciated that we know our stuff. We know what not to accept in regards to shoddy work but we also know the limitation of products, labor and codes and don't throw fits when it isn't what we originally set out.

OK, so back to the job being a nightmare. Guys, there is nothing consistent about the house now that it is (almost) ready for drywall except for how inconsistent it is.

Plaster abutting bare studs. Brick abutting plaster. Window casings, door casings, the list goes on and on. Paul has already started the tedious process along with some of our weekend helpers of making final prep for the drywall crew. Adding strips to openings to level out for installation, and trimming back exposed metal lathe, demolishing small bits of plaster here and there. The list goes on. This isn't your standard, easy new construction job.

We have made few MAJOR changes to the house in my opinion. (1) We closed off one of the Jack & Jill bathrooms to become our master bathroom. (2) We put a closet back into the master bedroom, in the same location it was when the house was built. (3) We opened the wall between the breakfast nook and the small kitchen to create a larger kitchen. (4) We created an opening between the kitchen and the bonus room and enlarged the opening between the kitchen and the dining room.

I suppose the only purely aesthetic "structural" change we've made to the house is framing up/boxing out the fireplace in the master bedroom. The house is full of arches. It's prevalent in the doors and openings and over the bathtubs, but otherwise the house is very square. And our master bedroom is far from "curvy" or "soft". This fireplace has never made sense to me. It's the odd man out in the house (all of the other three fireplaces or faux fireplaces are boxy) and it has driven me nuts from the moment I saw it.

The curved mantle and hearth are not what I am having an issue with. It's the tapered faux stone top that makes me feel crazy. For one, it's slightly uneven and two, what am I supposed to do with that?! I asked very nicely for my contractor of a husband to frame that puppy out. "Let's hang a TV there," I said in hopes of it actually happening. Worked like a charm.

The curved mantle and floor stay, because again, those aren't bugging me but that odd taper is out. And, yes, hanging a TV there wouldn't be the worse thing in the world. I've always found myself on both sides of the debate about TVs in bedrooms. I can't say I would hate watching Downton, after Addison has gone to sleep across the hall, from the comfort of my bed while I ate bon bons and drank tea. And Paul and I have a relatively healthy relationship with the TV, we have it on when we want to watch something, otherwise, we don't.

Most new homes require 1/2" or 5/8" drywall everywhere except ceilings which require 1/2" ceiling board and tiled areas where they provide cement board or glass mat reinforced board. This is not that type of project. We knew we would have to have multiple bids on this job in order to keep them all in a competitive range. We also know we might lose our shirts on this one task.

So, I spent time (lots of it) reviewing a gypsum board specification (a legal document) and determining what I thought might be the best plan of action. At work, we tell the contractor what to provide and where. But that's not my money.

So on the first day of walking through the house with the potential drywall subs, my motto was, "We want it done right and we want it done cost effectively. You tell us how you are going to do that." Two subs in, I wasn't feeling confident. Not regarding their abilities but their price tags and the timeline. One guy quoted us five weeks to do the job.

FIVE WEEKS for drywall. I can give them two weeks. Three weeks - MAX.

We're starting to get other bids in for the job and they are much more reasonable financially and in regards to time. I'm glad I'm not insane and thinking that people can do things faster than they can and for cheaper than they say.

Once drywall is done, we're on the downward run. And we'll be running like crazy. Now that the mechanical rough in has been approved, our electrical rough in inspection has been APPROVED (woot woot!), some other plumbing work needs to happen and then the drywall, but we're talking as little as a week here.

And then....E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G else. 

1 comment:

  1. This is an amazing process. Thank you for blogging it so we can follow along. I can't wait to see what else you're doing.